''Cheryl Beer is a creative humanitarian. Her inspiration brings hope to so many''
The truth is, none of us is one single story. We are as deep as the forest, with as many trees. Like many of us, I believed that I was a powerhouse, that anything was possible if I just kept going. For a long while, this theory seemed to work. I lived the dream. When I was a touring singer/songwriter, I performed 300 gigs a year, travelling to places I could never have imagined. When I became a community artist, I helped thousands of others to realise their dreams. When I became a Creative Director, I had a cast of over 300 in each production. In hindsight, I pushed too hard and in response, without warning, my ears decided they could take no more.
When I first realised I had become hearing impaired, my soul diminished and the light that shone for so many, barely shimmered. I shut myself away, too scared to come out of the house and unable to listen to music, let alone play it. However, in this shrinking of my life, came new depths. I began connecting more deeply with the environment around me, understanding it in new ways.
I will never forget the day that I came out of hospital wearing my hearing aids. I wept when I heard the birds sing, the sea roar, the wind in the leaves and most of all, the voices of my loved ones. It has been a very long road, but I realised that the most important thing, was being able to apply my creativity in ways that enabled me to continue making my contribution to the world.
By allowing these changes to inform my work, I am now an Environmental Sound Artist, bringing outdoors, inside for older people by creating sound maps of their favourite walks. Supported by The Arts Council of Wales National Lottery Good Causes, I have trained 4 other Sound Artists who are currently working with me at Sound Memories Dementia Friendly Radio, where I am the Director. My hearing impairments enable me to edit dementia friendly sound resources because many of the sound sensitivities experienced by those living with the condition, are similar to my own. My hearing impairments have become an integral part of who I am as an artist and as a human being.
Treasured milestones on my journey include:
Being made an Honorary Member of the Top 100 Pioneering Women of all time by the Welsh Women's Equality Network, funded by the Welsh Gov.t for my contribution to the Arts,
Winning the Women's Equality Award for producing and presenting my own Radio Series, sharing the life stories of remarkable women, to inspire others.
Receiving the Excellence in Literature Award for my work as The Sleeping Storyteller, writing short stories and helping children to think of alternative endings for the things that concern them the most.
Winning the Excellence in Creative Digital Media Award for my work as Director of Sound Memories Radio, becoming the first Creative Digital Developer for the International Storytelling for Health Conference and writing a co-paper that was published in the International Journal of Storytelling for Health.
In this new life, I make time to connect with my own practice by extending my passion for collating new soundscapes and exploring ways to give my poetry and stories back to the nature that inspires it. Most of all, I am grateful.
... And I tell you about these things not to shape how you might view me, but to show you, with my hand on my heart, that it is possible for the broken pieces of Self to open new possibilities that were not there before.
If my story resonates with you and you're interested in my work, please feel free to get in touch. I have a daily facebook page and will be happy to add you as a friend. Take good care of yourself, you really are precious.