"You are stronger and bolder than you think" - an interview with the owner of Ciuciubabka from Gdynia about how to deal with a pandemic
If you are from Gdynia, you certainly know what Ciuciubabka is. In the era of a pandemic, its owner Agnieszka Łukomska decided to take fate into her own hands and not sit idly by. She created a collection of stories for children, and how it happened and what these stories are about - you can read in the interview.
Ciuciubabka is a famous place on the map of Gdynia. Have you ever been there
Ciuciubabka is a family cafe on Piłsudskiego Avenue in Gdynia. It is a place, as they say, "born of selfish dreams of a safe and free space for children and their guardians." I myself have been there many times, when the children were smaller. That's it the perfect meeting place for mothers with childrenchildren who can feel safe in the Ciuciubabka space during their carefree play - this is a place created thanks to them and for them. In addition to delicious coffee and sweet and salty snacks, Ciuciubabka also hosts various workshops for parents and children, there is also a possibility organizing a small party.
The owner of Ciuciubabka is Agnieszka Łukomskawhich, since the pandemic, has not been able to run its business as it has been until now. Ciuciubabka, formerly filled with the bustle and laughter of children, is now empty ... However, in order to still make the children's faces smile, Agnieszka decided
write ask CiuciaMiś (an inhabitant of Ciuciubabka) to write stories for children.
Here is their story. I invite you to an interview with Agnieszka Łukomska about the hardships of running a cafe in the era of a pandemic, and about support that gives strength
How did you feel the effects of the pandemic? Does Ciuciubabka function in any way?
The truth is, almost a year ago I was faced with a scenario I never expected.
For over 6 years I have been running a family cozy cafe in Gdynia, whose heart beats thanks to the smiles of the children, the guests' conversations and the moments spent together. It is a place where you go for much more than just coffee. Suddenly that heart stopped overnight. I admit that I felt a very strong fear, bordering on panic, and actually this fear has been with me every day since then, but I have learned to live with it. And most of all, after taking a few deep breaths, I felt it activate within me extraordinary layers of creativity.
Since then, I also got a yes a huge wave of support from the Ciuciubabka communitywhich says that she cannot imagine that this place might cease to exist, that many times my tired wings have gained strength. My Ciuciubabka community was very empathetic and reacts to the uncertain fate of Ciuciubabka. They supported me in the first lockdown during the collection for bills, bought my cakes with delivery to my home, bought vouchers "for better times" ...
Now, since October, I work again as a place with coffee, bread and sweets to go. And I know that some of my good angels come for coffee and a donut from the other end of town, although they are not on their way at all, and maybe they even drank coffee before leaving. I know they do it to make me survive.
Even though it's been the hardest year for me, I don't think I've ever experienced so much good and support before. Every day I fall asleep moved and grateful for those people around me, although many of them I do not know or know only briefly.
Such a supportive community makes it my thoughts and heart can focus not on how difficult it is, but on what else interesting and important I have to offer cafe guests.
The pandemic has also trained in me the so far difficult (not only for me, but for many of us women) art of asking for help. If I did not dare to say out loud that I am afraid that I cannot cope, that I want to survive, probably many people, hearing my silence, would think that I am fine.
What made you decide to write a children's book?
It's a bit of a miraculous coincidence, a bit one of the ideas on how I can turn a pandemic into creative time. One day I looked at an empty café, lonely toys that no one has played for months, and I thought about telling my little guests about the life of the Ciuciubabka as seen through the eyes of one of its permanent residents. I admit that when I became a mother myself 13 years ago, one of the most touching fairy tales for me was Toy Story and looking at seemingly ordinary toys as friends of our children. CiuciuMiś, the narrator of our stories, is just such a friend of my little guests.
Have you had a passion for writing before and have some publications behind you, or is it the pandemic that made you discover this skill and will?
I had my passion in the third grade of primary school, but I never planned a writing career ;-).
But seriously, I wrote my first book, which I did not expect from myself, three years ago. In March, two years will have passed since its premiere. This time it is a book for women (although it turns out that men also felt very comfortable with it) "When I'm big, I'll be myself". A book that some call a guide, a collection of reflections, an autobiography. It is actually a collection of my observations from the lives of us women, mothers and partners. The book was also created thanks to a very strong inspiration from my gangbang community, and it also helped me publish it as part of crowdfunding.
What is the story of CiuciaMiś - the narrator of stories?
Ciuciu Miś, since he appeared in our family, lived in my room, now 13-year-old daughter Natasza. When I opened a cafe over 6 years ago, Miś decided to move to it, because already then he knew that a world full of small children, joy, entertainment and magic awaited him there.
For children, at what age are you directing your stories?
I think the stories are told in the way that comes closest children aged 2-5. It is also the age of most of my little guests and friends of CiucieMiś. A bear perceives the world with a sensitivity, mindfulness and curiosity close to such babies. Although several adults who have read the stories in the manuscript version say that the stories move something in their hearts. I hope that the parent or guardian of the toddler will enjoy reading as well as the toddler himself.
What are the values of stories?
The booklet closes in seven stories for seven days of the week. Each of the short stories focuses primarily on the experiences and feelings of CiuciaMiś. There is no fast-paced action here, above all there is awareness of what is happening around Teddy, how he perceives the world, what he thinks about it, etc.
Among the emotions you will read about are, among others longing, fear of the new, jealousy, and even the feeling of "unwillingness".
Each of the stories ends an incentive to have a short conversation or play between parent and child.
Who are you working with on the book?
It is a book that is being written in the world of parents and childrenTherefore, I am glad that I managed to invite other mothers to co-create it.
The illustrator is Kasia Cerazy, mother, artist, author of many illustrations for books for children, including the series about Mr. Pierdziołce. When promoting a crowdfunding campaign I am very much supported by other momsincluding Paula, who created a beautiful film for the fundraising campaign, Magda and her daughter Hania, who will appear in the film, and Magda herself inspires me a lot to take steps on Instagram to support the publication of the book.
Marta, outstanding, also bent over the book child and family therapist, owner of the Familion Family Support and Development Center, which took the substantive patronage over the content of the stories.
Plus a whole lot of wonderful mothers who cheer me on with all their strength, because they want this book to be written, because they want to read it to their little ones, who actually grew up in Ciuciubka together with CiuciaMiś.
We have these extremely strong beings - you are the best proof of it yourself! Do you have any words of encouragement for people in a similar situation to yours?
Primarily give yourself the right to fear and insecurity, but don't let them take over your life. Your peace of mind will be able to come up with many more creative plans B, C or D. You are stronger and braver than you think. Perhaps it is this difficult time in which you and your business are, the time when you will paradoxically look at things with a different eye, ventilate your head and existing beliefs, see exits that you have not noticed before.
And the most important, YOU'RE NOT ALONE. Never ever. Trust that the people around you are there to shake your hand. Don't be an independent strongman, ask for help, tell others that you need something, you'll see that miracles will happen.
Thank you for these beautiful words and for the conversation.
And you, reader, I encourage you to she helped Agnieszka publish a collection of short stories for little ones. Many people want them to come into being, not only mothers care about it, but also children who certainly miss CiuciaMiś and having fun at Ciucubabka.
Here link to the collectionwhere you can read a bit about the book, about Agnieszka and her story:
Let's help Agnieszka publish CiuciaMiś's stories so that she can survive the difficult time, and the mothers and children who long for this place will have a place to return to when it is possible.