Fall is ripe with stories

There’s a crispness in the air.  More order to the shorter days as school gets underway.  The leaves turn and crunch underfoot.  Apple and pumpkin dominate the flavor scene, like it or not.  And nothing beats a story tied with an autumnal bow.

Ideally while cradling a steaming mug of spiced cider in chilly hands.

But potentially in a booth!  Or nestled amidst forested hills!

The Key Bank Rochester Fringe Festival runs Sept 14-23 and the Storychick Storybooth will be at its heart – in the Spiegelgarden at One Fringe Place, for the duration!  Come, listen to a Fringe story, and leave one of your own!  Come back to catch new stories – I’ll be swapping new for old regularly throughout the Fringe.

I’m really excited about this concept, about Fringe, and about the potential for story discovery throughout the city!  Be sure to stop and check it out!

Never Fringed before?  You don’t know what you’re missing – this is an incredible assemblage of vast and varied talent and it’s very #ROC.

You also have the opportunity to be among the first stories heard opening weekend.  Call 585-210-0805 and leave a story (The recording will run for 3 minutes.  If you need more time, call back) about a Fringe experience! I know we live in a town of last-minute Lou-Lous, but I do need to get set up ahead of time, so please call now!


Post-Fringe blues? Craft and hone a personal story along with me at the amazing Cumming Nature Center Sept 30 at 12 and 230!  I’ll give you story tips through the day as we iteratively work in groups and on our own to craft a tale for day’s end.  Storytelling is as old as human history – it’s part of our nature – and everyone has a story worth sharing.  Let me help you find yours at the Heritage Maker Storytelling workshop!

How are you Leaping?

Inspired by Seth Godin, I am burying my disappointment with February and turning my thoughts to leaping through wonder and the exciting road ahead.

It’s not just Leap Day – an extension to  the brutal month of February.  It’s Leap Year and it can celebrate those great steps towards innovation and new adventures.

The existing power structure wants to maintain the status quo, and is generally opposed to the concept of leaping. In fact, if you want to make change happen, if you want to give others a chance to truly make a difference and to feel alive, it’s essential that you encourage, cajole and otherwise spread the word about what it means to leap.

An opportunity to help the people around you level up. It’s an obligation, an opportunity and a chance that I hope you’ll accept. Tell the others.

Leaping is a part of what we celebrate at Icarus.  Through our repeated efforts at making art, at connecting others, at innovating in the face of today’s challenges, we are crossing the globe – leap after leap, bound after bound.  To find out more about the Icarus Sessions in Rochester, check out our Facebook page – everyone is welcome, anyone can share!


So, how am I leaping today?  I have some leaps ready – knees bent, butt wiggling like a cat ready to pounce – that I can’t discuss quite yet, but which I think will have awesome impact.  Others?

  • Rochester Stories – the FOOD show – will be April 14th at Writers & Books!  It’s a pot luck event – bring a dish, hear and share stories of food – which so shapes our lives, traditions, and relationships.
  • The story beading class went well and I hope to carry that model forward into other programs.
  • I’m working on more ways to get Storychick out into the community.  If you have a group that would like to get its message heard or learn how to better understand each other through story, let me know – I’d be happy to work something out!
  • ROC Soup radio is rolling forward with great success.  I’m having a blast matching stories and music and sharing time and stories with great guests doing good work.

I’ll be posting more on all of these leaps soon.

Now it’s your turn!  How do you plan to level up?  What innovations, what art, are you making to change your world?  How are you LEAPING?  Comment below!



This past Friday marked one year since my last episode.  One year of battling the unknown issue causing my PVCs (bad beats that are non-productive, causing exhaustion among other symptoms).

The anniversary passed in a whirlwind.  I’d just returned from a trip to Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos.  The return trip was extended and stressful thanks to Winter Storm Jonas.  I ended up with an evening to recoop before the next big adventure.


Which wasn’t enough.

But Monday am we reported in anyway to Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee.  Our friends at Airigami have once again surpassed themselves.  40,000+ balloons, 75 crew members, and 4 days to produce a 5-story sculpture full of detail, vibrance, and texture. A new theme introduced 3 curious kids who have access to a balloon that lets them explore what they want – and they were exploring the Genesee’s wildlife this year.  Storychick had several roles:

  • Story stations – In relatively quiet space on the 3rd floor, we placed 5 story stations which played fables I’d recorded related to animals in the sculpture.
  • Audio tour – I put together a backstory for the kids and an audio tour, like last year, but with more real-time audio than before.  (You can find it here)
  • Stage performance – This is upcoming!  I’ll be on stage Friday night, right before the start of First Friday, telling stories!  Some old tales, some new, some new twists on ones you thought you knew….

I love working with Kelly & Larry’s designs, then building a story that incorporates great audio clips from throughout the week of the build.  It’s a great story endeavor.


