Ever since I was a child, I loved storytelling. I used it in making my own Muppet shows, in-school fanzines, and invent stories when I was at home. It felt strong in me. But growing up meant making other choices. Peer pressure, lack of experience in decision-making and the need to feel accepted and rewarded led me to deviate from what I loved. From that point on, my life started to revolve around an ongoing sense of disappointment and disorientation.
Isn't that a common story? Almost every =one has one. The pressure to fit in, to satisfy others, to disregard ones' own skills for the sake of doing something "better" in life. This is what the disastrous spiral of perfectionism is all about. It is well-rooted in our society. By writing a children's story about this experience, I managed both to talk about the significance of utilizing what is best in us and at the same time, return to what I always thought was best in me, my love for storytelling.
Lou and Lee in the Island of Perfection is a story about striving to be perfect by setting unrealistic goals versus realizing how our ordinary skills connect to our performances.
King Perfect represents the external pressure exerted by an authority that uses a stick and a carrot to impose his will. All kids are influenced by the King's methods and give up what they love. They integrate his view of them into their belief system and become alienated from who they are. The "celebration of perfection" transforms them into adults, their childish nature and appearance is lost. The snowball effect of suspicion begins and the island becomes a horrible place to live in.
Only Lou, a young boy, and his friend rabbit, Lee, stay true to their love for making pastry. To this end, they fight against peer pressure, fail, experiment with new recipes, and feel disappointed and betrayed by their environment. Lou and Lee live through the adventure of influence, they make mistakes, and their relation is tested, but in the end remain faithful to themselves.
Their actions and decisions are an inspiration for children 7-12 to overcome self-doubt and keep trying. Lou and Lee also send a message to all parents, teachers to reflect twice on the responsibility of their influence over younger people. What Lou and Lee say is that there is one thing that stands out in all of us: protect it.
The truth is that since 2009, the Greek economy collapsed dreams are not easy to protect. All of us were called to change directions. Lou and Lee remained in my computer in the Greek and English version along with a couple more written and translated works.
But, leaving this particular story in the drawer gave me greater knowledge of it, more certainty that its main message is something I still strongly believe in, especially since becoming a mother of two. What we love most is the greatest source of positive energy.
Lou and Lee are about loving and pursuing our skills, no matter how ordinary, no matter the conditions around us, no matter the reward. They are about reconsidering failure, seeing it like a eulogy, not a catastrophe, an in-between state of knowledge, an opportunity to think or rethink and create with a fresh view.
Lou and the rabbit is a story dedicated to all "sufferers," "quitters," disoriented, disappointed kids and parents. It is hope for more happiness because after all happiness is linked to being aware of our skills and practicing them, standing up for them, limiting the negative effect some people have on us -- or that we have on others. It is a reminder that if we return to what we once loved happiness can be found again no matter how many years we may have lost it. This is my personal comeback to happiness.
For more information on the book, click here.