Storytelling with Abigail
On Monday afternoons at 2pm at Clinton Senior Center, a story telling class with Abigail takes place. This is a group where people come together as friends to tell and listen to each other’s stories.
Visiting the class one Monday afternoon, Abigail was arranging chairs in a circle in the room while waiting for the seniors to arrive. As people wandered in, it was apparent that this class has a nice and relaxed attitude. This is an easy going class, which is also very friendly and welcoming. People sat together and chatted away, catching up on the weekend, and sharing in the trials of enduring the summer heat!
Once everyone had arrived, Abigail started the session off with some gentle breathing exercises and stretches. Focusing on breathing in and out slowly was a good way to start to slow down and focus attention away from the distractions of daily life. The group was then led in stretches of the neck, shoulders, legs and arms to relax muscles and ease any little aches and pains they might be having. Everyone seemed to enjoy this part of the class, as it helped them to unwind and feel more comfortable. “I feel it’s very healthy as it involves some meditation and relaxes you” explained Mary, a member of the class. This is a good way for everyone to feel before the story telling begins.
The class then recapped on what they had been talking about the previous week. The theme of their discussion was love, and what love means to them. This was expressed through sharing stories, words and phrases. To symbolize love, each person in the class came up with what they called a “love statue”. This was a pose they made which represented an aspect of love to them. They then thought of a short phrase to go with it, which expressed what the love statue symbolized for them. The first statue represented tough love; this pose was made with folded arms. The phrase chosen to go with this summed it up well, “love is easy to have, but hard to keep”. Another of the statues was a pose with the arms folded across the chest, as if in an embrace. “Love is innocent, tender and sweet” reflected the emotions behind this statue.
As well as romantic love, members thought about other kinds of love such as love for a child or family members. The group discussed how love is about taking care of someone, and having coming up with a love statue for this, they decided on the phrase, “love is intense and immense”. Thinking of their families and children seemed to invoke the sense that love is a very strong and often unconditional feeling. Once everyone had decided on their love statue and accompanying phrase, the group went around the circle making each statue in turn, and saying the words which went with it. The class all seemed to enjoy repeating the phrases and reflecting on the different aspects of love which they had talked about.
After the class had ended, everyone was invited to stay for snacks and a drink. Again, it was clear to see how much they all enjoyed the social aspect of the group. There was no shortage of praise for the class from them either. Ana has been coming to the class for a while now, and was keen to share her enthusiasm for it. When asked what she liked about the class, she replied “I like everything, because we socialize.” Meeting together and sharing stories has created a real sense of community amongst the group. “We come here and are all friends, I enjoy the hour.” commented George, another participant of the class. He also was keen to praise Abigail and the way she leads the class. “She has a good attitude, she is very enjoyable” he said.