Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Telling Life: K is for kindness

I’m participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge throughout April.
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

Kindness is my abiding value. Be kind whenever possible and remember that it is always possible, though the form of kindness may change. Today, for example, I've had a raging migraine for most of the day so I was kind to myself and delayed writing this post. I'm still tender, so please forgive rough spots; I want to get it up but don't really have my usual brain power.

Kindness is part of my storytelling practice. I strive to be kind to my audience, to those who hire me, to the narrative and to myself. This leads to some best practices that I find easier to enact when I remind myself that they come out of kindness. Let's take a look at what that means.

Being kind to the audience. 
I try to craft my shows so they take my audience into account. I work to tell stories that are appropriate to the people who are listening to me and to what I may know about outside events. A dramatic example of this was when I was hired to tell a story that included people jumping from a burning building. I was hired in August of 2001, for a show in October, 2001. After the events of September 11th, 2001, I spoke with the program organizer and suggested a different story instead, one that had similar meaning but didn't include jumping from a burning building.
Additionally, I acknowledge that the people are people. Things happen. If a baby starts crying, if a cell phone goes off, if someone walks out, I don't take it personally. I have no idea what the extenuating circumstances are.

Being kind to those who hire me.
Whenever I am hired, I make sure we all have reasonable expectations. I listen to their concerns and do my best to answer them and make sure they feel heard.
When I am hired to perform I make sure I meet expectations in terms of material, timing (I don't run long or short if at all possible) and venue. To do otherwise is to be disrespectful to the event planner who is relying on me.
When I am hired to coach or teach I use kindness as my first principle. I present new ideas in ways that are accessible. I listen and I support. The dissection and discussion can come after the value of the work is affirmed.
When I am hire to work with an organization I strive to find out as much as possible about the current state of morale, engagement and so on, so I can be kind to the people who take the workshop. I want to make sure I meet their needs as well as the needs of those who hire me.

Being kind to the narrative.
I make sure I understand why I'm drawn t a particular story and then honor it. I try to make sure its roots are not forgotten, I get permission to tell a piece if it's crafted by another artist, I tell it to audiences who I think will appreciate it.

Being kind to myself.
I get listened to and try to minimize my own isolation. This helps keep my self-doubt at bay and allows me to be kinder to myself when I do make mistakes. I hydrate. I try to take care of my body. I try to be gentle with myself if I am feeling stressed. I do something good for myself every day, even if it's as simple as having an extra cup of tea.
When I perform I take a moment to feel centered on stage so I don't feel anxious. I ask for changes in the house lights so my eyes don't hurt. I do what I need to feel connected to the audience. I take my time.

How does kindness influence your work? What are your best practices about kindness? What am I forgetting because I have a headache?

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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