At the National Storytelling Network, our mission is to advance all forms of storytelling within the community through promotion, advocacy, and education.
STORY NOW! Interview Series
The theme of our 2019 annual conference was Story Now!
Now! From the boardroom to the classroom, and the page to the stage, personal stories and folktales are catalysts for change in every aspect of our lives.
Now! We are witnessing the power of stories to tear down the walls that divide us, build bridges between people and cultures, and connect us, human-to-human. In this interview series, we’ll talk to storytellers who exemplify this Story Now! movement.
Each month we’ll sit down with an NSN member or member organization, from around the globe, and go behind the scenes to explore how they are personally harnessing the power of storytelling to tear down walls, to be a catalyst for change and connect us human-to-human. Through one-on-one, in-depth conversations, we’ll discover the type of storytelling they do, how they do it, who their audience is, and, most important, they’ll give examples of the real world, tangible results they get.
Kathy Greenamyre is NSN’s Community Relations Manager. She will be conducting interviews and contributing content each month for our Story Now! Interview Series. Kathy is the owner of a video production company. She’s interviewed hundreds of people over the past 12+ years. Her passion is to discover the world (and maybe even learn how to fix it) by listening to, recording, and spreading personal stories.
Colleen Jayne BSN, LUT, CSE – Boulder, Colorado
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Licensed Unity Teacher, Certified Spiritual Educator
Story Now! COVID-19 – Stories from the field
Kathy Greenamyre: You work in a Residential Treatment Center as a Psychiatric Nurse. Explain what you do and paint a picture of your workplace.
Colleen Jayne: It is a home-like setting and staffed 24 hours a day. Clients assist in the chores and meals as their illness allows. Clients and staff eat together three meals a day.
Clients are encouraged to help with meals, clean up, maintaining their rooms and attending to personal hygiene. The doors are open (not locked) so clients may check out for appointments, groups, walks, rec center and family visits. The milieu is designed to provide support, safety and promote healing and stability.
Often a staff dog or two is present in the house. These canine therapists add depth and comfort to the experience of our setting. The team of staff is multidisciplinary and all opinions are listened to and taken into consideration to promote the highest possible functioning of the clients.
KG: Describe the people you help.
CJ: Clients with mental illness, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illness, in the acute phase of illness.
KG: Working on the frontlines as a healthcare professional during this COVID-19 pandemic, what changes have been made in your workplace to protect your staff and your patients?
CJ: Social distancing is practiced as much as possible. Staff that can join a meeting virtually do so. Only staff who must be present in the building are. As many meetings, and groups, and get-togethers as possible are done in a virtual manner. Clients that are not currently inpatient can no longer visit the inpatient setting; they enter by the back door only; they stay briefly to pick up meds and then must leave.
Each person is evaluated daily for temperature and symptoms of the virus. A form is filled out daily for each person, staff and client. Visitors are restricted. Staff wear masks.
KG: Talk about your use of storytelling in the work you do.
CJ: I have used storytelling in various ways in the psychiatric setting. One way is a story told in a meeting. Also, I informally tell a story to make a point and provide support with staff in daily interactions. I have done a number of planned and advertised more formal in-services for staff and or clients.
KG: Describe the workshops you run for your staff and how you tell a story to help them, as you say, “feel cared for.” Give examples, please.
CJ: Below is the outline of a workshop I have most often done.
Format is: introduction, story, questions to answer, discussion, and then another story.
“Caring for Yourself through Story”
Colleen Jayne BSN, LUT, CSE, Storyteller
The story cannot be told without the listener. Celebrate and experience the adventure of story as a part of your life journey. Stories to nurture, inspire, comfort and bring laughter.
SET THE STAGE: 5 minutes
Breathe, separate heaven and earth
STORY: Begin with short story (examples Nasrudin, Anansi or Aesop)
What brings you joy?
What causes you to laugh?
What kind of stories do we tell?
STORY: A longer story chosen for the message it tells
What did you observe?
What insights did the stories bring up?
How might you apply this to yourself and your community?
The Magic Folgers Coffee Can by Edward Hays (permission to tell from the publisher)
The Talisman by Bailey Phelps (permission to tell from Bailey)
What nurtures your vision of what is possible?
How do you re-vision what you or others can do?
CLOSING STORY: I have a number of closing stories that I might tell depending on the group and what was discussed in the workshop.
I end by saying to my staff: “I bless you on your way to find your own story and care for yourself and others.”
KG: To demonstrate the power of storytelling in a health care setting, please tell the story of your boss who attended a workshop when you told “The Mother in The Mirror” a Japanese story – and how he related to it and even started crying.
CJ: His tears were from a memory about a promise to his mother when she was dying. He was moved as he remembered how this related to a relationship issue current in his life. The relationship issue and problems went back to the promise he made to his mother. He expressed that the story helped give him clarity and a suggestion about how to heal the current relationship.
