Please tell me another

Growing up, I had the most interested listeners to my stories.  They were all four legged (except for Archie our Corella).  We moved around every two or three years and while I made friends easily, the ones I mostly confided in, were my animal friends.  Shadow, Rajah, Duchess and Beau to name a few.  Many dogs, some horses, lambs, pigs, a cat or two and a bird.

I told my friends the most amazing stories.  I turned what I did that day at school into the biggest adventure of their life!  I went to a catholic school for a couple of years when I was six and seven.  As a believer then, I christened the lambs at the cement water trough on the farm, in front of the little statue of the Virgin Mary.  I would give them a name to be proud of and with the vigour of an evangelist, would tell them the bible stories I could remember, reassuring them of their salvation.

When I was ten years old with Shadow and Rajah (our labrador dogs) sharing my bed at night, I’d regale the adventures of my day and I was always the heroine.  They believed me when I said I could run and flap my wings and then fly through the air to save someone just in time!  They believed every word of my story and I loved them for it.

We all grew up with stories.  Some of us are fortunate to be gifted with generational stories of our culture, our people, our lands.  Some of us have to make do with borrowed stories (e.g., The Easter Bunny or Santa Claus).  Fewer of us practice making new stories out of the every day.  One thing we all have in common is that we want to be taken on a magical journey.

But one day,  we learn there is no Santa, no tooth fairy and the magic starts to fade.  If there is no intervening ‘childish’ adult to steer us back to storytelling, we turn to the TV shows or movies because it’s easier than thinking stuff up or listening to someone yabbering on.  We don’t need to think up anything, create anything, it’s all done for us.

This sluggish alternative to storytelling has created a passive, dumbed down society.  Watching TV is ‘passive’ thinking (the left side of our brain sort of ‘goes to sleep’) where the work is done for us.  Our imaginations are suppressed while we ‘sleep’ learn the stuff beaming out from the box.  It’s addictive, it’s lazy and it’s enough!

This sluggish alternative to storytelling has created a passive, dumbed down society.

I say, be a Story Teller,  be a Story Collector.  You will be doing a far greater service than first imagined.  Your Storytelling and Story-collecting will help create an active thinking society of reading, listening, talking, doing people.  See a world where kids eagerly wait for their made up bedtime story or their silly aunty to fill their heads with stories of the ridiculous,  where adults tell everyday stories in ‘truth or dare’ fashion and belly laugh about how silly they have been, where we learn more about our cultural heritage and share the story about how it used to be.

When my children were little, I loved telling them how Caramello Bears were made.  They were grown in a field, just like wheat for bread.  We’d stop at the special Caramello Bear paddock alongside a road.  The paddock belonged to someone else, so we had to be sneaky and not get caught.  We’d pry ourselves through the fencing wire and start looking for left over Caramello Bears because they had just been harvested but often we would find some left behind.  Kristy & Tarryn’s screams of delight when they found a Caramello Bear sticking out of the dirt, or behind a little scrub of bush, is a memory I will hold deep in my heart till I am an old woman and saying goodbye to this world of stories.

Your Storytelling and Story-collecting will help create an active thinking society of reading, listening, talking, doing people.

Today I have my daughter Tazza (aka Tarryn) to thank for continued storytelling.  She wields her imagination on a big fun stick and we all get caught up in her infectious way of retelling an event with her very own style, dramatic flair and a cheeky, loving grin.

Do you tell stories?  Do you remember stories you were told?  Its time to dig them out. Remember them.  Tell them.  It takes practice to be a Storyteller so find a willing audience (animals and kids are a great way to start) and do it often.

If you’re stuck for storytelling ideas, here is an easy way to get started.  When you are next out with someone, make up a story about two people you see together.  Who are they, what are their names, what is their story, why are they here and what will happen next.  Lower your tone for the scary bits, widen your eyes in surprise.  Laugh, sing, shed a tear and believe.  Believe your story makes a difference and it most surely will.  You are on your way to being a Master Storyteller.

May you always colour outside the lines,

xx Julie

P.S.  The boring but oh so relevant Research.  Storytelling is important for our intellectual, social and emotional developmental needs!  Listening and letting your imagination flow improves problem solving skills, creates a path to more sophisticated comprehension, use of language, reading and writing in our every day lives.   Check out this article http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/storytelling-benefits-tips

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