Mary and Venice

As my amazing life gets richer and richer, I keep running into experiences and conversations that awaken a depth of joy inside me that I never thought possible. Tonight was yet another one of those experiences.

The perfect antidote for being in my third day of withdrawal from Infinite Possibilities – TTT Orlando appeared on my calendar. It was the January edition of Story Lab Chicago. In the old days, that being five months ago, I used to attend Story Lab Chicago and hear great stories. Three months ago I got to tell my own story on stage for the first time in my life. For the last two months I’ve been helping the host, Scott Whitehair, run the show and keep the crowds moving through the doors and get food and drink and get into their seats. I like to make it easier for Scott to take care of the tellers so I do the behind the scenes stuff. Next month with Scott’s help I am starting my own Story telling show at a new site where I will be the host. What a remarkable turn of events in such a short amount of time. I am so grateful!

Tonight I arrived just as the site was opening. I wanted to get everything set up early so Scott could just arrive at 6:00 p.m. and relax and prepare for the energy consuming task IMG_4734_2of hosting. To my surprise there were already two guests in the room. Two hours before the show even started. I asked the two ladies if they were there for Story Lab. When they said yes, I congratulated them on their very early arrival. I asked their names, to which they replied that their names were Mary and Venice. I told them that they reminded me of two of my favorite things in the world. One of my angels is named Mary. She is the deceased mother of my dear friend Randy. She left her body many years ago. She has stayed in my heart ever since. My favorite city on the planet is Venice. It is the city of love to the highest degree. I couldn’t help but think what a unique coincidence these two ladies names presented.

Mary is a beautiful woman in what I would guess to be in her early sixties. She has wavy and flowing white hair and a radiant smile. Venice has a glowing energy about her and the face of a soul with deep knowing. I’d guess she might have been a few years younger than Mary, but she walked with a cane and told me she hadn’t been out of the house for many months and this was her first adventure since she was “ready to come back out.” I didn’t ask any further questions and she did not offer any further back story. It didn’t matter.

As I was moving tables and chairs around the room the three of us enjoyed a conversation about the history of the show, storytelling in  general and the joy of events like Story Lab. They asked if story telling was growing in interest. I told them that the world was re-awakening to the need to share and honor history through the spoken word. They both smiled. Venice said she was searching for something. I suggested that she might have already found it. She smiled. She said she didn’t know how she would ever get out of the rut she had been in. I turned to my Infinite Possibilities training and suggested that perhaps she had already taken action to doing exactly that. She smiled again.

Over the next ten minutes or so our conversation had a natural flow like water moving through a winding stream. Then Mary stopped our conversation and said to me, “What program do you subscribe to that gives you so much energy and such a good attitude?” I walked over to my backpack which was sitting on the table next to where Mary and Venice were sitting. I had three things in that backpack. A thermos full of tea, a bottle of electrolyte water and my tattered paperback copy of Infinite Possibilities. I pulled out the book and set it on the table in front of Mary and said, “This is the program right here…”

Mary picked up the book and looked at its cover. She noticed the the name Mike Dooley. She then said, “I’ve heard of this guy. He’s the Universe. I get his notes. Do you know him?” And then it really hit me like it never quite had before. I actually know Mike Dooley. In fact I just spent four days working with Mike Dooley and his entire team training 150 new trainers. I said to Mary, “Yes indeed I do know Mike Dooley. He’s an amazing and giving man.” Mary then turned to Venice and said to her that all the secrets to happiness are already out there and how lucky they were to have happened upon this particular event and how lucky they were to have met me.

All the while I’m thinking how lucky am I to have met these two amazing ladies who braved their way from a distance on a snowy January night in Chicago, one of them walking on a cane, because they had the faith that this was something they were supposed to do. I asked the ladies if they might sign up for a future Story Lab and take a turn at being the teller. Venice replied, “All my stories are old and have lost their purpose…” I then told Venice that I had just returned from a four day conference where 222 people all got a chance to tell their own stories and that they were all of purpose, all empowering. and all enriching. She then looked up at me, she smiled and said, “Maybe your right? Maybe I do have a few more stories left in me? You inspire me…”

I’ll be honest, when I went to Story Lab tonight I was a little sad that I wasn’t a teller on this particular night. I have so many new stories coming out of my four day conference. But then I realized that my purpose was far more significant on this night. On this night I got to play the behind the scenes guy. On this night I got to take a little weight off Scott’s shoulders so he could take care of his first time tellers. On this night I got to help wake up the teller in someone who thought they had lost their voice. As I walked out the door I peered at the sign-in sheet for those who were interested in telling at a future Story Lab. At the top of the sheet I saw the names Mary and Venice. For all you ippies out there, the words of Norberto Perez are ringing in my ears. For all you non-ippies ask me and I’ll explain further. If you want to be happy for a lifetime…

How happy am I?


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to Mary and Venice

  1. Craig Wetter says:

    YOU are genius writter, Jim! I was there! Well … literally at the conference, yes, but figuratively in your story! Thank you for it! I’m blessed by it, indeed!

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