Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Reimagining Beauty – F is for Frolicsome

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to the blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc.(in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – F is for Frolicsome

The other night I attended a school dodgeball tournament that included high school teachers, sports team members, bus drivers, National Honor Society students, and school maintenance personnel. But one team, The Dodgefathers, was made up of school administrators. Costumed in black with grease markings on their cheeks, they were captained by the school superintendent. With darting, mischievous eyes and energy that filled the gym, that middle aged administrator rocked the house. And though the younger students were playful too, his frolicsome nature was particularly riveting.

Everyone knows someone who is part leprechaun, part otter, and part human. Such a frolicsome soul is a delight to be around. Full of energy and fun, a frolicsome person spices up a group, makes classes enjoyable, sparkles at meetings, and transforms a dull party into a hoot. Now that is beautiful.

This quality is one that anybody can possess. Although it is true that some people, by nature, are kitten-like while others are more Eeyore-like, everybody can have moods that include bursts of playfulness. And when such frolicsome moods break through a professional or personality veneer, it rates as a beautiful thing.

There is something else about frolicsome people. They can be any age at all. As I’m sure you realize, much of what our culture popularly sees as beauty focuses on youth. But what is wonderful is that being frolicsome actually improves with age.

We expect kittens and babies to be playful. Play has traditionally been an important part of a young child’s education. But when we witness playfulness in older people, it is even more engaging because we don’t expect it.

That is why the school superintendent was especially beautiful to watch. I expected a stodgy administrator and saw, instead, a frolicsome spirit.

Babies, middle-aged folks, elders, teens, camp directors, the young, the young at heart, disabled folk, parents, teachers, even bosses can be playful otters or fun-loving leprechauns while everyone delights in being around them. So when you think about or describe beauty in stories or conversations, consider the beauty of spirited and frolicsome souls that ignite fun and set play on fire. Just what would this world be without them?

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Copyright 2014. The Storyrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – E is for Eyes

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to the blog, welcome!

For my April A to Z Challenge, I am blogging about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with varying body types, racial backgrounds, and ages, disabilities, illnesses, etc. (in other words, just about anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – E is for Eyes

In a school storytelling performance last winter, I noticed one student in the crowd. His big, round eyes radiated so much joy, it was very beautiful to behold. I sought his eyes out at every turn. When the show was over, he stood up along with the other kids in his class. That was when I noticed something else about him. He was significantly smaller than his classmates, his face was uniquely shaped and his skin was dappled. But that wasn’t the reason he stood out. It was the dazzling beauty of his eyes.

It is a natural human tendency to look at eyes. They are a crucial part of human communication. Eye contact creates intimacy and connection. Eyes are doorways to the inner recesses where the human soul resides.

Facial structure, hair, skin, body, all of that aside, anyone can look into the eyes of another and see great beauty. The warm depth of brown eyes, the shimmering blue clarity of blue eyes, the gem-like luster of green eyes – as physical objects, eyes are lovely to behold.

When we describe the beauty of others, why not focus on the eyes? (pun intended). There are many beautiful things to say about them! Eyes twinkle, eyes dance, eyes sparkle, eyes penetrate, eyes are steady, eyes engage, eyes connect, eyes laugh, eyes communicate. They can light up, cast down, glow, and love.

But there is much more to the eyes than their beauty as physical objects. Eyes tell stories. They can glisten, big with wonder, or they can be glazed and misty with memory. Eyes can show fear and love, compassion and happiness and the rich palette of human emotion. They twinkle with recognition. They speak truth.

Beauty shines out of people through their eyes.

There are many stories, existing ones and ones yet to be told, with beautiful characters. Because eyes are a connection to the person inside the body, the doorway to who they really are, they are like a key to a treasure box. Anyone can hold the key to the treasure box, and best of all, anyone can be the treasure.

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How do you describe the beautiful eyes that you have seen or imagined?

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Copyright 2014. The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – D is for Determination

Blogging A to Z

Reimagining Beauty – D is for Determination

I admit it, reimagining beauty as determination may seem a bit counterintuitive at first. It might conjure an image of someone’s nose on a grindstone (seriously, I mean, ouch!). The idea of a stony-faced, focused, sweaty person who might even be grunting as she or he labors toward a goal is not exactly attractive. And yet, what athlete who was in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics didn’t have moments of just that?

Determination produces a person who conceives goals and then has the “stick-to-it-iveness” to achieve them.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time we fall.”

Often attributed to Confucius, this phrase embodies and emboldens determination. Achieving such glory is a beautiful indeed. Yet wanting it is only part of the equation. The path to glory is rife with challenges; those who stumble or crumble and then rise out of the ashes to try again are determined people. Pounding through in spite of the obstacles – climbing, trying a new path, pushing, whatever it takes – determination is the fuel that helps us manifest our hopes and dreams.

Not only is it an admirable quality, but determination is beautiful when seen. There is a moment when a person turns his head, sets her mouth firmly, then trains the eyes in the direction of a goal. The moment of resolve, that instant of physical and mental commitment is an incandescent, bell-ringing moment of inner and outer beauty, in full sync.

Determination is the cornerstone of achievement. Hardworking artists striving to ‘make it’ and students attempting to get high grades to get into college are determined. They are determined in the service of long term goals.

But determination is a hallmark of those living with challenges, like people with disabilities, people with illness, and those facing hardship. People who live life to its fullest despite illness and disability are determined. Those who strive against the tide and in face of hardship, are beautiful indeed.

