Sunday, March 17, 2013


Barbara McBride Smith
Oh the places I’ve been this week . . . I traveled to South Africa and got caught in the midst of a knife fight, hung out with Sean Connery, strolled through time with Ricky Nelson, took a carriage ride in Charleston with the wackiest tour guide ever, sailed to castles beyond on a flying ship, learned how to never eat liver and onions, hung out with John Henry and his wife, and relaxed on the front porch with Ma Bell talking on the first phone with a banjo picking, harmonica playing trouble maker. What a week! All that right here South Carolina!  Stories can take you EVERYWHERE!!

My adventures began last Saturday at the inaugural “Charleston Tells!” festival with Barbara McBride Smith, Syd Lieberman, Ed Stivender, Sharon Cooper-Murray, Hawk Hurst, Donna Washington and Tim Lowry. Their stories entertained, transported and transformed me.

 Hawk Hurst told of his travels to South Africa where his quick thinking storytelling mind and musical talent saved his friend from a knife to the throat, and Donna Washington’s story of her father’s ability to use story, humor and a bit of acting to disarm the threats of racism during the 70’s left me thinking about the ways we teach tolerance and conflict resolution in our schools. Perhaps what we really need in schools in order to create a more peaceful world is simply a stronger emphasis on the arts and storytelling. Perhaps the arts should be the core of what we teach rather than the “extra-curricular” activities deemed less important and less funded than other subjects. Perhaps more money spent early on the arts would translate to less money later on defense, law enforcement and corrections. It’s a thought to ponder.
Tim Lowry
Tim Lowry’s story of the back yard zoo in Orangeburg stuck in my mind all week. The words of the zoo keeper haunt me, “Don’t wait 30 years to do what you love!”   Am I doing what I love? How can I do more of what I love and less of what I do simply to pay the bills? These are questions that probably plague many of us.
Thursday brought me to the Newberry Opera House sharing a stage with John Fowler, Ray Mendenhall and Millie Chaplin. Again, stories transported me and dissolved the stress of the daily details of life. Stories connect us to strangers and friends in our often disconnected world where a screen and a status update serve as a poor substitute for human connection.

John Thomas Fowler
So my thanks go out to the Charleston Public Library and the South Carolina Storytelling Network for bringing stories and transformation to my world this week.

Where to next? . . . Just over the border for the Storytelling Festival of Carolina in Laurinburg, NC. This week I’ll merge my two worlds, school counselor by day and storyteller by night, when I bring forty of my middle school students to their first storytelling festival. I wonder what stories will stick in their minds and what questions they will ponder.  I’ll be hoping they catch the story fever.

Stories are meant to be told and heard. Find a storytelling festival near you . . . and I hope to see you there!!

Find out where some of my favorite tellers will be:
Barbara McBride Smith:
Syd Lieberman:
Ed Stivender:
John Fowler: