Never Sitting Down

A few weeks ago, I had a booth at the second Rochester Mini Maker Faire.

Last year, I also had a booth.  I put up my jewelry display and spent the day working on projects – specifically domes and embellishments for the Stages projects.  It was fun, I enjoyed talking people through my work while actually having my hands busy (and covered in Mod Podge), but there were a number of kids who came by expecting to be able to DO something, MAKE something, LEARN something.

So I decided to have a hands on part to my booth this year.  I figured “half the booth, half the time”, and that I could work on a new project (in its VERY early prototyping stage) for a hunk of the time.

Silly, silly Storychick.

The hands-on experience (make a bead  – regular, rolled circle or “s”, or origami waterbomb) was a HUGE success.  So much so, that I didn’t have a chance to sit, really, all day!  People were thrilled and excited to get specifics on how to do more at home, though that didn’t diminish my work in their eyes.  Several had questions and ideas for taking the activity in other places.  Schools, hospitals, recovery camps.

To be honest, I had been a bit nervous about the activity.  At some of the initial craft shows where I had tried to sell my jewelry, I had several “I could do that” comments.  I worried that letting people make regular beads would convince them that this was a simple task and that they  would not value what I had created.  This was the impression given by those at the craft show.

You know, it’s funny how things work.  I intended to write this post about the Faire and this experience and what I’ve learned, but never connected it mentally to the nervousness I had when publishing Framework Basics until now.  A few days after that experience, Seth Godin posted about how others will react:

For each person who cares enough to make something, who is bold enough to ship it, who is generous enough to say, “here, I made this,”…

There are ten people who say, “I could have done it better.”

A hundred people who say, “Who are you to do this?”

A thousand people who say, “I was just about to do that,”

and ten thousand people who don’t care at all.

Themes.  Connections.  It’s all related.

Back to the Faire – the point was that I did not have anyone say “I’ve done that” in a negative way.  Yes, some said it, but they saw next steps in my work that they hadn’t ever considered.  At one point during those craft shows I had worried about guarding my process so that others couldn’t pick it up and run with it.  I didn’t consider it all that innovative or unique and figured those who tried would come up with something similar or better.  This time, that wasn’t a concern.  I felt like an expert and was able to enjoy watching people discovery the intricacies I see in making each bead.

I’m super excited at some of the ideas that came out of discussions with my bead-makers.  I should have some news in that space next week!

I declare the Faire a success!  I didn’t get time to do ANY work on my projects.  I wish I had had more time to talk with people on the display side, also.  Next year, I’ll need a helper.  That’s rather exciting. : )

I have one Stages complete and one more just waiting final assembly.  Both will go onto Etsy soon.  Here are some preliminary cellphone shots of the first Stages – Dragon.



Storychick’s radio debut!

Many things are in the works, as always.  Next week I’ll give you my post-mortem of the Maker Faire.  In 3 words – good chaos/ madness.

Today, I wanted to let you know that my show on WAYO 104.3FM Rochester debuts tomorrow!  I am on every Saturday at 10am (it’s a 1/2hr show).  Even better, for friends beyond the Rochester area, the show is streaming on the website.

(Archives may not show up immediately after this week’s show, but they will be coming – keep an eye on the show page)

ROC Soup logo

ROC Soup is a melting pot of Rochester stories, with some fables thrown in. History, everyday stories from your neighbors, and live stories from cool Rochester people. I’ll alternate between a mix of stories one week and an interview the next.

Up tomorrow: Mrs J Milton French, immigrants, and ROC love.
Next week, my first guest will be Arleen Thaler, a photo-journalist working to tell the stories of those without voices.


But what, you may ask, is a community?


As I started reaching out to people in an effort to promote Framework Basics, the question came up. What is community? What types of communities can benefit from this product?

The answer is pretty much anything, but I broke it into 2 slices:

  1. Community is any group with which you would like to develop a relationship, or who you would like to see develop relationships among themselves.  Cities, schools, neighborhoods, customers, employees, etc.
  2. The communities we care about usually align with how we identify ourselves – the categories we use to describe who we are.  For example, I am a Rochesterian, a UR and Simon alum, an ex-Kodaker, I’m a Roelle and a Musso, I am a bit of a foodie, a supporter of local business, a sister, a wife, a fan, a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur, a lover of dark beer.  Any of these can be communities to join, start, or work to create & strengthen through story.

Who is your community?  What communities do you come into contact with regularly?

What’s cool about Framework Basics is that it’s a solution that spans business, social, and family needs.  You can use it for work, for your church, and to get your kids talking to their grandparents.

Check it out, see if it might work for you! And if creating a program yourself seems daunting, send me a note via this page and I’ll be in touch to talk about what I can do to help.

