Storytelling at Work
August 28, 2019
The Art & Soul of Evelyne Pouget

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Artist, Evelyne Pouget, has always followed her heart and intuition when it comes to life decisions, with serendipity playing a recurring role.

Originally from Paris, she lived in Italy, India (for a year at an ashram) and New York, before succumbing to the often referred to magic of San Miguel almost 18 years ago where she found a new direction and purpose. How she came to a life of art has its origins in the spiritual.

A self-taught artist, Pouget made her first painting in mid-life. She recalls that when she lived in Rome, she was surrounded by art and felt its influence strongly, but at the time it didnt translate to becoming an artist herself. As it turned out, that idea fell into her capable hands like a dream.

She tells the story of her Indian spiritual teacher always referring to her as "the painter", even though she had never picked up a brush.

"I thought he was confusing me with someone else," she laughs.

At the time she was working as a graphic designer in the Manhattan perfume industry. After being encouraged by her husband and receiving rudimentary instructions on how to mix paint, she made her first painting of her teacher from a small blurry photograph. She felt guided by an unseen hand because the painting unfolded like magic and she realized, "I had a natural ability that I hadn't explored before." With a debt of gratitude to her teacher, she knew she had discovered a new path.

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When Pouget first started painting, her favorite artists were portrait painters, like Vermeer and Sargent whom she imitated in "order to understand their talent," she says.

She likes to work from photographs for her oil paintings and pastels, mostly of friends and "characters" from the streets of San Miguel: vendors, musicians, and street people. Not only does she capture a true likeness of her subjects, her portraits aim to capture their essence built up in layers of sumptuous color.

Early on in San Miguel, Pouget discovered her favorite subjects were the traditional dancers she often photographed during festivals. The power and dedication of their traditions moved something in her, and she knew she had to discover more. She started to manipulate the images digitally, playing with heightened color and repetitive patterns and was excited by the layered results. The vibrating images function like collage and the compositions' repetition recalls the rhythm of the dancers. While she works to create fluid images strong with color and form, she maintains her focus is to convey a feeling of sacredness.

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With the discovery of this process, a new project emerged that became about more than the manipulated photographs. She understood instinctively the spirituality of the traditions and connected that to her own seeker-self. Focusing on two tribes: the Chicimecas, and Senor de la Conquista, she knocked on doors until she was invited to go behind the scenes to their practices. She was able to interview the dancers, learn about their costumes, makeup, and how they prepare by asking the spirits to guide them before the dance. She started to see the layers of knowledge beyond what we see, as tourists, and now wants to help honor those traditions.

"It's all so much richer than the surface we see," she says.

Creativity, for Pouget, has always revolved around sharing with her community. She says she is very old-fashioned and values person-to-person contact. "I love people and organizing efforts on-line feels cold."

Her desire to be surrounded by this creative force led her, for 38 years, to organize salons -- intimate gatherings in her home where artists can share not only their talents, but also their philosophy and support of one another. She is passionate about connecting people, especially for a good cause. Being dedicated to her own spiritual growth led her to organize festivals designed to bring peace awareness, through art and music. In her community in Woodstock, NY, she became known as the "peace artist" through her efforts. She continues both of these efforts in San Miguel.

Pouget's spiritual, activist, and artistic interests have all united in her pursuit of beauty and understanding of the world through her artwork, and feels certain of her ability to bring the right people and opportunities to her at the right time. Art for her is about expressing behind what she sees.

"I feel like it's a gift that I open again and again."

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Check out her work at EvelynePouget.com and PougetDigital

Come to the Yo San Miguel Gallery on September 7th, 6:00 -- 10:00 pm where Evelyne's work will be featured along with several other talented San Miguel artists.

Article written by Linda Laino

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2019
The Rightful Heir to the Throne

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Once upon a time there was a powerful, wise, and benevolent King who knew his time was coming to an end. Wanting to ensure that his Kingdom continued to thrive after his death, he called his three sons to his side.

"Blood of my blood," he began, "I know my loyal subjects are expecting me to pass my crown on to my first born -- and that is perfectly understandable, but I do not want my legacy ruled by assumptions and so I am inviting the three of you to enter into a contest to determine who will inherit my throne. I have designed the contest not to test your strength because I already know you are strong. Nor have I designed it to test your loyalty. I already know that, too. I have designed the contest to test your ability to see that which is not immediately apparent, since seeing clearly will be one of the most important skills you will need to rule wisely."

And with that he had his Grand Vizier escort the three boys down several long hallways and through a hidden doorway none of them had ever seen before.

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"Wait here," he said. "Your father will arrive soon enough to explain the rules."

One hour passed. Then another. Then another still. And then, with no fanfare, the King appeared, trailed by his courtiers, physicians, and Queen. Silently, he approached his sons and bowed.

"Flesh of my flesh," he began, pointing to a large wooden door before him. "In a moment, I will enter this room and stand in middle. I will bring nothing with me -- only my love for you and my curiosity. Then, one by one, each of you will have his turn. Three times I will perform this experiment. The door will open and, starting with my first born, when it is your turn, you will enter. Your task will be a simple one -- to tell me what you see in the room. That's it. But you will only have a brief amount of time to accomplish the task. If you take too long, you will be disqualified. Understand?

