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Tag: storyteller

Being a Generous Narrator: Live Open-handed

Questioning Generosity

Are you generous? (Whether you’re a narrator or not.)

How do you respond when someone needs your help? A favor, big or small? Maybe they are asking for a ride to the airport at 5am or they need someone to watch their adorable, but psychotic, pet for a week. Perhaps they are looking for a place to stay or money. Or an opinion on their new shoes or their relationship. Your expertise in a certain subject. Even something as simple as for you to do a good job. Be it time, physical or mental energy, money, or material goods – we all are called upon to do things for other people. Regularly. And we call upon others. 

When I first began exploring the world of audiobooks and corporate narration, I discovered the most wonderful thing! Besides the fact it is the first job I have ever considered a career, this industry is chock full of amazing, wonderful, kind, and generous people. I mean, not everyone is a peach, but that’s life. There are surely people who dislike me. Again, that’s life. But The Generous Narrator seemed real.

I wondered, was it truly possible that there are that many truly kind-hearted souls doing narration? Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, it is. After a couple of years, I’ve stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the facade to fall and started accepting the genuine nature of most of my fellow narrators.

So what does Marcus Aurelieus say about generosity and living open handed in his Meditations that sent me down this rabbit hole? 

Thinking about Helping

“Some people, when they do someone a favor, are always looking for a chance to call it in. And some aren’t, but they’re still aware of it – still regard it as a debt. But others don’t even do that. They’re like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return. A horse at the end of the race… A dog when the hunt is over… A bee with its honey stored… And a human being after helping others…”

Four images overlaid with the words “Role Models”. Clockwise starting from the top left: a brindle dog with a toy, bunches of grapes on the vine, a muscled horse races to the left, and a wasp on a yellow flower.

So many are one of the first two types of people: always waiting for favors to come back to them or keeping tally of who owes what to whom. Sadly, it is a small percentage of humanity as a whole who lives as the third type of person: giving of themselves where and when they can.

My narration family, my audiobook peeps especially, are the grapevine. They share and spread the love however and wherever they can. They live open handed. (I don’t think they do it just for the grapes, though most of them do enjoy a good glass of wine.)

Bonus days? Most even avoid the pitfall Stoicism warns about when being a Good Human: what is often called virtue signaling these days. (VIRTUE SIGNALLING | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary) All too often, people fall into this and exert energy making sure everyone knows how amazing they are since they did X, Y, or Q.

Basically, when you see someone who needs assistance you can provide, do not think of the effect on you or to you – for better or worse. Think of the effect on THEM if you hold back. Give of yourself, however that manifests, without expectation. Live more than fairly. 

If we all just live fairly, then the world will indeed be a miserable place. While it sounds good in theory, in practice, we must live MORE than fairly if we want to be the race horse, the hunting dog, the honey bee. Otherwise, no one would ever strive, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, help when they know it cannot/will not be returned.

The Kindest Industry

Finding a career where being generous isn’t met with ridicule and being taken advantage of is a dream come true. Is everything sausage and rainbows? Of course not, don’t be silly. But there is a higher percentage of genuinely generous narrators than, say, generous lawyers. 

Does narrating create the open-handedness or does the tendency to live open-handed make one more likely to be a narrator? Is it just that creatives like actors and artists are more likely to share and help without regard to themselves than the more business-minded soul?

Hard to say. We don’t have enough time here to debate the level of emotional intelligence in different types of people and whether or not this has any bearing here. (Though it is a rather interesting rabbit hole in itself.)

All I know is I have spent much of my life with more people who live with a closed fist than an open hand. They hold every iota of data, every ounce of emotion close to the vest, sharing only when they see what’s in it for them. When interacting with someone who does have the openness, these people grab and grab with zero consideration for recompense or the impact of their actions.

Now I am surrounded in audiobook and corporate narration land by people who care. People who will pick you up if they can or send someone if they can’t. I am honored and privileged to call these people my family. Yes, family. My blood will always be my blood, but some of these people are kindred spirits in every sense. The universe has been kind. I’ll take it!

