Tell Me What to Think About…

My 9 year old daughter (RJP) has trouble at bedtime. She thinks and worries too much. She’s afraid she won’t ever get to sleep. Almost every night she asks me, often with panic in her voice, “Mom, tell me what to think about….” I used to tell her to try not thinking. It’s worked for me. About 10 years ago I realized that the worst thing that I could do when I wake up in the middle of the night, which happens all the time, was to think. My thinking invariably led to anxiety as I worried about all of the things that I wasn’t doing or that I should have done. Now, to stop me from thinking, I do multiplication tables in my head. I find 7s to be the best at getting me to empty my mind. To help RJP, we bought a mindfulness book for kids: Sitting Still Like a Frog. She (RJP) liked it, but was too distracted by the saliva in the woman’s voice in the accompanying cd to keep listening to it.

After the failed attempt to get RJP to stop thinking, I tried to come up with imaginative responses to her request to tell her what to think about. These usually involved her lying on a cloud and taking it to her favorite places, like Utah or Lake Superior, or new places, like DC or California. Her cloud almost always stayed in the U.S. because thinking about flying over the ocean created too much anxiety for her.

I must admit, I’m not very good at telling her these stories. As someone who has increasing difficulty sleeping—I don’t have trouble getting to sleep; I have trouble staying asleep, I’m too tired to imagine new places for her to go at night. How do other parents do it? I don’t know. All I know is that STA and I are currently failing. As I write this post, I remember that we did have a successful period last year when I read the entire Little House on the Prairie series to her and 4 of the Birchbark House books. I miss reading those books. 


But I’m not ready to give up yet. And now that summer is almost here, just 3 days away!, I’m willing to try something new. Today I picked up a picture book from the library, Tell Me What to Dream About (I first read about it on Brain Pickings). Tonight I hope to read it to RJP and maybe, if I can come up with a simple-enough plan, this summer we can create (with text and pictures) our own story/stories about what to dream about…

Will this be another failed experiment? Possibly. But, I like trying and I’m always looking for ways to do collaborative storytelling with RJP…

update, 6.4.15: I read the book to RJP last night. She enjoyed it. I’m hopeful that we can create our own book with illustrations soon.

Running Voices

I’m starting to think about how to mark the occasion of my 4th anniversary of running. Realistically, I don’t have a lot of time to create a big project–of course that doesn’t stop me from dreaming too big about what I could do. At this point, I’m in the research/planning phase. Here’s a story project from the New York Times that I just discovered:

Running Voices

This project is from 2009. In it, different runners contribute their stories about training for and/or running marathons. The format is a voiceover recording combined with a series of photos that the user clicks through as they listen to the story.

Screen shot from running voices
Screen shot from running voices