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July: A Month of Communication    

July: A Month of Communication

Artwork by FISK

BY MEADOWLARK MONAGHAN & MASON SPECTOR

Meadow: Mas! It’s July already my guy, that means a new TLO theme. Before we get into it, how was your June? 

Mason: Yo! For me the month was really all over the place. Some very low lows but also there have been beautiful things happening all over the world that are long overdue. In order for new life to grow, there has to be some sort of death/fire and I think we are seeing a lot of that now. For some reason people are so scared of change but there are some vital changes that we must see so trying to remain optimistic and do my part. 

But ya the month was super long and just a big blur, and now its July time. 

How was ur month?

Meadow: I feel like you set me up perfectly to introduce this new theme because I think those long overdue things we are seeing are: conversations. So to preface my response, communication is our July theme and my god have we seen a lot of new and engaging conversations taking place rolling out from June. 

I feel similarly to you. I think so much awful happened this past month but I think if we weren’t optimistic for the future, we wouldn’t be working this hard to tear down these archaic systems in place to build the ones for the future we believe in. That’s the perspective I’m trying to carry with me moving forward because change is inevitable but to be an active participant in it takes a long con. So I’m trying to keep my cup filled so I can keep being a catalyst for this change. 

Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask you something! Switching gears a bit, when was the last time you had a conversation that resulted in you changing your mind? 

Mason: Almost everyday I feel like I get my mind changed on things. Whether it is from Chuck regarding a design or just something more general. I am not someone who holds super strong opinions. I have my own taste, but I know what I don’t know and i'm not scared to switch up what I think about something. I think we are always constantly changing and growing as humans that it would feel silly to not change our ways of thinking and beliefs as well. 

I am super excited for this month and its theme though. When you think of communication, what comes to mind?

Meadow: That’s a lovely answer! It’s true though, we are constantly changing so shifting our mindset is inevitable for growth. 

First, I think of the nation’s zeitgeist: all the conversations we’re having right now and this shift to prioritize voices that aren’t as heard (i.e. voices of people of color, voices of the Black Lives Matter movement, voices of the LGBTQ movement, voices of Black trans womxn, etc). 

Second, I think of what communication is to me personally. Or to be blunt, how much I talk. I love to over-communicate and right now I’m really trying to make an intentional shift to take the other role of communication, which is listening. I think I do enough talking and advocating so I’m trying to take a break to be an active listener right now. 

How about you? 

Mason: I think it's a perfect word for right now because it relates to the current climate of the world as we call for more conversation but it's also just such a baseline thing that we all need to think about and practice in our lives. For our mental health, for our work, for our relationships. You hear it over and over again as one of the most important things, communicate. 

The more we talk and the more we share, the more we know and the more helpful we can be. We have a bad habit of just assuming people know how we feel, or even jumping to conclusions about how others feel or what will happen if we say this that we sometimes scare ourselves out of talking about stuff. I think being able to talk, share and communicate is really one of the baselines of human existence. 

Meadow: Absolutely. And all of that is just amplified so much further when we throw in mental health as a factor, right? Whether it’s being able to ask for help for yourself when you’re struggling, or bringing up the conversation to a loved one you may be worried about, to trying to just share how you feel or what you’re going through. 

The art of communication is imperative. So let me ask you this, what do you think makes a good conversationalist when it comes to mental health? Or, who do you talk to most about your mental health and why that person? 

Mason: I think it all starts with being comfortable with ourselves and self love. If we don't love ourselves and have the ability to forgive ourselves, then we will let the fear and sadness get too strong and keep us from speaking up. I think I am able to speak so freely about myself and my mental health because I have no shame at all from any of my stories. I know who I am. I know I am not perfect, and I love myself, flaws and all. 

When it comes to who I talk most with about my mental health I think the biggest word that comes to mind is trust. I gravitate towards people that I trust not just in the sense of they won't share my secrets but people who I really feel like know who I am, what I need, what I have been through and where I want to go. I also think that person needs to have the very same self love for themselves that we all need for ourselves. You were talking about your cup earlier, we can't pour if it's empty ya know?

Meadow: All of this so hits home. You nailed it. 

I think another thing that we have in common when it comes to talking about our mental health is that you and I also like to share that part of ourselves with others we may not know as well, because we’ve done the work. Because we make sure we harbor self love, and that our cups are full. So we’re not likely to shy away from these conversations, in fact we’ll lean into them if they open the door for someone else to feel like they are able to open up in response. 

That’s a big thing about stigma too, right? We always say, the easiest way to destigmatize mental health is to talk about it. So you can bet you and I will always find a way to bring it up haha! 

Mason: Lol yes totally. 

Getting into more specifics for this month we obviously have a lot of stuff coming that we are super excited about. Some really dope interviews. And even our first Madhappy release that is on theme with the blog!

Meadow: So exciting!!! We also are working on a new series with The JED Foundation all about tough but necessary conversations. Looking forward to keeping the work going and having more and more conversations :) 

Mason: Oh for sure. If people thought we talked a lot before, get ready for a month of even more talking. Communication! 

Meadow: HAHA let’s go!