Monday, 4 December 2017

Earth Angel Tree of Life Talking Sticks


Living with the sudden onset of hearing loss, the ritual of making talking sticks has been such a welcome addition to my world. 



With Christmas fast approaching, it feels like the right time to send my Earth Angel Tree of Life Talking Sticks off into the world to find new souls to empower. If I close my eyes, I can visualise a community who take the time to listen to each other. 

When Grandfather Speaks by Alfredo Rodriguez

The talking stick is ceremonially made by the speaker, with all that is felt in the heart and is held with the intent to empower the sharing of one's voice. In response, all others welcome a respectful space for listening intently to the speaker. Utterly beautiful ritual of communication.



In many ways, a talking stick could be equally known as a Listening Stick. No-one may answer until the talking stick is passed to them, at which point they are granted the same respect.


And so in the long nights,  as a distraction from my tinnitus and hyperacusis, I set about making a collection of talking sticks that represented the empowerment of the Earth Angel within.


My Earth Angel, Tree of Life Talking Sticks are made from driftwood that I have lovingly collected from Cei Bach, my favourite beach here in West Wales and are the very bones of a Fallen Tree who became the centre focus in one of my stories from my new anthology Earth Angel: Stories to Inspire, which is currently with the Editor.



The driftwood bones are wrapped in Llanwennog wool, spun from sheep that I can see from my home studio, on the distant green hills. The wool is hand dyed in the colours of the autumn coastline.



Each piece has woven into it, a Tibetan Silver Tree of Life charm to give gratitude to the magnificence of trees and their constant gift of breath.


As I was making them, it dawned on me that each one is not only a talking stick but a magic wand, for in re-birthing the broken parts of a fallen tree, so I was re-building the broken parts of myself.



Earth Angel, Tree of Life Talking Sticks are now available at my Quiet Space Studio Facebook Shop. 



They come with a hand printed & hand written information card and are wrapped with paper that I have infused with Frankincense Essential Oils. If you would like more details, please click the link & come on over to my Quiet Space Studio Shop  ...





























Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Disrupting Design




Having sent my book off to the editor yesterday, I have spent today doing some Research & Development for cover designs. It's a tricky business ... I have literally ended up designing about 20 covers. I really wanted to go for a less is more cover but when I showed Jeff the first one that I designed, he said he thought it looked more like a funeral pamphlet! Well, one of the reasons I love him is because he tells me it like it is and as soon as he had said it, I saw exactly what he meant. So, I have thrown all caution to the wind and started experimenting.




When I was doing my MA Drama, for my finals at The Atrium, University of South Wales, Dr. Emily Underwood Lee from the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling was my Supervisor. She taught me a very interesting lesson. When you think you have your piece in the bag, disrupt it, turn it upside down, introduce something that shouldn't be there and see what happens. At first, I found this notion very distressing. After spending hours, days, weeks on a piece, one's work almost becomes sacrosanct.To disrupt it feels just plain wrong but I trusted her and found a wonderful freedom in this level of experimenting. For instance, here's a cover replacing my face with with a robot angel!


Now, I'm not saying that I am going to use any of today's designs, they have been a journey of Research and Development but it is interesting to see all 20 of them side by side ... because every single one of them is nice but not right ... so now I need to spend time unpicking why.

Even if, at the end of all this, I go back to my very first 'funeral pamphlet' design, that's ok. That's art. I go back to it informed. 



Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Letting your work go



Oh my giddy aunts, I have just emailed my new book off to the editor. It's a very strange feeling letting my work go. Perhaps because this book is an anthology of all the private stories and poems that have lifted and carried me through, written since my hearing loss,  I feel oddly nervous yet excited; exposed, vulnerable and yet a little proud that I actually managed to send it off. Time now to sit back, kick off my slippers and celebrate with a bar of chocolate ... 












Monday, 27 November 2017

Step into Your Power




I just wanted to share with you that I have spent the whole day working on an Anthology of my Inspirational Stories and Poems. It is a wonderful thing to bring together the threads of the last 14 months since my hearing loss and weave a tapestry of stories to inspire healing for others. 

You know, we are all healers, every one of us. When we fall and graze our knee, it heals. We take it for granted but when you think it through, goodness me. Our cells are renewing every minute. 

We are miracles. Everywhere you look, humans are healing each other and creatures too. In hospitals, surgeries, holisitc treatment centres, vets ... and also in our small exchanges of love. 

Let's step into our power as the incredible beings that we are. Breathe in our magnificence and breath out joy for others.

If you'd like to know more about my work, feel free to  pop over to my website. I am in the process of completely overhauling it but the Home page and the About Page are just about ready. There is a new story on the Home Page with a little film I made yesterday ... 





Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Power of Publishing


Having made time to deeply reflect upon my work, ground myself in this new now and open my heart to new intentions, I have been working on my website for Parlour Press Publishing

I set up Parlour Press Publishing 17 years ago when I was approached by Caerphilly Youth Service to tour Youth Clubs facilitating Creative Writing Workshops. I drafted a plan to extend the project from workshops so that it had a celebratory outcome, a platform from which the young people could have a voice as writers in their own right and to inspire each other. I was taken aback at the power of publishing in terms of its ability to raise self esteem and touch the hearts of many.

Tales from Two Valleys was a retelling of all the local folk tales of the area and won a National Youth Excellence Award from the Welsh Assembly. What I had intended as one project that I essentially ran from my front parlour (and still do to a certain extent) has now facilitated 49 Community Groups to write collections short stories and anthologies of poems, supported in my workshops and then to publish their work into soft back books or more recently, ebooks. 

In addition, Parlour Press has recorded and edited more films and digital stories than I care to remember. This year alone I have been contracted to edit 21 inter-generational digital stories and 2 major website based storytelling projects, one for

Parlour Press has won Best Practice at the International Mental Health Conference held at Cambridge University, a Gold National Care Award, a further Youth Excellence award ... 

I am really very proud of such a huge body of work that has literally changed lives and fed into national policy regarding education and care in Wales.

But I am so busy out there doing the work that I never get time to reflect or design materials to tell anyone about it! It's all grown via word of mouth. So, it gave me great joy to spend time on the website. 


Feel Free to on come over and have a look ... see what you think. I've kept it as simple as possible. I think sometimes less is more when storytelling through a website. 

Oh and if you you'd like to know more about me, you can visit my Cheryl Beer website ... it's also having a major overhaul at the moment so some pages are not quite ready ... 



Friday, 24 November 2017

Gratitude in Bloom



I went back to school today to do the final evaluation of our Young Promoters Project kindly funded by Night Out, The Arts Council of Wales. 




How lovely to receive a bunch of flowers from the children and staff who took part in the Scheme, thanking me for my work with them. The children so excited to give me them.


It has been  the most wonderful experience, being back in school. I am so grateful to the children and staff for being so utterly kind to me and totally understanding of my hearing disability. 


One little lad, who himself wears a hearing aid, told me, 'Cheryl, you might be deaf but you're brilliant.'  I was truly moved by this. 'So are you,' I replied and he smiled his cheeky smile.

Well, as you can imagine, I have been flying high all day,  knowing that I have inspired children to get involved in theatre, yes, but that I have also inspired them to be kind, likely the most important of all life skills.






Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Where's my Igloo Gone?



For the last 7 weeks, I have been visiting Ysgol C'aer Felin with the Young Promoters Project funded by Night Out, the Arts Council of Wales. It has been an amazing journey. The children have learnt to become promoters organising the whole event. We have visited  backstage at Y Ffwrnes Theatre and had a marvellous tour, we have filmed a promotion video, learnt about advertising and marketing. It is magical to watch the children grow in confidence, speaking on the telephone writing letters, preparing speeches.


The children even made the cakes for the tuck shop this evening to raise funds so that can all go to the theatre together to see the welsh language panto. 


The children even made a lovely big pot of cawl for the team and the theatre company who came to put on the show Where's my Igloo Gone with The Bone Ensemble.




It was so wonderful to see the community out in full force, excited about theatre. WE SOLD OUT! Unheard of in our little village. Councillors, School Governors, local police, parents, siblings, friends and off course the children.

Well Done Everyone, I'm so proud of you. Thank you Mrs Davies, Head Teacher and Miss Tanner the class teacher for all your hard work and to all the staff for helping.




Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Featured Storyteller Anne Lister at Quiet Space Studio



It gives me great pleasure to welcome my dear friend Anne Lister, as Resident Storyteller at Quiet Space Studio for the coming month.  Anne and I have worked together as storytellers and songwriters many times over the years. We met during a Digital Storytelling Training Week but I was aware of her extensive back catalogue of songs and stories before this. Anne is an interesting combination of the consummate performer and yet indepth academic/ In this video she tells us of her fascinating journey through he current PhD and her forthcoming album/tour.





Monday, 20 November 2017

Set to Light the Night Sky



My ears may be deaf
But my heart hears you
Loud & Clear

Living with the onset of sudden deafness has enabled me to see a whole different side to humanity. Some people are so utterly kind, which touches my heart, and yet others make all sorts of negative assumptions about my abilities. It feels almost as if they believe that everything I ever did before my deafness, counts for nothing. 

