About Kate Lawrence
Like many people with a love of story, it was just there, from my earliest awareness. It began with fairy and folk tales, then came books, full of stories.
As a teenager it was the ‘story’ songs I liked the most (and yes, that did mean country and western).
Years as a Community Lawyer
When I began studying law, it was the stories that held my interest, not the law.
And it was in a small window-less duty lawyer’s office at the Sunshine Magistrates Court that I saw first hand the self awareness and understanding that occurs, when people tell the story of their actions, try to make sense of their life and someone bears witness.
Mother of All Stories
When I became a mother I desperately wanted to leave the printed page, to tell my kids stories, to look at them and play with them using story.
So I collected a bunch of folk tales, and... well, that was it. I read them to my kids.
The Gifts of Crisis
After nearly twenty years I reached a crisis of confidence in the law and I left.
Then when my personal life became a mess, I began a journey of self-discovery and change. And in this process it was the stories that shone, stories of those who went before me and stories that showed me new ways of thinking and re-storying my life.
It was here that I also experienced the power of sitting with others as we shared our stories, and deepened our connections and understanding.
Surrounded By Stories
I went on to study ways people collaborate and found, to my surprise, that personal storytelling is at the heart of group cohesion and collaboration.
I worked in community development and disaster and found story in the centre.
I studied life coaching and found storying, and re-storying, inherent in coaching.
I played, coached and developed women’s Australian Rules Football and found that story – the story of a shared vision, the story of who we were individually, and collectively, as a team and as a club, were all crucial to our success, and what’s more, these stories could be worked.
The Path of the Storyteller
And so I began the work of becoming a storyteller. There was no clear path but there were helpers along the way.
I learned to tell folktales and for a five years I told and taught kids in schools. This was wonderful but I didn’t see stories as just ‘kids business’.
Slowly the waters cleared. I had so often seen the impact, on both teller and listener, of sharing personal stories, and so I set out to learn, tell and teach the art of crafting and telling our own stories.
I drew on facilitation skills to create spaces where the sharing of stories spirals round to create bonding, and the easy laughter that comes from belonging; where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and where the notion of team really lives.
The Happy Ending?
I still freeze with a blank mind if anyone asks me to tell them a story. You see, I am looking in my mind for a fully formed story, complete with a little label ‘Story’ so I can find it.
But stories are not like that, stories are created, piece by piece, image by image, skill by skill, stitched together into a fully formed, proper thing we call a 'Story'.
And the story of becoming part of something bigger, in common with others, is also stitched together, story by story, told and heard, told and heard.
And this is the work that makes us human, and makes the journey as meaningful and heartfelt as the destination.