Lisa-Marie

@LisaMPierre

Musings on transformation and growth.

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When are you most free?

Hi Everyone,

The other day I was asked "what would life be like if you never wrote again?"

I previously shared how in 4th grade my teacher didn't believe I wrote a short story about a Native American girl on Long Island1. For a long time after that incident, I didn't write for pleasure; I wrote to fulfill school assignments. That was the first time I ever dimmed my light because of what someone told me. It took decades until I felt comfortable writing creatively again.

10 years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed and I wrote a poem. That one poem turned into a bunch of poems. For whatever reason, I decided to try out blogging and I put those poems online. At first, I wrote anonymously. I told a few friends about the website and I shared stories. I was scared at first to share my thoughts publicly, but I felt lighter. The more I wrote, the calmer I felt. Then I started to write under my real name. The more I wrote, the more unbound I felt. I felt like something was releasing from me. Maybe stress. Maybe sorrow. Maybe my true opinions. It felt natural to share my thoughts. I felt free.

I'm most free when I am writing. A lot of times people ask me who is my blog audience. I shrug and say 'I don't know'. They ask me what is my blog about? I shrug and say, 'I don't know'. Eventually, I started saying my blog was about transformation and growth. Honestly, I don't write for anyone. I don't have a target market. I don’t have an editorial calendar (yet). I don’t brand for social media.

I write for myself. I write to myself. If people are learning and engaging along the way; cool. But I'm not writing for them.

I don't have a niche, because I don't write in a focused way. I write like I'm walking on a dark path with a flashlight and I only can see a few feet ahead. The destination is a surprise when I get there. That's my writing. I write what I feel like in the moment and that could change. I wrote a draft of this newsletter three weeks ago and it was about compassion. It’s now August 31st and I decided not to share that original draft. Because as I was walking along the path, the destination turned out to be freedom, not compassion.

We all need a place where we are free; where we can express ourselves and do things the way we want to. Maybe for you, that's in your artwork, or singing in the shower, or taking long road trips, or reading your child a bedtime story. Find a place where you are in flow. There is something beautiful in being able to do things the way you want to. I hope you are doing something today that makes you feel free. Me, I'm free when I'm writing.

So, what would life be like if I never wrote again? It would feel like my heart was attacked, my chest tightened, my oxygen supply reduced, and my brain overflowed.

Where and when are you most free? What would you feel like if that was taken away?

***Lisa-Marie

Links

[1] Teacher didn't believe my short story about a Native American girl: https://lisamariepierre.com/spent-last-100-dollars-im-okay/

[2] Reading too much: https://lisamariepierre.com/lisa-you-read-too-much/

Fourteen: Reflection

Today*, I wrote out what intellectual will meant to me. I already had a definition that I wrote, but it needed to be revised. As I was reflecting on the definition, I realized that I needed to think back to the circumstances that I was under that made me make major changes in my life.

The intellectual will is a result of my perseverance. My adaptation. My survival.

I struggled during my PhD program and slipped into depression. I am a giver who likes structure and external deadlines. I spent a lot of time helping other people and not doing my own work. I was in an environment that had no structure and I hated it. I had people in positions of power telling me that I wouldn’t graduate and I wasn’t PhD material. That line will stick with me for life. Afterwards, I slipped into a spiral that took months to unravel.

When I felt most alone and confused, I turned to my journal. Then I turned to books. Then I tapped into my desire to figure things out. Eventually, I organized my way out of confusion. I learned about myself.

Even though perseverance and adaptation in the midst of uncertainty are the seeds of which the intellectual will grew; I’m having trouble distilling the definition into one sentence. Is the intellectual will a method, a character trait, or a document? My original definition has it as all three, but I feel it should be something simple that people can easily share.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Read old journal entries and take notes
  2. Revise intellectual will definition
  3. Write Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

*note, I’m writing this at 11:08pm 8/4 on my phone. I couldn’t figure out how to share the post from the mobile app (I usually share from my laptop).

