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MOVING THE BOOKMARK FORWARD

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  I was in line at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore the other day and there was a rack of beautiful and elaborate gift-quality bookmarks near the cash registers. I marveled at how bookmarks have changed. Remember how bookmarks were once a common item in our lives? Bookmarks are strips of leather, cardboard, or other material used to mark one’s place in a book. As a kid, I remember the local public library gave you a paper bookmark when you checked out your books. I would take the greatest of care and use my bookmarks to remember my place in the book. Your public library allowed you to check out several books at a certain age, so I could have several bookmarks in use. I’ve collected some bookmarks over the years. I’ve also found them in old books. Right-Side-Up Stories used to have a bookmark with my poem Step Inside on the front of it. I need to bring that bookmark back. I’ve given bookmarks away as gifts, sent them to people in a card, … and I’m certain you have done the same. We don’t use bookmarks as much as we used to, do we? We read online or on a Kindle, Nook, iPad, or laptop that give us access to bookmarking our place.  Sometimes we replace bookmarks with something else when reading a real book. We’ll grab a piece of paper, an envelope, or bend down the corner of a page.  It’s never quite the same as a bookmark. Our lives are full of stories. The relationships in our lives are living stories. If you think about it, we are kind of like books with chapters. As people share their stories with us we would be wise to remember where we left off with them. Almost like a placing a mental bookmark. The hurried effort we live, the overwhelm of life, and work will attempt to crowd out the remembering. It will require us thinking for a second of a way to mentally and emotionally mark the place where we stopped in the conversation with that person. This is always a good idea. If we were to measure our life by the bookmarks we last placed in someone’s life, what page would we be on in their story? I have made a more recent habit of going back and checking in with people who have asked me to pray for them. In some way, the story they’ve been living has always changed. You can get the Facebook version or the intimate how-they-are-really-doing version by asking off the radar through a text, email or a phone call. The cost and effort? Time and intention. The value? Priceless. I encourage you to move the bookmark forward in a relationship today. The best part is that someone else’s amazing life story is being taken into your story as you do this.  While you are at it, turn the page in the storytelling of your life. Maybe they didn’t ask, but tell...

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Tune Into the Beauty

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I believe it has to do with the reality that I am purposefully trying to see things differently, and forging judgement. Be they my January 2017 rose-colored glasses, or my purposeful non-particular viewpoint, I am choosing to call out beauty when I see it. I like the word BEAUTIFUL. Pleasing the mind or senses aesthetically. The word has become my catch-all for many things. I use the word a lot. I am certain I overuse this adjective. Scattering it about like it’s a noun. So many things are beautiful. I have tried to tune my eyes, ears, mind, and heart to the things that are beautiful. Tuning the eyes: We don’t have to go further than our front door for beauty. Right now, things look so green with the constant rain we’ve had here in California.  Green is a color that is psychologically appealing to us. Color psychology tells us green represents renewal and growth… balance, calm and harmony. Tuning the ears: I find listening deeply and purposefully is key for me. Letting people talk without the need to comment, but instead affirm them. It’s what we call active listening. Music helps me tune my ears and my heart. And spoken word tunes my ear, and my heart, and my mind. Being a storyteller and writer, I realize the power of words.  “A word fitly spoken (at the right time) is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” says the Proverbs 25:11. Here are some Spoken Word Pieces that are BEAUTIFUL to the ear, heart, and mind. They tune my eyes, ears, heart, mind and soul like a tuning fork. I hope you enjoy them. Don’t listen to them all at once. Take your time. Tissue may be required for a few of them, and it seems fair to warn you. Taylor Mali, “What Teachers Make” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuBmSbiVXo0 Jon Jorgensen “Who You Are” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWi5iXnguTU Jon Jorgensen “The Wall” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGuO6hzI8Ok Shane Koyczan “To This Day” (for the bullied and beautiful) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sa1iS1MqUy4 Janette Ikz “I Will Wait For You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glB3yAFDX-o Brittain Bush “Woman At The Well” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opZv7lGJDdo Amena Brown Owen “Be Strong and Courageous” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfgU0RXDw4Y Melissa “Mommy, Can You Hear Me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP-PpfIfWzI   Tell me what you think… I am all ears and eyes!...

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Dear Ralphy

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“Dear Ralphy” is like a “Dear Abby” page for you to use on the Ralph Twigger Blog. Ralph would love to communicate with you. If you have a question, or a comment, or some advice for Ralph, feel free to leave it. Ralph will do his best to respond. He’s still learning to use the computer, but he is 70-something! For example: Dear Ralph, what do you do with Josh and Jeremy after their homework is finished? From, Sidney   Dear Sidney, I appreciate your question as it’s a good one. Sometimes we run an errand for Debra, their mom, or we play cards, watch cartoons, make the salad for dinner, or visit Mrs. Batesole’ who broke her hip. How about you, Sidney, what do you do after you finish your homework? Have a great day! Ralph Twigger Read the first story “Ralph Twigger” Read “Ralph Twigger, Ghost Buster”     Send him your questions on the “comments” section...

