Michele Woods, accomplished writer, and fledgling stand-up comic writes a beautiful piece about Stories From The Heart
“You can warm your hands at a poem” is a quote from the writer Jeanette Winterson. To those words, I’d like to add, “you can heal your heart at a story”.
For that is what I experienced at the Stories From The Heart evening hosted by Director of Speaking Savvy, Lisa Evans, upstairs at the Brisbane Hotel on March 19.
But this was no evening to spruik one’s wares or egos – the rules clearly stated that there would be no self-promotion or soap boxes – just honest to goodness stories from the heart covering the theme of Transformation which had been set by World Storytelling Day.
It was the first year anniversary since the launch of Stories From The Heart
It was the first year anniversary of Stories From The Heart, so there was an extra frisson of excitement in the room.
All monies raised from the night went to support Heart Kids WA, which supports families of kids born with congenital heart conditions.
At the appointed hour Lisa, immaculately dressed in red from top to toe, jumped up on stage and opened the evening with the revelation that she was born with a heart defect, has had five heart surgeries and that she went on to train as a midwife. Bam!
Instinctively from that point on I knew the evening was in good hands as we were looking at a combo of gumption meets wide-eyed life experience on a very deep heart level.
And so it was.
Every story of Transformation was so different
Looking back now, it’s like the movie “Sophie’s Choice” trying to single out one “best” story from the evening.
And that would be wrong, as each tale had an organic message for everyone. Every tale of Transformation was so different as well.
I am sure each audience member heard what they needed to hear, depending on where they are at in their lives.
Again and again, I was brought back to the thought of how different yet utterly similar we all are. All having the same basic needs of love, acceptance, and health no matter where in the world, or its pecking order, we find ourselves.
Here are some of the story snippets
“It’s All My Parent’s Fault” by Leesa Hart had me presuming we were all in for a shame and blame story. How wrong I was.
Leesa, incredibly a first-time storyteller, told us all how she used to hate gardening because “if her parents enjoyed it, it must be bad!”
She went on to say that as a young adult she would only garden under sufferance, just before a rental inspection.
But that all changed when she looked at her one-year-old daughter’s “raw and barren” grave. Her Mum suggested she plant a garden to soften it and make it a pleasant place to visit.
Her parents worked along side her as they improved the soil and slowly the grave became a place of beauty, peace, and connection.
The garden helped Leesa through the seasons of her grief and gave her a real sense of hope and an interest in the future. She now helps others grow their gardens. And for all this “she blames her parents!”
Lynette Delane’s story “Around the Corner” told of an ordinary 45-degree day in the Wheatbelt, driving to a neighbour’s birthday party 100 kilometres away. Taking the gravel road short cut, fishtailing, then flashbacking, thinking that this was the end
Incredibly she survived the wreckage without a scratch.
Lynette dusted herself off, took stock of her provisions and began the 50k walk to her sister’s, mercifully under the shade of the golf umbrella gift she had bought for her neighbour.
Luckily a Ute happened by when she had barely begun the journey.
Lynette told us to “expect the best, prepare for the worst and always buy practical gifts because you never know what lies around the corner!”
I found Cindy Kennedy’s story “A Stack of Love” profoundly moving and inspirational at the same time.
She told us of her false sense of security when her gynae told her she had the womb of a 26 year old despite being 40.
He went so far as to put her womb scan up on his Wall of Fame!
So imagine Cindy’s heartbreak and disbelief when she suffered not one, but three miscarriages in a row.
It was at this point Cindy explained that when life doesn’t go according to plan, often we try and find meaning or a way through.
Who has not done this? Repeatedly?!
And here’s the life-changing thing she went on to say:
“But healing comes from integration, not interpretation.We need to stack our losses up, one on top of each other, in order to see the way forward.”
With that wisdom firmly in her mind, Cindy got pregnant again at 42, announced her birth plan, would not take no for an answer, and went on to deliver her very own stack of love one very memorable Christmas morning!
Later on in the evening, there were hilarious stories of people marrying in their 70s told by Nick Mortimer, a virtually mute teenage date turning out to be David Beckham by Michelle Sandford, and Martin O’Connor reminded to always do your very best effort in karaoke even if you don’t understand the language as you may just be performing for the Chief of Vietnamese Police!
We learned the virtue of facing fear and finding courage from Jenny Brockis as she said yes to a day’s heli-skiing (or should that be Hell-skiing?!) with her beloved, despite grave reservations about her limited ability.
She now probably holds the world record for fastest 300 metre vertical descent!
We heard of the transformation of miscommunication and the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say and, never ever presuming anything, from Amanda Lambros.
I also realised that so often we only hear what we want to hear in life, no matter what anybody else is really saying!
Never giving up also emerged as a theme with Angie Paskevicius describing a fascinating moment mid way through a marathon when she just decided to win, telling herself “I am going to win this race. I can do it, and I will.”
And she did, telling us what that decision literally felt like in her body, as reserves of energy she did not know she had, pulsed through, her propelling her past her opponents.
Another courageous first-time storyteller, Vida Carlino’s lifelong habit of always, always showing up started early on in her life and paid huge dividends in the happy-ever-after department.
When she was 17 she had hitchhiked across Australia from Perth to rural Victoria with virtually no money. The plan was for her boyfriend to follow her later and to meet up at the vineyard she was working at. However, she got sacked and had to live away from the property.
Not a problem nowadays, but back in 1977 in the days before mobiles and email…
Vida hitchhiked out to the remote property every day for weeks to see if Dom had shown up so they could be re-united and continue their travel adventures together. On the very last day, when she was all out of money and full of despair she went out to the vineyard one last time and just as she was leaving she heard her name being called by the man who is still by her side 40 years later…
Another storyteller, Ross Addison, faced a deadly Leukaemia diagnosis head on and also vowed to never give up.
Instead of asking “why me?” he asked himself the more useful question, “why can’t I be one of the ones to get through this?”
He received a bone marrow transplant and is now 16 years post-diagnosis and enjoying life as a published author.
We also heard about the transformational powers of persistence, love, and spirit as well as choosing to be a fully present father despite tumultuous beginnings.
We were reminded again and again that we are the heroes of our own lives and to look within for our own innate wisdom.
And to listen to it when we hear it.
Di Downie told the very powerful story of her own awakening and how she “followed the breadcrumbs back into her own life” as she revived the ancient craft of weaving sheaves of corn into dolls, which were traditionally used to appease the Gods and ensure a bountiful harvest.
She had momentarily lost her way, tending to two children under five, and despaired of being a good enough role model for them.
However, doll-by-doll, Di’s hobby slowly became known to friends and neighbours resulting in a book, exhibiting at fairs and an income.
Di asked, “what are the breadcrumbs in your fairy tale?
And when you find them, are you willing to follow them?
I think all of us left the venue that night marvelling at the depth of feeling and knowledge we had shared.
It truly had been a heart-warming night of storytelling.
Michele Woods is a freelance writer and fledgling stand-up comic.
She does not have a website or a blog or Twitter or Instagram, but she does spend a lot of time giving it serious consideration.
Michele does have a Facebook page, which she glances at a couple of times a month. She can be found haunting the open mics of Perth and Fremantle. Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Evans, Director of Speaking Savvy and Founder of Stories From The Heart, created the event to inspire others to step up and share their stories at the same time as making a positive change in the community through supporting local and international charities.
If you would like help to create your signature story, host or sponsor a live storytelling event or you want to learn the art of storytelling to make an impact in your business presentations then let’s chat to see if we are a fit.