Thirteen: Reminders

Today I was reviewed my notes and revised my outline (kind of). While I was looking over the old material, I started to feel overwhelmed. I felt like I was starting over and I was not in the mood to do that. However, I decided to get a grip and review what I have already written on Listed. It's interesting reading back on what I was saying in May. It also was a helpful reminder about where I left off in my process. I have already completed two out of the five parts of the book. I am going to edit those and reread them and see how they fit into my new summary.

I found a quote that I wrote about adapting and adjusting and it was a reminder that I did not want to finish the entire book in 100 days (though that would be nice). I decided I was going to take the parts that are already completed and start working on the illustration, layout, etc. Maybe even share it with one beta reader to see what they think. Below is the quote.

"I decided to adjust my goal. My goal was to write the entire book in the 100 days, but I am going to shift it to having the writing, typeface, illustrations, layout, and beta reading done for the first two parts of the book. I think that's doable for me. I can play around on Adobe and make my images. If I ended up finishing early, I will move on to the other two parts of the book. Adapting is important and maybe it was meant to be that I work on the illustrations myself."[1]

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Read old journal entries and take notes
  2. Revise intellectual will definition
  3. Write Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

[Link]
[1] Adjusting goals quote: https://listed.to/@LisaMPierre/5461/seven-adapting

Twelve: Deadlines

I am a person who lets the words fly when I write. I read through to make sure things make sense and then I keep it pushing. Yesterday, I wrote a summary of the book, which came out to about 300 words. I just wrote. Today, I spent nearly 2.5 hours rereading and rewriting that paragraph and the title of the book. By the time I finished and felt satisfied with what I wrote, it was lunch time and I had 125 words. Maybe it took me a long time to write because I decided to write by hand in my notebook, but I think it might have taken that long even if I wrote on the computer.

I like what I wrote. I feel it explains what the book is about. Now I can type and keep it next to me as I work on the outline of the book and the writing of the chapters.

Time is something I am always pressed about. I have an urgency for something that doesn't exist. I don't have an editor urging me. It's just me. I'm back on the fence about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. If I decide to self-publish or even just release the book as a PDF resource on my website, it is going to take time for me to write and figure out Illustrator and InDesign.

Even though I feel a sense of urgency and I am pushing myself to finish this book; I really don't have a rush. My only rush is that I've always wanted to write a book that helps people. At this point, I want to write this book even if noone reads it. It's for my own satisfaction and because of that, I need to set some parameters. One parameter is a deadline. If I am following the 100 days writing challenge [1], that means the first draft needs to be completed by November 8th.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Write outline
  2. Write Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

[Link]
[1] 100 Days Writing Challenge: https://listed.to/@Listed/5202/100-day-writing-challenge

Eleven: Reset

Time for a reset.

I was so focused on finishing up my dissertation revisions, moving, and traveling that I didn't make writing my book a priority. I'm almost officially done with my PhD program. My dissertation is going through the formatting and prepping for ProQuest. Hopefully, by mid-August my degree will officially be conferred.

I just finished reading the book "Working" by Robert Caro [1] and it inspired me to take a different approach to my book writing. I realized that I was just writing. I didn't have a plan other than taking my current document [2] and adding content to it. When I write for school, I spend a lot of time researching, reading, and outlining. I am realizing that I don't take that same approach when it comes to my creative writing. I just have an idea pop into my head; I write, I review, and then I keep it moving.

Caro mentions that before he starts a book he spends time distilling the book topic into a few paragraphs. He does this so he knows what his book is about at all times. He keeps in his office the summary and looks at it whenever he heads into a digession. And even if he heads into a digression, he makes sure that it aligns with the summary on his wall.

I've loosely followed this method when it comes to my blog mission. I have written and rewritten countless times my blog mission. I revisit it often to make sure that I am on track. However, I have never tried Caro's method for academic or non-academic long form writing. I am not going to start writing the book over from the beginning, but I am going to backtrack and reset my process.

