Mirror Images – Little Snow-White


Snow White’s story, filled with its rich imagery, villainous plot and magical interlacing captured my attention and ignited my pen. Following her plot line from Little Snow-White’s first publication by the Grimm’s Brothers in 1812; their second publication of Little Snow-White in 1957; and on through Walt Disney’s animated film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, my journey began.  Definitely a dark tale which keeps story enthusiasts of many ages engaged and riveted far into the tale’s murderous unfolding.

I mean really, one’s own Mother being brought up on four accounts of attempted murder; all against her own seven-year old daughter! Her excuse? Some misguided direction from her self-appointed beauty consultant and weasel-y snitch of a talking mirror. Even the Prince had a hard time believing this one. The one about a wooden framed piece of reflective glass being equipped with language capabilities and prophetic insights. All prior to the invention of audio recording devices.

Now, fast forwarding to the end of the story, we find Snow White, a not quite so blushing bride, passively endorsing her own mother’s public, torturous execution; death by dance in flaming hot, metallic shoes. Even the newly emerging German culture of the early 1800’s was having a hard time stomaching this one. As a result, the Grimm’s Brothers revisited their storyboards and brought to the forefront a few revisions for their second edition of Little Snow-White published in 1857. These revisions resulting in increased sales from more socially approving audiences. In the end, it was great for centuries of audience members to come. Thanks to the Grimms Brothers perceptive awareness and
pen-fully correct altercations, North American audiences have been enthusiastically experiencing Hollywood’s current trend of Snow White inspired movies.

So what changed on the story front? In part, Europe’s high maternal death rates. Mothers dying in childbirth resulted in the increased reality of blended families and the rise of step-motherhood. Coupled with economic tensions, the perception of stepmothers being “evil” dominated the social scene. So here you have it; biological mom being brought up on four accounts of attempted murder of her only child is a bit harsh, but if it’s her stepmom being brought up on these same charges, this becomes a whole new, adventurous tale to tell.

Walt Disney’s groundbreaking animated film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930’s literally exploded US box offices. The Grimm’s Brother’s second version of Little Snow-White, provided Walt Disney with basis of his inspiration.  In retelling Little Snow-White, Walt Disney too met the challenges of audience-induced, story-adaptations. One was meeting North American and European cultural standards of what a socially acceptable marrying age is or should be. Legal sex at the age of seven wasn’t going to make it by today’s standards. The former, publicly torturous death by dance got artfully
re-crafted into death by nature via a one way ticket over a mountainous cliff fueled by a striking touch of lightning. Walt Disney also added his infamous signature adaptation of the Prince’s magical kiss used to awaken Snow White, his soon to be bride, from an enchanted sleep. A touch of romance surpassing Grimm’s rendition of an angry servant carelessly slamming the glass coffin; intentionally or unintentionally.

What is your favorite telling or re-telling (oral, written or filmed) version of Snow White’s infamous adventures? Why? What sets it apart, for you, from others of its kind?


Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!

Four Key Elements in the Art of Story Development


Every story we hear, read or tell has a story. The place where story-based artistry begins. So, grab a chair, a stool, or a slice of floor and your favorite muse. Now join us for a brief collaboration in the four key elements of story development. For in story, as in life, its characters are as outlandishly adventurous, deviously mischievous and outrageously zany as any of us truly are.

What is story? Isn’t everything we see, hear and talk about a story?

Story: The place where it all begins: Life is as it is . . .
Change happens . . . Now what? . . .
Life as it has been will never again be the same. A new normal unfolds . . .
The place where the beginning is never the same as the ending.

Story: The narrative and the meaning we attach to the events of our lives.

Storytelling: An interactive art form where storytellers, though their voice and gesture, invite people to join them on a guided tour of vivid imagery.

Destination: Ending’s New Beginning

  • What do you love about the story? I mean really, love about it. If you don’t love it, don’t tell it. By its nature, what we love, naturally grows.
  • What is the ending? It is much easier to get there if you know where you are going! A few short words, phrases or movements guides your story’s journey securely into its destination.
  • Memorizing the ending helps insure you and your listeners arrive at their targeted destination; especially when meeting the challenges of unexpected interruptions, brain farts and cosmic disturbances.

Captivation: Love at First Sight!

  • Besides the story itself, what are some key parts or aspects of this story’s storyline which captures your attention? Why?
  • What do you love, hate, regurgitate or scream about the main characters and their antics? Why?

Engagement: The Meet and Greet of Team Building!

