With the new year comes a new birthday. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘well duh’. But mine is on January 9 so it’s pretty close to the start of a new year. I don’t make a big deal about my birthday. I don’t have a big party. I don’t celebrate all month long. I try to keep it pretty low key. Well except for announcing it to the world on my blog. And setting some goals.

Birthday Dinner

For as long as I can remember birthdays were celebrated over dinner. Sure I had parties when I was a kid. But my family always celebrated with a birthday dinner.

My mom would always make the birthday person’s requested dish. For me it was always beef stew. Always. For one I was fascinated by the pressure cooker. It’s such an interesting apparatus. But I also loved my mom’s stew. Anything she cooks is amazing but the stew was my fave. I requested it every year. It’s a great winter meal to warm you up which was good because most of my birthday parties involved sledding, ice skating or otherwise embracing the cold and snow.


There were always lots of presents. Partly because I have five siblings. But also I think because I was born 14 years after my brothers. My parents had four boys in three years. Then they took a 14 year break. So when I came along and 18 months later my sister, we got lots of gifts. We were the girls they never thought they’d have.

One of my brothers started the tradition of buying gifts for both of us on a birthday. My other brothers followed suit, mainly because they were competitive like that. So my sister and I both got birthday gifts two times a year.

I don’t love getting gifts. I know that sounds weird. I love giving gifts but I feel uncomfortable getting them. Maybe because I always got so many. Maybe because there are so many things that people can be spending their money on. Maybe because receiving gifts ranks last in my love languages.

New Year

I never consider it a new year until my birthday. I always give myself that leeway. Tangent alert. I wasn’t sure how to spell leeway. I took a guess and my iPhone didn’t correct me. Still not confident that I had spelled it right I looked it up. According to the dictionary this is the correct way to spell it. Still I’m blown away. It seems such a straightforward way to spell it and yet so confusing.

Ok so I consider my birthday to be my official New Year’s Eve and January 10 to be the start of the new year. So what do I want to accomplish this year? That is a great question!

I want to improve my storytelling skills and book more speaking engagements.

marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell.


I went to a Moth event last year. If you’re not familiar The Moth is a storytelling event that is done throughout the country. It celebrated 20 years in 2017 so it’s been around a while. Yet I just learned about it last year.

If you want to tell your story on stage at a Moth event you put your name in a hat. Names are drawn randomly. The next speaker up is notified just before the speaker before them takes the stage. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying to know that you’ll be taking the stage next. This is a very condensed version of what happens so definitely go here to learn more and find out about events in your community.

Carter and I went to the event to check things out. I usually like to get an idea of how things go before I participate. You know, that way I can totally psych myself out.

There weren’t a lot of people putting their names in the hat so they had a second call for storytellers. During the intermission Carter and I both put our names in.

I got selected to tell my story on stage. Carter didn’t but as a consolation they give him (and everyone that doesn’t get chosen) a chance to tell their opening storytelling sentence. Carter’s was amazing. I was bummed that he didn’t get to tell his story.

The Moth is such a great event. The only downside is that the Twin Cities one is on a Wednesday night which is the same night I run the Joke Joint comedy workshop and open mic. So I’d be giving up a guaranteed comedy spot for the chance at maybe being able to tell a story.

Storytelling is different than telling jokes. Jokes can be condensed down to a one line setup and punchline. Jokes can also come in story form. If you’re telling a story as a joke you should have punchlines every one to two sentences.

there's always room for a story that can transport people to another place

Storytelling is more straight forward. It’s not embellished like jokes are.

I’m good at writing concise jokes. When I first started doing comedy, I learned to cut out all the excess words and just focus on only what’s needed to make the joke work.

Recently I’ve been working on telling more story jokes. It’s hard to do because I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get to the point where I can construct quality jokes that now going in the opposite direction and making jokes into stories seems wrong. It’s goes against everything I’ve known. And yet it’s needed to grow as a comic.

Why Storytelling?

Storytelling is a great way to convey your message because it goes behind telling the facts. It relays your point in a way that others can understand by taking them on a journey with words and images. 4 Benefits of Using Storytelling in Marketing will give you some reasons to consider using storytelling.

Storytelling is something I find challenging which is one reason I’m drawn to it.


I’d also like to have more speaking engagements. That’s where my local Toastmasters will come in handy.

I’ve kind of been lukewarm on Toastmasters. I had a great year as club president but when my term was over I was ready to be done for a while.

I’ve been slowly going back to meetings. It’s been fun because my club is made up of people that really want to be great speakers. We also have so many new members which always adds excitement and vitality to our club.

Speakers Bureau

After a couple year hiatus the district Toastmasters has resurrected the speakers bureau. Say what? What the heck is a speakers bureau? I’m glad you asked.

A speakers bureau according to Wikipedia who summed it up way better than I could is “a collection of speakers who talk about a particular subject,[1] or a company, which operates to facilitate speakers for clients requiring motivational speakers, celebrity appearances, conference facilitators, or keynote speakers.[2]”

Of course I’m going to sign up for my district’s speakers bureau. I just need to put some thought into what my speaking topics will be and what my ideal audience will be. I also need to write or at least outline some speeches so when I do get an opportunity to speak I’m not cramming to pull a speech together at the last minute.

The speakers bureau is currently offering four tracks: those who have never spoken outside of Toastmasters, those wanting to give more professional presentations that are motivational and TED talk-like, those working towards the Toastmasters Accredited Speaker designation, and those looking to give talks to entrepreneurs. The great thing is that you can fall into one category, all categories or somewhere in between. So you’re not limited.

So there you have it! Storytelling and speaking are my goals for this year. I’m both exhilarated and terrified.

What are you goals for 2018?


Thanks for stopping by! Julie

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