Muhammad Ali

53fc44a87d0058cd82af95a552959f52“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942, with the name Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali passed away on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74.

He lived an inspiring life in the ring as a professional boxer, and outside of the ring as a humanitarian. At his memorial service, the house was packed with friends and dignitaries.

Among the many speakers, Billy Crystal delivers this touching and comedic eulogy to the late great Muhammad Ali. You will be inspired.


A young Billy Crystal in 1979 performs a tribute to his friend, Muhammad Ali. See Ali’s reactions in the clip entitled “15 Rounds.”

StorySLAM at Sugden Theatre: A Huge Success!

On Monday, April 4th, I produced a show with the help of Storytellers of the Round Table and Naples Advanced Toastmasters. It was a huge success! We sold 78 of 85 tickets for Tobye Hall at the Sugden Theatre (home of the Naples Players) in downtown Naples on Fifth Avenue. There is nothing more electric for a performer than an excited full house. Our ten storyteller-performers delighted the audience. “I haven’t laughed so hard in years.” “I haven’t had such an enjoyable evening in a long time.” “This is so much more than I expected.” “It was captivating.” “When is the next one?”

P1030641Beginning with the goal to promote the range and power of storytelling as a performance art and oral tradition, the StorySlam venue came to life in Naples. The first free event was at my office on August 4, 2015, followed by December 4, 2015 and March 4, 2016. We collected the best stories for our theatre production on Monday, April 4, 2016. Our non-profit sponsor Naples Advanced Toastmasters paid the theatre deposit up front. Storytellers of the Round Table paid the advertising. This allowed us to charge $15 with the hope of breaking even to re-pay the theatre and advertising costs. Natural Awakenings magazine promoted our event in a News Brief. The Florida Weekly newspaper promoted our event with an article on the Thursday before the event, and most tickets sold the weekend prior to the event. I am grateful to all the participants and performers who donated their time for the love of storytelling. We have created a revival of this art form here in Naples.

“Storytelling” is a word used in many different contexts. It is often applied to anyone who tells a story: novelists, essayists, playwrights, movie directors. However, the context that I am using is the storyteller as a performer — one person (often on a stage) telling a story to an audience — interacting, connecting and captivating the audience. The venue can be as small as a family sitting together at home listening to grandparents, friends sitting around a campfire, or tents that holds over five hundred people at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. In this age of multimedia, it is often hard to image how captivating one person can be as they interact and connect with the audience in a way that television, movies, and YouTube cannot. Storytellers evoke emotion, create community, and activate an ancient part of our psyche. The range of storytelling includes personal stories, folk tales, fairy tales, fractured tales, tall tales, historical stories, and much more.

The power of the storyteller can be described, of course, in a story (recently told to me by Carmen Agra Deedy).

There was an anthropologist studying a remote village in the jungle. After more than a year, he had completed his research. As he was leaving, the elders wanted to know more about the outside world. While he did not want to influence the culture, the elders insisted on a television. After much debate with the elders, the anthropologist decided to leave them a television and generator. He showed them how to use it.

A year later, he returns. The children are excited to see him again. He goes to the place of the television and generator, which is now covered in vines and already taken back by the jungle.

“What happened?” he says.

 “It was great for awhile, but then we remembered that we have a Storyteller,” says one of the children.

 “But this television knows thousands and thousands of stories. It knows more than your Storyteller,” says the confused anthropologist.

“Yes, but our Storyteller knows us.”

In the oral tradition of storytelling, the teller and audience are intimately connected. The teller weaves a world and invites the audience to not just watch, but to be a part of the story. This is the power of listening ,empathy, and human connection.

What makes a good story? A story is not just a narrative of events. A story has setting, characters, a plot that builds tension with internal or external conflict, and a resolution. While stories must make sense to our logical mind, more importantly they also evoke emotions. The best public speakers use stories as well as logical facts and statistics. Every story has a message or central theme – implicit or explicit. Most stories have universal themes that create meaning in the context of the listener’s experiences. Different people may get different messages from a story. The best stories show us what happens, rather than just tell us. Effective stories often use humor to connect the audience and ease tension. Storytellers engage the audience. They do not read or recite from rote memorization. They use language written for the “ear” – to be heard rather than read. Storytellers use body language, gestures, facial expressions, and vocal variety to communicate on a level beyond just the words. At its best, storytelling captivates, connects, and inspires.

In case you missed the last StorySlam, we are planning a repeat performance in Fort Myers at Alliance for the Arts on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017.

Visit pictures from the April 4th, 2016, event online:

Email Storytellers of the Round Table at

Stay tuned for other storytelling events.
Join the Naples Storytelling mailing list.

John Cleese: On Creativity

John Cleese is a writer, comedic genius, and co-creator of Monty Python (the comedy troupe). He tells us that creativity is elusive because it comes from the unconscious mind. While the conscious mind will “prime the pump” as you contemplate a problem, it is the unconscious mind that comes up with creative solutions. It is not a talent that only some people have, but a way of operating.

