Fireside 2.1 (https://fireside.fm) Anthologies of Hope Blog https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles Tue, 28 Apr 2020 19:00:00 -0500 Anthologies of Hope Blog en-us Choose your words wisely https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/choose-your-words-wisely Tue, 28 Apr 2020 19:00:00 -0500 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 51c773e8-10fc-400c-bca1-8e3509806794 There are situations few and far between where words will give me complete and total recall to a situation, feeling, or event. But unfortunately, during COVID-19 and all the public health precautions, a simple phrase generally used to check in on friends and loved ones has unintended consequences for me. Content warning - suicide

There are situations few and far between where words will give me complete and total recall to a situation, feeling, or event. But unfortunately, during COVID-19 and all the public health precautions, a simple phrase generally used to check in on friends and loved ones has unintended consequences for me.

I fully understand that there is no sinister motive in using these otherwise innocuous words grouped together, but it’s a reason why I am a stickler for pronouns, preferred names, and other contextual phrases.

Since 2015, there have been 2,658 deaths by suicide in Cook County, the county in which Chicago resides*. Approximately 890 of those deaths have been by hanging. That is also the method that my cousin chose to end his life in the summer of 2008. Throughout this worldwide pandemic, I have seen the words “hanging in there” scroll across my screen multiple times a day. Each and every time I hear that phrase, I am taken back to that loss. The first loss by suicide in my life where I knew what it meant, where I knew there was more to life than anything I thought I knew at that point. Prior to that night, I had lost previous family members to suicide, but I was too young to fully grasp the concept of all the implications.

The momentary pause my brain makes to translate “hanging in there” to “hope you are doing well” or “hope you are handling everything okay” seems infinitesimally small, but it’s also the same amount of time it takes to self-correct from saying “committed suicide” or “killed him/herself” to “died by suicide” or “ended their life”. Now I am not saying that these two scenarios are on the same level, but both of these scenarios play in my mind everyday. The work we do to choose our words wisely implicitly helps to break the stigma around mental health and suicide with every sentence that is spoken from our mouths or typed by our fingers.

I have found myself at a loss for words most of the time these days, with my brain constantly thrashing between work tasks, family tasks, and what my mind & body need in that moment. Often, all of them at odds with one another. If we are able to take that momentary pause before we speak to think about the words we are saying and how they can and will be received, we can make it through this together much easier. We can make the conversations that are taking that much more effort and draining our emotional tanks that much more than ever a little bit easier, softer, and more of what we need.

How to get help

In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

Additionally, during the introduction of every podcast episode, we call out the excellent resources indexed by Hope for the Day and To Write Love On Her Arms on their respective Find Help pages, giving you access to localized and targeted resources for whatever you may need in the moment (or to share with loved ones who may need the help as well). They can be found at Hope for the Day - Find Help and To Write Love On Her Arms - Find Help.

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The Postseason https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/the-postseason Tue, 14 Apr 2020 12:00:00 -0500 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com e9547204-ed2e-46e6-9b26-8cbaf5d507b8 Falling asleep on the couch in April and May has always been a thing for as long as I can remember. Not because I didn’t like sleeping in my bed, but because I would fall asleep watching playoff hockey well into the night. There was something comforting about knowing games would be on almost every night at 7pm and then again at 10pm and I could slide back into being a little kid again when I listened to the Philadelphia Flyers games while laying on the floor with Gene Hart playing over the AM airwaves. Falling asleep on the couch in April and May has always been a thing for as long as I can remember. Not because I didn’t like sleeping in my bed, but because I would fall asleep watching playoff hockey well into the night. There was something comforting about knowing games would be on almost every night at 7pm and then again at 10pm and I could slide back into being a little kid again when I listened to the Philadelphia Flyers games while laying on the floor with Gene Hart playing over the AM airwaves.

The highlight reel is quite long - from Uwe Krupp beating John Vanbiesbrouck with a slapshot from the point in the third overtime to clinch the Stanley Cup for the Colorado Avalanche in their first season to Keith Primeau saving the postseason for the Flyers in the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals in the Game 3 of that series when he scored in the fifth overtime period (the longest game in modern NHL history) to many more over the past twenty years.

