Three Things to Love about the STORY Conference + GIVEAWAY


Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and to the great folks at STORY for their generosity. The WINNER is...

Molly O'Neill!
Congratulations Molly! Enjoy your goodies from STORY!

If hearing the word “story” or “creative” sparks a little sizzle in your heart, you have got to connect with the STORY tribe. If you want a chance to win this STORY box packed with goodies and a FREE BOOK, keep reading to enter this giveaway and find out what's under that cool lid.

 STORY is a conference and community for creatives. I found them while surfing one day and think what they’re doing is so inspiring I want to share it with you. If you make anything, or want to—a song, a book, a talk, a painting, a thank you note—you may love this. I do.

This “Uncommon Creativity Conference" is in Nashville, October 1st & 2nd. (You can find out more and still register here. Scroll down and read "Our Story" in the About section for a peek at this event's innovative magic.) Their presenters are leading creative practitioners—from writers to artists to filmmakers, all kinds of makers in fact. It's a multi-discipline creativity infusion where filmmakers can learn from novelists, musicians from creative directors and such.

Here's why I think this may be the coolest thing I've seen this year:

1. They are all about challenging us to become better storytellers.

2. They measure their success by what we are inspired to go out and create.

3. The tribe.

Some of their presenters are iconic, but STORY's creator, Ben Arment, says "our goal is not to invite people you’ve heard of – just those you will." Their community includes "creative directors, artists, designers, writers, filmmakers, producers, innovators, musicians and unsuspecting creatives who want to use their gifts for good."



Using our gifts for good. Now that resonates.

It also looks extraordinarily high quality. A unique experience. Talks layered with music, backdrops, visuals, special effects, beauty. Sounds intriguing right? 



Even if you can’t get away to their conference, follow their Instagram feed, @STORYnashville. It’s beauty and inspiration and a little art. Their hashtag #somestoriesarereal is what JRR Tolkien said to CS Lewis about the greatest story ever told, and it’s also their theme this year. You can follow their hashtag on Twitter and Insta too, #storynashville. 

STORY Conference's creator, Ben Arment, is the author of Dream Year: Make the Leap From A Job You Hate to a Life You Love. I listened to the audiobook and liked it so much I read it in print too! Best entrepreneurial book I've read all year.

He says, "Creativity is a to-do list. Do the work of the dream." What's your sweet spot? "It's where these four components—passion, demand, platform, and giftedness—come together in one coordinated expression." Even if you don't have a job you hate, just a dream you want to pursue, you'll love this book. (Hint: you might want to enter this giveaway.)

I'm also an avid listener of a podcast called This Moved Mea show about creating talks that move the world. I reached out to the charming and professional host, Sally Zimney, to tell her I admired her work and she ended up inviting me to be a guest. 

We talked about "On Evolving Our Stories (to keep up with who we've become)." In her signature "This Moved Me Moment" in each show where she and the guest tell what moved them that week, I shared this quote from a STORYNashville Instagram post:

If you make with words, write. If you make with color, paint. If you make with film, record. If you make with people, bring the house down. If you make with meals, treble clefs, graphite, events, flora and fauna, and anything else that rests between your fingers and heavy upon your soul, we are your people. We are your high-fiving, butt-kicking, mega-geeking tribe. And when you are out in front, seemingly alone, we are behind you. All. the. way.
— @chantal_wiebe, @STORY’s writer and curator.

And that is why I am loving this STORY tribe. And This Moved Me.



Courtesy of the great people at STORY, the winner will get:

  • A copy of the book Dream Year: Make the Leap From a Job You Hate to a Life You Love, by Ben Arment, STORY Conference Creator.
  • A limited edition STORY print.
  • A STORY day sheet notepad.
  •  Some other fun, surprise items.


  • Comment below, telling me about what you make or what you love to  consume that other creatives make. Stories, art, dinner? Whatever. That's it. 

Deadline for entry- Friday, September 18, 2015, 5:00 p.m.. Winner chosen at random. U.S.-based, non-P.O. box only. I'll announce the winner to my list first so if you're not signed up check back here to see who won. This is not a sponsored post or affiliate link. I found STORY organically and love their mission and Ben's book, and he was kind enough to donate the goodie box.

I'd like to invite you to join my community here. Signing up for blog updates is not a requirement for the giveaway, but if you love story (especially true story), I'd love to have you.

Enter this #giveaway for a STORY goodie box w/free book +more. From #STORYnashville via @lindseyoconnor.  Tweet this.

Three things to love about the #STORY conference + #GIVEAWAY via @lindseyoconnor. #Storynashville  Tweet this.

