Breathe with Bruce the Beginning

Who would have thought I would be writing a blog on my journey to become an author. It would not have occurred to me to do this yet, as I am still pinching myself that it has happened. However, I have had feedback and many people want to know where this started. It was a happy accident, where do I begin?

So, once upon a time, I trained in medicine. I loved treating patients, mainly elderly listening to their stories. However at times I felt the paperwork got in the way of making people feel better. Some years on I felt despondent, I changed direction and I started to work with my husband. He designed and manufactured furniture. He didn’t like the paperwork and finance. I can’t say it was my strength either, however it worked around looking after my young son, so I took on the challenge. We found a place where we could live and work from home, by now we had two small boys. Storytelling, at the end of a busy day, was a good way to wind down and I loved the variety of stories available. Sometimes I would make up stories, but never thought it would come to anything. 

Time passed, the company grew, as did the children. I was invited to go into schools with projects to teach children about business. I loved it and liked supporting children. I became a construction ambassador, encouraging older children to consider the industry as a career. I worked with Education Business Partners supporting various projects and enjoyed the experiences they brought. 

I was introduced to NLP ( Neuro Linguistic Programme), a study of human behaviour and outcome. Whilst learning over the years, and continuing to go into schools, I became curious as to why children seemed to be finding it difficult to manage stress and emotion. Although at the time, many experts appeared to be linking it with technology, gaming, social media and apps, there still seemed to be a mystery surrounding the increasing levels of depression, anxiety and sadly suicides in young people.

I finished my masters in NLP not really knowing what I would do with this new found knowledge. However, I felt I could do something to benefit young people managing stress. 

That summer I went to a festival. There was a lecture by an Indian doctor. He was talking about the impact of breathing techniques in his practice, within a hospital back in India. His story was fascinating. I suddenly remembered my medical training years ago.  I realised I could link the physical benefits of breathing techniques to scientific biological proof that children and young people could understand. Not only that, the techniques were free and easy to do!! 

Excited to make a start, I worked on six modules, this way it would easily fit into school terms. I began to feel the content was ok, however something was missing. Each module was linked to an emotion: happy, sad, frightened, angry, I needed a story, maybe even an animal or object to engage imagination.

I had a few images in my head, but I am not great at drawing. I chatted to a friend Rebecca and she is a great artist. I wanted a character that would tie everyone together. Thinking of breathing, blowing and holding breath, a cloud seemed perfect. A few doodles later and Rebecca quickly worked on several versions in pencil, watercolour and oils. She managed to interpret my thoughts beautifully. She then began playing with the other ideas I had for the other characters. Thinking of names was fun. I wanted his name to mean something. With many brainstorming sessions I settled on Breathe, Relax, Understand, Calm and Emotion it worked, so Bruce was born.

I approached several local schools and volunteered to run the modules free of charge in return for feedback. I had an idea of each character starting the class, with a backstory of who they were and why they felt their emotion. It was such a learning curve and at times out of my comfort zone, in a classroom full of excitable children. I quickly realised the key things the children loved, the characters, their stories and how they helped their emotions using the various breathing techniques. It was a joy to watch the class become calm and focused. 

Each week the children were eager to meet the new character. They were introduced to Bruce, Sol a sunflower who represents Happiness, and…………. ah, wait you will have to wait until the next book to know about them!!!! 

All was going well until the world was hit by a virus never heard of before. Covid bought our lives to a standstill. 

Find out in the next blog what happened next. 

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