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Janet LeRoy is an animated storyteller who savours childhood memories of ketchup-laden golden fries, hiking with her dogs in the Gatineau Park, and exploring the realms of mind, body and spirit.
Storytelling is a natural offshoot from her years of writing and teaching college courses in Creative Writing, Communication, and Social Science. In her practice of Process Acupressure, Bereavement Support, and Dream Workshops, storytelling naturally resonates with healing.
Janet was first introduced to storytelling when Ottawa Storytellers gave a workshop to volunteers at Bereaved Families of Ottawa. Actively involved with Ottawa Storytellers, she now co-teaches the Beginner’s Storytelling Workshop. Janet is a coordinator for the Ontario members of Storytellers of Canada.
A dynamic storyteller, Janet performs in schools for children and adults, libraries, The Tea Party, Swap, house concerts, community centres, parks, and bereavement groups. She was the featured storyteller in the 2014 Wakefield Writers Festival and is performing in The Ottawa Children’s Storytelling Festival.
Her story, A Gift, was published in Todays Parent Magazine. The story reveals a child’s compassion for a grieving mother. Janet’s performance of the story is captivating. As one listener wrote, “Grief was not overwhelming; it was just there, enough for me to hold the edge. The love between the child and Janet was like a sprout we could see unfolding. Beautifully told.”
Twenty-five years of writing stories and poems has provided Janet with a myriad of tales to transform into oral stories. She enjoys reshaping her stories, for in doing so, she discovers new insights. Stories also shift shape during the telling because audiences are unique and influence the story.
The first time I performed in a school, I was astounded by the shared reality that emerged. In the story, my dogs run away, leaving me alone in the woods. Emphasizing my feelings through voice tone and facial expression, I said, “Now I’m all alone, and I feel really sad.” A tiny voice from the second row asked, “And scared?” This little five-year-old was alone in the woods despite physically sitting on a classroom floor. In that moment, I recognized the power of storytelling – how a story comes alive with listeners and teller in it together.
I love it when my stories nudge listeners to connect with their own life experiences. After one of my childhood restaurant stories, an adult listener recounted a restaurant story of her own. The stories we hear, and the stories we tell each other create the world we experience.
Through Process Acupressure, I’ve encountered stories hidden within the cellular memory of the body. When these stories emerge, there is an energetic and emotional release, an opportunity for healing an old wound. Some of my childhood hurts have been transformed through story. I enjoy bringing the innocence and mischief of those days to audiences.
When members of a bereavement group tell their stories, it fosters trust, understanding, and compassion. Difficult stories remind us of our vulnerability, our courage, and our humanity.
Stories that stalk us in our sleep or titillate our wildest fantasies open portals into dream worlds that guide, entertain, and challenge us. In Dream Workshops, based on the work of Robert Moss, I teach a process that allows dreamers to safely explore and connect with the magical, adventurous, and sometimes haunting worlds within.
Storytelling is about connection, flow, and exploration. It’s about the willingness to travel within, and to other times, places, events, and cultures. Storytelling is sharing a breath of life.