Life After The Slammer: A journey of inspiration, insight and oddity. 

 

For just over five years Geraldine was involved in bringing creativity, hope and inspiration into Maryland prisons and jails, first as a volunteer and then, for almost two and a half years as a Chaplain at the Maryland Correctional Training Center – Maryland’s largest men’s prison.

Monday
Aug092010

The Power Of Three

In storytelling things go in threes it seems - three blind mice: three wishes: three bears. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was strongly impacted by three things last week.

 First

On Thursday and Friday I went to the two-day Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit where a yearly changing roster of innovative, exceptional business and church leaders are invited to share their story and insights at the Willow Creek Church campus in South Barrington, Illinois.  The event is telecast to hundreds of host sites throughout America and the world.

I attended a satellite center in the Baltimore suburbs.

The speakers included luminaries such as:

  • Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric:
  • Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes, Inc, a company famous for giving a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold:
  • Jeff Manion, Senior Pastor of Ada Bible Church in Ada, Michigan which for years hovered around fifty members but has recently exploded to over 6,000 attendees.

Although the other speakers were excellent, it is Jeff Manion’s words that are still reverberating within me.

He talked about finding God in the aftermath of crisis - where life as you knew it has changed whether because of unemployment, foreclosure, illness, family tragedy, heartbreak – we can all fill in our own blanks – and the future has not yet solidified.  

He calls this place “the land between” – where life is not as it once was, where the future is in question.

In a perfectly pitched presentation filled with the wisdom gained by experiencing his own extended dark night of the soul, Manion laid out the proposition that it is our response to “the land between” that will decide whether our journey through the desert will result in deep, lasting growth or prove as destructive as acid on plastic.

The pivot point is trust.

Will we choose to trust the One who has been proven trustworthy?

 It could have been trite, but it wasn’t.

It was gut-touching, thought provoking stuff presented with sensitivity and humor.

 I left clutching Manion’s recently published book “The Land Between: Finding God in Difficult Transitions,” hoping it would live up to his lecture.

Second

Getting home from the two day juggernaut of rich ideas and concepts I was delighted to find a book I’d ordered had arrived. 

Ripping open the packaging I immediately started inhaling “The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness” by Storyteller Joel ben Izzy reading until dawn approached and continuing the moment I could pry open my eyes.

This small, powerful work, a true tale, is a cross between Mitch Albom’sTuesdays with Morrie,” and an anthology of the finest stories from around the world.

From the first page the reader travels close alongside Storyteller ben Izzy, going from a dark place of unwanted transition after losing his voice, through a series of meetings  with his eccentric but wise old teacher, to a realization that the desert time was an unlikely gift that brings transformation as great as any seen in the ancient folklore that weaves in and out of the book.

Third

My head was still awash with a world of beggars and kings, monks and tigers, hope lost and restored when – on Saturday evening - I went to a concert.  The Scott Day Band were playing at Redeemer International Family Church, temporarily turned into a dinner (well a dessert) theater complete with draped tables and dramatic candles.

The Scott Day Band’s music is soaked in prayer and an otherness that transports listeners to a place of healing and peace, a place where fears are calmed and equilibrium restored. 

Their message is - trust.  

We are deeply loved. 

In times of darkness God will send moments of illuminating, strengthening grace.

The only way out of the swamp is to take His hand and let Him lead us on the journey from despair, through the wilderness, to a place of praise-filled fulfillment.

It was a moving concert – in part because it provided the perfect vehicle to sift through the lessons that had been surrounding me that week. 

Different mediums, same message.

Three times within three days.

It feels like I’m inhabiting a folk tale and the Great Storyteller is speaking.

And believe me, I’m listening as closely as I know how.

 

Thursday
Jul292010

Nicolo The Jester

This evening, at the Germantown, Maryland library, I experienced another side of Storyteller Nick Newlin as he brought to life his alter-ego Nicolo the Jester. 

And what fun he was!

The room was heaving with dozens of tiny toddlers, their older siblings and watchful adults and Nicolo kept them all entranced with his juggling, his audience participation stories, his vivid costume, his poetry and his delightful joie de vivre. 

Although I don’t normally like someone telling me what to do from the stage (a stubborn reaction from too many years of preacher’s saying “turn to your neighbor and tell them…”) I found myself joining in all the silly songs, and every “repeat after me” – and what’s more thoroughly enjoyed doing so! 

Perhaps the difference was that Nicolo didn’t take himself too seriously – and that he didn’t talk down to his predominantly pint-sized audience. 

For one glorious hour we were all equal citizens of Never Never land where anything was possible – little girls became queens, seven year old boys became princes and all volunteers were awarded temporary custody of glorious hats denoting nobility in the kingdom and were instantly able to juggle!

At the end of the evening Nick knelt down and became the Pied Piper as children swarmed him. 

They asked him questions.  They posed for pictures taken with him by doting adults.  He gave each one focused attention and shook their hand.   

The evening was a delight! 

If you need a juggler or a jester for anything – especially a children’s event – choose Nicolo.

The children left with magic in their eyes.

And so did this adult.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jul282010

Destination? Slammer! Has Been Recorded!

I am delighted to report that the recording of my one woman story show “Destination? Slammer!” on Sunday evening was a great success.

Thank you to all who came out.  Thank you to all who prayed. 

Thank you Lord for answering those prayers!

Beans in the Belfry, a defunct Brunswick, Maryland church, now a delightfully quirky coffee shop was the perfect choice for the venue.  The place oozes with character and on Sunday it was packed with people and the applause and laughter were loud and frequent.

Three days after the event I am only just landing after being afloat in a bubble of “once upon a time” delight! 

My euphoria was enhanced by the comments of attendees.  Bruce Saunders, a friend and excellent professional communicator who attended the show with his family, wrote on Facebook:

“Not many people can use words effectively – you are a masterful story teller. I think all in the room ended up on your magic carpet, taken to other times and experiences.  Really loved the wry and gently humor and the way you brought things back around to points of growth and life lessons for each vignette.”

Another review was written by Chuck Tressler, the founder of the North Eastern Storytelling Festival, He wrote:

Buckley A Hit! 

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Approximately 20 members of Redeemer International Family Church and dozens of others experienced the taping of Geraldine Buckley's first CD at Brunswick's Beans in the Belfry coffee house Sunday evening, the 25th.

In a word, Geraldine was sensational.  Thoroughly entertaining...in not only words, but in her gesticulations and presentation as well...she regaled the audience with stories of an incredibly varied and altogether fascinating life.  A life that spanned Nancy Drew-style capers in Catholic boarding school to serving sangria to nuns in Spain to suppers with Lady Bird Johnson (yes, the President's wife) to years in prison (buy the CD and find out what that means!) Oh, and her British accent added to the charm.

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Enough! 

Enough tooting of my own horn! 

It is back to reality...

Editing and packaging are the next tasks.

I am hoping that the CD’s will be ready by the beginning of September.  I will let everyone know as soon as they are available.  Indeed you might not need to have access to this blog, Facebook or your email to receive the news.

If you listen carefully you might well be alerted to the arrival of the finished product by my nation-spanning squeals of delight!

Yea God!

 

Saturday
Jul242010

Awash With Words

The last ten days – all oppressively hot - swirled past me crackling with creativity.

A SpeakeasyDC open mike; as many Capital Fringe shows as I could stuff into my schedule; rehearsing my upcoming show “Destination? Slammer!” and discussing plans for another show, a possible collaboration with Storyteller Ellouise Schoettler, have kept me deliciously immersed in the creative process.

Followers of this blog will know that I am a sold out fan of the Washington DC biographical storytelling organization, SpeakeasyDC – so it was a joy to be part of the lineup for their monthly gathering on July 13th

The theme was “Lonely Planet: Stories About Road Trips, Travel And Being Away From Home” and the tales were gripping – each one a gem. 

