Different Kinds of Waiting

The interesting thing about trying to wrap my head around 6-hours of alone time (be still my introvert heart), is the growing realization that “someday” could actually have more time/focus/brain cells than I have now.

You see, I’ve subscribed for a while to the ‘if not now, when?’ and ‘if you want something done, give it to a busy person,’ ideas. I’m home with three kids, have been for six years, and expect to be for at least ten or so years more. If something is going to happen (like spinning, or writing a novel, or learning how to cook) it’s going to have to fit in now, because there’s no saying it will fit in better in a year or two.

And I think this can actually create anxiety.

Maybe depression?

Because I am so acutely aware of my limitations. They are so disappointing.

Add to that the growing awareness of needs around me, and I am left not only with a conviction I shouldn’t add anything more (like a dog or milk animal)– no matter how much I want it– but also face the question of how much I can/should keep doing what is already ‘on my plate.’

Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero via stock.xchng

All those motivational types encourage diving in and doing now.

And just now, just for me, I’m finding that maturity looks a bit more like waiting. Not ten years, but maybe three months.

Three months is not so painful.

It’s like waiting till the end of your engagement, instead of waiting (and wondering) if you’ll ever get married at all.

Because that long sort of waiting has always seemed like a no to me. And when I’m already living with the conviction that the right answer– the answer that includes my obedience– is yes, I’m left with trying to figure out the how.

And, yeah, I think the how is different for everyone. But I’m starting to get excited about what my how could be in a few months– even if it’s just for one semester.

Beginning Storytelling Part 1: Pick your story

The important part in story-choosing is to read long enough to know the difference between the story that grabs you, some people say it begs to be told, and the story that repulses you.

There should, of course, be many stories in between these extremes, but once you’ve had both experiences, you will better be able to set what you read on the spectrum.

Loads of stories aren’t stop-your-heart or change-your-life amazing, and that’s okay too.

You might compare stories to homemade dinners: one day you manage to recreate the best meal you’ve ever eaten in a restaurant. It’s just as good as you remember, and everyone loves it.

But everyone loves meatloaf, too; and pizza, and grilled-cheese sandwiches.

(Actually, I’ve never really liked grilled cheese sandwiches, but my kids do, and they’re easy to make, so I do.)

Sometimes you pick a story for someone else, like I give my kids grilled cheese, and as long as it’s a gift of love, that’s fine too.

The main thing to look out for in such situations is that you still invest in making the story as good as it can be.

What you can’t get out of, get into wholeheartedly.
Mignon McLaughlin

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Basic Storytelling & Story Collecting

Storytelling is as simple as a, b, c.

Just three parts:

  • To start with, you need to choose a story.
  • Then, you need to get it inside you somehow.
  • Finally, you need to get it out again, into someone else.

That’s about it.

For some of you that’s all you need to get to work.
I applaud you.
For the rest of us, the following posts will dig a little deeper.

Picking a story is nearly as complicated for me as the other parts, but just finding stories to choose from doesn’t have to be. Here are some on-line links and suggestions of stories that I have found useful. Continue reading »

What is Untangling Tales?

Story as art;
artistry as worship.
Worship, a way of living.

Untangling Tales is meant to be a reference and resource from damp to deep for those who desire to develop skill in the art of Storytelling.

Every Tuesday and Friday I’ll post an article, how-to, folktale or story performance aimed to teach or provoke thought on some aspect of Story performance.

An aside to my faithful readers (and the random visitor who pops back in for kicks):

I’ve been praying about how to focus my ever-expanding (it seems) world, and this is one of the results.

If you have questions or comments I welcome feedback as always. Feel free to leave a comment or drop a line: snow(dot)ffairy (at) gmail (dot) com.

~ ~ ~

For years now I have been benefiting from the generous writers who blog about real, useable stuff, sharing everything from courageous hearts and open kitchens.

So now it’s my turn. I’ve felt pulled to action for months, but unsure how to apply.  Recently a few questions were set on my plate:

What can I do that “most people” don’t?
Where have I been spontaneously complemented or thanked?
What ToDos leave me with more enthusiasm than when I started?
What makes me feel alive and connected to God as if it was created just for me?

