Giarritano st in daily life


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Giarritano st in daily life

  1. 1. Leah GiarritanoFebruary 5, 2011LIS409LEAStorytelling in Your Daily LifePrior to the start of this course, I had the preconceived notion that storytelling was aformal process undertaken by professionals trained in the art of storytelling. Ofcourse, I had the quaint images of yesteryear in the back of my mind with Pa Ingallssitting around the hearth telling stories to his family, but I thought those wereremnants of a bygone era which were since replaced by formal storytellers andstorytelling experiences. While I always yearned to be on the prairie with Pasnuggled up around the fire with all the other Ingalls kids listening to his tales, Inever imagined that I was a storyteller or that I engaged in storytelling on a dailybasis. Although not the dynamic, polished storyteller appearing at a storytellingevent or the figure gathering her family around the fire for an evening story afterdinner, I too am a storyteller in my own right.Since beginning this course, and especially since I started journaling about thestorytelling experiences in my daily life, I have come to realize that my life is full ofwonderful and rich stories. I am the giver and receiver of both experiences in a waythat I didn’t previously recognize.I love to tell stories. I like to take my time and share the details, big and small, ofoccurrences from my day with my family. I tend to be dramatic when I recreate thescenes I’m capturing and enjoy making my children laugh. I use facial expressions,
  2. 2. hand gestures and try to be as animated as possible to engage them and capturetheir attention. I feed off their interest and amusement, which further encourageand animate my story. In studying myself over the past several weeks, I’ve alsohoned in on my use of exaggeration as a means of adding color and dimension to mystories. I’ve noticed that I even get questioned by my husband regarding whether ornot what I’m saying actually happened or if I’ve exaggerated just a bit. Speaking ofmy husband, I do find that I tailor my stories based on my audience. Where mychildren definitely love my long, colorful depictions, my husband much prefers amore succinct, matter-of-fact version.What is most interesting to me is that the majority of this storytelling has beenhappening “under the radar,” at least under my radar. I’m truly amazed thatstorytelling is such a large part of my life even though it’s always something that hassounded intimidating to me. Of course, I realize that most of my stories are beingtold to those with whom I am extremely close and comfortable being myself. In frontof people I don’t know very well, the experience wouldn’t be as natural orcomfortable and probably not as frequent, especially without a lot of thought andpractice. Most of my observed storytelling experiences are off the cuff andspontaneous.In examining the origins of my storytelling experiences, I realize my Dad has playeda major role in shaping my storytelling life. I grew up listening to stories about hischildhood. I see clearly that it is his way of feeling close to me and sharing memories 2
  3. 3. that are important to him. With twelve siblings, he has many funny and outlandishstories about growing up in a house with that many children. More than just tryingto be funny though, it is clear to me that he always tries to share a piece of himself inhis stories, something that I’ll remember and maybe even choose to pass along tomy children. I believe that it’s his way of documenting and preserving our family’shistory. As a child, his stories were often told to me as we drove around in the cartogether. He enjoyed (and still does) incorporating locations into his stories andwould often drive us to far-off destinations so I could see the lake where the hookwent through his lip, the apartment my great grandparents lived in when he was achild, or the dental office he went to when he got his first tooth pulled. I, too, havefound that I now drive my children past notable locations from my youth when wereturn to the town I grew up in to visit my Mom. As we pass my old house, the placewhere I first worked or even my old schools, I enjoy sharing stories about that timein my life to reveal a piece of my historyto them, just like my Dad did with me.My Mom, one of six children, grew up poor. As she told me about her childhood Irealized that, because she was surrounded by a loving family, she was happy in spiteof her challenges. She spent her days playing with her siblings around theneighborhood because their house was too small to play inside. They climbed trees,collected American Indian arrowheads, played house, and hide and seek. Whatsurprised me most was that, other than a rusty old tea set, they had no toys growingup. She had no dolls, balls, jump ropes or hula-hoops and despite this, she had a veryhappy childhood filled with adventure, fun and familial bonds. This story of her 3
  4. 4. childhood had a tremendous impact on me as I grew up. I always felt verythankfulfor the things I had and (even without any siblings to play with) realizedthat I could have fun without material things. Even today, this lesson from myMom’s childhood is woven into the fabric of my being. As a mother, I am keenlyaware of and concerned about overindulgence. I know that being a kid is less aboutwhat you have and more about the connections you make with the people aroundyou. I try to pass this lesson along to my children by reminding them that they’relucky to have one another,that they don’t need material objects to be happy, andthat the unhappiest people are often those who have too many things because theyare never satisfied with what they have, always wanting more to fill a void createdby a lack of meaningful interpersonal relationships.While my girls certainly havemuch more than a single tea set, I still incorporate this very important childhoodlesson into my own parenting. For birthdays and Christmas, we often ask that,instead of toys, games and clothes, the kids receive experiences such as classes thatthey’ll enjoy or time spent with their grandparents at a playor some other venue. I’msure that, as my Mom was sharing stories about her childhood, she never realizedtheywould have such a tremendous effect on my life.My daughters are my favorite storytellers. From simple stories about theirexperiences at school to fantastical tales created by their very healthy imaginations,I feel honored to be the beneficiary of their stories. I love to connect with my oldestdaughter, Ava (6), right before she goes to bed. She enjoys telling me about her dayand, like me, adds drama and humor to her narratives. I can tell she loves when I 4
  5. 5. laugh and that this further encourages her storytelling. On the weekends, she oftencreates stories and then enlists the help of her younger sister in acting them out forher daddy and me, much to our delight. These storytelling experiences are usuallyvery well planned, with scenery, costumes, scripts and announcements before andafter the presentation.My youngest daughter, Mia (3), has created a whole worldwith her baby dolls (or “kids” as she calls them) and loves to tell me stories aboutwhat her dolls are thinking and feeling, what they did that day and how much theylove their Mommy (her). Her sweet innocence, gentleness and creativity melt myheart. She often makes up dialogue for them as she is telling her stories, and herfacial expressions and hand gestures are hysterically funny and priceless. Theinnocence and enthusiasm my children instinctively inject into their stories isinfectious and leaves me anxious for their next story!In the past few weeks I have become more aware of all the stories around me. Fromthe girl at the grocery store to a friend at the health club, my life is rich and full ofcolorful, interesting tales. While I know I’ve always been listening, I find myselfbeing more present for these experiences now that I recognize them as stories, orgifts bestowed upon me, often spontaneously as I walk through my day. There issomething that makes them more special and important by recognizing them aspieces of people’s lives that they are sharing with you, whether they make youlaugh, cry or simply open up and connect with another person. I am now much morepresent and aware of these experiences than I have ever been in the past. Throughtheobservation exercise in this course, I have opened myself up to the beauty of 5
  6. 6. storytelling, the pleasure it brings to those around you and the importance of its rolein sharing one’s life with others. This new perspective has allowed me to reflect onand embrace the power of storytelling. 6