Guest Post from Jon Acuff

Almost sucks.

For decades, I wrote a lot of “almost books.”

I wrote thousands of words, dozens of chapters and even got one illustrated by an amazing artist.

And nothing ever happened with them.

Why? 13866097_s

Because I was afraid to turn my almost books into finished books.

Right now, you’ve got some almost in your life too. We all do.

The problem is that almost sucks.

It gives you the nice, safe illusion of mattering. You get a percentage of the good feeling you get from actually completely something. You get to feel like maybe you will do that someday. Maybe someday it won’t be an almost project.

The truth is that almost never changes to finished unless you do it.

How do you do that?

Simple, stop your almost project right where you are, right now.

Put a stake in it. Surprise your fear by sneak attacking it with an unexpected finish line.

Is your book done? Maybe not. Is your painting complete? Maybe not. Is your blog perfect? Maybe not.

It doesn’t matter because this is not the last thing you’ll do. This is the first thing you’ll finish.

If you have something that’s been hanging around for years, I dare you to finish it. Today, sooner than your fear thought, sooner than you were ready for.

Finish it because almost sucks.

– See more at: http://acuff.me/2013/10/almost-sucks/#more-203

Guest Post from To Write Love On Her Arms

CHALLENGING STIGMA.

  • Posted on: 9 September 2013
  • By: Aaron Moore

If TWLOHA were to update a status for this week, it would read that we feel “hopeful.” Much preparation has gone into 2013’s National Suicide Prevention Week, as it is a unique opportunity to address a topic so often neglected in our world. This week never ceases to be something beautiful, a chance to fight for the lives of loved ones, strangers, maybe even ourselves. At the same time, however, this week can feel like a necessary evil for many of us. It may remind us of those we’ve lost or of our own struggles. In this way, National Suicide Prevention Week is something we wish we did not need, but sadly, we have great reason to engage in. Which is why many organizations and groups are using this time to focus on the stigma and shame that keep these important conversations from happening.

We have said in the past that we know stigma is built on lies. It is founded and fed by the myths we believe about mental health issues and about those who struggle with them. Perhaps it is the lie that suicide only affects people who are “messed up,” the idea that depression only reaches those who are weak, or even the belief that if we share our struggles with someone, they will not understand or care. But the more we learn the truth about these difficult topics, the more we can bring it into the light and move toward healing and recovery, as well as the work of prevention. We have to learn that issues like depression, addiction, and suicide are not partial to weak people, but are struggles any of us may walk through, simply because we are human. We have to continue to filter the lies and myths about mental illness out of our society, replacing them with facts. This will go an incredibly long way toward eradicating the stigma that is still so prevalent.

But just knowing the truth is not enough. While stigma may be founded on lies, it is also built within a social context, woven throughout the intricate fabric of our relationships. It is within our society and culture that the effects of stigma are felt. These effects range from the silence and shame surrounding mental health issues to the oppressive attitudes toward those struggling, even influencing the way treatment options such as therapy and medication are viewed. The powerful stigma attached to mental health communicates an illusion of separation between those who struggle and those who don’t—a false dichotomy between the healthy and the sick. The damage this creates extends across our society and into each of our lives and relationships.

As we work to reduce the stigma attached to mental health, we can learn much from the fight against the stigma connected with HIV. One main way it was reduced was through learning the truth about HIV—how it was transmitted, who had it, what treatment looked like, and more. This knowledge went far in combatting some vicious lies that hurt so many in our society. But some research pointed to yet another component that proved powerful in greatly reducing stigma toward HIV: individuals who had a friendship or relationship with someone who was HIV-positive. Those with a personal connection to someone with HIV were drastically less likely to have a stigmatized, discriminating response.

What does this mean for us? It means we need each other. We need relationships and community around us. It means we have to continue listening to each other’s stories, and we must continue sharing our own. We need to know each other’s accounts of suffering, as well as our experiences of healing and recovery.

Thomas Joiner, one of the foremost researchers in the subject of suicide, has found that one of the most common thoughts present in those who are suicidal is the idea of being a burden on others. A second was that of being “hopelessly alienated, cut off and isolated from others”—a feeling of not belonging. Both of these speak to the power of our relationships and communities, whether or not we realize it.

The more we walk through our struggles in silence, the more we deprive others of the benefit of knowing they are not alone. Knowing the truth about the issues isvital, but we can get it from a textbook or Google in just a moment. Unless it is connected with real people, it lacks the power needed to combat stigma. We have to move beyond an awareness of the issues and become truly aware of each other.

