I’m writing this from a chair next to an open window. The sky outside is blue, barely streaked with clouds. The nearby birds are lively and the air is fresh. I spent the long weekend in good company. As May shifts into June, it’s peaceful here.
Elsewhere, though, it’s been a chaotic month. I mentioned in January that it can be hard to reconcile difficult, world-changing events with ordinary life. When the Manchester attack happened, it felt wrong to focus on anything else. But intense observation seemed wrong too. Within minutes and during the hours that followed, tragic losses were turned into content. Circumstances no family would ever wish for were shared over and over again.
This week I spoke to the interesting and admirable Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds. We chatted about work, leadership, mental health and self-care. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Molly: For any readers who aren’t familiar with the organisation, what is Student Minds?
Rosie: Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. We work to empower students and members of the university community to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. In the years to come, we are hoping to create a thriving higher education community.
As you’ll know if you read this post, I’ve now been running this site for a year. I recently spent some time reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned so far. If you’re just starting out or looking to refresh your direction, I hope you find the following advice helpful.
1. Use your skills
My professional background is in planning, writing and editing content for blogs, social media, websites, press and print marketing. As much as I enjoy doing this for organisations, I wanted to develop an online space for myself too.
If you’re considering starting a blog, what are your key skills? What can you do well? How can you interest people within and beyond your immediate network? Will you focus on one area (like reviews or recipes) or cover many topics?
Here’s a new article I wrote for the Guardian. I share thoughts about Student Hubs’ unlimited holiday policy and the benefits that time off can bring to staff and organisations.
Look out for a full post tomorrow.
A year ago, I launched the site you’re visiting today. Over the past twelve months, I’ve written about wellness, mental health, introversion, feminism, our online lives, living with coeliac disease and more. I love using this platform to be reflective and creative.
I’m really thankful to everyone who reads, appreciates and shares these posts. I wish I could split a (gluten free) birthday cake with you all. Please let me know if you’d like me to write about a particular topic by commenting below. Alternatively, say hello on Twitter or Instagram.
Here are my ten most popular posts so far:
Tomorrow marks the start of Coeliac Awareness Week and the Gluten Freevolution. This year, Coeliac UK, its members and other supporters are campaigning for more accessible gluten free food options.
Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease in August 2015, I’ve been wary of eating food that I haven’t prepared myself. Out of necessity, I’m now an expert at reading labels. I can spot rogue gluten or cross contamination risks easily. I often feel like a bad dinner guest because friends and family have to prepare food separately and make sure that kitchen surfaces are spotless. I struggle to find suitable food on the go, so I usually pack lunch and always carry snacks with me. To reduce anxiety about eating in unfamiliar places, I research safe options before travelling. Spontaneity is off the menu.
I’ve now finished the first year of my MA (as long as the essays I submitted are good), which is satisfying. My job is going well and I’ve got some exciting posts and articles lined up for the next month or so. I’m confirming summer plans, but fitting in plenty of rest too.
This is my first reflections / round-up post since January because of the term-time rush. Do let me know if there’s anything you’ve been thinking about, writing on or enjoying lately.
I recently read this essay by Elisa Albert, in which she discusses the pressures of ambition and her own frustrations with it. Whilst acknowledging the benefits of hard work, Albert criticises the self-serving nature of ‘Lean In’ culture that is more concerned with achievement than with purpose or human connection. In contrast, Albert is impressed by:
‘Eye contact. Self-possession. Loyalty. Boundaries. Good posture. Moderation. Restraint. Laugh lines. Gardening. Activism. Originality. Kindness. Self-awareness. Simple food, prepared with love. Style. Hope. Lust. Grace. Aging. Humility. Nurturance. Learning from mistakes. Moving on. Letting go. Forms of practice, in other words. Constant, ongoing work. No endpoint in sight. Not goal-oriented, not gendered. Idiosyncratic and pretty much impossible to monetize.’
Today I’m happy to be sharing an interview with Ishita Ranjan, better known as Ranj. I’ve been in touch with Ranj for a few years, thanks to mutual friends and our involvement with Student Hubs. Ranj is encouraging, helpful, intelligent and ambitious. These qualities come together in her latest venture, Care Package Company. Read on to see what Ranj has to say about starting a social enterprise, self care and more.