A Bear’s Sleepy Journey was the best way I knew to give a child every chance at getting to relaxing and getting to sleep.
I had always wanted to write a book and as a school teacher with a passion for poetry that’s what I did and in the November of 2015, my sister and I created our first book, Pongy Stinkbelly finds a friend a funny poem and story about a sad little character who finds a friend. It was a sweet story of humour, self- acceptance and empathy. Liz and I had talked of doing a book for years, (as I had always written and she was a digital illustrator) and this was our chance and we took it (and held on tightly), as she had been made redundant and agreed to illustrate the book while she was looking for a new job.
The book was finally ready, so took the plunge and dove into the world of self-publishing, weeks later we were selling our book on Amazon. We were thrilled with the results when the book came through, it looked great and we had accomplished what we set out to do! It had been an incredible project, harder than we ever imagined, but we had done it and we were pleased. We had learnt so much, and the response was good. It had been a great experience!
The weeks passed by and I felt restless again, I was always writing and creating, but I needed a new project, something more useful, a book with a purpose, as Brad Pitt says in Troy, “What do humans always want?” The answer was “…more.” I was human, I wanted more! I was brimming with ideas and knew I had so much more to give. After some slight nudging and persuading (as only a sister knows how) with Liz, we started the next project. I was excited, the next book certainly had purpose and a goal and I was passionate about it!
Let me explain further, the background to this point was, a couple of years ago, I had been for a new job at a school where they wanted a Year 5 teacher. During the interview, the head teacher asked if I would run an after school club and if so, what would that be? I had always wanted to run a club for mindfulness and with the pressure on children getting more every day with exams, I exclaimed, “I would love to do a mindfulness club for the children!” I had run my own workshop for adults over one summer and I was bursting with ideas. To my dismay, my answer was greeted with a few moments of stunned silence, then a half snigger and a look from the head teacher and deputy as if I had said something odd, finally the head brought herself to speak again, “Well, I wasn’t expecting you to say that!” she laughed and moved on quickly to her final question. I knew I had blown it with the job, but I was more bewildered that this wouldn’t be wanted in a school, to me it was all about the children’s health and wellbeing and they could learn and practice things that would be with them for the rest of their lives. I told myself, it wasn’t a job I would have wanted, if they couldn’t see that this would be an advantage, furiously I drove home, and then mindfully (of course), I let it go and moved on, but in the back of my mind, I knew I would always remember this reaction that they had to the ‘mindfulness for children’ club. It seemed one of those things I couldn’t quite understand, that gave children the tools they needed for a happier more relaxed life. It wasn’t here where the seeds of A Bear’s Sleepy Journey, (the next book) had been planted, (I wouldn’t give them any credit for that) that came later, but I look back now and see that many schools are embracing mindfulness and wellbeing as part of the school day and so that’s great to know and am proud of how much of A Bear’s Sleepy Journey uses relaxation techniques and is a essentially a story with a guided meditation for children, it will relax and give them the best chance at sleeping soundly night after night. That gives me a lot of satisfaction!
The idea for A Bear’s Sleepy Journey began after I took a course in hypnotherapy. I took a year off from teaching, (I was burnt out; tired and fed up of the constant pressure on teachers to perform, ‘outstanding’ lessons had worn me out and jumping through SATs hoops that were getting higher). I rented some office space and made links with businesses and other entrepreneurs. I met amazing people, I felt inspired again! I had time to study and write. I became an NLP (neuro linguistic programming practitioner), a Reiki practitioner, gained a diploma in hypnotherapy and counselling diploma and started working with my own clients.
