My big, crazy dream…

I have this big, crazy dream.

I’ve had it for a while.

Due to my experiences… as a creative creature who lost sight of herself (for many years) – and then – found herself again… I have wanted – for a long time – to use my specific talents and gifts – in helping and encouraging others (whether kids, teens or adults) to EMBRACE their beautiful uniqueness and to love and accept themselves (exactly as they are right now).

And so… I wrote a poem.  And (kinda like Dr. Seuss likes to do)… I illustrated it too.

Here’s a titbit (PS: read the words on each page out loud for the best effect):

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“You need to stop day-dreaming!  Work hard at school!

You must pass your tests and obey all the rules!

Study your maths and your accountancy

You’ll need them one day in a job – wait and see!”

“Stop playing those games!  Stop fooling around!

Stop laughing so loudly.  You need to calm down!”

“Your art’s just a hobby, your jokes are not funny

You need to pass science if you want to earn money!”

“You need to be cultured, refined and mature

and dutiful, dainty, discreet and demure.

You’ll get a good job and you’ll marry one day,

life will work out – IF you do what we say”…

And Hat started thinking:

hat pic

“I’m sucking at schoolwork.  I’m just getting fatter.

I’m good at the stuff that does not seem to matter.

Perhaps if I *fix* myself – all will be well,

’cause people want “normal” from what I can tell.

If I tone myself down and re-program my mind,

then I’ll be like the others… and all will be fine”

And thus, on that day, Hat resolved to reform

she would be like the rest and conform to the norm.

She tossed out her weird stuff and went on a diet,

she banished her dreams and became rather quiet.

She even threw out her collection of hats.

She stopped writing poems…

and she stopped popping rats.

Out went her artwork and prized peacock feather…

then “Hat” was abandoned…

she called herself… Heather.

—————————-

Okay – so, there you go.

That was about 1 third of the book I’ve made.  Update:  it’s finished!!! 🙂

My Big Dream is two-fold.  Firstly – I’d like to see this poetry-picture-book published – and distributed far and wide… with the hope (and the big-fat-dream) that it will help somebody to think twice before attempting to mould themselves (or their kids) according to other people’s expectations and ideals.

The second part of my Big-Fat-Dream… (and probably the part that most excites me, because I’ve been dreaming about this for bloody ages)… is to create a unique little short-film… of this poem.

So – there you go.

I’m putting that little dream “out there”.

Do I attempt to crowd-fund this thing?  Update:  That’s exactly what I did!  Thank-you, backers!! 🙂

Do I put a “donate” button on my website?  (uh… no)

Do I brown-nose friends-in-high-places… (not that I have many of those).

Or… is this just another one of those well-meaning little projects that gets tucked away in the cupboard and kept as a cute little heirloom for my future grandkids…. (?)

I dunno.

Any thoughts???

Drop me an e-mail:  heather@beautifullifeproject.com

Hat x

—————————————

UPDATE:  11th November 2015

The book is finished!  80 full-colour pages of illustrated poem about finding misplaced MUCH’ness and having the courage to be *SEEN* for who we truly ARE!

You can buy a copy from Amazon here, if you want.  🙂

LOADS and LOADS of love, gratitude and hugs to all the amazing people… blog-readers… crowd-funding backers… who made my dream come true!

Now on to Book #2 (the “lite”, kid’s version…)

And… the film!  (Squeeeeee!)

130 thoughts on “My big, crazy dream…

  1. Pingback: I wish someone had intervened… | Living Differently

  2. I absolutely love what you’ve done so far. I can’t wait to read the rest of it. Your artwork is incredible! A short film would be uplifting and encouraging to others who don’t fit the mold…whatever the mold’s supposed to be.

      • I really like your book, but as a retired elementary teacher who always had classroom rats as pets, I wish you would not have the “popping rats” in your story.

