Smartview Stories™ is a children’s empowerment book project that was birthed on the new moon of July, 2018. This came quite by surprise, I simply woke up that morning and knew I wanted to do this, that all of me was onboard, and that this project would unfold all in it’s own ripe timing. It feels like it comes from a place within me that has observed Self-in-Presence and has opted to team together in a way that models this way of being. Earlier in 2018, I had a strong felt sense image of groups of me coming together in team-like huddles and this is one joyful, confident team gathered here for this project.
I was first inspired by a concept of helping people everywhere find the Safe Place within us that we practice as Focusers. As we move ourselves toward Self-in -Presence, we are bringing safety to our inner world. Each time we find a way for this situation or this challenging moment to feel seen and accepted to be itself, we bring safety. We may not be able to do this in every moment, however we practice and it happens more often. When we feel a tenseness, a tightness, discomfort of any kind, we pause, tune into the environment and our situation and find something around us to rest into as a safe place. My daily walks in the woods reminded me of this. I noticed all the safe niches that ecosystems create within themselves. We can do this too.
The first story I wrote is called A Puddly Kind of Day. I wanted to show how a common shaming type of experience that might happen in our youth, would be handled differently if you and the people around you had an awareness of Focusing skills. Early on, I shared this story with two people close to me who are both Focusers and have editing skills. One is my daughter Jenny Vicenzi and I continue to be grateful for her editing support. The other person is Inge Smith Terrill, a local Floyd Focuser. Well, Inge fell head over heels in love with the project and became the editor. Together we imagined potential directions. I introduced the project to a variety of artists. The first artist to make a significant impact arrived the following summer. Focusing Coordinator, Brian Korzec is a big fan of super heroes. He helped us create early prototypes for the Inner Companions. This was a big step.
Enter 2020 and three more people joined our team. Renee La Roi came on as graphic designer. She developed the map and made sure we were formatting the book in ways that worked with our first printing/publishing company, Vervante. Nomi Miller was hired to draw the Inner Companions. Molly Gutierrez was hired to draw the people. Book 1 was published with this team in Sept, 2021.
Book 1 took about 3 years to come to fruition, this is average for publishing a children's book. It also cost me about $8000. This is not something I can sustain for a series of books so I had to make quite a few changes for book 2. One is that I am doing my own layout and design. I want to thank Renee for seeing this potential in me way before I imagined it. We also changed to distributing the books through KDP/Amazon and Ingram Sparks (supplies book stores and libraries). Both of these are print on demand publishers. Books are only printed as orders come in rather than me putting out funds in advance. Molly realized she did not enjoy the process of having to draw the same characters over time and stepped down. Aaron Staengl was happy to take over for Molly with his incredible digital art skills.
It's 2022 now. It feels like we have our development team in place and it's time to market and make the books more easily accessible. For my part, I'm developing a new website geared more toward selling products. A young teacher, Jessie Mullins, has come on board. Jessie is a middle school teacher with great tech skills. We will be improving our social media presence, creating a space for Smartview Stories fans and developing new products that support schools and families in learning the experiential language of Focusing.
No doubt, this is a community project, lots of people will help along the way. I believe every person I have ever shared this project idea with is alive here in what emerges. The joys and challenges facing humanity, from tiny to huge, are here too. Thank you world for weaving the beautiful and strong ground this project stands upon.
Smartview Stories™ holds a vision of self-empowerment, healing, connection and community development around the globe.
Self-Empowerment: Our stories illustrate innate human relational skills (i.e. Focusing skills) that both children and adults can practice and apply to any life situation. Each book will include three stories around a topic that could be referenced by teachers, counselors, parents. Our stories are applicable to both youth and adults.
Healing: Smartview Stories™ meet people where they are. Aspects of our societies are very broken. Our characters will embody our cultural traumas. We will witness how to heal ourselves and be a healing presence for those around us. The stories will lead the way forward, in the same way our own bodies know how.
Connection: Focusing skills are the experience of connection. They apply to every relational encounter; self, others, or environment. Three super hero characters will help readers notice where they currently are in their brain: right hemisphere, left hemisphere, or this bigger space we create for neurons to connect freshly. In this bigger space, we have access to aha’s, new perspectives and fresh solutions.
Community: A real-life intentional Focusing community is a dream for Focusers around the world. The stories explore the realities of what their lives would look like by doing this. Our community will also illustrate the values of the Appalachian area where we live with emphasis on music, dance, arts, small organic farms, herbs, nature, and simple living outside of time.
“Stories are medicine….They have such power;
they do not require that we do, be, act anything–we need only listen.
The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Sandy and Inge exploring the home site area of Grampy and Grammy in our stories.
There is so much about this project that is still a mystery. If you are familiar at all with Focusing, you know that an important skill we practice is becoming comfortable with ‘not knowing’. I love how this picture of Inge and I goes in and out of focus, like something was playing tricks with us. If you look closely at the picture, an edge forms at every place where clarity meets foggy. Every Smartview Story will give this sense of an edge, where we know ‘this much’ clearly, and this other part, is not yet clear. Edges can be very uncomfortable in real life. Most of us have all sorts of protective behaviors in place to avoid them. We might change the subject, move out of the room, get something to eat, turn to our smartphones. It is very important to understand that edges are also where our brains take in new information. If we think we already know the answer, as in we only notice what is comfortable and clear already to us, then we miss an opportunity to learn something new. A younger child is naturally interested and curious about life. Sometimes we say kids are like sponges they learn so fast. And somehow, slowly, this sponginess gets stiffer and we are not so open to learning new things. Our stories will encourage using our brain in ways that support life long learning habits.
Life becomes a real adventure when you are willing to explore what is happening within/among/around you right now, freshly. It could be, this moment now, you will choose to do something new, something you’ve never done before.
ADVENTURE AHEAD? LET’S GO!
Smartview Stories™ are in process. The first book was published Sept 7, 2021. Book 2 was published, March, 2022. Our next steps include completing one more book featuring the Poplar Family. Next in line after the Poplar Family, we’ll be writing about the Oak Family. We will get to include some of the interesting history about this land and the Floyd area in these stories and make some new local friends in the process.
At the same time, we have ideas for other supportive products. Book 2 is now available as a Kindle ebook. The first local handmade prototype of a stuffed animals for the Inner Companions is in development. Jessie and I will develop a workbook for parents and teachers this year. Youtube videos or audio books would also be fun to work up. Join our newsletter to receive updates on our progress!