KG: In what ways do your stories serve to teach and heal your patients and staff?
CJ: Stories move a person out of their head and into their heart. They can access emotions and find solutions either through the story or the insights that they are able to see when thinking about a situation in a different way.
Stories give a new perspective. They move a person deeply and with heart.
KG: Describe and explain fairy tales you tell to patients and what the results are.
CJ: Telling stories to clients allows them to see me not as the nurse authority but in a new and different way. To experience together our humanity, separate from our roles as client and staff.
KG: Where did you grow up?
CJ: I grew up in Wheat Ridge, Colorado in a house that my father and uncle built. Both my parents lived in the house until their deaths.
I left home to go to college at the University of Colorado in 1969, with plans to take prerequisites on CU Boulder campus and then transfer to the medical center for my nursing curriculum.
KG: Why did you become a nurse?
CJ: I can say that I felt called all my life to become a nurse. I can remember as a very young child wanting to be a nurse.
The spring of my freshman year at college was the Kent State shooting, May 1970. Thousands of students were protesting and boycotting classes. The radical students would often challenge me for attending classes. The response I was able to give them that worked was to say “We will still need nurses after the revolution so I am going to class, I want be a nurse.”
KG: Why did you choose psychiatry?
CJ: As I did my clinicals in nursing school it was the specialty that I was drawn to. I did nursing in some other areas; about a year and ½ but have spent the rest of my career in psychiatric nursing. That would be 44 years.
KG: Did someone inspire you to become a storyteller?
CJ: I think my mother inspired me to tell stories. My mother Kathleen was a teacher and she always sang songs, and told stories to us all my life.
My grandmother’s writings have inspired many of the stories I regularly tell. The tales of my great grandparents and their coming to Colorado is woven throughout my childhood. It was always a special outing to go to the ranch.
The Riversfield Ranch is at the base of the Big Thompson Canyon right across the street from the elementary school.
I remember as a child sitting in the kitchen with the black cast iron stove that warmed the whole house.
My Grandmother Eileen Weldon Foster wrote down the story of the Weldon’s of Riversfield and about Susan Knox, the young Irish girl who came to America with the family.
The letters and story of the family that my grandmother wrote were passed down to all of our family. They were talked about and read as I was growing up.
KG: Describe the work you did (and do) with 8th graders in the Colorado schools.
CJ: Here’s how I describe my storytelling services for the youth.
Historical and contemporary
Colorado Pioneer Stories from my family
All age performances
Workshops and Youth Rallies
KG: Can you give at least one example of a tangible result you’ve seen from your time teaching kids storytelling.
CJ: There have been a number of anecdotal stories passed on to me about how my trainings have inspired the 8th graders to want to continue their work in storytelling in the classroom, and teachers have been very excited about that fact.
KG: Finally, during our conversation preparing for this interview, I asked if you had a testimonial from a teacher that you could share. I think the following speaks volumes for your successful storytelling work with kids!
Here’s that testimonial…
This is the email from Val:
Casey Middle School
Boulder Valley schools
Language Arts Teacher
This is long overdue thank you for one of the best presentations I’ve ever had the pleasure to host in my classroom.
I am in awe of your many skills and styles as a storyteller and teacher.
I have had many guest speakers/ performers in my classroom and yours was truly one of the most powerful. I can see in the students’ drafts that the detail, emotion and lively description in your stories transferred into their stories. I feel like I saw little pieces of your style in their writing:
I would love to have a coffee or lunch, on me. I have questions and future creative endeavors you may be interested in.
Colleen Jayne BSN, LUT, CSE
Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Licensed Unity Teacher, Certified Spiritual Educator
The story can’t be told without the listener. Celebrate and experience the adventure of story as a part of your life journey. Stories to nurture, inspire, comfort and bring laughter
Work Groups, Improving Communication and
Harmony in the workplace through stories
Training Events, for youth and adults
I bring a varied life experience to the storytelling
Psychiatric nurse for forty-four years
Youth Education Director in two different Unity churches for fifteen years
Licensed Unity Teacher and Certified Spiritual Educator
Program completed in 2001
Family church services, weekly stories for eight years, facilitated workshops, taught classes, bedtime rally stories for 165 teenagers
Team building retreat using stories
Prayer Chaplain for 12 years, Prayer Chaplain Trainer and Leader for 5 years
Published curriculum for Youth Education in the Holiday Spirit,
Association of Unity Churches, Lee’s Summit Missouri, 2000
Light, Love and Laughter,
371 Logan Mill Road
Boulder, CO 80302
Phone: (303) 442-7085
NSN loves publishing items submitted by the storytelling community! If you’re interested in writing something for publication on the NSN website, newsletter, or Storytelling Magazine please contact the NSN office for more information.
Contact the National Storytelling Network
Find us on social media!