Ode is a storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy.

Ways to Connect

Lisa Naslund
Ally Karsyn

My husband, Jeff, and I have been married 32 years. We raised two daughters and a son. But for two years, I wasn’t sure how to answer the question, “How many children do you have?” You see, our son Sgt. Dillion Naslund completed suicide on December 10, 2012. He was 25.

Linnea Clausen
Ally Karsyn

When my dad was in his 40s, he went through what some might call a midlife crisis, but I like to call it his second childhood. He did what men do. He bought a motorcycle. I loved it. I’d jump on the back, wrap my arms around his waist and cruise the countryside, the wind whipping my face.

One Sunday afternoon, he drove off on that motorcycle to see some friends north of Sioux City, out on old Highway 7, now K22. He never made it.

Caroline Rivera
Ally Karsyn

What I’m doing doesn’t look like adulting.

Ryan Allen
Ally Karsyn

I’m putting my socks and stirrups on when the phone rings. My dad and I had just come inside from the backyard. We’d been throwing baseball to warm up for my game later that day. This is our ritual. I’m a freshman in high school. 

The phone rings several times before I can reach it.

“Hi, is your dad there?” a woman asks.

I tell her to hold on. At the end of the hallway, my parents’ door is closed. I knock.


“Dad, telephone,” I holler through the door.

Jamie Perez
Ally Karsyn

After interviewing an 11-year-old boy, who has his eyes set on bringing home the gold from the 2020 Paralympics Games, a scary thought crossed my mind: I actually, just maybe, might want kids.

Jim Schaap
Ally Karsyn

Well, if you look around, I’m probably the least likely in the entire room to say anything about “adulting.” I’m something of an alien. I actually had to look up adulting because I really didn’t have a clue as to what it was.  I do remember, however, that once upon a time in the little Wisconsin burg where I lived, peeing off the water tower verified having come of age. If you could, and did, you were a man. I don't know about women. 

I’m sure things have changed. If fact, I don't think you can’t get up there anymore. 

Ryan Grubbs
Ally Karsyn

As a kid, I was always thinking about the future—what I wanted to do when I grew up and what kind of person I wanted to be. I lived for the future. When I turned 25, a landmark age, I realized that I was already growing up, and I wasn’t becoming the person I wanted to be.

You don't need to be a professional writer, performer or public speaker to participate. Ally Karsyn, an award-winning journalist and founder of Ode, acts as an editor, storytelling coach and occasionally ghostwriter to help ordinary people put words on a page, then on stage.

Lorenzo Sandoval
Ally Karsyn

I am a Latino.

Like each of you, I have studied self. I have wanted to know: Who am I? What is the purpose of my life?

In my particular case, as I experienced the early phases of my life—as a boy, a college student, a young man—as I experienced these phases I found that much of my reflection on identity was grounded heavily in seeking the approval of other people… white people.

Why? Because I concluded early on that being a Latino in the United States was a problem. By virtue of being alive in this country, I was a problem.

Patti Strong
Ally Karsyn

I was laying in bed when something freaky happened that gave new meaning to “Radiohead.” Three years ago, after having my brain radiated twelve times to get rid of eleven cancerous spots that had taken up residency there, suddenly the clear, crisp sound of a radio turned on in my mind—no other voices, just one entire song after another. And I began singing along.