Slowly, I build a second business, around my (now part-time) teaching job, I put my new skills to work with adults suffering with; anxiety, stress, confidence issues, and sleeping problems. The psychological techniques I had studied were now being used, and the results were astounding me, clients reported feeling calmer, sleeping better, feeling more positive, some even said, people had told them they simply ‘looked happier’ and they were feeling better about their futures. I had seen the impact of stories and breathing techniques in school, with inner city kids, (there was a need for children needed to feel safe, before any new learning could take place at school), I had watched others and taught relaxation and visualisation techniques to cope with what they were facing. I got the opportunity to run a mindfulness workshop, met more wonderful and inspiring people in that year, it was an amazing time. Still teaching, becoming more specialised in dyslexia and became a teacher for specific learning issues in english, again I felt inspired. I read and studied, write and put everything I was learning into practice. Many clients were coming with stress, anxiety and at worst panic attacks, so I put together some hypnotic screeds to use with them. I made my teacher’s study onto a counselling room, with candles and oil burners, at the back of the house. I got a buzz from clients feedback, some having no more panic attacks, an accountant who gave up his job (which he hated) to become a scuba diving instructor and never looked back, and many happy stories from guided mindful sessions using the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy and NLP techniques going hand in hand. I wanted to help people whose health had suffered, as my health had suffered in teaching and I had discovered amazing tools to help cope with stress myself and I simply wanted to help others.
And so, this now was where my idea for the book was beginning to take shape. I look back and see how this book was being written over the last few years, slowly and carefully. Once I came to actually sit and write it, it practically fell onto the page. All of these ideas in one place, in one book.
The best place to start writing was with a guided relaxation. I wanted something for children to walk them through journey. I used the idea of The rainbow Caves, because it was perfect for colours to represent feelings and it gave a deepened for the relaxation to work and to walk through these caves reminded me of the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story I had grown up with. The first bear came from a doodle I did one evening, I gave it to Liz and asked her if she could adapt it, the first of many and she worked on the look of the book and how it would flow. The book was take shape, she would design pages and I would adapt my words and we worked as a team again.
I researched more about sleep and became an encyclopedia of sleep facts for the next month and I looked at bears too, I wanted to get my facts right. I knew I could adapt the work with my insomnia clients and build a story around the positive suggestion with them. Then the idea of the Sleep Well certificate came from working in the classroom for years, where reward certificates were given when goals had been achieved. The same principle is used here as an extra incentive for children to understand that they can relax and listen to the story, which would help them sleep. It gives children who didn’t want too go to settle down a ‘get-out- clause’, as they didn’t have to say ‘no’ to ‘them’ going to sleep, as they were helping Drowsy bear go to sleep (the altruism was appealing for them) and they could change their behaviour to help the bear. It gave parents more tools and their children the best chance at programming the mind for sleep night after night. They didn’t have to do anything more than listen.
The Lord Arctic bear, was an representative of the child’s subconscious ‘the governor’ of their behaviour if you like. It is him who tells the children in the second half of the story that they will sleep and find the answers they need (each child will be different, but the message is the same) as they listen to their inner voice who will know what is right for them. The book sets out to help the reader relax deeply and the rest is taking on the bold positive commands in the story. It is a book for parents to read to their children, it is a special ‘together’ experience, as the sleepy tingles in the toes and head are happening, the children close their eyes and imagine the Rainbow caves, (the pictures giving them initial ideas for the first few reads) and then their imagination does the rest when they are familiar with the book. The story is about finding your own answers too, but also provides a mind programming approach for the child to explore; confidence, growth, new learning and sleep are all there for your child to take in. It’s a special design for a happy bedtime experience and a journey of discovery for every child to experience. If the children are asleep by the end, it’s no surprise as it really does give you the parent the best tools for this to happen. The book is uses a mindful psychology approach and the adorable Drowsy and Bobo help the children take on the role of the ‘sleeper’ too, just like the bears, who in the story both fall asleep.
So, A Sleepy Bear Journey came to life. It was a journey in itself to be written. The feedback is growing and we are so grateful for having the opportunity to have our book read by lots of readers who are reporting that they love it, with ‘faster sleeps and fewer wake ups!’
I love writing, I hope you enjoyed my story. I continue to write, the ideas for stories, poems and meditations are always brewing. The writer in me is eternally grateful, the teacher is me loves to lead the way and explore together and ‘the fixer’in me hopes it helps anyway it can, one sleepless night soon…