Posted in Uncategorized

Recap of STORY Speakers — Part 2

Thursday Speakers continued — complete speaker list here at my Recap of STORY – part 1.

3. Richard WalkerFilm professor at UCLA. I came in late for this session, so didn’t catch all of it. I do recall him saying that story tellers (whether it is filmmakers, pastors or you and I) don’t necessarily need to make people feel good, they just need to make them feel. And it might be more beneficial to leave them with questions, rather than give them all the answers.

4. Jason Friedbusiness owner and author. I love the way Jason thinks outside the box. He runs his very successful software development business with some unique rules. He does not like meetings, because they kill productivity and give birth to more meetings. He thinks most great things happen in small settings, so he plans to keep his company small.

He talked about fact that most people start too many projects that they never finish. The way he determines which ideas to pour energy into, is to wait one week and see if he still has passion for that idea. If the passion has weaned, he forgets about that project — but if the passion is still strong, he moves ahead with the project.

He rejuvenates and refreshes his creativity by being alone and quiet. One recent place for him was a window seat on a 4-hr flight — he stared out the window at the clouds the entire time and landed with a cleared and refocused mind.

5. Andrew Klavanauthor. It’s hard to pick a favorite speaker from the diverse lineup, but it I had to, it might be Andrew. He was raised a Jew, spent time as an agnostic, an atheist and is now a Christian. Making the choice to become a Christian was tough for him, because he was concerned that he would lose his natural tolerance for others and turn into a judgmental person. (isn’t something wrong with the Christian world, if non-christians think of Christians as judgmental instead of as love?)

He suffered from severe depression at one point in his life and wondered how he could live in that misery. He clung to something he heard a baseball player say during that time, Sometimes you just have to play in pain.

He believes he (and all writers) need to write about both the good and bad sides of life. He writes novels that expose the dark sides of life, but he tries to find the line in his writing of showing enough evil to make people understand how bad it is (and how good God is) but not too much evil or people are pulled down by it.

6. Gary Dorseyartist. What a fun and unique speaker. He shared a contrast of movie and music clips from the past forty years or so. The contrast was between what was most popular in the ‘world’ at the time and what was much popular in the church. The sharp contrast between quality, style and creativity was amazing … and sad. He has seen that divide lessen, but says artists that are producing things for the church still have a long way to go. They need to invite God’s spirit into their art and then be real, raw and honest — show the shadows as well as the sunlight.

7. David McFadzean TV show producer. I was tied up at my exhibit for some of this session, but one thing I did catch was him saying that the theologian and the artist need each other. And that art doesn’t prove the existence of God, but it does prove the search for God.

That concludes Thursday’s speakers. Recap Part 3 will continue tomorrow with STORY’S Friday speakers.

complete speaker list and part 1 of recap here
Posted in Uncategorized

Recap of STORY Speakers — Part 1

Last week I was at STORY. Over the next few days I will do a few posts with short recaps of what I retained from the various speakers. I heard more than I could absorb, so what I remember from a speaker might be different than what someone else remembers.

STORY is A Conference for the Creative Class. The lineup of speakers was diverse and each shared their own unique story and/or style of creativity.

  1. Dan Allender – best-selling author, professor of counseling at Mars Hill Graduate School
  2. Charlie Todd – creator of Improv Everywhere and teaches at the Upright Citizens Bridgade Theater in New York City.
  3. Richard Walter -chaired the legendary graduate program in screenwriting at the UCLA Film School for more than 30 years.
  4. Jason Fried - founder of 37Signals, creator of Basecamp, author of Rework
  5. Andrew Klavan – author of True Crime, filmed starring Clint Eastwood and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas
  6. Gary Dorsey - founder of Pixel Peach Studio in Austin, TX. Clients include Warner Bros., sixstepsrecords, Integrity, and STORY
  7. David McFadzean – creator of Home Improvement, producer of Roseanne


