1. Where did your love of stories begin?
Like every kid, I’ve always loved story – whether it was in a folk song, a book or told by a storyteller. I’d always admired people who could tell an engaging story and had felt that I was lacking that ability as a young person. I knew that one day I wanted to achieve the ability to spin an entertaining yarn. As a child, my favorite folktales were The Goose Girl and Rumpelstiltskin. I also loved the folk ballad, Froggie Went a Courtin’ – it’s a great story.
November, 2010, I produced and told stories at an event called The Tellabration. It’s a world-wide celebration of story sponsored by the National Storytelling Network. All over the globe on the same day stories are told. It was November 20 this past year. I recorded a collection of stories for that event at home and it ignited a desire to do a high quality, professional recording of stories that all ages could enjoy. After recording the tracks, I was searching for a name for the recording. I experienced the realization that there were at least 3 volumes of these stories I wanted to tell, so the name had to allow for that. I was walking my dogs on the beach, musing and pondering, and out of the ether the name, Story Harbour, appeared in my mind.
Nineteen years ago I was searching for work that would give me joy and stumbled upon storytelling. I haven’t had formal training, but in my first 2 years of being a storyteller, I performed at over 200 events and had 80 stories in my repetoire. I was devoted to learning, telling and immersing myself in story. I took wholly to heart Julia Cameron’s advice, ‘if you want to do something well, you must first be willing to do it badly’. I was never afraid to ‘do it badly’, which actually relieved me of pressure. Being relaxed is one of the secrets to succeeding in one’s efforts, I think. I was fortunate to learn early that a successful storyteller is one who is enjoying themselves and is relaxed.
During those years, I performed, I produced, and I taught storytelling. I also wrote a National Endowment for the Arts grant application and they sent a Broadway director out here to review my performance. It was a 4 hr show on the Oceano beach called Full Moon Stories & Beach Walk. It was a magical evening and the dunes area there was a spectacular stage.
3b. Have you always been a storyteller?
I wasn’t a good storyteller in my youth, but after I became a storyteller in 1992, I learned that my father, who I didn’t know growing up, was the family storyteller, so I guess it snuck in somehow.
I definitely see 3 volumes of these types of tales. The focus of this collection is to offer stories that enrich and entertain, but don’t bring up disturbing imagery. There are so many world folktales that the resource is unending.
However, I do find value in stories that bring up disturbing imagery if it is within the context of a life-affirming theme. Like Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul, I deeply believe all our voices are worthy of respect and sometimes they bring up feelings of discomfort so we can grow. I am particularly drawn to stories of depth and power, such as The Handless Maiden and The Seal Skin – a version of a selkie story. I have a workshop designed around these types of archetypal stories called Discovering & Uncovering Your Personal Mythology. It draws on these powerful tales to reflect ones inner voices and it facilitates the “re-storying” of ones life.
My earliest inspirations for this work have come from Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Rumi, Star Trek the original series, believe it or not, and all the old Grimm’s tales.
Sharing the story experience with children and adults has affirmed for me over and over that we love story. We are nourished by authentic emotional experiences and we’re hungry for them. Being together, sharing a story, feeling – these are the experiences of life we treasure. The opportunity to create one’s own imagery is also a tremendous gift. It’s an imaginal muscle that loves being stretched.
I am most drawn to folktales because the are distilled over so many generations to give voice to universal and profound human themes. I believe they can be powerful mirrors within which we can see visions of how we might alter our stories. We each carry around multiple stories about our lives, our world and our places in it. My blog, StoryWisdom at Blogger is about this idea. We can only change one thing in life – how we perceive the ‘what happens’ in life. The richness of cultural and personal information in stories can assist us and deepen our experience.
It’s also been shown that the human brain is wired to learn best via story. We’ve all experienced that – great teachers are the ones who can engage the student through story. Listening to stories also gives one the opportunity to experience a variety of emotions in a safe environment, for example, children who are exposed to violence can work through emotions and also choices by hearing and exploring story. In this way they are better prepared for the literal circumstances.
7. Share anything else!!!
Thanks so much, Rani – I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm and support!!
Zette’s website: storywisdom
Cd orders and to hear a sample!: www.ZetteHarbour.com