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Storytelling and tears


The first time I stepped on stage it ended in tears.
From musicals to church productions, I have constantly immersed myself in storytelling across my whole life. I loved to watch people sing on stage and how musical theatre compelled people in their imagination and creativity.

The opening night of my first show was one filled with so much excitement and emotion. I was in year one at school and my favourite doll accompanied me everywhere I went. As the curtain raised and music floated out into the audience, my little heart was beating so fast. I slipped away from my Mum backstage and found the hallowed ground. I can hear the chorus chanting as I remember this memory from over 35 years ago.
 
The makeup table called me and the mirror, surrounded by lights shined brighter than a Christmas tree, (enter the angelic choir) without anyone noticing I fixed up my makeup, with blue eye shadow on my forehead and red lipstick on my cheeks, I drew all over my face with eyeliner and then slipped back into my position, running onstage to do my part.
 
I could hear snickers and laughs throughout the audience but I loved it. I was hooked; there I was made up like a clown, a little blue-eyed show pony and my heart raced the conversation between the audience and the creative on stage. This story ended very badly and it is a narrative that as an adult I have had to re-write over and over. I will take you to the end of this story at the end of this email.

In the months of August this year, I am so excited to be training business owners, community leaders and churches in the art of storytelling. 2.1 billion people spend more than three hours a day online. What a profound space to be finding ways to tell your story. Someone once said, “Those who tell stories rule the world”. I’m not sure I want to rule the world (gah the responsibility) but I totally want to find a way to dig deep into my own narratives and find ways to help people.

How about you?

Whether it is stories to create memories for my children and a legacy for the coming generations. Or a deeper and more meaningful way to use social media. To write to heal and find space in my own internal dialogues. Writing is powerful and your story matters. Creating more content, however, does not mean you will get more engagement. To channel your inner storyteller I have found five of my favourite quotes about the power of a compelling story.
 “I’m writing my story so that others might see fragments of themselves.”
Lena Waithe, screenwriter for Bones and Master of None

“You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built-in the human plan. We come with it.”
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale


“Think about the word destroy. Do you know what it is? De-story. Destroy. De-story. You see. And restore. That’s re-story. Do you know that only two things have been proven to help survivors of the Holocaust? Massage is one. Telling their story is another. Being touched and touching. Telling your story is touching. It sets you free.”
Francesca Lia Block, author


“Whether you know it or not, your desire to write comes from the urge to not just be “creative,” it’s a need (one every human being on earth has) to help others. A well-told Story is a gift to the reader/listener/viewer because it teaches them how to confront their own discomforts.”
Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid

“The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.”
Zadie Smith, author

 Storytelling events coming up:

NSW, NEWCASTLE

9- 10 August NEWCASTLE, NSW: WORKSHOP SERIES

NEW NORCIAMonday 26th- Wednesday 28th August: New Norcia Writers Retreat

STORYTELLING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA (FREE)29- Social Media Workshop free from the Small Business Development Corporation. Bassendean. BOOK HERE 9.30-12pm

BALI RETREAT (ONE PLACE LEFT ONLY)

28 Sept – 1 October- Bali Escape Retreat Boardroom Retreat

WRITING YOUR STORY TOOLS:

Write Hard Online Workshop
: (only 2 write hard jumpers left, free access to the course given for free for the last two orders)

RESET: press reset on your year (6 short videos and a booklet)

New Norcia Retreats August and November

Somebody Needs Your Story Resource PDFSome shut up and write events coming soon to Perth as well.

BACK TO MY STORY:

The letter we write to ourselves about the stories from our past, those words that speak to our future. They are penned from the emotions that hold us from those encounters and they become the stories that we tell ourselves. Pain, betrayal, rejection and bitterness can leave significant marks upon our story and stop us from speaking the truth into our future selves.
 
You see although the first time I went onstage was fun, I had the best night ever; there is another part of that story which impacted me deeply.
 