  1. David Wenzel – co-founder of Dot&Cross, which produced films for Francis Chan, Donald Miller, Tim Keller, and Rob Bell (NOOMA films) among others.
  2. Wesley Hill – is a PhD student at Durham University in the UK and recently published his first book, Washed and Waiting.
  3. John Sowers – president of Donald Miller’s The Mentoring Project.
  4. Sean Gladding – member of Communality, a new monastic community
  5. Princess Zulu – lost both of her parents to AIDS as a child in Zambia. Now an advocate for human rights and the oppressed.
  6. Shauna Niequist – former creative director at Mars Hill, author of Tangerine and Bittersweet
  7. Leonard Sweet – futurist, author of 40 books, professor at Drew University

When I was younger, I listened to speakers with an ‘on and off’ switch. If I liked them, I believed everything they said. If I didn’t like them, I tuned them out and didn’t learn anything from them. Now I listen to speakers (and read books) with a more balanced view — no one is perfect and I can learn something from everyone. So I will be sharing things I liked, things I didn’t liked and things I have questions about.

1. Dan Allender – I never heard of Dan before. I enjoyed his talk. He encouraged us to be willing to live our own unique story, not to conform to others. And he talked about the need to be real about both the good and bad in our stories and not try to cover up the negative.

On the flip side, as he talked about the unique role God has given us, he said we should actively act out that role. His use of the word “role” seemed somewhat contrary to what he said about being real about our stories — because to me, role implies acting and acting implies not-real. What does the word “role” mean to you?

2. Charlie Todd – What a fun speaker to listen to. I’d seen some videos from ImprovEverywhere on youtube, so it was interesting to hear the story of how it all began. Charlie took a negative situation in life — he was an out-of-work actor in NYC, so he created situations where he (and now hundreds of others) acted out a story to bring joy and fun to mundane places/situations. One morning they cheerfully gave out thousands of high-fives to subway commuters on an escalator — giving a normally boring commute a few moments of fun and laughter.

I was inspired to think about ways to provide bursts of fun and joy to boring situations in my life.

To be continued tomorrow …

I’ve collected some of my info from Tim Schraeder’s detailed recap, which includes the musicians and other people involved with STORY — STORY10 Appendix.
Posted in Personal

STORY10 Recap

Last year after attending a conference called STORY in Chicago, I came home and started reading the blog of the man behind the conference — Ben Arment.

In November, I applied for a coaching program called Dream Year that Ben does. In December I screamed with joy when I received an email with this subject line — Welcome to Dream Year. My dream is to share hope through living, speaking and writing.

Dream Year has been going great. (you could sign up here for 2011) With Ben’s coaching I’ve developed a more disciplined writing schedule and my memoir is now ‘finished’ and being edited. (I say finished loosely, because I’m always going back and tweaking something in it)

This year Ben invited all the Dream Year participants to have an exhibit at STORY to gain exposure. The timing of this conference was perfect as I’m at the place where I need to seek opportunities to share my story in person to help open doors for publication of my book.

Over the past few weeks, an artist friend helped me design a display. In the design process, we talked to a local photo/printing shop about printing options. They allowed me to rent their table top display.

And last week a friend and I went to Chicago for STORY. No one else does a conference quite like Ben Arment does. He’s all about a five-senses experience — smell/sight/sound/taste/touch. From the ‘hot dog’ cart loaded with free goodies (gum, donuts, CDs, books, etc) to the speaker lineup to the visual effects — it’s all unique.

Here is Ben Arment’s recap of the conference.

Blaine Hogan did the opening of STORY10 … see his pics and recap here.

STORY was held in Park Community Church.

My display — set up for business.
Loved connecting with people from all over the country.

