Tag Archives: writing

The Mindful Minute Challenge

Exciting things are happening in the mental health space, especially in New Plymouth. Last week I got to sit down and catch up with my lovely friend Natalie who has been super busy! In between a delicious coffee and some lunch she told me about her latest project. It’s a beautifully designed book targeting mental health, which means the content is even more important. This book is going to do amazing things for the mental health scene in Taranaki for a wider audience.

If you currently know someone going through mental illness, or if you’ve experienced it yourself this book might be exactly what you need. It’s a productive and hands on approach to encourage people to feel brave to talk about mental illness with friends or family. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Check out our chat below to find out what’s inside Natalie’s new book:

Tell us the name of your book

The name of the book is, The Mindful Minute Challenge. The book is a multimedia/ educational resource that challenges readers for a month to engage with their mental health for a few minutes each day.

mindful minute book.jpg

What inspired you to write your book?

Inspiration came from a web series that I created on my YouTube channel this time last year called ‘The Mindful Minute Challenge’. This web series documented my journey of challenging myself for a month to look after my mental health and mental well being by asking myself daily insightful questions. The web series was a success with viewers who enjoyed the daily uploads with a focus around mental health, which isn’t discussed as much as it should be.

The idea to turn this web series into something tangible arose. It aims to encourage others to partake in the challenge through whatever communication medium suited them whether it be through reading, writing or watching the educational videos.

Who helped you create your book and how long did it take?

During late 2016, the opportunity of working with Werry Workforce Wharaurau came up. They are a national centre for infant, child and adolescent mental health, led by Dr Sally Merry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and situated within the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland.

They were looking for a creative project that encouraged the awareness of mental health and well being for youth. For four months we worked collaboratively on the project to ensure it would meet our aims and the needs of our target audience. One big aim was to ensure the language used to promote positive mental well being was going to be suitable as using the correct language when discussing mental health is of high importance to reduce stigma that’s associated with mental illness.

This link is the creative project we made on their website.

Was it quite fun putting the book together?

Yes the book was a lot of fun to put together. I’d never done a project like this before but I love a challenge. Learning how to use the software and what it takes to create an e-book and hard copy book. I learnt a lot about the creative process of putting a book together, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at so many variations of the colour blue and also types of paper before! Being a creative person I loved putting the design elements of it together. The aim was to create a scrapbook/diary kind of look to the book that was bursting with colour.

What can readers expect to find in it?

Because it’s an an educational resource readers can expect to find a variety of elements to the book. We aimed to not make the book to text heavy. It’s a light read that poses daily questions, and space for readers to write their ideas down as well. Readers are encouraged to use the book in collaboration with my YouTube channel and watch the daily video that ties in with the daily question.


Do you have a main target audience?

The main target audience is for youth aged between and 13-25. But I feel people of all ages may gain some insight from the resource.

Is there a particular message you hope to get across?

The main message I hope to get across is to assist in talking more about mental health, mental health awareness and mental illness. By releasing these resources they’ll act as a guide to anyone who may find them of use and a stepping stone to talk about mental health in a non-confrontational format.

Another aim of the book is to help people talk about mental health in everyday circumstances. Talking about mental health can be scary (as mental health is so personal to each and every individual). However, having the correct educational tools set up, resources created by youth for youth and surrounding yourself with strong support networks may be a formula for assisting in reducing mental health discrimination.

Do you plan to publish your book nationally?

Never say never. If an opportunity arose where this was a possibility and it felt like a suitable fit then I would for sure consider taking this on board. The Mindful Minute Challenge itself has evolved in such as short space of time (less than a year) and many opportunities have arose from starting the challenge in the first place (that I would not ever have imagined to come to light). I’m very grateful for this chance indeed.

Can we expect to see a series or sequel in the near future?

Yes a series and or sequel will be on the cards. The wheels are in motion for different versions of the resource to be released, this may be late 2017 as we are in the first stages of new development. It’s hoped this resource is just the beginning.

When is your book available to purchase and how will others be able to purchase it?

