Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Now it's time to say 2009

Hello, friends. Well, I'm in my hotel room in Albuqurque, NM, and am anxious to get home - an unusual position for me. I have had a great time in California (seeing Litel Elementary, Campbell Hall and Vinedale Elementary) and here in New Mexico (seeing Thoreau Elementary). Seeing my past 2 adopted schools was great and seeing my teachers whom I really care about was awesome. Being a "superstar" was wonderful with the students and I loved their response to the stories. The story that wins, hands-down, "Little Johnny Eight Spot." Each of my adopted schools wanted to hear it again, and I conceded. It will hopefully be on the CD.

Ah, the CD. I'm thrilled now that I know my controlling idea - Hearts and Smiles. I still have three stories to write, have characterizations on my stories to be done, and I need to record "Elaina's Birthday Dance" to see if I can hear the child, or the adult behind the child. Lots to do, and I'm grateful that Buck is so patient with me. I do believe it is on my website to be bought now, so today and tomorrow out goes the e-mail for pre-sale. Can't wait.

I have had a great year. I had 200 programs in 16 states, (WA, VA, IL, NM, OK, Minnesota, GA, PA, WV, KY, AZ, CA, OR, FL, IA, MD), including Worldstrides, Young Audiences of Virginia, CWTI outreach and "Tickle My Ear" Chrysler Museum programs. I added on 4 new states that I have been in - Minnesota, Arizona, Nebraska and Iowa. I had several repeat programs including, but not limited to, East Intermedieate (Jenks, OK), Harvest Hills Elementary (OK), Bourbon Central Elementary (Paris, KY), North Middletown Elementary (North Middletown, KY), Malvern Elementary (PA) & Felida Elementary (Vancouver, WA).

I have been to Disneyland, visited Spokane and taken that marvelous road in Washington from Spokane to Vancouver, across the mountain - amazing. I have hung out with old friends and have met new ones (Sharon Kennedy being a main new friend). I finished my 2nd adopted school - Thoreau & started my third - Roosevelt. I have visited all of my adopted schools at least twice this year.

God continues to bless my life, continues to grow the gift He gave me, and gives me opportunities to use this gift more and more for him. "How can I say thanks for the things He has done for me? Things so undeserved, that He gave to prove His love for me....To God be the Glory!"

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The First CD's Pre-Sold!

Hello, everyone. I am in North Hollywood, CA at the moment. Yesterday I performed at Litel Elementary School, Chino Hills, CA. It was beautiful and clear yesterday and I could see the mountains and they were snow covered - just gorgeous. It's a little cold right now in the L.A. area, but at least right now not raining.

Yesterday, at the end of the "Words of Excitement" program I announced the first pre-sale of CD's, and had my first three sales. Yeah!! I am thrilled to know that somebody likes me. :) LOL. Today, my scripture was talked about by Beth Moore, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Lord, how marvelous are your works, and that I know full well" - Ps. 139. I feel that way today! Thanks for this great gift of performance that encourages and blesses others.

I did the story "Elaina's Birthday Dance" last night and loved watching the reactions of the adults as much as the kids. They were really excited about that story, AND, I could directly relate it to affirming your child's dream - sincethat is what Elaina's mother did.

Oh, ate at Pacific Fish Grill in Chino Hills - EXCELLENT!! I had teh Mahi Mahi Grilled Platter, which comes with rice (perfection) and pita bread (warm) and usually a salad. I didn't want the salad and paid to get the grilled zucchini instead - wonderful - it also had the garlic butter. It was a filling, but not overly filling meal - perfect for lunch - check it out sometime.

Time to get moving. Things to do, places to go. Peace,

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Program

Hello, everyone. Well, I arrived back in Virginia early yesterday morning (12/3) about 1 am. I stayed overnight in Norfolk, because it was so early. Have I told you all how much I love Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Comfort Suites and Clarion). I can earn points very quickly staying with them and that allows me on early mornings like yesterday to get a free night much closer than home. If you are a traveling person then make sure you are gaining points from your hotel, airline and rental car purchases. Being loyal does turn into great benefits down the road.

Yesterday I went with Young at Heart (our more senior folks at my church, First Baptist Norfolk) to Bobbitt Mid-rise. I believe Bobbitt is assisted living for more senior folks. I was invited by Jo to come and tell stories. I love telling stories to more senior folk; they love a good story and they listen with as much enthusiasm as children. When I am with them, I just want to bask under their approval. They have heard so many stories in their life, and have so many of their own, that I wonder why don't I just bore them, instead, they are appreciative of others' stories.

