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What do you do when the answer to the question “Are you doing what you love to do?” is no. Do you then put your head in the sand and hope that it will be more fun again, decide that you can’t have everything after all, or ask yourself how you can start turning that no into a yes?

Doing what you love and following your heart is for everyone, not just those who can afford it or are in a very different situation than you.

I once became a teacher and that was already quite special because I come from a nest where studying was not at all a given and feeling secure was not an automatic right either. There was a lot going on in our family, and I understood at an early age that any action can provoke a reaction. I learned to be like a chameleon, observing every change in tone and energy, following everything cautiously, becoming invisible as soon as there was a threat and determining at lightning speed what my plan of action was going to be, what was the best color to appear.

When I left elementary school, I knew that learning was my way out and was helped in this by my grandmother. She fed my curiosity, took me to the library, and taught me how to find the books in which to find my answers. My grandmother understood what was at stake, my grandmother was there, provided safety, helped me to have an eye for opportunities and encouraged me to seize opportunities. Later when I grew up, I could become anything I wanted to be.

Learning was seen in our home as a necessary evil; you did it as long as you were of compulsory school age and until something better presented itself. And that “better” was not a fun and well-paying job, because that was not for us. Studying wasn’t for “people like us,” I didn’t have to put anything into my head because I was a dime and dimes that didn’t become quarters.

I became the exception that confirmed the rule, was the first girl in our family that went to college. I wanted something no one had done before and was willing to accept the consequences; working to pay the bills and leave the environment where I had grown up. It was not a well-considered decision, more an escape from an adolescent dreaming about what she wanted to be later when she grew up.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work with and for children and have wondered how to help children become who they want to be. My grandmother taught me an important lesson: life gives you opportunities, and if you seize them, you can change your future. Changing what you always do, creates something new. The question is not whether it can be done, the question is whether you dare to do it and believe in it enough.

My life changed because of the opportunities I took. As an adolescent, I mostly wanted to prove my mother wrong, that dimes can definitely become quarters. That felt like the ultimate middle finger, and so I set my teeth on self-imposed goals.

After each goal came another one: I became a teacher, an entrepreneur, opened a web shop, developed a methodology, wrote a book, gave what I do a name, hand puppet coach, and opened my own vocational school. It wasn’t about the puppet, it was about what the puppet can do and in what ways a puppet can make learning more fun. If learning is fun, you want to keep doing it, you want more of it. If I can accomplish that through a puppet, then my goal is successful, and I am making a meaningful contribution to a child’s life, helping to increase his opportunities. I continued until I felt the story was complete.

And that feeling came a few weeks ago, when the course “Make the Hand Puppet Work for You” was finished. In it, I tell the story I want to tell. The story of how to create a hand puppet that makes a difference, helps children grow, challenges them to express themselves and provide you the information that allows you to guide them in the best way possible.

Over the past few years, I have been constantly developing and trying out. Could I teach others how to deepen contact with children through a puppet? Could I convey how to use a puppet to get children to use language more spontaneously? Could I teach others how to gather information about children through a puppet? Did children continue to find puppet fun and interesting when my insights were applied to them?

The answer to all those questions is yes. Yes, I can.

2022 was a beautiful, but also an intense year. I am grateful for all I was able to do and for the trust I received from my trainees and the students at the professional hand puppet coach training. Everyone has their own story and that story can hinder you or help you do what you love, challenge you to do it differently, choose your own path or follow what you believe in most.

I would not have become who I am without the history I carry with me, without the experiences I have had in my life, and without the traits and skills that helped me survive as a child. Things change when you have the courage to choose, when you decide that in the end what matters most is what makes you happy, what you can mean to another.

So don’t put your head in the sand, but turn your no into a yes and make a plan.

Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear.

Thank you for your time and until another post.

With Love,

Author

Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.