Friday, May 25, 2012

Giant Steps and Building Community

            Sometimes something happens that shakes the foundation of your life.  When that happens being open to a seismic shift works.

               The newest journey on my River of Life began last July when I picked up a flyer about a Storytelling Workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico, led by storyteller Jim May.  Excitedly I contacted Jim and we kept in touch through the fall and winter.  When it was time to make actual travel plans, I found flights with a six hour wait time in Mexico City or Houston, TX, which threatened to stretch my air travel tolerance to the limit.  Ahhh, a former roommate lived in Houston.  Although we had not seen each other for 43 years, a quick email netted me a reprieve from airport boredom.  Elise and Joel picked us up at the airport.  We enjoyed a delicious lunch accompanied by wonderful conversation.  Hugs, farewells and promises to keep in touch followed.

               Now on with the journey.  Landing in Oaxaca, Mexico, I met Leslie who is a childhood friend of Cathryn Fairlee.  Anticipation at spending a week with one of my heroes seeped into my being.  As promised, this was going to be an epic Hero’s Journey.  Jim and Cathryn warmly greeted us at the door of Casa Colonial, our home for the week.

                Next morning the group assembled and under Jim’s guidance, we began building Our Supportive Community.  A varied group we were - teachers, best friends, storytellers, artists, all in search of a better, more productive self.  With ground rules set in place, each morning we told our stories, wrote in our journals, laughed, cried and made lasting friendships.  We opened up our lives to ourselves and Our Community.  We ended our week with a half hour coaching session involving all the members of our community.  I told the story I planned to tell in Denver the beginning of May. 
               Nan Seidler directed our artistic ventures in creating a representation of the week.  Using natural objects, seed pods, dried leaves, fallen flowers, mine was a representation of my life journey entitled, River of Life, with purple (my color) representing the highlights and its opposite color, orange, representing the parts where I faltered.  And those magenta colored flowers represent me as I travel forward.  The ladder is a Spirit Ladder which Nan makes.  She gifted a Spirit Ladder, which she says, “…are reminders that life is a spiritual journey as well as a physical one…,” to each of us.  Mine sits on my dresser to remind me each morning to look where I am going spiritually.
               Growth comes with a cost, but it is also necessary for survival.  My cost came in the form of revelations of experiences I usually don’t share.  Within the Community we had formed, revealing the truth of who I am was a nurturing rather than painful experience.   My gains far outweighed the cost which now seems minimal.  I gained a true confidence in myself as Storyteller, affirmation from people I admired.   This confidence translated into a beautiful World Tales Conference produced by Rocky Mountain Storytelling and recently held in Denver, CO. 
My part in producing the World Tales Conference was in gathering storytellers and workshop presenters.  We were able to broker a deal with Antonio Sacre who told a story about his family’s cultural past and presented his workshop “Finding and Telling Our Own Cultural Stories” in which he refers to Jim’s workshop.  We started the morning with Sacred Stories taking us around the world with tales from almost every continent.  Nervous energy propelled me forward onto the stage as emcee and last teller, telling a story gift given to me in Peru by Edit Nuan͂es.  I was thrilled at how well everything fell into place, except for my dead car battery.  
               The Storytelling Community is one of the most nurturing, loving, friendly communities I have ever had the pleasure of joining.  Thank you to all the storytellers who have touched my life with theirs and made us better.


jaystailey said...

I have experienced Jim's workshop twice, and have enjoyed working with him in and around schools. He and I are doing a journey/story workshop in Ohio in late September where we will include some labyrinth work. Next time you pass through Houston, know that there is another contact you have here to ease the layover. I have just returned from Peru after a 30 year absence. Big changes. Thank you for sharing, it brought back some great memories.

Laura Resau said...

Sounds amazing-- thanks for sharing! I love and miss Oaxaca so much... glad it was such a beautiful experience for you!

Laura Resau said...

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing! I love and miss Oaxaca so much-- I'm glad you had such a beautiful experience there.

Stories by Julie said...

Thanks Jay and Laura. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Jay, I may take you up on your kind offer if I am down that way again! Have fun in Ohio this fall.

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