FGS on NPR + We have a new home!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all having a great spring. I’m just popping up in your inbox because I wanted to share two bits of great news with you.

The first great news is that we officially have a new home! March 21 will be our last show at the soon-to-be-late-great Roy Street Coffee and Tea. Our April 18 show will be at the Olive Way Starbucks just a few blocks down the road.

Huge thanks to the Ben the manager at Olive Way for reaching out to me and asking if I’d consider moving the show there. He’ll be at our March 21 show and it would be great if you could all come out to say hi and thank him for having us. He’s going out of his way to stay open late for us on the days we have our show there and that is huge. I I talked to a number of his staff while I was casing the joint and every single one of them was helpful and friendly. I think that says a lot about the management. I hope some of his baristas jump over the counter and tell their own stories one day.

So many people helped me research and scout out venues in person for this move, I wish I had a way to show you how much that meant to me. Not only did you send me recommendations, some of you drove out to those locations for me so I didn’t have to come up all the way from Olympia. Some of you offered cash to help offset expenses if we ended up having to rent a place. Some of you even offered your homes as a place for us to go. Can you think of another show where that would happen? Thank you all a thousand times over for your support over the last month. I really needed it.

The second great news is that we had two of our tellers on KNKX’s Sound Effect a couple weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier for Susan and Maryanne. Susan told her story at our show a few months ago, and Maryanne told hers at the annual NAMI Brain Power Chronicles show late last year. It’s still hard to find places to hear true, personal stories so I’m beyond grateful that Gabe Spitzer of Sound Effect runs the show that he does and continues to showcase stories from FGS. Sound Effect was one of my favorite podcasts before he ever heard of us so I have no ethical qualms about telling you all to subscribe to it 🙂



Now if all that doesn’t make you want to come out to the show on the 21st maybe this clip from The Moth will. I just discovered this story and I already know it’s going on my list of stories to send people who ask me why I love storytelling so much. In fact, I think there might be a future FGS theme around this.


Take care, everyone.

Let me know if you have any questions






FGS: Hidden Strength-Stories of surprising yourself

Next month’s theme is “Hidden Strength – Stories of surprising yourself.” The show is March 21, 7pm, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

One of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is give myself credit for surviving some things I never thought I’d get through. I don’t know if any of you have noticed that there’s always an arrangement of flowers on a particular table in the back of the cafe where we have our show. It’s almost always made of wide fronds called Monstera, and filled in with taller flowers like gladiolas or birds of paradise. Sometimes I’ll see an alstroemeria or amaryllis poking their petals through the foliage.

Each time I walk onstage between storytellers I look out over the audience and see those flowers framed by the windows in the back. Every time I catch a glimpse of them my heart starts to beat a little faster and I feel like I’m in a plane that’s just taken off. Take-offs are always the scariest part of a flight for me. I always have to trick myself into relaxing by pretending that I’ve just escaped being captured by the KGB and once the plane leaves the ground I’ll be safe.

I’ve been hosting FGS for almost nine years now and every time I walk up to the microphone I look at those flowers and remind myself that once I start talking I’ll be safe. Those flowers bring me back to the day a part of me died and what was left was reborn.

In the early 2000s, I met a woman who ran a flower shop just down the street from where I worked in a little mom-and-pop office supply store. She was a quiet woman who was as graceful and beautiful as the flowers she sold. At first, the only interaction we had was when I’d walk in to get flowers for whoever I was dating. But over the years, as our friendship developed, I realized the only person I wanted to give flowers to was her. A few years later she became single and we started dating. For a short time, I worked with her, learning the names of all the flowers and helping deliver them.

We spent seven years together and it was the only time I’ve ever fallen in love with someone a little more each day. Not only was I in love, I spent my days surrounded by beauty. I loved her life as much as I loved her.

Toward the end, I could feel her pulling away. I’ll never know exactly why she fell out of love with me. All I know is the more I tried to love her the less of her there was to love. In the last few weeks of our relationship, it felt like I had left everything I owned on a bus and I was watching it leave the station. I’m waving like crazy to get the driver to stop but he doesn’t, and I just have to stand there watching those tail lights get smaller and smaller in the distance.