I truly felt like the little girl growing up in Second Baptist Church, Falls Church, VA - where the old folk would come up to you after you sang a solo, or did a poem, or gave the prayer, or performed in the Christmas/Easter pageant - and said, "Oh, baby, that was so good. You gonna really be something!" We all need that and we certainly need to give that to our young kids today. On those days in church, I knew I could overcome and do anything. Later, when I received more critical feedback, I still had the foundation of their words. Let us love our children with good words, so when we need to give them more critical feedback, they can hear and know they are stil loved and still "gonna really be something!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Been a long time

Hello, everyone. Been a while since I have blogged and that's mostly because I have not done much traveling. I have enjoyed my stay at thome time. It was very productive, as God planned it to be.

I am presently in Sioux City, IA and did a 5th Grade Creative Writing Workshop at Roosevelt and Unity Elementary. This was a quick turn around. We did some "brain jogging" - writing for a ful minute. The Roosevelt 5th graders handed in their stories for the "prize" and I was excited that in Mrs. Vanderschaaf's class so many of the students handed in stories - Good going! We focused on our senses, did creative poems-songs-statements, tried "pass the plate" (did not work as well as I hoped), did my Mulberry activity, and then they wrote their version from "Finding a Good Stick" using the first stick - a small man with a small boat on a large river.

At Unity, each of the classes have different assignments. Mrs. Beach's class will write about how the picture of the big mouth carp got into the paper, and a story about the fish. Ms. Evans' class will write their version from "Finding a Good Stick" using the second stick - a house in the woods with strange people in it. Finally, Ms. Flewelling's class will write an ending to "Hippo Outcast Love Call", which ended with the hippo coming on the porch. Should be interesting.

CD project is going along great. I had my photo shoot on Sunday and it was awesome!! I loved the pictures and can't wait to see them again. I believe we have lots of options. You should have seen the looks I received while telling a story to a weeping willow tree. Priceless. Also, have established a business account at BBandT, and will be talking with their insurance part about the Business Insurance. Producer has been paid the deposit for the prep time, and we had a phone conference, to discuss our calendar for prep time, review one of the stories and discuss "controlling idea" of the CD.

Time to go. Peace, my friends

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Just a quick note to say that I'm home. Yeah. The storms were bad while I was gone, but no damage to my home or my parents - Thank you, Lord. However, my sister friend from church, Chalice - her home was badly damaged, but still livable. Lots of work to be done on the house. Please keep her, and others, in prayer for quick repair and praise God that no injuries happened. Peace, my friends.

Oh, another thing I need to write is the evolution of Ol' Bess. Stand by. Peace,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day 2009

Hello, everyone. I am in Carthage, MO at my favorite hotel, Best WEstern Precious Moments Hotel. If you are anywhere in Southwestern Missouri I highly recommend this hotel - a unique building, great rooms, good breakfast with some hot biscuits and gravy (and other things) and a great service. I have stayed here every one of the 4 years I've been coming to this area.

Today is Veteran's Day. A day we honor those who have served our country through the military. A day we thank the families that have been the backbone and support of our military men and women. And, unfortunately, a day where the horror of Ft. Hood becomes more real in our minds. Those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in battle, we often can understand, but those who give that sacrifice when they are in the "sacred halls" of the military post - it's just difficult to fathom.

My father was in the military for 35 years. He retired as a Major General. He traveled the world over and commanded small and large bases and units. He worked in the Pentagon, led a battalion and presided over ROTC, as the first AFrican-American commanding general. He fought in Vietnam, and supported during other times of conflict. He is, and will always be, an Army man.

My mother was in the military for 35 years. She retired as the wife of a Major General. She traveled the world over and lived in small and large houses. She packed all the bags, corraled the children and the pets, was Mom and Dad in times of her husband's absence, and was the epitome of the perfect hostess. She heard the horrors of war through the tapes her husband sent her from Vietnam and instead of asking him about the bombs in the background, she shared with him about the regular goings on in America - a comfort to his heart. She is, and will always be, an Army wife.

