“It Is All in the Way You Think”
It’s so hard to see our children suffer in any way, even—or especially--when we can see that it’s at least partly their own way of thinking that’s making things so hard.
Negative thinking and its effect is the message of Karen Repassy’s debut children’s book It Is All in the Way You Think. The book is a thoughtful lesson in how outlook influences our feelings and choices.
Young Sarah awakes one morning, and it seems that one thing after another goes wrong. Looking in the mirror, she sees frizzy, mousy hair instead of curls. Feeling insecure, she glumly predicts bombing a spelling test and assumes that giggling girls on the bus are laughing at her. At every turn, her own negativity colors what she sees and how she acts.
After school, Sarah pours out her woes to her sympathetic mother, who takes the opportunity to enlighten her daughter about positive thinking, telling her, “Remember, you always have a choice on how you think and feel about something!”
The next day, Sarah puts her mother’s advice into action and is amazed to see how beautiful the world looks when seen through hopeful and positive eyes.
The insightful words of Repassy’s story are reflected in the illustrations as well. At the beginning of the book, Sarah is drawn in black and white, with only small glimpses of color. As Sarah’s way of thinking changes, the pictures become brighter and more colorful.
It Is All in the Way You Think is available at www.angelicremembering.com .
TTFM: What inspired you to write It Is All in the Way You Think?
Karen: There is a lot of history that inspired me to write this book. I was 30 years old and I had everything I ever dreamed of: a home, supportive husband, and I was a stay at home mom. I always lived my life based on the idea that when I have “this” I will be happy. Well, I had all the things I expected to make me happy, but I was very depressed. After a “dark night of the soul” when I surrendered everything and prayed for help, literally the next day I had friends handing me books/affirmation cards saying “I thought of you when I saw this.” Everything that fell into my hands from that day forward had to do with thoughts and how powerful they were. I had an inkling of this growing up, but I don’t think I understood it. I started taking inventory of my thoughts and I discovered I really did not think too highly of myself. I started first to shift my thoughts of others (judgments-I feel judgments are reflections of what we do not like within ourselves), because that was easier, then thoughts of myself. When I began doing this and changing my perspective of things, my life began to change. I began to find joy in life, synchronicities were happening, and everything around me “looked” different. Most importantly, I started to genuinely like myself.
I wanted to teach children the amazing treasure I discovered when I was thirty years old. I thought, wouldn’t it have been great if had known this when I was a kid? I was sitting with my family on the couch one evening and I had what I call an “inspired moment”. The idea popped into my head and I HAD to get it out. I went into the office, shut the door, and I wrote “It Is All in the Way You Think” in 45 minutes. As I reread my story, I realized that I was Sarah on the first day in the story the first 30 years of my life. That is how I looked at life. I always thought negative things were going on around me, people were saying things about me, no one liked me, and I did not like myself physically. I was shown often enough it was not true, because that one person I thought did not like me would suddenly come up to me and say that she DID like me, or the complete opposite of what I was thinking would show itself in some way or another. I had often missed the good, because I was so busy on focusing what I thought was the truth. However I never GOT it until I started shifting my thoughts and my perspective. I was creating “untruths” in my head all my life and these “untruths” were exactly what I saw in life. When I shifted my perspective, let go, and focused on what WAS true, I was Sarah on the second day. Life became almost magical. I started seeing the good in my life. I still shift back and forth between days, depending on what is going on in my life, but the difference is I recognize it and I take full responsibility for it. As one of my favorite teachers, Wayne Dyer said, “I am much better than I used to be.”
I have always loved children’s books and as a schoolteacher it is one of my favorite avenues to introduce a concept and to branch off my lessons. I wrote this book to use as a medium for my teaching and also as a tool for children and the adults with them to open up to thinking about their thoughts and changing them to a positive perspective.
TTFM: Can you describe the artistic process of the illustrations, as they move from simple black and white to more vibrant colors?
Karen: I LOVE this question, because there is so much growth in myself attached to it. It is a long story, because the beginning leads into the growth of my adding color.