Today, I am working on my few paragraphs. I think finding the right words and theme will guide me in developing a clear outline.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Edit my summary
  2. Write Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

[Links]
[1] Working: http://www.robertcaro.com/the-books/working/
[2] Intellectual Will: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VPbGQD4l840CNSZqi82orM_19pjDGuPM3X7rGFdMxag/edit

Ten: Missing a day

I did not write yesterday or do anything towards my book. I made it nine days straight before I slipped up, but that's okay. I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep on going.

I was working on my dissertation revisions and didn't make writing my book a priority. I think part of the reason is that I don't really have a schedule or routine for writing the book. I just try to write or work on it before I go to bed. I should try to keep a schedule, but that's been hard since graduating. I just am focused on sleeping, finishing my revisions, working on my journal publication, and moving.

I was telling my roommate my plans for the week and she asked me when am I going to rest and have fun. The sad thing, this is me having fun. Working on my dissertation and journal publications by day and working on the book and my blog by night. To people looking in, I don't rest, but for me I am resting. Writing is where I am free. I can say whatever I want without trying to appease my dissertation committee or a journal editor. My blog is ad free and I fund it out of my own pocket, so I just answer to me. That's freeing. It's liberating.

Missing a day is not the end of the world. Especially since my priority is turning in my dissertation revisions so I can officially graduate. But a part of me was bummed. I wanted to be able to say I wrote for 100 days straight because I've never done that (well creatively).

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Make a deep work schedule for May and June
  2. Outline introduction
  3. Write Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

Nine: Next steps

Yesterday, I finished writing the text for the first two parts of the book. I am pausing on writing the other parts of the book. This will give me time to work on writing a first part that is good enough to send to agents.

I want to rearrange parts of the book that I've written so far. I think my introduction shouldn't be in poetry format and I should write a regular introduction to the topic of personal development. The book originally was going to be four parts, but if I move around some sections, it will be five parts.

The things I need to focus on now are:

  • Figuring out how to use Adobe
  • Creating images in Adobe
  • Figuring out the typeface I want to use for the quotes
  • Fact checking quotes
  • Making a list of potential agents
  • Contacting agents
  • Getting feedback from the beta readers
  • Make questions for my focus group

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Outline introduction for 20 minutes
  2. Find quotes for 10 minutes
  3. Find agents for 25 minutes
  4. Write Listed update for 5 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

Eight: Fact checking

I am looking for quotes from people primarily from underpresented groups. I have found a bunch of quotes that I enjoy and that I feel align with what I am writing. I was looking over some of the quotes I found and decided I want to find the original source. I want to be able to reference back to where I found the quotes so people can read or listen to the entire excerpt.

It's interesting that people just post quotes on the Internet, but don't say where they found the quote. Quotes or even proverbs are passed down and shared, but we don't know where it's from. I want to make sure that all my quotes are referenced properly. All the sections of the book are based on my experiences and are mostly written in poetry format. I don't have any fact-checking to do other than making sure my quotes are properly attributed. That makes things easier for me.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Work on book layout for 20 minutes
  2. Find quotes for 10 minutes
  3. Find agents for 25 minutes
  4. Write Listed update for 5 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

Seven: Adapting

I got the quote back from the graphic designer/illustrator and the fee is out of my budget. I really liked her work and wanted to work with her, but it doesn't make sense for me to spend a lot of money on something that an agent or publisher might have me change once I get signed.

I was disappointed when I saw the quote. The cost for one image was my budget for typeface, illustration, and layout. But after thinking about it, I realized that it's not the end of the world, I just need to adapt. Maybe I will use that graphic designer when I get my advance or maybe on another project. It's okay.