      • Interestingly, Mari… you’re the second person who has said that. But I’ve also had a lot of people who *LOVE* the popping rats part.
        To clarify… I didn’t kill the rats. They were dead already. We lived on a farm and we had a septic tank for sewerage – and the large field rats would sometimes fall into the septic tank and drown in the waste (Eew!). Because I was an extremely curious child… I was fascinated by how the dead rats would get all bloated and fat – like balloons. And my curiosity caused me to question: “I wonder why they blow up like that?”… “I wonder what’s inside?”… and finally, I wondered whether – like a balloon – they might *pop* if I burst them. I so took a pool net… scooped them out of the tank… lined them up on the driveway in a little row… and threw bricks at them (to see if they would pop). It was like a fascinating (albeit grisly) experiment. They *did* make a popping sound – but not the kind that I had hoped for.
        I also kept pet rats… Hagar and Hilda… and would certainly never deliberately hurt an animal. But – my curiosity had me constantly questioning things (hence the popping experiment). On our farm, we also had chickens… and sometimes, the chickens would be slaughtered and eaten. I would also conduct grisly experiments on chicken carcasses. Perhaps I missed my calling as a coroner… (!!?)…
        But seriously though… the rat-popping page is meant to be about how – as an explorer, adventurer, questioner… I was continually curious about the how’s and the why’s. I loved getting dirty… messy… and never turned up my nose at a grisly experiment. I was the kind of kid who was happy to delve into even the most messiest, stinkiest situations to find things out. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. And that’s the point I want to make in my book. The kids (like me)… who are curious… (and a bit wild)… should be encouraged to be who they are (even if it means getting filthy, stinky, messy and conducting gruesome experiments). And not instructed (as I was)… to be more lady-like and sensible. When I create the children’s version of the book – I will think about ways to make that message crystal clear… (I’d hate for people to think that I purposefully killed the rats – just so I could *pop* them!… Noooo!)… thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • Yes – that’s what I was thinking. I think that my first order of business is to finish the book… and then to self-publish (possibly via Amazon’s create space). I think I’ll hold off the Indiegogo for the film part – until after I’ve finished the book. Hopefully – the book will provide some funding for… (or at least interest in)… the short film. 🙂

  3. I don’t know where you go from here, but I just wanted to say that is absolutely brilliant, and it MUST be published, and illustrated by you, you have an enormous talent! Good luck…I’m speechless at how good this is, and am going to start following your blog.

    • Thanks, Emily! I think I know what to do: 1: finish the book and 2: get it published (probably self-publish via Amazon’s Createspace)… Thanks for your support – it’s given me a lot of clarity! 🙂

  4. Publish the book first…..that will make money for the Film. Seus did it. That’s the way to go. Uh….I know someone who published 9 books…..

    • I think you’re right! I actually think this whole process of sharing.. has really helped me put a few things into perspective. I just have to finish this book… SOON… and even if I need to self-publish via Amazon’s Createspace… then that’s what I’ll do! 🙂

  5. You MUST get this message out there. Although it doesn’t apply to me, it brought me to tears because I know MANY students this DOES apply to! Please, please continue with it. It is beautifully illustrated and written.

  6. please finish and publish and let this thing fly
    It will find its own friends and
    then…by and by
    it will send them to you
    with checkbooks and wallets
    and rats for the poping and cameras and sprockets
    and your film will get made
    but that’s not as important
    as the souls it will reach
    just from being transported.

    (sorry for the clunky ending. I was trying to figure out a word for getting the book out of your head and onto paper. You really do need to publish this. it is beautiful and honest. and your drawings are delightful.

  7. You are already doing it, by sharing.
    Please go on? I know there are a lot of stories out there that need yours to find themselves instead of trying to be fixed.
    I am one of them.
    thank you!

    • Thank-you…! And yes – I will. I will finish it and put it out there – for all of us who tried to *fix* ourselves… for all of us who struggled with feelings of not-enough’ness. Thank-you for connecting!

  8. Hi Heather, I just found your blog, and am loving all the entries. I think you and your husband’s decision to live intentionally and ‘differently’ is absolutely inspirational, especially as I think about how I want to nurture and raise my own little bubs. Following – keep up the great work, you’ve got a fan!

  9. Heather, I did a crowd funding campaign at the beginning of the year to raise funds for a feral cat community. We reached our goal well. Facebook was also hugely helpful. I used Thundafund. https://www.thundafund.com
    Kind regards
    Wendy
    (mother to a Hat who is trying to be a Heather)

  10. You must finish this book and get it published Heather as it’s fab!
    The illustrations are super. Keep going – I look forward to buying this book in the very near future.

  11. Please finish the book.
    If you decide that you want to do a kickstarter or some kind of funding campaign please contact me and I’ll promote this on my blog, twitter and facebook. I have friends who will do the same. Thank you so much for writing and sharing and being Hat!

    Teri

    • Thanks Teri! And extra-thanks for offering to promote my book on your blog, twitter and Facebook. Means a lot to me. I’m going to keep the e-mail addresses of the folk who have commented in this thread – and I’ll keep you all updated with occasional progress e-mails. Hat x

  12. This is fantastic! I love the artwork and the words and the whole thing! Have you looked into Kickstarter? My husband launched a game on kickstarter recently and has raised $10,000 of the $12,000 goal so far. You can raise the funds through people who believe in your project. You can check out his campaign here to get an idea of what it might entail for you, but I know people have done books on there. This book should definitely be published. Most definitely.

    kck.st/15LeGtK

    • Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions, Sally. Yes – I am considering the option of Kickstarter, Indiegogo or others. Right now, however, I’m throwing myself into properly finishing the book – it’s as though I have a renewed sense of purpose – knowing that I’m not just wasting my time and stroking my own ego – and that there is a *need* out there for this kind of story. Again – thanks for connecting. H.