Great flowers I ordered from Veroniques Floral
(behind me on the table)
Loretta doing what I took her along to do —
handing out hundreds of promos.
After the conference, it was time to tour the windy city.
We visited the Navy Pier.
Took a ride on the Ferris wheel
Did a walk/run along Lake Michigan
Loretta enjoying the day

The week was a smashing success — I meet other Dream Year participants, learned from the speakers, connected with many people, saw a different city and laughed till I cried. Time will tell if it was beneficial as far as getting venues to share my story.

Addition — Scott Hodge was one of the emcees at STORY and he posted a great recap including his thoughts from many of the speakers. Now I plan to do that tomorrow — to help me absorb more of what I heard and to share it with you.

Posted in Uncategorized

Opportunity by Roy H. Williams

Excited about the opportunity I have this week —  I’m going to STORY! So I loved this poem I read on Monday morning.

Every door of opportunity
begins as a window in the mind.

Look through that window of imagination
and glimpse a world that could be,
should be, ought to be someday.
Keep looking… and watch it grow
into a door of Opportunity
through which you can pass
into an entirely different future.

Opportunity never knocks.
It hangs thick in the air all around you.
You breathe it unthinking, and
dissipate it with your sighs.

Opportunity never knocks.
It appears, flickering, like faulty neon
at a nondescript fork in the road.

Opportunity never knocks.
It whispers, a tickle
in your distracted mind.

- Roy H. Williams,
founder of Wizard Academy
and writer of Monday Morning Memo

Any opportunity dancing at the edges of your mind? Waiting for you to be aware of it?

Posted in Uncategorized

Going to STORY 10

Last year in late October, I went to the STORY conference in Chicago. I went alone and didn’t know anyone there, but I met some cool people, a few that I had met online.

I had been working on my memoir for a year or two, but was in somewhat of a slump, not sure how to more forward with certain portions of it. I was unsure how real to be about some of the emotional and spiritual journey I had been through after almost dying in an accident. (things like that kinda mess with one’s mind)

The line up of speakers was excellent … challenging, encouraging and inspiring. The conference was very well organized and top-notch. I was impressed and inspired.

I came home and wrote this.

I know there is much to learn from people that do impression things, so I found the director of STORY, Ben Arment’s website and began reading it. In November, Ben announced a new venture of his — Dream Year. I applied and was accepted.

Now STORY 10 is happening (about a month earlier than last year) I am going again and taking a friend with me. As a Dream Year Participant  I’m having an exhibit showcasing my story. (excited!) I will have a 4′ x 6′ trade show display with a storyboard of my story on it. Also this video will be playing on my laptop. And I have promos (mini-books with excerpts of my story in it) to hand out.

My friend and I are flying out on Wednesday morning (waiting to hear if we got tickets to the Oprah show for a Wed afternoon taping) The conference happens Thursday and Friday — then we plan to go sightseeing on Saturday and Sunday. (What shall we see?)

So if you are coming to STORY10, look me up. I’d love to connect.

Update: Monday evening: tonight I set up my display for STORY. A laptop, dish of chocolate and flowers will be added to the table. Anything else I should add?

Posted in Uncategorized

Sunday Saying from “The Help”

The Help by Kathryn Stockett … is a current bestseller. It is described as a “timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

I had a little hard time getting into the book at first, but after the first few chapters, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down until I finished it. There is no way I can do justice to this book with one quote. But here’s a short segment from Chapter 12 to whet your appetite. Then go buy or borrow the book and read it.

The book is set in the 1960s. This is a conversation between Abilileen, a black maid and Miss Skeeter, a white woman, who recently graduated college. The two are just becoming friends.


Abilileen: “I’s thinking I ought to do some reading. Might help me with my own writing.”

Miss Skeeter: “Go down to the State Street Library. They have a whole room full of Southern writers. Faulkner, Eudora Welty—

Aibileen gives me a dry cough. “You know colored folks ain’t allowed in that library.”

