Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lessons From the Tent...Convention Continued

Ask me if 5 or even 4 years ago if I'd ever been to a storytelling festival, ever wanted to go to one, or even had an idea or interest in storytelling and I would have said NO. Not a chance, not for me, didn't even cross my mind. But once I became a Cherish Bound consultant, I quickly learned that story is the root behind ALL things. It is the foundation of everything that I know. In order for me to teach other families how to love story and learn of its power within the walls of their home, I realized I needed to learn what story is all about.

You may have read my "Jonesborough" story. That is where it all began. You see, I had no idea that this ancient art form is the tread that ties each of us together. Without story would you know who you really are and where you get some of your "character" from? What about your ancestors and their stories? Would you know how World War 1 ended or how Moses parted the Red Sea? Would you know anything at all? I'm thinking probably not. What we know is because of story...whether it comes through a text book, a journal, or spoken word, we know what we know because of story.

For years, there's been a false impression about storytelling. "There's this misconception that storytelling is Grandma and Grandpa in a rocking chair on the porch, or putting babies down for the night," Bobby Norfolk said, "But storytelling is an ancient art form. The brain is actually hard-wired for telling stories." We are all storytellers. We may never take the stage, but we are all tellers at heart and mainstream America, soccer moms, white-collar corporate dad's and their families, struggling teens, and everyone else in between are finding this forgotten treasure and becoming apart of the experience.........

In the midst of the beautiful Provo Canyon and the shade of Mount Timpanogos, 1000's and 1000's of eager souls flood the perfectly laid story grounds for hours and hours of tales. The white tents riddle the mountain-side park as story lovers from all over the world, families of all sizes, school children and their teachers, educators, college students, and even Cherish Bound consultants map out their storytelling quest and events for the long, but much anticipated days ahead.

After mapping out the right schedule to make sure each favorite story teller can be heard, listeners flock to the rows and rows of chilled metal chairs to find their spots. Slightly restless, a little chatty, and some still snacking on the morning's breakfast everything comes to a complete stop, in an almost hypnotic state as the storyteller opens their heart. Norfolk says"We call that storyteller hypnosis. It's a power that takes over a room."

It happens time and time again. EVERY TIME without fail, a hush overtakes the crowd and I lose myself in the the story....I become a part of their world.

I love them all, but I will say I have my favorites. Three of my favorites were at this festival. Carmen Deedy, Bill Harley, and Kevin Kling. I can tell you this....within just a few hours time I went from laughing hysterically to crying while singing "Build Me Up Buttercup" (and I NEVER sing....especially in public), and then shaking my head wondering if I was hearing the truth....could such a thing happen to a person? And during the emotional roller coaster I was thinking of my own stories that were prompted out of my head, jotting them down on the back of a receipt so I wouldn't forget them again. I could find a common thread in each of their stories. Somewhere deep inside those stories I always found something that was all about me...something I could relate too.

I kept putting this post off because I wanted to go into detail about those three storytellers, but I just can't. I can't express in words what they do for me. It's kind of weird, I know, but if you experience this for yourself you'll nod and know what I'm talking about. Here's some great descriptions of these amazing storytellers found at

Carmen Deedy: Known for her well-loved children’s books, Carmen Deedy flavors her stories with her unique upbringing as a Cuban in the Deep South. With wit and charm, Carmen refreshingly combines a variety of stories—from childhood memories to tales of Chaucer that leave her audiences smiling for days. Both as a storyteller and author, Carmen is unforgettable!

Ahh, I just LOVE HER! She will make you love remembering your childhood triumphs and battles! And her children's books are AWESOME!

Bill Harley: There’re no bones about it (except the funny bone), Grammy award-winning performer Bill Harley knows how to get an audience slapping its knees and laughing out loud. Whether his listeners are 5 years old or 105, Bill delights them with childhood tales, parenting anecdotes and coming-of-age blunders, each laced with morsels of profound wisdom.

He's a phenomenally talented person! In every way possible! I'm amazed at all the parenting advice I picked up from him in one short hour.

Kevin Kling: Known for stage shows and his popular commentaries on National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered," Kevin Kling is one of the most unique and dynamic tellers ever to come to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. His autobiographical tales of hopping freight trains, getting hit by lightning and growing up in Minnesota are hilarious and tender. must experience meeting this amazing man! He's not only an inspiration to everyone who comes within a "tent" of him, but he's just so captivating and you find yourself always rooting for the underdog and.....wanting to be the underdog!

I promise you, as you step out into this new world of storytelling, not only will your private little world rotate slightly differently, but your family, friends and everyone around you will be able to join you in this amazing, forgotten art that deserve so much more attention. Lives change through stories and telling them is the first step.

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