  • Take a few minutes to meet and greet your story’s characters. Who are they? What are they like to hang around with?
  • Revisit the key images in your story – this is correct, not the words of your story, but the images inside your story. Step inside each one of them. Who is there? What is happening around you and/or them?
  • What are the dominate feelings and emotions that you and/or your characters are experiencing?

Listen: Story’s Interactive Unfolding

Supportive, or responsive listeners help us grow our stories. Supportive listeners also allow you, the teller, to see what audience members are hearing. Storytelling is an interactive art form. Responsive listeners support storytellers in naturally bring out unexpected and unrehearsed bits of humor; spontaneous internal dialog; insightful moments of awareness; or newly inspired story-line twists and turns.

Select a few supportive; non-critical, non-critiquing, non-judgmental listeners or consult the services of an experienced storytelling coach. Listeners, per your direction, can either:

  • Listen without comment.
  • Listen and offer what they appreciated about the experience and/or the story.
  • Listen and offer bother appreciations about the experience and/or the story and offer any questions they might have.
  • When working with a professional storytelling coach you may also want to add some suggestions regarding the more technical and artistic aspects of storytelling and story development.

Celebration: A gift from my heart to yours . . . Story’s Story Continues . . .

Your story is a gift to your audiences. Like any gift, it is given from the heart. Invite your audience members to join with you on an interactive journey into the enchanting realm of story’s vivid realism and adventurous journey.

Remember: It’s your story to tell, so tell it like it is; in only the way you can! Let your story be the one long remembered after the performance or presentation is done.


Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Begin . . . !




A Touch of Love – A Taste of Life


Life Living Moments – Living Life Memories

The Inuit Folktale, Two Friends, adapted and retold by Storyteller Grace Wolbrink

Starting off in life. Ohhh . . . the point of a finger . . . ahh . . . each one sparks with twinkling eyes . . . outstretched hands . . .  reassuring hugs . . . gentle kisses . . . sticky fingers . . . A touch of love – A taste of life.

Growing up . . . mud puddles, snail races, skinned knees, awkward moments stuck in trees . . . Oh no, your Mom found out too?  Two friends, their weddings united, they now stand; one facing east, the other facing west. Their life dreams securely planned during a time when people still filled the earth and the spirit of adventure still filled the land.

On the eve of daylight, with a musk-ox head between their hands, each friend made a cup. One cup fashioned from each horn on the same ox’s head. Goodbyes are said, not knowing when, but knowing that, someday, they too will meet again.

Traveling close to the land the two friends, in two separate directions, set out to travel the world. Being that the world is a very large place to travel and takes quite a bit of time. The two friends got older, each had children, their children had children, and their children’s children had children. The day came, on the eve of life’s twilight, the two friends, now carried by their children; meet face to face once again. Life living moments – living life memories.

According to the American Society on Aging, nearly 1 in 4 US households are caring for someone over the age of 50. Out of these households approximately 40% of these care givers are raising children and 64% are working either full-time or part-time. Care giving, caregivers, lives, coupled with life’s commitment. Yet, in the words of Pablo Casals, a world-famous cellist . . . “the capacity to care is the thing which gives live its deepest significance.”

In developing this story I found myself deeply challenged by the words of caregiver, Barbara Bernard caring for her parents, each diagnosed with a terminal illness within a week of each other. Barbra spoke about her commitment to, each day, finding ways to create memories for herself and her parents. Through creating these memories Barbra focused on life and the aspects of life that continued to bring joy to her Mother and Father. Watching the sunset while sipping coffee, feeling the fresh drops of summer rains, feeling the soft sensations of bunnies fur against one’s skin, smelling the aroma of fresh flowers or enjoying a favorite, off-season, holiday treat.  “I am hopeful that whoever will be caring for me finds ways to help me seize moments in every day and create answers to the question, “What was your favorite part of the day?” (Barbara Bernard) A touch of love – A taste of life.

“The world is magnificent!” cried the two friends.

Meeting again, on the eve of life’s twilight, the two friends shared their adventures, recounted their dreams and compared the remains of their drinking horns. Yes, remains, for over the years, scratches from each friend’s cup stayed among the rocks in the streams – the place where each friend had stopped to fill their cup with water and where each one had scraped it along the river’s bottom.

They started out when they were young without children, meet again when they were old, carried by their children. Each friend now sitting side by side with one’s back to the east, the other’s to the west, they mummer, “Truly the world is magnificent.”

