Two Hundred Fifty-Nine

RubyThat’s how many days are left in the year 2014.  We’ve gone through 106 so far, which is a whole lot, but it isn’t the whole lot.  It isn’t even one-third of the year!

Why this sudden obsession with the days?  I’m so glad that you asked!

In my continuing capacity as your Official Blog For Mental Health conduit and project coordinator, I seem to be getting a lot of questions, comments, and concerns, and most all of them having the same basic theme:

Am I too late to participate in Blog For Mental Health 2014?  What’s the deadline for submitting posts?

(If you’ve already pledged or aren’t so interested in BFMH, please do keep reading just the same.  I need your help, all of you wonderful Canvas readers, and more details will be forthcoming momentarily.)

In answer to those two questions, you are absolutely not too late to participate, either with a first-time pledge post or with any additional pieces you’d like to submit for sharing.  There is no “deadline”, no cut off of any kind for pledging.

In fact, in 2013 we had pledges rolling in all the way through November, which was just fantastic.  Right now we’re at 203 pledges, which causes me to say both “Yippeeee!” and “It’s only mid-April, we can do so much more!”

I mean, we can, can’t we?  You’ve given a very enthusiastic response and a fantastic hello to BFMH 2014, it has been wonderfully successful, beyond my wildest dreams.  And while I still have 100-plus pieces to share out, they certainly won’t last until the end of 2014.

So please, by all means keep writing and submitting your pieces to blogformentalhealth@gmail.com, and I will show off you and your words in every way I can through the Official Blog For Mental Health Project site, as well as our various social media outlets.  I’m the first to admit that I run kind of hot and cold with the social media sometimes, and I make no promises to turn into any kind of superstar in that department.  I do try, though, and the power of social media, the chorus of your voices singing in beautiful harmony to make my own sound stronger and sweeter than it ever could on its own is what got BFMH to where it is today — no minor achievement, that!

I have often silently lamented how there is such an influx of support from all of the amazing Blog For Mental Health Warriors out in the land of blog, but I’ve had so little time and opportunity to get to know many of you.  Handling nearly 400 emails already in the space of about three months means I can usually only manage a response to specific questions here and there.

It took me a while to admit I was feeling a bit burned out on the whole project, and a bit longer still to understand why.  I was still giving BFMH my all, but my heart wasn’t in it so much as it should have been.  That’s when I realized the key element I was missing: people.  Honest connections with all who have become involved.  Because of the sheer scope of the response, I felt as though I had been turned into a bit of a machine.  Add this post here, share it out on that space and that space and that one, check off the boxes so they are neat and tidy. . .

But wait a moment.  You must never lose sight of the most important truth.  These are pieces of people’s souls they are placing into your care.

People have always mattered to me so much more than numbers and statistics. I’ve always loved it here on Canvas, because I feel the authors have a real and rare opportunity to establish bonds with readers as well as with each other.  After all, that’s what makes this whole blogging endeavor so emotionally fulfilling and worth our while, right?  It’s the very same thing that makes our lives so fulfilling and worthwhile.  The connections we forge between us.  And while I certainly always give your words the respect they are so richly due with Blog For Mental Health, it often seems a very one-sided relationship indeed.  So starting today, when I’ll be cross-promoting this piece over at the BFMH site, I’m going to try out something in that blog space for which the current working title is “Wild Card Wednesdays”.  Not especially original, perhaps, but appropriate nonetheless.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that through the Official Blog For Mental Health Project site I’ve been trying to share out pledge posts on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  As someone who abhors any kind of routine, that has been a sort of weird challenge all its own.  But I’d like to now use Wednesdays for updates, discussions, forums, brainstorming sessions, 20 questions. . .  Okay, I probably won’t resort to 20 questions, but I refuse to promise that in writing! In essence, I’m simply longing for a chance to get to know those of you participating, to talk with you and get feedback on the project and to learn what you think, both generally about life and specifically regarding Blog For Mental Health.

