The Parrots Ate Them All

“The silence was terrible. I knew it would hit us at any moment. When it came the wave was colossal and came crashing down on us. Two of my little ones clung to me. They saw their father go under. He disappeared. We didn’t see him resurface. Then we went under too.”

Wow…I was sitting listening to the radio captivated with these words read by Sir Kenneth Branagh. His deep tones rumbled through the airwaves matching the intensity of the story. What next?

I didn’t understand…the story was introduced saying that many of us have experienced this. I was confused…I listened on…the tension was building…and then it became clear….clever….very clever. And written by a 9 year old!

I was listening to the “9 years and under” BBC Radio2 500 Words 2015 competition. The winning story Fight for Life by Sofia Zambuto has a fantastic twist….I wonder how long it will take you to realise what the story is about!

Listening to this, I reflect back to when I was at a similar age, in fact younger. I was in Infants school so must have been at most 7. I remember writing my first story that I felt immense pride.
School Book smallIt was of a girl who was unwell and had to stay at home from school. She was being entertained by the pet parrot. And she needed pills to get better. I have forgotten most of the story apart from the punchline….”the Parrots ate them all”

…..Ok…now say this with an Essex accent….”Paracetamol”!!! Haha – all these years it still tickles me!

I enjoyed writing back then. My teacher, Miss Tester would add encouraging comments and often attach stars. I am sure that I received a gold star for this story…or is that just my memory playing tricks?

And then things changed. Red writing appeared on my books, words crossed out, less stars at the end of the stories and eventually no stars…just red …red …red. Apparently there was only one correct way of spelling. Creative spelling was out of the window. The correct grammatical verbs needed to be used. My words stopped flowing. My pencil hesitated, frozen.

Aged 8…I got my stories out in a different way and created plays for my class…ad-libbing; the joy of thinking on the spot of how the story would unfold. My words. I can feel the buzz in every cell of my body hearing my friends and teacher laugh, knowing that I was entertaining them.
And then things changed. We had to read out loud from books. Words that I didn’t recognise twisted on my tongue. Red appeared…on my face as friends laughed. A different laugh. I felt humiliated.

Aged 11…Standing in the head master’s office, holding a white card with words for me to read…words growing with length and complexity – I felt awkward….yes – that was one of the words and I hadn’t a clue what it said! That little girl shook with fear; the headmaster ridiculed the girl.

Years go by. I struggled with reading and writing…if I had been of a different generation a label of dyslexia would probably been stuck on my forehead. Is this good or bad? I’m not sure. Personally I think that these neuro-difference labels are only useful to research the condition to find support – otherwise I believe these labels can constrain the person.

And that’s all in the past. The past does not define me. I have choices. I can change the structure of my thinking. And so now… I am sitting here in my office enjoying seeing the words appear on the screen as my fingers are dancing on the keyboard.

Life is one great learning experience. I reconnected to that little quirky girl, full of joy and creativity. I got out of my comfort zone, let go of the “should” and being perfect and re-learnt to write with this sense of joy. I have even forgiven…myself for blaming and being the victim, and for the teachers who were just doing their best.
By remembering what I innately enjoyed as a child, that time of innocence unaware of the effects of limiting beliefs, this reminds me that we can choose what we believe. As in previous blogs – what’s in the middle of BELIEFS…certainly not facts!
As Gandhi said:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

So the great news is that if beliefs are not facts, then we might as well choose beliefs that are useful for us. Beliefs that excite us, move us into great states…joy, happiness, enthusiasm; beliefs that enable us to make a difference to this world. And beliefs that move us forward. Beliefs of Excellence.

And as a little girl, I didn’t even have a Parrot….

Lindsey Reed is an experienced NLP coach and trainer – getting the brilliant you to shine through. To see how you can improve your personal and working life contact Lindsey either by emailing her on or call 01832 280168 for a chat to see if she is the right coach for you. Alternatively you may be interested in booking onto the next Confidence Workshop or work through the “How to be Confident” Home Study Programme so that you discover the Confidence within yourself.

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