It wasn’t until all those memories came flooding back until I realized what I was feeling, what I was missing, and why it was hitting so hard - I was missing normalcy. Everything you previously set your watch by, all the seasonal elements of life, the daily routine of work-life balance - it was all out the window. Similar to my last post, The Saddle Point, it was all about staying afloat and just moving forward through the first couple weeks of all the COVID-19-related public health precautions. But now that I am on the other side of that apex, I am beginning to see what I am missing, how it is affecting, and most importantly, how I can adapt to compensate for that lack of normalcy and comfort.

I’ve doubled-down on structuring my time between working, parenting, relaxing, and virtually connecting with friends & family; I have reinvested my interest in video games that make me happy (which means avoiding online play in general); simplifying what I expect of myself throughout each day; and taking time to read each night - since my ever-growing bookcase was definitely a source of anxiety prior to all the chaos that 2020 has brought.

I don’t know when we’ll get back to all the things we used to set our watches by, to all the normalcy that we took for granted. But I do know we won’t take it for granted so easily the next time around. Take care of yourself, however that is needed in the moment - which may be wildly different each day, each hour, or each minute. The concept of a “new normal” doesn’t have to be easily swallowed, as all the things that did bring us comfort have not changed - they may be temporarily paused or delayed, but that doesn’t negate any of the joy, the comfort, the hope, or the happiness which they already brought you in years past.

Contrary to the lyrics of Baz Luhrman’s “Everybody’s Free”, I think now is the perfect time to dust off all that nostalgia and embrace it for everything that it is… ugly parts and all.

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The Saddle Point https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/the-saddle-point Wed, 01 Apr 2020 19:00:00 -0500 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 55338ef8-93a1-44b3-917b-0ecacf4b3b8a A saddle point is a term used in game theory that determines when a move in a game is most beneficial for all players. Think of it as the best worst-case scenario for one player and the least best-case scenario for the other player. I’ve used a number of game theory practices over the years, but I didn’t think I would be using it to unravel how we are all coping during the COVID-19 pandemic response. A saddle point is a term used in game theory that determines when a move in a game is most beneficial for all players. Think of it as the best worst-case scenario for one player and the least best-case scenario for the other player. I’ve used a number of game theory practices over the years, but I didn’t think I would be using it to unravel how we are all coping during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Some of us rush in and jump straight into the fire. Some of us wait to see what we’re jumping into to form a plan first. Neither are good nor bad, nor is one better than the other. Both are needed and inextricably linked. Depending upon where in the country (and world, for that matter) you reside, you are coming towards the end of your first few weeks of social distancing, self isolating, and unprecedented, extensive public health measures. The reason I say that the two types of people that I mentioned above are linked is because eventually the folks that ran in first will need a reprieve, to rest and recuperate, while those that stayed back to formulate a plan will now be able to take over for them.

This was the case for me in the initial onslaught of changes driven by the COVID-19 precautions. As someone who works remotely for my day job, seeing everything else in my life instantly switching to being remote and virtual was overwhelming and not something I could keep pace with, even if I had 720 hours in a day. I am grateful and thankful for everyone that ran into the tumult headfirst and set the stage for what our journey through this pandemic was going to look like. However, a number of those folks, in all walks of life, will be coming to their breaking point, to the natural point of exhaustion and burnout. So now the latter group can step up, continue to carry the torch, but also build for the long-haul while the former group recuperates.

It’s okay to be one or the other. It’s okay to be both at different times. It’s okay to not know which group you fit into. The main focus through all of these changes and precautions should be for you to take care of yourself and your family. Then figure out what your next steps are. In the Chicago area, supply chains have been catching up with demand (at least due to anecdotal evidence) for a number of stores. After the initial surge of securing the essentials for your family, it can now be time to look outward, when last week that seemed impossible. Many local restaurants are still offering take-away or delivery service, but have lost the critical eat-in business that was the majority of their income. Many local artists have lost gig after gig due to necessary but restrictive gathering constraints. There are numerous GoFundMes and related types of support initiatives that you can contribute to now that you may have a better understanding of your family’s needs, both in the short-term and long-term. If you can contribute now, do so. If you contributed a week ago, thank you very much. If you can’t contribute yet but are determined to once you feel comfortable, that is perfectly okay too.

