I’m just back from the wonderful Sydney International Storytelling Conference, held in a quiet, peaceful retreat in Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, about one hour’s drive from Sydney’s airport.

I’ve been to many conferences in my life, but this one was the friendliest and most welcoming by far.

Eighty people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,  from  Australia, New Zealand, Korea, USA, Sweden and Singapore, came together to celebrate the joy of storytelling, to laugh and to learn more about the craft.

A couple of professional storytellers dressed up in long green cloaks and brown boots; another one coloured part of her hair a different colour every day so it matched the clothes she wore. She asked me if I wanted her to colour part of my hair. I agreed, and was delighted to get a temporary purple streak on one side of my hair……even if my husband didn’t notice it!

There were four workshop streams held throughout two days, and an optional pre-conference master class before the actual conference.

We laughed a lot, acted, told and listened to stories, drew, contemplated the healing power of stories and suspended our disbelief.

We learnt ways of doing storytelling in a whole lot of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, and festivals.

My inner child and soul felt so nourished. When I volunteered to be in a play about the three little pigs during one of the workshops, I was given the part of the big bad wolf. I drew on memories of a time when my son played the role of the wolf in ‘Peter and the Wolf’ to groups of kindergarten children. I decided to play it as fiercely as I could. People remarked on my convincing performance, and the child in me felt free and happy.

Walking into and out of an outdoor labyrinth almost every day contributed further to my sense of wellbeing, and I came away inspired and relaxed.

At the end of the conference, participants were given a bookmark with a small coloured crystal attached to it with string. The gift was to remind us of the theme of the conference’s keynote speech, in which David Novak, wellknown US storyteller, challenged us to see things differently through the prism of story.

Conference participants came from many different backgrounds, including teachers, actors, librarians, counsellors, clowns, magicians, writers, lawyers and health professionals. Some were professional storytellers; others were newbies, like me.

I was grateful to Kate Forsyth, an internationally known author of adult and children’s books, for suggesting I attend. Kate accepted the role of patron of the Australian Storytellers’ Guild at the conference, and ran a workshop. (The late Bryce Courtney was the previous patron).

There are active Storytellers’ Guilds in most states of Australia, so if you are interested in finding out more information about their activities, just google Australian Storytellers’ Guild and your state. Guild members mentor storytellers and also put on regular storytelling activities for the public.

I’d like to end this blog with a quote from Brendon Burchard, world famous coach, speaker and author:

‘What matters today is this: are you generating happiness, are you creating and contributing meaningful ideas and work, are you loving others openly, are you striving to activate your potential and living each day as your highest self? In such quests we find ourselves, better ourselves, realise ourselves; we transcend’.

 

May we all enjoy our personal quest and find more of ourselves along the way.

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