Friday, May 30, 2014

June: Coming Attractions!

Greetings from Argentina!  I am touring with DreamOn in beautiful Buenos Aires!  I've had a great week, and I've got one more to go.  After that, I head off to Delaware to do all of the libraries in the state.  My summer is going to be busy, and fun, but there will not be loads of time to write.  So, I have asked a number of excellent storytellers and authors to do some guest blogging for me.  Here are the first three entries.  

June 5th, 2014 - Antonio Rocha - Transitions in Eloquence:  Exploiting the Power of the Pause

Antonio is one of my favorite storytellers.  He is an internationally known artist who will blow your mind as you watch him transform himself and everything around him with the exquisite magic of his body.  Antonio employs mime and body illusions to create stories in a fascinating way.  He is a master of physical performance. 

Here he is doing a story entitled Chicken and Crocodile.

Antonio is a native Brazilian who came to the United States to study with Tony Montanaro in 1998.  He knows a thing or two about holding an audience in the palm of his hand.  He's written a practicum about the power of pauses both physically and vocally, and how to make them work for you.

June 12, 2014  Sara deBeer - Storytelling:  Ancient Mind Melding

I met Sara two years ago at a showcase in Connecticut.  She has been doing this work since 1978, and she has gotten very good at it!  I am impressed with her storytelling knowledge and ethic.  She works with audiences of all ages.

Ancient Mind Melding touches on the power of using storytelling in the classroom.  This is an excellent piece for anyone who might need to discuss why storytelling is a useful tool in the classroom, how it enhances multiple learning strategies, and the importance of creating strong partnerships between educators and visiting artists.  A good read.

June 19, 2014 - Antonio Sacre  Can I hit my child with a Chancla to get him off the playground? How parents can use stories to make difficult transitions slightly better.

What on earth do you say about Antonio Sacre?  I've known him for a long, long time.  He has his own style, his own way, and, like one of my little brothers, he is always doing something!  He is an entertaining, international performer and author who never seems to slow down.  Here he is telling one of his most well known stories which is also a book.

The Barking Mouse

Antonio shares both a fun tug of war he has with his son on the playground, and an activity any parent can use to make the trip home more of a game than a pain.  What could be better than strengthening the child parent bond, building your child's vocabulary, increasing your tot's verbal skills, and having them come with you willingly in one fell swoop?  Nothing.  Antonio's post will leave you smiling.

So, that's the first three articles!  There will be more over the course of the summer.  I'll let you know what they'll be and when they'll be!

Happy Telling!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

She Left Us The Music of Her Words

 I met her only once.  She was reading her poetry.  I thought, "That is what it means to make your voice sing.  When I grow up, I hope my voice sings like that."   The world was blessed to have her.  

Maya Angelou
April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.
- Maya Angelou

Monday, May 19, 2014

I Blame Susan O'halloran: Great Gifts From Friends

Back in my tender years of storytelling, I met a fabulous teller who works with cultural diversity.  Susan O'halloran, who I first knew as 'Soup', is brilliant, beautiful, wicked smart and extremely talented.  She currently facilitates an amazing online storytelling festival called Stories Connect Us All.  Head over to this page and watch some of the wonderful work she has collected.  She continues to be both an inspiration and mentor for me as well as many, many others.  Happily, she is also a friend.

A couple of years ago we were at the Timpanogos Storytelling Conference together.  We were staying with the Folkmans.

One morning, Sue asked me if I blogged.  I told her I did not.  She began explaining how it was not such a difficult thing and I should do it.  I countered that I doubted I could keep a blog going, and besides, what did I have to write about anyway?

Thus began my descent into madness.

I didn't find out this could become a part time job until I was too far committed to turn back!

Not long ago, this blog recorded its 10,000th individual hit.  For blogs which get thousands of folks everyday, I know that isn't much, but it blew my mind.

I try to get something out at least once a week, but when my travel schedule gets hectic...forget it!  I can't write about much of anything and my brain is decidedly numb.

So, to prevent this space going dark for a few months, as it did last summer, and partially has over the last month, I contacted a number of excellent storytellers and authors and asked if they would be willing to do some guest blogging entries for me.

The response I got was great!  The guest entries will start appearing as early as the first week of June.