  13. This is so wonderful! Thank you for writing it, and YES, please publish it! I’m bookmarking your site so I can buy when its ready 🙂 I’m in the process of pulling my fabulous-but-doesn’t-fit-the-“normal”-mold creative child back out of public school, to homeschool again. We tried it. He’s been miserable. I’m done doing backflips to try to help him fit himself into a mold he can’t fit in. He is who he is and he’s incredible. Time to be who God made him to be.

    • Thanks for connecting, Kristin – and I’m happy to hear that you’re pulling your fabulous creative child out of a system that you’ve recognised as damaging him. And yes – he IS who he is… and the same, I think is true for ALL of us… that it’s time to *BE* who we’re designed to be! 🙂

  14. I want at LEAST one copy but Probably lots because I think it would make a great baby gift for new parents.

    Love your artwork, your rhyming, and your willingness to tell your story.

  15. Oh how perfect this much of your book is for my quirky 12 year old! I love it (with the exception of the word “sucking”). You are a very beautifully talented artist as well. I’d love to read the rest!

  16. I am overwhelmed! This is not “just another children’s book” but one that is destined to take its’ place among the best!! My daughter teaches 2nd grade and I am sending her your information right now!! Every child has a “Hat” struggling to stay safe and secure in a world that doesn’t much care for “different.” My heartfelt thanks for reminding us to trust our “hats”, regardless of our age.

  17. I would so definitely buy this book! Both an adult and a child’s version! Can I add you on facebook or is there somewhere I can keep track of your progress to know when the book is ready for sale?

    • You’re most welcome to add me on Facebook. My personal page is “Heather Costaras” (but I mostly post kid-photos, etc). My Living Differently page is http://www.facebook.com/LivingDifferently (I keep people updated with projects, Hatbooks and what-not there). Also – I’m making a little e-mail list of everyone who replies to this thread and who have expressed an interest in this book. I’ll send occasional e-mails letting you know how things are progressing. 🙂 Oh – and I’ll also be posting progress photos on Instagram @hatcostaras (hope that helps)…. and THANKS for your response! 🙂

  18. I was intrigued with the first few words, and the I realized you were writing my story. So much so, it’s scary. I am a red-headed Heather. I loved to draw as a child. My nickname was Rainbow Bright because of what I wore. I was very unique. Still am, but as I read your story, I also realized so much of what I loved in the past is part of my past, not my present. I’m so inspired already. Can’t wait to read the rest. 🙂

  19. I’m sad. Why? I found this post via something-or-other and scrolled madly to the end hoping-against-hope. .. that it was a 5 year old post and I could search for and order your book RIGHT NOW. Sadly, it was not to be. But I’m on board asap!please add me to updates! I can’t wait to buy this book! One for me and copies for certain friends. Gorgeous illustrations, cute rhymes, excellent message.

  20. Hi, I am another Heather who the system broke. I am really proud of you and the beautiful book you are creating. Keep the faith going and so will I. We will find a way home. Xx

  21. I’m going to be annoying and reply again. You know what I’ve noticed recently, the “weird” people are those who genuinely want to connect. I have NEVER seen a blog where the author has so much interaction with her followers. It’s not that you’re doing it to get our money, we know that. GENUINE (lots of times, so called “weird”) PEOPLE do that because they GENUINELY care. Your exuberance and attitude really shine through, Heather. Best wishes.

    • *big grin*… it’s never annoying when people comment (trolls excluded of course). I like connecting with people… but I think the biggest thing for me – and especially when it comes to these topics of being ourselves and being *got*… I really want people to know that I *hear* them (simply because *I* really have a need to be heard too). I want people to know that their stories matter – and therefore – I try (and probably won’t always get it right)… to acknowledge everyone’s voice, story & opinion…. Thanks for the kind words though… 🙂

  22. I love this poem Heather! I cried and cried and had to stop reading to dry my eyes several times. This is my daughter. She is 13. I get called into her school to discuss her “problems” almost monthly, while the emails never stop. We were told she had ADHD and the constant pressure from teachers to put her on medication is almost unbearable. I have believed that she is who she is meant to be and have told them all that I well not make her conform to their “normal” but it gets harder as the hearts go by. Thank you for the inspiration I received while reading your work of art. I will most definitely be purchasing this book when is published!
    Love and light
    Ashley

    • As the years go by, not hearts. Although it also seems that hearts do go by as people go by, choosing to keep their hearts closed to people that are “different”

