2023 ANNUAL REPORT
Every 7 Years You Replace Yourself
I’m a Little Teapot
But Am I Really A New Person?
There’s this notion in popular science that every seven years we become completely new people. That is, all of our cells regenerate and been replaced within seven years. In fact, it’s not entirely true.
I certainly can’t decide for myself if I feel like an entirely different human being from when I started StoryMuse seven years ago. In some ways, this year, was every bit as hard as the first. There were distinct echoes of that first year.
What I do find exciting about the idea that my body might be an entirely different organism from seven years ago is that I had somewhat declared 2023 as My Year of Embodiment.
This showed up in so many different ways. I started the year by showing up for swing dancing nights all over town, taking to it like a duck to water. Then I moved on to the deeply powerful and moving course with Prentis Hemphill’s The Embodiment Institute.
By summer, I arrived at a new place of relationship with my body with stronger throughlines of grace and alignment…most days.
What does all this have to do with storytelling? Well, a lot actually. First, our relationship with our bodies is nothing if not a powerful story, handed down through generations–stories of bodies moving through space, culture, food, and even trauma. They become encoded in us like DNA, not unlike the theory of epigenetics.
Second, I’ve found I’m connecting with people and their stories in a way that’s deeper, more rooted. Every story I hear, cultivate, or coach has an extra layer, no matter what it’s about. It’s a deep, subterranean, sedimentary layer conveying visceral experience of human bodies traveling through this life, impacted by our joys, our indignities, our triumphs, our falls. It’s all there in every human story.
As always, reflecting on and compiling a portrait of my year continues to be one of the most interesting rituals in the rhythm of my year. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Please talk back, ask questions, share feedback, tell me what you’re seeing in the work.
On to the great big next,
StoryMuse in the News
- StoryMuse helps foster storytelling with a purpose by Clare Richie, Rough Draft Atlanta
- Good Stories with Rooter Shannon M. Turner by Aimee McCoy
Residencies & Workshops
Georgia Council on
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities continues to be the anchor of my working life. This year, we’ve reconfigured our schedule to coincide with the legislative calendar in early 2024 in order to more effectively intersect with their advocacy efforts. Therefore, I don’t have as many fun photos and videos to share with you–at this time! However, please stay tuned and consider joining us for one of our upcoming events in partnership with the highly acclaimed Equitable Dinners. Photo credit: Jessica Whitley Photography.
Stories from Home
In spring of 2023, I worked in partnership with the Zaban Paradies Center, the only shelter in Atlanta keeping couples who are unhoused together, to cultivate and coach stories for their event “Stories from Home.” Performers included a couple who were on the cusp of moving out of the shelter thanks to the stability they’d been able to gather while there; a volunteer; and a staff member–all of whom told stories about what home means to them. Just thinking about what we all shared that day still gives me all. the. feels.
Mid-America Arts Alliance
In March 2023, I conducted my first workshop with the Mid-America Arts Alliance. “Mapping Toward Fulfilment” was a unique experience with fundraisers and development officers all over the country who are serving some of America’s great arts institutions and local community organizations. We did a deep dive into how to connect our core personal and institutional stories to mission. When I say my “first workshop,” I mean I’m looking forward to bringing offerings through the MAAA in 2024!
We hired Shannon to facilitate a Storytelling Workshop for nonprofits. Not only was she incredibly engaging, but she presented new ideas and strategies while increasing participants’ understanding of how to build their stories for impact and grant writing.
Storytelling in Community
I continued to grow and thrive in my new role as producer/director of Carapace, the long-running storytelling show in Atlanta. Named after the hard, outer shell of critters like crustaceans and our emblematic turtles, Carapace, I’ve often said, is my artistic home. It’s a foundational part of why I wound up choosing to become a professional storyteller & coach. This year, I enjoyed introducing story coaching as a part of our offerings. We also started using movie and song titles as our themes. Some of our most popular nights included A Hard Day’s Night, Under Pressure, and Wish You Were Here.
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.
Photo credit: Andrew Huang
One of the most special opportunities I had this year was to perform at Story Collider.
Story Collider is a national podcast at the intersection of science and our deepest humanity. It has live, local events here in Atlanta (and many other major cities), from which their podcast stories get selected. Given how much time I spend coaching others, it was such an honor and privilege to be coached by the luminous Meisa Salaita on their team.
I chose one of my most important and beloved stories, about my high school friend, Beth Griffin, whose life inspired me to become a more substantial person.
Which is why I must say that finding out my story was chosen to air on the podcast was one of the best days of 2023. You can listen to it below or click here to listen on Spotify.
What We Are Up Against
On July 9, 2023, I teamed up with Louisa a local force-of-nature type gal who leads the Storytime Cabaret. Together we packed the house at 7 Stages to produce an “activism cabaret.”
This fun-filled, multidisciplinary arts benefit for Community Estrella, Team Libertad, Stop Cop City, and the Feminist Women’s Health Center featured fifteen different acts: from stand-up comedy to aerial silks; original film to spoken word poetry and everything in between.
My favorite part was pumping up the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Under Pressure” where half of them had to sing David Bowie’s part; the other half, Freddie Mercury.
We were very proud raise to over $2500, and trust me ~ a good time was had by all!
South Fulton Institute
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention–Injury Prevention & Control
Grown-up Play Date
Pine Lake Salon
I’m a Little Teapot
At my birthday this year, I formally re-launched a project I’d started dreaming and ideating on several years ago.
Thanks to an overwhelmingly successful Indiegogo campaign, I began creating new workshops and hosting public tea conversations with creatives near and far, affectionately called “Tea & Jam with Me.”
Although I’m still building and iterating, here’s what I’ve got so far:
I’m a Little Teapot: Existential Angst & the Search for Purpose at the Dawn of the Millennium is a retrospective on my first few years of what some now call “adulting.” I graduated in 1997 from a liberal arts college with an English degree and no plans for the future. As the millennium approached, I wandered aimlessly through low-wage jobs, trying to find my sense of purpose, garnering small truths about myself and the working world. Parallels between twenty-five years ago and today are poignant, when global freakout over Y2K and a presidential impeachment were in the background of everyday people just trying to get by. Teapot is not just a one-person show. It will also involve community engagement workshops with college students and community members. Performances will include audience interaction, from the liminal space of the lobby, and all the way to the final moments. Because, what we need right now is to rebuild and reconnect–one story at a time.
The four pillars of the project are purpose, passion, possibility, and power. These concepts shape the conversations I have with people all over the place as I continue to build and dream.
I’ve filed a few grant and residency applications that I’m hoping will fuel the work. No matter what, some version of this project will be coming to life in 2024! It’s already bringing new frames to my overall work in terms of new professional and organizational workshops and offerings. If you can’t tell, I’m just really excited. I invite you to keep connected through the Teapot webpage, and reach out if you’ve got ideas for how this work might intersect with yours!
More in store for 2024!!
Are you ready to work on a
- or community story
— together with me?