Here is a summary of some of his tips. The obvious is often the most profound.
1) Sleep on it. Let your unconscious mind work on the problem overnight. Or just allow it to percolate in your unconscious mind while you do other things before returning to it.
2) Create boundaries of space and time for your creativity. Interruptions can kill the creative flow.
3) Playfulness. Child-like play touches the unconscious mind more easily and allows creative ideas to flow.
4) The unconscious mind “thinks” in images and can leave you feeling “confused” because you don’t know where it is going. Tolerate the confusion, give the unconscious time to solve the problem and dissipate the “confusion” before the conscious mind comes in to organize and clean up.

For more on creativity by John Cleese, visit online or watch the video below.


In this season of Love and Gratitude, thank you to all of you out there that are a part of my life. May the New Year bring many new blessings, many new smiles, and many new HUGS!

Brambles Tea House Storytelling Event & More

Food at Brambles.JPG

“High Tea” Tray of Food at Brambles Tea House

This coming Thursday, December 10, 6pm – 8pm, Storytellers of the Round Table and Brambles Tea House in Naples, Florida, present Tea & Tales with a holiday theme. Dinner will be served at 6:30pm, stories from 7pm – 8pm. Last month was the first event in the series, and it was a spectacular success! We felt like English royalty as we enjoyed an array of aromatic teas and fantastic food for “High Tea.” And then, the storytelling began in the perfect tearoom setting.

Visit website for more information. RSVP required. Set menu is on the website.

“Storytellers of the Round Table” is a local group of storytellers in Southwest Florida. We are dedicated to the art of storytelling, crafting new stories, and keeping old stories alive. Stories are for all ages. As Terrence Gargiulo once said: “A story is the shortest distance between two people.” Join us as we perform tales that captivate, entertain, and inspire.

Last night, the second annual “StorySlam Naples: An Evening of Storytelling” was a huge success at my office. Over 40 people came to enjoy the tales of nine tellers who covered the range of genres and demonstrated the power of storytelling to connect intimately with the audience. With humor and universal themes, the audience was spellbound by folk tales, a tall tale about “Some Frog,” an adaptation of the literary tale “The Little Match Girl”, historical tales about Christmas in WWI, how a “A Christmas Carol” came to be written, and many other personal stories – ranging from humorous to emotional. Thank you to all that came out in support of this fantastic event.

Please mark your calendars. Monday, April 4th, 2016, 7pm, StorySlamNaples comes to the Sugden Theatre/Toybe Hall on Fifth Avenue! Yes, we will have an official venue. Tickets sales will begin in the next 2 months. Also, stay tuned, for the next StorySlamNaples auditions next year prior to this event.

Tellabration: Sat Nov 21st, 2pm-4pm

The Tamiami Tale Tellers (TTT), a guild of storytellers in Fort Myers, Florida, present a Tellabration! A celebration of storytelling. Free and open to the public. Come and enjoy live storytelling performances.

Saturday, November 21, 2015
2pm –
Lakes Regional Library, Meeting Room A

Located at the intersection of Bass Road and Gladiolus Road in South Fort Myers

For more information, please email Marilyn Graham:

Eight TTT members will perform a variety of stories filled with humor and poignant moments.  Dwight Elam will MC the program.  Other TTT members on the program, in alphabetical order, Marilyn Graham, Lisa Leonhardt, Tim Mangan, Jonathan Rice, Joy Salberg, Howard Silverman, and Mary Lou Williams.  Special guest storyteller will be Hannah Robinson, a gifted teen storyteller.

The Tamiami Tale Tellers is a Southwest Florida storytelling group and member guild of the Florida Storytelling Association (  TTT has presented Tellabration in Southwest Florida for more than 20 years.  TTT holds monthly meetings that are free and open to the public on the third Thursday of each month from 7pm to 9pm at Brookdale College Parkway (formerly the Grand Court), 8351 College Parkway, Fort Myers, 33919.  Tellers and listeners are invited to participate in the monthly meetings.

Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT)

Who are our heroes? Are they rich and famous? Are they athletic and beautiful?

Robert Shetterly’s traveling exhibit of portraits redefines the hero as someone who stands up for Truth. Visiting the actual exhibit is a powerful experience. His portraits are larger than life, capturing the essence of their subject, and etched with one of their quotes. The exhibit ranges from well-known civil rights activists like Rosa Parks to little-known social and political leaders like Louis Brandeis. He includes authors and singers, athletes and environmentalists, young and old – all are connected by the common thread of standing up for what they believe – “Americans Who Tell the Truth.”

You can visit the AWTT exhibit online: However, the online images do not capture the live experience of the exhibit. Walking among these 30” x 36” portraits and reading their biographies, the exhibit becomes a temple of holy ground honoring truth. The room becomes alive with their spirits of truth. You will leave inspired.

AWTT Mission:
Robert Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits and narratives highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness. By combining art and other media, AWTT offers resources to inspire a new generation of engaged Americans who will act for the common good, our communities, and the Earth.

The traveling exhibit is currently in Asheville, North Carolina. Visit an upcoming location, or find sponsors and bring the exhibit and workshops to your community.

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