And there’s more!  I have some other projects starting – more on those soon!  But other things to watch for this week include:

  • Story beads at the Brainery!  Learn to make regular, rolled round & S, and origami water bomb beads – and build your stories into them.  Include parts and pieces, words and symbols, in your beading.  Tell your story to the piece you create and share with the class, if you’re cool with that.  It’s a great way to heal, vent, and commemorate while also getting in the meditative handwork of craft.
  • Saturday on ROC Soup – January was Human Trafficking Awareness month but we didn’t quite get this show together while I was gone.  It’s an important topic, so we’re having a bit of January in February.  My guests will be from the Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking – Lauren Van Cott (of Angels of Mercy) and Melanie Blow.

Story is more than meets the eye

The Storychick approach to storytelling is not just about how to spin a yarn – it’s more than writing or telling stories.

It’s about LISTENING.

There’s a magic to it, when you open your ears, heart, and mind.  And an art.

When you are building and strengthening a community, listen to those with stories to tell.  Listen to those whose voices are not often heard.  Listen indiscriminately.  Set bias aside and listen without judgement.

When you are talking to customers, listen to what they need, what they’re struggling with.  Listen to how they approach problems and questions, to the language they use.

In order to share YOUR story – you need to know where your audience is coming from, what moves them, what will resonate with them.  This is learned when you listen.

But wait …. there’s more!

Listening shows that you care.  It builds a bond between you and the teller, you and your audience.  It satisfies, encourages, and thrills your audience before you even start.

As I’ve said before, it’s about getting someone ready to share talking to someone willing to listen.  THAT’S where the magic happens.


BTW, this week on ROC Soup, a tale of coyote and badger, the Farmer’s Tavern & Inn, and more.

Looking for a last minute experience-type gift?

‘Tis the season, so I have to let you know!

Storychick will be teaching a new class at the Rochester Brainery on 2/4!  You can sign up a loved one now and share the experience in just over a month.

This class is a direct result of the hands-on experience at the Rochester Maker Faire.  Everyone will get to try their hand at the regular, rolled circle, rolled S, and origami water-bomb beads – then you can continue working to create a string or a new creation all your own – whatever inspires you!

Ah, but there’s a twist!


These are STORY beads.

We’ll be including pieces of stories that are important to you in the beads themselves.  Those who are ready and willing can share these stories as we work or at the end of the session.  At a minimum, your beads will carry your story for you.

This is a great way to start healing from painful stories, to create a piece that carries the tale of a loved one, and to have some fun creating – even if your story seems to be an everyday tale.

Supplies will be provided, but if you have any papers that you are fond of – any favorites from holiday gifts, for example – you’re welcome to bring them.

See you in February!



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.



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.


Stories to help see

2015 to date has been a whirlwind and I’ve been missing here on the site – but you’ll be seeing more of me.

One incredible project that I’ve worked on was for my friends at Airigami, in support of their project Balloon Manor.  Let me set the stage – 73 crew members from around the world, 4 days and nights, and 45,000 balloons coming together into a 38 foot x 32 foot, 5-story tall installation. IMG_20150228_130514_322

Larry & Kelly of Airigami take pride in making their work accessible.  Balloon Manor was free to view.  It is built in a location that supports the revitalization of Rochester’s downtown and also makes it easy for bus-riders and downtown residents to participate.  They wanted to bring the experience to everyone – including those whose eyes could not see the vibrant seascape they had created. They brought me in to tell the story of the piece.

I sat at the periphery of the build – observing as the weaves and twists emerged into ships and creatures, treasure and sea-life.  Occasionally, I would walk around with my recorder, gathering the sounds of the experience.  Once complete, I took a long slow tour of all 5 floors, noting all the details that I could – shapes, colors, and textures.

Early on, I realized that the story had to be told in two parts.  First, a narrative.  There is clearly a story unfolding before our eyes in this sculpture and that overarching tale needed to be told before the details and intricacies were explored.  The forest before the trees.

And so the tale of The Pioneer, an ill-fated pirate ship, unfolded. I then told the story of the details of the piece, starting with how pieces emerged during the build and rolling into a tour from the 5th floor down to the ground level.   I wrote this all out as a script and then recorded my narration.  Then I layered in audio snippets from my walks around during the build and after the opening day.

I gave everything the flavor of a tale told by the fire while still trying to capture the scale and scope of the work – its huge size and striking intricacies.  I read the tour to a small group that included at least one blind person and she really appreciated it, while the kids enjoyed the story.  The tour was available at Balloon Manor for a week while it was open, and I hope it helped more people, as well.  You can still download it here if you want to check it out.

I know that audio tours are not new.  I tend to avoid them because I like to explore on my own, but I may check some out now as a point of comparison.  From what I’ve glimpsed, most are more replacements for tour guides – historical facts and perhaps stories and maybe some “if you look closely, you will see …”, but not a replacement for sight.