Real relationships are the true antidote to the separation that stigma breeds between “healthy” and “sick.” Relationships require us to see the real person who is suffering, struggling, recovering, and healing. They are the place in which we find hope and encouragement to keep fighting, and the place where lies are defeated with truth and compassion. This is the path toward hope and healing—for ourselves and each other—and ultimately, toward a society where stigma, shame, and suicide are struggles of the past.

Aaron Moore is a licensed mental health counselor and co-founder of Solace Counseling in Orlando, FL. You can also hear him speak at MOVE Community Conferences.

 

http://twloha.com/blog/challenging-stigma

Guest Post from Dr. Angela Hargrow

Tough Love

Tough love is a term that is often used when parents treats their children in ways that some might call harsh, with the sole intent to help them in the long run. The use of tough love has been scrutinized by many as nothing more than reasons to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive towards kids who are already suffering. I believe we can use tough love with kids who have mental illnesses. This form of tough love means loving them enough to set tighter boundaries and allowing them to experience natural consequences. When our children are mean or act poorly with others who then reject them, we have to love them enough to not only let them feel the pain of that rejection but to talk with them about how their behaviors puts others off. When they don’t do their homework and we are stressed out by arguing with them, communicating with their teachers, and frustrated by keeping up with their assignments, then we have to be tough enough to let them live with the consequences of their actions, even if it’s a failing grade. Life’s experiences will begin to help us motivate them to understand their own illnesses and to work with us to help them not only manage their symptoms but also to manage their complete lives.

Tough love means not always avoiding the tantrums, tears, and rages. It means holding tight the boundaries that not only we have set but those set by society because our children will have to live by those boundaries someday without us. Tough love means we stop making so many adjustments to keep them happy because we feel bad that their friends didn’t call or they missed out on a school trip because of their behavior. And yes, it means letting them fail a grade or even letting them leave your house when they reach a certain age. Sure, it will be hard to watch them falter, fall, and sometimes fail.  With our guidance life can be a great teacher if we use its experiences to teach our children. It will be tough, but we have to love them enough to help them succeed by not holding their hands and feelings so afraid for them. We have to be tough enough and love them enough to let them go so they can stand on their own two feet.

http://ahargrow.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/tough-love/

Angela Hargrow is a licensed psychologist with over 15 years of experience. Not only does she have a child who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder but also she has worked extensively with parents of children who have a variety of mental illnesses. She has used her experiences as a parent and as a psychologist to help families understand their child/teen’s disorder and to cope with the stressful impact that the disorder has on not only the child but the entire family. Used with permission

Inner Peace Counseling Services, PLLC

1931 J. N. Pease Place, Suite 202
Charlotte, NC 28262

1-704-717-2800
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Guest Post from Alyson Stanfield

4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business

July 3rd, 2013

Bang! Pop! Pow!

Is that the sound of July 4th fireworks I hear? Or is your art business on fire?

I would love to hear that it’s your business – that you are Hot – Hot – Hot  for what you have to share with the world.

If you’re only hearing fireworks outside your walls and not inside your head and heart, there are four things you should do – and keep doing – to ignite the passion for your art business.

©Frances Vettergreen, One Hundred. Oil and wax on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Used with permission

©Frances Vettergreen, One Hundred. Oil and wax on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Used with permission.

1. Embrace your role as CEO.

When you decide you want to earn money as an artist, you are no longer just making art. You are building a business.

As soon as you accept your role as CEO of your art business, you will experience a dramatic shift in mindset. You will understand that your talent is bigger than you. It’s the basis for a dialogue you were intended to have with the world.

Along with this comes the responsibility of ensuring that your business is run professionally andprofitably.

What’s not to get excited about?

2. Schedule something big – with a deadline.

Everyone who owns a business needs something to look forward to. We want to experience the momentum resulting from a new venue, an open studio, or a commission.

Without events and deadlines on your calendar, you risk wasting time on Facebook or neglecting your studio work.

Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Create your own opportunities! OWN them!

3. Use your list.

You didn’t work so hard to get all of those names and let them rot in cyber-storage. Use your list!

People signed up to hear from you. If they haven’t heard from you in awhile, they’ll think one of three things:

  • You aren’t doing anything worth sharing.
  • Your business is too disorganized to get a message together.
  • You don’t care enough about them.

Or, worse, they’ll forget about you altogether.

Staying in touch with your list is a major component of your dialogue with the world.They are your community. Sharing with them and listening to their responses is rocket fuel for your art career.

Create a plan to use your list regularly and then do it!

4. Follow up with people.

Pay attention to signals. Opportunities are often abundant if you listen and act on them.

Did you catch that condition at the end of the sentence? You have to act on the opportunities.