I (Miss Skeeter) sit there a second, feeling stupid. “I can’t believe I forgot that.” The colored library must be pretty bad. There was a sit-in at the white library a few years ago and it made the papers. When the colored crowd showed up for the sit-in trail, the police department simply stepped back and turned the German shepherds loose. I look at Aibileen and am reminded, once again, the risk she’s taking talking to me. “I’ll be glad to pick the books up for you, ” I say.

Aibileen hurries to the bedroom and comes back with a list. “I better mark the ones I want first. I been on the waiting list for To Kill a Mockingbird at the Carver Library near about three months now. Less see …”

I watch as she puts checkmarks next to the books: The souls of Black Folks by W.E.B. Du Bois, poems by Emily Dickinson (any), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. “I read some of that back in school, but I didn’t get to finish.” She keeps marking, stopping to think which one she wants next …

On her twelfth title, I have to know. “Aibileen, how long have you been waiting to ask me this? If I’d check these books out for you?”

“A while.” She shrugs. “I guess I’s afraid to mention it.”

“Did you … think I’d say no?”

“These is white rules. I don’t know which ones you following and which ones you ain’t.”

We look at each other a second. “I’m tired of the rules,” I say.


What ‘rules’ do you, I or the world in general live by today? Are you tired of any of these ‘rules’?

Posted in Hope

Reviewing the Past Twenty-Five Years of “The Janet Show”

I’ve watched/followed Oprah sporadically over the years. Being an avid reader, I’ve read most of the books chosen for her bookclub — some I’ve love, others I haven’t. I occasionally buy a copy of the ‘O’ Magazine.

There’s no way I’d be called Oprah’s biggest fan, but she intrigues me. What she’s done in her life is amazing … and she’s still going strong, with OWN The Oprah Winfrey Network launching on 1/1/11.

This is Oprah’s 25th and last season to do The Oprah Show. All season she will be doing flashbacks to the biggest things that happened over the past 25 years on her show.

This made me think about The Janet Show” over the past 25 years. There’s a few biggest things. I married Jerry and had three boys. I left a very-sheltered world for the real world. I started running. I almost died. I ran again.

Twenty-five years ago, in September 1985, I was 19. I was living with my parents, working at their business. I was engaged to Jerry (after dating 2 years)

I had as busy a social life as my parents allowed, which wasn’t much. There was some angst in my life (understatement of the year) as I pushed at the confines of the traditional Mennonite  lifestyle that I was forced to live.

We had a traditional  Mennonite wedding  (I knew it was the only way my dad would pay for the wedding) Then we began the freeing, but sometimes scary, process of finding our way outside the boxes of our childhood.

In my late twenties, after giving birth to three boys in less then five years, while starting a business with Jerry, I struggled with depression. I was frustrated that life wasn’t what I thought it would be.

Running saved me. (how that happened is a post for another day) My body, mind and spirit found hope as I ran.

Fast-forward to 2003, we sold our business/property/house and began a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, traveling around the country in a motorhome.

California, May 20, 2004 at 1:30PM, that adventure and life as I knew it ended.

Against all odds, I began running again in the spring of 2008. Again my body, mind and spirit found hope … step by step.

Your turn … what are the biggest events in “The (your name) Show” over the past 25 years?

Posted in Personal

I want to call …

For a few years following my injuries, I had surgery every year or two to improve the function of my legs. Each surgery was a success and that’s why I can run/bike/hike again.

I also sought the opinion of a few local surgeons about improving the appearance of my deformed leg. They all gave me a similar answer, something like … if they had to operate to improve function, they would. But despite its appearance, my leg functions amazingly well and it would be too risky to operate on it just for cosmetic reasons. (though it couldn’t be called an unnecessary cosmetic surgery)

To make sure I had explored all my options, I drove over three hours for a consultation with one of the top reconstructive plastic surgeons in the country. I knew he wasn’t God, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life pursuing doctor’s opinions, so before I went I decided I would accept his answer.

