“So what do you do?” Meeting Dana

Hey Friends,

It’s sometimes too easy for me to not share my voice on my own blog. I’m deeply invested in sharing the voices and formative experiences of incredible artists—not people you’ve heard of or would know, but the everyday artists who show up to their lives and their work with humility and commitment and just make beautiful things. My favorite thing in the world is to sit with this kind of Artist (never mind their profession) and hear their stories, get what makes them tick, uncover that underlying thread of purpose and personhood in their work.

And then there’s me, letting you listen in while I learn from these people around me.

This is my work: the listening, the storytelling, the common thread finding. I call it “Why Finding” —the work of uncovering the Story beneath our stories. That is my common thread.

So I thought I’d take a few sentences today to share how that’s showing up in my life in the Year of Our Lord 2018.


Dana M. Ray Consulting

My primary work is running my business. I’m a consulting for business leaders and creative who need help identifying the core story in their life and applying that to their work. I call this “Why Finding” as well—turning the light on so we can so who we are and how to take the next steps. It’s more fundamental and essential (as in: of our essence) than our goals or “passions” or job titles or missions. It’s deeper than “branding” [that strange word for how we tell our story to an audience.] I have never done work that made more sense to me. It is a gift when the bright souls who are my clients sit down with me and tell me their most “them” stories—and then let me ask and inquire and find the language for who they are in their life and work.

I feel like a story midwife? Will work on that metaphor.

Lights work too


Officiating Weddings

Last year, Robbie and I had the worst time finding an officiant for our wedding. Honestly, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves either—too many constraints, too many “They need to be like this…” going on. In the end, I wrote the ceremony and the charge was read by members of our wedding party. It was beautiful. I loved the process of identifying the important threads in our story and sharing it with our loved ones. That got me thinking. Why aren’t there more people out there who can write effective wedding sermons? Who can uncover the important stories and share them clearly?

I’ve decided to give it a go!



Last November, I did NaNoWriMo—a 30 day exercise in word counts. I wrote 37k words that month and it was a gift to myself in a serious way. The other week, I got so angry about something in the news that I wrote a rant and that rant became the framework for the essay I’d been searching for in November. So I’m on the road to an essay about my background in Church, what that meant about my body, and the ways the deep culture Confession and Testimony in the Evangelical Church can hide predators in plain sight.

Cheerful, eh?

A non-essy but still recently published piece of writing


Freelance Writing


I’m also keeping up some freelance projects like the State College Magazine “Start Here” profiles, which all appear on this blog at some point. I’m also working for some marketing clients on their website copy, etc. [most of that falls under consulting work though—I’m so invested in story that it’s almost always rooted in branding conversations]

Food and business are happy combos.


Camp Westie

Camp is happening again! Since starting Camp Westie in 2015, it has regularly been the work I am most proud of each year. We get a bunch of west coast swing dancers together for a weekend in the woods, learning and enjoying and playing. It’s simple but the results are profound. I’m so proud that we created something from a story and experiences we shared around burnout, something that keeps human wellbeing the top priority so everyone can leave with a sense of possibility, hope, and delight in the world.

This Blog! 

I’ll be writing here as the year goes and more stories and profiles and creative thoughts accumulate.


That’s it! Those are the big pieces of my worklife / lifework this year and I’m so grateful to get to wake up each day and spend all my time thinking about our stories.

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