I received an email from the Gunflint Lodge, advertising a three day workshop called “Finding Your Voice: Stories & Song” with Kevin Kling & Simone Perrin. (Watch videos at bottom for samples of their work.)
Perhaps it was the “Finding Your Voice” part that grabbed me. I had no idea who Kevin Kling & Simone Perrin were but I didn’t care. I would pay whatever it cost and move whatever I had to move on my calendar if they could help me find my voice.
I’m not sure it even clicked with me that this was a “storytelling” workshop, as in standing up and telling a story, out loud, in front of people. All I knew was that I felt so cut off from self-expression and so invisible that I would do anything to be able to speak and have someone hear what I had to say.
I don’t know whether this feeling of becoming ghostlike and without value comes from getting older and watching all the shiny young things do what you used to be asked to do. I mean, I’ve always felt a bit like an aberration* with family and in social situations, but having it topped off by a feeling of becoming obsolete and useless is new.
Staying at the Gunflint Lodge has the added benefit that they allow dogs to stay in their cabins, and they are located in the beautiful Boundary Waters area on Gunflint Lake. If you look across the lake, you can see Canada. If the ice had been thicker, I would have gone for it.
After two days of the storytelling workshop, topped off by a performance by Kevin and Simone, I feel truly blessed that I had this opportunity. Kevin and Simone created such a fun and supportive atmosphere and the workshop participants were a great group of people, with whom I quickly felt comfortable.
The following are a few things I learned at the workshop:
- Storytelling is about transferring experience instead of just knowledge.
- Story can be a tool to stitch things together, heal, and move out of shame.
- Story is a bridge between the storyteller and the listener.
- In storytelling, people need to trust you. They need to have portions of the story show them who you are.
And this absolute gem, which can be applied to much more than storytelling:
- Don’t write someone else’s story. If someone suggests that you make a change to your story and that suggestion isn’t congruent with the message you want to convey or with the main idea behind the story, don’t listen.
I left the workshop feeling warmed and inspired by Kevin, Simone and the other participants. I also left with ideas about how my material and style (my voice) might best be used to tell my stories.
I don’t know how to adequately say this without sounding trite. but at the workshop and in the Boundary Waters area in general, I felt like myself and I liked that person.
I want to have that experience more often, of being myself, even in places where my brand of being is not welcome.
I think it’s more damaging for people to rein themselves in, to squelch their unique voice and personality, than it is to take the risk of not fitting in.
You never know, someone who is exposed to your self-expression. to your thoughts and ideas, may find the courage to buck the system and be more themselves too.