    • Ashley – thanks for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the beginnings of my hatbooks. It frustrates me… on a level that I find it difficult to articulate… how the education system tries to squash *the different ones* into a One-Size-Fits-All mould – most often, with terrible results. I’m also pretty sure – that if I was young (in this day and age) my parents would have also been instructed to medicate me. At the time, however (in the 80’s)… ADHD medication was not the go-to cure-all whenever the powers-that-be decided that kids needed to be made more “normal”. All I can say is this: YOU know your daughter better than ANYONE. Better than the teachers. Better than the “experts”. YOU know her. Keep standing by her… believing in her… encouraging her to be HERSELF. She does *NOT* need to be “normal”… she needs to be HERSELF. By you continuing to support her, no matter what the *others* say is what she needs – more than anything. I often say that if it wasn’t for the continual support and encouragement of my mother (and the fact she made our home-life a creative haven – in spite of the hell that was school)… I think I would have sunk into a very dark and very, very destructive place. A supportive, encouraging parent makes a HUGE difference. Carry on! Carry on! *big hug!!!!*

  23. I already have a list of kids I would like to give your book to! I migrated my family to the city so my son could go to a school that supported his needs. However, since the school only offers curriculum until the 6th grade, my husband and I (and the other parents of the graduating class) are faced with the dilemma of getting our kids to go through 4-hour entrance examinations required by the top schools in our area. These children are not trained to answer quizzes as fast as they can but it is the tool being used to check whether a child will do good in school or not. They are suddenly made to accept drills as a part of life. How bleak is that for children to look forward to high school and college dictated by tests? As much as I hate the system, it is the only route available to us at the moment. So I think this book will be a great reminder for these kids about how special they are even if they are subjected to the kind of educational system currently available to them.

    • Thanks for writing… and I totally agree with the bleakness and pointlessness of the system and the standardised tests and drills. 😦 I’ll keep you updated with the book progress. In the meantime, keep reminding your kids that they’re special and valuable exactly as they are (although I’m certain you’re doing this already! 🙂 ) I believe that strong parental encouragement and support is every child’s best hope of surviving The Schooling System in-tact (and especially if that child is a creative creature… or a bit *different*). Thanks for connecting! 🙂

  24. Build it and they will come….or in your case…publish it and the rest will come to you unbidden because you are doing the work of your soul. It will not fail. Can’t wait!

  25. love this! Can’t wait to read the rest. I’m going through a similar situation with my daughter & I’m trying so hard to just make her happy again. She’s only 8 & she’s stopped eating breakfast on school days because of the anxiety of going. It’s got to be horrible for her. Hoping I find the right place for her. Heartbreaking! I look forward to reading the kids version to her. Thank you!!

  26. I really do love this! Illustrations are beautiful! It’s something I would like to share with many of my clients who are parents to help them think outside the box for their own children!! And to share with children too!

  27. Hi! This actually struck my heart, and I can relate. I read it and when I reach the last part I found myself crying. I want you to know that if you get this done and published it will influence and touch people like how that short verse did to mine. I am going to wait for the publishing and definitely support you and this project.

    Thank you very much, you don’t know how this means to me.

    • Patricia…. thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement! I can’t even begin to tell you – how the comments on this thread – and the way that people have connected with me – have made my heart soar beyond words. If I could somehow reach out and magically transport everyone who has supported me with their words and e-mails… and bring them into my lounge right now… and give everyone a big hug… and feed everyone some coffee and cake – just to *somehow* express my gratitude, I would. Thanks for connecting!! X

  28. Well, THAT was lovely!

    I was fully braced for the worst – mildly irritated that the story that linked to this post seemed like a tolerably soft form of entrapment – but I was enchanted from the first drawing onward.

    Good luck to you. You’re a talented illustrator. Any publisher would be lucky to have you.

    After this, you should try hooking up with established writers who don’t draw! It might broaden your appeal and break your career wide open!

    Sincerely,

    • Tee-hee! Your remark put a smile on my face…. for a few reasons. Firstly – I completely *get* that feeling that you mentioned… that soft-form-of-entrapment. I’ve felt it many times whilst roaming about online too…. I guess that’s the THING about the internet (and about blogs)… until you really know the person on the other side of the screen, it’s difficult to gauge their intentions. I also know what it feels like to expect the worst and then get a pleasant surprise… so I’m quite chuffed that you enjoyed my illustrations and that it was a pleasant experience. Thanks for your encouragement and kind words…. and for responding! 🙂

  29. You are brilliant! I think this should be one of those childrens’ books that appeals to everyone. So the theme’s are still there just not direct enough to upset children. If you did make it like that i reckon this would be a world-wide bestseller; one of the books that goes down in history like ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ I encourage you to take this as far as you can. (If I ever had kids i would read it with them.)

