Monday, 7 January 2019

The Beautiful You-ness of You




Ask yourself, what if I am enough, just as I am? How would it feel to acknowledge the whole of yourself as being completely enough? For me, it feels like a release; like I've been holding my breath and suddenly, I am breathing out. 

The simple fact is, we are enough, in fact, we are more than enough, we are amazing and yet, we can so easily feel under a pressure to be somehow, more than what we are.

It can be hard work, quietening the inner voice that screams 'WHO ARE YOU KIDDING' but when this happens, it helps me to think of flowers and trees. I would never ask a daisy to be a rose, or a rose to be an oak tree, or an oak tree to be a daisy. Each is stunningly beautiful, just as it is. If we can love flowers and trees in their own right, then how come it is so hard to love ourselves in the same way? It's a rhetorical question, to which, deep down, we already know the answers.

Be still with yourself, be kind to yourself, show yourself compassion, celebrate the you-ness of you, for you are as beautiful as the daisy, the rose and the old oak tree.






Sunday, 6 January 2019

An Author's New Year


In many ways, my New Year started in September at The National Botanic Garden of Wales Storytelling Festival & Book Fair. Little did I know, that it was the start of a new life. In the last 3 months of 2018, a wonderful new career has blossomed and I have followed it, trusting my heart's desire. I share this miracle with you here, in the hope that my insight offers you hope, especially if you are in the dark place that I was myself, only 2 years ago, when I woke up with hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis.

So, what is this beautiful new way of being? Well, as if by magic, I became a Children's Author, recorded and aired my first Children's TV Storytelling Series, published 7 Children's Books and released a CD Talking Book. 

It has been the most amazing transition. Having said that, there has been a long journey with many pathways, leading to this wonderful new life.

One of the saddest things for me was when  my tinnitus and hyperacusis had become so overwhelming, I had to end a 30 year career as a Creative Writing & Well Being Consultant/ Practitioner in Primary Education. After working with literally 1000's of children, for more than 30 years, in the UK, Europe, India, Africa and Belarus, as well as being the Creative Director of the Children's Story Trail for 2 years at The National Botanic Garden of Wales, I felt that I could no longer cope with the noise levels in schools.

But then, when I started writing stories in my sleep, during those twilight hours, when the tinnitus ringing in my head is at its loudest, I realised that I could edit these healing, loving stories for children.

I included some of the stories in my book 'Soul Seeds; Planting Heartfelt Stories' which was released as a Limited edition of 100 copies in June. It sold out within weeks, but the feedback was very interesting to me. It was a book for grown ups about how I was learning to cope with my hearing disabilities, but grown ups were telling me that they were reading the stories that I had included in it, to their children. Without realising it, my sleeping stories were children's stories. I decided to listen.

This became even more clear to me when I attended Carmarthen  Book Fair, organised by literary veterans Sarada & John Thompson. I wasn't even really supposed to be there, but a dear friend and author, Lazarus Carpenter, asked Sarada if he could share his table with me, so that I could be included. Wasn't that kind.

Whilst at the Fair, I met John and Maxine Rolls. I told them about my sleeping stories and they invited me to their TV Station, www.showboat.TV for an interview.

Before I left, John offered me my own TV Series at Showboat, telling my sleeping stories for children. I couldn't believe it. I started to wonder why I had never thought to be a Children's Author before. I guess I was too busy being a musician, but now that music was no longer an option for me, new possibilities were birthing.

We set the film date for October and I had 3 weeks to prepare. I decided to really go for it and wrote a collection of 7 short stories for children, publishing them as a set of teeny, tiny books. I bought stuffed toys from Dawn Witt because I loved how she hand made them with recycled retro materials and used these to represent the characters in my books, but the first batch of books sold out before I had even started the filming, so I ordered another batch.

I also decided I needed to practise, so I started telling stories on a Saturday night on my Facebook LIVE. I had such a tremendous response. When I was a Singer/Songwriter, I would gig on a Saturday night, and Facebook Live gave me back a little bit of my old self. Facebook friends would ask if I was doing a story the following Saturday and in the end, I did a facebook live every Saturday night, through to New Year's Day. I set up a Storytelling Studio in our spare room and was having about 300 people watching my facebook live. How amazing! That I could sit in my cottage and 300 people watch me telling my stories, it blew me away. I know it's not like going viral or anything, but to my mind, it's a really good sized audience and it  helped tremendously, because I felt less nervous then, recording my TV Series at Showboat. The first episode went out in November and had @ 5000 views. Just think about that for a moment ... unbelievable! 5000 people watched me tell a little story I had written in my sleep.

