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‘Bear’s Gift’ a children’s tale with a message for grownups

Carolyn Koehnline is a Bellingham psychotherapist who wrote “The Bear’s Gift,” a children’s story about feuding sisters and a magical bear.
Carolyn Koehnline is a Bellingham psychotherapist who wrote “The Bear’s Gift,” a children’s story about feuding sisters and a magical bear. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A local writer and psychotherapist reads her mystical children’s story “The Bear’s Gift” and leads a discussion about the characters this weekend.

Caroline Koehnline conceived “The Bear’s Gift” in a college class and refined it over several years before self-publishing it as a picture book in small batches for limited distribution since 2011. She recently used Village Books’ publishing apparatus and saw the book accepted for retail sale at Village Books and Cozy Corner Books & Coffee in Bellingham. It’s also selling at Amazon.com.

She’ll be speaking free at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, in the downstairs Readings Gallery at Village Books, 1200 11th St.

It’s a good kids’ story, but it’s something I’ve also used in adult workshops on learning how to accept different parts of ourselves.

Caroline Koehnline, author

“Partly I’ll be reading from the book, (but) at certain points I’ll be asking if they can say how they think the story should go,” said Koehnline, who also illustrated the story in brilliant watercolor.

“The Bear’s Gift” is a folklore-like tale of three sisters who love each other but constantly argue. That changes when they’re visited by a magical bear that finds a way for them to learn to accept each other.

“It’s a good kids’ story, but it’s something I’ve also used in adult workshops on learning how to accept different parts of ourselves,” Koehnline said.

Koehnline said the inspiration came from a graduate school exercise.

“It got me started thinking about inner conflict and all these different characters emerged,” she said. “Getting to know them as characters, they seemed to lend themselves to a story.”

She said she saw the story both as a modern fable for all ages, one that encourages readers to honor the various aspects of their personalities.

“Sometimes I need to be a dreamer and it’s not helpful if the practical part of me is telling me that I should be balancing my checkbook,” said Koehnline, who uses journal writing and other focused writing exercises in her therapy practice. She’s a self-taught artist who also sees art as a kind of therapy.

“ I got enough encouragement early to persevere (with my art),” she said.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com. Tweeting @BhamMittty and @goMittygo.

About the author

Learn more about Carolyn Koehnline and “The Bear’s Gift” at confrontingclutter.com and amazon.com/The-Bears-Gift-Carolyn-Koehnline/dp/061545030X.

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