Cheryl Beer is a pioneering and inspirational Author, dedicated to helping others and making positive social change through Applied Story, Health & Well Being, her work is nothing short of transformative, but perhaps the most remarkable story of all, is how Cheryl has turned her own life around, since becoming suddenly hearing impaired. Come walk beside her, as she navigates her way through life, carving out a new, creative pathway ...
Today is International Women's Day. With deep respect, I light candles for all women to honour and sustain the flame at our core and I pray for those women whose struggle is still, so great. My small, humble offering to you, on this day, is recorded in my studio, during the Song Meditations that have become my personal therapy: Woman Needs A Temple. www.cherylbeer.com
When I first started learning to write, it was in pencil. Then, once my writing had become 'good enough' I was promoted to pen. At first, it was ink, pouring poems & points to remember but then, Mr Biro took the 70's by storm. From pens on necklaces to hang around our neck to 4 tone pens at the flick of a switch, we were tooled up for writing but it made no odds, for there is no pen greater than the imagination.
Today, my fingers race around the keyboard or my index finger is tap, tap, tapping on the phone screen, writing stories with and for children, but nothing can replace the delicious ease of pencil to paper or the luxury of ink soaked stories.
Who could have known back then, at such a young age, that my obsession with writing stories, poems and songs would become my life. It is a real lesson.
If you are lost as to which career to choose, the best advice of all, is to explore what made you happy as a child. What made your heart skip, when were you most content, for this above all things, is what should fill your days. If you loved to be outside as a child, go outside, see how that feels. If you loved to lose yourself in books, if you loved gardening, baking, playing with hair, making doll's clothes, painting ... whatever it was, follow this calling, even as an experiment and see if it connects you to a place you remember.
My Nan would say, 'Be Happy, love, life is short,' and only now do I understand. There is no room in our lives for following anything other than our heart ...
Meet The Little Girl who tip toed to the end of the Earth, looking for the more that she's been searching for.
This Thursday, on World Book Day, she'll be on my shiny new website talking to you about her book, yes, that's right, we've been sprinkling magic on our book covers so that they come to life and are able to talk with you, themselves. How exciting!
www.thesleepingstoryteller.com is where I'll be housing all my new innovative work in partnership with children, empowering them to mindfully address those things that concern them the most, with stories and storytelling: In just 4 sleeps, The Sleeping Storyteller: A Child Led Story Book Company goes live, HERE!
On World Book Day, I'll be out and about on a Libraries Tour in Carmarthenshire, meeting lots of children & having great fun, celebrating books & then going live on facebook in the evening. You're welcome to join me ...
This is my new child led & child friendly explainer video for the Official Launch of The Sleeping Storyteller on World Book Day. Please feel free to watch and share. It's been quite a journey, which all started with me and Jeff sketching out new logo ideas at Christmas for The Sleeping Storyteller, based on feedback from the children at Brynnau Community Primary School, who fell in love with Angharad, my old Welsh Rag doll.
The Head, my lovely friend Vanessa Mccarthy, kindly suggested that I place more of an emphasis on Angharad in the stories and I took this on board, giving us the idea to base our logo designs on Angharad. I then took our sketches to C'aer Felin Community Primary School to an Author's User Group that I had set up and they kindly gave me some important feedback, advising me to keep everything hand drawn rather than graphics of photographic. They chose the sketched artwork over the graphic design or photographic representation. I then double tested this response at Penygaer Community Primary School, whose feedback was the same.
And I go to these lengths because it feels really important that a Book Company focused on Storytelling & Mindfulness for Children, needs to empower children mindfully, at its very core philosophy, as well as in each of the decisions made along the journey about content & design. You can see the full Child Led Feedback Report at my website when it launches on World Book Day March 7th ... be sure to pop by ...
Over the last 30 years, I have had the great privilege to work with many 1000's of children & grown ups, through Applied Storytelling, Health & Well Being, be it through song, music, poetry, storytelling, creative arts, drama, the central tenet has remained the same; changing the world, one story at a time.
But actually, I learnt the power of story in terms of changing how a person feels, a very long time ago, before I even realised that was what I was doing.
