We’ve all experienced those moments in life when we just knew it was time to get up and go seek our fortunes elsewhere. Whether it’s to a new town, a new relationship, a new state of mind. Join our six storytellers as they share stories of “Moving On.” Purchase tickets HERE.
It’s a warm summer night in June, and I am standing under a tent before 100 or so strangers with just a microphone in front of me and a bare stage behind, telling them a story.
It’s the story of how two days after giving birth, I am horrified to learn that my daughter, Lily, has a serious congenital heart defect. I take them along on my desperate search to find a skilled surgeon to conduct the operation she must undergo to save her life. On the day of her surgery, I tell them, Lily is five months old, weighs just 10 pounds, and her heart is roughly the size of a walnut. “How,” I wonder aloud, “can they even operate on a heart that small?”
As I tell the 10-minute story, the room falls silent. Everyone in the audience is reliving my journey with me, step by painful step. It’s the kind of rapt attention that every public speaker craves.
And it’s a testament to the power of story.
Those are the opening paragraphs of this article about live storytelling that I wrote for Change Agent, the quarterly publication put out by the Communications Network, a leadership organization of 1,000+ communication executives at large nonprofits and foundations around the world, including the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.
This particular opportunity came about because a college friend fell in love with storytelling and followed along as I jumped headfirst into first telling my own stories, and then producing a show so that others could tell theirs. She works for a large non-profit and when she found out the topic for the next issue was storytelling, she urged the editor to include an article from me about the power of live storytelling. (She also wrote an amazing article about how she’s incorporating stories into the DNA of her own organization).
Aside from sharing my love of storytelling, researching the article flexed my journalistic storytelling skills again. And as I read the entire issue the other day (it’s currently only available in print), I was gratified to see that some of the storytelling concepts I learned at the feet of The Moth, Story Collider and Risk!’s storytelling workshop arm, Story Studio, seem to be universal storytelling truths. Be authentic, share failures and roadblocks, speak from the heart.
It still boggles my mind that my passion for storytelling has opened so many doors for me. Baruch University called recently to ask me to sit on a panel discussion on true and fiction storytelling podcasts. I’m booked to tell a story as part of a famous cellist’s new classical music salon series. The association I’ve been involved with through my day job for nearly a decade asked me to come give a Ted-type talk about storytelling to its annual conference this spring.
The universe just keeps saying, “Yes, do this!” “Yes, do that!” And so I do.
Two and a half years ago, I discovered The Moth on NPR. I instantly fell in love with the art of storytelling, and yearned to tell my own stories. And once I screwed up the courage to get up on a stage, I never looked back. This week, my wildest, seemingly unreachable dream has come true. A story I told is going to be broadcast on The Moth Radio Hour this week. A good friend and mentor told me the best way to get on the show was to stop trying to get on the show, and just concentrate on telling a great story. I love this story about my mother-in-law, Rita, and am overjoyed that through my story, thousands of strangers will get to know her, too.
My storytelling journey over these past two and a half years has taught me a lot. I used to think I was a lazy person. I’m not. I just never found my true passion. Once it became clear that I intend to (and am meant to) dedicate the rest of my life to spreading the joy and power of stories far and wide, I have worked tirelessly to realize this dream. I have never felt more useful, excited – more alive than I do now in my mid-50s. I have a new meaning, a new purpose in life. And it’s exhilarating.
It was my dream from the first time I heard a Moth story on the radio to become that voice on the radio one day. Then I dreamed of starting my own storytelling show on Long Island. That show, “Now You’re Talking! has sold out large venues and gathered a devoted following over the past year. Now that I’ve realized those dreams, I am dreaming of so many new storytelling related dreams for 2018 and beyond.
Last night, my husband, my kids and I sat in our driveway, listening to The Moth Radio Hour in my car. I could have listened to it at home, but the magic of storytelling first entered my consciousness through my car speakers, and that was the only way I wanted to listen to my story, the only way that felt right.
Stay tuned. The best is still yet to come.
What lies beyond the bend in the river? What is inside that huge box topped with a bow that your partner left in the living room? What if the alligator pie you’re about to eat doesn’t taste just like chicken? Anticipation can be exciting – and it can be awful. Something is about to happen – but you don’t quite know what. Come join our six storytellers as they share true stories of “Anticipation.”
We are back at the beautiful, 180 seat Merrick Theater for this show. Our storytellers include a Long Island lobster fisherman who found himself unexpectedly in the drink, a bar mitzvah boy trying to avoid the minefield of his divorced parents on his big day, a man whose vow of celibacy after a bad breakup sorely tests his sanity, a mother who learns that her newborn needs major surgery to survive.