Simply put, I want to take back the element of one-to-one contact that feels like it has gotten so lost in wave after wave of BFMH pledge posting, and to get to know everyone a bit more.  This approach may be a the right one or it may fall flat on its face, but the idea behind it is most definitely good, and I want to give it a serious try.

One final point of procedure, and then you can go back to whatever it is you’re hoping no one notices you aren’t actually doing at this moment.

You know, A Canvas Of The Minds has been around a pretty long time, at least in blog years.  We’re coming up on our third anniversary this summer (ready the confetti and cue the noisemakers), which is of course the result of the commitment and dedication of everyone writing for Team Canvas, of those who have supported us behind-the-scenes by sharing out out project through social media or just plain cheering us on, and lastly (but certainly not least importantly), we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to each and every one of you who reads and comments.  There would be no Canvas if there weren’t minds and hearts and voices like yours to tell us when what we’re doing is worthwhile, that it’s helpful to you, and to engage with us by showing how you relate to our thoughts, our feelings, and our words.

I would very much like to have a special name for this wonderful community, something a bit more definite than addressing you as ‘my loves’, but a bit less cumbersome and hopefully more creative than continually writing ‘this wonderful community of Canvas readers’.  This, my darlings, is where I need your help.  I figured I could put together a poll and all of you so inclined could vote on an official designation for your very special stature as members of the extended Canvas family.  That’s always what this community has felt most like to me, an enormous family.  But before I can do any such thing as polling, I need ideas from you, a starting place, maybe a half-dozen or so monikers for this amazing group (maybe less, maybe more).  What do you think?  Our Sailor came up with the “Team Canvas” title to refer to our authors, and as far as Blog For Mental Health Warriors, that one just happened to jump from the tips of my fingers when I witnessed the amazing dedication and fierce commitment so many have for that project.

But what about this project here? What about BFMH’s older sibling?  Honestly, I’ve always loathed the word “followers”. It implies that you are being led somewhere, and nothing could be further from the truth.  You are all bright, intelligent, strong, independent-minded individuals who are kind enough to make the choice to read and engage and comment on pieces you find have merit or speak to you here among the blossoming buds of mental health awareness and activism.  And maybe you don’t need an official designation, but I have such respect for all you have done and continue to do to make Canvas successful and worthwhile that I do feel you deserve a special term of respect and endearment.  I’m also very tired of writing ‘our wonderful Canvas readers’, if you really want to know.  It feels somewhat like the veneer of heartfelt sincerity has been rubbed off, like it has become just a pat phrase — though you are all wonderful and me saying so repeatedly hasn’t changed my feelings there one bit.

However, I think between us we can manage to come up with something more interesting, less cumbersome, and certainly more creative and exciting.  So put on your appropriate thinking cap (I happen to have multiple thinking caps, suitable for all occasions, but then I do have a weakness for accessories), and kindly leave any suggestions regarding what you feel the amazing community of readers here should forthwith be designated as in the comments below.  After you have given your feedback, I’ll put together The First Ever Real-Live Actual Poll here on Canvas, and you’ll have a chance to vote for the title you feel best suits the spirit of the most amazing community of readers a site ever did have.

Let the brainstorming commence!

Lots of love,
Ruby

© Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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24 thoughts on “Two Hundred Fifty-Nine

  1. What about “spectrum”? I’m thinking canvas is to do with paint, which means colours… and the full range of colours is a spectrum. Also, we are all coming from different backgrounds, each of us have our different issues with mental health, different degrees of severity, different histories etc. If your blog is the canvas then the community is the spectrum…you get the idea 🙂

    The correlation of a spectrum works for me – I don’t know about anybody else though!

    • “Spectrum” definitely does have its bright points, both in talking about paint, colors, and canvas and also with the great diversity (spectrum) of our backgrounds. But how does one then turn it into a plural noun? As in, “I know all of you wonderful ~ out there. . .” We could use spectrals, but then we’re hitting some ghostly territory. 😉

      Thoughts?