I was a military brat for 22 years. I did not retire, but was moved off the 'brat" list when I was out of college. I traveled for years with my parents - Oklahoma, Kansas, Rhode Island, WAshington, DC; Virginia, Germany and Okinawa and Texas. I learned to pack up the boxes and move to another room. I met new friends all the time, but I didn't work hard to keep old friends, preferring to let the loss just be "X'd" out of my mind. I missed my Dad when he was away and argued with my mother, until I realized how much I was like her as an adult. I learned to set the perfect table, be a great escort, was the life of the party, never met a stranger, passionately learned the history of places I visited and became well-rounded. I never knew my father in war (as I remember), and was shocked when as an adult I saw a gun in our house - the sidearm my father carried from the time he was a General officer. We never knew it was there. I still love to travel, still carry the Army in my heart - it is my family - and I love to serve in the way God has given me. I am, and will always be, a military brat in heart.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Leaving Kentucky

Today I leave Kentucky. I've had a blast. Paris, Lexington, Bowling Green, Louisville & Crestwood - all the cities I have visited through this trip. It's been a long trip because I haven't felt well most of the time. However, what I have learned on this trip has been great.
A) Take care of my voice and my health. I push myself hard all the time without much thought or care to how my "getting older" body can handle things. For a long time I have said I need to have a 4 day work when I have evening programs scheduled in the week. Now I need to keep to that.
B) My character when I am sick and not feeling well is to be a complainer. Yet that helps no one, including myself. Watch this area. Remember Philippians 4 - "Do everything without complaining and grumbling."
C) Which brings me to the other part of PHilippians - "Whatever is true, whaever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, if there is anything of virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." - v. 8. I need to change the way I think on a daily basis. When I'm thinking "I'm overwhelmed and I can't", then I do get overwhelmed and I can't. When I think, "ALL Things are possible with God", then even having a lot on my plate is doable.

These were my big lessons this week. Oh, one more. "Seek first the kingdom of God." It was way too easy this week, while not feeling well, to put off Quiet Times and prayer times. I was so tired that I slept in, etc. The effect though was that I was often times always trying to catch up and I didn't have my shield up to ward of attacks of the enemy and didn't have my sword to fight back.

I love my job and I love the travel, and am constantly challenged to live the way Christ wants me live. But, thank God, I am given opportunities to fail tests, learn from the tests and prepare for the next ones with a grateful heart.

Thanks to all my buddies - Mary and Jim Lovell, Linda Ramage, Roxanne Mitchell, Gail Mullins, Barbara and Holly Plunkett, Ben Rankin, Paula Thierl, Amelia Cook (and family :), Cheryl and Rod Adkisson, Carl Willoughby (and family - hope your daughter is doing better), Melissa Messner, Carol, Lisa Cross, Judy Stacy, Pam Holcomb, Buck Creacy (and wife) and my new Kentucky buddy, Mike Lebsock.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Carry me back to ole Kentucky

Kentucky The Blue Grass State. The Kentucky Derby. Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and Garrett Morgan and Muhammad Ali. UK Wildcates and Louisville Cardinals. It's an amazing state. I love coming here.

Last Saturday and Sunday I visited with my cousin, Kathy; her husband, Keith; and my wonderful aunt Cathering (Kathy's mother, my father's sister). It was great. I love being with my extended family. Kathy and I get together and the ideas just flow and flow and flow... Thanks for all the love.

Then I drove up/over/ whatever to Paris, KY in Bourbon County. And, yes, there is good bourbon there. If you want a great beer, make sure you get the Bourbon Ale - only made in Kentucky - and the best beer I've ever had. Linda Ramage opened up her home and made dinner for me and some friends. The porkloin was exceptional and the fresh green beans to die for. Thanks, Linda

My good friend, Mary, and her husband, Jim (whom I adore) again opened their house for me to stay. On Day 1 of programming, in Lexington, I met my parent's friend, Carol - she is a jewel, how blessed that she came to see my presentations and then she opened her home up to me to dress and relax. I ate with my new Kentucky Storyteller friends and watched the amazing storytelling ability of Pam Holcomb - watch out for her - she's got the magic. I ate at Natasha's - good food folks - in Lexington - and attended Wandering Tellers and even did a story at open mic. I believe I can put in pictures, let's see....oops, the picture didn't go where I thought it would, but I hope you like it. Wow, my first pic.
More later...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leaving Downingtown

Hello, folks. Well, first I must admit I feel much better this morning. I definitely had a cold coming on along with constant performances and it was catching up to me. I slept in this morning and feel a lot better. Still have to travel home and I have a long night ahead getting ready for the Kentucky trip which starts tomorrow. Should be loads of fun!

