Have An Idea? Act On It.


Last week I launched the Better Me newsletter (you know you want to subscribe).  I’d been kicking the idea around and decided it was time to act. I took a look bit of time looking into tools for doing this and then built my template, added content and sent it out last Thursday.  I felt pretty proud of myself and I still do, although I did have a few minutes of kicking myself about it.

My wife and I have a bit of a Saturday morning routine where we go to the farmers’ market and then for some coffee / tea and a little snack. This morning we were sitting in the sun at the restaurant in the city’s modern art gallery, which was written up in the New York Times (the museum, not us eating buttermilk scones), when my wife asked me if I wanted to know if she saw typos in my any of my blog posts. I answered in the affirmative. 

When we got home, I asked her to tell me which post and what typos she’d seen. To my horror there were two in the first paragraph of my most recent post. I know that I’ve had typos in posts before, but that first paragraph was included in the newsletter. Do I have some regrets about this? Yes, but only in that I didn’t proof the post and the newsletter better, not that I shared either of them. 

Nobody is perfect and there will mistakes in many other things that I create. The importance is that I create and not let the fear of mistakes or other people’s opinions get in the way (yes I’m channeling Chase Jarvis, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Brené Brown). 

I’m creating a new strategic plan for the open textbook initiative that I lead at the university. The other day I was sharing my initial draft with a colleague who was quite excited about it. I was about to head back to my office when she said, “It’s good to have Heather’s brain back.” I knew what she meant. I knew that she and others have noticed that I’ve recovered enough from my depression that ideas, solutions to problems, and creative contributions are again flowing.  As they do, why on earth wouldn’t I want to get them out there and share them .

At the end of my work day on Friday I met with somebody from our Human Resources department about my willingness to share my story about depression with others. I had told both my manager and director when I was still quite unwell that when I was better I wanted to do something to help others at the university (and beyond) even if that meant me being completely open about what I’d been through. Through my discussions with them and our HR person, we’re considering  the possibility of me speaking with managers and employees about how to best support their colleagues who are struggling with depression and / or anxiety. I had floated the idea of wanting to give talks when I was sick and now that I’m better I went into the HR meeting sharing everything that I was thinking about. I left elated because she was enthusiastic about my willingness to share my experience.

I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person, but over time became skittish about sharing, or even creating my work, especially when depressed. I think that only made matters worse. Fear of failure, of other people’s opinions, of not being good enough at your craft, whether that’s writing, painting, photography, solving problems in your workplace or for the planet, is horrible for your mental health.

We all need to let our creative shine by acting on those ideas kicking around in our heads, desperate to find a way out.

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