    • Wow – thank-you, Jeff for those kind words. I’m trying to do exactly that… I’m trying to figure out a way to tell a very difficult, and painful story (which is the part that goes in the middle of the book)… in a way that doesn’t alienate a younger audience. IDEALLY there would be ONE book. But – if it feels like I’m watering down the hard-parts so drastically (that the story no longer rings true)… I might need to do TWO books… It’s quite a tough decision. I have a little database of peeps who were really encouraging about the book… and I’m considering e-mailing them with a poll or some feedback. Again – THANK YOU for your kind words and advice! 🙂

  30. Do two books if you want to be true to yourself. Adults need to stay in touch with their picture book side too. But I love the meaning for children. So I think talking the adult themed darker side out well be great for them. I would buy it for my daughter and it would be in our forever collection for her to read even as she gets older like Agate, The Incredible Oops, and Ish. Hope to see this book on our shelf soon!

    • Thanks, Trina! I have given it a LOT of thought… and yes, I’ve decided to do 2 books. I’m going to stick with my original plan which was to make a picture book for adults… and – if people still want a “lite” version for younger kids, I’ll do that too! 🙂

  31. Love what you’ve done so far. I can’t wait for both of the books to be published. My great-nephew who is 8 really needs to read the child’s version with me.

    Keep the faith!

  32. I think it awesome so far. I have one tiny criticism, which by no means should warrant you to change a thing as the book is a wonderful expression of yourself. But as a consumer who would consider purchasing a book such as this, I just though I’d share that the “rat popping” part would make me put the book back on the shelf. In our “department” here, that would be highly disturbing to some. But again, assuming you’re goal is self expression over marketing, I wouldn’t change a thing. And it appears no one else here finds that tidbit disturbing, so I’m in the minority. I just wanted to share my thoughts, that when it comes to selling it, there might be some more “sensitive” people like us who would have a hard time purchasing the book, but appreciate the idea, artwork and creativity nonetheless.

    • Thanks, Penny, for your feedback – and for the gracious way you addressed the issue. I think one of the BIGGEST lessons that I’ve had to learn (on this journey)… and the lesson that rings true again… and again… and again… is the understanding that it will ALWAYS be impossible to please everyone… or to cater to everyone. Some people won’t like the fact that I popped dead rats with bricks. Other people might not like the word “sucking”. In fact… I’m pretty sure that there will be people who will feel pretty uncomfortable (if not offended by) a number of things that I’ve written about (in the book)…. (not to mention a number of things that I’ve drawn)…

      I guess I have only two options:

      Option 1 – would be to try to adjust my work… to make it more palatable… more “acceptable”… to everyone out there. To try and water things down… make things a bit *nicer*… a bit cleaner… a bit prettier…to cater to everyone I can think of who may (or may not) get offended by my content. If I do that (and you can probably see where I’m going with this)… I end up in the exact same hole that I dug for myself in the FIRST place. One of the main reasons why I wrote this book (which leads me to Option 2)… was to embrace the freedom to be COMPLETELY real. To just tell my story… and just be “me”… to just be “Hat”… (and EVERYTHING that entails – whether good or bad… whether “right” or “wrong”… rude, distasteful, uncouth – whatever). I wanted to (completely) remove myself from the usual black thunder-cloud of “But what will people say?” and “But what will people think?”… and even: “But what do people WANT?”…

      When I first began working on this book… I made a deliberate choice to turn my back on all the (gazillions) of expectations or opinions of OTHERS… and – as far as possible – tell my story in the most genuine, most authentic, most un-watered-down way. I guess… it’s the whole *point* of the book. The point of the book is to say: “JUST BE YOU!!! Don’t let the others tell you what to do! Don’t let the others tell you how to be! Don’t let the others tell you what to say or what not to say! JUST… *BE*… YOU!” – and I felt that – if I wanted anyone to hear my message then… at the very least… I had to take my own advice and just… be ME.

      And yes – when you asked whether my goal was marketing or self-expression? The goal is most definitely authenticity and self-expression. I think that the book will resonate with a certain *tribe* of peeps… and others may very well find parts of it vulgar and distasteful. I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m learning not to take it TOO personally (baby steps… baby steps….)… but mostly, I think, the most important part of my journey (in finding my HAT’ness again)… has been the understanding that it’s OKAY not to be liked by everyone. It’s OKAY not to be everyone’s cup of proverbial tea. It’s okay… it’s okay… it’s OKAY. And that realisation alone – feels like a ten-ton weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

      Again – thanks for your feedback. I hope this response doesn’t come off as condescending or lecturing… because I really do *HEAR* what you are saying. And you’re right – that if all of this was being done from a marketing perspective – then I might need to re-think a thing or two. Thankfully though… (and that’s the big plus of publishing independently)… I don’t need to edit myself for the cause of book-sales and marketing. Oh – and thanks also for your really kind words about the artwork. I appreciate it! 🙂

  33. I have enjoyed this very much, with emotional tears of realization. As I feel, as a parent with a child like this, that I may be constructing the idealistic “box” for my five year old son. So when you develop the book for children, would it be at all possible to make it appeal to both sexes? Because I would like to read the children’s version of this book to my son one day.