After she left, I went into a tailspin. Every day was like falling down a well but never hitting the bottom. For a year-and-a-half, I lived with the hopelessness of a man falling out of the sky and wondering why it was taking so long to die. Finally, one night in 2012, I decided to end my life. To me, it was the most merciful thing I could do for myself and everyone else. That’s what depression does to you. It tricks you into thinking nothing will change. It convinces you that everyone will be better off without you.

Luckily, I didn’t succeed. I woke up the next morning angry at myself for failing but knowing I didn’t have the energy to try again. So I called a therapist. And a doctor. And a psychiatrist who put me on antidepressants. Twelve days later, I drove up to Roy Street and hosted the show.

My doctor wanted to put me in the psych ward but instead, I drove up to the only place I had in my life that made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

I don’t know how I got through that night. I have no memory of it. One thing I know I saw that night were those flowers. They’ve been there every night we’ve had the show. I spent seven years in a flower shop falling in love, and now seven years looking at flowers while telling stories of my recovery. I know I could have moved those flowers so I didn’t have to see them but I never did. It felt like moving those flowers would mean that I was running away from something that I needed to keep near me. I understand now that I needed to look at those flowers every night until they didn’t bother me anymore.

This show coming up will be our last one before we move to our new location. There won’t be any flowers there unless I bring them. I think that every now and then I will bring some. The woman I fell in love with is still in my heart but I’m not scared of those memories anymore. Now when I walk by a flower shop I’m not reminded of everything I lost. I’m reminded of everything I’ve learned and how much beauty there is in the world.

And that’s the kind of story we’re looking for. Bring a story about a time when you surprised yourself. What hidden strength did you discover and how did you discover it? Did it help you escape something? Achieve something? Face something?

Remember to time yourself out loud at home and make sure it’s under 8 minutes. Keep it clean and be sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Here are the rules and guidelines in case you haven’t read them in a while. I change them occasionally so it’s good to review them now and then.


This is a great workshop to get feedback on your story. It’s low-key, casual, and free. What more could you ask for?


I hope everyone is having a good week 🙂

Email me if you have any questions.


Thank you

Thanks to all the people who came out last Thursday to Roy Street and made it such a great night. The room was full, the stories were great, and our two guest tellers were just as wonderful as I knew they’d be.

Before I tell you about some of the stories we heard, I want to let everyone who wasn’t able to make the show that night what my special announcement was. Roy Street will be pouring their last cup of coffee at the end of April. FGS will continue at another location, but sadly the coffee shop will be closing for good. Our March show will be at Roy Street but the April show will be at our new location (stay tuned for details). 

FGS started almost nine years ago and I still love running it. I hope everyone stays on board while I finalize our next venue. It’ll take a few shows to get used to our new space but it’ll be full of the same beautiful people and many more years of stories 🙂

Click on the link below for an article about the closing. There’s a link inside the article to a petition someone started to keep the cafe open. I don’t know if a petition will help but it’s worth signing just to show Starbucks how much Roy Street means to the community.

[Even though I have a good lead on a new venue, if anyone knows of a place that stays open late, can hold up to 100 people, and has a low-key, casual living room vibe, feel free to email me at freshgroundstories@gmail.com]


Susan, one of our new regulars, started off the night with a great story of how she learned what song comes out of her daughter’s phone when she calls. Is there a better snapshot of how your kid feels about you than the ringtone she assigns you? I think not. I remember looking over at my son while Susan was telling her story and wondering what song plays when I call him. I gotta be honest, I was too scared to ask on our way home from the show. I’ve almost convinced myself that I never want to know.

As promised, David S showed up and told the story that got him thrown off the Moth stage a few months ago. You had to be there to get the full effect of the story but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to add, “Please keep your clothes on” to the list of rules I read at the beginning of every show. The good thing is that now we all know exactly where to insert a chest catheter if the person sitting next to you suddenly suffers a collapsed lung. Thank you, David, for the hilarious story and the anatomy lesson.

Cavan told my new favorite Cavan story about how Barry Manilow and U2 helped him propose to his sweetheart. And Robert told us what can happen when you accidentally end up working for the mafia. I’ve had a lot of bad bosses in my life but I never had one that could put a hit out on my family if I came back late from a coffee break.