“Some people, when they do someone a favor are like a vine that produces grapes without looking for anything in return.” Marcus Aurelius

Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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Stoicism: Not Just for Ancients Anymore

(Not So) Deep Thoughts

A picture of Lisa's favorite translantion of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. The creased black cover has a red crow silhouette with a white feather in the foreground containing the title and author.

Today, we are re-embarking on a journey through Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations! (Well, I am. You can if you want to.) This book, in all of its translations, has been my go-to since the first time I read a snippet eons before narration, storytelling, and creation in general became my thing. In college, I acquired a pocket sized copy that I quite literally loved to pieces. Now, my shelves are graced with at least four different versions in varied stages of dog-earedness. Each translation has a slightly different slant on the interpretation of the original text and I’ve rotated through them over the years. 

The snippets, or stanzas, have taught me everything from patience to acceptance to motivation to self-love. The battlefield writings of an Ancient Roman general have given me more tools to work with everyday life than I can ever convey. Having lost my parents at 16, I was anchor-less for some time. Stoicism, and especially the Meditations, became my anchor and has guided me through some dark & stormy times. It has also been around to put a spotlight on the good times and help keep me from becoming complacent during a calm. 

So What?

Everyone has a philosophy they live by, even if it is to have no philosophy. (Rush’s ‘Free Will’, anyone?) Knowing how and where to apply your philosophy, much less how to internalize it enough to live by, it is often the challenge. Stoicism applies everywhere, you just have to look. Or pay attention. 🙂 

As with most of Marcus’ writings, the opening stanza of Book Five applies no matter who you are. Another commonality is that it is something many people don’t want to listen to.

When you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself, “I have to go to work – as a human being.”

This is enough of a beast to unpack that most will shut down here and not keep reading to get to the meaty part where he explains that we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t follow our own guts. We discount and dismiss things we see as not worth our time and energy. And end up self-centered black holes of lameness. What you should do is –

  • Trust yourself.
  • Be yourself.
  • Know yourself.
  • Then do.

Too much time is spent doing what we are ‘supposed’ to do that we miss out on what we truly should be doing.

We forget to be happy.

We forget to be kind. (To ourselves and to others!)

We forget to be ourselves.

We live as automatons, humanoid but not fully human. An image of a robot skeleton  from the waist up with humanoid skin forming face, ears, neck and shoulders.

It is so easy to do. Society tends to reward it, recommend it, even seem to require it sometimes. Goodness knows, I existed like this for most of my life. Despite best efforts otherwise, even. 

Ok… So What’s That MEAN?

“You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature, too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it. … Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for the money, or the social climber for status?”

It has taken me years to internalize even a portion of this second bit, and is an ongoing, never-ending battle with myself. One I never plan on winning because I never plan to stop learning and growing. 

Yet we all should do what we love so that we love what we do. I never got that. It never made a lick of sense to me. Until I started narrating. Now, every single day, I wake up with a smile, knowing that I go to work as what I am intended to be – a human. A human whose purpose it is to bring enjoyment to others, to assist, and to teach. 

Narration allows me to do all of this and more. Corporate narration and eLearning give me opportunities to inform, to share knowledge, and to train people to help them succeed. Audiobooks are just magic and allow me to express any iteration of Self I could ever conceive. I can be the narrator in a 30 character Superhero Fantasy one day and an inspirational self-help storyteller the next. 

Bottom Line

Philosophy in general, and Stoicism in particular, can really help a soul find itself. When you find yourself, even a little bit, everything starts to come together. If you pay attention and don’t let yourself get too caught up in the pieces you cannot impact or control, those other pieces – the ones you CAN impact and control – will soon show you the picture of your Nature. Then – You do you. 

You do you, boo.

Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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Becoming a Narrator: Philosophy made me do it

Origins of a Stoic Storyteller

Welcome to my very first official blog post! This space will be used to provide (not so) Deep Thoughts and random commentary, generally about or tied to audiobooks or corporate narration (a.k.a e-Learning). But first, I need to get my writing muscles stretched. That means an origin story! Because what can one write about more easily than one’s self? 

Two lattes sit on a wooden table. Leaning against the cup in the foreground is a black and white name badge sticker that says "hello, my name is (blank)".