    • Thanks for connecting, Stephanie… I’m pretty sure that the children’s book will appeal to all genders. Even though it’s a story about a girl… the message that I add on to the end will be applicable for ANYONE. And I must admit – I can think of a number of stories that had main *boy* characters… strongly influenced me, nonetheless. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, though. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter (occasional Letter-from-Hat that aims to keep folk updated with the process and progress of “How Heather got her HAT’ness back)…. just click here: http://eepurl.com/bftIfn Thanks again for the comment 🙂

  34. I love what you have done here, it’s fabulous! I love the book being an illustrated adult book, and wonder if you’d consider writing another version of this for tweens? It’s a sensitive age for tween girls and they go thru so much and it would be great to know that all their friends and frenemies go thru the same things.

    • Thanks for writing… I actually have so many ideas for ways to reach out to tween and teen girls… it’s actually quite a passion of mine. I guess I need to take this one step at a time… but yes, what tweets struggle with is often on my mind. Let’s keep in touch and see what’s possible. Hat.

    • Oh, Tarryne… I think there’s so many of us “Hat” types out there… and I am always delighted to connect with them… so great to *meet* you! And thanks for popping in to say hi! 🙂

  35. I’m enchanted. Please let me know when this is available, both in the adult and children’s versions.

    de@wordplaybyde.com

    I’m a fellow poet who’s currently raising two creative souls. My muse is a mermaid, and I’ve labeled my current job Poet Pirate Princess, so your Poet page of the book tickled me silly. 🙂

    Best wishes as you pull this all together.

    • Hello fellow poet…and thanks so much for the kind words 🙂 I love that you have a mermaid muse… and I love that your job is poet-pirate-princess! I’ll definitely add you to my list… looking forward to connecting more! Hat 🙂

      • I am hopeless at Internet but hoping I can somehow send this message of thanks. I have a beautiful 8 year old daughter who is struggling so much at school but constantly wants to sing dance draw and write. You have opened my eyes and I am so grateful to have stumbled on this today. Thank you so much xx

      • Thanks for connecting, Tracey. I appreciate it! I totally *get* where your creative girl is coming from… and it’s fine… and BEAUTIFUL… that she is who she is! But I think you already know that! 🙂

  36. So proud of you, Hat. God bless you and thank you for sharing. I’m blessed by the tears you have brought to my eyes and the hurt you invoked from all the “helpful” words that have hurt me so much over the years. Ouch. Words do hurt. But in the end, I am responsible for my life and that includes reaching out to God, family and friends when I cannot make it alone.

    I’m a similarly railroaded creative type so I sympathize and empathize with your story. I particularly like the way you’ve illustrated and arranged your book!!! You have a personality that transcends your subject matter (similar to Eric Carle’s style) and I think you should find work any way you can — through self publishing or by trying to find a pro publisher — as an illustrator and arranger of stories. You could set up shop as a high-end illustrator on o-desk or a similar site. Your animation will hopefully come when your story becomes popular and the demand is there for a DVD. Again, as parents we bought Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” animated DVD as well as wall art because our kids loved it. Your style is most similar to “Fancy Nancy” but it is DEFINITELY all its own. I really enjoyed the way you put the bad people’s words and advice on a piece of paper. I would not illustrate that. I’d leave the paper (I think that’s what you meant to do.) I would also crowdfund as much as possible. Finally, I would pray, pray, pray. I think God loves us creatives and has a special place for us, even if society does not 🙂

    All that said. Don’t take my advice or anyone else’s if you feel it does not advance your dream. People always try to be helpful but only you can say what is true to your path. Don’t get railroaded! You’ve come this far. Do it your way. Do what you love and the journey will be more valuable than the prize!!!

    • Thanks for that Shannon… I have long struggled with the whole what-will-people-say / what-will-people-think scenario… and I guess that’s one of the main reasons why I’ve written the book. It has started almost as a gift to myself… a way to be completely honest, authentic… and *ME*… a way to stop pretending that I’m someone I’m not (in order to please others… in order not to disappoint)… so – thanks for your kind words. Means a lot. 🙂

  37. ooooh being a creative type that was so misunderstood, this rang a bell deep within my heart. i want a copy of your book when you are done!

  38. Love the book. I think it would be helpful not only to fellow Hats but also to Hatmums who are sometimes too busy keeping it all going and supporting the good bits of our education system to see that we’re also supporting the not so good bits which are squishing our little Hats. I’m certainly in need of some confidence to let my Hats be Hats at times, thank you for inspiring me. Keep going!!