I had a blast here in the Downingtown area. I met Benita Butcher, President of Brandywin Wallace Elementary School's Homes and Schools (the version of PTA around here). Wonderful woman and she has already tentatively booked me for a program in March. Thanks, Brandywine Wallace teachers for your strong recommendation. :)

Here are a couple things about this area if you come. Try Isaac's Restaurant and Deli behind the Comfort Suites hotel (700 Uwchlan Ave.). The deli has great fresh food and loved the Flamingo (roast beef) sandwich and the Utz combination chips - well done! The Comfort Suites is a new hotel and is great for business travel - free breakfast, good rates and great staff, oh, and great location - 4 restaurants in walking distance (2 outside the back door). Red Robin is here - and they are always good. Uno's Chicago Bar and Grill was my surprise of the week. I thought all they did was pizza - was I wrong. I loved their Lobster and Shrimp Pasta - great. Hot apple cider when I came in the door (and it was free) and Kate was my server both times and remembered me. [Kate is a Kindergarten Teacher at Goddard School in Marshallton area of WEst Chester. I'll be visiting her class today - a little gift.]

Lots of history. I was strongly encouraged by an AFrican-American woman, Levina, I think to visit Downingtown and see the log cabin where her family, the Boggs, lived. They are the oldest AFrican-American family in the Downingtown area and Uwchlan Elementary School has that history drawn on its wall in their cafeteria - Huzzah! I'll be that way today and will make sure to stop by and see.

God continues to watch over me. My biggest lesson this week - slow down and think and take my vitamins and medicine on time and consistently. A lot of my becoming sick was not doing the basics everyday - forgetting vitamins on Monday (all day), not drinking all the water given to me, forgetting to take the Mucinex-DM to assist with my lungs, not sleeping well. So, that is the next thing to watch. Keep me in prayer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Downingtown, PA - Assembly Coordinators

I am performing in the Downingtown, PA Area School District - 4 schools - Pickering Valley, Shamona Creek, Uwchlan (prounced - U-klin) Hills and Springton Manor. So far, I've finished at Pickering Valley and had a great day. I was met by the wonderful smiling faces and loving hearts of Michelle Orris and Beth Stein, and was able to hang with my friend and great teacher, Audrey Blust.

What has impressed me the most about these 4 schools is how the Assembly Coordinators through their "Hands and Families" (their version of PTA) have worked together. They meet together a couple of times a year, share ideas for assemblies and then proceed to work together to bring in interesting assemblies for their students, sharing the load in costs, but planning for the assembly during the same week. Very wise. If more PTA's would do this, actively seek working with other PTA's, they would be able to give so much more to their students. It also helps improve relations between different schools. From a performer's perspective this is wonderful because it gives me more performances at one time and I'm not moving from hotel to hotel or traveling back up to this area several times a year.

Kudos to the Assembly Coordintors - Michelle, Jean, Marie, Alyson, Amanda and Mary Ann - you all have made this Performance Week wonderful!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

- A) My trips, B) My Performances, C) Progress on CD and D) God's hand in all the above
I am in Westminster, MD. Yesterday I performed at Faith Christian School which is held at Hilltop Church. This was the 5th year of performance at the school. I saw kids yesterday that I had met my first year - and they have grown so much. It was funny to see the now high schoolers remembering me. :)

I did a Pre-School program - "My Piano" - which went well. However, the best part of that program was the preparation the teacher gave to her students. I had the opportunity to watch her as she walked her students through how to listen to stories. Then they walked over to where I was sitting and put it in practice - Great job, Ms. Gist!!

I then gave my 18th-Century Storytelling presentation as Ol' Bess to the 3rd and 4th graders. This was the first time the 3rd graders were involved. Wendi Bangerd has been my contact ever since Lora Strosnider left and she continues to do a wonderful job. If you want to know how to do a Colonial Day in the most adverse weather, including inside archaelogy projects - she is the one to contact.

Finally, I ended with a performance for the rest of the Elementary School. I did my AFrican-American stories program which includes spirituals. I will tell you the teachers were just as excited as the students. That was fun to see. And the students, particularly the Kindergarteners, were so excited to see me back. They were waiting for stories. Wouldn't it be great if students wanted all education that bad. I am teaching while telling stories. I told them about spirituals and their creation, about the slaves and how they came from Africa with nothing, but what they had in their minds. And,of course, the morals to the stories. So it's all teaching - we need to find ways to include more and more storytelling into our teaching. I believe I have decided on a new Professional Development about Historical Fiction coming alive - need a title and some permissions with the stories I want to use as examples - should be fun. I'll keep you posted.

