Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

Friday, 31 March 2017

Step into Your Power & Live Your Dream

I have found that once I step into my power, something quite mystical happens. All the cogs start whirring and the Universe sets wheels in motion.

I have made the monumental decision to become a full time writer. Off course, I am already a writer. I write songs, I write poems, I write stories, and then I make books, publishing them through Parlour Press, my publishing company, but all of these are for someone else.

The writing I do for myself is in the tiny little gaps between supporting everyone else to live their dream as a writer.

From today, I am living my dream and when people ask me what I 'do' I shall say 'I am a writer.' It is making me smile just thinking of it.

Once I had stepped into being a writer, I thought about where I would write. I went to look at old shops in the village, old barns up the lane, old chapels but in my price range they needed so much work that I would not be a writer, I would be a builder, painter and decorator! 

I found myself planning how I could share the space with others and make it a community writing space ... but then I realised that would be stepping back out of my power as a writer myself. 

Where on earth could I go to write? Let's face it, a writer without any of her books written just yet doesn't exactly bring in enough to cover the bills let alone the luxury of a writing space.

And so I thought I would call upon my beautiful facebook family and friends to see if anyone could help.

I posted this to my wall ... 

I am a writer. I need some quiet, beautiful space within which to write. Somewhere with a far reaching view. I don't want to stay the night, just somewhere lovely near where I live, that I can come to a couple of day-times a week with my laptop. It must be quiet, no road noise, by a river is perfect.... thank you. 

And within the hour, 6 friends had offered me space. And even though they were too far away from home for me, I was so utterly touched by the kindness of people, some were folk that I have only ever met on the internet and never in person. 

Then a friend (I won't say her name just yet incase she's embarrassed) wrote to her friend, as he has a short stay cottage literally about 5 miles from my house. They both use it but mostly at the weekends and over the bank holidays. 

And he has said he is happy for me to come to the cottage 2 or 3 days a week to write, in exchange for a contribution to the bills. 

I am absolutely thrilled and going to meet the chap that owns the cottage over the weekend.

Such kindness in my hour of need & a bit of magic dust from the Universe to help me along the way.

So, if you are longing to step into your power and live your dream, why not take a deep breath and do it, that's my advice, don't be afraid to ask for help and trust that once you have finally got to the front door of the right dream, it will open for you.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

My deaf bionic ears

Waking up one day with partial hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis is a very strange phenomenon. Though I can barely hear you talk to me, if you drop cutlery or clank plates, it will sound to me, like dustbin lids clashing.

On the one hand, I have bionic ears that can literally hear a pin drop in the next room and yet will need to watch your lips and ask you to slow down on the phone to hear you.

The reasons for this are speculated to be because the brain sometimes over-compensates for hearing loss by amplifying some sounds. Or others believe it is because the scilia hairs next to the damaged ones are trying to help out by grabbing more sound.

I rather like the idea of having a brain clever enough to have a go at amplifying in a new way and having kind, caring scilia hairs that want to help out their friends.

Either way, I am left with this sometimes overwhelming combination of not being able to hear and yet being able to over-hear.

Once people realise I am 'hard of hearing' they tend to raise their voice to me. Then my hyperacusis kicks in and my head speakers blow. It is as if they are shouting. I can feel myself physically cringing with the pain of it.

If someone is speaking through speakers or with a projected voice, like say, a teacher in the classroom, it is as if they have a mega-phone by my ears.

So little is known about tinnitus and hyperacusis which is why boffin scientists are working very hard to try to find out more about it ...

But in the meantime, I have decided to raise awareness through my craft as a writer, blogger, meditation musician, poet, performance artist and publisher. After all, with these bionic ears, I am in very good company (see video above: wink)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Endings, New Beginnings & Bouncing back

Earlier on this evening I wrote this on my facebook wall ... 

'What an odd day today has been. After more than 30 years of facilitating workshops, projects & events for very many 1000's of children & young people, my hearing impairments are such that I need to walk away from the classroom quite probably for good.

And even though I am choosing to think of it as an opportunity to try new ways of working, I had a few tears. As a freelancer, there was no golden handshake, no pension, no sick pay, no farewell party ... I just slipped out of the door and that was that.'

I left the computer to its own devices for a bit and when I came back, people had written the kindest things on my facebook wall. 

