Everyone’s having different and changing experiences of Covid-19; no one is or will be untouched by it.
I’ve been watching the light and the dark play out. For me, the darkness is mostly external – the media, the food fights, the hoarding, the fear, death and worry. My motto has been: be aware, prevent and prepare. This has helped me manage my anxiety and kept it to a low-medium frequency.
Internally, I’ve been feeling more positive than I have for a while and it’s nothing to do with Covid-19. I feel like my Fibromyalgia may be going into remission – I have a doctor’s appointment via phone to discuss this week. I can’t tell you how light and happy I’m feeling. I honestly haven’t felt physically this good in years and years.
I also ended a job a week ago that was affecting my mental health and contributing to a negative outlook. And even though it was the worst time to finish one job and start a new one, I was so happy to finish my previous role that I wasn’t worried about job security. I was aware that my new might ask me not to start or to terminate my employment given the economic conditions and constraints occurring. So I had formulated my Plan B if my life went down the toilet.
Luckily, now I’m working for a wonderful University (I’m in love with it to be quite honest). Within the first hour of starting, my boss was reassuring me, without me asking, that my role was secure with them. The University had committed to all their staff, casuals included, that no one would lose their jobs due to Covid-19 or what happened in Australia post Covid-19. My boss’s boss introduced himself the same day and had a very similar conversation with me. And I have continually reassured that the University has their staff and student’s wellbeing first and foremost with all decisions.
So my mental health had improved, my work situation was secure and my actual health was the best that it had been in three years. I suddenly had natural, positive energy – and it was really wonderful but I had forgotten how good that feels.
Living with Fibromyalgia for the last three years has sucked as y’all know. Everything idea, desire, action was weighed up and mostly discarded due to a lack of energy or the real consequences of pain from doing the thing. I felt like I was minus energy and all I was trying to do was get back to the baseline.
So you can imagine my surprise when a creative idea popped in my head. The beginning of Write With You. I weighed the idea and realised – I could actually do it. I had the energy, the time (on weekends or before and after work) and the financial resources to make it happen.
The seed was actually planted a year ago, after a day at the zoo with my niece and two nephews when a discussion about whether fairies existed began. The two older ones said fairies didn’t exist and the youngest, Toby, defending fairies and magic passionately. He turned to me and asked me if fairies existed.
I didn’t want to lie … but I couldn’t take magic, imagination and fairies away from him.
“Of course.” I answered.
“Your granny had a fairy as a friend once.” I said. “Mary the Fairy.”
So the stories of Naughty Nancy, their Granny, and her friend Mary the Fairy began. It was always a collaborative story-telling method. I’d ask kids for ideas or what they thought happened next or what did they want to hear about and then between Granny and myself we’d co-tell a story about it.
Seeing all the posts about my friends home-schooling their children, their challenges, fears and worry - my heart wanted to help in someway. And the idea of Write With You was born.
The project idea is to work with a family every fortnight to collaborate with them on a Naughty Nancy Story, which would then become a free eBook for anyone to read. Secondly, it would be a place promoting fun resources and activities for children at home.
I first thought I could super-woman it and do it all myself, which is always my first modus operandi. I started researching how to e-publish a Children’s book and downloaded two different options. There was no way to illustrate the two main characters though. And Google said I needed to hire a freelance graphic artist, illustrator or cartoonist.
I was happy to pay for an artist, to support the arts in this time, but had a small budget that I could afford. As a love project, I knew I needed to be careful with financial resourcing as it was going to be an ongoing project possibly from 1-6 months. So I needed to able to afford illustrations for multiple books and an author who would work with me on a budget.
So trusting in Google, I posted ads about the project on Air-tasker, Upworthy, Fiverr, and then freelance.com. I chatted with many artists and most weren’t interested in the project only the money. I started to become despondent and feel like it was going to another abandoned project or idea of mine.
My history of a writer is to fail before publication occurs and so when it started getting difficult it triggered these feelings and memories of failure.
The last person I talked to was Laura and I was engaged but not enthusiastic only because I’d been so enthusiastic with other artists and only been let down. We chatted for a while and in light strokes about the book not the project. And she said she wanted to take some time and draw Naughty Nancy. We said goodnight and said we’d chat the next day.
I stopped to meditate on the project. The buzz of potentiality had me wired all day and I hadn’t stopped to check in. I asked that if this project was coming out of self-interest or ego for me to let it go. I asked if it was coming from the collective unconscious, if children out there wanted this project to come to life to help make it so.
I woke up and had the first image of Naughty Nancy waiting for me. And she was perfect! My heart started racing. I felt like it was a sign that this project was actually meant to happen. My enthusiasm doubled down.
I gushed about how much I loved the Naughty Nancy image and then got real. I sent a long message about the project, why, my nieces and nephews, and I wrote from my heart.
Being vulnerable led to Laura speaking openly in return. She was a mother of a gorgeous five-year-old girl and had the mindset that Covid-19 and staying home with their parents could be the best part of their childhood.
“All they want is their parents to be present. To be with us.” She wrote.
We knew we had an opportunity to be apart of it. To help lighten the load that parents would be carrying. And to be right here with them.
Laura had always wanted to illustrate a Children’s book and I had always wanted to be a published author and so this project had a possibility of achieving both our individual dreams. And doing some good in the world. We agreed on timeframes, payment and committed to the project.
Next, I called one of my favourite humans in the world – marketing guru Jenny for help. She quickly volunteered her expertise and energy to help launch the project.
So now we’re full steam ahead and I’m so happy about all the possibilities for supporting families during this time. My heart is overflowing.
Watch this space to watch this project come alive J
"...staying home with their parents could be the best part of their childhood" Laura M.