The Importance of a Good Story

I’m always excited about new adventures, new experiences. So, when my parents invited me to the International Storytelling Festival in Tennessee, I was thrilled. Not only do I get to enjoy the amazing art of storytelling, but, I also get to spend the weekend with family that I don’t get to see very often. Double awesome!!

So here I am, in Johnson City, TN, and I just finished my first ever Storytelling Festival. I had a blast. We were in Jonesborough yesterday from about 10 am until 9:30 pm. It was a long day, but there were such amazing people we saw. I laughed, I cried, and sometimes, I felt like I had to pick my jaw up. I was picturing hearing people similar to some of my favorite childhood authors, Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein. While more modern, I was not disappointed. Some were quirky, some were hilarious, others were thought provoking, but they all offered something. Some shared their own stories and others shared stories that had been passed down from generation to generation. Others used music as a part of their storytelling (I heard a blues rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that send chills through my body).

Last night ended with an incredible performance by Dan Hoyle. His performance of Border People left me speechless. He portrayed 11 different people of different types of borders. He did not just represent immigrants. He represented the LGBTQ community, the black community, and citizens who were from other countries. He portrayed different types of borders: physical, cultural, religious, racial. You would have thought a different person portrayed each individual. What’s awesome is he is not representing an entire community with each portrayal. He is representing one person, that he interviewed and spent time with to capture their truth. His accents, his body language…I felt that if I met the individual whom he was portraying, I would recognize that person. Check him out online. It was amazing.

And the best part. I have had a weekend with family. I have not had a chance to visit with my cousin a lot. I don’t see her near enough. Until this weekend, I hadn’t seen her since 2015. And the silly thing is that we have always gotten along so well. This is a good reminder for me that I love road trips and have no excuses to not make my way down here more often.

Road trips and time with family build amazing stories. While I won’t be up in front of a crowd at a storytelling festival, hearing the storytellers, this weekend, inspired me to continue to share my stories and thoughts and to live my life to the fullest and create more memories to share. And, I have learned that not everyone has to like what I share, nor agree with it. But, if I can make you think, and sometimes think outside the box, and make you see another perspective, well, then I am doing something right. Thank you to everyone reading and thank you for all the amazing responses.

Oh the Places You’ll Go

I used to struggle from horrible anxiety. In 2001, after 9/11, it was so bad, that I was afraid to leave my home. That was my all time low. My anxiety overpowered every other aspect of my life. But I love adventure. There are so many places I have always wanted to visit (Amsterdam, Spain, Germany, Nepal, Alaska, Australia, and the list goes on), however, I have always been afraid to fly. I actually find I’m kind of an adrenalin junkie who has always been afraid of everything around me.

A lot of counseling and one divorce later, my anxiety has completely disappeared. I cannot be certain what, exactly, caused the anxiety to disappear, but I can take a pretty good guess. The day I was separated, I felt no anxiety. I felt a lot of fear about what would be next, but no anxiety. It took some time, but I realized all my adventure lies ahead of me.

So far, my adventure has been limited, but it’s still been amazing. I’ve done things I may have never thought to do. Maybe nothing wild and crazy…okay, some things have been, but not a lot of traveling. I did go to Sedona, AZ. That was amazing. It was on my bucket list and every bit as stunning as the pictures. I’ve done a girls’ weekend with my tribe. That was amazing too. We went boating (okay, we were tied to the dock, but it was still an adventure). I drove to Disney with the kids. They helped a bit with the driving, but not a lot. I never thought I could do a road trip like that as the only adult.

So, where am I blogging from? Beautiful Montecatini, Italy. Never, in a million years, did I think I would have the nerve to get on an overseas flight. While my fear seemed to have disappeared, I wasn’t sure how I would do with knowing I would be taking an international flight. I never lost sleep worrying about the flight. I didn’t have to take medication for anxiety. So I am sitting in Montecatini keeping up with my blog and enjoying the beautiful sites of Tuscany. Florence, Lucca, Siena, Cinque Terre. In fact, what I am finding is that I am excited to come back to Europe and explore other countries. The world is open to me now and I love that.

I really don’t know what the actual cause of the anxiety was. But I truly believe that when you are in the right surroundings, sometimes that makes all the difference. Clear your mind of the what ifs and the I can’ts. Do something wild that you only thought you could dream of, not actually do. Enjoy life. Anxiety can be so paralyzing that it’s so easy to forget that we need to live. We have one shot at this life. Make the most of it. Be kind, be happy, be brave and seek out adventures.

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” -Dr. Seuss