THIS WEEK’S READING

 

alisa-anton-166247I take a lot of “content” in each week. I love to read and I am constantly listening to podcasts at work, on my commute and at home. Some things really stand out, and to be honestly, I rarely get a chance to reflect or talk about how much I love certain stories with which I’ve interacted because I’m awkward and I don’t want to force others to listen to my nerdy ranting.  Since this is a place where I’m supposed to be nerdy and rant… here we go!

The three best stories I experienced in the last week are below. There’s a lot of women writing and suffering this week so… sorry about that? I’m not sorry. I got a lot out of reading these things this week.

A Tale Of Two Sylvias: On the Letters Cover Controversy by Nichole LeFebvre
I ran across this article randomly on Facebook and it gave me so much to think about. How women are portrayed is important to me, but trying to solve inequality by holding women to impossibly high standards isn’t the answer. Basically truth isn’t simple, but this article was an interesting way to explore it and it made me want to read more Sylvia Plath.

Emily Dickinson’s Legacy Is Incomplete Without Discussing Trauma by Isabel C. Legarda
My mom and I are pretty big Emily Dickinson fans. We’ve visited the home she spent most of her too-short life in (it’s a good museum and you should go). This was a thought I’d never had about Emily Dickinson but the author does point out some compelling evidence of trauma in her life. As a mental health advocate, there was a lot to thinking about here. And we’ll never know what was going on behind the scene in Dickinson’s life, but if people who are struggling can find something new in her writing because of this perspective, it’s a valuable one. It makes me sad for her and all the women who have suffered and are suffering under oppression and wrote beautiful things.

What Else by Carolyn Locke
I love fall. I love poetry. I think we all have a lot to learn from both. I’ve been turning to poetry a lot for dealing with the sadness but also beauty that persists in our world. Fall provides some insight into that intersection as well, because leaves die so beautifully. In this poem with just four words all this is summed up in my heart: “impossible light, improbable hope.” I hope you find impossible light and improbable hope this season.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

THIS WEEK’S READING

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Participating in WSPD

DJNMJahXgAEcbDFSunday is World Suicide Prevention Day. It can be hard to raise awareness when you’re an awkward girl and you don’t just want to bring suicide up in your everyday conversations. These conversations are especially hard if you have a personal connection to suicide loss or if you’re worried that you won’t know how suicide has affected others around you.

I personally wanted to step up my participation this year so I came up with some ideas for participating that will work for all kinds of awkward people.

  1. Donated to a reputable organization. Consider To Write Love On Her Arms, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  2. Wear some swag. I’ll be wearing my TWLOHA “Stay” Shirt.
  3. Random acts of kindness. Leave friendly notes, info cards, kindness rocks etc that reference the hashtag #WSPD.
  4. Tell your story if you have one and you feel ready. It can help you and it can help others to know they aren’t alone.
  5. Amplify the stories of others. If you don’t have your own story or aren’t comfortable sharing it yet, share the stories of others who have decided to share.
  6. Remind people in your life that you love them and that their existence matters to them.
  7. Learn the signs that someone might commit suicide and what you can do to help.
  8. Share facts and stats about mental health and suicide on social media. Here’s a great resource for that.
  9. Share a selfie. Tell us why you were made for and use the hashtags #WSPD and #StopSuicide.
  10. Take an assessment. If you struggle but have never pursued a diagnosis, try starting with a basic assessment.
  11. Become an Advocate. There are lots of places you can advocate, including signing this petition to show a Pittsburgh college reconsider Honor Code language that promotes mental health stigma.
An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Participating in WSPD

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Creative Brainstorming

When I remembered that today was Wednesday and I needed to blog, I was very worried because I didn’t have any idea what to write about. As a person who has to do creative-ish things every day, it sometimes gets hard to avoid creative blocks. The part of my day that’s spent in an office, especially, is challenging because there is a lack of new stimuli and I feel trapped.

So I’ve come up with a couple of things to keep me going in the creative realm. Many of them make me more awkward, but they help so here we go.

1. RESEARCH. If I am starting a new project, I start with research. Whether it’s visual research (which I often use Pinterest for) or just research into what a client wants or has produced in the past, this part of the process can be really inspiring. It’s a great chance to get fired up by the work of others. You can do this step whether you are actively working on a project or not. The more you read and look, the more you store away in your inspiration bank.

Talking through ideas and/or interviewing clients counts as research too. Again, even if you don’t have a project, this can be fun. Just talk through ideas, what-ifs and what you like/don’t like. You never know when an idea might hit you.

2. GET IT OUT. Write things down while you are researching, while you’re walking down the street or when you can’t sleep. Maybe notes in your phone works for you. Maybe the inspiration flows more freely with a paper and pen. Sketch things out if it works better. Try free writing or bubble mapping. There are 101 ways to get whatever is in  your head out, and sometimes one will work better for you than others. Experiment.

The most important thing is to create something. Get in the habit of brainstorming in a physical way that you can see and come back to. If you don’t get it out, you might get stuck in your head and blank.

3. PLAY. Try something more playful while you are thinking through your problems. I am a tactile thinker so things like silly putty and playdoh help me work through my issues. Whether I am mindlessly rolling it in my hands or making little sculptures, play can distract you just enough to let your ideas flow.

In this way, you are being indirectly creative. Sure, you aren’t making anything productive per say, but you are in the process of creating something and it loosens up those ideas. A little bit of a break helps too, and play really takes the pressure off you and your brain for a moment.

4. MOVE. I know this is an old cliche, but moving helps. Change your position or take a walk. If you are trapped in a small office, you can go take a trip to get a drink or visit the restroom. There have been tons of research about how exercise and physical exertion can help with creativity and mood. I’m not much of an exerciser, but  sitting somewhere new or taking a brisk walk almost always helps me sort out my thoughts a bit better. It’s not a magical solution but every bit helps.

Here are some of the ways I brainstorm for creative projects when I feel like the well is all dried up. I even tried some of them while brainstorming for this post. What do you do when your brain seems stuck and you have to stay creative?

An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Creative Brainstorming