If someone said to me when I was graduating college that I would be a writer, illustrator, and talk/teach about what I was writing about, I would have first laughed, thinking it was some kind of joke. Then when I realized it was not a joke, I would have found a big rock and hidden under it the rest of my life. They were the three things (among many others that do not have to do with the book) I used to think I was NOT good at: writing, drawing, and speaking to an audience. Well, I wrote the book. One down, one thought/perspective changed,: “I CAN write.” However, I needed illustrations for the book. I asked my artist friend to do the illustrations; she attempted it and said she was not comfortable drawing characters. I asked around, and it was very costly to have someone illustrate. Never did it cross my mind that I could do it. Again, one night around midnight I was lying in bed. I had another inspired moment; I could feel it running through my body (for me inspiration means God planting the seed). I was thinking about drawing and I felt this strong urge to draw a picture of my daughter. I grabbed a photograph of her, sat on my couch, and I started drawing. When I finished, I looked at it in awe. It was raw, but there was something there that I had NEVER done before in my drawings. I always loved to draw, but I just thought I was not good enough, and I didn’t have the “gift.” I would become frustrated and give up. I could not draw and that was it. But sitting on my couch that night, I sat there for hours thinking, “What just happened?” I realized I COULD do it, and perhaps I could draw. WOW! What a moment! I contacted a local art studio to inquire about taking a drawing class. The only one available was character drawing for kids. They said I would need to talk to the instructor because it was a kids’ class. I told the instructor my reason for taking the class--to illustrate my own children’s book—and she said, “You have NO experience drawing and you think you can take ONE class and illustrate a book?” She went on laughing for about 2 minutes. I sat quietly on the other end and when her laughter ended, I said, “Yes!” That was a true test of all that I learned in one moment. Apparently, she was in the process of illustrating her own children’s chapter book with her many years of experience, and here I was coming in with NO experience doing the same. It was quite unrealistic to her. Needless to say, I took the class, and she offered the human anatomy drawing class to me as well. I shocked her and myself with this talent I NEVER knew I had. Those were the only two classes I took. That was my only “training.” Two down: I CAN draw.
This leads to the answer to your original question, the color in my illustrations. I could draw my pictures, but what about color? I struggled with this for months, and as I kept hitting my head up against a wall, getting nowhere, I stopped and said, “I CAN do this.” I researched mediums. I really like colored pencils and the control I had with them, but I did not like how they looked; I wanted something softer. I discovered watercolor pencils, but I was soooo not ready to add color to a whole picture. I was feeling inexperienced, and I did not want them to look amateurish. I was also thinking of the cost of the book, because I was feeling drawn to the route of self-publishing-it would be cheaper if there was less color, but I did not want black and white. Then the idea hit me (inspiration again). I could color the positive things she was missing in each picture. This led to the idea of showing the positive things she was missing in each illustration. I did not have to color a lot, and I was comfortable with that. Well, as my confidence grew, so did the book and color in the illustrations. As I got toward the end of the book, I knew I could do every aspect of it. So, as Sarah grew and her perspective and thoughts changed, so did I, toward the end of the book. She began to see all the good going on around her in her life, her life became more colorful and vibrant. In the process, I was starting to feel good as an illustrator, and I was able to add more color to the pictures. I was able to be a full-blown illustrator by the end of the book as Sarah figured it all out for herself, too. When it was all done, it was amazing how the two came together. I really feel the illustrations tell half of the story. If I had not gone through the growth that I did, I would have missed an important aspect to the illustrations. The more positive we become, the more colorful our lives become, too, as well as ourselves (as depicted by the color around Sarah). Everything looks and feels brighter. This is reflected in the story and in me as well.
TTFM: Did you base the story on your own experience or on that of your daughter?
Karen: The book is based on my own experience. It was partially inspired by my daughter, but not on her experiences. My daughter was only three years old when I wrote the book and a very happy, positive child. I did not want her to lose that about herself. She was part of my inspiration, because I wanted to be a better person for her. A depressed, negative mom was NOT what I dreamed of for my daughter. As I mentioned before, I was Sarah on the first day the first 30 years of my life, so Sarah’s experience is mine. However, my daughter was the model for a lot of my illustrations. In the beginning I needed a human figure to look at for my illustrations, and she modeled for me. Everyone who knows my daughter knows the physical attributes of Sarah’s are hers (except my daughter’s hair is not brown), but the character attributes are mine.
