Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Spellbinders, suggestions.

veteran and new
some Suggestions
from Paschal

After our shortened meeting last week, several new Spellbinders came up and expressed a concern about wanting more shadowing and more practice. I remember how unsure I was in the fall of 2006 as I began telling io children, even after much experience telling storeys to adults. It is the task of us veterans to help our new members make their transition. I have been thinking about this challenge ever since we met.

I remember and still know that I need several tellings of a ne story before I find my comfort level in doing it and then am more abler to improvise. I remember seeking different classes at Cassidy Elementary in 2006 so I could practice the same story.

Please allow me to make two suggestions to help with this process. .

As we get our first assignments, dates and places in September and later , let us use this email or the blog I have created as a Lexington Spellbinder newsletter to post places where we can be shadowe3d. This would cut down on the busy work in our meetings. I will post the blog address and if you bookmark it as a favorite place, you can have it handy for updates.

Secondly, it is useful for us to try our newly found stores that we want to experiment with, to have small group practice, say with 3 or 4, as w e did in the Spellbinder training. I have talked with Charlie Eyer and we want to host a Story Swap session the second Saturday in September just for this. We can start at 10 and end up with a fish fry at noon, as we did before. My place on Winchester Road. will give us plenty of room insider and outside for this as we have lots of shade trees here. Earlier a few Spellbinders wanted us to meet outside. I believe the outdoor setting adds something to this great campfire tradition. Maybe we could have an evening marshmallow roast with ghost stories here just for fun. Store displays are reminding us October is just around the corner.

I suspect Greg Davis still on a very deserved vacating will approve. Spouses and significant others would be welcome. So, tentatively, let us plan n September 12, following our next meting on September 9, when we can confirm attendance. 80 doers not come often, and Charlie Eyer is about to join me in reaching that wondrous mark.

Since I am soon leaving to spend a couple of weeks with a friend in Canada, I want to get this on the table for out planning. I plan not to be back in Kentucky until about September 8, just before out next meeting.

Paschal and Charlie Eyer
August 19, Wednesday.

P.S. As I am accepting the challenge to introduce Spellbinders to one of our high schools this fall, I need some practice myself with several new teach-in tales I have ‘caught” and plan to use. My jailbirds, “Paschal’s rascals” liked one this past week, but I am not sure of high school students. You can help me with this. I still need my tun at practice. One new one is Michael the Mouse Motivator and his seven different brothers and sisters and what happened to them when they were chased by the dairy barn cat and all feel into a bucket of cream. A story of leadership, no guts, no glory.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spellbinder Paschal Baute

Posted on Wed, Aug. 12, 2009
He'll get you under his spell

By Mary Meehan

Note from Paschal: I agreed to do this upon the condition there would be another article on our Spellbinders group, which is planned.

Paschal Baute is not afraid to wear a pointy wizard hat, growl like a menacing wolf or prance like an agitated chicken.

When telling a story, he both fills the room and makes a listener feel as if Baute is talking just to her.

He uses a BIG VOICE, then a small one, then a whisper. He stares and points and waves his hands. He might pull out a harmonica or the bongos.

Baute, also known as "Paschal the Rascal," is a teller of tales, and not just the Jay Leno monologue variety that might make you smile.

No, Baute and all of the rest of the storytellers who make up a group called Spellbinders think the well-chosen word can be insightful, transformative, even healing.

"Stories are about attitude. Stories are about life," says Baute, 80. "When you find the right story that you want to tell, then the story tells itself."

That was the theme of an intensive three-day training session this summer where 30 new Spellbinders honed their craft. The tips that Baute and other official Spellbinders trainers passed along were practical — speak with authority, use a big voice — and inspirational — "storytellers are dream catchers."

Lexington Spellbinders, the only Kentucky chapter of a national non-profit group, brings stories to expected places like libraries but also to some unexpected ones, like retirement homes and hospitals.

The group has long been part of the Lexington Public Library, which offers several training sessions a year. The new Spellbinders go on to work at libraries and in Fayette County schools. The Jessamine County Public Library also recently started a program with the help of the Lexington chapter. Baute, who helps maintain the group's blog, would like to see every school in the area have a storytelling program. Or, he said, as he warmed up to the idea, maybe a mentoring program in which middle school tellers teach elementary school kids.

"Paschal is such an excited person. He loves telling stories; he gets a huge charge out of it," said Greg Davis, marketing manager for the Lexington Public Library. When Baute is telling a story, Davis said, "there is such a connection."

"It can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up," he said. "He just creates a magnetism."

Davis said a lot of the local Spellbinders are older folks with a passion for being part of the community.

Germaine Dietsch, the national Spellbinder founder who spoke at the recent training session, said storytelling groups are spreading across the country.

In a world where you have to work to be disconnected, there is something soothingly primal about the oral tradition, she said. It speaks to something familiar deep inside us.

"Our lives are filled with stories from our families from generation to generation," Davis said. And, he said, there is a real benefit beyond wonder and fun. "For the children it increases their vocabulary, it enhances their listening skills and their attention spans."

Baute didn't come to Spellbinders until 2006, but he has been spinning yarns with a purpose for years.

Baute begins the explanation of the place that stories hold in his life this way:

"It's fascinating actually. ... I found myself on the island of Guam ...."

(One thing to know about talking with a storyteller: If you ask a question, be prepared to settle in.)

While on Guam, where the Army stationed him, he continued, he was a recruit who couldn't do anything right. His commanding officers told him that on a regular basis. His desire to tell stories sprung from looking for something to do other than stack and knock over beer cans in the makeshift lounge.

One of the first stories Baute remembered was told to him in his youth by a nun who always kept an eye on him because he always seemed to be on the verge of trouble.

The upshot of the story was that it's what you do next that matters, not what you've done or what's been done to you.

"You've got to forget where you came from" was the moral there. And the more he thought, the more he decided that "God had to be part of the equation" in whatever he did next, he said.

And so when Baute left the service, he joined a monastery and spent 16 years there. Studying the Scriptures, he said, showed him even more the power of story. The Bible is filled with great ones, he said.

After leaving the monastery, he worked full-time as a psychologist. And for some 30 years in the field, stories were key. People can change only what they understand, he said. Too often, he said, even if the story is clear, people "don't want to let go of the drama," he said.

Letting go of that drama and managing your life is part of the focus of a prison ministry in which Baute helps inmates at the Fayette County Detention Center use tell their own stories as part of a program to reduce the number of prisoners who end up back in jail.

Chaplain Gerard Howell said the stories are part of a larger program, designed in part by Baute. But the passion Baute brings to the exercise helps inmates open up in unexpected ways.

And, Howell said, it seems to be working. More inmates who successfully complete the program don't return to jail than do those who never tell a Baute tale.

Baute's individual story, even late in life, is still unfolding. More than 18 years ago, he helped found the Spiritual Growth Network, an ecumenical interfaith group, and he and his wife, Jannette, host regular meetings at their home off Winchester Road. They have created a meditative labyrinth and wedding chapel in their yard.

People don't realize the power of a story well told, Baute said.

"There is just a human connection," he said. "I don't know if I can actually put it into words ... but there is something between the storyteller and the person listening. It's a heart-to-heart connection."

Even when it's told by a guy in a pointy wizard hat.
Reach Mary Meehan at (859) 231-3261 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3261.
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