“Once upon a time,” my Grandfather would read to me, and I was totally enchanted. These fairy tales made perfect sense to me. The world that I lived in was full of magic: blossoms pushed out of the dead ground, rainbows spanned the sky, and every chicken provided a wish bone. Sometimes as I grew up, the line between fairy tale and my life became blurred. In Indiana I, too, was a princess awaiting discovery.
I was off on a grand adventure into the unknown. After my mother died when I was twenty, I graduated from college, sold everything I owned, and bought a one-way ticket to California for graduate school. No fairy tale heroine ever met more colorful characters than I did in Los Angeles in the 1970’s.
My first teaching job took me appropriately to the “Land of Enchantment.” As I taught Communication Education on the Indian pueblos, I learned about storytellers and stories which formed the texture of their culture. After several years, I went to another magical land famous for a castle, Hearst Castle. I taught at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for twelve years: performance of literature, storytelling, and readers theatre. The more I taught about storytelling, the more my passion grew to become a teller and share the wonderful stories, no longer commonly known, with new generations. Fairy tales still made the most sense to me. They provided a world view consistent with my own. Many events could not be explained except through magic. People, even the most unlikely people, often surprised me with their goodness and strength. Every one, regardless of status, struggled and had to overcome challenges which were often overwhelming. Help comes from the most unexpected places. Kindness is never ever wasted. The ones who can never repay you and cost you your last resources are often the best people to help.
Motherhood altered my dream, from a theoretical to a practicing storyteller. The addition of a little listener brought forth all my need to share, to open worlds, to enchant with “Once upon a time.” I told stories in parks, churches, schools, and at birthday parties. My daughter’s birthday parties had themes of great stories: Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland.
My adventure finally brought me to the heart of the art: Jonesborough, Tennessee. Fairy tales are the best way for me to connect hearts, to encourage dreams, to grow faith. As George MacDonald said, “My imagination was baptized and converted by reading fairy tales, the intellect came later.”
I am celebrating the magic of storytelling in Jonesborough, reminding listeners by colorful re-telling of the excitement, wisdom, and joy found in fairy tales from all over the world.