We are indeed approaching the saddle point when these two groups will need to hand off from one to the other. Some of this hand-off will bring changes, some of this hand-off will hopefully bring improvements. Even though we are in a time of social-distancing and self-isolation, we are still in this together. If you still don’t know which group you fit into, that’s okay. It will become clear to you in time, but for now, be kind to yourself and others while you take it one day at a time. That’s all we were ever meant to do.

With hope,
Rick

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Mental Health Minute - Tips and Tricks for Anxiety https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/mhm-1-anxiety Wed, 18 Dec 2019 02:00:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 8944315a-1344-4e9a-bf80-67e0f4aed214 Mental Health Minute - Tips and Tricks for Anxiety Editor's note: Our friend and guest from our Mental Health Minute series - Dr. Ryan Stoll, PhD - is the author of today's blog post. For more details on Ryan, you can check out his guest page at anthologiesofhope.com/guests/ryan-stoll.

We’ve ALL experienced anxiety at some point in our life. In fact, anxiety is a normal emotion - just like happiness, sadness, and anger – and in contrast to fear, anxiety is about the future. This feature of human experience evolved from the time when civilization consisted of hunter-gatherers living in incredibly dangerous environments that required some sort of mechanism to maximize our survivability. Evolved from when a time of hunter-gatherers, we carry anxiety with us to more readily tune into signals of potential danger in our surroundings. Anxiety brings us out of the present moment and into a future infinitely full of possible “what if scenarios”, helping us decide whether we need to fight, runaway and return, or avoid completely.

Similar to other normal emotions, anxiety exists along a spectrum. This spectrum makes it possible for anxiety to shift from normal to problematic. Sometimes anxiety is helpful or exists as a steady hum, noticeable but harmless. Other times, anxiety is like a dull pain, oscillating between annoyance and impactful. Other times still, anxiety can become more significant and chronic, disabling our ability to live fully, presently, and with confidence. This is the kind of anxiety can prevent us from doing the things we often want most - achieving goals, building relationships, facing fears, and honoring our story. It’s the kind of anxiety that doesn’t go away, keeping us in a persistent state of fight or flight and apprehension, eating away at our inner belief that we are capable of handling things that make us feel anxious, worried, or stressed. This is the kind of anxiety that, unless managed, often continues along the spectrum, shifting from “I feel anxious” to “I am anxious”.


Anxiety can affect our entire lived experience, manifesting itself in our thoughts, feelings, body, and behaviors. Often, when we experience moments or periods of high anxiety…

  1. our attention is automatically and subconsciously biased to threat-related information in our environment, often leading us to perceive experiences and interactions as more negative than they actually are, even if those experiences are neutral or positive. As a result, when we experience a high degree of anxiety, we perceive the world, our self, and interactions as more negative than they actually are.

  2. our thoughts shift from perceiving the anxiety-provoking experience (or trigger) to our internal, self-belief that we are incapable our handling it, leading to feelings of frustration, sadness, low self-confidence, etc.

  3. our body may express anxiety or stress through physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, body aches, muscle tension, or excessive sweating, increase risk of more significant physical health problems overtime.

  4. our perception of the relation between time and anxiety is skewed, expecting that the longer we are in experiences or interactions that make us feel anxious, the higher and higher our anxiety will continue to go, making us avoid that thing altogether. If we think something is going to make us feel miserable or uncomfortable, why would we bother doing it to begin with?


Unfortunately, because anxiety is a normal emotion, we can’t get rid of it nor can we “cure” it. We can however, using several scientifically derived and research-backed skills, effectively manage anxiety in the moment to prevent it from becoming worse or out-of-control in the future. In the scientific literature, what works to manage and prevent anxiety-related problems is largely less intense versions of what works to treat anxiety disorders; mostly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is considered one gold-standard approach to addressing anxiety based on large number of highly rigorous research studies, similar to how medications are tested. At its core, CBT focuses is about addressing the ways anxiety affects thoughts, emotions, body, and behaviors through the development of skills to improve emotion and body awareness, reduce body symptoms, manage worries, and develop our self-confidence. Based on this science, here are four things to try when your anxiety seems to be getting a bit out of hand:

  1. Observe mindfully. We can’t change much without first understanding what can be changed. Notice and observe when you feel anxious or are experiencing a lot of worry. Initially, it’s not about labeling; instead simply notice that you are feeling something. Then observe and label what you might be feeling: are you angry? Sad? Feel Tired? Feel like running away? Muscle aches? Stomachache? From here, you can begin to identify what appears to be causing the anxiety or worry - the trigger, the thought, the task, the people, the sounds, the smells, etc. Self-awareness is the first step to effective anxiety management because it can enable us to see more clearly defined steps we can take to improve how we feel.