2 people in particular, for whom I have great respect, left poignant messages that shifted my thinking. One, a County Manager for Outdoor Pursuits & one a Youth Worker with whom I worked delivering arts and music workshops for homeless young people and for young people who live in Safe houses.

'How dare you walk away. You have been and still are an inspiration to many! Trust me you'll be fine.'

'I second that - don't be too hasty! I'm just starting out on my journey of self employment/workshop facilitation and can wholeheartedly say that your skills, passion and experience are needed now more than ever so I really hope there's a way of continuing ... even with these difficulties you still be head and shoulders about the rest of us. You'll find a way.'

And it dawned on me in that moment that the peaceful, still quiet I need to be able to deal with my tinnitus and hyperacusis, the space I need to re-adjust to my substantial hearing loss, is a perfect environment to write about my 30 years of experience working with children and young people.

So, that's exactly what I have decided to do ... I am going to share my entire career. That way I am still making a contribution.

This has been an interesting lesson. I think it is important to remain positive and to look on the bright side of things but I also believe it is important to allow yourself time to grieve. I know full well how endings are new beginnings ... but we need time to express the full range of our feelings to be able to let go and authentically reach a bounce back. By allowing the tears, I can feel the bounce back coming ... 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Gayatri Mantra & The Ice Portal

I am so excited that Fine Artist, Kate Bell invited me to collaborate with her on her new time lapse film : Ice Portal. 

She has used my recording of the Gayatri Mantra from my 'apples in the rain' album, recorded in an old church in Lower Normandy, and edited it with her innovative ice melt time lapse film. 

I have followed Kate’s artistic journey on facebook through her MA to her studio and now, beyond.

Ice Portal is shown as part of the finale for an exciting new exhibition that marks International Women’s Day at Cinema & Co. Owner Anna Redfern & local artists Rose Davies, Sylvie Evans & Patricia McKenna curated a stunning show featuring over 20 of Swansea’s professional female artists, presenting a feast of both figurative and non-figurative work in a variety of media.

And now I am part of this celebration too! Thanks Kate. 

The Gayatri Mantra is the oldest known mantra @4000 years. I really like the significance of how the elements have remained the same throughout all this time, that mantra is ancient yet time lapses to the same now.

You can see the film on 29th March at Cinema & Co. as part of Women of Many Dimension Exhibition.

If you don’t make it, watch out on here because Kate & I really want to share it with you after the exhibition. 

Meanwhile, you can purchase my version of the Gayatri Mantra at my bandcamp. It is on my apples in the rain album: 

And you can check out Kate’s body of work at 

The Patients Experience Awards

Seems like I was in Birmingham yesterday, at an Award Ceremony. Well, on a banner anyway, as part of the body of work from ABMU Arts in Health, Swansea. Finalists of the Patients Experience Award: Well done Fiona Edwards (in this picture) and Prue Thimbleby (taking the picture)

Friday, 24 March 2017

Graffiti as Art

One of the things I love the most about my creative journey, is that everyday is different!

8 years ago I was asked to work with the Youth Offending Team to create a course that would stop young people from doing graffiti. 

I paired up with a Graffiti Artist called Lloyd Roberts and asked the Youth Offending Team to bring me the ring leaders, the young people who were most known for graffiti.

I designed & delivered a course about entitled 'Graffiti as Art'. We studied artists from Banksy to Picasso ... We looked at the difference between 'vandalism' and 'art' & how these are viewed differently by society.

We wrote a poem about it (disguised as a rap)

Then on day 3 in came Lloyd with boards and paints ... the group were smitten. We spray painted their poem.

I remember stepping back and smiling. Here I had, in the palm of my hand, the hard core most known to the police Graffiti artists, writing and spraying a poem. 

Working in partnership with the Youth Service, I started a project called Keep it Legal with a zero tolerance for illegal graffiti, using youth club walls and an outdoors purpose built wooden wall at a skate park, to enable young people to express themselves in a positive way through Graffiti.

We had a commendation from the Commissioner for Police who said in the local papers that we had reduced illegal graffiti across the county by 70%

We were inundated with work from Police forces, asking us to run the courses. I did the design work through Creative Writing with the Young People and Lloyd did art work.

We have done amazing things together from 30 feet graffiti poems to this week's wonderful project 8 years on.