My name is not Slim Shady.

My name is, however, Lisa. I’m snarky and sarcastic and laugh a lot, often inappropriately.  Also, Stoicism made me a Narrator.

Stoicism, for those who are unfamiliar, is a school of philosophy from Ancient Greek & Rome. NJlifehacks.com has an excellent article for a deep dive, but the gist (also from their website) is as follows: 

In short, Stoicism is a tool set that helps us direct our thoughts and actions in an unpredictable world. We don’t control and cannot rely on external events, but we can (to a certain extent) control our mind and choose our behavior. In the end, it’s not what happens to us but our reactions to it that matter.

The Beginning

Once upon a time – ya know, way back in 2018 – life forced me to figure out how to work from home on a varying schedule. I needed to be 100% remote at least 99% of the time. Not wanting to be tied to a headset and a time-clock or to clients of unknown and unreliable origin, I delved deep into my soul and the search results. A side-hustle/work-from-home blog post mentioned voiceover work and/or audiobook narration as a way to make some scratch from the comfort of wherever. 

I started digging a bit. Discovered it was, amazingly enough, perfectly reasonable to consider converting a closet to a sound booth and recording voiceovers and narrating audiobooks in my home. As I have the privilege to live in the woods, in a log cabin, with a single neighbor, creating a quality space in which to record was no problem. 

All that time spent playing with oscilloscopes, sound equipment, and other assorted electronics came in handy! Configuring a workstation and setting up the interface and mic were nothing compared to some of the systems I put together back In The Day. Besides all of my tech know how, all of the skills developed in Life Before Narration seemed to coalesce to form an ideal potion. 

  • Years of experience in small businesses doing everything from answering the phones to installing software to running the company (and most all tasks in between).
  • Research and text analysis skills – see??? there IS a use for BAs in philosophy and English!
  • Love of reading and all knowledge and learning in general. (Philosophy degree, duh.)
  • Just. Everything. 

So I dove in.

An image of four penguins standing on a rock over azure water. The foremost one is diving into the water.
Me. Diving in the deep end, like I do.

Next thing I knew, it was 2020, the world was insane(-r), and I had narrated over 30 audiobooks. 

So narration is THAT easy?

No. Not even close.

Becoming a narrator wasn’t something that happened overnight. The constant learning and growing is honestly one of the things that draws me to voice acting so much. There’s been research and coaching and workshops and webinars and mistakes and experiments and fear and excitement and becoming a narrator is undoubtedly the best decision I’ve ever made. 

All because I applied philosophy to my situation. I didn’t allow circumstances to dictate what happened to me. I assessed, reviewed, reassessed, discussed, questioned, considered. THEN I chose. And I did. (Am doing!) 

Philosophy and Narration

This whole new career thing isn’t working because of fairy godmothers or pixie dust. It isn’t working because I whined a lot or simpered enough to gain immediate yet fleeting ground. Nope. Audiobook and corporate narration are working because I work hard. They work because I want it and am willing to do whatever it takes to Make it So. Perhaps most importantly, I am willing to take the time it may or may not take to reach my goals as I set them. 

The Stoic virtues of courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom have always served me well and now is no different. In fact, they are indispensable as I build my business. 

A narrator (especially in audiobooks) must: love learning, 

love reading,

desire the ends and not mind the means,

not be claustrophobic. 

A picture of the inside of Lisa's booth. The inside of the door has a tie-dyed sheet covering it, there is a blue stool with a cushion, a stuffed kidney and a Woodstock adorn the monitor and notestand. A moon tapestry is the ceiling and fairy lights spell “Flow” on the acoustic foam on the wall.
A little slice of heaven.

She must be diligent, tenacious, meticulous, kind, and passionate. Yes, passionate. Stoicism totally allows for passion. Being a Stoic doesn’t mean being emotionless, it just means that the emotions aren’t in control. They do not dictate my thoughts and actions. I control THEM. Then I channel them in the booth. 

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Reach out to chat or just say hi. If you need a voice, you can hear me on my websites. Feel free to email with requests for auditions/sample reads : lisasware.com.

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