Communication, Community, connection, creative writing, creativity, Family, Joy, storytelling, Wonder More, workshops

Let’s Listen To Each Other

The recent passing of Thicht Naht Hanh has been felt across the world by so many, including those who knew him as ‘Teacher’.  Those who leave such a legacy also open a door to many with their passing.  I have to admit to only recently looking more into his teachings and this week at Story Stitchers we have begun that journey by listening. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks, reading and sharing. 

We believe that true, unconditional and active listening are in many ways as vital to our very survival and happiness as the air we breathe. 

When you make the effort to listen and hear the other side of the story, your understanding increases and your hurt diminishes. – Thicht Naht Hanh

First impressions 

As a child I was always taught the value of a smile, a firm handshake, looking people in the eye etc.

Recent years have challenged the importance, relevance and appropriateness of some of these ‘good first impression’ staples.  The pandemic has made the handshake an endangered species and masks have converted the smile into sparkly eyes and waves.

The biggest thing I have taken from these shifts is that while still valuable, maybe first impressions shouldn’t carry the weight they sometimes do. Someone might be late because they are the most generous person in the room, not because they are unreliable or don’t care. Someone might have scruffy shoes because they spend their time thinking how to be better at their job, or how to be a better person, rather than worrying about their shoes. Maybe eye contact is a battle that this person just can’t take on, but they are actually very comfortable in themselves and therefore a huge asset to any team or room. If we take time to listen to them and the information they give us, then we have already moved past so many obstacles.

Listening to your own curiosity

Sometimes the person we find the hardest to listen to is ourselves, for example:  the impact or effect of our presence, or when our presence isn’t there. The world can be a busy place where we may feel judged or under constant pressure to be useful. We need to be on time, we need to provide, we need to be organised, motivated and driven. We need to help out the team, be there for our partner and family, keep in touch with friends, do our bit for our community, country or planet. Then we hopefully reach somewhere near the end of our task list, we eat and stop, just in time to go to bed before it all carries on tomorrow. There are many who talk about the need to stop, switch off, take time and escape. With our work we find that we also need the space to listen and be listened to. This can be going along to a class or workshop and having some new people in your life asking you about you and then you listen to others and are genuinely curious to know more about them. Or maybe it’s at work with colleagues who are sharing an idea or information that takes you by surprise or reminds you there is plenty you don’t know about them. Listening is often talked about in situations of major conflict and violence or in politics. But there are so many of us who just don’t get to be around others in a space where everyone listens to each other. A chance to express ourselves, to share in similar or very different views. The chance to go back into the rest of our lives and take in more from it. To listen. To actively listen. It may begin with those closest to us and then we find we are curious about other fascinating and wonderful people that we come into contact with during our lives. As we learn more about them, we learn more about ourselves.

And the great thing about listening is that we can do it straight away, right now. It is also a tool that never runs out and has infinite uses and benefits.

Thank you for listening.

Tom

Story Stitchers

Communication, Community, connection, creativity, Joy, Kindness is Radical, storytelling, workshops

Let’s Gather Together

Let's Gather Together 
In any way we can. 
Whether we are collectors or a collective
We could be powerful.

Let's Gather Together
And discover the joy
That fills each of us.
We could be curious 

Let's gather together 
And listen with open ears.
For such an act of kindness
Is the grassroots of change and growth.

We are gathering in the soft glow if our screens, our virtual circle looks like a series of square windows. Perfectly aligned. We can see each others homes. Our plants, our pets, our pictures. Sometimes a child drifts in to say good night. We are a jumble sale of people. The colours of each small window vary. We are not all the same. We have different tastes, different drive, different experiences, but we all here to listen. To lean in and be taken by poem, prose or song to a world away from our perfectly aligned windows or the hum of our computers working, or our plants, our pets and our pictures. Our minds are filled with images of family roof tops dinners in India or a photography studio in Conwy or a a vibrant wedding party outside a registry office.

Flash forward to another gathering. We are in the room with parents and toddlers. There has been hushed moment with a book, a lively togetherness in song and now there is the gentle hub bub of noise as parents swap tales of the weekly challenges and children scrawl pens across pages mark making and mapping their wonder at how it works.

Flash forward to a group of teenage girls, stretching out on a quiet gallery floor. They are drafting poems about changing the world. They whisper ideas to each other. Every now and then their eyes light up at a great idea and an a smile unfilds hidden under their face masks.

Flash forward to the entrance to a community hall, 3 generations of a family arrive at the same time. The youngest aged 3 and 7 and filling a postcard with drawings and words and commitments of kind acts tomorrow. Granny is writing a message of thanks to the NHS and the parents are sharing what they love about where they live. They all hang their creating in a christmas tree amongst twinkling yellow lights. The children walk away with a chocolate coin and a sparkling wish bag that has come all the way from the North Pole. A thank you gift from Father Christmas for spreading Christmas cheer.

No one in any of these experiences was undeserving of the opportunity to express themselves. All were welcome to share something of themselves and a connection tonothers. All left, feeling a little brighter and a little comforted.

In a world if division , don’t minimise connection.
In a world of suffering, stop minimise joy.
In a world that can be cruel, stop minimise kindness.

Moments of connection, joy and kindness may be fleeting, but they should be celebrated. They are the ground work of curiousity, strength and resilience. That is our work as community artists, to generate a space to gather together.

creativity, Family, Grow Wild Together, Home School, Nature, storytelling, Wonder More

Wild Wonder

Stay Curious, Grow Wild Together and Wonder More.

Wild Wonder is a podcast for families brought to you by Stitch. We explore the outdoors and share stories about what we discover. We curate the podcast involving our children as we believe that if children hear others speaking, it makes them feel powerful with their own voice.

Each episode includes a walk about with our children, followed by a story inspired by what we discovered on our walk. This current series of podcast is being made at a time when the UK is under lock down due to the Corona Virus. The conversations happen within walking distance of our house and were part of our daily outing. We found these conversations with our children allowed us to hit the reset button. We felt more connected to each other and the habitat that surrounds us (which maybe at a better time, we would have taken for granted.)

We hope this podcast and the supporting activities allows your families to connect to each other and the world just outside your front door.

Episode 4 – Woodlouse

Episode 3 – Jackdaw

Episode 2 – The Beech and the Oak

Episode 1 – Dandelion

Activities

You can find the most recent activities posted on Facebook or Instagram.

We have also created some activity sheets to accompany each story. These will be added below when a new episode drops.

We also have an account for Wild Wonder on Instagram where you can enjoy the photos of things we have found.

Photo credit – F Goodman

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Nook and Cranny’s Intergalactic Space Mission

Nook and Cranny are looking for brave space explorers to go on a mission to go across the Universe. They are looking for spectacular space stories that can take us out of this world.

Nook and Cranny’s Intergalactic Space Mission is designed as a fourteen day challenge to help you shape your stories. The activities could last as long as you like them to, but we think you can do them in 15 minutes. 

You can write, draw, move, make or tell to explore. You can look up what is actually out there in the stars or you can let your imagination roam through space capturing strange creatures, secret stars or unknown planets.

While these activities are designed for children, we think that they are a great intergenerational activity too.

You can download the full challenge below, including some extra resources to support this challenge.

Help Nook and Cranny complete their mission by sharing your creations:

Facebook: @storystitchers

Instagram: @story_stitchers

Twitter: @story_stitchers