And with that, the Grand Vizier turned the boys around so their backs were to the door. Then he grabbed the hand of the eldest son, walked him to the door, opened it, and spoke one word: "Enter." The boy walked in. The room was completely dark.

"Well..." said the King, "what do you see, my son?"

"Nothing, father. There is nothing here, but you."

"Thank you, my son. Well said. Now turn around and when the door opens, exit quickly."

Now it was the middle son's turn. The Grand Vizier approached, took him by the hand, walked him to the door, opened it and spoke one word: "Enter."

The boy walked in. The room was still completely dark.

"Well... said the King, "what do you see, my boy?"

"Nothing, father," he replied. "There is nothing here but you. And, of course, me, too."

"Thank you, my son. Well said. A most important distinction you have made. Now turn around and when the door opens, exit quickly."

Now it was the youngest son's turn. Again, the Grand Vizier approached, took him by the hand, walked him to the door, opened it and spoke one word. "Enter."

Like his two brothers before him, the boy walked in. The room was still completely dark.

"Well..." said the King, "what do you see, my youngest born?"

"Nothing, my father. I see nothing. And while I know I have only the briefest amount of time to reply, may I ask you a question?"

"Yes, my son, you may."

"In all your many years, as King, what would you say is the most important thing you have learned?"

"Hmm..." replied the King. "An excellent question. Most astute and worthy of my consideration, no doubt. But my answer, long as it will likely be, will only distract us from the task at hand. We have the next King to select now, don't we?"

But even in the few seconds it took for the King to respond, the eyes of the youngest son began adjusting to the darkness. Where only seconds ago, only blackness prevailed, now he began seeing the faintest outline of things -- a chair, a small table next to it, and a candlestick.

"Oh father," said the son, "thank you for your sage counsel. You are indeed, a man of great wisdom. But before I take my leave, please allow me to tell you what I see: a chair, a table next to it, and a candlestick."

The King took a long, slow breath. Then he exhaled even more slowly. "Well done, my son, well done. You see clearly. You see what is here. And because you do, you shall be the one to inherit my throne!"

One contest. Three sons. Three different responses. The first son, the eldest, spoke the truth. He saw nothing and said so, noting only the obvious presence of the King. The second son, also saw nothing, but had the clarity of mind to acknowledge his own presence in the room. The third son, the youngest, was the only one who understood that seeing sometimes takes time and that first impressions aren't always accurate -- so he bought himself the time he needed by asking the King a question -- providing him just enough time for his eyes to adjust to the dimmest of light.

And so it is with the wisdom inside us. It is not always immediately apparent to us. Indeed, it is often shrouded in darkness, hidden from sight. And where it is hidden, more times than not, is in our stories -- the faraway room within us in which the King abides. And the chair. And the table. And the candlestick. If we want to see what's there, we need to give it some time. We need to get curious, ask our questions, and allow our eyes to adjust to the available light, even if, at first glance, it seems as if nothing is there.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:43 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2019
The Whirlpool of Life's Play

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A few month's ago, my finances were kind of in the toilet. No matter how much effort I made to get gigs, nothing was happening. This was the time I was heading back to Woodstock, from San Miguel, to get my house ready to sell. Anyway, after much effort being made and no results showing up, I realized I needed to totally let go. So I did. I entered the "What Will Be Will Be" space -- not just as a ploy for the universe to come around to my way of thinking, but as a deep recognition that my well-being did not depend on money or work or any of that stuff.

Four days passed. Then the phone rang.

It was someone from the Whirlpool Corporation, who had found my name in a google search and was calling to see if I was available to do an innovation-sparking workshop for them. Usually, these kinds of requests take at least 3-6 months to turn into anything, so, although I was glad I had a potential gig, I didn't get all that excited. Then, the client told me they wanted the session in TWO weeks (in just enough time to pay my daughter's final month's college tuition).

Standing in the kitchen as I was, and increasingly curious, I walked over to the dishwasher to see what brand it was. Surprise, surprise, it was a WHIRLPOOL -- and I happily told my new client that, right then and there. That's when she asked me what MODEL it was. So I bent down, looked again, and told her.

"MY TEAM DESIGNED THAT MODEL" she told me. "The dishwasher in your kitchen was made by my team."

Once again, I was humbled (and amazed) at how perfect this whole play of life is.

Mitch Ditkoff
Storytelling for the Revolution
Idea Champions

PHOTO: unsplash-logoIzzie R

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2019
Storytelling for the Revolution Making a Big Splash in England

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First there was Germany, now jolly old England. Seems like Storytelling for the Revolution's reach is going global, though two data points may be insufficient to reach that conclusion.

What you are looking at is the very noble, festive, creative, relaxed, kind-hearted, intrinsically motivated, poetic Juliet Whittaker reading my most recently published book -- which, apparently, is being enjoyed by lots of people here, there and everywhere, including these notables. If you haven't read it yet, click here to order from Amazon, either the downloadable Kindle version or the old school actual BOOK-IN-THE-HANDS version.


Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
The author

PS: Feel free to email me a photo of yourself reading my book. Who knows? Maybe YOU will be featured in a future blog post -- something to forward to someone you love OR someone who might benefit from reading my book. (mitch@ideachampions.com)

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2019
Kurt Vonnegut on Story

Big shout out to South Bend Slim for the heads up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2019
He's Got Speed, Determination, Moves, Guts, and Balls

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2019
What People Are Saying About the Impact of Wisdom Circles

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Wisdom Circles are enjoyable, lightly-facilitated, two-hour gatherings of 6-12 people sharing meaningful, personal stories with each other -- stories that convey insight, humanity, lessons learned, and memorable moments of truth. What follows are a sampling of testimonials from some of the people who have recently attended Wisdom Circles in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and Woodstock, NY.

"Wisdom Circles are a microcosm of how I hope society, at large, might one day function -- truly seeing those around us, valuing them, and recognizing we are on a journey together in our shared humanity." -- Karen Kinney

"I always leave a Wisdom Circle full of new perspective, insight, and feeling -- a deeper connection to my fellow storytellers and story listeners, but most importantly, a refreshed relationship to my own life path and deeper connection to my values, voice and truth." -- Akka B.

"At the closing of the Wisdom circle, I felt I had been given the opportunity to glance at the human soul." -- Carole Clement

"There is no doubt in my mind that Wisdom Circles are a service of enormous value to the community. There is indeed great wisdom in exploring our own stories; in speaking them, sharing them, and allowing them to be witnessed." -- Carlos Chancellor

"The experience gave me a new insight that stunned me, or really, it was an old insight that I had forgotten about and was deeply happy to have back." -- Susan Page

"I had no idea that someone else's experience told in a story could affect me so deeply and would have an impact on my future thoughts." -- Robyn Johnson

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"I found that it was not only an enriching experience, but also something I've begun to implement in my day-to-day life." -- Jon Jeffers

"The Wisdom Circle was not only stimulating, but conjured up stories of my own that I hadn't remembered until my memory was stirred by the others in the circle. A great evening of gratitude and mutual appreciation -- a place to be real." -- Sher Davidson

"The whole experience renewed my interest in listening to, writing, and telling stories." -- Jean Paul Peretz

"How freeing the Wisdom Circle was for me! I could allow myself to find the tale that wanted telling and feel safe to tell it. Afterwards I felt a sense of relief and freedom. I felt seen and heard without judgment." -- Ellen Goldberg

"Sharing our stories with one another is a beautiful way that humans support, teach, and enrich one another." -- Diana Kuper

"I found it immensely moving to listen to people's core narratives. It deepened my appreciation of who they are and what their inner life looks like." -- Ruth Garbus

"Two hours into the Wisdom Circle I felt like I had six new friends. It's an inspiring environment that naturally evokes the sharing of stories." -- Sharon Jeffers

"Wisdom Circles are SO MUCH FUN. Under the facilitator's alchemical guidance, each and every storytelling gathering is a safe, encouraging, inspiring, profound, and creative opportunity to more deeply connect with myself and others." -- Lynda Carre

"A wonderful evening of storytelling and enlightenment. Sharing insights and bringing people together made it a memorable evening." -- Jean Buchalter

"The Wisdom Storytelling Circle is a simple, alive form that brought forth my deep narratives." -- Barbara Bash

"Participating in a Wisdom Circle is uplifting and empowering -- bringing forth empathy, trust, intimacy, sharing, learning, real listening, community building, and digging into one's own life. It is so enriching to mind and soul." -- Eldad Benary

"In our very busy lives, filled with all of the calamitous news, Wisdom Circles are a serene way to escape, for a few hours, back to oneself." -- Jan Buchalter

"Participating in a Wisdom Circle was a very freeing experience. It created a bond between participants that opened the door to understanding others by seeing things through their eyes." -- Dr. Alan Pizer

"I heard amazing and inspiring stories from each person at the Wisdom Circle and felt spiritually and emotionally enriched afterward." -- Corinne Mol

"The Wisdom Circle is the place to be. If you're looking for great energy, intelligent, creative people, lots of laughter and loving togetherness, this is the place for you. Don't miss it. It is life changing." -- Nathan Brenowitz

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling at Work
Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2019
The Sagwa Zibi Dance

Here's a brief video that features an extraordinary, original composition by Paul Kwicienski about the river across his house in South Bend, Indiana. Paul told the story of how this piece of music came to be in last night's Woodstock Wisdom Circle. Hat's off to Paul for not only sharing his inspiring story, but making it come even more alive by playing us the soundtrack.

Co-composers: Paul Duffy and Jodie Sleed
Dance and choreography: Kate McGowan and Matt Smith

What people are saying about Wisdom Circles.
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2019
Songs Are Stories, Too

Joan Baez telling it like it is.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

ABOUT THE BLOG

Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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