By weaving the tale of Balloon Manor, I hope to have brought some of the joy and wonder of the art to those who could not see it.  I look forward to more such opportunities – telling stories to help make the wonders in life more accessible to everyone. IMG_20150301_111150_565

How do you think stories might help the people around you to experience new things?  What tales can you tell to bring something to life for someone who may not be able to appreciate it fully?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2014 – the half-a -year

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on my year for 2014 – and that’s a good thing.  It’s been cleansing and I feel like I have a much clearer picture of what I need to do to make the pieces of the puzzle come together in 2015.

And yet, as I sit to write this, I flip from window to window, refreshing Twitter, Gmail, and Facebook to see what might be new.  I’m avoiding it and I’m not sure why.

For this year, I’m going to take a look at what went well and what did not go well.  To set the stage – my three focus words (thanks Chris Brogan) were: Growth, Packaging (as in putting a finished shine on what I produce, overall), and Visibility.

Overall, I think I did pretty well along those lines – especially considering the year was really half of what it could have been.

What went well
TEDxRochester 2014
Storychick was a lot of places in Rochester this fall:

  • TEDxRochester – Speaker #1 for the day and set the tone for everything to come!  I made a lot of great connections and showed that the little mouse did not fear a huge audience.  So excited to see where this leads.  Once I have the video, you’ll see it!  Plus, I did a ton of Superhero Backstories (one still pending) that nicely teased our speaker talks while letting them talk about their inspiration in their own voice.
  • Rochester Mini Maker Faire – A huge crowd came to see and experience all sorts of making at the Convention Center.  I exhibited my papercrafts and again made some great connections talking about bringing the concepts and stories to other audiences.
  • First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival 2014 – Another great show that got the audience excited and energized about stories in the ROC.  More connections made and such great post-show conversation, I wish I could have splintered into clones to talk more with everyone!

Storychick.wordpress.com redesigned – I put a lot of thought into how to bring the elements of my work more to the forefront on the site.  There are still a few tweaks that I want to make, but I love the way it came out – it looks a lot more professional and real than just a blog with too many categories.  I got a lot of great feedback on it, too.

ROC networking – I had some great advice from Rob Young on narrowing my focus for now to the ROC – until I get established.  This is sort of what I was doing already, because I’m here and it’s convenient and something I care about, but the new focus really kicked me into gear making the Rochester connections I need.  I put myself out there and met a lot of great new people.

New non-profit work – I started new relationships in two new volunteer spaces who needed what Storychick can offer.  Loop Ministries is a soup kitchen/ food pantry that wanted to gather and share the stories of those it serves – bringing light to the dark corners of need, showcasing the humanity of their participants, and celebrating the work being done.  ROCspot is leading a grassroots movement to bring manufacturing, jobs, education, power savings, and community spirit to ROC through the solar industry.  I’ll be telling the tale and leading the marketing and messaging efforts for the group.

Finally, I started writing – Page for page, I’d like to have done more, but I got started and that’s big.  I have several book ideas and shorter things rumbling in my head that I started bringing to life.  I also started capturing the moments of wonder that strike me – again – there should be more of these – that’s part of next year’s plan.

So, if all of that went well – what didn’t?
Well, I called it half-a-year –  I had serious health problems that led to me spending most of the first half of this year in bed.  I couldn’t go.  I hurt and the only even minor relief was flat on my back.  All told, 6 months is not necessarily a long amount of time to deal with something before it goes away completely.  I am lucky there – I just wonder what else could have happened if I had been fixed all year.

Blogging frequency – I fell off.  After the site redesign, I moved the news that was what frequently made up my blog posts to the newsletter and struggled sometimes to find something to post.  And some obvious posts didn’t happen for the same reason I was avoiding this one.

“More of an art project” – I’m not making money at Storychick yet – I’ll be honest.  It’s evolving and growing.  Now I just have to master that business model.

New projects didn’t get attention – In the midst of everything else, I had to cancel a new class because I didn’t get the minimum number of registrants.  I’m not swayed and will be trying that again in January.

Personal stuff – In addition to health issues, there were some personal stresses and disappointments in 2014 that I won’t get into here.  I’m hoping the clearer mindset for 2015 helps with these, as well.  I will fight so that they don’t keep me from my work.

All in all, several great victories and some struggles I just need to get under control and beyond.  But a good year – one that did see Growth, Packaging, and Visibility.  I’m quite excited for 2015!  Watch for that post later this week.

Thanks also to Chris Guillebeau for the #AnnualReview framework.

Big News! x2!

Two great announcements to share!

  • It’s official!  Rochester Stories 2014 is a part of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival!  Tickets are already on sale – get them now! Last year’s show was a thrill and I’m really excited about the stories I’m gathering this year.  Hope to see you there!


  • Also, I will be speaking at TEDxRochester this year!  It’s a huge honor and pleasure to be among the ranks of really awesome people from the TEDx stages across the globe.  Mark the date – November 15.  It’s a Saturday.  Check out my Superhero Backstory and keep watching the TEDxRochester site for more speaker announcements.