Editor’s Note: I’ve known Lyn for several years, and she is an incredible human being. Listening to her talk would itself be worth the conference registration.
OH, MY STARS AND GARTERS…I’M TALKING ABOUT BELLY BUTTONS!
THE HERNIA JOURNAL: MY WORD-DANCE THROUGH DARKNESS TO JOY – A journey in progress, from belly-ache to belly laugh, from abuse to a-ha, from hell to Hafiz, shared in personal narrative, folktale, and poetic joy.
That’s the blurb I passed on to TLAN for my Saturday, August 13 keynote performance for the 2016 Power of Words Conference. Then I set aside any thought on the subject, so that, in a couple days, I could look at that blurb with fresh eyes.
Five days later, I looked at what I’d sent, and my fresh eyes blinked as if I’d been smacked by a hard gust of wind. I said to myself, “Self, you’ve just committed to sharing a portion of the map of that dark walk into and through the woods, the one that frightens and confuses and excites you, and makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Just a few steps, reflection and folktale connection and poetry. You are going to share from your hike through personal muck and mire, in 45 minutes.”
Oh, my stars and garters…
This writing project grew from journaling while I worked on socio-emotional development activities and stories for educators and storytellers. That work became difficult as I maneuvered over several rough patches—illness and injury, problems with medications, emotional situations…you know, life. In the worst of it all, I wrote and shared my stories. Folks laughed with me, which made me laugh more.
I’ve selected stories and verse from my journal, offered because they lend themselves to the conference theme, “Begin with YES!” But “yes” isn’t just the beginning of transformation. It’s the effective affirmation of every step of each human being’s personal journey. “The Hernia Journal” presentation has its emotional ups and downs, but, yes, we will laugh, because that’s how I roll…or, reel, or trundle, …it’s all good. I always pack joy for the journey, even when I’m crawling, with “yes” in my heart.
The preconference workshop that I’ll facilitate is titled “LAUGHTER, BREATH, JOY: COMMUNAL COMMUNICATION”. That’s what we’re going to share. As a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader (and now, I’m a Certified LY Teacher, too—yay!), I’ve become more aware of the important empathetic connections of laughter, play, and simple stories. Most big folks just don’t play enough, or feel the excitement of telling their own stories without self-criticism and with the lightness of the child’s heart that still beats inside us. I’m hoping folks come to the conference early, and play and laugh and communicate with an open heart and mind.
Lyn Ford is a fourth-generation Affrilachian storyteller and workshop facilitator. Lyn is also a Thurber House mentor to young authors, a teaching artist with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) and the Ohio State-Based Collaborative Initiative of the Kennedy Center (OSBCI), and a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher. Lyn’s work is published in several storytelling-in-education resources, as well as in her award-winning books, Affrilachian Tales; Folktales from the African-American Appalachian Tradition, and Beyond the Briar Patch: Affrilachian Folktales, Food and Folklore. Lyn’s 2015 book, Hot Wind, Boiling Rain: Scary Stories for Strong Hearts is a creative-writing resource; Lyn’s fourth book (with friend, Sherry Norfolk), Boo-Tickle Tales: Not-So-Scary Stories for Kids, is set for publication in the summer of 2016. For more information on Lyn’s work, go to her website at www.storytellerlynford.com. Or contact Lyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.