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Ralph Twigger -the first story-

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“Watch and Clock Repair…If your ticker’s not ticking, Ralph Twigger’s your ticket!” Ralph was rather proud of the signs. They were printed in a bright color with a grandfather clock, pocket watch and wrist watch at the bottom. It was his habit, on Mondays, to pick up two bear claws at Dorothy’s Donuts, tape up a few fliers and head back to the apartment. But this Monday when he climbed the stairs, he saw the owner of the building inside the apartment next door to his. There was a young woman with two children in tow. “Great,” Ralph winced, “I knew it was too good to last.” Ralph had had peace and quiet for two months. No one on the other side of #7. And now it looked like two small rockets complete with toys, bicycles, questions and high-pitched voices would be moving next door. “What’s that in your hand?” said a little voice, startling Ralph so that he spilled some of the orange juice he’d just carefully poured. Standing right in the middle of his living room was a little red-haired five-year-old. “What’s a matter? Cat got your tongue?” “How did you get in here?” asked Ralph. “The door.” “Little boy, I think your mommy’s calling you.” “What’s your name?”   -2- “Excuse me, but have you seen a little boy, about this tall, red hair?” “He’s right here, lady.” “Hi, Mommy. This is our neighbor. He eats bear claws too. Look at all his clocks!” Just then, two cuckoo clocks, three Westminster clocks, and a grandfather clock chimed the half hour. The little boy jumped up and down. “Do it again! Do it again!” “Sweetheart, the nice man can’t do it again.” She turned to Ralph and added, “I’m sorry. My son’s very friendly.” Ralph didn’t’ say a word, didn’t have a chance to say a word as the woman scooped up her son and headed out the door. There was no need for formal introductions at this point. Maybe she’d move in, maybe not. In the last week, he’d seen several people go in and out of the apartment next door, but not a family. There was only one other family in the whole building, and they were downstairs. A good place for families—downstairs—not upstairs next to #7. This was going to change everything. For two weeks Ralph wondered if apartment #6 had been rented. Then the weekend of March 4th arrived along with a truck full of furniture, boxes, two bicycles, toys and two high-pitched voices. The racket of furniture scooting, hammering, conversation, laughter, and country western music—which Ralph hated—went on for hours. He didn’t get a thing done that day. There was just no way to concentrate with all that noise. About nine o’clock, though, it stopped. Ralph fell into bed exhausted and worried. This was never going to work. His clock repair business was going to suffer, those two kids -3- would drive him crazy, and this seemingly nice woman would probably have...

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Mentoring Through Story

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People often ask me when I began storytelling. It all started at a small Christian college (Pacific Christian College, now Hope International University) while I was serving as an assistant dean. Whenever I was with students, I reached for a story. I found out that a story was a great way to get inside their story, to teach them, and to lift them up with encouragement. If the teaching material and the story connected to one another, this was a bonus! In fact, it created pictures that helped them remember material for a test, a final, or created the hoped for “ah-hah!”. I also counseled/mentored students with stories. I would be in counseling or mentoring session and ask, “Could I tell you a story that might relate to what you are going through?” The answer was always, “Yes.” After that moment of a story and the processing of its application came the question, “Could I have a copy of that story?” I’d walk over to our large office copier and make one, knowing I’d connected the student with a word picture for their pain, questions, confusion, processing, or personal growth. The first time I told the story of “The King Who Waits,” it was at this small Christian college. I’d been asked to speak at Dorm Devos. It was a weekly student-led time of community and a devotional, with an invited guest speaker. It was a real privilege to be asked to speak as this was usually reserved for pastors and professors. Students on and off-campus—residents from both the men’s and women’s halls—gathered (piled into) into one of the large lobby spaces after evening classes, ready for this “sacred-once-a-week-moment” together. I was asked to address the topic of “How to have an intimate relationship with God.” The more I thought about it, the more I knew it had to be a story that would best explain this relationship. I used the metaphor of a King—a Great King—and a subject coming to visit the King at the end of the day. To my amazement, weeks later the story was still hanging around in students’ lives and affecting their relationship with God. The preservative power of a story! This touched my heart deeply as a young assistant dean and a blossoming storyteller. And it gave me a push to continue writing stories that could serve as metaphors for our lives. It’s a pattern used by great speakers (and comediennes). I’m sure you’ve noticed this. The speaker will start with a story, and usually, it’s a funny story. I think they want to hear us laugh so they can relax a little. Any time this opening story is from their life, they have cleverly hooked us—connected our story to their story. They’ve got us. We’re for them. A good speaker will use story a second time in the body of their material. If they take us back into that first story by connecting the dots to the material we’ve been taught, they’ve...

