Elizabeth Ellis is an internationally celebrated award-winning storyteller, and the co-author of Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories.
Sometimes difficult stories are among those we most need to hear, yet are the least likely to be shared. Mary Dessein and Gloria Two Feathers arranged for Elizabeth to come to Seattle to act as midwife, and help all our stories see the light of day.
Ten women, from beginning storytellers to polished professionals, gathered from near and far to work with Elizabeth.
I hosted because I knew it would be worthwhile, but the benefits extended beyond the crafting of stories.
In between storytelling sessions, we broke bread together, with every meal a potluck.
I host lots of parties, but it was a revelation to watch the clearing, dishwashing, storage of leftovers happen as if the invisible hands from Beauty and The Beast’s castle had taken charge. It felt like magic in the air, for so many people to work in my small kitchen and get so much done so quickly, without bumping into each other.
Who needs magic when you have few good women?
When we resumed our storytelling, the dishwasher was always humming and the kitchen was clean.
Katherine learned it was Joy’s birthday: after tucking her baby in that night, she baked the best chocolate cake EVER. What a treat. She also took notes from the workshop and emailed them to us with her cake recipe! What a kindness.
Trust and nurturing abounded, kindness and creativity flowed. Sue told her story for the first time, about shooting a bear to feed her children. Linda told a powerful story inspired by her work with Hospice, Gloria shared Coyote Wisdom, Mary a traditional tale about the balance of power between men and women, and Jennifer breathed life into an excerpt from The Odyssey. Shirley told a satisfying story about her mother, Jill a work in progress about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Joy a heartwarming story about a boy who finds friendship on the other end of a telephone line. Katherine told and sang beautifully about growing up with a vivid imagination, and I told about the death of an uncle in WWII, and the long reaching consequences of war.
What a range of stories, what talented tellers, what golden moments. After each story was told, people shared their thoughts, reactions, suggestions.
We shall continue to help each other grow as storytellers. Our first reunion is on the calendar–a PJ party and, of course, it’s BYOT (Bring your own tale).
A house concert by Elizabeth was the perfect conclusion to the weekend.
Elizabeth was riveting.
All good things must end.
But we hope to shelter once again beneath the Elizabeth Ellis Umbrella of All Good Things.
Thank you, Elizabeth!
And thank you, Mary, Gloria, Linda, Sue, Katherine, Shirley, Jennifer, Jill and Joy!
All words and images c2015NaomiBaltuck