My next option: I continue making the graphics myself. It's going to take me longer because I am not that skilled at using digital tools for art. I usually do my art by hand. I also am not that great of a illustrator. It's a win for me if I can get the book looking at least 85% to my liking before I send it out to agents. I can be a bit of a perfectionist, I don't want to obsess over how the book looks (not yet). I didn't want to get sucked into drawing and illustrating because I figured it would take away from the writing.

I decided to adjust my goal. My goal was to write the entire book in the 100 days, but I am going to shift it to having the writing, typeface, illustrations, layout, and beta reading done for the first two parts of the book. I think that's doable for me. I can play around on Adobe and make my images. If I ended up finishing early, I will move on to the other two parts of the book.

Adapting is important and maybe it was meant to be that I work on the illustrations myself.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Creative write for 30 minutes
  2. Find quotes for 20 minutes
  3. Write Listed update for 10 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

Six: Building a platform

Every now and then I head over to Seth Godin's blog to see what he is talking about. In a recent post he talked about the importance of selling to strangers over selling to people you know [1]. At first, this resonated with me. Of course, I shouldn't rely on selling to people I know. I thought of course Godin is right; it doesn't scale. But then I started thinking more about this and I realized that I don't fully agree because strong and weak ties are key within a network.

For example, Berry Gordy, had an idea for a record company. He reached out to his family for a loan and that loan resulted in Motown records. There are countless examples of people turning to friends to start a company. Berry Gordy of course had to sell the recods beyond his family and friends, but I'm sure it was family and friends who started to spread the word. Sometimes, the stranger that you are selling to is a friend of someone from your network.

When I think about the intellectual will, at first it was something I shared with my friends, then I shared it on my blog, and from there people have heard about it through word of mouth. So as I think about Godin's advice, I take it with a grain of salt. Yes, it isn't scalable to try to sell only to friends and family, but it is also impractical to not think about their role in introducing you to strangers.

As I think about building my audience and platform, I think about the type of people who I want to read the intellectual will. I want to build an audience that is more like a community and within that community are my friends and their friends and their family and my family.

Godin's comment stops short of telling the reader how do you meet the strangers you are going to sell to. Sometimes it is through marketing, but the way that has worked for me is through my networks and my networks include the people I know.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Creative write for 30 minutes
  2. Find quotes for 20 minutes
  3. Write Listed update for 10 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

[Link]
[1] Selling to Strangers: https://seths.blog/2019/05/selling-insurance-to-your-sister/

Five: Finding beta readers

I’m almost done with the section of the book that I would like to send off to agents. When the graphic designer is done with the layout and illustrations, I will send the section to my beta readers for feedback.

I want my beta readers to be a mix of people who have engaged with the Intellectual will before and people who have never engaged with it. I’m hoping to get six people’s feedback. I think that’s a decent number of people to get insight from. I want my beta readers to tell me if my point is getting across and if they enjoy the book.

I reached out to six people to find out if they would like to be beta readers. I told them I would have them go through the book for two weeks and then speak to them individual for 30 minutes and then again for 60 minutes as part of a focus group.

I’ve done informal focus groups before for the intellectual will and I was able to get great insight. I hope that with the book I will get good insight as well.

I still can’t believe I am moving forward with writing a book. I went so long dreaming of writing a book and now I am actually doing it. I keep looking at the draft that I sent the graphic designer. It’s nothing special and doesn’t have all the nice illustrations yet. It’s Just 14 pages, but I feel accomplished and proud.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Creative write for 30 minutes
  2. Search for agents for 20 minutes
  3. Write Listed update for 10 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

Four: Traditional publishing v. self-publishing

I was convinced I was going to self publish my book. I was inspired by Nipsey Hussle and other hip-hop artists that have their own record labels. I like the idea that all the profits return to the artists. I like the idea of being entrepreneurial and doingmy own marketing. I would rather sell 1000 copies and make a profit of $100,000 than to sell 1000 copies and make a profit of $1,000. Like Hussle, I want to give back to my community and develop various neighborhoods on Long Island, in Haiti, and a few countries in Africa. I figured that the more money I can keep for myself, the more I would have for startup capital for my other ideas.