Storychick’s story framework and what it can do for you – Building the case for story

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, jic.  Story is not just “storytime”, not just fiction, not just slams, and not just marketing.

The community building power of story can impact us personally and every organization or group we are a part of – meetups, non-profits, Facebook super groups, businesses, schools, the list goes on.  We can use story to establish and discover connections and to build and strengthen relationships. As we get closer to those we want to reach out to, as we pull together those who need to connect, story can help to grow and shape those bonds.

Story is a unique gift that we, as human beings, can use to move among social groups peacefully, to unite for a larger cause, and to adapt to changes in our environment.

As the concept of Storychick spreads, I have more and more conversations, more and more discussions about the potential impact of story in various places and what people can do to build their communities (of users, employees, volunteers, family, friends, etc) using story’s superpower of connection.

I’m formalizing that process and opening the doors to new partnerships and endeavors.


The story framework

What types of story are best for your goals?  Should you create, gather, or blend your story?  How do you plan to share it?  What happens next?  Where do you even start?

Storychick can help

Framework Basics can walk you through the questions to ask and steps to consider when starting to use story for your community.

With Framework Consulting, I’ll sit and build the process with you and help you set the foundation for ongoing story efforts.

Or consider Build My Story.  Storychick can generate content and craft a story that will strengthen and grow your community moving forward.

Watch this space

I’ll have some more elements of Storychick to share coming soon.  Don’t forget that I’ll be at  the Rochester Mini Maker Faire on 11/21 (Booth 56)!


I realize that someday I’ll need a system.  A way to handle these things more efficiently.  Maybe that will even include another person on the team, down the line.  Because there are a lot of details, a lot of moving pieces, a lot of work – that go into putting these things together.  And that’s part of why I’ve been quiet for so long.

But what, you ask, are “these things”?  What’s been going on?


Fringe flew by again this year, as delightful and crazy and exhausting as in years past.  Only more so.  This year I had 2 shows!  And I did a Highlights performance on the Gibbs St stage.  All of the awesome that comes with pulling together Rochester Stories and being a part of the magnificent First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival continued this year.  I met so many great people – as I gathered stories, as I promoted the show, and at my performances.  People continue to be surprised and delighted by the concept of actors performing the stories and the play of discovery for who the stories really belong to.

I can also see how the show has grown.  There’s a bit more maturity to the composition – the history stories have expanded from a paragraph or two to a page or more.  I’ve learned as a Director, even if I’m still more hands-off than the actors are used to.

The greatest beauty continues to be in the connections.  We actually had a bit of a receiving line as people left the theatre from the last show (a near sell-out) and went downstairs for food and discussion.  The faces of people as they thanked me for the work were energized and beaming.  I connected with several people who may lead to new opportunities.  People shared stories after the show over great Greek eats.  This is why I do this.


Writers & Books was a great venue this year.  A chorus of thank-you’s to the cast, who put so much heart and generosity into telling these stories of Rochesterians.


Immediately after Fringe, I rolled into plans, preparation, and marketing for an event called #DareToImagine.  Sponsored by the US Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) (not a governmental organization), #DareToImagine happened over the course of a week in cities around the country.  I led the charge for Rochester, partnering with ROCSPOT, ICOG, The Fruit Belt Project, the City of Rochester, the Rochester Brainery, and Global Revolution Comix.

The event invited the public to come and creatively share their visions of Rochester’s future.  There were several exercises aimed to help people think about what life may be like here in 2035.  How have we tackled our problems?


We had a decent crowd given that the event was outside on a blustery day with the first hints of snow for the season.  Not many stopped to play or get really creative – but we got a lot of brainstorm ideas to work with.  It’s a great first step and one that we may repeat in the future, so watch out.  Together, we can change the future of our city.

Next up are two Maker Faires!  I’m organizing the event 11/6-11/8 for the Pittsford Barnes & Noble, where I work, and will be exhibiting on Friday, then the Rochester Mini Maker Faire is 11/21 where I’ll have a hybrid hands-on/ demo booth.  And more is in the works.  Never a dull moment!

EEEK – I’m doing a show!

I’ve been horribly remiss and I think the blog may have hissed at me for neglecting it so as I logged in just now.   *sigh*

But it’s First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival season and I’m putting on a show!

This is my first Fringe while not 100% with heart stuff, so there have been challenges.  But I’m going to rock it.  You’ll see.


So, here are the details!

Not sure about the show? – I’ll be doing a teaser preview on the Highlights stage on Gibbs St – these run from 3-430, I think I’m close to first.  It’s just 5 minutes but come, try it out!

