Have recent celebrity suicides left you with a deep sadness and wonderment at what it takes to go that far into depression? Those are common thoughts when we hear the news that someone was so overwhelmed by life’s difficulties that suicide seemed the only answer. The good news is that hope is available for anyone who needs it, and life is full of possibilities for connection and support—and yes, creativity that brings joy, mindfulness, satisfaction, and peace.
Dr. Caroline Giroux is a psychiatrist who migrated from Canada and is now Associate Professor at UC Davis. Through narrative approaches, she has the privilege to witness her patients’ growth and be inspired by their resilience. Apart from addressing the impact of traumatic experiences throughout the lifespan, she is an educator, an academic writer, an essayist, and a poet. She channels her creativity by designing teaching tools such as courses on mood disorders for medical students and a monthly newsletter for residents She is the mother of three spirited sons and has no shortage of opportunities to express her creativity through kids’ stories and various family projects.
Caroline is a creative physician who writes professionally and personally. She shares some of her poetry and essays in Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine, the official journal of the medical society by the same name. This lifestyle journal promotes the history, art, and science of medicine, the protection of public health, and the well-being of patients and their caregivers. I have the privilege of serving on the editorial committee of the journal with Caroline and am happy to share this conversation with you.
- How Caroline came to psychiatry, knowing even in high school that she wanted a medical field that allowed her to use her creativity and writing
- How she wanted to give hope to people through their deep sorrows
- How her parents inspired her to want to work in helping others and find gratification in service
- The difference in the college education systems in Canada and the US
- Why she pursued a physical therapy degree first and then went on to medical school, not knowing the reintegration of body and mind in medicine would make her PT “detour” worthwhile and very helpful
- The creatives in her family: a great uncle who was a priest, poet, and writer; and her aunt who is a painter and poet
- How depression and suicide rates have risen over 30% in the past 20 years and how creative people are keenly affected
- The struggle to reconcile our image of ourselves with what others think of us
- How some celebrities are disconnected from their families and struggle with addiction and substance abuse
- Alienation from others and self is a common theme and an inability to transform from a difficult circumstance
- Healing and empowerment come when people are willing to transform from fear, shame, and hopelessness
- How even Robin Williams, “the king of laughter,” had problems and a severe mental illness that people weren’t aware of
- What we can learn about attempted suicide to affect policies about gun violence
- When people reach a high stress situation and are overwhelmed, if they don’t have a coping mechanism, but have alcoholism and available guns—a ticking time bomb is the result
- Why we need to talk about suicide and deepen our understanding
- 12-25% of people experience depression, with men expressing it more openly but women being more willing to seek help
- The need is to expand coping skills to deal with stressors more effectively now and later in life
- The need for a “sabbatical of the soul” and respite to fight against overwhelming feelings
- There are many resources available to treat substance abuse and depression
- How religious affiliations can help because of the sense of community and the ritual practices that induce mindfulness
- How the celebrity lifestyle can take away the joy and mindfulness we gain from simple, daily, repetitive activities
- Why self-care is extremely vital for doctors and healthcare workers, in the form of exercise, mindfulness, yoga, and socialization activities
- Caroline’s thoughts on creativity: “We all have an innate potential for creativity, even those who might not think they are creative. We access this creativity for problem-solving, clarity, and mindfulness. Find your creative path.”
National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255
Our guest today is the photographer, Alison Brown. I learned of Alison through the Women’s Environmental Network of the San Francisco Bay area. I saw her work online, and I knew I had to have her on the show. Alison is an international photographer that discovered her passion for photography nearly ten years ago after embarking on her first backpacking trip through Southeast Asia in 2008. She’s been blessed to visit the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Turkey, France, Israel, Spain, Portugal, United States, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to her photography, she is also a Communications Consultant and Sustainability Specialist. Her intention is to use her photographs to inspire people to care more deeply about the natural environment and conservation. Alison views photography as much more than a profession and shares her creative approach to photography in this episode.
More creativity in this episode:
- Learn how photography inspires Alison.
- Why did Alison choose to travel Southeast Asia after graduating college?
- Alison shares her passion for her sustainability work.
- Discover how Alison bridges her sustainability work with her photography.
- Alison describes her experiences while living in Australia.
- Alison shares tidbits from her younger years, and how her focused shifted to what it is today.
- Inspiration for creativity may come in different forms. Alison shares when she does her best work.
- Encouragement for using your personal creativity.
- Encouragement to be conservative with natural resources.
Alison Brown Photography
Alison’s blog is Alison Brown Photography
You can discover more about Alison on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
It is always a joy to see creativity bloom where you least expect it. I am speaking with student physician Vidya Viswanathan today, the founder of Doctors Who Create. Vidya and her team are on a mission to change the culture of medicine by fostering creativity. It is such a delight to see colleagues in medicine with an interest in creativity.