    • Nicky – thank-you for this! I actually loved the words you used SO much… that I scribbled them down in my little idea-book. “Hatmums”… “Fellow Hats”… “Hats-to-be-Hats”… (somebody else wrote to me and told me to “Keep Hatting the World!” – and I wrote that down too!) 🙂 I also loved the line “Squishing our little Hats”… and I’m SO SO glad that you *get* it… that you *GET* what I’m trying to say. Down with hat-squishing!!! (that should be a button-badge!!)… Again – thank YOU for inspiring ME and keeping ME going. The letters and encouragement I’ve received – both on this thread and in my in-box… have been like balm-to-my-soul. x

  39. Wow, your story really spoke to me. I am almost 55 and am trying to find my hatness too. Raising kids, and now babysitting grandkids, I have lost my drive to draw and write like I did as a kid. I was so creative. I am working on it, but really just doing other things, like making jewelry, instead of writing and drawing. Your story really inspires me and I cannot wait to see how it continues !! It is just wonderful , and really speaks to those of us who fell into that same trap and are trying, later in life, to find that creative child within. I know I threw away my peacock feathers too. Both literally and figuratively. Thank you for writing this, I think it will help a lot of people like me who are struggling, and a kids version might just keep it from happening to the next generation. We need to embrace the creative side of our kids and grandkids, and let them be who they are. We also have to find it where it is buried in us, and bring back out into the light. It is crucial . Your work is very important and needs to be let into the world.

    • THanks SO much for your wonderful words of encouragement… and for sharing some of your story too. I really hope that you rediscover your creativity and your love of writing and drawing. That stuff doesn’t just leave us… or disappear… we usually bury it deep within ourselves (and usually when life becomes so hectic and filled with responsibilities and expectations – that we don’t think we have the TIME to *indulge* in those things). I AM glad to hear that you’re beading though..! I think it’s important for you to create… even if the *way* of creating is a bit different to when you were younger. I’m sorry to hear that you threw out your peacock feathers (both literally and figuratively)… I recently bought myself 2 big peacock feathers. One is on my crazy-hat… and the other sits in front of me as I type this… as a reminder to never again lose sight of who I truly AM… to allow myself to *be* the creative creature that I was always meant to be. Thanks again for connecting! I appreciate it so much!!! Hat x

  40. I love your poem, artwork, idea… just the whole thing! It’s beautiful and it captured my heart and my mind! I would love to purchase your finished book for three reasons… 1. I’d love to have it around for myself to read and as a reminder to allow my children the opportunity to be the “Hats” that they are! 2. For them to read and, hopefully, connect with their inner “Hat” so that they can remember to always remain connected to their Hat and never allow the world to force them to become strangers. 3. So that I can support you in your cause to further this message and touch the lives of many, many more!
    I came to your page via a link I saw on Facebook “I wish someone had intervened…” I’d never actually read the story of Gillian Lynne nor had I heard of or read the book “The Element”. However, I could’ve written the beginning of that story. My son is 7. We have been in a struggle for the last two years with behavior issues, school, teachers, etc.. This year we have been in therapy with a psychiatrist for him. ADHD is the diagnosis. He is very artistic (as am I). My frustration as a parent is deeply rooted in the fact that some of the behavior modification and things we are being taught as parents to help him conform to “proper” etiquette in the classroom is hindering, if not all out killing, part of his personality that, I believe, makes him the unique person that he is. He is smart and can quickly grasp concepts, but his behavior is standing in the way of his academic success in school. I am currently considering homeschooling him beginning next year, but it terrifies me to tell the truth! I’m not a conformist and the road we have been heading down this past year has been tearing me apart because it seems the answer is to teach my son how to act like everyone else. Thank you for this!

    • Jo – thank-you so much for your beautiful, encouraging response… and I am so sorry that I have taken a couple of days to reply!! Thanks also for sharing a bit about your son. I think that many of us creative creatures struggle to focus (too many ideas going off inside the brain!)… but I must admit, I’m a bit skeptical of the general need to put children on Ritalin… because they’re bored… distracted… or simply just don’t WANT to be in the classroom – sitting still and learning in the particular “way” that the schooling system deems appropriate. I COMPLETELY hear you about the “proper” etiquette thing too! And I know that homeschooling seems a scary choice. For a long… LONG… time – I had absolutely made up my mind that I would *NOT* homeschool my children… but, it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions we could have made for our family. Please keep in touch! I think we’d have lots of things to discuss and share! I’ll drop you a message on your personal e-mail too! Hat 🙂

  41. I really hope you were going to tell me that you have published this on Amazon?
    My 14-year-old daughter is totally Hat. 🙂
    I think I may have been her too, one day, long ago.
    Be brave, have faith, and for the love! Publish this book!!! I’ll buy 3!!!