Let me take you back in time ... I was about 11 years old & I asked if I could help out at Sunday School. I'd been going to St.Mary's church since I was 5. Mum says I just started asking to go. No-one in my family went, but I got it into my head that Sunday School was for me. It became a long term part of my life throughout my childhood & teenage years.
Anyway, I digress, so, at 11, I started helping out with the little ones at Sunday School by reading them bible stories from Ladybird books. I was allowed to take the books home to read & pretty soon, I knew the stories, inside out & didn't need the books anymore.
I began finding ways to include the children, twigging that the more participative I made the story, the more engaged with me the children were. We had little colouring books, started collecting story stamps, acted out the scenes ... pretty soon, all the children wanted to come and listen to my Storytelling not because of me, but because of how the session made them feel. I instinctively knew, even at this age, how to apply story in a way that made children feel better about themselves; or to put it another way, to feel happier.
I suppose in many ways, I have come full circle, except now I have the benefit of a whole lifetime of adventure & experience, research & spirituality in this country, India, Africa & across Europe ... I bring with me my expertise in mainstream health, my academic research, as well as my training in holistic therapies, topped off with a passion to change the world, making it a brighter place with stories, one tale at a time ♡♡♡
And now, I am getting ready to launch The Sleeping Storyteller, A Child Led Story Book Company that also offers training to Grown Ups, sharing my legacy, my life's work. I do this for 3 main reasons.
First, because the children in my Author User Groups said that they found adults 'too stressed and worried' wishing they could 'be more calm ...'
... Because teachers and Heads said they did not quite know how to deal with the increase in stress and anxiety shown by children in primary education ...
... and because we have known since time began, that children learn from us. If we can dream a more mindful life for our children, we need support ourselves, so that we can learn how to give that example.
To find out more about my courses in detail, please make a note of March 7th, World Book Day and come see my new website when it goes LIVE.
Have a lovely day and remember, you hold the key to how your story plays out today ...
It's all starting to feel very real now! The Official Launch of The Sleeping Storyteller: A Child Led Story Book Company, is nearly upon us, March 7th on World Book Day and I have dedicated the whole of myself to getting everything ready. From distributing books to 18 library services, organising a Children's Library Tour, making child friendly explainer videos to running Child Led User's Groups, it's truly a hub of fun and joyous activity ... ... and it is thanks to my Focus Groups that there is a new dimension taking root in The Sleeping Storyteller ... children told me that they find the adults in their life 'stressed' and would like them to be 'more calm'. This, coupled with feedback from teachers and Heads, has motivated me to to write 3 new training courses which will all be revealed on March 7th ...
Sharing my wisdom feels like my legacy. A body of work to change the world, one tale at a time. I'll tell you the story of why I think that is, in my next blog. So, for now, tootle pip and be sure to make a date for the Official Launch, where you can catch me on facebook live talking about all the exciting things lined up, at 7.00pm March 7th. Bye for now, dear ones.
'You go up to bed and I'll come and read you a story,' my lovely Mum would say, and I'd shoot up the stairs, got washed and tucked up before she could say 'Winnie the Pooh.' As she took me to this other place, I imagined myself deep in the 100 acre woods, playing pooh sticks.
I LOVE Pooh. If you want a lesson in mindfulness and living in the now, read Pooh. And today, on Pooh day, I have been working on my own new Collection of children's stories. Before Christmas, I release 5 teeny, tiny story books to go with my new TV Series and they flew out of the door. My lovely husband and I spent every waking moment making up postal boxes and wrapping up books. The first batch sold out in just 3 days and by Christmas, I had ordered 4 batches!
I realised that this is exactly how I want to spend my life. Writing Children's Stories and making teeny tiny books. I have so many amazing things that have happened since I stepped into this whirlwind and if you'd like to stay up to date, I talk about them on my group page @ facebook. You can come and join my page HERE if you like. It will be beautiful to see you.
So, like Pooh, I am letting myself embrace the next 'grand adventure' and loving every moment. Thanks Pooh, for opening my heart at such a young age, to the idea that stories can heal us.
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.
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.