I don't know what each entry will be about as I wanted each person to write about something important to them.

As soon as I work out who is going to be featured and when, I will put out a schedule.  Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the blog, and thanks to all the performers and writers who have agreed to write a piece for this space!

I hope you enjoy the summer series.

So, thank you, Sue O'halloran, for beginning the conversation that led me to this place.  I do enjoy the work, and I enjoy being able to share and correspond with performers, teachers and parents all across the globe.  Despite the fact that I can't always get to this space in a timely manner, it was worth doing, and worth continuing!

Happy Telling!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Wynken, Blynken and Nod: Reboot with Kevin Kulp

This here be Kevin Kulp

After I posted about drowsy driving, my friend, Kevin Kulp who spent some time doing in services for shift workers about staying awake, posted an incredible set of  tips.

Kevin programs games.  This is his newest project.

You can follow him on Twitter

He loves to Bar-B-Que!

He is a mighty fine person, a storytelling colleague and an all around great guy!

Here are his tips about driving sleepy.

Thank you Kevin!

So, considering that my "real" job was as a sleep and alertness expert (I designed shift schedules for round-the-clock companies), I thought it was worth mentioning a few things about sleepy driving. With luck, maybe I can save someone from having an accident.

For people driving on short sleep:

1. Most people need 8 hours of sleep to be well-rested. When you're getting less than that (as most people do), you're far more likely to suffer from something called "microsleeps." The less sleep you've had, the more likely it is that you'll experience these.

2. Microsleeps are periods when a wave of sleep washes over you, for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Often times, you may not even realize that you've been technically asleep; these can happen while your eyes are open. Don't remember the last five minutes of your drive, or your attention is wandering to things that aren't the road? You're suffering from microsleeps.

3. At these times, your reaction time absolutely sucks. If you're on a flat straight empty road, you'll hopefully be okay. If the guy in front of you hits his brakes, though, you'll never be able to react in time. It's incredibly dangerous.

4. When you feel this starting to happen, pull the car over off the road and take a ten minute nap. Cold air, a blasting radio - these provide only momentary (and miniscule) boosts to your alertness. A short "power nap" is the only thing that will raise your alertness in the short term. Ten or fifteen minutes of shuteye will help you stay awake for the next 1-2 hours. Even caffeine isn't a great solution, although it can help in the short run. If you're falling asleep during a game, a 5 minute break with your eyes closed can help, as well.

5. Remember, sleepiness comes in waves; you may be fine, then 20 minutes later you're ready to keel over. Sleep-related accidents are much more likely to occur with folks who have been up all night, then who drive farther than 20 minutes. The presence of daylight helps a great deal with your alertness, which is why the vast majority of fatigue-related accidents happen between 1am to 6 am, especially right around dawn.

6. Regarding reaction time and the ability to reason logically - studies have shown that after 20 hours without sleep (assuming a morning wake-up time), your performance is equivalent to someone with a .08 blood alcohol level. After 24 hours with no sleep, performance and mental acuity is equivalent to .10 - legally drunk. See, there's a reason you make stupid decisions when tired! And you don't want to know about how you do when you're tired AND drunk. If you're sleep-deprived, keep this in mind when thinking about what you're doing, especially if you have to drive.

7. Short naps (10-15 minutes, 20 minutes max) are great for short-term alertness boosts. Long naps (2-3 hours) are even better; they give you restorative sleep and can keep you going another 6-10 hours. Stay away from 1-hour naps. Due to the way your sleep patterns run, a 1-hour nap will often leave you feeling groggy and tired, when a shorter or longer nap will not. Neat, huh?

8. The amount of alertness you gain after 5 hours of sleep is significantly higher than the amount you gain after 4 hours. If you have a choice, you'll be a lot happier with that extra hour.

9. More than 3 cups of coffee (or doses of caffeine) doesn't make you any more alert; it just makes you more anxious, irritable and prone to stress. Keep your coffee intake spaced out, don't overdue it, and remember that caffeine stays really active in your body for roughly four hours after drinking it. If you try to sleep when caffeinated, your sleep quality will stink; for that reason, try to time your caffeine intake so that you stop drinking caffeine 3-4 hours before your anticipated bedtime.