Top notch storytellers told tales that ranged from reaching international accord on the ice flows of the Artic, discovering a true calling while at a Grateful Dead concert and a malaria-induced change of philosophy. 

I shared about going away from home at eleven to attend a convent boarding school, longing to have a midnight feast and the subsequent ensuing adventures.

The audience loved it and I had such fun in the telling! 

Part of SpeakeasyDC’s success is having Education Director, Stephanie Garibaldi, give each participant a compulsory one hour telephone coaching session before taking the stage. As always the finished result was an excellent evening.

The Capital Fringe ends on July 25th and I managed to see six shows (next year I’ll plan to attend many more.)  One of those I saw twice and three were packed into the same day! 

Besides Ellouise Schoettler’s “Pushing Boundaries” I particularly enjoyed Slash Coleman’s thoughtful one man show ‘Chaidentity” where Slash, a Holocaust survivor’s son, learns to embrace his religious and creative heritage.  (His maternal grandfather, originally a performer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, became a Resistance fighter after Hitler banned Jews from participating in any creative activity.)

On the opposite end of the seriousness scale was the sold out show “Logic, Luck or Love,” where two men and two women explore the thrills and heartbreak they encounter along the road to find true love.  It received a standing ovation on its opening night and garnered a fabulous review – all well deserved.

So now I am awash with glorious words! 

And I’m loving every syllable!

Sunday
Jul112010

Showcase Showdown

I raced back down the road yesterday evening to see SpeakeasyDC’s Capital Fringe entry, “Showcase Showdown.” 

Before leaving, absorbed in an article-writing. word-induced haze, I was oblivious that I had long passed my planned time of departure. On seeing the clock I hurled myself into the car, praying furiously.

Fringe shows advertise that no one will be allowed in after the start of the performance and it would be a minor miracle if I made the deadline.

I’ll have you know I did the Saturday evening trip from my front door in Frederick, Maryland to the Navy Memorial near the Washington DC Convention Center in 80 minutes (if not a world record then certainly my personal best.)  

And no I wasn’t speeding – the traffic parted by prayer power.

Five minutes before show time I abandoned my car at a valet parking sign in front of an up-market club steps from the venue.  Blessings and thanks to the young man who took pity on me and bent the patron-only rules so that I wouldn’t miss the show. 

I knew the car would be safe with him.  His name was Emmanuel – God with us!

In the foyer I ran into fellow cast members Kriya Kaping and Laurie Frederik Meer from SpeakeasyDC’s Father’s Day show “Who’s Your Daddy?”  With moments to spare, and with me muttering thanks to the Almighty, we slid into our seats in the beautiful venue – the Burke Theatre in the Navy Heritage Center.

Directed by SpeakeasyDC director Amy Saidman, the show was worth the nail-biting journey. 

Based on game shows of the last few decades, with much audience interaction, a contestant’s row, spoof prizes and ancient commercials, Showcase Showdown’s talented cast spun stories with alternative endings, told truth or lie tales, and generally mimicked the game show genre. 

And it worked! 

The audience loved it.  I loved it – even though I missed many of the nostalgia references.

Part of cultural consciousness is the shared bond of television shows watched in youth.   Being British born and not owning a television set I was an alien awash at times - but delighted to be in a crowd of people who were reliving days spent in family dens long ago and far away.

Known for its sold out, excellently conceived and executed shows - SpeakeasyDC did it again! 

Kevin Boggs was hilarious as the slightly smarmy contest master resplendent in a double breasted black velvet jacket who had a frozen, full-on smile as he accompanied contestants back to “the listening lounge.”

Stories that stood out were SpeakeasyDC’s Education Director, Stephanie Garibaldi sharing an hilarious incident that happened while working for Seargent Shriver; Regie Cabico narrating a paranormal event that freaked a friend; Christopher Love talking about a startling roommate and Sheldon’s Scott’s description of a childhood spelling bee.  All were rich in images and humor and there was enough depth in each story to capture the imagination and leave you laughing and thinking long after the show was over.

Which was useful as an accident blocked 270 causing a two hour trip back to Frederick.