Sheila Arnold took a leap of faith “with a trampoline in place” when she decided to try storytelling as a career. She was a single mom with a young son when her parents offered her financial support and a safety net if she wanted to give it a serious go. They took care of her bills and her son who also offered his unconditional support.
“When God opened the door in 2003, I told my parents ‘I should do this.’”
She had been telling stories at her son’s daycare center. That was almost 20 years ago, in fact, it was 18 years on Sept. 3.
Since that time she’s become a successful, full-time storyteller, traveling all around America sharing songs, stories and historic character presentations.
She enjoys writing, telling, directing and helping others learn to enjoy stories. She doesn’t put herself in a niche.
“If I like a story, I tell the story,” Arnold shares. “I tell several original stories, inspirational and Christian stories. I tell whatever feels good in my mouth!”
She’s a history buff as well as a story lover.
She brings to life 13 different women from history, including her favorite representative of the early slave people, tavern slave “Ol’ Bess.”
She has been heavily involved with the Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, presentations as a character. She has been a featured regional storyteller at the Williamsburg Storytelling Festival. She is the CEO and a lead performer of the television series History’s Alive!
She’s been successful enough to be able to pay her parents back for their financial support and her proud son is now a high school senior.
He has told her, “Mom, this is what you’re supposed to be!”
Arnold is happy to be telling stories because she believes storytelling is truth-telling, creating a community.
“It may be just between you and your grandchild,” she says.
She acknowledges that stories entertain but stresses that storytelling is truth-telling.
“Take some of the funniest stories and you realize you are also getting some truth. Look at Bil Lepp’s stories, Arnold said. (Lepp is also a storyteller at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.)
“It’s also illuminating. I love that moment when you realize the story is about more than the story. I love that part!”
This is her second year at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.