Well, I have to say, that this has made me very determined to get my house in order and brush off my Superwoman cape. Quite frankly, how very dare they! 

It's funny how sometimes the most desperate of situations reignites a dwindled flame. I might have been lost in the dark but right now, I am very much a brightly burning candle set to light the night sky.




Sunday, 19 November 2017

Facebook Sabbatical

      

I LOVE my facebook family but I found that I was spending more and more time on facebook. Having the app on my phone, meant that I was looking at it almost constantly on and off throughout the day, evening and even at night! 

I am absolutely determined to complete my new collection of stories & poems because I know in my heart that it is what I am meant to be doing. But I am so easily distracted,  browsing through my feed to see what my chums are up to.

So, I made a decision to step away from Facebook for a short sabbatical. I don't know how long for, just until it feels right to go back. So far, it's been a whole 24 hours! I have removed the facebook app from my phone and truthfully, I can not believe how much I have gotten done.  I will pop into fb once in a while to pick up & respond to inbox messages and I will leave my blogposts every week, but if folk want to get in touch there's always email: cherylbeermusic@gmail.com

It feels like the right time to step back and reflect on what happens next in my life. When I first experienced hearing loss, I didn't ever think I would be where I am now. I am healing ... and now it is time to work out what this means. 

Having a break from Facebook will also give me more time to Blog, so you can keep up to date with what comes next ... 


Thursday, 16 November 2017

The accepting kindness of children

Musician in Residence at Zhodina Orphanage Foto by Val Cousins

It is so wonderful to be working with children again. After 30 years of facilitating music and story workshops, I had to hang up my fairy wings in March, due to hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis. 

The Tethered Fairy ring

I honestly didn't think I would ever be able to return.


Tramore Street Festival, Ireland

It literally broke my heart. Inspiring the children via The Arts has been at the core of my lifetime career. Music, Story, Song, Poetry all being the magic that brought joy but all too noisy for my hyperacusis.


Children's Storytelling Trail, NBGW

Having a hearing aid has made all the difference and I am having a 2nd on in a week's time, too! The sound levels outside of me, are now increased to normal, which means the tinnitus in my head is less noticeable, so the dissonance from the hyperacusis is reduced radically when I wear my hearing aid.

Suffice to say, that I am now back in school, learning new ways to engage with the children.

The Art Hand, Bunmahon, Ireland

I have also learnt sign language which has really helped , and I have shifted my body language ...


Llanelli Library

... but the thing that has helped me most of all, is the incredible kindness and consideration of the children . Like this morning, my hearing aid fell out whilst in front of the class. I was mortified. Firstly I felt myself blush. I think I was embarrassed. I quickly picked it up and fumbled trying to put it back in. I couldn't get it to work and then suddenly it came back on. 

              'Euston, we back online,' I joked.

The point is, everything was fine. So, the next time it happens I won't blush and I won't fumble. I will just calmly put it back in. The children were so lovely about it. They sat quietly waiting for me to put it back in, with warm 'don't worry' smiles on their little faces. They are accepting of difference in such a way that it is moving and slowly, I can feel my confidence returning. Yes, I am deaf but I am not less than I was. Just different ... 



Saturday, 11 November 2017

Balancing Compassion




Compassion is the core of humanity. For me, it is one of the most beautiful aspects of being human. To be compassionate is to be loving, kind and giving.

When I experienced sudden hearing loss, I became distinctly aware of how I had neglected to be compassionate to self. But how can I be compassionate to self when I am so busy being compassionate to others?

I learnt how from a friend who has lived with hearing impairment her entire life. I watched how she managed her time and was in awe of her wisdom, the ways she was able manage her energy levels in a self compassionate way. She was still loving, kind and giving to others but was equally as good at being compassionate to herself. She always looked beautiful, took great care of herself, invested in different therapies and activities. Her diary was filled with things that fed  her soul and enabled her to support others at the same time.

But I never seem to have time to do the very thing that I long to do, which is to spend time with my stories and poems. So, last week, I decided to draw a diagram & see how I have been spending my creative time. (See above)

To my disappointment, the purple and smallest segment was the amount of time I have been spending on my own writing.

The green section is how much time I have been spending on paid contracts, facilitating others to be writers.

The large blue section is how much time I have been spending helping others through my community projects

And then lastly the red section, is how much time I have spent on healing and therapeutic arts to distract from my tinnitus and hyperacusis  ... mostly in the evenings.

Now that I had mapped out my creative time, I was able to see that the majority of my time is taken up helping others. Now this is fine except it is currently taking me away from my own writing.

And then I had an epiphany! What if my writing and the telling of my stories were the thing that helped people! YES! My stories are all written during my healing pathway, perhaps by sharing them I might inspire others. By doing the thing I love the most, I can be compassionate to others AND to myself, all at the same time.