He was impressed with how well my leg functions. But his opinion about a surgery to improve its appearance was the same as the other surgeons. My leg was so compromised from all the injuries that a cosmetic surgery would be too risky. He explained how high the chances would be of losing my lower leg due to a blood clot, infection, etc.

I was disappointed, but accepted his answer. If surgery was so risky, I didn’t want to have it. I had gone through too much to risk losing my leg. Living with a funky, but functioning leg, would be easier than adjusting to a prosthesis. Somehow I would learn to do life with the appearance of my leg.

And most of the time I have.

I try to live every day fully alive … sharing hope through living, loving and laughing.

But that surgeon was a nice guy and he wanted to help me, so he gave me the name and number of surgeon that he thought would operate on me. At that time (about four years ago) I threw away that contact info, because I had decided I wouldn’t have a surgery that risky.

Today … I want to find that surgeon’s name and number.

I want to call him.

I’m tired of wearing long pants and long skirts the majority of the time.

I’m tired of inquiring glances when I wear shorts to run/hike/bike, etc.

I hope the desire to make that call fades ….

Posted in Sunday Saying

Sunday Saying – Anne Jackson 2

For Sunday Sayings, I post portions from whatever book I am reading that week. This is from Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson. 


On the other side of any fear you may have there is a freedom beyond anything you can possibly comprehend. And, you see, once you move beyond your fear into confession and transformation, your voice and your actions can take you one step further from fear.

Each time we decide to take a step away from fear, we begin to move forward into a life completely energized and rich in the freedom God has for us. And as we take more steps into freedom, our actions have the power to set others on that same course of freedom as well.

Only you can give yourself permission.
Not me. Not this book.
Not the church, whether you go to one or not.
Only you can give yourself the permission to speak freely.
Don’t let fear stop you.

Somebody is waiting on you to tell your story. To share how you’re being rescued. To share how scary it is but how beautiful it is. Someone is waiting for the little ounce of courage that your voice can give them, so they can begin to find their own piece of freedom.

And even beyond that, somebody is waiting on that person.
It all can really begin with you.
So take a step.
Confess the beautiful and broken.
It happens one word at a time.

I don’t think on this side of heaven you’ll ever become completely fearless– but you can act courageously in spite of that fear. So speak.
The world needs you to.
- Anne Jackson


Posted in Hope

Helpless About Hope?

Hope has meant different things to me at different times. I used to view hope as a flittering bird-like thing and I could only wish it came close enough for me to catch. Over the years, I changed my thoughts about hope. I’m thinking my attitude determines whether or not I have hope.

As a teen — hope meant not wishfully marrying the first boy I ‘fell in love’ with, but instead trying to find a man I could marry where my dream of a good marriage had potential.

As a frazzled mom of three preschool boys dreaming of an empty nest — hope meant making the most of that time (sometimes that meant a nap for me) instead of wishfully dreaming of the future. It meant allowing them to ‘help’ me clean and cook (even if flour ended up everywhere) so they would grow up to be men who do that.

As a struggling business owner, with never enough time or money — hope meant finding a balance of work and play, so I and the business, would live to see another day.

Waking up in a hospital 3,000 miles from home and finding out I almost died and that some aspects of my recovery were unknown – hope meant taking a deep breath (but not too deep or it hurt my broken rib and punctured lung) and focusing on what I could do to help myself heal, instead of stressing myself by worrying about the future.

A year later, when my body had recovered better than expected, but my mind and spirit were overwhelmed with the life-long effects of the trauma — hope meant taking more deep breaths, seeking help from others and giving myself time, space and permission to be renewed. My body wasn’t the only thing that needed to heal.

Identifying what hope has looked like over the years, has made me realize I don’t need to feel hopeless now—about my dream of being a speaker and published author. Hope means taking deep breaths (oxygen is always good) and not stressing about the future, while doing what’s within my ability each day—studying, writing, learning, sharing, etc.

What has and/or does hope mean to you?