Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Archive for the tag “a to z april challenge”

Reimagining Beauty – I is for Inventiveness

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this 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 – I is for Inventiveness

The elegant, creative solution to a problem is simply beautiful. When all the stressful puzzle pieces fall into place and pesky problems depart, life is awash in unadulterated loveliness. “Wouldn’t it be loverly” if such a skill could be bottled and handed out as swag at every library, school, and therapist’s office?

“Give me a half pound of turkey, three pickles, some handcrafted Bruschetta, and a liter of inventiveness to go, please?”

The creative spirit – inventiveness – is beautiful. Who turns lemons into lemonade? Who transforms rags into a glamorous wardrobe? Who cause colors to spring to life on canvases? Who can invent, dream up, hatch, concoct, fabricate, make, start up, birth? The people who harbor the muse of inventiveness, that’s who! And they are beautiful.

Think about any story of any type. Tales turn on a problem, conflict or dilemma that a protagonist faces. From superheroes to princesses to angry housewives to your 7th grade teacher, if they are in a story, they have to solve or overcome something.

And there is beauty is in the solution. Maybe a completely creative, impulsive fix; perhaps it is a carefully devised, thoughtful solution. The point is that removing obstacles usually takes more than luck. It takes originality interwoven with brainpower, a teaspoon of the inspiration, which is then kneaded to perfection with experience. And the more unusual the solution, the more beautiful.

If you are writing or telling a story, any character can take a moment to reflect on the action of another. Characters can respond directly to others with compliments about another’s beauty because of a breathtakingly beautiful solution to a predicament.

When we create something new and different, people take notice. We are drawn to new things. Think about it. Don’t most people turn their heads when a baby is in the room? Though we love familiarity and ritual, we also love what is fresh and move forward with the new and the creative.

Inventiveness is a term that encompasses solutions of the mind and heart. It connotes science, humanities, and the arts. Inventive people are creative; creative people are inventive. Honor the dream weavers for the beauty they hold within.

Characters whom you tell and write about: fictional ones, real ones, true to life ones, can be described by their creative approach to the world. No matter what we look like, we are all great beauties during moments of inventiveness.

What people or characters that you know or have written/told about are beautiful for their inventiveness?

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – H is for Heart

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this 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 – H is for Heart

Here is where things can get dicey because H could also be for “Hot Button Issue.”

If you have been following this A-Z blog series, you know that I have been considering how printed and spoken words can be used to reimagine beauty. My goal is to expand and improve cultural definitions of beauty. Inspired by a beautiful girl who was born with a rare genetic syndrome, this series is meant to reconsider how we portray beauty. The idea is that beauty can and should be inclusive of people with appearances and ages that diverge from popularly propagated images in media and illustrated books.

It is said that beauty is only skin deep. But what does that really mean? And how can we give that trite phrase some teeth? How does beauty get under the skin? By way of the heart perhaps.

But here is the dicey, hot-button part.

In many of the old stories, women were depicted as having good and beautiful hearts. By itself, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. But it also so happens that a bunch of those characters were passive and powerless. Many of us grew up saddled with that imagery. No one I know wants modern girls and women to look up to the passive and powerless or to feel beholden to some wily rescue dude. They want bold and active princess role models marching stridently onward to proclaim, in the modern sense, that women are strong and can do whatever they want in the world. That is why characters with beautiful hearts might bother those of us who associate goodness with passivity and powerlessness.

But don’t lose heart! Having a beautiful heart is not a synonym for being passive! Heart doesn’t have to be about helpless, namby-pamby women who wilt while awaiting rescue and long term care! First, there is nothing wrong with kindness and goodness (we need to reclaim that people). And second, a beautiful heart can mean other things too.

Bold activists have more heart than a candy store during Valentine’s season. People who turn their caring nature to social causes hearten others. People whose acts encourage and support others, who have the heart to walk the talk, those are beautiful people because of their hearts. A person with a beautiful heart can be described by the depth he cares and by the way she conscientiously applies her values. Examples from life and literature include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ghandi, and Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White. For me, all three are heroic souls with beautiful hearts.

By describing beauty in terms of the heart, we deepen our appreciation of people. We celebrate those who make their heartfelt actions felt by others. When we talk about beautiful people we have known or when we write or tell about characters in stories, let’s consider the heart of the matter: No longer skin deep, beauty can be deep at heart.

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Copyright 2014. The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – G is for Grace

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this 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.

G is for Grace

What is it about ballet dancers? Their arms swim through the air like Monet’s paintbrush must have swished on canvas. Every gesture is fluid. Every flick of the wrist is delicate, planned, and full of grace.

A young teen in my son’s dancing school walks onstage. Her movements can be as simple as a toss of her head or the arching of her back. If that is all she does, I still suck in my breath. The young woman embodies grace. Whenever she moves, I believe that I am witnessing art in motion. Grace is simply beautiful.

Once, in a restaurant, I was served by a man who might have been ballet trained. Every simple placement of drink and silverware was gentle, artful, and beautiful to watch. I was more interested in his act of bringing the food than in the food itself. There was no clinking or scraping. There were no awkward hesitations. Everything floated down to the table, perfectly placed by a man with a serene countenance. Hungry though I was, the attractiveness of the food on my plate was nothing compared to the beautiful grace of the server’s movements. I never forgot him.

Grace makes an impression.

But graceful beauty is not confined to movement and gesture. Graceful interactions, manners, politeness – in short, graciousness – is beautiful to witness and to receive.

When we speak or write of beauty, let’s not forget how beautiful grace is. Grace comes through movement and in the gracious way people behave toward one another. The dancer, the polite and courteous one, the gentle soul who moves artfully through life, these are people who are beautiful. They are beautiful because of their grace and because their grace contributes to the beauty of the world.

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Copyright 2014. The Storycraftes. 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.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Blogging A to Z

Hey, I’m doing something neat next month! A group of bloggers (nearly 1500 as I write this post) will blog every day in April, except Sundays. Starting on April 1 with the letter A and going forward to the end of the month with the letter Z at the end of April 30, bloggers will write daily posts on the same letter. Over the month it will be like savoring alphabet soup, one noodle at a time. People say it is great fun, so I’m raring to go.

You can read more about it here.

Many bloggers who do this challenge orient their blogs to a theme. And today is the big Theme Reveal.

My theme is Reimagining Beauty.

One of the most beautiful children I have ever seen is a little girl. She was born with a genetic syndrome that among other things, alters the way she looks. It got me to thinking about the images of beauty that she will encounter in her life. Will she feel excluded? My recent blog posts have touched on this and other related issues, and there are more to come.

But when the A to Z Challenge came my way, I thought that it would be great opportunity to really dig down into this issue. So I decided to focus on how anyone – storytellers, writers, people in everyday conversation, parents – anyone has the power to describe beauty inclusively, regardless of cultural background, body type, age, abilities, or what their physical appearance has or “lacks” in terms of media driven imagery. Because that stuff is not what matters or makes one beautiful. At least that’s my take on it.

Storytellers know that words have great power to change mood and mind. My blog series on Reimagining Beauty will focus on the words we can choose to redefine and reimagine beauty in ways that are inclusive of anyone.

It will be one fun roller-coaster ride through the month of April.

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters All rights reserved

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