As a vulnerable little girl, late at night after the show had finished and the audience had left behind an empty theatre, rubbish is thrown across the floor, we waited for the show notes. The director came up to me and belittled me in front of the cast. She yelled and screamed telling me I was a bad little girl. Scolding me with the direction that I should never touch the makeup table and that every person in that theatre was laughing at the fool I made of myself that night.
 
This formed a letter to my creative self. One that I have had to rewrite over and over so that I could surrender to the beauty of what was destined for my future self.
 
It is just a story but I still recreate today in my mind as a forty-something-year-old writer.

Watch out for this coming November for the release of DEAR CREATIVE SELF: the letter of our life. 

My latest book, which is now sitting with my editor all 40,000 words of it. And breathe. It is the sequel to my best selling book DEAR SINGLE SELF

Let’s hang away from the internet together. Or in the pages of a real paperback book.

With Creative Love

Amanda V.
Somebody Needs Your Story
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The engineers of our future

Our honeymoon lime tree.

It was only last year when he threatened to chop it down. Looking at me across the washing line, as I hung work and school uniforms out to dry “It’s producing no fruit!” It was a matter of fact.

I am the plant rescue-er in our relationship. We even have a designated part of the garden called the plant hospital. A location that we walk past every morning as we enter our days, reminding us to water the plants that are most susceptible in our arid soil.

I looked through the wet clothes hanging on the line, with eyes that begged him not to rip out the tree. And a little smile awaiting my response ” Just one more year love.”

“It’s one of those non-fruiting trees I’m sure of it,” he said with frustration. And I just sighed at the sheer tenacity of trying to grow anything in a garden with a family and big life.

Lately, I have been a little obsessed with seeds. I seem to see them everywhere. On the floor when I walk the path to the beach, in the shops up on the shelf and over the fence on the floor of my friend’s house. They are small, but the capacity for them to grow into shady trees, keep drawing me back to the beauty of slow.

We couldn’t afford an overseas honeymoon when we got married. In hindsight, we didn’t need one, just a room with a big bed and a beautiful vista. We laugh often about the fact that our car door broke, the week of our honeymoon and we had to climb across the gear stick each time we got in and out of the car. Some days lately we have forgotten what it was like to just have one car with a broken door.

I think God has a brilliant sense of humour and imperfection often makes for the best of stories. We ended up down south from where we live, visiting wineries with that wonky door. No fancy cars or taxi’s for our arrival, just two people climbing out the passenger door.

At one of those wineries, we found a half wooden barrel and we decided to buy it to plant a tree as a memento of our honeymoon. We got home and decided on a lime tree (my man quite likes a drop of Mexican brew).

Eight years ago we planted that lime tree in that wooden barrel, it has survived two children, two houses and many bbq’s alongside. It even survived the wooden barrel that fell apart last spring and we planted that non- fruiting lime tree in the ground, hoping it would at last produce.

Then last week eight and a half years after we planted that tree I saw hiding in the flourish of green leaves, five or six or maybe ten little limes on our tree. I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home and I walked him around to see.

He looked at me and smiled with his eyebrows lifting and said quietly “Lucky I didn’t rip it out last spring hey?” And I didn’t say anything, just marvelled at the beauty of the very simple things.

I think we have lost the art of patience, in a society so intent on producing. Since the beginning of July, I have had some time off social media and it has been the best thing I have done all year. It is hard not to be drawn back to it, but the resting of the ground in my heart has needed some time to realign. L

“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

Luke 8: 15

I often spend a lot of time thinking about the future. Thinking about my children, my house, the contribution of my life. It is something that I have always enjoyed spending my procrastinating, in-between moments doing.

It is in these times though that I forget that the seeds I am planting today, will bear my fruit in my tomorrow. Holding fast to what is good, changing my mindsets to ones of servanthood and humility. Finding ways to surrender in the ever present tide of self obsession.

What seeds are you sowing for harvest in your future?

