Storytelling for Personal Growth

Let me tell you a story... (1)Something happened! Or, nothing happened. In the telling of whatever happened, we create a story.

Stories help us filter our experiences and make sense of Life. Sharing them can foster a true connection with others and a deeper understanding of ourselves. Or, not.

Depending on the stories in your personal rotation, you might feel stuck: cut off from meaning, empowerment, and authentic connection with others.

That sounds isolating and craptastic to me. 

You are the author of your own epic story. I believe if you become familiar with the essential elements of storytelling, you can use them for personal growth: to change up your story.

So, what are these elements?

Traditional storytelling includes:

  • a hero/ine (that’s you),
  • what the hero/ine wants,
  • a setting (where things take place),
  • supporting characters (friends, family, strangers, pets, Yoda),
  • and an antagonist (the overwhelming obstacle, the villain).

The final piece of the puzzle is theme, or how the story is framed.

What the Hero Wants

Over the years, I’ve worked with writers of all stripes, and one of the hardest questions for them to answer is, ‘What does your hero want?’

It’s a story about this one-legged miner who discovers his company is cutting corners on safety inspections, and he gets trapped with ten others below ground when the…

That’s what happens to him. What does he WANT?

Uh, well, he wants to get rescued.

Okay, good. What else?

What else?

Yes, he has an exterior want – to survive. That’s a reasonable reaction to his situation. But, people have interior wants, too. For instance, he wants to survive in order to… what?

He wants to blow the whistle on the unsafe conditions. He’s tired of being treated like he’s expendable. He wants to stand up to his boss.

Ah. He wants to stand up for himself.

Read more…

Review of J&S Bean Factory – St. Paul, MN.


Coffee Snob Mom reviews J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul, MN.

Iced Mocha Meter: 

Yay, a winner! J&S Bean Factory’s iced mocha is full-bodied, malty, and has a strong snap to it. It holds up really well to melting ice, and I find it to have a pleasant riddle of complexity in its flavor profile. This likely has to do with its blend of French Roast Costa Rican, Sumatran, and Malabaran beans. J&S Bean Factory sources its beans from Minnesota’s own Cafe Imports and roasts them on site.

SIDE NOTE: If you’d like to get your Coffee Nerd on, I suggest checking out Cafe Imports’ Education section. So much coffee-freak info, so fun!

Back to my iced mocha…The zest, the snap, that tingle of pleasant sourness along the middle of my tongue to the back of my throat, is probably due to the wine-y Costa Rican beans. The earthy Sumatran beans likely deserve the credit for the round fullness of the body, and that je ne sais quoi factor must be due to the Malabar beans, aged for two whole years before roasting. Yow.

One caveat: I’ve found my iced mochas here to be uneven. Maybe 1 out of 4 times that I’ve ordered one, the result has been too snappy, sour, and astringent. SAD FACE. I’ve learned this results from the way the barista pulls the espresso shot. So, if you get a drink that smacks you with sourness, try asking for one more try. When pulled well, the espresso is notably good.

Other drinks offered at J&S Bean Factory include teas, juices, and fruit smoothies.

Location Profile:

Comfy neighborhood coffee shop with street parking and both indoor and outdoor seating. Inside is awash in warm, bold colors of ochre and red, with local art on the walls and locally-made products on the counter and shelves.

I have often found the baked goods available at the counter to be a little underwhelming (except for the shortbread cookies – serious yum with those), but the cooler case is stocked with yogurts, hummus snack packs, and locally-made sandwiches (from La Patisserie on Randolph Avenue). In the warm months, the shop also offers tamales.

I like the tables along the windows best, both for the natural light and for the cozy bug-in-a-rug feeling I get from those seating areas. JSBeanInterior2


Interior of J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul, MN.

Outside is a large, deep patio seating area surrounded by fencing and a mature hedge.


Outdoor patio of J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul, MN.

During the warm months here in the Great North, this outdoor seating area rocks. It’s not too sunny, and it’s not too shady.

There is also a covered seating “shack” in the patio area (behind that opaque wall between the blue tent and the tiki statue above); a handy place to sit if it’s warm but rainy.

Kiddo Factor:

I think J&S Bean Factory is an excellent spot for hanging out with kiddos. Patrons run the gamut from students of the nearby high school to adults in pairs having chats or meetings to parents with kids to individuals hunkered over laptops or newspapers. As such, I don’t feel too anxious about my kiddo being kiddo-esque (bubbly, loud-ish, curious, playful) during a pit stop here.

During the cold months, the interior can be a little cramped, but if I can snag a table near the windows, I feel I can keep our energy contained better. During the warm months, it’s great to know we can spread out in the back patio. Plus, the tiki statues are fun to look at up close.

Only a couple blocks away, there is a terrific school playground at EXPO Elementary called Treasure Island.

If planning a get-together to burn daylight with a Mom-Friend, I suggest getting your caffeine fix at J&S Bean Factory first, maybe noshing a snack there, then walking over to the playground. Treasure Island is also adjacent to the Cretin-Durham soccer fields. If there aren’t teams practicing at the time, you can set the kiddos loose to run around in the fields, too. Commune with Nature, run those kiddos around, wear them out! And later, be rewarded with a tired and sleepy kiddo at Bedtime, natch.