My life is returning to a more peaceful pace. The past 5 years have been quite a roller coaster. Since I decided I was going to sell my web shop, there has been a lot of movement and a lot to overcome. I knew that with my new business, I would have to start all over again from scratch and put a lot of energy into figuring out how to get my message out there. I could sell a puppet, but could I also turn my experience, knowledge and vision into a learning path and sell that?

I had to learn a lot and try out a lot. Corona put online work on the global map in one fell swoop and showed that when the workload gets too high, the motivation to learn something is a lot lower for many. “I feel overburdened” I heard a lot. “I don’t have the time and energy to start something new.”

“We overestimate what is possible in one year, but underestimate what is possible in 5 years” one of my teachers, Toni Robbins, often says. I agree with him. Five years is a feasible period and that makes the chances of success, of developing a plan that can be properly implemented, much greater. I often think in 5-year plans; emigrating was also such a 5-year plan.

The moment we made the plan, on the beach at Guardamar in Spain, we didn’t know where we would end up living. We just decided that by December 31, 2020, we would have sold our web shops and leave for a place where it was sunnier and where the pace of life was slower. In 2018, the house at Bonaire came on our path and our destination was found.

After selling handpop.nl, I also created a new 5-year plan for my company. Where do I want to be in 5 years? A clear plan gives me direction every time and the ability to break down what I want to achieve into smaller, bite-sized chunks. It helps me become less easily overstimulated, I am highly sensitive and since I bounced from one burnout into the next, “stimulus management” has become part of my daily pattern. Breaking everything down into small units is one of the strategies I use to keep my world organized. Knowing what I need to function well, is another.

A plan once made provides direction above all, but it is also regularly adjusted because not everything in life is predictable, or goes the way you imagined. At least not with me. Along the way, something may arise that makes you think, “hmmmm, I had estimated this differently” or “gosh, this is even better!”, or “I don’t want to keep this new insight to myself, others can get great results with it too.

I deal with a small market, I don’t work for the masses. I am mainly here for the teachers, teaching assistants, group leaders, child coaches and social workers who want to challenge children through a puppet and use the power of the puppet to gather information about children and lower the threshold to participate in our activity through a puppet. So I am not just looking for someone who wants to use a puppet in his or her work, but that someone must want to learn to use it consciously and look at it from different angles.

What many of my participants have in common is that they have reached a point where they say: ‘I have been working in education (childcare, care, social work) for many years now and have seen so many different programs come along that I have had to work with, have adapted over and over again, and in doing, so I have moved further and further away from what I like, from what motivates and drives me. I want to go back to basics, to connecting with children. I see something happening when I pull out my puppet and that makes me happy, I want to know more about that, and I want to be able to apply that in a more focused way.”

For me, this is a recognizable point. I am a “fortuitous entrepreneur,” my business originated in 2004 when I was working in education and recovering from burnout. I knew what I didn’t want anymore, and I had a big dream: to give a voice to as many children as possible, to teach as many children as possible how to stand up for themselves, how to tell us, adults, what they need. That has always been my motivation, I want to pass on what I have learned in my life to help others achieve the same results, but a little faster.

To reach as many children as possible, I chose to work with (professional) educators. Then I reach a plurality of children. I was not fed up with education, I was mostly fed up with the way it was designed and the shifting of priorities. I got stuck in the so-called peripheral issues, not the executive work, had discovered something about the value of the hand puppet that I was very enthusiastic about and wanted to develop further in, but did not get permission from my management to do so. What I wanted was “not necessary” and “was not in the school’s policy plan.

I decided to create a path for myself. I did so because I believe that learning should be fun, because I believe that feeling good is a prerequisite for learning, and because I had seen what my puppet had awakened in the children in the groups I had worked with. I knew I had something special on my hands and wanted the space to explore and develop that further.

That was 20 years ago now, and in those 20 years I made several 5-year plans and got to know myself as a “jumper. I jump into the deep end when I see no other way to sustain or realize what I want or believe in. For me, life is not an outlined plan but a story I can write myself and take unexpected turns.

After 5 very intense years, my life is now settling down. Rested because I know what I have to offer, know what I (can’t) do, what I (don’t) want, who I prefer to work for, and there is a clear foundation created by the development of the hand puppet coach training that I can build on.

When I quit the web shop, I set myself to work on developing a vocational school to be profitable in 5 years. I am not there yet, but I am well on my way and still have a year and a half ahead of me. I no longer have to invent the wheel myself thankfully. In August, Dean Graziosi and Mastermind.com came my way when I participated in a challenge with Toni Robbins.

That turned out to be a huge gift because not only do I learn a lot from them, I also got access to some very inspiring Facebook groups where I can present all my ideas and obstacles. I experience that as priceless and it is something I have also added to my own course group. The Dutch and Belgians are not so eager to share I notice, we don’t hang out our dirty laundry, don’t admit so easily that we don’t know, nor do we find it necessary to share our victories with others.

I get that, am a Dutchman myself, of course, and had to both swallow and overcome when I was challenged to participate in it. “Are you in? Raise your hand and say, “I’m in!” That sounded like some kind of cult and not something I would fit into with my Dutch sobriety, but I was wrong. I never thought I would say this, but I don’t think the American way of responding is that bad. It has made me a freer person, and it turns out to be fine with the freedoms you can allow yourself with a puppet. Adding a little more “wow,” “awesome,” “gorgeous” and “super” to a puppet immediately makes children show more of that to which you respond so positively. Try it out.

At 53, I am finally at peace with who I am and where I came from. I see what is there, instead of what is not there, and I no longer have to hunt myself nor prove myself. This week I’m putting the last part of my offerings in Dutch on Mastermind.com, then I’m going to include an entry-level and a basic course in English, and then I’ll be done developing courses for a while. It has been a tumultuous time, but I am happy with the lessons it has taught me and with where I am and stand today. It has been good.

Wondering if I can also do something for you? Send me an email at helen@helenmeurs.com or keep following me.

So far and until another blog.

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.

Lower The Barriers Through The Use of A Puppet

Discover what this approach can bring you