So, ready to enter the giveaway? Tell us, what do you make? Or what do you love that other creatives make?

Life and Death Lessons in 6 Pounds and a Song

Sweet Caroline and my new granddaughter Amelia Claire Ayers/

Sweet Caroline and my new granddaughter Amelia Claire Ayers/

I’ve been deeply impacted the last couple of weeks by the profound, namely two deaths and a birth.

A woman about my age whose family has impacted ours in multiple ways over the years died a few weeks ago. She epitomized serving others, contagious joy, and deep faith. She’d been one of my kids’ kindergarten teachers during a rough time for our family and she’d wept for my child’s pain and would sometimes sit next to her at nap time, rub her back and silently pray.

The other death happened the same day. I’d never met this woman, but she was the daughter of one of my neighbors, only in her early twenties. For far too long every time we drove in and out of our neighborhood we saw orange paint marks on the road where investigators had marked tire tracks. Yet, bouquets of flowers kept accumulating along the fence where the paint marks stopped at the side of the road, like a micro Princess Diana memorial, saying “You mattered, your time here so mattered.”

Then, weeks later, the start of a life. On August 13th our family gathered at the hospital with my eldest daughter, Jacquelyn, and son-in-law, Noah, for the big event—the birth of Amelia Claire Ayers, my second grandchild! Jacquelyn’s beyond miserable pregnancy had debilitated her with hypermesis. She’d spent months in bed, was hospitalized repeatedly, PICC line, home health, all kinds of suffering, so the joy at Amelia's birth was magnified.

Right before they took Jacquelyn back to her room I watched her calm the fears of her firstborn, Eloise, with such tenderness.

Then our family waited, and lined the hall outside the OR until Noah rolled baby Amelia out. I got to witness the magic of Eloise first meeting her sister and the sacred beauty of their little family together for the first time.

I’m Mimi to a new grandgirl. She’s teensy, peace in pink.

So many tears in two weeks. First for the pain of others, then for joy that jams up in your heart and leaks out.

This has had me thinking, again, about the space between these counter-weight experiences.  I’m no stranger to deep reflection and beyond deeper gratitude for the gift of that space, life, as anyone is who’s brushed death, but two deaths and a birth in a few weeks does make you see more signposts.

Shortly after Amelia was born, I was struck by the words of a mother I heard in a StoryCorps story who has cared full-time for her son after a car accident disabled him in college. She said, “Time’s really the valuable commodity that we have... It’s the only thing that matters.” And then, days later, I read a woman’s comment on the anniversary of her husband’s death that they had been married for 49 years and 9 days. And that undid me a little.

I called my husband and said, “Tim, she’s so right. Time together is measured in years and days. Days! We only get so many together.” I told him that this little problem we were having (because, you know, marriage is always just so easy), well, let’s figure this out and get on with it. Make them count. 

Time is really the gift of the chronology of moments. I want to notice the ones that play out in front of me, grab the ones that whirl by, and orchestrate moments that are worth noticing, grabbing, remembering, savoring.

Last weekend my youngest daughter, Sweet Caroline, turned thirteen. She’s the baby I wrote about in my memoir, The Long Awakening, whose birth had marked my near death. At her birthday party I watched her and her friends jump on the trampoline, slicing the twilight with glow sticks and laughter. I snapped a mental snapshot as clear as her new polaroids. 

Monday evening, after Tim and I stopped working for the day, he cranked up Jimmy Buffet, and put a speaker in an open window and we grabbed drinks, threw chicken on the grill and sat on the deck listening to the music.

“This is what it’s about you know?” I said. “Moments.”

He smiled. Nodded. An old country song played through the open window about waltzing across Texas with you.

“Want to dance?” Tim asked, surprising me.

He held out his hand and barefoot on the back deck with the sun going down we fell into our long ingrained two-step habit.

“Wait, this is a waltz,” I said. Stop. Shuffle. Smile. One, two, three; one, two, three. There we go.

Then the song was over, just like that. 

Regardless how long the music plays, I want to be moving, noticing, grabbing moments. Chronology snapshots. New babies, glow sticks, dances on the deck.

What moments have moved you recently?

Some Things to Read and Listen to This Weekend

If you're looking for a few good things to read or listen to this weekend here are some things I've enjoyed this week that I'd like to share.

A blog post about podcasts 

I really liked this post about podcasts and what a great time in history it is for radio. The post title is "Mystery Show is the new Serial. Kinda. (But it's an awesome moment for radio.)" It's by Ethan Zuckerman, the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection. He describes how the new podcast Mystery Show, by a voice many public radio fans recognize—Starlee Kine—stacks up to podcastdom's uber popular show Serial.