I started the research process of what it would mean to self publish. It seemed easy enough. Then I started doing the math. I was trying to figure out where I would get money to pay the graphic designer, copyeditor, proofreader, printer, etc. I would have to put in that money upfront. I also don't want to produce any type of book. I want my book to made as environmentally friendly as possible. So then I started to look into printers that print on recycled paper, that was taking time. I like to support businesses run by individuals from underrepresented groups. So then I started to look for women proofreaders and Black illustrators. I wondered if I needed to form a publishing company. So then I started to look into business structures. At some point, I started getting overwhelmed. I was over the self-publishign process before I even really started.

For ten years, I've been blogging and that is a form of self-publishing. My blog is my way of owning my own platform. It's okay to have a hybrid approach to my creativity. I took a step back and decided that I wanted to focus on writing a quality book and leave all that other stuff to people who know what they are doing. I will go the traditional route of finding an agent and then getting signed to a pubishign house. I rather not feel overwhelmed. I rather focus on writing. So for now, I'm going the traditional route. I stopped feeling guilty about that a few weeks ago.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Creative write for 45 minutes
  2. Write Listed update for 15 minutes

***Lisa-Marie

Three: In the zone

I told myself that daily I would only spend 40 minutes creative writing and 20 minutes writing an update on Listed. I chose to focus on one hour daily because I have a bad habit of getting in the zone and not moving with the exception of having to use the bathroom.

Today, I wrote for two hours and did not take a break or stop when the timer buzzed. The graphic designer got back to me, but requested more information so she could give me a better quote. I spent a lot of time working on the layout a bit and choosing fonts and visuals that provide a better understanding of what I am looking for. I was in the zone, but also couldn't put off for tomorrow this project because I want to get moving on the design aspect of the book.

I love getting into flow and working on projects and new ideas, but I need to remember to take a break. I finished writing today hungry and with a headache. Tomorrow, I will stick to the plan of only working for one hour total.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Write for 40 minutes
  2. Spend 20 minutes writing Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

Two: Setting realistic goals

I went to see Avengers: Endgame today and afterwards went out for dinner and drinks. When I got home it was late and I wanted to go to bed, but I remembered that I promised myself that I would write for the next 100 days. I owe it to myself to see this goal to the end. I want to see if I can write on a consistent basis or if I need to wait for inspiration. Accomplished authors say that waiting for inspiration is a myth and the best way to finish a book is to work on it daily. So here I am working on a book daily.

I had a schedule for writing. After my morning routine, I would work on my dissertation revisions until 6pm, eat dinner, then creative write from 7pm to 8pm. I didn't plan for weekend hangouts during my creative writing time. Rearranging my schedule ahead of time might allow flexiblility on days when I have social activities.

Setting realistic goals is important. When it comes to writing projects, I tend to underestimate how much time something will take me to complete. For example, writing does not only include creating text, it includes proofreading, researching, brainstorming, and more. Yesterday, I said my goal was to write for 35 minutes and spend 5 minutes sending an email to the graphic designer. I ended up spending 20 minutes crafting the email and 20 minutes creative writing. The email took time to write because the designer wanted to know about my brand, project deliverables, and timeline. In the future I can set realistic goals because now I know how long it takes me to write an email providing details.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Write for 20 minutes
  2. Spend 20 minutes finding quotes
  3. Spend 20 minutes writing Listed update

***Lisa-Marie

One: #100Days to write a book

I've always wanted to write a book. I didn't know what I wanted to write, just that I wanted to write a book. About nine years ago I started three books. One was an ebook on how to have better dreams. One was a coffee table book with photos/stories about my trips to Haiti. One was a memoir about my experiences losing a mother at a young age. All of these books have beginnings, but no middle or end. Ten years and those stories have dusted and wasted away in computer folders.