      • I’ve just looked at the dictionary and apparently. “spectrums” is acceptable as a plural but so is spectra. It doesn’t quite work as “question for all of you spectra” though – but “question for the spectra” might.

        Hmm… might have to take care wording that. Hopefully someone can come up with a better suggestion

        • Ah, but then I’ve never been a fan of the analog “question for all of you people”, so in that respect it suits. I think I particularly like the idea because while the entire spectrum of visible light encompasses so very many different hues, they are all necessary to create white (which in my mind has always carried such a delicious hint of contradiction). Spectra is decidedly going on the list. 🙂

  2. I like “Spectrum.” I’m with ChinUp. And I actually think a “20 Questions” post prompt with a link-up would be cool. And I want to say, you are doing a TREMENDOUS job facilitating the project and to say thank you a million times wouldn’t do you justice. You go girl!

    • Spectrum does seem to be both inspired and well-liked, but as I mentioned above it isn’t a plural noun, so that needs sorting out.

      Who knows, it may come to something like 20 questions, if we got enough people interested. Of course, we couldn’t play the game the way it’s traditionally played, but it’s something to consider! I was just thinking aloud. 🙂

      And Rose, thank you a million times for all your kindness and enthusiasm! This is why I need to be able to spend a bit more time actually discoursing with all you wonderful readers. You remind me of how awesome you all are!

    • It seems well-received. If you don’t feel you can improve it (and I think you could come up with something yourself, don’t sell yourself short!), perhaps you could help with turning it into a plural or collective noun that could actually be used in context.

      Any luck? 😉

      • Hmm I know its not in the same context but for the plural what about specks? Like “Question for all my specks”

        • There is definitely a fun informality in that which I like, Hayley. It’s got the kind of “peeps” vibe going, and could perhaps be used in conjunction with spectra to best suit the writing, you know?

          I love this, you guys are really awesome!

    • So far it’s the favorite, but it isn’t actually a plural noun. So until we get that particular point of grammar resolved, we’ll have to keep thinking, methinks! 🙂

  3. I like spectrum as well, but I can’t resist a brainstorming session,.. so, since we’re all part of Canvas, how about referring to the lot of us as Painters? That might seem to be more appropriate for the pledged writers but I think it works for the community as a whole. We all affect each other, after all.

    I’ll say again you need not worry or apologize for what you’re maybe not doing here, Ruby. You do a magnificent job with everything and you should be proud.

    • I love brainstorming, Sid, it’s something I was hoping to jump-start here. There is also the issue with spectrum not being quite the right part of speech. . . Painters is lovely, we do all affect each other, and the smallest stroke can change the composition of a piece, which makes it pretty special and pretty accurate as far as what we do both as authors and readers!

      Thank you for your kind words. You know me, and I’m going to go at this hard until I get it all “just so” (which will probably be never). I can be completely understanding when others are juggling a lot, but for whatever reason I feel I ought to have six or more arms, like the goddess Kali (except less bloodthirsty), and think that if I’m not keeping this multiplicity of limbs in motion I’m somehow doing something wrong.

      So thank you again. And of course, remember — do as I say, not as I do!

  4. The first thing that came to mind for me, if we’re talking a broad use moniker for the readers of Canvas of the Minds, was to possibly go with “brush strokes” … if the writers are the Painters, then perhaps the readers are the Brush Strokes that help create the picture being painted on Canvas. It could be said that any smattering of brush strokes, when applied to a canvas, can create an artistic result. They may be dark and evocative, or brightly inspiring, or even chaotically erratic, but all help paint the picture. The visual emphasis on Canvas of the Minds is a colorful group that has a common thread; each of us a unique brush stroke in the diverse community of mental health survivors. We all work at finding our own way to keep moving forward, one day at a time, and we share what works for us in the hopes it might help someone else who is struggling that day.