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Top 5 Storytelling Tips From A Professional Storyteller

Posted by in Creativity, Storytelling | 0 comments

“What are the basic skills of a good storyteller, Melea?” came the question from a casual mentoring moment online. ” “Boy, that’s an excellent question and where do I start?” I pondered. Storytellers are good communicators. If you have ever been in the presence of someone who can tell a story, they probably made you feel valuable as the listener in the audience. How I give the story away will relate to how the person or group receives that story. I want the person to be involved in the story and not thinking about how dramatic my voice is, or of how I am using my hands for dramatic emphasis. Here’s the real truth about a storyteller: They want you to remember the story, not them. It is a very simple art form and preparing for great storytelling moments can break down into a Top 5! 1. Be a READER and a COLLECTOR of stories. Make sure the stories you desire to tell are meant to be told out-loud. Some stories are best on paper, and others are meant to be told out-loud. There are tons of genres and cultures to pull your stories from. There are the stories from your life and regular everyday living that can be just as powerful. If a part of our story has universal meaning and value, then it will have that for another person. Read the newspaper online, keep up on blogs, watch and observe the world around you in your everyday living. 2. KNOW your listeners. Do you have a group in mind for your storytelling? Is there a group you love to tell stories to? You want to know what makes these people tick. Who are they? Their likes and dislikes are? For example, if it’s children–spend time with them and listen to what is important to them, what makes them laugh, what touches their hearts. If it’s the elderly, make sure you have time to spend time with them. Teens connect care to the interest you show in what matters to them and don’t “preach” at them. Co-workers—you probably already know what they like. VERY IMPORTANT: Know your audience and care about your audience! 3. REHEARSE. In the car, before you go to sleep, or while waiting for someone. Try your story in front of a mirror—your body; your face is 90% of the message. Use your “beautiful living room voice” (that’s the middle register of your voice). With concentrating on pushing from your diaphragm as you speak, your voice will reach all the listeners in a large living room space, a boardroom, or classroom with ease.Push from the diaphragm and not the throat. Will you use a prop? If you do, rehearse with the prop. 4. START SMALL. 5-10 minutes of story is best for trying out this art form for a first time. Perhaps, two shorter stories that connect to one another in some way would be an effective and a fun foray into storytelling. Practice—rehearse the...

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“Writers Block and the Other Complications of Writing”

Posted by in Creativity, Storytelling, Writing | 0 comments

Any writer will tell you, “Yes, I have had writer’s block or… It comes and goes, like my sciatica and arthritis on rainy days.” It doesn’t mean you’re not a serious writer, nor that you lack something. It could mean you need to carefully examine your approach to writing. I am mentoring-coaching a young writer these days and he was having “writer’s block” so I went to some sources to find simple answers and encourage him to self-exam this this thing we call “writer’s block” I found a great article that addressed it. The article discusses Writer’s Block defined as “the condition of being unable to think of what to write OR how to proceed with writing.” Here were 10 Practical Tips to review concerning your writing. I found them very practical and helpful to my young writer and myself. Ginny Wiehardt, a fiction expert and the author of the article gives more information. My thoughts are in the parentheses.: 10 PRACTICAL TIPS TO OVERCOMING WRITER’S BLOCK Develop a Writing Schedule. (Hard one. I will admit it. Sure helps. And hold it sacred.) Don’t be too hard on yourself. (We are our own worst critic.) Think of it as a JOB and not an ART. (It becomes about the word “work” and takes the word “whim” away–I just didn’t FEEL like writing today.) Take time off after you’ve finished a writing project. (Celebrate! You did it.) Set deadlines and keep them. (Our phones are set up with reminders for this.) Examine deep-seated issues behind your writer’s block. If any… get some help. (Talk to other writers. If it’s something serious, yes, do seek help. Likely, not your fault.) Work on more than one project at a time. (I find this eases boredom, fatigues and excuses.) Try Writing Exercises. (I love writing prompts to free up my mind. Try https://promptuarium.wordpress.com/ A great little recent find on the internet.) Reconsider You Writing Space. (Do you have a dedicated writing space, free from distractions?) Remember why you started to write in the first place. (Go back to the beginning. Re-evaluate.) From http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm Another complication–my attitude. I control this. I answer for it. No one else does. Enough on that one. Another complication–circumstances beyond my control. Things happen. Sometimes, surrendering to them is easier on us and those around us. After that, “get back to the desk” as soon as you can. Don’t let the interruption cheat you of your work. So we stay up a little later, lose a little sleep, or get up a little earlier to work. We can and we will see work has a payout–you did it. ~And now, for some inspirational quotes on writing~ “Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.” —Anonymous “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” —Richard Bach “It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.” —Gerald Brenan “If you’re a writer, your first duty, a duty you owe...

