We had our first 'book club for feelings'! And we survived!

Hey Big Feels Clubbers, this is Graham.

We had our first ever 'book club for feelings', and it was ACES. Honor and I were absolutely blown away by everyone that came. We left feeling all light and floaty and excited about what next. (In direct proportion to how squeamish we were just two hours earlier, as we wondered who'd even come and why the hell they'd want to talk to us.)

We even have a news page! You're reading it right now! This whole thing escalated rather quickly! Is anyone else feeling nervous? HOW ABOUT NOW??? Don't panic. (Or do panic, you're amongst friends.) 

In truth, we still don't know what this thing is, but here are a few things we strongly suspect based on that first experiment. First off, we're pretty sure we have an awesome logo, by the esteemed Ashley Ronning. Proof of that here: 

Big Feels Bookclub image.jpg

Most importantly, we also suspect this 'book club for feelings' idea has legs. 

For our first meet up, we discussed an episode of NPR's podcast Invisibilia called 'The Problem with the Solution'. It's a fascinating look at how we frame distress in our culture, as a problem to be fixed. Check it out here or on your podcast app.

People said some great stuff about how our get-together was useful, and what they're hoping to get from it moving forward. So we're definitely going to have another one - we'll keep you posted when we have details for that.

For the moment we just want to capture the cool stuff that came up on that glorious Saturday.

First some random thoughts / questions / ideas that pricked our ears

How do you acknowledge your limits in a way that doesn't make you feel like shit? Or limit you long term?

  • When you're feeling shitty, it can be a relief to lower your expectations of yourself. But at the same time, society often tells us to expect less simply because we sometimes experience crisis and distress. 

  • People are trying to live the best life they can. Just let them, without constructing a narrative around how they're supposed to be.

How might society look different if we were better at listening to people who'd been through really tough times?

  • We are all resources. We learn from tough times, and we can share that learning with others. 

  • Yet people with problems are often considered to be outside our community. E.g. 'the homelessness problem'. 

How do we embrace identity politics - e.g. we are Mad, we are Disabled, we are People Who Experience Big Feels, etc. - without trapping ourselves in a box? 

Because identity is fluid. Because we are each of us a glorious half-baked layer cake of the Good, the Bad, and the Things Which Do Not Conform To Conventional Beauty Standards of Behaviour and Feelings. 

And second all the linky goodness to things people mentioned

  • Eleanor Longden TED talk - looking at making meaning from voices

  • Jax Brown article on person first vs identity first language

  • A video about the Social Model of Disability we watched as part of the discussion
  • Wheels Ontario - a comedy show where one of the characters is called Legs because they're not in a wheelchair. It's a recurring sketch as part of the Kroll Show.
  • Also one of our book clubbers mentioned how in Guatemala they see the person experiencing madness as the one who holds all the ghosts for the whole family. We couldn't find an easy link, but google offered this interesting little tidbit from a book called Jung and the Postmodern: The interpretation of realities, regarding the experience of a Guatemalan woman named Maria:

"Although Maria's village culture holds with the idea that spirits are sent for bad behaviour, it was highly ambiguous who out of all the family members was the most blameworthy malefactor. With the cultural idea of ghostly vengeance, Maria could function as, and experience herself, more as an innocent bystander rather than the guilty mental patient.... It seems as if all those involved in Maria's psychosis were afforded the opportunity to examine their consciences. This made the episode less a method of treating mental illness and rather more like a restructuring of the ethical values and relationships of all those involved." Wow.

  • Honor mentioned this Tony Robbins documentary (or "documentary") which is on Netflix, called I Am Not Your Guru. Equal parts North American Cheese and Holy Wow That's a New Take on Crisis. Just watch the first scene if you want a flavour of Tony's approach to someone saying they aren't sure how to keep on living. We'll almost definitely set this whole film as a reading soon.