9/20 3pm, 9/26 6pm
Writers & Books
$7 (and we have snacks from Voula’s after)

A couple of things I really want you to know about this show.

  • I love hearing people’s stories, I love the story owners – several of whom should be in the audience, and I love that buzz of making new connections. This is at the heart of why I do this. If I can get the people of ROC on the same vibe, we’ll be so much closer to fixing things.
  • I have designed the show so that you can focus on the stories. Listen with open minds. Understand the emotions, the experiences, and how you might be connected. Then, once you see the connections, you’ll find out who the stories belong to.
  • Every voice has value.  Every voice should be heard.  Stories that I’ve gathered NOT used in this show will be used elsewhere, so long as the story owners are OK with it.  I’m presenting a selection of stories but my map shows all of them and I can tell you many more.  If you have interest in specialized themes or parts of the community, let me know, we can work on putting something together.
  • You are welcome to share YOUR story!  I’ll invite sharing at the end of the show.  We’d love to hear your tales!
  • At the close of the show, we will have our snacks in a room on the 1st floor.  All are welcome to come, meet the cast & story owners, have some yummy goodies, and chat.

Hope to see you there!

Once upon a time, I gave a TEDx talk!

My TEDxRochester video went up on YouTube a few weeks ago – right around when my laptop blew up and posting got, well, wrinkly.  It’s nice to have all of your tabs and files where you know you can find them.  I’m on a backup, but I should be getting my real computer back today with (almost, knock wood) all files intact.

So, my video!  As you may remember, I opened the show, after Larry Moss told his ROC Soup story. This was an awesome experience on the incredible stage provided by TED for ideas the world over.  So curl up as the summer rain falls and discover the power of story.  And share the idea with any and all! Happy Friday!

And finally, there’s one more week left to vote for Storychick in the Chase Mission Main Street grant contest. 250 votes will get me to the judging round. I could still use lots of votes. It’s very appreciated.

What would you do with $100,000? The Chase Mission Main St Grant explained

Perhaps you’ve noticed the sidebar.  Perhaps not.  I have joined the contest for one of 20 $100,000 grants from Chase.  I’ve submitted my answers to their questions and now need to pass the next phase.  That’s where you come in.  I need 250 votes in order to make it to the judging round.


Why should you vote for me?  What are you supporting?  I thought I’d share some of my application responses here so that you can get an idea of what I’m trying to do with all of this.


As with good stories, three events inspired my business.

  1. In 2008, I had a potentially fatal heart episode. It changed my perspective on life. I realized how important every moment can be and the tragedy that is corporate zombiedom. I knew that I needed more than just a job.
  2. A few years later, I was asked to map my career path and I realized that my passions are about perspective – and that is understood through story. I knew I needed to make story the center of my efforts.
  3. Finally, I read Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Start-Up – which made it clear that I didn’t need investors and corporate governance to get started. I knew I could take action.

Storychick today is about building community through stories. I am a storyteller focused on story gathering and sharing.  I gather stories from everyday people all over our city and share them in performances and on an upcoming radio show. I teach people about telling and gathering stories – both adults and youth. I offer story services, such as gathering stories from event speakers and story-based tours to assist the visually impaired. I also create story-related papercrafts – artwork designed to inspire story telling and sharing.

While businesses continue to sprout up around story, many focus on business storytelling. My focus on using story to connect people is, I believe, rare. I have seen a few scattered small businesses across the country that talk in similar terms. These primarily work in disenfranchised communities or schools.

Each year of Storychick’s business has seen more visibility, more success, and more excitement – spurring new programs and opportunities. There are a lot of great efforts underway right now to celebrate our city and to solve our problems. I pride myself in leading such an effort and building our community story by story.

In the short term, I plan to expand my audience and visibility. This will be through the launch of the radio show, expanding the number of live performances, and increasing educational and consulting efforts. This also will include efforts to publish – both guest posts online and in online/print journals and magazines.

Further out, I will start to offer content for sale – starting with ebooks and toolkits, as well as traditional books (I have 3 in the works currently). This content will range from story instruction to collected stories to a memoir and a novel. I plan to become a local expert in story gathering and sharing, someone people reference and turn to regularly, and this will create new opportunities, as well.

After becoming a local expert and setting story fully in motion in Rochester, NY, I plan to focus on other markets – implementing similar programs through training, toolkits, and in-person consulting.

The grant would shorten the timeframe to achieve these goals – in part by allowing me the time to write, gather, and create and also through the networking and visibility afforded by the training and advertising budgets.


Feel free to ask questions.  Feel free to share this post or just tell people to go vote. ; )  I hope that I’ve earned your interest, at least, and that you’ll stick around to see how this all comes together.  It’s a grand adventure, this life, and I love sharing it through story.