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In Search of Theater for Teen Actors…just my thoughts

Posted by in Community, Storytelling, Theater | 0 comments

Okay, so where does director of faith-based theater go to research and find good material for H.S. students? After piling through sketch and play sites and a few other resources, I am considering the following: We need writers for high school aged actors (sketches and plays)… ones that will commit to writing the stories that matter to them! I need to write. Today, high school people are more sophisticated and wiser (worldly-wise) than ever before. My experience, after being back in the classroom is this: They won’t do corny.  They won’t do obvious. They won’t do things that seem immature-childish scenarios, story-lines, sketches or plays.  “Not-ever-going-to-happen in my lifetime…” as one teen informed me. They will do funny, if it’s truly funny. They will do serious work if they find it addressing a story that is true enough to be lived out by them or other teens around them. They don’t mind being the messengers.  They will work. They will show up and rehearse.  They’ll open up their own stories for the telling. I find it more than interesting that young adult fiction books (series)—read and enjoyed by teens—have become successful movies over the last several years: “The Fault In Our Stars” (John Green), “Divergent”, “The Hunger Games”. I personally have been moved by these stories and movies. The characters are brave and courageous—heroes and heroines—in their living and in their dying. Also, interesting to note, is the futuristic reality of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant (Veronica Roth) and the Hunger Games Series (Suzanne Collins). As a parent of a teen, a teacher and a theater arts director of teens, I am asking the question—“What is speaking so loudly to their hearts, minds and souls in these works?”… “How can I enter this dialogue and could I be a part of helping them tell the stories that matter to them?” The best way to do this, if teens are in your life, is to ask questions and create an open dialogue. Ask them at a time when they are open. “When’s that?!  The door is always closed,” you might be thinking. I find some of the best time is in the car on the way home or to places, after dinner or a dinner-out time, the last moments of the day before they retire. Let them talk… tell their story. This is not your time to philosophize-criticize-moralize…interrupt. Simply listen and open your ears. Ask open-ended questions. And make sure you are ready for some questions to come back your way. If you want to write for them, you must get inside their stories and find out what is hard, challenging, crazy, hopeful, joyous, important, etc., to them. With their permission, hurry to your laptop, journal, yellow pad and write as many notes as you can remember… And then when you get to the place of writing, ask them to be a part of the critique team.  They love that—critiquing us! Call or write me about your thoughts on writing for teens…...

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Re-Story Theater 2014-15 & Your Art-filled Summer

Posted by in Connection, Creativity, Storytelling, Teaching, Theater | 0 comments

  “Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.” -from a poem by Alan Alda   My H.S. Drama One class has ended and in a great way—a melodrama by Craig Sodaro, “Wait ‘Til The Sun Shines Nellie”! It’s been fun to see timid, apprehensive, quiet students blossom into confident and capable actors and servant-artists.  And for those that possessed drama skills already, there was a refining of them that may have even surprised them. We are all different after this year of Drama One. RE-STORY THEATER 2014-15! Next year, I am bringing my troupe—Re-Story Theater—back to life.  And I have decided it will be a H.S. troupe, supplemented with young adult and sage and crafted actors.  Could there be a better partnering—teens and crafted actors? I am convinced H.S. people need a place to rise above what we think they can do.  At the H.S. level there’s an offering of classes, a musical, the night of one-acts, or a dramatic play, but where do we send H.S. people to train and grow as actors… actors that want to give a sacred message away? I think there is a need for a Re-Story Theater troupe of high school aged actors. My desire is to have a team trained in improvisational theater which will perform shows with their partnering seasoned actors on a regular basis.  As skill and time allows, we will work sketches into these shows. Who knows, we may supplement the shows with other skills and talents such as music, dance, art.  We will see what God brings to our team of actors… My other hope for this team is that we will produce a Christmas play, to be performed in December of 2014.  I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, but when was the last time you watched a production where teens were the main storytellers?  Right.  I couldn’t either. If you are an interested teen or you are the parent or friend of a potentially interested teen (and living in the L.A. area), go to my website page where there are details and full description of Re-Story Theater  – http://rightsideupstories.com/re-story-troupe-membership/. Let’s talk!  Feel free to send me an email or give me a call, too. My contact info is on that page. Homeschool parents are often looking for a Drama elective for H.S. credit.  There is a strong possibility that we, together, could make this work for your son or daughter. The rest of us will wait, with anticipation, for news about Re-Story Theater!  You will be the first to know about it… Make it an Art-full Summer! I hope the summer that has begun will be bathed in stories.  Make a habit of visiting the public library on a regular basis. Look for their summer reading program for children. And libraries have air-conditioning! Why not see a play or a musical, visit a museum, or an art gallery …how about taking an art class,...

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Protected: RSUS Bulletin Board

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Grace Brock, Joan of Arc, monologue from George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan”

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