2022 ANNUAL REPORT
Expanding The StoryMuse Map
The Call to Adventure
One of my favorite Indigo Girls songs, “Get Out the Map,” instructs the listener to “get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down.”
This year felt as full of adventure–and, sometimes, indirect–as those lyrics imply.
I’ve been on a wandering journey from writing sabbatical through international travels through huge projects and smaller engagements and through a few dark nights of the soul.
I ran into a friend, K., last month at Chomp & Stomp, one of my favorite annual events here in Atlanta. Upon offering what she thought of my life based on my online presence, she gave a characteristic sideways smirk and declared:
“Wow. Your life has gotten a lot more…Awesome!” K. went on to reflect back to me that I’m not only traveling more these days, I seem to be in a new phase of going after what I want, rather than sitting around, passively waiting for life to catch up to my desires.
She was not wrong.
It’s not that I’ve been pretending that the pandemic is over, but perhaps I have been doing some YOLOing this year.
And yet. And yet…
Our social media feeds certainly do not belie the real truths, the layovers in our journeys, the incredible self-doubt and internalized soliloquies that keep our real lives from being what appears through the black mirror.
I did travel to new places. That is 100% accurate. I also worked with new clients, tried out new material, and continued to navigate the liminal space in which we find ourselves with regards to the pandemic.
Like so many, I found myself wondering how I might want to live my life differently after all that we’ve survived. Now deeply ensconced in perimenopause, all that means both physically and socially, I considered what I was ready to let go of and what old patterns were continuing to follow me, despite so much commitment to renewal and change.
I’ve come to no swift nor fast conclusions, but rest assured, I’ll keep going back to pick up the thread of my story again and again.
As always, I hope you enjoy perusing this snapshot of StoryMuse’s sixth year. It was…
On to the great big next,
By the Numbers
Individual coaching is a service I dearly love offering through my practice, though sometimes I fear it gets overshadowed by bigger residencies and workshop. There’s simply nothing more intimate than sitting one-on-one, helping someone sort out what stories they want to tell, how those stories reflect their values, goals, and growth points. A few examples of who I got to work with this year:
- a friend from college who reached out wanting to get better at communicating her journey as a creative as she continues to expand her business supporting BIPOC/queer artists;
- a business professional from India who was ready to launch a new phase of job searching who wanted to get better at how he distills and communicates his story;
Don’t forget. You can enjoy an introduction to my curriculum, The Story Sandwich, on Udemy!! You too can follow along with my best-loved tips for how to build a personal story just like your favorite sandwich. Click here for a limited time 2022 Annual Report discount!
I feel honored to have gotten to work with StoryMuse for individual coaching! I really enjoyed it. After all my family fell asleep that night, and I was doing dishes, I had a chance to process. I’m so surprised at the images that came up for me in the Life Map. If you had not been holding space without time constraints, I would’ve been thinking too much. Fascinating what my subconscious put out there! I hadn’t thought about that purse since grade school. I’m so glad we did this, even within the chaos of life!
A Return to
If you’ve been following for a while, you’re probably aware that one of my best-loved, ongoing clients is the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. This year, we took Treasure Maps, a statewide project we did in 2021, and honed in on the Macon community.
I worked throughout the summer to provide workshops, coaching, and event curation for the show. Culminating in a pop-up, outdoor theatre (my fourth such project during the pandemic), we celebrated the stories of nine Georgians with intellectual / developmental disabilities.
I so enjoyed working alongside long-term partners, L’arche Atlanta and Xerophile Studios, who made our gorgeous film. Together, we produced an evening that felt more like a festival, with a resource fair, food trucks, and a local band that stole our hearts. I’m especially holding deepest thanks to our many indomitable local partners, Storytellers Macon, and a slew of direct service providers and agencies.
Read more, see photos, and watch the film on the the blog I wrote just after we wrapped.
I just wanted to reach out to you and thank you for the opportunity to work with you on Treasure Maps this year! I have really enjoyed it, and I loved seeing how happy it made the people I work with.