Growth

Pain

Cutting off

Fertiliser

Sun

Water

These very simple principles found in the earth of our gardens, go against the success mantras of our day.

I have been reminding myself lately, to reset, to read simple wisdom and to begin again. Creating great soil for the new growth awaiting and surrendering to the beauty of a simple life.

“The engineers of the future will be the poets”

Terrance McKenna

I do wonder what is the condition of our poets soil?

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Embracing Slow Podcast

Recently Em and I recorded a podcast about Embracing Slow with Mish Pope. Have a listen and join the journey of embracing slow.

Listen on itunes

Listen on spotify

EMBRACING SLOW: A journey of unhurried grace.

There is a busy epidemic in our society. Social Media, the hustle movement and comparison trick us into believing that busyness equals success. 

Have you ever wondered what it was like to embrace slow? Has your heart been leaning towards the simple and being present?

In this podcast and also the devotional book we write devotions to take you on a journey of slowing, being more present and breathing with simplicity.

Find a quiet space to sit with these stories and devotions, and allow them to help you slow down a little today.

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Living Brave with Boundaries

Brave with Boundaries

Boundaries are not the easiest thing to institute when you are a reformed people pleaser. Add into this equation that one of your strengths is achieving and it is easier to solve everyone else’s problems and procrastinate with your own. If I am to lean into the dreams I have for my future, which includes writing and publishing then I need to set boundaries and be brave with them.

I have an acronym that lately has been forming my work and family life balance. It makes up the word BRAVE. I found part of it from a podcast that I have listened to more than five times over the last month. And I have added my own little version to the end.

B-oundaries

I have been taking time to remember what boundaries are important in my life. As I lean into July and the second half of the year I sat and did my own one-hour RESET retreat. Reminding myself of the goals I set at the beginning of the year when I pressed PAUSE. There were very specific goals that I set for my work life and family life that I needed some reminders of.

  • Taking time for myself to rest and reflect.
  • Not allowing people to be time stealers but at the same time being generous in moments that are divinely appointed.
  • Understanding other peoples needs but also my own.
  • Setting boundaries around social media and long text messages.
  • Holding my ground in places of energy drain.
  • Reframing the messages I am sending myself.

What boundaries do you need to set in this next season?

R-eliability

As a leader, wife and mother I am learning the power of consistent small conversations so that I can be reliable to those who are closest. I was taught something a long time ago which really impacted my leadership journey. It was to under promise and over deliver. As a people pleaser it is easier at the moment to promise the world and then under deliver. So when the moment that life brings, I am learning to say less but when I give my best yes to surrender completely. Giving my focus to gatherings of people like my writing retreats and a small group of friends.

Are you reliable to the promises and commitments you make?

A-ccountability

Last week my husband and I had a hard conversation. We were talking about money and my current stress load, leaning into the next quarter. It wasn’t an easy conversation but it was so worthwhile. I have noticed a funny culture being created in our online worlds. That we are more vulnerable to those who live on the other side of the world, through private messages and online conversations. However, we don’t have the hard conversations that hold us accountable to those under our own roof.

Who is in your circle that holds you accountable?

V-ault

I have learnt that I can easily talk about others, instead of talking about myself. It is easier to throw others under the bus, rather than bringing it back to our own needs, growth and imperfections. Lately, I have been really trying to be a vault for my friends and their conversations. It is hard in a world that promotes openness as a lifestyle, but I am remembering as a leader that when someone else is sharing someone else’s story (that is not theirs to tell) it probably means they will share yours too.

Are you a vault to the stories of others?

E-ncouragement

If you follow along any of my online spaces, you would have picked up a tone of defeat lately. There have been some significant algorithm changes, but also a culture of passivity has set it. The people I really want to start conversations that matter to I am finding a massive radio silence. It has made me assess my relationship with Social Media. At the same time I have just decided to start encouraging people. I want to be a voice that people feel the encouragement that they so desperately desire. I don’t want anyone to walk away from a conversation with me, either online or in person and not feel encouraged.

