Friday, September 19, 2008

Paschal, rascal and raconteur.

Paschal Baute, Raconteur

Raconteur: a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly.

Origin: 1820–30 from Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

Or, One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit. From American Heritage Dictionary.

I learned the power of story during my first life crisis at age 19 when I got on the wrong side of the First Sargent in the U.S. Army on the South Pacific island of Guam. I faced the extra duty of Kitchen Police every time he or I turned around. Three stories I discovered slowly transformed my life.

The power of the Jesus story and that of the Benedictine monks carried me through my first career until midlife. Then, through various setbacks and disillusionments, I was carried willy nilly into larger dreams that have brought me to now.

Somewhere mid-career in the 1980s, as a family psychotherapist, analyst and use of hypnotherapy, I became fascinated with what is now called narrative therapy. Skilled in many modalities for change, I slowly discovered that rational approaches would not always work. Some were so resistance to change that they could and would sabotage any suggestions. Their own personal drama was too addictive to consider really changing. I learned to create and tell a story that invited personal insight and change from inside the story, like Jesus used parables.

Example. Professional man in his sixties sill wanted to have sex with his wife. The problem was when they got in bed together she would "talk his head off,"which he found a great turn off.

We explored the situation for some twenty minutes re her need for talk time, etc. Finally I suggested that maybe he could consider the talking need a form of foreplay? No way, he said emphatically. I then remember that he had been very active sexually until midlife, actually priding himself on many sexual conquests. There was no way I was about to coach this man on bedroom technique. So instead I told a story about six brothers I grew up with who all turned out differently. The story was designed to mirror in shadow some of his impasse. When I finished the story, he stood up and said. "Dr. Baute, I am lucky in life. I am a lucky man." and left. Something in the story, frankly I am not sure what, allowed him to change his perspective.

So for the past 15 years, since the early 1990s, I have ben playing with, catching and creating stories which speak to various human dilemmas, impasses, and situations. Currently I am a member of the Lexington Spellbinders group and tell stories regularly in three public schools. I use stories in my prison ministry program at the Fayette County. Detention Center, now in its 6th year with a number of volunteers. I accept invitations to various groups including church groups. I have offered workshops to Ohio psychologists in the use of stories in narrative therapy. I offer workshop in storytelling for the annual conferences of the Kentucky Storytelling Association.

My biggest and most regular joy is my Spellbinder storyteling to elementary school children, stories of amazement that both delight and build character and insight.

Steven Denning in The Secret Language of Leadership demonstrates that storytelling is the key to leadership and motivation, not only for people but for organization. Annette Simmons, in her book Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, shows how we can learn to access and tell our own stories with the result of more fully owning the unique journey of our own lives but influencing others. Both of these books I have reviewed both for KSA newsletters and can be found at my Amazement blog.

I am convinced that when someone truly understands the story of their own life, they will discover themselves as a wondrous survivor with many blessings to celebrate with resources they have not yet imagined. I share some of my own story to illustrate that hidden wisdom and elucidate it in others.

We are in the process of staring a storytelling study group in central Kentucky and invite your interest. Telephone (859) 293 - 5302. Our local Spellbinders storytelling group is always interested in new potential members. Google Spellbinders, and then call Paschal.

September 19, 2008