  2. Seek stillness. In order to identify what you are feeling and thinking, as well as how to react to the thing causing you anxiety, take whatever time you have available – a minute, five minutes, an hour - to turn down the noise of the anxious mind. This could be using meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness apps, loud music, working out, etc. The medium doesn’t really matter here – it’s about doing whatever it is that enables you to become more centered in the present moment because anxiety thrives in future-oriented thinking.

  3. You are not your thought. A major driver of anxiety is worry, in part, because there is a tendency for us to associate our thoughts with who we are. That is, just because we have a thought, doesn’t mean that thought: is accurate (remember the automatic bias), requires a response (either an action or continuing that line of thinking), or can’t be changed. Although it doesn’t always seem true, thoughts are malleable. When we observe what we are thinking, we create the opportunity to transform anxious thoughts into something that can either overcome the source of the anxiety or calm us down enough to come up with a problem-solving plan later on. Often time this is focused on looking for evidence (e.g., your own past experiences, other people’s experiences) that “disproves” the worry or negative self-statement.

  4. Cultivate courage. Mark Twain wrote “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” From my own battles with anxiety and experience as a mental health scientist, I firmly believe this to be true. Just like we can feel sad and be happy simultaneously, we can feel anxious and be courageous at the same time. Being courageous is about recognizing, understanding, and acting as if regardless of what may happen, you do in fact have the ability to affect what does happen. This means that in order to cultivate courage, you have push yourself out of your comfort zone (in a safe and manageable way) and expose yourself to the things that you generally avoid because they make you feel anxious. It’s not about jumping straight to the thing that causes you the highest anxiety. Instead, it’s about identifying those situations or experiences that cause a moderate amount of anxiety; enough anxiety that it’s a bit uncomfortable, yet manageable. On a scale of 0 to 8, with 0 being no anxiety and 8 being the most anxiety ever, you’re looking to engage in things that are a 3, 4, or 5. The goal here is to help you realize that when excessive worry/anxiety presents itself, you can manage those reactions and that they are not as harmful, overwhelming, or permanent as previously anticipated.


Anxiety is a normal part of the human experience, but it is individually unique in how and when it manifests, as well as how it can be most effectively overcome in that moment.

The above skills are general principles of anxiety management and prevention anxiety. Anxiety management is an important aspect of positive mental health, but sometimes overcoming anxiety needs a bit more “oompf”.

Anxiety can be a tough battle. Even as an anxiety researcher, I still have a difficult time managing my own anxiety. If you need additional support for your anxiety, know that it is there for you – from friends and family to individual therapy or group therapy to medication, etc.

Reference Link: Anxiety and Depression Association of America

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Dear Friend https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/dear-friend Mon, 09 Dec 2019 10:30:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com dc7c3f23-bec7-42e6-b232-8ecb922e6ac9 Dear Friend

It’s not like my Friday started off on the right foot. After waking up with intense tooth pain, I headed out mid-morning for what would quickly become an emergency root canal. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to be the worst part of my day.

Later that afternoon, I woke up from a post-root canal nap to a text message from a friend with news that we had lost a mutual friend to suicide. My interaction with my now-passed friend had always been sporadic, but whenever we’d reconnect every couple months, we’d always brain dump and catch each other up on what was going on in our lives currently. The lack of recent communication hadn’t been cause for concern, so with this realization, I was floored, sent spinning, and ridiculously angered all at the same time.

The stories we share here at Anthologies of Hope are not past tense. They are now, they are on-going, they are affecting the story teller day in and day out, they will be tomorrow, and they will be next year. That is why the fight for mental health normalization, for suicide prevention, and breaking down stigmas is one that will always make my blood boil and be the reason I get up in the morning. It’s because of all those things, or more appropriately the lack of global effort in all those things already, that I will never be able to have a meal at a California Pizza Kitchen the same fucking way again.

This “woulda, coulda, shoulda” note has been kicking around in my brain since I saw the word suicide pop up in my messages after morphing from that damn ellipsis.

