Karen Standal weaves a cloth of words and pictures
"To paint a picture with words; to weave a story; hold it for a very short, magical minute and then hand this story to your audience is something else. This is where the magic begins," says Helewise, storyteller.
Karen Standal, a.k.a. Helewise, is a storyteller. Her passion, her life, is "to give back." She does this through the ancient tradition of sharing stories, art and history. In many cultures it is called oral tradition. To Helewise, it is empowerment. Working with children at risk and their caregivers, empowering them is where you will find her.
"These are kids who have been deserted, deserted by family, by tears, by anger, by abuse, who are looking for a way to control their lives."
Standal sees a growing problem with our nation's children "Everyone wants and needs to be in control of themselves and their lives instead of drifting in a flood of emotional chaos. Sometimes these kids reach for people and situations that promise them companionship, initiation into a certain behavior that will call them a man or woman, someone to take the place of family." Her experience of working with at-risk kids has brought this tragic truth to light. "Gangs are working because they can supply this, (along with) extended family in gang members. You are initiated and that is a passage. Children have lost passages in this world of hurry, hurry."
So how do you reach kids at risk? How do you touch them and offer them an alternative passage? Standal feels, "If you can reach these kids with alternative safer passages... you can empower them." She empowers through Dragon Stories.
"I have four dragons in my stories: the Dragon of the East who is communication; the Dragon of the South who is inspiration; the Dragon of the West who is healing; and finally the Dragon of the North who is all-knowing."
Using the elements of communication, inspiration, healing and knowledge, Standal weaves stories that show there is nothing we cannot do. We have within ourselves all we need to be whatever we want, provided we use our "gifts" for good.
"My dragon stories are my own, written by me specifically for this. The program is called Women with Wings, Dragons with heart... or Children with Wings, Dragons with Heart. With my stories I try and reach caregivers and ground them and make them empowered to deal with their own world and the world that their teen is stepping into."
She asks, "How can you help your teen if you have lost it?"
Standal places the focus on traits that have been lost in our fast-paced techno world, traits reminiscent of a simpler time. "Ethics, dignity and integrity," are what she names. She also is an accomplished artist and draws as she tells stories.
"The inspiration for my drawings (is), uplifting hope, spirit, enlightenment and grace. The women and the dragons hopefully that I draw will lead a person to want to understand more about the traits that have been misplaced in our society today."
As a wife for 34 years, and as a mother of four, she has watched the change in society and in the family structure. Her storytelling reflects this wisdom.
" I have been called many things in my life, (and) these four I reflect upon with honor. Wife, mother, grandmother and storyteller.
"I love what I do and I want to bring it to others. As one little waif of a blonde girl in third grade said to me, "Helewise, I do not believe in fairy tales, but I believe in Dragons now, yes I do."
Karen Standal, a.k.a. Helewise, can be reached at 208-267-9677, or by writing HCR 61 Box 47, Bonners Ferry, ID, 83805. "Helewise" will be the only U.S. storyteller featured at the 6th annual Kootenay Storytelling Festival July 3-4 in Proctor, British Columbia. Other accomplishments include the David Thompson Heritage Festival, presentations for the Bonner County Library and she has been requested by the Thompson Falls Library and other groups to weave her magic. For more information on Helewise or to book her for your school, please call.