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  • Writer's pictureTessa Floreano

Ode to a mentor and thank you NaNoWriMo 2014

Growing up Warnick. That was going to be the title of my mentor's book, but it's not to be.

You see, Kyle Warnick passed away in a tragic accident on September 16, 2014. I read about it on Facebook while on a research trip in Italy. I felt kicked in the gut. I couldn't breathe. This news cannot be true. Sadly, it was all too true.

I got back in time for his Celebration of Life event. I'm grateful to have been part of that day along with the many who were present, both physically and virtually--family, friends, former co-workers, Cub Scouts, high school and college alumni, teachers, neighbors, and so on.

The people that eulogized him as well as the media presentation garnered much laughter and tears from the crowd. One said Kyle set the bar high as a husband and father. Another claimed he was a padawan learner to his Jedi Master. Someone referred to him a "walking Seinfeld episode". Still another was forever grateful he was always within Kyle's gravitational pull because he was a "force of nature" and a "people connector on steroids".

For me, he was a storyteller extraordinaire and during this Thanksgiving week, I want to honor him.

I met him at a work event and shyly asked him to mentor me in storytelling best practices in business. Before he agreed, with the caveat that he was very busy, he asked:

"Are you leading a story-worthy life?"

I paused and slowly nodded, not sure I wanted to admit it to someone I hardly knew.

He slapped his hand on the coffee table between us, and said, "Fantastic! Be proud of that. Don't fit in. Tell stories. Be a story."

We went on to discuss personal writing projects and found still common ground.

His words touched my soul that day and the many days after, whether we were meeting to discuss my progress with storytelling best practices at work or hearing him speak at a professional event. So it was fitting that this hymn that was sung at the beginning and end of his Celebration of Life event has stayed with me since then. It comforts me when I'm struggling to tell my stories. It honors me and my passion for storytelling. It reminds me to be the best storyteller I can be by letting the story flow through me:

"Through it all, it is well

So let it go, my soul

It is well with my soul..."

Here's to you, Kyle, mentor bar none! Here's to NaNoWriMo for instilling much needed discipline after being without it for a few months.

I raise a glass of bubbly to both NaNoWriMo and Kyle this first day after NaNo, wherein I just finished 40,000 words in 30 days with Kyle whispering bon mots of inspiration as I wrote. While I did not win at NaNoWriMo (you have to write 50,000 words to do so), I won in other ways. For example, I wrote 3500 words today for a children's story set in Italy during the holidays!

Kyle--I know you were there throughout the month of November urging me on. I felt you as I restarted writing my children's story. I pray you'll be around whenever I call on my muses when I write.

I miss you, I give thanks for you, and I wish I could share my stories with you in 3D, but I know you're picking up on them in 5D, and that's awesome.

3D. 5D. It doesn't matter what dimension you're in. I hope you're spinning fantastic tales wherever you are, and that those who listen in know how fortunate they are to be in your sphere of influence.

I look forward to joining with your other friends and family on the date of your birth for a memorial showing of your favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings--the best quote from the movie and it certainly applies to you. I'm sure your wings are the grandest of them all.


If any of my readers have storytelling mentors, be sure to thank them. Often.

If you want to share a story about them, I'd love to hear about it!

Add a comment below or use hashtag #strytelmentor on Twitter.

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