Over the years, I gave up hope that I would ever write a book because it was clear it was not a priority to me. Recently, I realized that I was confining myself to one definition of an author; one who writes novels. However, the more I reflected on my writings, I realized that I prefer to write non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and manuals. Better understanding of the type of writing I preferred, put things into perspective.

In fall 2017, I shared a system that helped me with achieving my goals. I called it "The Intellectual Will" [1]. The intellectual will is a values-based goal attainment system for dreamers. This system encourages dreamers to understand their inner wishes and bring them to professional or personal fruition. Since sharing the intellectual will, I have facilitated three workshops, created an online video [2], and coached multiple people. I've enjoyed this process so much, that I want to expand it into a book. I've decided to update and revamp the intellectual will based on feedback I have received over the last two years.

I happened to see the #100Days writing challenge [3] on the Listed platform and decided that it's the perfect time for me to commit to finishing this book. Everyday for the next 100 days, I am going to spend 40 minutes towards book related work and 20 minutes writing a Listed update on my publishing journey.

Today, I spent 40 minutes editing and writing the introduction and first part of the book. It took time getting back into the swing of writing. I started writing the introduction and first part last month, but took a break because I needed to finish my dissertation. I've heard people say leave a sentence unfinished when writing because it helps with picking back up again. A month in between that unfinished sentence and now was not helpful. Today when my timer went off at 40 minutes, I was finishing up a sentence. I wrote a note to myself about what I wanted to write next and what my thinking was at the time. I'm hoping this will help me tomorrow when I pick up where I left off.

Goals for tomorrow

  1. Write for 35 minutes
  2. Spend 5 minutes sending email to graphic designer
  3. Spend 20 minutes writing Listed update

**Lisa-Marie

[Links]
[1] Intellectual Will: www.lisamariepierre.com/intellectualwill
[2] Intellectual Will Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmv48qDlkHo
[3] #100Days Writing Challenge: https://listed.standardnotes.org/@Listed/5202/100-day-writing-challenge

The most radical thing you can do today

Hi Everyone,

My granma often said “don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Being the chronic procrastinator that I am, it was almost like she knew that was the quote I needed to get me through life. The gentle and not so gentle reminders are everywhere. Every time I tell my sisters that I’m going to do something “tomorrow” they say "remember what granma said."

I live by that quote for errands. For example, the other night I went out with friends until 1 am. As I was driving up to my block, I noticed that I had three miles left in my gas tank. I had a decision to make; get gas in the morning or get gas at 1 am. Hearing granma's voice in my head, I decided to go get gas. The next day, I woke up late and was rushing to an event and I did not have time to get gas. Once again granma's saying proved useful.

The idea of self-preservation is the one area that I have not consistently put into practice granma's saying.

What do I mean by self-preservation? I started purposefully using the term self-preservation after my friend, shared that she uses the term. She lovingly reminds me to take care of myself and often refers me back to an article on Black women doing too much [1]. She introduced me to Audre Lorde's poetry on survival [2] and quotes by Lorde such as "caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." This idea of self-preservation is about protecting a state of mind, body, and soul so that generations to come can benefit.

One of most radical acts that I could take on any given day is to prioritize my well-being. To preserve myself. How many leaders have died at a young age because of heart disease and a host of other ailments? How many reach their 60s and can barely walk? What about those brewing with anxiety and passing on intergenerational trauma to their children and society?

Do I want to be like that?

There was a point in my life, I was heading down the path of self-destruction. It took obstacles and support to realize that I needed to course correct; albeit a slow and steady course correction.

There are aspects of self-preservation that I live for and thrive for: meditation (check), journali (check), therapy (double check). Self-criticism (hmm,could do better), exercising (hmm, what’s that?), trust (hmm, getting there).

Why the disconnect?

Why when it comes to some areas I do the work and other areas I forget they exist? These are things I am still figuring out.

Up until two weeks ago I hadn’t walked more than 1 mile in months.The pounds slowly piled back on. The lethargic energy came back. There were times I stepped outside and my eyes had to adjust because I hadn’t left my house in days

I could blame it on depression or stress but no, I just put it off for tomorrow.

I felt that nourishing my soul and mind and having respect for nature were enough to survive. Another friend recently reminded me that the body-mind have a connection and one needs the other. To survive and fully preserve myself, I need to protect myself.

So I made a decision to move. That’s it. Move at least six times a week. That decision has done wonders. But I still wonder why when it comes to preserving my body, that I put it off for tomorrow? To self-preserve, I have to radically change my decisions.

Now, I dedicate the first two to three hours of the day to me.

And I don’t feel guilty about it anymore.

I feel great.

I still slip up some days. I was carrying a heavy load and it is taking time to remove the things that will make my journey lighter.

The decision to survive in a world that would rather I did not exist is a radical choice.
In that radical choice, I took inventory of what self-preservation looks like to me. I envision being a bookshelf. This bookshelf currently has four levels: me, family, mentoring, and work.

Within each shelf there are a variety of things that I need to do. Right now the hierarchy of my shelf is that the top shelf represents me and the second shelf represents family. All the shelves are important, but my priorities vary between the shelves. Just like in a bookshelf, the actual order of things on the individual shelves vary. Some people organize their bookshelves by color, by size, by topic, or have no order. When I think of my "me" shelf, the order is gratitude, journaling, meditation, movement, pampering, nourishment, and learning. This order, habit, routine, whatever you would like to call it centers me and gives me the tools needed to survive and preserve.

May is mental health awareness month. Over the years, I have learned that more people than we care to acknowledge are experiencing mental health related experiences. I think the stigma is slowly lifting, but often times because of the invisible nature of most experiences, things get overlooked.

For those that like to be in control, the introduction of intrusive thoughts or emotions is overwhelming. It can feel that something else is in control and that something is often the mind. Does our mind control us or do we control our mind? I like to think that we have agency and that we control our minds. But it takes practice, awareness, and vulnerability. Vulnerability can be difficult in a society that can feel unwelcoming and dangerous. There is an internal conflict to trust while acknowledging the messiness. How do we survive personal anguish when it seems like we are alone? That answer varies from person to person, but I think whatever it is; it is radical for that person.

For me, fortifying my well-being was a radical decision based on this idea of self-preservation. My lessons are based the social elements of life. Learning and understanding the interplay between my social position, my social distance, and my social interactions. This lesson is what I see as key to my personal growth and contributions to the advancement of our society and planet.

I like the term awareness when thinking about mental health. Awareness is the responsibility of all parties involved. Awareness is a starting point for healing. Awareness is a starting point for self-preservation. Awareness is a starting point for radical decisions. Awareness begins with conversations.

I hope as you enter May you think about your own preservation practice and take it upon yourself to learn one new thing about mental health.

Some ideas.

Find a mental health first aid training [3]
Know the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (for yourself or others) -- 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Familiarize yourself with suicide prevention resources [4]
Journal your emotions
Schedule a therapy appointment
Support or learn about the National Alliance on Mental Illness [5]
Follow hashtags:
#whycare
#curestigma
#mentalhealthmonth
#therapyhelped
#mentalhealthawarenessmonth
#mentalhealth

I hope that this post encourages you to make a radical choice today that helps you to improve your well-being.

***Lisa-Marie

Links
[1] How not to die: Some survival tips for black women who are asked to do too much: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2013/06/07/how-to-not-die-some-survival-tips-for-black-women-who-are-asked-to-do-too-much/
[2] A Litany for Survival: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/147275/a-litany-for-survival
[3] Mental Health First Aid Training: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/
[4] Suicide Prevention Resources: https://www.speakingofsuicide.com/resources
[5] National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/