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

04 August 2019

Transitions and New Beginnings

It's been a while since I last posted. Part of me feels guilty. And another part of me says, "That's the way it is. I needed time away from here."

I don't alway have anything remarkable to say so why clog up the social media universe with more junk? There's enough to read out there. I'm not a guru who craves followers. Of course, that flies in the face of those business gurus out there who say you got to keep your blog up to date and fresh or folk will simply dump your ass.

So be it.

I believe that those who find their way here were meant to find their way here. I'm not promising a cure or the answer to your troubles (again contrary to those business gurus). This is my space to share my thoughts and feelings and your welcome to share in them or not. I also welcome your comments and sharing.

I've needed time to myself. Time to re-nourish me. I've been overwhelmed lately by the world around me. I've been told I'm an "empath", someone who is ultra-sensitive to the energy of others. I've certainly been aware that something was amiss since I was a child. My mother has told me of how sensitive and anxious I was as a toddler. By the age of two, I'd developed a nervous tic in my eye (which still activates when I get very tired or anxious). I'd also started having serious temper tantrums, which my mother doused with pans of cold water. One of my triggers was going into buildings and being around large groups of people. As a child, she also discovered she could tie me to the front railings of our porch and leave me for hours. "You were such a good boy," she'd laugh, "you never moved."

That doesn't sound healthy to me.

As I grew older, I was aware of my anxiety about being in crowds. Oddly, I used to play in bands in crowded pubs and large festivals. But during our breaks, I'd retreat to a quiet place rather than socialize with our audiences. Of course, I was labelled as anti-social and "weird". I preferred one-to-one conversations, yet became a teacher in front of large classes. But I created a sense of intimacy in those situations that made me feel as if I was talking to each person individually. Later, when I became a professional storyteller and workshop leader, the most common feedback I'd receive was that I could create safe spaces for people to be vulnerable, to express themselves. I'm proud of that.

I've devoted the majority of my working life as a storyteller to helping others find and share their stories. I never really considered myself a performer but more as an enabler of others so they could share theirs. Then one day, my oldest son pointed out that though I was so good at helping others tell their stories, I rarely told mine. At least, not publicly. I had spent years in therapy sharing my stories in the privacy of the counselling room but rarely outside it except for a few very good friends.

So, in 2017 I stopped. I took time off from helping others.  I did "nothing". I stopped blogging regularly and started writing for myself. Journaling and writing down my memories, my stories.  I simply sat and listened to that small still voice within. At first, I felt anxious that I would sort of "disappear down a rabbit hole." And in a way, I did. But gradually, I learned that it was ok. I recalled that my early shamanic teaching had taught me to take these "underground" journeys regularly. So I did.

I rarely shared what was happening with me with anyone else but a select few that I felt I could trust. This is really the first time I'm sharing it publicly and I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing but I do it in case there's anyone else out there who "gets it". You're not alone. I understand. Trust is a big part of this.

Sometimes, it's not easy sharing your story. When I was younger, I tried living a story that others valued and wanted for me. I tried to please others, be respectable, a "good boy". But I'm not. I chose a path others warned me not to go down. I gave up a career and financial security in teaching to become a self-employed storyteller and a story coach. I followed my inner voice and found my passion.

But I've paid a price. I've made mistakes. I hurt those who loved me. I foundered at times and wondered if I'd made the right choice. But nearly 20 years since I fell apart, I've re-made myself through my passion for my art. Of course, there have been consequences for choosing the path I did. Financial security has not been one of the rewards. Some have called me "irresponsible" and "weird". I've even been accused of being "gay" because I'm not like a "normal guy". What does that mean anyway? And why is being "gay" an accusation? A good woman friend once described me as the "most feminine man she knew". Given that she is a feminist and a very creative artist whose work I admire, I took it as a compliment.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm telling you all this. I don't even know who you are. I guess it's because I'm tired of keeping my story to myself. I've done that for too long. Fifty years ago, my high school maths teacher refused to endorse my university application because I told him I wanted to be a writer. Instead of standing my ground, I pleased him by choosing a more pedantic route -- and tried to study Economics. My father not only didn't want me becoming a writer, but refused to support my decision to go to University. Not surprisingly, I failed and dropped out. I went underground to work in the mines. Ironically, an old timer took me aside one day and told me I didn't belong in the mines. Why? I asked. Because the mines are no place for someone with an imagination like you he said. Go back up top and become a writer, he said. In the years that followed, I have wandered a very circuitous and unconventional route. And today, it has brought me here to share this rambling reflection with you. And I am a writer. I recently joined a writers guild and a storytellers guild. I even submitted my first short story and it won a local competition and will be published in the Fall. I'm not a great writer or storyteller, but I am a writer and a storyteller. And I'll get better the more I write and tell stories. But what's important is that I write and tell stories because I have to. That's who I am. That's my story.

What brought you here? Leave your comment below. I'd love to know your thoughts, reaction, your story.


"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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