Creating a story to guide you

I’ve recently taken a class with Rob Young called Creating a Plan that Works (CAPTW) (Watch his site for information on the next round – it’s worth it!).  Step by step, Rob walks you through a process to define the project you want to work on.  Every aspect of the project – why this project, how it plays in to your ultimate goals and motivations, who you can turn to, how you’ll prioritize the project versus other parts of your life, etc.  There’s a LOT there, but it’s worthwhile because in the end, you should have a pretty solid plan and be pretty psyched to get started.  When you do start the project, your plan serves as a guide – you have a timeline with milestones all building to your goal and you’ve already considered most objections/ obstacles and how you will deal with them.  My project has I been to get into a writing habit – producing the content that was on the roadmap for the year but was not happening for several bad reasons.

One of those reasons is that my health troubles have come back and just months after the ablation that righted things, I had another last week.  The procedure was long and tough, but the doctors were fairly confident they’d solved the biggest problems.  Of course, I was showing oddness on the monitor as I was held overnight for observation – so we’re cautiously optimistic right now and will verify in a few months.

It’s easy to be frustrated.  It’s easy to rail at lousy luck and despair of ever getting back into shape and returning to a body image that I still hold in my head for myself.  To envision a life of limited movement and infrequent social activities due to the illness and be mad.

But I’m the one laying out this plan.  As I tell the story of what is happening to me, it is in my power to shape and mold – to foresee obstacles and their solutions, to map how things will progress.  I am designing this story as carefully as the novel now in the works and as meticulously as my CAPTW project.  I tell my story in each tweet, each Facebook post, each email.  And I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I am not going to despair or show frustration because at this moment, even still sore from the procedure, I choose to believe myself on a path to health.  I am marveling at the skill and care shown by the whole team.  I am planning the adventure ahead.


If symptoms return, there will likely be some issues.  I may loose control of the story.  But every adventure has pitfalls and moments of crisis.  Every book has conflict.  I can envision the adventure ahead, the victory won.  I can revel in the wonder of what’s around me, even while trying to figure out what the next fix (if needed) will be.

The Norsemen of the Viking Age (780-1070) believed that their stories were already written.  That their fates were already laid out for them.  Even though they could not control the end of their tale – they made sure to give it spice along the way.  As one scholar put it “humanity is born to trouble, but courage, adventure, and the wonders of life are matters for thankfulness, to be enjoyed while life is still granted to us.” (H.R. Ellis Davidson quoted in The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland)  I like that approach.

It also brings to mind Tiffany Staropoli – a friend I met through TEDxRochester – when diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, she took control of her story and dealt with it her way – not as a fight, but with dancing and love.

How can you shape your story to guide you forward?  If you were creating your story plan, what  would your goal for it be?

A life in perspective

My little brother had a rough time in kindergarten.  His color by numbers were always weird and wrong.  And then they were fine.  It turns out he has a red-green deficiency – his is partly color-blind.  He did his color by numbers as he saw them until he learned to read the names on the labels.  For him, the lawn is orange and any other shade would be wrong.


This was one of my first tastes of perspective, and I know I’ve mentioned the story in this blog before.  I wanted to see the world through his eyes and understand the differences in the view.

Shortly after we started dating, my husband bought me An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks.  It did not take long for me to become hooked on his narratives – the perspective he provided into the lives of people whose brains worked differently from my own.

Later,The Island of the Colorblind dealt with some of those first questions. I found the discussion of artwork by artists who see only black, white, and shades of gray – and the details within it that cannot be seen by the color-sighted – fascinating.  And Migraine helped me to understand my own migraine cycle, as well as put my head problems on a spectrum (where I was not all that bad off).

Oliver Sacks has had a great influence on the types of stories that I pursue and his influence is central in my push to help people connect through stories.  As he notes: “… there is no one like anyone else, ever. … it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”  We all have unique, and yet shared, perspectives.  Sharing our stories show us that we all encounter similar types of experiences and emotions – but also celebrates the unique approaches, viewpoints, and coping structures that we each build to deal with them.

There is infinite variety in life, and in story, and I thank Sacks for showing me that.

On the discovery recently that cancer has metastasized nastily and he does not have much time left, Sacks once again provided perspective.  His op-ed piece in the New York Times explores his view of the world, and what is important given the limited time he has left.  His focus has become intensely personal while also celebrating humanity.

He’s grateful for the adventure – and not calling it closed until it has to be.

It’s all perspective.

If you could see the world from someone else’s perspective, whose would it be?  Whose experience would you like to better understand through their stories?  Tell us in the comments below.