Writers and storytellers have the opportunity to share all the qualities that make people beautiful. Determination is surely one of them. Tell about such people, write about them, help the world know the beauty of their wonderful, beautiful efforts. If we are determined, we can reimagine beauty.

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – C is for Confidence

Blogging A to Z

Here we are, day three in April, letter C. Thanks for reading, liking, commenting, sharing, and all of that stuff!

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C is for Confidence

Last month I saw an online science news video that I can’t get out of my mind. Like an eye worm, it plays and replays again and again in my head. I do not remember the story or where I found it. What is etched in my mind’s eye is the reporter. She wasn’t at all like all those classic cookie cutter news anchors with coiffed blond hair and perfectly pressed clothes. Though she had a different look than them, it wasn’t her hair or clothes or shape that made her memorable.

She exuded pure confidence. Comfortable and centered in who she was, her self-assurance spiraled through cyberspace into my laptop. It was she, not the screen, that cast a glow in my livingroom.

Confidence is riveting. Being in the presence of true, authentic, confidence is like drinking a powerful infusion of vitamins from a glass of freshly juiced greens.

It wasn’t her ego. She didn’t purvey an ounce of conceit. She was filled with an abundance of joy and comfort in who she was. It was beautiful, it was stunning.

In describing beautiful folk – whether you are conversing with friends or crafting language for a story that you write or tell – don’t forget about this quality. It is a quality that anyone can possess, regardless of their looks, their genetic code, or background. It is a quality that anyone can find beautiful in anyone.

And the best thing? Try being in a room with a confident person. It is contagious.

So, can one come across beauteous confidence in real life people? Certainly, I just told you all about a real life newscaster. Can a protagonist in a story be attracted to another because of her or his confidence? Of course. Just tell about it confidently, describe it winningly, and you will depict a character who is attractive as a friend, as a lover, and as a role model for the people in your audiences and personal lives. By doing so, you will remind people that when they tap into and trust their sense of self, that is much more beautiful than what can be coiffed in a mirror.

Who are the confident beauties who you know in life and literature? I would love to hear about them!

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – B is for Brilliance

Blogging A to Z

Hey it’s Letter B! This blog challenge has been a blast (b is also for blast). In addition to the A to Z posts, I am working on expanding the reach of the blog beyond its current scope. I really need to add RSS stuff… any WordPressers out there who are willing to share suggestions, I’d appreciate it! You can contact me here or through my website, http://www.storycrafters.com. Many thanks 🙂

But first, I hope you read the B post!!

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B is for Brilliance

I once had a crush on a college professor. His brilliance filled me with wonder. When his eyes flashed with understanding, it was invigorating. Seeing his facial expression shift while his mind hurtled forward through a zany analytical roller coaster was one of the most exhilarating things I witnessed during a slogging educational dip in my life. As I sat there in his classroom I learned that a brilliant mind is a seriously beautiful thing.

That Eureka moment, when an idea explodes to life in someone’s brain, can be read on that someone’s face. It is like flicking the light on in a darkened room and, at the same time, experiencing immense joy at opening a long anticipated gift. Brilliant moments like that are beautiful to behold.

Life informs stories and stories inform life. In retelling an old story with a plot that hinges on a man and a woman coming together, I decided to make a shift in that plot point. I rejected the idea that her physical appearance was the thing about her that caught fire for him. Instead of noticing her outward appearance, my protagonist was jazzed by her inward intelligence. She stood out from a host of many other young women when he recognized her cleverness.

In his view, she was a brilliant young woman. Her beauty was all about her quickness of mind. He was not threatened by it; he welcomed it and applauded it.

That’s how we chose to tell the story.

So when you choose to tell your stories, remember this quality. Remember it when you think about people you know in life, recall it about characters you know in literature, consider it when you write or when you tell your friends and family about someone who is beautiful.

Anyone, of any age or background, can have Eureka moments and be invigoratingly beautiful to themselves and to others.

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – A is for Actions

Blogging A to Z

April 1st is Letter A Day! Welcome to my first A to Z Blogging Challenge post. I am very excited to be doing this and I look forward to meeting many folk along the way.

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There is a story in our repertoire about a young woman is who ravishingly beautiful. Every character in the tale recognizes her beauty. Audiences who hear the story know that she embodies beauty in all its fullness.

Yet we never once say what she looks like.

Instead, we paint pictures about how she acts in her world. Compassion runs through her like a vein of golden ore; it shines up her every gesture. Other characters in the story take note of the beauty of what she does and how she acts. They say she is beautiful, through and through.

Like her nasty sister, she has choices. But unlike her nasty sister, who chooses ugly actions, our protagonist chooses to carve a path of beauty through life. She cares for her ill mother, helps those in need, brings comfort and beauty to everyone she meets. By touching her world with beauty, she shows that she is beautiful.

Characters in stories have choices in how they live and how to behave in relation to others. How they act can be beautiful. Characters in life are no different. Mother Teresa was a beautiful person who is remembered not so much for what she looked like, but for the great good that she did in the world. And she is remembered as a beautiful person.

So, when you write or tell any story or anecdote, remember that you have the power to describe beautiful characters not by how they look, but by what they do. When characters meet in stories, show them recognizing beauty in each other’s actions. One doesn’t have to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount to achieve that kind of beauty. By depicting beauty in actions, you will help others to reimagine and value beauty in a new way. That will make it possible for everyone to be beautiful to ourselves and others.

Take a beautiful action yourself. When you write or tell any kind of story, describe your beautiful character by what she or he does. That way, you encourage those who read or hear your story to see that beauty is as beauty does, and that anyone can be beautiful in what they do.

Looking forward to the letter B!

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters All rights reserved.

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