Dear friend:

I still remember our first meeting. Your first sentence after introducing yourself still rings in my ears. “I’m a perfectionist. You’ll learn that quickly working with me”. I guess in hindsight that was both a good and a bad thing. We didn’t work on many projects after the initial few, but we always kept tabs on one another. Me with my head down in the weeds and you connecting and empowering people without hesitation; each completely bewildered and horrified of what would happen to us if our roles were somehow magically reversed in some weird Freaky Friday magic.

But it was because of this vastness in difference of our skill-sets that made us fast friends. We both attacked all our problems with the same tenacity, with the same perfectionist zeal, but also worked inside a system that was broken more often than it was functioning. I enjoyed listening to what you were working on, thinking I could never do anything like that, and then you saying there was someone I had to meet based off of your recent work.

Even when our professional networks waned and no longer overlapped much, you still pushed me more than almost any mentor, manager, or team lead ever did. There was never a new endeavor that I was starting that you weren’t supportive of. Thinking or living outside of the box wasn’t good enough. You always pushed me to go completely outside the box factory, preferably to the next town over and keep going. You saw things in me that I never thought I could nurture but kept turning that crank in our ever-so-often conversations to keep me knowledgeable that the growth was still possible, while those seeds had already been planted.

In the end, I’m sorry I couldn’t return the favor or at least let you know how much you were doing for me and everyone else you kept close... just by being you. Your positive, yet pragmatic, attitude is one that echoes in my brain throughout many conversations that could easily go sideways. There won’t be a situation or new opportunity that I go into, one which scares the shit out of me more and more with each step forward, that I won’t see you sitting on my shoulder, with your ear to ear grin and your trademark dimples, whispering “you should go for it”.

I can’t thank you enough for the friendship that we shared on this planet for far too short a time. No matter where I go, no matter what I do next, when I think I can’t do something... I’ll do it anyway because I know you would have believed in me and had a laundry lists of reasons why I couldn’t not do it!

Until our next lunch, JD...

jd-inspiration
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Eureka - Katie Carter X Galileo Galilei https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/eureka-04-katie-carter-galileo-galilei Fri, 29 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 60ac9af9-4f83-4e9a-abfa-a2a28f384da3 https://files.fireside.fm/file/fireside-uploads/images/7/7ac712f7-e8b6-4e8d-b239-0d7f2997d5bd/PkJEzxJD.jpg "You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself."
- Galileo Galilei
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Editor's note: This week's Eureka contributor is friend of the show and future guest, Katie Carter. You can look forward to hearing more from her next season!

A man does not naturally know how to love a woman
He does not know how to wrap his fingers so gently intertwined with hers
He does not know how to gently move her hair from her face smooth enough to not make it obvious how much he wants to make a move
He doesn’t know the weight of a heart held in his hands
Or the confusion we feel on a daily basis
He doesn’t understand that sometimes we don’t make sense, that’s we can be messy, and that we don’t always say what we mean
He doesn’t know that she sees how hard he is working
He doesn’t know that she needs him
He doesn’t know that he needs her
He doesn’t know that love is a choice and so is respect. He is looking for a longing that he has yet to find. The grocery clerk with the bangs or the barista could be the one to take his world and spin it on a dime. He waits patiently. He looks to his mother for consultation. He looks to understand the signs
He looks within himself
He sees self doubt and questions
Why are my hands so weird and my arms so small
Why are my efforts not noticed of those around me ?
Why do some men just seem to have it easy?
He doesn’t know that the grocery clerk sees his deep brown eyes for every hot Cheeto run. She looks for any reason for him to linger. He doesn’t see that his barista knows his coffee before reaches the counter.
He doesn’t see that he is given the look by those around him. He doesn’t see the magic because he cannot see it within himself. We cannot teach a man to love himself but we remind them that their hope is held within themselves. Their ability to love and be loved is at the core. We just have to show them where.


Head on over to Monkey Minion Press now to pick up a copy of the Eureka art book or the print used as the inspiration for today's blog post!

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Eureka - Candice Carpenter X Jonas Salk https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/eureka-03-candice-carpenter-jonas-salk Fri, 22 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com da10579a-ee93-444a-b931-c2e4dad1b4fd "There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality." - Jonas Salk "There is hope in dreams, imagination, and in the courage of those who wish to make those dreams a reality."
- Jonas Salk
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Editor's note: This week's Eureka contributor is Season 1 guest, Candice Carpenter. To learn more about Candice, head over to her Anthologies of Hope Guest Page after reading her post below.

