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

Ways to Connect

Caroline Rivera
Ally Karsyn

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

What I’m doing looks like, “Okay, Caroline’s really lost it now!” But this is the most grownup I’ve ever been, doing something that is perceived as the least adult thing I’ve ever done.

At 20, I was the chief of staff for a Maryland state senator. At 35, I’m a single mom of two kids. I make my living as a doula and a yoga teacher.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel the need for change.

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.

Stories must be true, about you and told in 8 minutes or less.

Pitch your story in 250 words or less, taking into account the “Essential Questions,” outlined below. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis. All events are recorded for broadcast. You can listen to past stories at Follow updates at

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.

Tom Eakin
Ally Karsyn

It was just before midnight on the second day of Ranger School. I was crawling, nose-deep, through a slurry of red Georgia clay beneath a low-hanging web of barbed wire. The past 36 hours had been a blur of nonstop physical activity and every nerve ending, muscle fiber and bone in my body was screaming at me to quit.

And, I was starting to agree with them.

Jackie Paulson
Ally Karsyn


“She isn’t going to last much longer.”

“Jackie, call me back. I heard Nikki died last night.”

“Do you think now is the time to let him go?”

In about three years, three lives were lost and another three changed forever.