Danielle, one of my favorite people from when the show started back in 2010, finally came back after a long hiatus and told us how polyamorous dating works when you start to feel like you’re cheating on your boyfriend when you spend time with your husband. Thank you, Danielle, for that amazing story. You went through a lot to find this new love. I got to meet him at the show and can see why you fell in love 🙂

Connie told a sweet story of sadness in the Solomon Islands. Grieving may seem different in other cultures but underneath it’s all the same. Thank you for sharing that with us. Moreah told us that one of her secrets to happiness is making faces in the mirror, and Lance let us know what it’s like to face a dozen cops with their guns drawn.

Our last teller, Obie, told a story he’s been working on for a long time. When he first sent me the rough draft I knew it was something special. I asked him to be the final teller that night because I wanted everyone to go home with that story in their heads. I went to work the next day wishing I could share it with everyone in the office but I knew I couldn’t do it justice. I haven’t listened to Obie’s recording yet but I already know that it will never compare to being in the room with him that night. I was sitting six feet away and I could see him shaking. It didn’t feel like he was telling us that story. It felt like the story was coming out of his body.

I’d love to share more but I also want everyone reading this to wonder what these stories were like to hear live. Seeing a live FGS show is something I can’t even come close to describing in an email. If you like these monthly wrap-ups then you’ll love seeing the show in person. I hope that’s a strong enough nudge to get you to come out to Roy St next month 🙂

Big thanks to everyone who told a story that night: Susan, Gabriella, Cavan, Danielle, Kacie, David S, Lance, Robert, Connie, Moreah, David T, Jake, Chad, Obie.

Our next show is March 21. The theme is “Hidden Strengths – Stories of surprising yourself.”

I’ll get the official invite out as soon as I can.

See you next month at Roy Street!


See you tomorrow

Hi Everyone,

I hope to see a bunch of you at the show tomorrow. It’s going to be a special night. We have two special guests and a big announcement from me at the end of the show.

One of the guests will be telling a story that got him thrown off stage at The Moth. I can’t imagine what he did to make that happen but I asked him to tell it at FGS so we can see what the big deal was. I love The Moth but I have to see the story that got him 86’d from it. He swears it doesn’t break any of our rules so I’m pretty excited 🙂

The second guest is a regular of ours who has a story that I fell in love with and didn’t want to wait until the right theme came up. So I asked him to close the show with it tomorrow.

Also, I have some exciting news about the show in general that I’ll be sharing.

Most of our regulars know that we get a lot of mental health stories at FGS. The audience has always been incredibly supportive of everyone who walks up to the mic and shares one of those stories. For the last two years, I and some other FGS’ers, have been helping out with the NAMI annual fundraiser called The Brainpower Chronicles that features stories like the ones you hear at our show. Last year, Bill Radke hosted and a number of FGS alumni worked as storytelling coaches. Bill Bernat is producing the show and he’s knocked it out of the park each year he’s done it. If you have a mental health story you’d like to share onstage for a good cause click on the link below.


See you tomorrow!



Great stuff coming up!

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder that our show is coming up on the 21st. The theme is “Left Turn – Stories of life going sideways.” https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories/events/258365982/

I also have some exciting news about FGS that I’ll tell everyone at the show next week. Until then, here are some cool storytelling opportunities heading our way.

Matthew Dicks, multiple-time Moth winner and the best storytelling coach I know, is coming to Seattle this August to hold a workshop and perform his solo show. I can’t recommend his show and workshop enough. He’s the author of the book I’ve been giving away at the end of our shows. I don’t know how many people the Taproot Theater holds but you should get your tickets sooner than later. I’ll admit that I didn’t send out this email until I’d gotten my own ticket 🙂

August 17: Storytelling workshop, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA (9:30-4:30 PM)

August 17: Solo storytelling show, Taproot Theater, Seattle, WA (7:30-9:00 PM)

If you can’t wait until the 21st to tell at FGS, you can go to the shows below that are happening tomorrow. The first is in Seattle and the second is in Tacoma. I’ve performed at both these shows and it’s always been fun.



If you’d rather read your story or even sing your story, you can go to this wonderful show down the street at the Starbucks on Madison. It’s happening exactly one week after FGS.


Below is the free workshop one of our regular tellers runs once a month. It’s a great place to get gentle feedback on stories you’re working on.


And finally, another one of our regular tellers is holding an improv storytelling workshop on March 9. I’ve loved all the stories Lance has told at FGS and I’m happy to recommend his workshop.


That’s all for now. I hope to see you all on the 21st at Roy Street!