The reason I was so taken with this quote from Jonas Salk, is because it contains three of my favorite words…HOPE, DREAMS and IMAGINATION.

From the time I was a child and wanted nothing more than to be Dr. Ellie Sattler (Jurassic Park), I have been a dreamer. From paleontology, to plastic surgery, actress to pro soccer star, I’ve always seen a world beyond the one I lived in.
In my early adulthood, the real world threatened to take those dreams away from me and it cost me so much of my identity and even, my mental health.

As encouraged in my endeavors as I was, I was more encouraged to make sure that I narrowed it down to one “thing” and that it was lucrative enough to support me. My creative endeavors spoke the most to my soul but more practical ones are what paid the bills, thus my twenties were full of such a tug o war, I eventually gave in to the more practical and let the dreamer in me be silenced. I was able to make a living but I wasn’t living.

As my early thirties came, I began to meet people who found a way to keep dreaming dreams and also provide for themselves and it often took the form of more than one “thing”. In addition to meeting these people, I also started therapy for my anxiety/depression and it was there that I discovered that my dreams and the imagination required to form them are HUGE parts of my personality and that it is FAR better for me to lean in to them, explore/nurture them then to not have them.

The thing about dreams and imagination is that they SET US FREE! It doesn’t matter if your dreams include dragon riding or that larger corner office, being able to visualize something different and/or better for yourself can only HELP you get there!

Let’s take Jonas Salk for example. One Google search unveiled what HAD to have been a BIG dreamer! The first of his family to attend college and to go straight into working in epidemiology! This guy wanted to help people on the MACRO level, but we all know that starts small…with a single cell if you will.

As I read a brief bit about his history, I envisioned what it must have been like to study all the ways the human body can fight itself, deteriorate and build itself up again, to try and to fail…what it would have been like to be resisted by superiors/colleagues and yet see your dream SO clearly that you never give up…COURAGE.

Without all the components in quote that inspired this post, Jonas Salk wouldn’t have invented a successful polio vaccine. While it’s true that someone else might have, years later, it wouldn’t have been HIM, like he wanted it to be.

The point of all of this is that, at 37, I am learning to truly LIVE for the first time in my life and it’s because I let the wonder, creativity and amazement of my dreams spur me forward into whatever direction I IMAGINE! Now, I still have that practical, lucrative job BUT I also solve mysteries, I introduce my niece and nephews to all my baby dragons, I sketch, get behind a camera, create with my hands, read books, and occasionally dig up dinosaur bones. That’s A LOT more than one “thing” and honestly the list keeps getting longer.

The BEST part of COURAGE, for me, is that it gives life to the dream and though the dream may change on its way to fruition, it becomes something so much better. Sure, we can’t all invent a life changing vaccine BUT I am betting that whatever your dream is, THE WORLD NEEDS IT TOO!

I HOPE you will let your imaginations run free and dream those dreams!!


Head on over to Monkey Minion Press now to pick up a copy of the Eureka art book or the print used as the inspiration for today's blog post!

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Eureka - Amanda Osowski X Dmitry Mendeleev https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/eureka-02-amanda-osowski-dmitry-mendeleev Fri, 15 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 80707998-4d32-4ac5-8bd5-f9d198158e73 "There is nothing in this world that I fear to say." - Dmitry Mendeleev "There is nothing in this world that I fear to say."
- Dmitry Mendeleev
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Editor's note: This week's Eureka contributor is Season 2 guest, Amanda Osowski. To learn more about Amanda, head over to her Anthologies of Hope Guest Page after reading her post below.

Hi, I’m Amanda! If you know me in person, or follow me on social media, you know a few things about my life, in no particular order. I have a 6 month old daughter, I struggled with infertility and went through IVF to conceive her, I have a snuggly pup named Ollie (after Oliver Queen on the TV show Green Arrow), you know I’m a fierce advocate for mental health, I have Depression and Anxiety and Crohn’s disease, I believe in compassion, I am an Enneagram 2, my favorite book is is “If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski, and most importantly, I find myself sitting with a lot of feelings and emotions on the regular.