All rights reserved September 2010.


Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographers Journey Begin!


Noodle-head Tales: A Lutheran on Sunday – A Methodist by Weekday

church-organ-393921_1280Noodle-head tales: Those lovable tales of fools, nitwits and numbskulls! Tales told and retold featuring one innocent fool or a chorus of fools. One example is our beloved Jack and the Beanstalk. Our endearing protagonist, on his way to market sells the family cow for a handful of magic beans leading a cloud topping hilarious adventure of giant proportions! In the Jewish tradition we find the town of Chlem, an entire, endearing town of fools with its headline news flash – the Cobbler Kills the Baker! Yes, indeed, it is true. The verdict rendered; death by hanging. A once cheering crowd of court goers falls silent.  A townsman’s question now brings urgent considerations before the Judge; “But who, yes, who will mend our shoes?” This piece of enlighten information brings the judge to further deliberation and a review of the town records. It has come to the attention of the Judge there are indeed two town administrators.  A new verdict has been reached: Let one of them be hanged! Noodle-heads, symbols of our own out-witting moments of senseless fortitude.

Recently I was honored to listen to a musician’s personal story of her early musical opportunities, much along the lines of our beloved folkloric noodle heads! A short except that I have entitled:

A  Lutheran on Sunday –  A Methodist on Weekdays

A young girl, growing up in a small rural community, committed both to her piano lessons and her local church.

The day came, as it does for some, but not for all, that the local church organist is indeed resigning.

“But who, who will play the organ”, cries committed church leaders and church goers, taking pride both in their denomination and their congratulation.

A twelve year old piano student is called before church leaders.

It has come to our attention that our beloved church organist has resigned and that your play the piano.

“Yes, yes, this is true.”

“We would like you to be our next beloved church’s organist.”

“Church organist!  I am a pianist, not an organist!”

“They both have keys, don’t they?”

“Yes, yes, this is true.”

Church leaders now offer her an hourly wage known to only a few working class workers. The young pianist thinking hard, thinking fast, searching her soul, does the only noble thing that can be done. She promptly accepts the position of church organist. Now under the careful guidance of her ever faithful Methodist piano instructor, she prepares for Sunday’s services. Church leaders and church goers applaud at the skills of their new organist.

A few Sunday services go by.  A young piano student is called before church leaders:

“It has come to our attention that you are playing Methodist hymns in our non-Methodist, to be exact, Lutheran Church.”

“Yes, yes, this is true.”

This is indeed a problem. Thinking hard, thinking fast, searching her soul, she does the only noble thing that can be done.  She takes her Methodist hymn in-scripted sheet music from the midnight blue folder and places them lovingly in her newly acquired green three-ringed binder, with bold lettering on the front: Lutheran Hymns for the Lutheran Church. The church leaders and church goers smile in gleeful approval as, now, the correct hymns are being played in their beloved church’s domination.

Several more weeks went by. Again a young pianist is called before church leaders:

“It has come to our attention that the foot pedals are not being utilized on our beloved Church’s organ.”

“Yes, yes, this is true.”

This is indeed a problem. Thinking hard, thinking fast, searching her soul, a piano player knowing no other organist to seek instruction from, does the only noble thing that can be done. Turning off the sound to the foot pedals. Her feet are now skillfully crossing each and every pedal, while her fingers play on. The Church council smiles in gleeful approval as, now, the foot pedals are being fully utilized on their beloved Church’s organ.

Yes, yes, it is true, a Lutheran by Sunday and a Methodist by Weekday.

All rights reserved, 2013


Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!

Listeners – Story’s Fertilizer!


Storytelling is an interactive art form. One which can not exist or happen without a listener. The interaction between you, the teller, and the listening members of your audience ignite and liven the images of your story’s story. For in the moment it is told, the world of story becomes the listener’s living reality. A story, like our experiences in life, can never be duplicated or experienced in the same way again. The faces of story are as varied as the faces of our audiences. Each time we tell our stories the words, their impact and the audience’s responses will be unique to this moment in time.

Grab a listener and ignite your storytelling jet packs. Take a few minutes and think of a few people who are able to listen. Listening meaning no talking, no editorial comments and no unsolicited remarks. Their job? To listen. To simply listen. Once everyone is assembled, tell your story. Enjoy. Watch and take note. In this moment your story will grow in unexpected ways. Images will become clearer. Your voice tone and canter much stronger. See how unexpected and unrehearsed bits of humor, internal dialog, and moments of awareness or newly inspirited story-line twists and turns happen when you tell and retell your story. By seeing what your audience is hearing and the unique gift of this audience’s interaction, your story’s story-line continues to bloom. Also how easily your story ripens and grows inside of you; the teller.

