"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

29 April 2015

Day 25 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge: Y is for Yellowhammer

Y is for Yellowhammer, Baba Yaga, and the Curious Girl

Ok, so what does a Yellowhammer have to do with story coaching? you ask. Answer: nothing. Then again, maybe I just haven't figured it out and that's why I'm writing this.

The other day, I was researching some new stories to add to my repertoire and preparing for a workshop which I was due to deliver in a few days' time to a business client. It was one of those morning where I couldn't tear myself away from the laptop. It was when I looked up searching for a word on hovering just beyond the tip of tongue when I realised the sun had come out. It was a beautiful day.

That's it, I said to myself, I'm outta here. I put on my shoes and jacket, grabbed my camera and headed off for a walk along the woods and into a nearby field. Walking is an excellent way of rehearsing stories and workshop ideas. After about fifteen minutes of this cogitating, my attention was suddenly attracted by a flash of yellow. It was a bird . . . a yellow bird. It flew ahead of me dipping and diving, racing ahead of me to the next line of trees a hundred yards away. I hurried after it as if I was chasing a floating pot of gold.

When I got to the line of trees I stopped and scanned the branches above me but could not see the elusive yellow bird. Just as I was about to walk on, I heard the most lovely, clear warbling. I turned and looked up and to my left. And there it was.

Perched on an electric wire, a bright yellow bird sang in the bright late morning sun. I stood there transfixed. Then I remembered my camera, slowly raised it, zoomed in as far as I could and waited for the lens to focus. In a second or two, appeared the most beautiful yellow bird. I had no idea what it was . . . it was just yellow and singing a lustful song of what seemed sheer joy to me. (I later discovered that it's called a "Yellowhammer".)

Singing unabashedly like that, I was reminded of the beautiful multi-coloured bird in a story I tell called "The Curious Girl" (a story I learned from Kay Stone). Just at the point when the little bird has exhausted all the stories it has brought back from the four corners of the globe on the crone Baba Yaga, only to learn that Baba Yaga knows every one, the bird opens its beak and lets out a cry of despair that is the beginning of a story . . . the story of the little bird itself, a story which Baba Yaga has never heard. Having turned the Curious Girl into the bird in the first place, Baba Yaga must now reinstate her, having promised she would do so if the bird could return with a story she'd not heard before.

As my yellow bird sang, I imagined how both Baba Yaga and the Curious Girl must have felt--the joy of telling your story and the delight in hearing something new. But on that morning it was I who was transformed, my heart touched by a small yellow bird singing for what seemed sheer pleasure, sharing its story with me. And when it had finished, I began to sing too.

And that's my story and I'm singing it just for you in the hope that one day, you'll sing me yours too.

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"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

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