Sunday, August 24, 2008

Remembering Leanne

Today is the one year anniversary of the passing on my dear friend Leanne Johnson, age 47...gone far, far too soon.

As I was just typing her last name I realized it should have been Leanne Joy because she brought so much love, warmth and spirit to the world. Leanne loved people, penguins, stories, music, puns and laughter. We are the poorer for her passing but the richer for her having graced our world.

Leanne was one of the first people to reach out and offer words of wisdom when I began my own storytelling journey. Whenever I needed resources, advice, help or encouragement she was there. In fact, I still have her voice on my answering machine, singing the words to a song I needed for a storytelling performance, her exuberance palpable across the wires as she laughing sang "Baby shark do do do do..." That is the the kind of person she was, going the extra mile, across the miles. Whenever I need a lift she is there, her voice rings out loud and strong, and I smile.

Thankfully, her voice and stories live on in cyber space; her myspace page is still online. If you would like to enter into her wonderful world of folktales through words and music stop in for a visit. You can even see Leanne "in action" at her last Northlands Storytelling Conference performance in all her glory on my friend Gwyn Calvetti's blog. My thanks to Gwyn for making sure that Leanne's light shines on. I was blessed to be in that audience and I can tell you that Leanne absolutely glowed that night!

Leanne was a skilled wordsmith as well and when the question was asked on the Storytell listserv, "How did you know when it was time to call yourself a "storyteller?" Leanne penned this wonderful poem:

When everything you hear,
tells you a story,
When everything you see,
reminds you of a story,
When everything you taste
conjures up a story,
When everything you smell,
evokes for you a story,
When everything you touch,
summons up a story,

You might indeed be a storyteller.

But it is not until
you release those stories,
Allow the images to free form into the
imaginations of others,
Spilling their seeds
into the creation of more stories,
Funneled through the love and cares of family and friends,
who will love you
Enriched, enhanced,
amplified with the hopes and dreams of strangers
who have no other reason to love
or care for you,
Nestled into the unconscious mind of a growing child
where they will grow with goodness and strength.

Ahh, then, call yourself a storyteller.

And when they offer you praise,

the sounds,
the sights,
the tastes,
the smells,
the touch,

Of the Love of Story.

And today, as I do each day, I remember my friend Leanne with love.