I want to encourage some interactive “vandalism,” something I typically wouldn’t do as a library professional. But, please, hear me out. It’s for the sake of good mental health.
Jenny Lawson is one of my favorite people. Her popular online persona, The Bloggess, has overflowed the internet, spawning two humor-laden memoirs and a third book that is a little different: It’s both a coloring book of pictures she drew on a book tour — because it gave “my hands something to do so they don’t destroy me” — and short essays and affirmations, written simultaneously to herself and to everyone during a particularly heavy depression. It’s called You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds, and it’s really a form of therapy created by a person who knows therapy because she’s been there. Like, probably this week. Twice.
Since the release of You Are Here, Jenny has been re-tweeting pictures taken by her fans of pages they’ve colored. One picture tweeted by @dustmote_, a member of #thebloggesstribe, is of a note she’d written in a library copy of the book.
(Photo courtesy of Sarah Ohme, aka @dustmote_, used with permission)
Lovely penmanship, right? But it’s that message, the acknowledgement that the next person holding the book may feel fragile, may feel like an outsider, may feel overwhelmed and lonely, but even so, that person is not alone. There are others in that same space, unseen, perhaps, but there nonetheless. That’s important. That message inspired me.
In some Douglas County Libraries copies of this book, there are stickers inside the front covers that ask you to not write in the books. In other copies, there are messages asking you to join the celebration that is You Are Here. Those are the interactive copies. I invite you to help those books undergo a journey. Color in them, share your stories, help each other through tough times, offer encouragement and support. Look at what others have done and gain inspiration or, at the very least, the knowledge that you’re here, we’re here, and you’re not alone. That is, after all, the intent.
Let’s make these books into living documents, each one unique. They will become a representation of Douglas County, and we’ll archive the copies once they’re out of circulation so they can continue to help, guide and inspire the next generation.
If you’d like to re-create what Jenny did, whether it be for your own mental health or just the fun of it, we have useful resources! Check these out.
The Great Zentangle Book
by Beate Winkler
Becoming a Great Essayist/Writing Great Essays
An online course on essay-writing
If you need something beyond the items Douglas County Libraries offers, these resources can provide additional help.
Remember: You are here, but you are not alone.