He discusses what's to love and what's troubling, includes listening links, and makes great points about the beauty of radio now.  He writes:

This is a remarkable moment for ‘radio’, a term that’s increasingly archaic as much of the best stuff is never broadcast over the airwaves. But that’s the term the producers at Gimlet, Radiotopia and other purveyors of fine podcasts use, despite the fact that 10 of the 12 shows I’m following exist only in the digital realm.

"What wasn’t as obvious, to me at least," Ethan said, "was the ways that changing the distribution and revenue equation for content could spark a renaissance in creativity. Much of what I’m listening to on podcasts is much, much better than what I routinely hear on NPR or commercial radio."

Exactly. Podcast love.

A podcast about longevity

This week I celebrated my birthday, which was the perfect day to listen to the TED Radio Hour episode called "The Fountain of Youth."

My favorite part was the discussion of "blue zones"— areas around the world where populations are living to 100 years old at rates up to ten times greater than most of us and with more vigor.  How do some of these cultures live so much longer and better? Does it matter more if we eat plants or do yoga, or does purpose and spirituality and how we socialize come into play? 

One common factor seems to be relationships. "Committed social networks" contribute to living far longer than average life expectancies. One speaker and explorer said "loneliness can shave five years off your life expectancy." I so believe that.

Some narrative nonfiction books

In a Twitter conversation I had this week with Dave Cullen (author of Columbine) and David Grann (staff writer @NewYorker and author of The Lost City of Z and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes), they gave a few suggestions for great narrative nonfiction. I was needing a Kindle fix fast.

Dave, who once came to a talk with a duffle bag full of narrative nonfiction he'd read before writing Columbine, said: "Devil In The White City, Longitude, The Plantagenets (if Eng history), Perfect Storm is underrated, Blackhawk Down, House Of Stone! Not all narrative, but 2 amazing: Yanomamo: The Fierce People, Presentations of Self in Everyday Life. The Professor & The Madman. Yąnomamö 1st enticed me into anthropology 30 yrs ago. Great pairing w/ modern Lost City of Z."

David Grann said he loved Professor & the Madman and suggested Dave's ColumbineDevil and the White City as well, and Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.

Beautiful Forevers and Columbine are both on my Story List. Love those books. I'd started Devil and the White City years ago, but stopped because frankly, I got scared. It involves a murderer and I was alone when I was reading it. At night. Mhmm. You know the creaking you hear downstairs is not the wind, but the same madman in the story you're reading. Of course. But I'll try it again. If I'd stayed too off-put by the subject of murder to read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, I'd have missed one of the best examples of narrative journalism ever written.

I quickly bought Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, on my kindle and spent my entire birthday afternoon on a pool float reading it.

It's superbly written narrative nonfiction and experiential journalism. Grann adventures deep into the Amazon to report and tell the story of the famous British explorer Percy Fawcett who went on an expedition in 1925 to find a lost civilization, and never returned. That same fate has befallen many others who've gone looking for Fawcett. I'm enjoying it immensely.

What are YOU reading and listening to?

15 Ways to Live an Amazing Story


  1. Know who you are and be that.
  2. Like a story's flawed hero, sacrifice for others.
  3. Keep the story from being boring.
  4. Do big things, scary things, that matter.
  5. Revise an old story.
  6. Write a new chapter.
  7. Be a worthy character in your story.
  8. Know what your character wants (you), and why.
  9. Amazing stories require conflict so work the struggles.
  10. Prepare for story turns.
  11. Be courageous and steadfast when black moments squeeze you into tough choices.
  12. Look for points of insight.
  13. Don’t live the story and stay unchanged.
  14. Do something you’ve always wanted to do with the pages of your days.
  15. Do good.

What would you add to the list?  What do you want to do to live the best story you can?

Summer I Will Miss You

Summer is ending and I hate to see it go. My favorite days are ones spent on a lake. Sitting on a dock with my feet in the water and a book in my hand and a boat calling my name…bliss. I've always been intrigued by people who don't just vacation. They "summer." A friend of mine has a large lakefront cabin called Inverness that is a century old and has been in her family since the 1960's, in a town where families have summered for generations. Every summer she invites me and a few friends to join her for several days and I soak up the sun and the smell of the water and watch children in sailing school criss cross the lake.

Summer, I will miss you. And I'll hold onto this memory of a perfect day on the water.


What will you miss about summer? Have you ever "summered?"