I sold out again, of my teeny, tiny story books and had a list of people waiting whilst trying to make, wrap and send them out on time for Christmas, it was pretty manic to say the least, but I had help from my lovely husband, and from the magic elves at Penarth Printers, who were marvellous.

I also recorded a Talking Book, that sold much slower, not sure why, but that's ok. I put it down to research and trusted a different route for it would appear.

Infact, I decided to put the whole experience down to R&D. I learnt so much about myself and my confidence started to feel nurtured. Lots of lovely facebook friends took the time to write to me to say how much they enjoyed my stories. Don't get me wrong, I still struggled in crowded, noisy places but I became more confident in managing spaces, so that they became deaf friendly,

At Christmas, my children's books were part of a 3 day Christmas Fair at Sea & Salt Gallery in Llangrannog, were exhibited at Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery in Carmarthen High Street.

I launched my teeny, tiny book GWLANA at The Welsh Wool Museum in Drefach and designed my own website, learning how to set up an online shop. This was by far, the most successful retail outlet for my books. I was waking up in the morning to a list of sales in my inbox. I can't tell you how happy that made me. It was unbelievable.

It's been such a lot of hard work, but I have decided that this is definitely what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. It gives me all the buzz and joy that being a songwriter used to give me, before my hearing loss made it impossible, and also, I can fit it around my disability.

And now, it is 2019. My Talking Book has just been accepted into the West Wales Talking Book Service and I have signed a contract with Artscare Gofal Celf for the publication of my story 'The Dancing Boy & His Shadow.'

But, I have decided to do something that I have never done before, in my whole life. I am taking a step back, to slow down, to take stock, rather than letting the flow run away with me. My new disabilities mean that I have to watch my energy levels, besides, there are some artistic decisions that I want to spend time considering. I have learnt that for me,  being a Children's Author is not just for Christmas, it's for life and that means some things need to change to make it a viable career choice.

I have never before, been so excited about the next phase of my life and that is a miracle. If you had told me 2 years ago, when I sat in my bedroom, unable to come out for fear of the sound distortion caused by my hyperacusis, when I wondered if I would ever smile again, when I felt that I had lost the light in my soul, I would never have believed that the last 3 months was possible. Oh, every day is still a challenge and I have to ride with the ebb and flow, but now I can see moments of joy in my life and I am finding ways to quilt them together, weaving a new story.

Thank you for reading. I hope that my story helps you and that you manage to find the moments of joy in your days, too. Happy New Year to you. I wish you everything that you wish for yourself.

If you would like to find out more about my work as The Sleeping Storyteller, or see my teeny, tiny books, feel free to pop along to my website. Here's a link. 





Monday, 5 November 2018

TOP TIPS for Starting your own Youtube TV Channel




This week, I created a new Youtube Channel for The Sleeping Storyteller & lots of peeps have been asking me how I did it, so here's my TOP TIPS for getting started. Before you even start, you need to make some films to shareYou can't get much further than opening your channel unless you upload at least one film. Here's one of my films as an example ...





Now to DESIGN A PROFILE PICTURE. You can off course, use a picture of yourself, but you might want to use a logo. Remember the picture comes up very tiny, so to be sure it is clear, your profile picture (also known as the “channel icon”) needs to be 800 x 800 pixels.

The benefits of having this little icon is that it comes up in the left hand side of your video when you share it to other social media platforms. You can see it on the left hand side of my video, below.




Now to DESIGN A BANNER. I found this a bit more tricky and had to have a few goes to make sure that the writing and logo were in the middle of the header, not just on the computer, but also on mobile phones and laptops. 

Youtube will show you what it looks like in a preview. For me, trial and error was my friend. You can see mine as an example by Clicking HERE


The optimal size for YouTube channel art in your banner is 2560 x 1440 pixels. This can change from year to year so if you do it an then later it seems to be odd, check out on google what sizes are current.

Now you have a personalised youtube channel but you don't have a personalised Youtube URL Adress. You can't change it until you have been on for 3 months and have over 100 subscribers. So, if you've read this and you'd like to do me a favour back, then please go over to subscribe at my channel so that I can personalise my url address once I get over 100 subscribers. Thanks a million.



Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Dancing Boy & his Shadow.



The Dancing Boy & His Shadow

When I watched Sean from Hijnx Theatre Company and Angharad from Artscare Gofal Celf dancing a shadow improvisation, I was moved to tears. We live in a society that does not empower people with learning disabilities to be leaders, so I found something deeply poignant in the role reversal, not knowing who is the 'teacher', not needing to, just experiencing the human connection of the dancers. And Sean moves so beautifully, his love of dance reaches out from the screen. As soon as I saw them, I put down everything I was doing and responded in story, to encapsulate the emotion of the moment.


