Person of the Week

Kathy Ferrara

The Story Lady, Reading Books to Children Online

Look at your life and see what you love to do.  Identify what you feel is stopping you and I promise you there is a way around it or through it to accomplish what you love.

1.  What led you to the mission of being The Story Lady?

It’s truly out of really wanting to have children in my life.  I have three children, Alexandra, Natalie, and Giovanni.  When Giovanni left for college, I remember coming home and thinking, “My interactions and thoughts around children cannot be over.  This has to continue.  How can I make that work?  How can I keep children in my life somehow?”

So I thought about volunteering somewhere.  But I’m in an industry where I’m basically on call all of the time.  I didn’t want to ever have to cancel on someone I was volunteering with.  I thought again, “What can I do on my time only … that I only need myself to do it … even if it is at midnight … something that I could be doing for children?  What could that be?”  I came up with The Story Lady.  (To see The Story Lady, click here.)

I love reading books to children.  What the story does specifically is read to children online.  Children can pull up my blog any time of day or night and listen to a story.  I have a studio in my basement, so I record and upload and edit and post everything myself.  I can do everything on my own time.

2.  What does this mission mean to you?

It is tremendously fulfilling.  Being The Story Lady is very fulfilling because I started it as just a small hobby and for myself to fill a need.  What happened almost over night is that it just blossomed!  I’ve gotten followers from twenty different countries.  I get emails all the time from authors, mothers, or teachers.  People use the website in a million different ways such as learning English as a second language.  Teachers love specific books and will repeatedly play those books that I read online.  It’s just so fulfilling to do this work.  I love it!  (To see an interview with Kathy, click here.) 

3.  What was your best day as The Story Lady?

I get emails and feedback all of the time.  I have a lot of best days being The Story Lady.  There are a lot of wonderful things going on.  One very best day that comes to mind is when I got a letter from a mom who told me that her special needs son came down with a terrible virus.  They had to spend four days in the hospital.  He was only three.  What she wrote was, “What kept us going in the hospital was laying in the bed together and watching The Story Lady videos.  It was something that he and I could do together.  It gave me a little time to rest.  It kept him very engaged and it really helped us pass the time being in the hospital.”  She sent me a picture of him looking at The Story Lady on his iPad.  That did it for me!  That was the sweetest email I think I have ever received.  That was a very good day!

4.  What was your worst day as The Story Lady?

My worst day as The Story Lady was right in the beginning.  I had the idea.  I had the concept.  I was so excited about it.  Then I started technically trying to figure out how to actually make it happen.  I realized I didn’t know how.  I didn’t know anything about social media.  I didn’t know how to actually upload the video.  I couldn’t even get the video to where I needed it to be to edit.

I was like, “OK.  Forget it.  This is stupid.  Forget it.  It’s never going to work.  I can’t do this.  I don’t know how.  This was a stupid idea!”  Later that day a friend came over and I said, “Any chance you know how to do this one thing?”  She said, “Oh sure!  Absolutely I do.”  Two clicks with the button and she had it where I needed it to be.

I know it sounds silly, but it was a huge realization for me that I thought to myself, “Oh!   Maybe I could just ask people for help with what I don’t know!  That’s all!  Other people know these things.  I can learn.  I should just ask for help.”  That is how it has been every step of the way now.  If I don’t know, I YouTube a video or I call somebody and ask for help.  People are so happy to help me with this project.  Now I have people helping me in all different areas of The Story Lady.

5.  How did you survive your worst day?

Now, after that little breakthrough, I have come to believe in a couple of different things that are new to me.  I believe that I can learn anything if I put my mind to it and seek it out.  I know that now.  I didn’t know that before.  But now I know that.

I also believe that people want to help other people succeed.  I have that basic thought in my head.  I think that just having that basic thought in your head brings those people forward and into your life.

Every once in a while, I go to a hospital to read to children.  Most of the books I read, I go to the library, check them out, and read them online.  When I go to the hospital, I go to the library to get books, but there are not always the specific books that I want to read to these children.  The library might not have them on the shelves.

I was talking to someone one day and said, “Oh my gosh, I really need to get my own little library of books that I can always choose from.”  The next day in the mail came a check for me specifically to develop my own little library of books that I can take to the hospital and read to the children.

It meant so much to me to have this support.  It continually happens to me – that people are out there and they are looking for ways to help other people.  They are particularly ready to help people they believe in.  Those are the things that really help me keep going.

If you are struggling to find you purpose, I would tell you to look at your life and see what you love to do – something you would do whether you could make money from it or not.  What is it that really gets you excited?  I don’t even mean a job like, “Oh I love to wait tables.”  That might not be it.

You might really love helping people, serving people, talking to people.  What it is that you love to do and don’t think of it in a career or in a job like manner?  Think of it as something when time passes and you don’t even realize it – something that you just get excited about doing.  It may not be something that you see right now as making you money.  But it could easily transfer into something like that if you just identify what that is exactly.

Try to not to ever let anything stop you.  Even more clearly, try to identify what it is that you think is stopping you.  Get really clear about that and then figure out a way to not let anything stop you.  Find the thing that makes you move ahead – whether it is education or talking to people and finding out something you didn’t know.  Identify what you feel is stopping you and I promise you there is a way around it or through it to doing what you love.