The e-book is available to download now via this link. Those who are interested in purchasing the e-book version will need to ensure they have the correct software installed to ensure they can open the book due to the book having written and video media components. I’ve found Adobe Digital editions the best software to open the book.

The price of the E-book is listed in USD for $8.63 which roughly equates to $13 NZD. The hardcopy book will be available to purchase early April 2017 and I’ll be accepting pre-orders soon.  The price of these books will be between $25-$45 NZD.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on a project with World Merit 360. I’ve been lucky enough to have been selected as one of 360 people from around the world to participate in the world merit 360 program in 2017. World merit 360 is an opportunity for individuals to help in changing the world by focusing on the United Nations Sustainable development goals.

The sustainable development goals are universal goals to call action to end poverty, protect the planet and help ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity for future generations to come. There are 17 goals and the goal my team and I will be focusing on is Good Health and well being.

In August 2017 I will be travelling to the United Kingdom to meet my team of my global goal and teams from the other 17 global goals. I’ll be helping to write an action plan 003 which will be presented to the United Nations themselves.

If you’re interested in following Natalie’s book release dates and projects keep an eye out on her Twitter, or subscribe to her awesome YouTube channel

Why do I write?

Like drawing from a water well, sometimes ideas need to be pulled up from a very deep place, perhaps an unconscious place before they can be realized. We must go back in time in our minds to remember the feel of something, the colour, and the taste. Only then can we allow the reader to caress our work, to see the tears, the laughter, the taste of a fresh apple.

I hold my work close to my heart just as a Mother may cradle her child. My writing is my lover and I am under it’s spell. I write for the same reasons as Joan Didion, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” My memories and thoughts are reflected in first person. How selfish that must sound. I. Me. Myself. Yet it is my opinion, it is what I believe. I am demanding you to listen, to take notice of what I am saying. This is what I do best. It is a way to release stress, to have control over something, to keep it in order. It’s a chance to shut the world out and the things that aren’t important.

Some of the greatest creators only feel alive when they are doing what they love. People seek counselling in other people, or substances. Whereas writers and artists seek solitude in their art. It is thearupetic in a way, letting anger or sadness out through their work. Without writing there would be no joy in the world, no chance to reflect and debate issues or resolve things. The flow of the human mind is both beautiful and impossible to understand, it is interesting to wonder why people write. There must be something that sparks the interest, the life long dream of becoming a writer. I have always wanted to write, I am not great at what I do, yet I hope I am not terrible at it.

There is the constant struggle between madness, nature, and man whenever I try to get creative. Perhaps I am simply trying to make sense of the world around me. I am certainly not normal. I have days where I break down and cry because it is all to much. I want love to wrap it’s arms around me and tell me it will all be ok. Because been alone can drive a person insane. I personally cannot make sense of the way I think. You would lose your mind trying to understand mine. I find it hard focusing on one thing at once. I will be writing, but thinking about the lights I may have left on in my room, or the door I may not have locked. I wonder about the world, about why humans look the way they do. There are so many unanswered questions.

I close my laptop and go outside to breathe in the nature and the night, I stare at the garden, adjusting my eyes to the darkness. The sweet innocent flowers and trees during the day have turned into monstrous looking creatures. There are forbidden secrets here. I close my eyes and try to remember the feeling of freedom, where I am not weighed down by restrictions rules, or marks. My barefeet touch the prickly grass as I take off my shoes, I smile at the sensation. I am swaying, devoured in the sweet sound of a violin, I am to lost to notice where the music is coming from. My head tilts back in pleasure at the beauty of the sound. The delicate plucking of the violin strings are my undoing. My hand dances through the air creating a masterpiece of lines. The trees surround me, they are the orchestra. These faint memories of music I grasp onto. I remember hearing lullabies and childrens stories when I was younger. I often had porridge all over my face and barely any hair on my head. Those were the best days to be alive. Where there was nothing to worry about.

I stare at the sky, wondering why I bother writing. The number of writers in the world must match the number of stars in the sky. How can I stand out? I am the one to blame for my failure, I am a harsh judge with my work, nothing is good enough. It is a stressful task, but one I could not live without. I have to at least try, As Susan Griffins says, we can spend our whole lives writing and still hardly begin.