The following day, I performed the piece as  reading on facebook live to 200 viewers, including Sean & his Mum who wrote to me saying ...

'I felt every word of your story , it was as though you had knowledge of Sean's life and struggles, his love of music and dancing. He was smiling all the way through . I will treasure this lovely story. It was absolutely wonderful and had me in tears. It's given me a little lift and really encourages me and Sean to embrace his passion and makes things very worthwhile. Thank you so much for making Sean feel very special tonight, from a very emotional Mum.

   

This is the facebook live and at the top of the blog, is the film footage edited with the story. I hope that you enjoy it, feel it.

The photo used in the e-flier and the title page of the film is a painting by Virgina Flemming found at www.disabilitypicturebooks.com

If you would like more information about my stories, why not pop over to my website, The Sleeping Storyteller ...



Saturday, 3 November 2018

A Dress for Angharad, now that she is a TV Star




After the busy week that Angharad has had, I reckon she deserves a new frock, but before I tell you about it, let's have a look at what we've been up to.


First off, Angharad & I have been having a very jolly time. We went to film our brand new Telly Series at SHOWBOAT.TV over in Pembrokehsire, invited by the lovely John & Max Rolls to their HUGE telly station. What lovely peeps they are. We had such fun and everyone was so kind. Importantly, they were really understanding of my hearing disabilities and I didn't feel awkward at all. Thank you so much for such a wonderful opportunity.



We filmed 6 episodes!!! I can't believe it, all in one day. The Sleeping Storyteller will run every Monday from November 19th through to Christmas Eve. They will be on the station for a whole week. www.showboat.tv



It is completely FREE to watch them during that week. What a treat! So be sure to tune in.


After the filming day, Angharad and I went to visit Sonia the Boat at Morfa Isaf Farm in Ceredigion, to see if it would be a good location to film a story. Sonia is owned by our dear friend, Amanda Painting, who kindly said we could have a look around.


Mandy made us very welcome, she had made Sonia the Boat all spick and span and even put on the lovely log burner for us. 


We all had a cuppa together before Angharad and I started filming and taking photographs.


When we went into the bedroom of Sonia the Boat, guess who we found!! Mandy's teddies!! How lovely. She had brought them down to keep Angharad company. I guess we all have special toys that love us on our journey.

So, as you can see, Angharad certainly did deserve a lovely new frock after filming 6 television episodes, drafting a story idea with Sonia the Boat and having a photo shoot, so I put out a call on facebook and our lovely friend Glenys is going to very kindly have a go.


Glenys asked us for Angharad's measurements, not my strong point, but Jeff, my lovely new husband, whipped out his tape measure and did the deed. He has never measured a doll for a new dress before, which just goes to prove there is a first time for everything.

If you would like to keep up to date with me and Angharad as we embark on this beautifully light, fun and gloriously creative adventure, come on over to our FACEBOOK PAGE or have a look at our new website, which is a work in process but will give you an idea.


Thanks for reading my lovelies. If you visit my blog regularly, thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. I think you'll be able to sense that The Sleeping Storyteller is giving me immense joy in my heart, a lightness and sense of fun that is a very welcome thing to have back into my life.





Friday, 26 October 2018

The Sleeping Storyteller Special Collection


For me, writing stories & making books is a process of love ... 


After writing the stories,



I type them all up, 


edit them, 



do the design of all the covers, 



 format the books for printing 


and design the overall artistic concept.


Then I road test the stories in primary schools,


and at the bedside of those in hospice care.



As you can imagine, by the time they are finished they have become a part of me. They are no longer just a story or a book ... they are a little piece of magic from my heart to yours.




I am absolutely thrilled with them and I hope you will be, too, when you hold them in your hand or slip them into your pocket.


And now the next job begins, to lovingly wrap up and send out The Sleeping Storyteller Special Collection to all the lovely peeps that order them.

Order your Collection Here
plus £2.00 p&p for UK purchases






The Sleeping Storyteller on Facebook Live




Tonight on FACEBOOK LIVE I shared 3 little stories, one about a very moving thing that happened to me today in the park, then the story of why Angharad is so much more than a rag doll and lastly, GWLANA: Gathering Welsh Wool from my new Collection of 7 little stories with BIG messages in teeny tiny books #thesleepingstoryteller 

Please excuse the revving of the rally car engines  from the garage across the road. They obviously have a race tomorrow.

If you would like, you can find out about all my teeny tiny books here: www.thesleepingstoryteller.com/book-descriptions.html



COMING SOON ...