I used to struggle so much with what to do with all these feelings. Often, the things I felt sat on my chest like secrets struggling not to escape. I feared that others would judge me or dismiss me if they learned about all the things in my head and my heart, and the way I processed several of the difficult challenges life had already thrown my way. In my younger days, this looked like sharing too much with people who might not have been ready or had the capacity to support me, filling journals and writing blog entries, seeking comments and likes and approvals that let me somehow know I wasn’t orbiting in these voids alone.

Maybe the transition came with age, or experience, or figuring out how I wanted to use social media as the internet exploded, but I realized that my oversharing was really just a symptom of desperation. I was seeking connections, a community filled with like minded individuals. People who had already come to understand that without losses, you don’t really know the value of wins, and that life is both heavy and light but it only finds balance if you acknowledge both sides of the coin.

In the past five years in particular, I have been lucky enough to live a lot of life, and I’ve progressively chosen to do so out loud. I’ve chosen to share the things that bring joy to my life - mainly with pictures, stories and snuggles of my cute pup and my baby girl, but I’ve also continued to talk about the hard things I have experienced/continue to walk through including life with an incurable chronic illness, why mental health advocacy and awareness is important, what real life looks like during and after infertility, postpartum, and breastfeeding and anything else that becomes a hot button topic or one that I perceive stigma around in my life.

My goal in what I choose to share started off and continues to grow in the same sentiments - I want to invite people in during the highs and lows and even in the in-between, invite people to ask questions and share their experiences, search for advice, talk about what was hard, what they’ve overcome, what they’re scared of, grateful for, or feeling too much of.

I realize that people need other people not just in person, but in what they consume online, and by choosing not to censor myself, by choosing to invite people in for the highs and lows, I am choosing to create a community filled with people who also share their full hearts. People who celebrate wins and mourn losses and help others to see that life isn’t Instagram perfect or devastatingly awful all of the time. It’s both. It’s neither. It’s a balance.

By choosing not to be afraid of sharing things that are less than ideal, things that are hard or I’m not proud of or hurt me in any way, I am choosing my own definition of brave. I’m choosing my own definition of community. Of transparency. I’m choosing my own definition of hope.


Head on over to Monkey Minion Press now to pick up a copy of the Eureka art book or the print used as the inspiration for today's blog post!

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Eureka - Blast Off!!! https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/eureka-00-kickoff Fri, 08 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com c2ef38ca-65dd-45d5-8052-58d950ae124c What inspires you? What gives you hope? What do you keep fighting for? What is the part of your story that you will not be ashamed of? What are the wins you’ve had? What are the losses you’ve had? These are the questions that started the storytelling of Anthologies of Hope. The audio form of the podcast is only one way to tell stories. I’ve always been inspired by so many of my friends that are such prolific writers, so I figured why not bring them on board, give them a little direction, and let their creativity run wild to tell their story even more! "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
- Albert Einstein
eureka-albert-einstein

What inspires you? What gives you hope? What do you keep fighting for? What is the part of your story that you will not be ashamed of? What are the wins you’ve had? What are the losses?

These are the questions that started the storytelling of Anthologies of Hope. The audio form of the podcast is only one way to tell stories. I’ve always been inspired by so many of my friends that are such prolific writers, so I figured why not bring them on board, give them a little direction, and let their creativity run wild to tell their story even more!

With this blog series, we’re doing just that! We’ve got a series of blog posts coming your way that are inspired by one of my favorite comic convention artists, Monkey Minion Press. They have an art series and book titled “Eureka - The Art of Science”. Immediately, you’re probably thinking that art and science wouldn’t go front and center with mental health and suicide prevention. However, once you see what we have in store for you, it will instantly make sense. Each of the blog posts are written based upon the inspiration from a singular art piece in the Eureka series. Some of these blog posts will continue the story that the author told during their previous appearance on the podcast. Some of the blog posts will detail new stories and experiences, while some of them will cover parts of their story that they have never shared before. So follow along, either on Instagram, Facebook, or right here on the website, to see all the inspiration coming from our Anthologies of Hope family!


Eureka - Cover

Each blog post will open with the art piece written about, followed by the author’s blog post. Each individual art piece is available for purchase from the Monkey Minion Press online store, as well as a collected works in the Eureka art book. Also, I have not mentioned this yet, but the physical art prints are limited editions of only 100 and individually numbered. So if you want to own a limited edition art print, the very same one our guest authors are writing from, head on over to Monkey Minion Press and order them today! We will include the link for both the specific art print and the entire Eureka book in each blog post going forward.

