My company, Story Imprinting, is a small, women-owned business that delivers training to organizations on storytelling, leadership, communication and executive presence. I can’t tell you how many calls we get from large, well-resourced organizations that would like us to speak for a women’s leadership conference or luncheon, or women’s initiative…


Bureaucracy’s role in poverty

Many flying business documents isolated on black background
Photo: Demianastur/Getty Images

The new Netflix series, Maid, is the story of a young mother escaping an abusive husband to make a safe life for herself. There are many obstacles in her quest to provide for her child, but perhaps none as large and infuriating as government bureaucracy. More importantly, the government bureaucracy…

I was recently on a video conference call when someone admired the painting behind me and asked me about its origin. I told her that I had painted it. She started asking me questions about how long I had been painting and where I learned to paint. I explained that…

I was walking through a terminal in O’Hare Airport when I saw her walking towards me with her mother. She couldn’t have been more than five. Her tiny chin was raised and each step she took made her sneakers light up like a Christmas tree. She wore a cape and…

The past two years of my life have been a series of deaths. Some literal, others metaphoric. It began with the sudden death of my 44-year old nephew, my sister’s only son. Three months later, my brother died in an accident, my mother’s only son. Eleven months after that, my…

Original abstract by Ann marie Houghtailing Instagram trailsnotpaths

There are days I want to wander in the loss
I want to meander through the death toll
And let the waves of those who are gone
Wash over me like a sacred prayer
I do not believe in

Death is not the only thief
Time takes too
It takes your good…

Art by Ann marie Houghtailing

They were always in packs
Loose-limbed with curved spines
And a gait like a hyena

Their thick, pink tongues
Wagged with threats and desire
I escaped packs of hyenas every day when I was just a girl

No one tore me open
No one murdered my future self


I filled my wounds with dirt from the garden
And dressed them with heavy paint
Applied in brutally bold colors on a sanitary white canvas

Words were good too
I placed them in gaping holes
I ate them like medicine
I wrapped them around me like an ancient blanket


My mother dug the uncooked rice from my uncle’s bloody knees
With tenderness and a safety pin
He kneeled on the rice holding rocks the size of cantaloupes
With arms out-stretched
Like a penitent

He and my mother were just hungry
So they went to the cemetery
Making a hammock of their…

Ann Marie Houghtailing

Ann marie Houghtailing is the co founder of Story Imprinting, a communications firm that teaches clients the art and science of storytelling.

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