    • Thanks, Emily! I *AM* about to put it on Amazon – after I have made sure that all my crowdfunding backers have their first edition-copies (being sent off to print in 2 weeks)… I’m happy to send you a link as soon as it’s on Amazon??? Thanks a mil for connecting! 🙂

  42. This is so fabulous – I’m so glad I found you! I kinda was that dreamy kid and my husband certainly was that distracted kid and our oldest daughter (age 5) with Autism and ADHD definitely is that kid! Art everywhere, no floor or wall is safe. One wall in our family room is adorned with a large “I (heart) mom” in black permanent marker, her name is scribbled in HUGE letters all over her room, and I have to hide the scissors and glue until an adult can be around to supervise or else I risk truly unpredictable consequences. We decided to homeschool for many reasons but one is that we realized our girl can continue to love learning (she was reading at 3) or she can spend 7+ hours a day trying to control her behavior and, in consequence, hate school.
    I am eagerly waiting for your book and can think of several people who would appreciate them – there are far too few things in the world that inspire acknowledging and embracing our inner “Hat!”
    I also just have to tell you that my very first email address nearly twenty years ago included “ATF,” as in, “against the flow” in the screen name. I’m a fan, keep going – you are changing the world by being you and dreaming your dreams. Thanks for putting yourself our there.

    • Jessica… thanks so much for your lovely note… and for sharing a bit of your story – and – of course, for those beautiful words of encouragement. I really appreciate it! We (as a creative family – in general) – have kinda given up on the idea of a “neat” house… we ALSO have art everywhere… on the walls… doors… a big table with drawings all over it (every visitor to our home is encouraged to add a piece of art)… and I think I’ve embraced it now. I also wonder: WHO *made* the rule that walls in homes are to be neatly painted with plain, solid paint and an occasional neatly-framed photo?? Why NOT paint on walls with permanent marker…? Why *not* scribble on walls and doors?? It can always be painted over at a later stage… (or not). It’s one of those mindsets that… after thoroughly questioning… we just thought: “this neat-house-rule just doesn’t make sense… and especially not for a creative family”… and embraced it happily! Your daughter would be most welcome in our home to add some of her art to our table or designated art-walls! 🙂 Other than that… thanks for the words of encouragement about the book. It has been SUCH a journey – over the past couple of months… and quite an emotional roller-coaster at times… but I’m now at that final finish line – and the book is going into pre-press next week. Keep in touch – and thanks for connecting!

  43. WOW! I read that and cried! This is me and I had so many tell me so many of the same things! I am trying to dig out of being normal. I am slowly trying to come out of that shell they put over me and my body. I still hear in my ear…..your not good enough, your to fat, no one will like THAT kind of drawing or painting. So I still find myself hiding in crafts rather than art. Or creating a book that I had always wanted to write. YOU DO THIS for all of US! Thank you!!!!

    • Donna… your words ring so true to me. I *hear* you! I *see* you! Thank YOU for connecting with *ME*… often times, on this blog… this project – this big dream of mine… is for all the folk like you (and me)… (and MANY countless others) who hide their light. At the back of my book, I’ve written this:

      “Have you misplaced your MUCH’ness?
      or have you lost your way?
      Have you forgotten who you ARE…
      or what you want to say… (?)

      Are you the Great Pretender…
      pretending that you’re “fine”…
      whilst hiding and *surviving*
      being too afraid to SHINE… (?)

      I HEAR you.. and I SEE you!
      I *get* what you go through!
      For all the folk who hide their light,
      I wrote this book for YOU!”

      I’m going into pre-press next week. 80 pages of book – DONE! Movie-deal on the way… DONE! Emotional-crazy-rollercoaster-ride-that-I-could-NEVER-have-dreamed-of…. *BUT*… absolutely WORTH it. I cannot tell you the amount of times (during this project especially) that I have second-guessed myself. How many times I’ve had the “not good enough” argument with myself. Not-this-enough… not-THAT-enough… blah, blah, blah!!! And it is STILL a journey (with good days – and… stay-in-pyjamas-and-binge-on-chocolate days). And then I hear from people like you – and I read your words… and I’m reminded: “Okay – THAT’s why I’m doing this”… and everything starts to make sense again. So just as much as you thanked *me*… I want to thank YOU!! Your lovely words strengthen me in ways you can’t imagine. X

    • Thanks a mil! So far, so good… the book is ticking along – just via word of mouth. I haven’t officially launched it yet (just haven’t had the time)… and additionally, I’m REALLY terrible with the promotions / sales / PR stuff… but – I must say – for a self-published, not-marketed book – not even available in stores… it’s doing kinda fine. Thanks for connecting… ! 🙂

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