Well, I leave in just a little while for home - Yeah!! Only to pack for tomorrow to Pennsylvania. It should be raining all the way to Hampton, and then tomorrow all the way to PA. I'm feeling more and more like a duck.

No progress on the CD, except that everyone wants one. That's good. I've given all my proposals out for investment and we'll see where God leads next. God was so gracious, Wendi and Ms. Howard and I went out to eat at O'Lourdan's Irish PUb in Westminster - loved the atmosphere and the food. Service a tad slow, but doable. Would definitely go back. Then went to see my friend, Lora Strosnider, in the play, "A Turn for the Nurse" at the Carroll Arts Center. She is a great performer and did a wonderful job in the play. Her husband helped with the set, and her son was there to surprise her on opening night as well. It was great to see her. Love you, Lora.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Hello, everyone. Well, I am in Oklahoma. I went home for a day and then drove up to BWI airport on Sunday and flew out to Tulsa. It was a good and pleasant trip - very full flights. Ah, but that is Sunday travel. If you want to get good rates adn easy flights - do Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday travel. Since I had to be home for a program on SAturday (I portrayed Mary Johnson at PHoebus Days), I couldn't abide by my own advice, but it is better on those days.

While on the plane I saw the OSU Womens Equestrian Team. I learned last night at dinner that the Equestrian team is different from the Rodeo Team, and I never knew colleges had either. Also, on the plane I met a couple from Mumbai (Bombay, as we learned in early in school), INdia. Nice couple that now lives in India. On another flight I sat beside some ladies that have been in a club since they were young mothers and now are grandmothers. They travel each year together. 2 years they travel in Texas and the 3rd year they go out of state - they had gone to Newport, Rhode Island (beautiful place - highly suggest you visiting it). I suggested they visit the Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN next time. The also played this crazy dice game, which I never did pick up, but it wasn't Yahtzee. They were so comfortable with each other. "A friend sticks closer than a brother" - says Proverbs, and for these ladies it was clear they had walked through a lot together, but had come out stronger.

Yesterday I presented at Zella Ruleford's school, North 4th, 5th, & 6th Grade Center - beautiful school and new. I did Ol' Bess and it was like brushing off an old skin. I had not protrayed her in so long, it was strange to be living through her again. Okay for those who don't know me and my presentations of persons of the post, I actually treat them like they are friends outside of myself. Yes, it's weird, but it's me. The presentations went great. I hope to post a picture or two of the program in the future.

I ate last night with Andrea Rains, Norma Callicoat and Melody Aufill - all great teachers and CWTI graduates. It was great to hang with them, and Shawn - Andrea's husband of 24 years. We were at Eskimo Joe's - a traditional "hangout" in Stillwater (OSU) - and I ate the cheese fries and had a beer, just like President Bush II. :) It was a lot of fun. Okay, time to get ready for the next program.

Oh, I promised to talk a little about starting Storytelling and I'll share about Historic Character Presentations, in my next two writings. Keep a smile on your face, love in your heart and a rainbow around your shoulder.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Third Annual Edutainment School

Hello, Everyone. This is my first time blogging and I hope I can keep up with it. :) Okay, I suppose I should tell about what I want to share. A) My trips, B) My Performances, C) Progress on CD and D) God's hand in all the above.

I am in Sioux City, IA. It's my first time in Iowa and it was my first time in Nebraska. A great flight. I'm here because of the Edutainment Drawing. For the past three years, because God has been so gracious in my business, I have adopted a school each year and provided them with 6 free programs. I truly believed when I started that this was for the schools, however, God has clearly shown me so many miracles and wonders, my faith has increased greatly. First year I was at Vinedale Elementary School, Sun Valley, CA. Second year (last year) I was in Thoreau Elementary School, Thoreau, NM. This year, I am going to be hanging out at Roosevelt Elementary School, Sioux City, IA.

Tonight I'm just working on e-mails and finishing up stuff and reviewing what my program will be tomorrow, as well as having dinner in about 45 mins. at OUtback Steakhouse. So far Sioux City is quiet and it's gray/partly cloudy. I passed lots of cornfields! :)

Great things during the trip: Met Karen from Norfolk - praying for her and her family's comfort in the death of an uncle. Talked with Brittany Hammond (who did the actual drawing from the lottery) and she has been asked to speak to freshmen at the dorms and will share about her relationship with Christ - Amen! - she's getting more and more bold for Christ. Met David who works for Woodmen of the World Insurance - great conversation, actually, he's a great listener. He made me curious about this Insurance company which is non-profit!!

Enough for today. Peace adn belief,