Working in partnership with Youth Service, Communities First , Artscare Gofal Celf & Parc Y Scarlets Rugby Stadium, LLoyd and I worked with a team of young people from Coed Cae School, Llanelli.

I ran a design consultation via creative writing, with stories and poems, engaging the young with their local heritage ... their history, building a sense of pride and ownership. And translated this into poems to feed back to them.

And then to the evaluation tonight ... Lloyd asked the paint teams to write a word that sums up the experience and paint it. Then I took a line from each young person and fed it back to them as a poem: -
Evaluation Poem
A Line from each Young Person

From good to AMAZING
In a matter of seconds
Learning deep lessons

Like Llanelli is better
Than I thought is was
Like Llanelli is better
Just because ...

We worked well as a team
Creativity, it seems
Brings skills
Kills boredom

Making us feel proud
Of what we do
Lots of people 
Walking through
Saying good things
About us, it's true

And I'm pleased I took part

Happy to paint
To work hard, to fill
Happy to spray together until
There's paint underground
Looking #fab, class, sound!

A new chance to do
Something new

Climbing up high
To paint the sky

A learning curve instead
(Michael feels 'like she said')

So thank you, Diolch
To the new Graffiti Crew
I'll stand up for Llanelli
Guess I'm Scarlet, too

Tonight they are all at the Parc Y Scarlets Rugby Stadium with free tickets to celebrate their achievements. When the work is completely finished, in April we are having a launch with Scarlets Players, the Mayor, Head teacher & most importantly the families and friends of the young people.

If you had have asked me when I was their age what I would be doing in my fifties, I doubt very much that I would have said that  I will be making Graffiti Poems with a gifted friend and groups of young people!

If you would like more details regarding how to have your own Grafiti Poem , feel free to drop me a line:

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A Desire for the Goddess Temples of Malta

I am not sure where the desire comes from but in my heart I simply know that I must go to Malta to the Goddess Temples & chant for a soothing, healing release from the stern grip of my tinnitus.

I have been to Malta before but I did not know about the Goddess Temples then and I am not even sure how I know about them now. They just sort of arrived in my consciousness along with this longing to be with them. 

I am almost magically drawn to these neolithic symbols of Goddess worship, eluding to a unity of life that is the personification of all that is sacred within and mysterious about Mother Earth.

An ancient place of harmony and Divine Feminine; a time when the wonder of creation was totally and holistically embraced. My strength as a woman is passed to me from this ancient place and my femininity now feels so utterly poignant, as I learn to live with tinnitus, hyperacusis and hearing loss. 

The ancients send me a deep calling from somewhere beyond my comprehension, to hear something so much deeper than sound.

And so I set a loving intention to be with the Goddess Temples and to chant for a healing release from tinnitus before the Winter ... 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tinnitus Transition

This beautiful painting by Cecile Agnes is exactly how my tinnitus, hyperacusis and hearing loss diganosis has me feeling right now.

Following my last blog, giving an insight into my diagnosis, I am now in a state of transition. 

How I live and relate to the world feels as if it is changing and I am unnerved  by it, but certain that once the paint stops running, something beautiful will emerge to take flight.

I think it is the butterfly on the lip that speaks to me. If the lips move the butterfly will fly away or into my mouth ... in this painting she must keep completely still or lose the butterfly. I have an overwhelming sense of needing to be still.

The butterfly under eye representing that the tears shed in this transition can be a different kind of beautiful.

And the butterfly flying towards her on the right ... almost translucent, but never the less, a messenger coming with the joy of new beginnings.

Her eyes are open and attentive, looking ... I think mine have been closed, & in denial up until now.

This week I told 3 of the people that contract me about my condition, cancelled some jobs, changed the shape of others. I told the children in school and the clients in my Creative Writing Workshop that I am losing my hearing and may not be able to hear them. 

Everyone was absolutely lovely about it. The ceiling did not collapse, the walls did not come caving in and the floor is still beneath me.

It is time to self nurture.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Semantics of Tinnitus & Hearing Loss: Diagnosis

Consultant: We have had the test results back and the reason why you have developed severe tinnitus is because you are going deaf.

Me: Pardon?

Consultant: You are substantially losing your hearing, we will need to do an MRI brain scan.