    As someone who always enjoys a good brainstorming session, (one of my favorite exercises is trying to come up with original or interesting blog titles for blog posts), this immediately led me to try to come up with other options. That had me trying to envision a collection of many voices, diverse and geographically spread out over a vast expanse, and the image that came to mind was Pixels. In this electronic world that connects us, we are hundreds of tiny dots, each unique in the vast spectrum of mental health issues, but all connected in some way. And to my ear, Pixels is not only all-encompassing, but also teases the mind with the idea of fairy sprites, considering that it sounds so close to pixies. And it could be accentuated, using your example sentence from above “all of you wonderfully pretty Pixels out there” or “all of you wonderfully bright Pixels out there” … you get the idea.

    And because I tend to like things in threes, how about one more suggestion? You mentioned that you weren’t exactly fond of the idea of the use of the word “followers” because it suggests someone who is being led, versus a group of people who are independent and strong and making their own way through the vast landscape of mental health issues. If we were looking for a word that might suggest a group of folks who come together for a common cause, and we were to begin with the idea that the writers of Canvas are the Warriors, then perhaps the readers could be reasonably referred to as the Champions of Canvas. In a sort of double entendre, they could be considered Champions because their voices are united in supporting the cause of mental health issues, and because they could also be considered the victors in the ongoing battle. Champions that fight for others, and Champions that have conquered the intricately complex battlefield of mental health issues.

    Although I’ve only very recently discovered Canvas, I’ve already found it to be filled with some very interesting voices, and I look forward to other suggestions on this topic. It would seem an easy thing; to find a word or term that could be used as a moniker to describe a vast array of readers, but realistically, it presents quite the challenge. But then again, we’re used to challenges, aren’t we?

    • Ooh, you’re good! “Brush strokes” makes me think of the way paint is moved and manipulated on a canvas, too, and in keeping with that theme, no two readers will ever take the same author’s words in exactly the same way, which has always been for me one of the most magical qualities of writing. Everyone brings their own experience to the way it is colored and manipulated.

      I love the pixels/pixies sound, and the way the mind really can play with it, not to mention how trippingly “pretty pixels” and “bright pixels” roll off the tongue and dance in the ear. There is so much possibility there, especially when you think of how when a picture is too pixelated it produces so much visual dissonance, but when the pixels all work together in harmony — crucially maintaining their own unique qualities — a gorgeous and expressive image is created that would not be possible with even a single pixel missing. And it does suit well our digital community!

      Warriors is a word I associated specifically with those pledging Blog For Mental Health, but “champions” still tracks with it very well. If you think about a warrior preparing for a special, individual battle (not unlike the fight each BFMH pledge is choosing to make), you could well relate champions to those fighting longer, continuous, eternal battles, never breaking nor resting, but always striving to go the distance — and representing all of those affected by mental health issues throughout a lifetime in addition to themselves. We champion a cause and stand up as champions to fight for those who perhaps cannot fight for themselves. I also associate warrior with a much more individual and glorified role, while to me a champion is perhaps quieter and more contained. They look at every opportunity as a place to make progress, as opposed to picking and choosing when their “warrior” skills are needed most especially (and one can of course be both champion and warrior).

      This is fun, I’m glad it will be a straight poll, because I don’t think I could choose!

  5. I too like the spectra idea, but the others too. My first thought was that we the readers could be The Paints, and if you wanted to re-name Team Canvas, you could change it to The Painters. Or something like that.

    • The Paints/Painters is an interesting and very creative thought, Faith, but then to me on some level it still creates an artificial difference, if a small one, between the blog readers and the blog authors — since they both come from the same word, paint, you know?. It’s probably silly and oversensitive on my part, but to me it’s very important that while we use two different terms, they’re still on an equal footing, if that makes any sense.

      I’m glad to know you do like the spectra idea, it’s very popular! But if anything else pops into that wonderfully creative head of yours, please let me know. I feel like you’re on to something, but I can’t figure our what. Maybe it’ll come to you! 😉

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