In the early stages of my story’s development, I ask my responsive listeners to just listen, as I tell my story. Other times, as my story continues to grow and unfold inside of me, I ask, “What do you like about the story? or What did you like about this experience?” Again, I am not asking them for a cirque. I am simply asking what they like about the story and/or the experience. Storytellers through the responses of their listeners are able to see what others are hearing. Storytelling is an interactive, experiential journey into the world of story and the vivid reality of is characters and their lives.

This may also be a great time to secure the services of a storytelling coach. Information on storytelling coaches can be found online or through the National Storytelling Network.


Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!


Our Stories Reveal Who We Are


“I do this exercise in my seminars where a person speaks for five minutes about someone who has been very important in their life who has been very important in their lives. I then ask the listeners to write down what they conclude about the speaker. I am not asking about the person the speaker talked about; I am asking about the person who was speaking. It is amazing how much people can conclude from listening only 5 minutes to someone they have never met. People are able to make statements about what the speaker values and what they would be like to work with. When I share the assessments with the speaker’s co-workers or family, they attest to how on target the assessments are.  . . People rarely understand that they tell people who they are every time they talk. ” Linda Garbe

“Once you understand that you will reveal yourself when you tell a story, the next thing to accept is that “here is a mental discipline need to develop to tell a good story. One has to have time and commitment to shaping a good story.” (Denis Bertrand) Except taken from How to Tell a Great Story by Aneeta Sundarara.

The stories we tell are about ourselves whether they are folkloric or life-loric. In the world of storytelling, select a story that you love. Find out who you are in this story and why it is important for you to tell it. Also, is it something your audiences will love to hear?

The images of our lives from the homes and towns we live in to the people we meet along the way often become the images and characters of our stories. Since we are already telling people who we are every time we speak, in the art of storytelling and the artistry of story development, why not be the person we truly are? When we embrace this reality and step further into the reality of our stories, again identifying who we are, we more consciously and with greater confidence, step into the into the vivid reality of our story the unique expression of our voices.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!

Goal Questing – Story’s Adventurous Outcomes


The goals of our lives often masquerade themselves in the form of personal accolades, esteemed outcomes, alluring destinations and athletic’s teaming victories. The word goal is a four letter word for some. An, ‘I couldn’t make without them’ for others and a definite ‘must’ in the world of sports.

In reviewing the book, Crash Course in Storytelling by Kendal Haven, the word “goals” again appears in the multitude of letter-combining words and phrases on the pages in front of me. What! Goals? This is storytelling, not personal achievement, corporate conquest or athletic management; or so I alluded myself into thinking. But goals . . reading on, yes, of course goals, how simple! Stories are teaming with mischievous, magical, overachieving, dimwitted, crazed and deviant goal setters. The plot thickens with murderous intent; romantic conquest, riches unlimited; savory meals and hilarious, dim-witted drudgery. Goals spear a story forward into the eventful, how, where, when or why accolades of story’s unpredictable journey. Goals often comprise story’s navigational force and fortitude.

A trip down folktale lane sites a few infamous goal setting quest-ers and outcome adventurers:

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Norwegian Folktale)

  • The grass is always greener across the bridge, if only that loud-mouthed goat-guzzling troll would step aside.

Little Snow-White (German Folktale)

  • Seriously, four accounts of attempted murder against your own seven year old child?
  • Wild boar organs with a dash of human never tasted so good.

The Emperor’s New Clothes (Denmark Literary Tale)

  • Royally paid, nameless tailors sell the king on their cutting-edge, custom-designed, fabric-less new cloths.
  • Less than royal street gawkers, wonder if they should enact legal precedence and have this royally acclaimed stripper arrested for inappropriate, flabby and pornographic  exposure.
  • The king’s choice to maintain his legally, royally approved presence while parading through town royally exposed.

Character’s goal setting and adventurous outcomes define story’s cankerous unfolding. Goals support listener navigation through the guided or misguided intentions of its outlandish characters.  They further help us step into character’s devious, mischievous, dimwitted, outwitted goal spearing adventures which lie ahead. Story’s plot is then built around the struggle, humor, adventure and wisdom of our goal quest-er’s journey.

Until next time . . . Let Your Storyographer’s Journey Continue!