Watching the video once again tonight on YouTube had tears in my eyes as I know the joy it brought to all who got to tell their story. I was so excited to get to share with my family the reason I do what I do and to show them the joy on the faces of each one on film tonight.
You do an amazing job with all that you do to bring light to the disability world!
From 2009-2015, I worked for the amazing arts and social justice network, Alternate ROOTS. I was an artist and board member before joining the staff, and have been very glad to have continued my deep relationship with this organization since founding StoryMuse. They have backed some of my most important work, including Shelter & Place, the Ireland trip, and the 2017 Virginia Tech residency.
And so, it was deeply meaningful to me to be able to serve as a conusltant to the board & staff in a three-part workshop series over the course of Spring 2022. They utilized the storytelling framework as an opportunity to continue building trust within and across their teams and set their sites on the future. After we’d spent some time developing and sharing stories with each other, we broke out into small groups to explore important leadership concepts such as mandate, culture transmission, transparency, healthy boundaries, and managing conflict.
It was such a delight to see how this organization has grown and evolved since I left the staff. They are doing some of the deepest, hardest work of supporting cultural leaders and activists in the U.S. South.
I was so grateful to experience the StoryMuse process.
I have to tell you that the reason I was able to tell a story like the one I shared in our culminating workshop was because of how you laid out the story elements for us in our first session. I’ve been telling stories most of my adult life, without any structure or system that was outside of a fundraising scenario, which isn’t too different. I certainly felt like you had equipped us with the means to tell a great story. So glad you asked me to share. With the lens you provided for us, though my story was about a difficult time, telling it was easy, even fun and exciting!
Speaking of Alternate ROOTS, I also got to collaborate with long-time friend and fellow ROOTS colleague, D. Patton White and his intergenerational, interability company, Beacon Dance & Movement. We created a performance series that happened in October both outside at a new park in Atlanta, as well as at The B Complex. I led dancers through a series of workshops and coaching to develop new personal stories about water and climate change, which they infused with movement.
This year, I had the amazing opportunity to take over as producer/director of Carapace, the long-running storytelling show in Atlanta. Named after the hard, outer shell of creatures such as turtles, Carapace is, in many ways, my artistic home. Way back in February 2010, mine was the first name on the first night pulled out of the hat. It’s a foundational part of why I wound up choosing to become a professional storyteller & coach.
Every 4th Tuesday of the month (except Decembers), we gather at Atlanta’s historic watering hole, Manuel’s Tavern, to share stories based on a theme. Of all the changes 2022 brought, I think this is the one that meant the most to me.
Fire & Bliss
Fulton County Department of External Affairs
Georgia State’s Social Action Alliance
Ireland & The Book Sabbatical
Honestly, I don’t know what to say about my book anymore. I spent a large chunk of the first part of this year on a writing sabbatical. I took workshops. I sat in virtual spaces with other writers as we provided critical feedback and support for one another. After all that, it seems, perhaps, this idea may have died on the vine. Feel free to call me up and provide a stern talking to if you feel letting it go is ill-advised. I might take that as fuel to get back to trying.
At the very least, now I know why they say you should never talk about what you’re writing.
However, after saving for and dreaming about a trip to Ireland for many, many…many years, I’m very excited to have finally brought fantasy to fruition.
I spent fifteen days circumnavigating the country, learning how to drive on the other side of the road without a working cellphone/GPS most of the time (*terrifying*).
I came back exhausted, but feeling accomplished and definitely having caught the travel bug. Since then, I’ve also gotten to travel to Nashville for a conference, Savannah for work, and went sailing in Key West with friends.
Next stop: Mexico City!!
In what is perhaps the best move for my mental health ever, I deleted all my dating apps and replaced them with Duolingo so I can learn Spanish. The friend I’m visiting down in Mexico has sent me a full itinerary for our shenanigans. I can. not. wait. to enjoy her hospitality and supreme tour guide skillz!!
The way to be in ’23!!
Are you ready to work on a
- or community story
— together with me?