There a ton more information that may help, but this is a decent fast primer. Be aware of your drowsiness when driving, and watch out for that mental sluggishness - recognizing it in time may be the best thing you can do.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod: Driving Drowsy Does Not Make For a Safe Road Warrior

This is not a good driving position.
I was on my way home from Chicago about a month ago when I discovered I was behind a sleepy driver. They are not hard to spot. His overly large SUV would go straight for a minute or two and then list over to the rumble strips on the left side of the road. He would hear that ominous sound, jerk awake, correct, and lull himself back to sleep.

  • Sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crash; the less people sleep, the greater the risk. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.

  • Several drowsy driving incidents have resulted in jail sentences for the driver.

When I encounter a sleepy driver on the road, my first instinct is to go around them.  Being in front of a sleepy driver does not bother me over much, but being behind one is scary.  The fellow in this SUV was tricky.  For starters, he seemed to take offense at my attempts to pass him.  Second, he was driving at a rapid rate of speed and there were cars in the slow lane.

Every single time I attempted to get around him when the right lane was clear, he would speed up just enough so I couldn't get by.  Part of the problem, I realize, was that I was only willing to try to pass him when I was pretty sure he was awake.  The last thing I wanted was to be passing him, have him jerk awake, overcorrect and slam into my car.  My Prius is pretty sturdy, but being slammed by a vehicle that large would probably not be very good.
If you are a fan of the MythBusters, you will know they've done shows on whether or not is more dangerous to drive tipsy or tired.  The conclusion they've come to is that it is, in fact, more dangerous to drive tired than tipsy.
Over the last couple of weeks I have encountered a few sleepy drivers.  I know that many of us who are on the road for long stretches can get tired.  Whether you are off to a gig two hours from home or driving the kids to grandma's house, the road can test you...especially if it is long, uninteresting and straight.  So, for those of you who tend to get a little sleepy, here are some tips to stay awake on long car rides.
  1. Keep it cool.  Warm, cozy environments can turn up the melatonin in your body.  You will get sleepy.  So, don't let your car get to that perfect temperature if you are on a long car ride.  Much better if you are slightly cool.
My nephew knows how to keep it cool.
2. Caffein if you please. Coffee is a stimulant,and if need be, it is a way to remain awake. So, if you must, partake! (My husband suggest energy drinks. I've never had them myself, but he suggested I add them.)

3.  Snack well!  Pick something to munch on that isn't going to overload you with sugar and then cause a sugar coma.  Candy bars are probably not the best choice.  Choose something healthier for you.  Fruit is always good because it distributes sugars more evenly through your body.  I don't tend to eat fruit on the road since it means I have cores, seeds, peels and what not to deal with while I'm driving, but I can't resist Clementines when they are in season.  My snack of choice is honey roasted cashews.  A little sugar to stave off my sweet tooth, protein, and a little salt.  I also chew gum.  This doesn't work for everyone, but it usually helps me.
4. Drink plenty of fluids! Don't get dehydrated on the road! make sure you travel with ample supplies of water. 
5. Take rest breaks. Stop and stretch your muscles, get out of your car and walk around. Get the kinks out before you get back on the road.
6. Listen to the radio or audio books. I'm not an audio book fan. I have a five change CD player in my car and I load it down with the good stuff before I leave home. I also have an XM radio that gets me across the country. I tend to like the comedy channel, the '70s station and the Broadway channel. If I get really sleepy, I put it on right wing radio. A few minutes of that and my blood is usually boiling, and I couldn't sleep if I tried. The same may work for you if you lean to the right of the spectrum. Turn on some Rachel Maddow and just see if you can fall asleep.
Rachel Maddow
7. Play individual car games. I spy is a difficult game to play by yourself, but there are plenty you could use.  One game is to find all of the letters of the alphabet in sequence looking only at road signs, not license plates or advertisements on trucks.  Anther game I play is to guess what the driver of a car I'm about to pass might look like.  I work on my writing, go over new stories, think about plots for movie screenplays, self improvement projects, anything you need to do to make your mind work instead of being lulled to sleep.
There are plenty of other things you could do, but those are the things I do.  If you have some other ideas, please share them.  Let us all arrive alive.
Happy Driving.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
   The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!”
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
   As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea;
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
            And Nod.