I didn't hear anything he said after that because my mind was a blur with the words 'losing your hearing'  'going deaf' and 'brain scan'.

Today, the day after, I have been thinking about the semantics of his words.

If I am 'losing my hearing' ... the word losing sounds as if my loss is ongoing, like there's a hole in my bucket that I can not fix and the water is going to keep leaking out until there's nothing left. 

'Going deaf' ... sounds like I have boarded a train with no stops until I can hear nothing at all.

As a musician, a songwriter, a community artist, a storyteller, a person whose life is defined through sound, I might have preferred him to tell me how much hearing ability I still have and for how long, what I can do to care for my hearing, rather than how my hearing loss is ranked.

Even if I bite the realistic bullet and think in terms of loss, saying 'I have lost some of my hearing' ... at least gives me a sense of hope, alluding to the fact that I have quite a bit of hearing left and might not lose anymore.

And then there's the nightmare of living forever with this tinnitus. 

'There is no cure for it' the Consultant tells me as a fait accompli. 

I couldn't find the strength to tell him that since the onset of tinnitus and hyperacusis last September, in the long wait for this appointment, I am already in the throws of extensive research into alternative therapies, nutrition, psychological re-training and counselling. They may not cure me, but they are healing, indeed. 

Neither did I mention how 3 times a week I chant at a temple for healing, nor that I tip toe barefoot in the stream opposite our house ... these things were not part of the medical discourse yesterday.

My over-riding feeling is that I need to be still, button down the hatches and re-group. I need to learn how to reach out and ask for the help I need (which is even difficult to type let alone do!)

In a moment of weakness, I let slip my pain on facebook and have been totally overwhelmed by the loving response from friends. It made such a difference waking up to what felt like a wave of nurturing support. A sense of 'not being alone' on this journey. Thank you. It is this that prompted me to blog today.

Please, look after your ears.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Storytelling for Health International Conference

As Creative Digital Developer for the Storytelling & Health International Conference, my role is to visit the Storytelling Training projects that are running prior to the Conference in June. 

In building a sense of community across the Storytelling Training projects, we have collectively named them 'Stories for Change'

I am developing a Stories for Change online support resource in the shape of a Facebook Group Page/Forum & a Website.

Yesterday I visited Cwmbrwla Day Centre for people who have Mental Health Support Needs where Prue Thimbleby has been training New Storytellers.

Then today, I have been visiting St.Paul's Centre in Port Talbot. Steve Killick and Nicola Grove are delivering Storytelling training to foster carers and also to foster care professionals.

The second part of my role is Evaluation. 

Measuring the Arts with itself has been a long term string to my bow. Throughout my 30 year career as a Community based Artist, I have seen funding bodies ask more and more for evidence, for us to provide a measurement of our work. Thus, I have used my creativity to invent ways of measuring the arts with itself because it felt incongruent to be devising and delivering amazingly creative workshops, advocating new, outside the box ways of thinking ... and then resort to measuring said workshops, with uninspiring forms and tick boxes! 

For instance, when I was contracted to Evaluate for Artsconnect across 7 Counties in South Wales, collating the views of 300 respondents, I composed & recorded an album of songs, based on respondent feedback regarding the 21 Year Vision for the Arts. The material was used in the actual Vision itself & the songs were played at the Conference launching the work.

One of the Evaluation methods we are using at Stories for Change is the creation of a Storytelling Cloak from a Doctor's Coat, empowering us to take back the control of our well being.

The coat will travel around all the groups ... is being tie dyed by asking each Storyteller trainee to tie their storytelling intention into the coat, with a piece of string. It will be dyed many different colours.

They are also writing their personal goals into the coat at the start. At the end of the course, they will write whether or not they achieved them.

Our Storytelling Cloak essentially tells our story as a project, it reflects our creative journey ... it facilitates evaluation from the outset of the project as an integral part of the learning, rather than tacked onto it, giving ownership very much to the trainees.

That's also why I do the Grid Exercise for the development of the website. By listening and taking on board the views of the trainees as to what they would like to see on the website, not only does this give us a baseline of their expectations, it sows the seeds to grow a community that has ownership from the outset of their own learning resource. They are responsible for creating the content they want to see.

Well, that's the plan ... I'll let you know how it goes ... 

Why not follow our creative journey on twitter: @storiesforchange