If someone says they like your work, do you just accept the compliment and move on? Or do you ask if they’d like to be on your mailing list and receive an invitation to your next event? Or invite them to your studio to see more?

I’ll bet that lack of follow-up is one of the biggest mistakes artists make. I don’t think it’s because you are lazy or too busy.

I would guess that most artists don’t follow-up because of fear. There are fears that the opportunity will be too overwhelming, or that nothing will come of it.

Neither of these is an acceptable reason for avoiding follow-up. You might be busy right now, but you never know when the well will run dry.

And if the opportunity leads to a dead-end, so what? At least you will have taken the chance.

If you don’t follow up, you’ll always wonder, “What if . . .?” or “If only I had . . . “ Nothing takes the sizzle out of your momentum like regret.

Alyson Stanfield is an artist advocate and business mentor at ArtBizCoach.com. This article was originally published in her Art Biz Insider, which is sent weekly to thousands of artists who are elevating their businesses. Start your subscription now and read more articles like this at http://artbizcoach.com

Guest Post from Dr. Pamela Wible

What I’ve learned from saving physicians from suicide

 | PHYSICIAN | MAY 27, 2013

A psychiatrist in Seattle had picked out the bridge. At 3am he would swerve across his lane and plunge into the water. Everyone would assume he fell asleep.

A surgeon in Oregon was lying on the floor of her office with a scalpel. Nobody would find her until it was too late.

An internal medicine resident in Atlanta heard an anesthesiologist joking about the lethal dose of sodium thiopental. Alone in the call room, she would overdose that night.

Three planned suicides. All three physicians survived. Why? physician-suicide

While preparing to overdose, the internist was interrupted by an endocrinologist calling to check on her. Before grabbing her scalpel, the surgeon called several physicians pleading for help—I responded immediately. Two days before he was to drive off the bridge, the psychiatrist spotted my ad for a physician retreat. He called me begging to attend.

One week later, I’m hiking through the Oregon Cascades. The scent of cedar envelops me as I approach the lodge where I’m welcoming physicians who have arrived from all over the United States and Canada, all of us on a pilgrimage for answers.

Tonight we begin a retreat for doctors who yearn to love medicine again. Studies confirm most doctors are overworked, exhausted, or depressed. The tragedy: few seek help.

I ask the group, “How many physicians have lost a colleague to suicide?” All hands are raised. “How many have considered suicide?” Except for one woman, all hands remain up—including mine.

“Physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession,” I explain. “In the United States we lose over 400 physicians per year to suicide. That’s the equivalent of an entire medical school. Even that’s an underestimate because many physician suicides are incorrectly identified as accidents.”

I tell them, “Both men I dated in med school are dead. Brilliant physicians. Loved by their families and patients. Both died young—by ‘accidental overdose.’ Really? How many physicians accidentally overdose?”

The room is quiet.

It’s easier to say accident than suicide. Doctors can say gonorrhea and carcinoma. Why not suicide? Maybe we can’t face our own wounds.

“I’m a family doc in Eugene, Oregon, where we’ve lost three physicians in eighteen months to suicide. I was suicidal once. Assembly-line medicine was killing me. Too many patients and not enough time sets us up for failure. Rather than kill myself, I invited my patients to help me design an ‘ideal clinic.’ It is possible to love medicine again.”

The Canadian doctor to my right wipes her eyes. “I’m feeling so discouraged. I want to give up and work at Starbucks. My head is exploding from banging it against the system.”

A bright-eyed, blonde woman reveals, “I just took a leave of absence from med school because it was ‘killing my soul.’ Three classmates attempted suicide.”

A newlywed couple join in. “I’m a nurse. My husband is an internist. He’s suffering, but I don’t know how to help him. Doctors don’t seek psychiatric care because mental illness is reportable to the medical board. He fears he’ll lose his license.” Her husband adds, “I was suicidal three months ago. On the edge. My wife and I are hoping to find answers here.”

Here, physicians, nurses, and medical students share their wounds and their wisdom—in community. We share new practice models, communication techniques, and strategies to care for ourselves—so we can care for our patients.

In four days, I witness more healing than in four years of med school. Once strangers, we’ve become family. Parting ways, the psychiatrist from Seattle thanks me again.

I didn’t know these doctors, but I know their despair. By speaking about my own pain, I validated their pain. By being vulnerable, I gave them the strength to be vulnerable too.

But mostly we healed each other by not being afraid to say the word suicide out loud.

Pamela Wible pioneered the community-designed ideal medical clinic and blogs at Ideal Medical Care. She is the author of Pet Goats and Pap Smears.

