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In her own words, Canadian storyteller Katherine McLeod shares with us her journey:

My life as a storyteller is about touching the earth, about creating opportunities to touch the lives of others through sharing and listening to story... It's about being passionate about being alive, and being together.

I started out working with children when I was still a child. Called "Nurse Jane to the Rescue!" by my siblings, I was the one who loved watching out for the little guy. As an adolescent I volunteered to help teach teens with special needs to swim. I also spent a couple of summers working with children at the Haliburton Hockey Haven... Those were really fun times, sitting around the campfire, singing songs, and telling ghost stories. Sometimes I got so scared I couldn't even put myself to bed (let alone the children!!). I was nicknamed "Mother Nature" by a guy called Andy. Andy was wild and kind and had a nickname for everyone.

Well, he wasn't wrong. Two of the things I love most in my life are being a mother, and being in nature. We have recently moved back to Australia. Our home borders the beautiful Blue Mountains world heritage park. It is an enormous piece of nature (over one million hectares) that is open to everyone to visit and enjoy. Every day I thank all the people who worked hard to ensure that this part of our world is conserved and cared for, allowing innumerable species of plants and animals to grow freely and undisturbed.

I have three beautiful children - two teenage boys, and a young daughter. They inspire me every day to continue learning and growing and being the best person I can possibly be. They are the reason I keep telling and creating stories. They have taught me one of the most important things in life- to listen with my heart. I tell them as often as I can that the happiest days of my life were when they came into the world. We call ourselves teachers as adults, but the real teachers in this world are children.

My best friend is my husband, Bruce. We have been together now for over 20 years! We have a loving relationship that we both cherish, and together we share a passion for stories, travel, education, and our children.

When I was young, there were so many things I wanted to do... It was hard to decide. An actress, a writer, a teacher, an anthropologist. My dad told me that it was important to study something that led to a job. He's an engineer by training and so very practical. I, on the other hand, am all!! In fact I'm probably one of the most impractical people that I know. That's why instead of settling down and getting a decent job, and buying the latest greatest refrigerator, I did the most unpractical thing possible... spent all my money on travelling and experiencing nature and people as much as I could.

And you know what I've learned in 25 years of doing this? That people are the same everywhere. Even though we dress differently, we eat different foods, we speak different languages, we're pretty much the same. We want to connect with other people, we want to belong, we want to love and be loved, and we want to celebrate. People love a chance to celebrate. Think about all the birthday parties you've been to, the religious and cultural holidays, the naming days, the house warming parties, the weddings, and yes, even the funerals. We even like to celebrate people once they have died. It's important that communities celebrate when we come into the world, and when we depart. That's what makes us human.

As a storyteller I am committed to bringing humanity to the ears, eyes, and hearts of children everywhere. The young children, and the child that lives within us all throughout our existence.

Some people ask me questions like, where did you learn how to do what you do?

Well, I did as my dad asked me to do. I got a practical education and earned my Bachelor of Child Study. I am thankful to my dad for encouraging me to finish my degree. It has, just as he promised, helped to open many doors in my life.

I have spent many, many years working with children, mainly out of the classroom, but there was a time when I worked in the classroom, too. Much of my work with children has revolved around performance and art. I think it's really important for children to learn how to communicate with others. Through performance, we are asked to be really brave and step out, and show an audience a part of who we are. I have taken most of my adult years developing programs that support this theory. Camp Magic, which has been running now for over 12 years, is perhaps the largest of these programs to date.

Aside from this, I spend time each year learning from other people to do things that I can bring to children, parents, and teachers. Things like studying Classical Indian dance, African drumming, Brazilian Orixas dance, hoola hooping, stilt walking, banjo, yoga. I love to try new things, and integrate them into my performances, too.

I also like to continue my travels and explore different cultures and parts of nature. This helps me to layer my shows with experiences that can be brought to the audiences. By having authentic experiences (both at home and away), I can add a deeper truth to the stories I tell.

I guess when you think about it, I've been able to do it all... be a teacher, writer, actress, and anthropologist all wrapped into one... and I call it, simply, a storyteller.


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