Focus: Balancing Community with Mental Health
Book choices: The Joy Plan by Kaia Roman and Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
Hi! I’m a bookseller here, and you can usually find my reviews in the poetry section, tagged “a.c.” Because I love our store’s events program, you’ve likely met me through Books & Brews, where I occasionally stand on tables, shouting about books to a crowd. I value small children, good food, and global thinking.
Even as a kid I loved people, and I have a great community, but lately I’ve found it hard to balance social ties with my own mental health. The vibrant feeling that has always given me fuel during impossible tasks and schedules got replaced with something else--sort of a lack, emotionally, which doesn’t feel good. A few years in a small town saying “yes” too much can get you there pretty fast.
Now, I’d love to recalibrate while holding true to my principles.
I know that I want to practice radical kindness and interdependence faithfully. Within that, however, there must be some way to prioritize my own mental health, even joy. I didn’t think that I could get this all out of one book--a lot of contemporary self-help focuses on the individual, but my personal creed requires a focus on community in a way that only radical politics has ever directed well. Enter two books: THE JOY PLAN and EMERGENT STRATEGIES. Local author Kaia Roman released THE JOY PLAN last year, and I had the chance to meet both her and her vibrant community when she launched a wonderful release party at the MAH. I was impressed with both the quality of the woman and her friendships, so reading the book about her strategy for cultivating joy seemed perfect. On the more global scale, EMERGENT STRATEGIES author adrienne maree brown has published articles about self-care during the process of world-love and activism. Her book is based in part off of the ideas of a stunning fiction author whom I admire, Octavia Butler. And, best of all, she draws on community as a core organizing principle both for one’s own life and for activist work, making the book part political guide, part self-help.
The kind of re-balancing I hope to find through these books will definitely take longer than a month, but if these ideas resonate with you, I hope you’ll join me on the first part of that trek. I’ll be applying new strategies and journaling through a month of pure, emergent joy.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you find time to check in with your wellness soon. --a.c.
Mid-month Check-in: This is already making a difference in my day-to-day. Both the book and the journal are helping me to be intentional about noticing good things all around me everyday. Writing it down makes me stop and record and see the long list of everything from mundane to incredible things that make me happy.