So, I am swapping the purple and the blue segments of my life. This will be quite an easy shift because the biggest change can be made at Quiet Space Studio, which I set up to enable me to work on my stories and poems but that has inadvertently, become a drop in for people. I will still do drop in and make appointments to see people but not all week. Just at designated times.

We are the keepers of our own schedule but it is so easy to fall into the same dance. It's almost as if certain ways of being have made permanent grooves. But being aware of them is a good way to being able to change them.

The second major change is that I have stopped randomly trying all sorts of crafts in the evening to distract my tinnitus and started making books within which to put my stories and poems. This feels so exciting. 

Now the blue and the red represent how much time I am focused on my own work ... I've only been trying it for 3 days but it seems to have made such a big difference to how I feel. 

Sometimes we can make tiny shifts and yet massive change.







Friday, 10 November 2017

Learning to Heal through Creativity: NEW VLOG





Since opening Quiet Space Studio 5 months ago, I have found myself making little videos on my phone and then sharing them on facebook. I've had an overwhelming response to them, so I have decided to share them more widely with a VLOG page on my website. If you click the picture above it will take you straight to it. Hope you enjoy them.

When I have time I will upload them to Youtube but for now sharing them on facebook and my website, as well as with you, seems enough. 

They are personal glimpses into my healing pathway since the advent of my hearing loss, tinnitus & hyperacusis. I am hoping they may inspire you to explore your creative self in the development of your own healing practice.






Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Inside the Mind of the Creative Thinker


A friend came to visit me at my Quiet Space Studio this week and she asked me, 

          'So, ... where do all these ideas of yours come from ... how come you do all these creative things?'

I struggled to answer her because I am just being me. I don't try to do creative things, they simply come. After she had gone, I reflected upon her question. 


I realised that I have completely taken my creativity for granted. I chuckle at myself sometimes that I get up to all manner of quirky lovlieness, and what's more, I rather enjoy chuckling at myself in this way, like I'm doing something a tad naughty by being creative.


I am wondering if it is because I went to quite a strict all girls school, where something as trivial as wearing the wrong colour socks had me in the Head Teacher's Corridor. 

Funny thing was, the Head and I became quite good friends and not just because I spent so much time being sent to her. The more she scolded me for being a bit different, the more it made me chuckle and so the more different I would be, which wasn't that hard in such a staid environment. 

I remember she wrote on my report once, 'If Cheryl put all her boundless energy into her work, she would be a genius,' and so when I left school, that's exactly what I did ... not become a genius but put all my energy into my work ... and beautiful things have happened ever since, so in a way, she gave me good advice. 

I can still see her now, shaking her head at me and yet smiling in her eyes ... 'What have you been up to now?' And I would climb onto the chair in front of her big desk and start telling her the story. She would try not to laugh and the more she tried not to laugh, well, I just couldn't help myself.

I didn't tell anyone, because it would have ruined my street cred, but she lived near me and we used to walk to school together in the Winter when the roads were bad. 'With an imagination like that you could get in all sorts of trouble.' she would say. 'Or change the world.' I would reply.



Essentially, I suppose I am a Creative Thinker. That is, Creative thinkers instinctively think creatively, we live creatively, it's our life force.  I am a creative being. To ask me how I have all these ideas,  is like wondering how come a bird has so many feathers? or how can a fish can swim for so long? 

However, I am also a strategic thinker. I haven't always been. I was taught it by an exceptional Community Education Manager many years ago who helped me see beyond the limits of my own walls.

Creativity is not something I do, it is at the core of who I am. I do not see problems, I see creative solutions. 

Yes, granted, the solutions are usually quirky and outside the box but I don't try for them to be, they just are. I have won many awards for them as they are apparently also well planned and innovative and what's more, they are changing the world or at least making it a better place for those involved.


My friend's question has made me overview my practice & process of working.

Having reflected, I can see 4 categories emerging. 

My Work 
My Therapy
Work for Others
Supporting Others' Work

It has been very useful to review in this way as it has made me realise that I am not spending enough time on my own work ... What I mean by this is, my own creative projects as a writer, storyteller, poet, songwriter, artist. I expect there are many creatives that can identify with this.

Looking at the 4 categories has shown me that I spend 50% of my time helping others and only 25% of time on my own work, and though I love to help others, it is time to shift this balance and offer myself the same compassion and support. I recognise that helping others at the cost of my own work, is a dance I have easily fallen into throughout my life. I enjoy it.

Next blog I will talk about how, just by realising this, I have been able to make tiny shifts but great change, whilst maintaining the levels of compassion that are important to me.