Head on over to Monkey Minion Press now to pick up a copy and get excited for the inspired writing to come! If you'd like to get a copy of the print I used as the inspiration to kick off this blog series, just follow this link to get your's today!

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Eureka - Jen John X Alexander Fleming https://www.anthologiesofhope.com/articles/eureka-01-jen-john-alexander-fleming Fri, 08 Nov 2019 07:15:00 -0600 anthologiesofhope@gmail.com 925c4cad-51ca-4817-876b-d5bb43fe83d0 "One sometimes finds what one is not looking for." - Alexander Fleming "One sometimes finds what one is not looking for."
- Alexander Fleming
eureka-alexander-fleming

Editor's note: This week's Eureka contributor is Season 1 guest, Jen John. To learn more about Jen, head over to her Anthologies of Hope Guest Page after reading her post below.

When I quit drinking in 2017, I wasn’t sure what I was hoping to find that the bottom of a Three Wishes bottle couldn’t give me the answers to. Because when the sirens made my skin crawl, a zinfandel numbed me. When I was so angry that another school shooting happened that I couldn’t see straight, Fireball freed me. When the loneliness crept in, the fuzzy memories of his fingertips tracing my tattoo, tequila erased it. And when the nightmares came (because they always did), a stout locked them away. When trauma lit my life on fire, alcohol was the only way I knew how to survive. By the time I quit drinking, not only had I been using alcohol to cope for so long that I didn’t know how to exist in my pain without ethanol in my blood, but I also felt incomplete. Every day was filled with a combination of shame, FOMO and terror that wine made me a more appealing person. I thought I was lost without alcohol. Days were hazy and I was a ghost running on fumes, frantically trying to make it through each hour without my “safety net”. And when wine on the tongues of friends chatting brought the cravings so deep I’d go cross-eyed in desire or a car accident that almost took my life or his hands I didn’t want on me left me on the floor crying for tequila to erase it from my brain, I was only reminded of how terrified I was to feel the pain that had nested a home in my bones for 26 years. I wanted to rebuild my life, but all I felt was ungrateful, angry and isolated.

I can’t tell you when it all changed. One day I’m questioning whether or not sobriety is worth it because yet another guy has ghosted me after finding out I don’t drink and the next, I’m saying “goodbye” to caffeine because I have the clarity now to realize it’s causing more harm than good. Sobriety didn’t “fix” me overnight - it took me more than a year to understand the living that alcohol stole from me. How many times had I cheated myself out of the simple joy of being present? I’m not saying that sobriety is easy or even always enjoyable. Life is so raw and tender that it can be absolutely unbearable to be present for it all. Like when I found myself looking for the bar at the Denver airport at 5am after a relationship that I wanted with every fiber in my being suddenly ended. But I knew that drinking would not glue back the pieces of my broken heart, would not remove the memories of tracing the freckle constellations of his back, would not erase how my body melted under his eyes. And with every school shooting that happens that places me back in that choir room in Crawford on June 5th, 2014 with the air conditioning on high and the clock alerting us every 15 minutes that we were still in lockdown, my whole body shuts down. But instead of letting a bottle of wine sing me to sleep to fight the nightmares that will greet me when I close my eyes, I find myself in my bathtub, removing social media from my phone and letting the water envelope me and wash away the ashes of my trauma.

I was having dinner with a friend recently and we were laughing at how our lives have turned out so drastically different than we had hoped for. We joked about not bothering to plan for the future since life never turns out the way we think it will. But I think, maybe, that’s the point. That life doesn’t have to go the way we want it for us to live it. We still show up even when reality falls short of our desires. The mountains we climb, the valleys we walk through and the plateaus we grow stagnant in are what break us, build us and change us into who we really are. Am I thankful that alcohol held my worth in its hands? Absolutely not. But had I not had to face it I’m not sure who I’d be today. Getting sober was so much harder than I ever could have imagined, but the pain it took to get to where I am today is nothing in comparison to what I’ve found in sobriety that I wasn’t expecting- freedom, clarity, my voice, my life. And for that, I’m forever grateful.


Head on over to Monkey Minion Press now to pick up a copy of the Eureka art book or the print used as the inspiration for today's blog post!

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