 

Guest Post from Dr. Eric Maisel

The Mind Key

 

An Excerpt from Making Your Creative Mark by Eric Maisel 

 

 

Your first task as a creative person is to “mind your mind” and think thoughts that serve you. Doesn’t it make sense to speak to yourself in ways that help you create more deeply and more regularly, that allow you to detach more effectively from the everyday chaos of ordinary life, that decrease your anxiety and negativity, and that remind you that you are in charge of showing up and making an effort?

 

English: Human figure with thought bubbles

English: Human figure with thought bubbles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Many of us do a poor job of minding our minds, of choosing to think in ways that serve us. We present ourselves with self-sabotaging thoughts and refuse to dispute those thoughts once they arise. If we all did a better job of noticing what we are thinking and making an effort to replace defensive and unproductive thoughts with more optimistic and more productive ones, we would live in less pain and give ourselves a much better chance of our dream life.

 

It is this simple: Notice what you are thinking, dispute those thoughts that bad-mouth you or that send you careening in the wrong direction, and replace them with thoughts that better serve you. This is tremendously important!

 

You can use many useful strategies, available from the cognitive-behavioral school of therapy, to get a better grip on your mind and help yourself think more productively and positively. Here’s one I’ve created.

 

Often you have a productive thought, but then you immediately follow it with an unproductive one that stops you in your tracks. This sounds like “I’d love to practice the piano” followed by “but I’m much too old to learn complicated piano music.” Or “I want to get my novel written” followed by “but I don’t really know what my novel is about.” Or “I love my photographic collages” followed by “but lots of people are doing them.”

 

People engage in this self-sabotage all the time, deciding that something matters to them and then talking themselves out of taking action. It is almost what we do best as a species. I would like you to notice how this dynamic works in your life. Look at your own defensiveness, self-unfriendliness, and self-sabotage when it comes to those things that matter most to you. Look at this pattern, and then change it.

 

Complete the following, filling in the x and y with your own responses: “I say that x matters to me. But I often follow that thought up with y thought, a thought that does not serve me. I no longer want to countenance that thought.” You may have more than one self-unfriendly y thought — you may have lots of them! By all means include as many y thoughts as you like in your response. The clearer you are on the things you say to yourself that don’t serve you, the better will be your chances of extinguishing them.

 

Here is how some of my creativity coaching clients completed this exercise:

 

“I say that making art and selling my artwork matter to me. But I often follow that thought up with the thought that my artwork is not good enough to be considered attractive to buyers, a thought that does not serve me. I no longer want to entertain that thought. I will be open to opportunities to create and market my art, and I will make an effort to gain the support of art patrons.”

 

“I say that being organized matters to me. But I often follow that thought up with the thought that I will take time to organize my work space some time in the future, a thought that does not serve me. I no longer want to entertain that thought. I am taking the time to organize every day so that my studio feels peaceful and spacious, with a good energy flow.”

 

“I say that writing my screenplay and revising my novel and sending out articles are important to me. But I often follow up that thought with ‘What does any of it really matter?’ In the past few years, I’ve come up against so many roadblocks. It doesn’t feel like I matter to anyone. My husband is sick and needs my attention. Maybe concentrating on more basic needs is the most important thing to do — cleaning, gardening, exercising. But I realize that the only sure way I can fail at my writing is if I stop. The thought of quitting doesn’t serve me because it prevents any success from ever happening. I no longer want to entertain the thought of stopping.”

 

“I say that music matters to me. But I often follow that up with the thought that I can’t afford to dedicate myself to it, that there are more important things in life, that I’m not good enough anyway, and that there are a lot of other things I’m interested in and almost anything pays better than music, which generally pays close to nothing. I no longer want to countenance those thoughts.”

 

I’m sure you can see how this process of telling off the thoughts that do not serve you will help you to create more often and more deeply and will improve your relationship to the art marketplace. Complete this x-y exercise, and then put the results into practice.

 

Creating depends on having a mind quiet enough to allow ideas to bubble up. Living a successful, healthy life as an artist requires that your self-talk align with your goals and your aspirations. Your job is to quiet your mind and extinguish negative self-talk. These are your two most important tasks if you want a shot at your best life in the arts.

 

**

 

Eric Maisel is the author of Making Your Creative Mark and twenty other creativity titles including Mastering Creative Anxiety, Brainstorm, Creativity for Life, and Coaching the Artist Within. America’s foremost creativity coach, he is widely known as a creativity expert who coaches individuals and trains creativity coaches through workshops and keynotes nationally and internationally. He has blogs on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today and writes a column for Professional Artist Magazine. Visit him online at http://www.ericmaisel.com.

 

 

 

Excerpted from the new book Making Your Creative Mark ©2013 by Eric Maisel.  Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com