Hey there, how are ya?  (All answers are accepted!)

What are you thinking and feeling about your mental health at this moment?

What’s your immediate reaction to me asking you this question? 

If someone asked me that question out of the blue, I’d think, “Good!” and then pause for a beat to check in with myself, going more deeply into what mental health means to me…

If I asked you to describe “mental health” what would you say? 

When I think about it, a vision of a color wheel/circle pops into my mind, representing the various areas of my life—relationships, work, play, physical health, emotions, safety/security (physical and financial), participating in/giving back to society… and feeling equanimous in these areas. Of course, adding the critical recognition that life is full of change, we experience a range of emotions and work with our feelings and thoughts, tapping into our resilience skills, and perhaps connecting with others, to create the path back to greater clarity, calm and focus when needed. 

In recognition of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I should share something more substantial than my thinking… In searching for a description, I discovered, 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” (World Health Organization. Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice (Summary Report) Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004.)

I dug a little deeper, discovered, and prefer this description, 

“Mental health is a dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society. Basic cognitive and social skills; ability to recognize, express and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium.” (From World Psychiatry)

Let’s reconsider my question. 

I’d venture to say that we all experience times of disequilibrium and the need for support in regaining our sense of harmony.

What is the variety of easily accessible methods you use to regain your equilibrium? My list includes the following:

  • meditation 
  • guided visualizations
  • reaching out to a caring, supportive friend who will listen deeply*
  • taking a walk by myself
  • making time to sit in the sun with a cup of coffee 
  • making art
  • tangling/stepping into the Zentangle experience

* Whether for myself or with others, I am clear about helping, fixing, and serving. I take my cue from Rachel Remen.  “So, fundamentally, helping, fixing, and serving are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken; and when you serve, you see life as whole.” (See the full piece here)

And so, I offer up a few of my tangled tiles, created as a part of the 21-day Zentangle journey through May as Mental Health Awareness Month. I hope they inspire you to take good care of yourself, find what serves you, and reach out to me if I can be of service to you in crafting a life of equanimity. Take good care.

Disrupt & Discover!

When is the last time you placed yourself into an experience—an event and people who are totally new to you?

The fabulous room for my session, “Discover & Design the Life Your Desire.”

It’s been ten days since the EPIC International Summit in Santa Barbara, California. While I had an inkling of what it would be like, as I presented with my buddy Jill Langer at the online Summit last year, live and in-person was so different! The setting was gorgeous—The Music Academy of the West— and you could feel the energy in the room. 

When you have stepped back into special events, have you noticed any differences in how you engage with people, process new experiences and information, and socialize?

The number of participants felt just right—comfortable yet with opportunities to continuously meet new folks at meals, special sessions, and events. There was also time to be on our own—which I really appreciated! I love meeting people, having conversations, and participating in activities, I also want time to think and feel into what I have been experiencing.

My representation of my plans is on the right… my duck is on the left.

Given the opportunity, do you often go for new experiences or re-visit a methodology or technique to approach it from a new perspective?

I joined a session led by a Lego Serious Play facilitator because I loved the content. Truth be told, I was hesitant. My first experience with Lego Serious Play was no fun at all. Happily, the combination of the facilitator, peers at the table, content, and my attitude created a really fun experience with great conversation… and a Picasso-esque duck, plus a representation of my future plans. (Truth be told, I did have a moment where all I wanted to do was visualize/draw my plans… but I let that go.)

When you reflect on your time uncovering new ideas, asking questions, learning, engaging in deep conversations, and gaining a sense of camaraderie, what are your conclusions about your time devoted to the endeavor? 

I had plenty of time to savor and reflect upon my three-day experience. I brought business cards (which I thought might be a thing of the past), and I loved sharing and receiving them (perhaps because I am so terrible at remembering names, and they become little crib sheets for me). The cards are a reminder of the people, our time together, and the total experience. This was time well-spent. 

We found many vellela vellela—By-the-wind Sailor—on an afternoon beach walk.

We lived the Summit’s themes of, “disconnect, disrupt, and discover.”  Though it was challenging to “disconnect” —to put aside my phone, ipad, and computer—it was also a delight. Disrupting ways of thinking and being was fun and took me outside my comfort zone. Discovering new people, ideas, practices, and more left me brimming over.

How do you plan to amplify your experiences?

I have already contacted a half dozen folks about continuing our conversations. It feels wonderful, generative, exciting! 

I am a firm believer that we do not need to physically travel to different places to have the kinds of experiences I describe above… though it can be easier to jumpstart the creative process when we do.

I’d love to hear what you have done lately to shake it up for yourself—and the impact it has had on your whole life.