(How many of these questions make me cringe and feel as though I’m not allowed to look directly at them?
All of them.)

My answers: writing, language, ideas and Story.

Frequently in the indirect (some people call it sneaky) application of Truth.

Truth used to travel from home to home, begging to be let in. But Truth was fearful to look upon in her nakedness, and no one would allow her to come near.

Truth dressed in a beautiful robe called Story, and all doors opened wide to welcome her in.

So this probably counts as a “relaunch” of Untangling Tales, more story-focused than before, and more others-focused too, my goal.

Weaving Tales is Live

So I did it.

Turns out (and I was very excited to learn this) the package currently supporting my blog has a lot more room than I’m using. So all I had to do was buy the domain ($4.99 the first year; I can so do this), and put my info into the template to have a basic website.

Naturally I’ll like best to have a blog-based (and therefore interactive) site, but this will do to celebrate securing the site I’ve wanted for a long time.

Check it out: WeavingTales.com

I’ve said before, I Love Beginnings

I had a migraine today.

I don’t get them often, not more than two, maybe three times  a year.  But they really mess with me.

Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they make me physically sick, but mostly they just make me feel weird (one hand or half my face goes numb) or stupid.  I can’t make connections or speak as coherently. I sometimes have blind spots, and don’t trust myself to drive.

If I had the option, I don’t think I’d choose the pain instead, but my version of a migraine is still *really* lame for me.

Anyway, the silver lining is that Jay essentially gave me the afternoon “off.”  I didn’t make lunch for anyone but me, and sat at my computer for a long time. I played at starting NaNo and strung together 1,367 words for a first chapter and another 600 or so on the concept.

You wonder what a first chapter first-draft looks like? Here it is, with no editing beyond spell-check.

And, no, I really don’t know what comes next.  If I were to continue writing on this story tomorrow or this month (which I *doubt* — this next week is nuts) I wouldn’t do the next scene, I’d do the next scene I know, which I estimate to be about chapter 4.  After that I’m only sure about chapters ~18 and 20/21.

The upside is that this book (whenever I do get around to writing it) should be signifcantly shorter than the first– if complexity is an accurate measure.

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An example where a fairy tale helped me

My first child’s birth was a blur. Roughly 12 hours from the first contractions till I held her.

My second’s birth was 3 hours, start-to-finish, with approximately 4-times the intensity of the first one.

Facing my next delivery less than two years after that unpleasant surprise (the labor, not the baby) I felt an understandable measure of anxiety about the impending birth.

Like many Christians I quoted Philippians 4:13 to myself, and focused on the certainty that I could trust God’s provision for every need I may have.  This took care of my rational self, but not my emotional self .

For that part I fell back to the time-tested principles of distraction and deflection when possibilities of fear or discomfort offered their presence.

Then, at some point during this pregnancy I was doing some tale-searching and came across The Princess on the Glass Hill, a story I read years ago but had forgotten the details of.  The part that stuck with me was the Cinderlad enduring each increasingly bone-rattling earthquake with a simple observation.

“Well, if it gets no worse than that, I can manage to stand it.”

And in that simple line I “found my peace.”

The line became a mental summary reconciling my emotional state with reality: See, it *hasn’t* been too much; I’m still here.

Therein is the power of story. Truth that couldn’t bang through the frantic defenses of my fears opened the door with a simple key.  And who but God could have orchestrated the finding of just the right story at just the right time?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and I pray that someday more of those gifts will be more accessible to hurting children, without the stigma hanging over them of what some people incorrectly think fairy tales mean.

Two New Words

I haven’t post a “word” post in eons.  So here are two that I’ve recently fallen in love with.


Not as the dictionary defines it, necessarily, but as it was used in our “Cannon” class at church.

In that context it was used at the word that describes the inerrancy in scripture, not only in its content, but in the precise choice of words used in the original language to convey that content.

Jay leaned over to me after the Pastor read his definition and said, “That is your word.”