Vidya had the chance not just to explore how creativity plays an important role in medicine but also how her experiences of travel and foreign language have shaped her career as well. There is so much beauty in hearing a story shared well, and that is what is in store for you with Vidya today! Her perspectives are very unlike any we have had on the show so far, but her stories still have a little something for everyone. I am excited for you to join us as we explore Vidya’s journey to creativity and culture.
More Creativity in this Episode:
- Vidya shares her roundabout path to medicine and her biggest cultural influences.
- Medicine needs the influence of creativity too!
- Vidya wants to highlight the profiles of medical professionals who use creativity.
- Vidya shares what gave her blog some focus.
- The broader appeal of Doctors Who Create.
- Vidya’s parents encouraged her to read and write and express herself through words.
- Taking Chinese played an important role in Vidya’s creativity.
- Dive into some of Vidya’s best experiences while traveling in China.
- Focus on the process, not the result.
Doctors Who Create
Do you know that May 5th is International (aka National) Scrapbook Day? By now, my regular listeners all know that I’m a really enthusiastic scrapbooker, and at the moment, I am busy creating a kit to take with me to Dixon, California, to celebrate this special tribute to scrapbooking. Although I have done more digital pages lately, I still love to take out my supplies and get lost in the world of cutting and gluing. In fact, I love getting lost in the whole dimension of paper storytelling! May 5th is a day to celebrate other things, too. It’s Kentucky Derby Day, Cinco de Mayo, Burgundy Day (the color-not the wine), Comic Book Day, Hoagie Day, and even National Seeing Monarch Butterfly Day, to only mention a few! Most importantly, may 5th is Silence the Shame Day. Mental illness is far too common, and it’s very treatable! So let’s all speak out, advocate for more resources, and encourage those in need of help to seek it. What did you celebrate May 5th? I’d love to know! I’d also really love to know if you found a creative outlet for telling your story.
I’m really looking forward to today’s show with my noteworthy guest, Nancy Nally. Nancy is both a columnist and a journalist. Alliteration in her name could be one reason why Nancy Nally is known, but she is also known for her nose for news. On today’s show, we discover the latest trends in colors, papers, and motifs, from here and abroad. We also learn about the job of a craft journalist, and about how Nancy found her creative approach. I first met Nancy through the craft world, and more specifically, via events of the AFCI (Association for Creative Industries), formerly known as The Craft and Hobby Association. Nancy is no stranger to podcasting and helped host The Paper-Clipping Roundtable, while it was an active broadcast. Join me today, and listen as we take a peek at Nancy’s creative approach, and as we also celebrate creative crafts!
- Nancy discusses her career and blog.
- The three craft industry-related websites that Nancy’s company owns-Scrapbook Update, Craft Critique, and the recently launched Chasing Dust Bunnies.
- The kinds of crafts on which Nancy focuses.
- Some of the really hot crafts, along with craft comebacks.
- The way that trends filter down into the crafts industry.
- The ways trends here differ from European trends.
- The latest trends in colors.
- Chalk paints are currently a big craze in Europe.
- The DIY trend is going strong in Europe, and there is much to facilitate this!
- Metallic finishes are very popular.
- How do rubber and wood-mounted stamps fit into your scrapbooking strategy?
- Nancy’s purpose-driven crafting.
- How curiosity drives creativity.
- What creativity means to Nancy.
Nancy’s websites: Scrapbook Update
Chasing Dust Bunnies
Please join our Creative Approach Facebook Page, and the Creative Approach Facebook Group, too!
The creative process of storytelling is both fascinating and inspiring. The stories we share and the ones we create play such a huge role in how we capture memories and shape the future. No one understands this better than Patricia (or Patti) Newman. Patti has a passion for telling stories, but her passion doesn’t stop there! I am excited for you to hear all of her thoughts on creativity!
Patricia Newman is the author of the Sibert Honor-winning Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem as well as Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and Neema’s Reason to Smile. With her books, she hopes to empower kids and to share stories about people who create change around the world. Patti is our first children’s author on the podcast, and her stories about social justice, careers, and the wide world around us are just fabulous. It is clear that Patti has the heart to use her creative gifts to empower our future scientists, business owners, and world leaders. We have so much to learn from her in today’s episode!
More creativity in this episode:
- Patti shares her unique point of view on children’s stories.
- Why Patti tends towards environmental themes in her books.
- The journey behind Neema’s story.
- Children are often very perceptive when it comes to more difficult topics.
- Patti shares stories of her own childhood.
- Making the leap from reading to writing is big but natural.
- Patti wants to teach children to connect what they have learned to the rest of the world.
- The main reasons why Patti picks her stories.
- We need to share with our children that their voices matter.
- It is easy to see creativity in fiction, but nonfiction requires it too!
Books are available online!
Reason 2 Smile