BRAVE leadership.

BRAVE in friendship.

BRAVE in my marriage.

BRAVE in my family.

BRAVE in my writing.

Who wants to live BRAVE with me. Setting boundaries, being reliable, open to accountability, a vault with precious stories and living a life of encouragement.

Yours creatively

Amanda

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The story keepers

Through the night, the wind kept waking me as a storm swept past the bay. I tossed and turned, falling asleep and then another bang, shudder and howl. I wondered if the rain would leak under the front door, soaking our jarrah floorboards. Worry came knocking around 2 am that the flu that has been hanging in the shadows of my home would settle in to stay.

I stood at the sink today and saw that the passionfruit plant that had taken months to climb up slowly covering the unfinished fence had died, when nobody was looking. I picked up the tea towel off my oven and I stopped mid sentence and remembered her house.

This year we packed up my Grandmothers house, after many decades of living close by and she went reluctantly to a nursing home. Her things divided between family members and honestly, I wasn’t that interested in her belongings, I’d prefer to hold her hand. A box of things, however, were placed on the back seat of my car and my favourite overall the antiques, jewellery and letters were her old linen tea towels.

Most of them antiques in their own right. But each time I hold them, I think of the Carrot Cakes she would bake and the Christmas cookies that no one has managed yet to replicate. My grandmother is old farm stock and I’m sure these pieces of cloth have been held whilst she watched the news on days when history was smashed open and also the days when baked fish was on the menu for dinner.

Story keepers, of the hands that washed them. Story seekers of hearts questioning as they went about daily life with a menial task. Story capsules of the people calling to chat with her on the phone and gossip about that irritating neighbour.

There are moments of our ordinary days, that no one will ever see. Times when words become powerful carriers of emotion and change. When we realise that the stories laden in the processing of our days are the economy of legacy and hope.

Lately, I have been really off Instagram, social media and the hungry machine of content creation. I have been reminding myself of the power and beauty of creativity and story to leave a legacy that remains.

We are the story keepers. We are the story shapers. We are the story holders.

Robyn McKee says it this way:

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”

Robyn McKee

If you look across history, the main keeper of human wisdom and tenacity has been recorded through story. I strongly believe that somebody needs your story. The highs, the lows, the in-between and the not enough yet.

As we begin to find ways to allow writing to heal, when we show up to our blank pages and work through our stories to find clarity, hope and courage God brings strength in these places.

Human beings are shaped by stories.

We find encouragement through stories.

We leave lessons for those coming behind with stories.

We were born into a story from the narrative of our parents.

We live in the story that we are telling ourselves.

There is a story in the Bible that talks about legacy in the midst of our current story and narrative. Joel was an amazing scholar and prophet, a man of wisdom to his local community. He wrote this;

“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation”

Joel 1: 3

I wonder what stories will be told to our children’s children about the tone and tenure of our current novel in history. This symphony of peace and chaos, an era of change and technology, ignorance and platforms.

What lessons are we teaching and showing, changing and leaving?

We are the story keepers, the culture changers and the life legacy leavers. As we dig deep into our places of freedom and hope, we unveil the beauty of discovering and wisdom for those who sit alongside. Further more, we leave a trail of inspiration for those who follow behind us.

Write hard, my creative friend. Unveil the promises, lean into the new, discover your voice and allow liberty to set the captives of our hearts free.

Amanda can often be found with a pen in her hand, food spilt down her blouse and a fresh story in her heart.
She is an Author, Public Speaker and Radio Presenter. 

If you would like to help to write hard, here is my online course. Four sessions designed to encourage you in finding, developing and expressing your story. $59 delivers straight to your inbox. If you’d like a simple download tool as a process to help you answer all the questions about publishing and writing. I developed this tool for $9.95 just for you. Somebody Needs Your Story.