And he’s right.  I love the definition I heard because it encapsulates what I’ve tried to convey by saying there are better and worse ways to phrase things, even when the end result basically means the same thing.


The Hebrew word from the Old Testament, defined (by my teacher.  Again, I fell in love with her version before I looked it up myself): to hear intelligently with attention; attentive and careful listening and regard with the implication of obedience.

Naturally I could help but think of this in terms of storytelling.  And I started mentally playing with the idea that if I ever started an actual “business” to try and make money telling stories, it would be cool to me to try and use that word (for the first part of its definition) as part of the business name.

It added an interesting element to the idea when I googled the word and found (among other things) it is

A singing bird of India, noted for the sweetness and power of its song. In confinement it imitates the notes of other birds and various animals with accuracy.

Anyway, bringing up storytelling-as-a-business means I really ought to just make a post about the series of careers I’ve got “lined up.”

Not that I expect them all to happen, just (as I think I mentioned before) I am interested in more things than I can do at one time, so I number things out.  For… some purpose, it feels like.

But for now, there are two new (to me) words that I’ve enjoyed.

Does anyone else collect words?  There must be some…

Blessings on your day!

Whew! (Storytelling Performance)

I did it!

Tonight I told my first major story set in about two years (Glimmers in the Darkness from this page). I recorded it too, so now I’ll actually be able to hear what it is I sound like.

This has to be good, no matter what I sound like, because I have to hear what’s wrong in order to change it, right?

I was pleased with how well I did. I’m always amazed/relieved I how well I can do once the “crunch” is on.

~ ~ ~

So now I’m about 50% psyc’ed, confidence built-up, to pursue this project further, and 50% ready to drop it like the hard work it is and do different work for a while.

Two different people tonight said variants on both, “I could never do that– I’m too shy,” and “That’s a *lot* of memorizing!” (It was roughly a half-hour set.)

I understand both statements, but have found that the stories themselves are the answer to both challenges.

When I find the “right” story something in it– a line, an image, a posture, grabs my imagination, and I want to spend more time with it.

Spending more time with the story provides the familiarity to share it (actual memorization and recitation is not even a recommended method of storytelling, usually), and the story itself is the thing that puts and keeps you in front of your audience.

Because if you have a good story you know instinctively that it *has* to be shared.

Even children understand this. Nothing has happened unless Mom or Dad has seen or knows about it too.

“Look at this Mama!” my girls say over and over again.

It’s not enough to experience it alone. Someone— best if it’s someone important— has to share it.

It’s saying that something important to me is also important to someone else, and this affirms that I fit into something larger than myself.

That a story that moved me equally affects someone else– this shows me something we have in common.

And while I often talk about Storytelling in the grand terms of cross-cultural unity, and the variety of things it teaches (because I’m trying to justify what other people may marginalize), I also just love the stories.

I love them because I need stories. And, frankly, if no one ever listened, I’d still need them.

So even when I step back for a season, this telling thing doesn’t just go away. And I find that reassuring, somehow.

What to do…(when you can’t do everything you love)

I have just finished a two-week Storytelling workshop with Antoinette Botsford.

It was delightful (as always) to spend so much time with people who value– and enjoy exploring– stories. And then I felt like I always do when I finish a chunk of creative work:

Now what?

I feel I have an aptitude for this. Or, if not an aptitude, sufficient training to make up for the lack.

The challenge, always, is deciding what to do with what I’ve learned. Thankfully (perhaps I should say, as usual), a familiar passage from a story played through my head, and seemed to answer that question.

In Jane Eyre, the title character is offered a position that might have appeared to be beneath her accomplishments. But she evaluated what she was being asked to do:

It was not ignoble– not unworthy– not mentally degrading.
“I accept it with with all my heart.”

“What will you do with your accomplishments? What, with the largest portion of your mind– sentiments– tastes?”

“Save them until they are wanted. They will keep.”

Very soon my children will be needing different things from me.

As we begin our transition into schooling I’ve been told that will keep me more from certain pursuits than their youngness did.

I will have to trust that these other things– my stories, my music– will keep.

I imagine the stories, at least, may grow as well, while we wait.