TTFM: How does yoga tie into the positive thinking theme that you present in the book?
Karen: In the beginning, along with all the information regarding positive thinking I
was receiving from friends, yoga also come into my life. I instantly fell in love with it. I loved how it made me feel and it was integral in helping me find my self-esteem. I loved the fact that it was non-competitive, and it was just “me and my mat.” Yoga is one of the tools in my toolbox. It helps me calm, de-stress and clear my mind. When I do yoga, it is so much easier for me remain in a positive perspective. Yoga is about being at peace with who you are in present moment of time and feeling good about yourself. In addition, one of the eight limbs of yoga is Yama, which includes non-violence. This includes being non-violent with our words about others and ourselves.
TTFM: Why did you decide to take the publishing route that you did, rather than a 'traditional' agent/publisher route?
Karen: In the beginning, I did submit my book to many different publishers. I submitted it before illustrations, and also when I was in the process of creating the illustrations. I received many rejection letters, although I never let it discourage me. In the interim, I took a class on self-publishing and the whole idea of it intrigued me. As I got deeper and deeper into the project and completed more and more illustrations, I saw my own personal growth emerge. As my book got closer to completion, I decided it would be best to introduce my book under my own business. I had done enough research to know that a publisher would and could change any aspect of the book they felt was not sellable. The idea of the title, illustrations or wording in the book being changed just did not feel right to me. I feel every aspect of the story reveals so much about my own growth and was an important part the message I wanted to convey to the world. If something were changed, my own personal growth would have been changed in the book and would have hindered why I put the book out there in the first place. By self-publishing under my own business, I could share the message of the book and my own personal growth in that manner. Since the release of the book, I have received numerous responses that I had inspired someone (child and adult) to write their own book. A lot of that had to do not only with the book itself but the story behind it. I did not want any of that changed. However, now that the book has been released, I am completely opened to a publisher taking it on. I would LOVE to get the message out there to a larger population.
TTFM: What message would you like children to take from your book?
Karen: I would love for children to learn at a young age that happiness comes from within. We can alter how we perceive our lives by the thoughts we hold and create in our mind. Our happiness does not come from outside circumstances, but from what we hold on the inside about ourselves. Negative thinking becomes a habit. The longer we do a habit, the harder it is to break. I want to catch children at a time when it has not become a habit, when taking inventory of their thoughts and how they feel about themselves is natural. Many of my yoga students have told me I started thinking negatively about myself, but I thought of you and I stopped. That is the message.
TTFM: Any plans for a follow up book?
Karen: Yes, I have started on a second book, but it is in its infancy stage. Just as this book gave birth from my growth, I am in the infancy stage of some things in life and I feel the book will emerge as I do. Everything produced by my business Angelic Remembering, LLC is from my own personal experiences, based on my own growth and products in the future will encompass that.
TTFM: Are children's books your preferred venue?
Yes, at this time it is. I love children’s literature. Also, it is what I am comfortable with at the moment, but as experience has shown with this one book, you never know. As I get the message out there, if the need arises to write adult books, I am open to it. What I have learned through all of this is that it is safe to move out of my comfort zone and what is there to meet me as I move past it is amazing.
TTFM: Please describe the meditations you offer on your website and what your goals are with these meditations.
Karen: One of the tools I use to help me stay in a positive mind set is meditation. Meditation calms me and clears my mind, so I can get past the clutter and move to the truth of the situation. The meditations on my website are tools to help re-center and refocus to a good place. Life will toss all kinds of obstacles at you. The meditations are tools to help move through the obstacles. They are imaginative journeys using the tools I teach. The Transforming Forest is a companion meditation to the book. We all have times and situations where it is hard to move past a negative perspective. This meditation helps to get back on track. It involves letting go of the situation you are holding on to and seeing it from a new positive perspective. The other meditations I offer correspond with the topic of the Yoga Remembering Stories. For example, The Affirmation Adventure is a magical journey using affirmations, another tool in my toolbox, to move to a positive state.
Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest