Saw the moving film last nite. What an elegy, what an Artist. From earliest punk Birthday Party thru Bad Seeds…. At core the number one influence on my music… He writes songs, as he puts it, w/ “anxiety, despair, anguish”… lush beauty, frenzy, elegiac feeling, true artistry. This film is a beautiful, creative take on how to transform trauma and grief… even with everything unanswered that entails.
Fierce Catalyst: Artists, the Creative Life & Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness
Wellness is best envisioned along a spectrum, having at one end mental health and the other mental illness. When thinking on the status of the mind, however, most people have a strong connotation only of the latter. How to address mental health? And what is the connection between it, mental illness and creativity? Mental dis-ease remains “hidden behind a wall of secrecy and isolation,” states the exhibition statement for Mindful. Abolishing that stigma should be inspired by the spirit of creative artists, that segment of the population whose way of being in the world brings them variously close to both ends of this spectrum.
There’s a fixation on health in this country– but the wrong focus. In attempt to fix the body and eradicate illness, ‘wellness’ visits are made up of tests and screens as precedent in a culture of doctoring… to dispel fear of cancer, heart disease, infectious disease. But what is feared the most is avoided. Mental health is utterly terrifying to most folks. Mental illness is vilified and the proper nature of wellness along a mental health spectrum is misunderstood. Yet mental health, which affects the somatic, is the most crucial aspect of individual and societal overall health.
Wellness has to do with the mind, far more than any physical debilitation that’s occurring due to imbalance. Wellness is acceptance, comfort, ease, connectedness to self. It is balance, and an arching toward wholeness defined at the mental health end of that spectrum…where at the other lies illness, lack of ease.
“Someone you know lives with a mental illness.” So starts the bold yet accurate statement for Mindful, Exploring Mental Health Through Art, the upcoming September exhibition at the Society for Contemporary Crafts in Pgh.
I’ve written the feature essay for the exhibition catalog, to be shared in full after publication. I was honored to have at my disposal the participating artists’ statements, in order to weave their voices into my reflections, on a topic I have been writing and speaking on for years.
Creative artists are a segment of the population whose way of being in the world brings them variously close to two poles– extreme wellness and extreme discomfort. Mania, anxiety, depression, mood or personality disorders can inordinately pervade their lives as they attempt to make sense of inner pain and darkness. There’s little doubt an artist’s balance at times goes by the wayside– but namely its in the chase to sustain a living while creating!
But Art allows for ease. For the most part, It keeps its makers well. Artists put their sensitivity, their ill, their abundance of feeling into the transformative fire of creation. I propose that eradicating the stigma of mental illness can best happen when the same fierce energy that defines the creative life is applied as a catalyst to this battle…
Check out the link, go to the exhibition and see the work, read the artists’ statements and essay, and advocate for acceptance that there is nothing more significant than our mental health.
This will be a unique exhibition offering powerful artistic responses on the role creativity plays in self-expression and mental health, as well as looking at the links between artistic tendencies, attempts to live creatively, and mental dis-ease.
Looking forward to reflecting and writing on this in the upcoming months….
I’m so gratified to announce that I’ve compiled the slew of writings that were my creative output of 2013 into an eBook. Spiral: An Anthology of Writings in Self Development, Mental Health & Creativity is essentially the product of six months’ time and gathers together in one place 44 unique articles and essays on Self, Mental Health and Wellness.
Titles range from “Unspoken Bargains in our Daily Relationships” to “Getting Clean on Addiction Policy in the U.S.” to “Early Wounding & Dysfunctional Family Roles”… and much in between. There is something for everyone intent on better knowing the course of their life or relationships, navigating tricky waters of dysfunction in family, embracing creativity in their career, finding balance in their life and perhaps a little peace with uncertainty.
Purchase this eBookdirectly from this site and send it along directly to a friend’s desktop, tablet or reader in PDF form as a unique lovely present for anyone who needs some end-of-year stimulation and renewal!
How do you assemble the best people for a challenging project? Whether a myriad of personalities and people with various capabilities surround you, or you are on the hunt for particular talents, finding the right folks for a team is critical.
So many managers miss the mark, hastily throwing available staff into hotbed holes that need filled. So many supervisors look to titles instead of talents to facilitate an emerging role in the department. And so many leaders forget the path their own unique traits opened for them when considering others’ abilities.
Primary to putting together teams that work is insight into project need. Real insight. Not clouded, too-idealistic ideas about outcome, but a realistic look at what is likely required for any tough task, let alone achieving a pinnacle goal.
We often know what we desire, but give far less thought whether its fully reachable or realistic in any given timeframe (including lifetime). Better to see the point you are reaching for in your business or agency but remain committed to the process of striving, itself–with the best talents in place, tools at hand and a realistic sense of self or team. Then whether the outcome is attained fully is less significant than all involved knowing their gears were moving together most effectively as possible, the ongoing re-evaluating and planning was attuned to all moving project parts, and significant achievements were reached along the way.
We often think less about the attributes and energy needed to propel us forward. What exactly are our and project’s needs? How do we apply what we have at hand or go after what will fill our need and take into consideration our liability? Have you given creative thought into what you wish you had at your disposal but don’t? What characteristics and background and skill sets and environment are going to definitely propel the project at least majorly forward?
The right people plucked for that need, and likely clamoring for such opportunity (whether aware or not) will determine how far along the spectrum of attaining that company or department goal is reached. Though luck, fortune and circumstance all play a part in outcomes, talent and drive (which fit together organically) is the key. Successful leaders (as well as less successful but fulfilled visionaries) know this about themselves. They, and all managers and supervisors, need to see this in others.
Who around you has a hidden talent? Hired for one thing but evidently interested and good at something else tangential? Who expresses ability and expertise in an area of work little delved into but likely necessary for forward company motion? What expertise is definitely lacking that you must look outside for?
Are company constraints hampering you? Departmental restrictions backing you down from stretching boundaries? Don’t give in that easily. Take creative thought and ingenuity about utilizing folks for new, significant tasks and roles to someone who can enact change. Or subtly take the chance of working around parameters to show effective difference.
Perhaps there were more questions than answers to your liking in this article. That is a starting point. Putting together teams that work takes some risk, commitment and simply creative application–a new way of looking at your goals, the people around you, the people you need to have around you, and an openness to try to assemble something significantly different and more effective than where you came from prior. And by tapping into one’s own leadership, managers and supervisors can better begin to discern who has leadership qualities in other areas, thus filling critical need for critical projects and jobs.
“Lisa is a presenter whose staggering scope of work defies categorization and stereotyping, and who teaches – through the example of her career – the notion of innovatively pushing boundaries and merging disciplines.”