Tbilisi Pride, Its Obstacles, and The Hope for Change

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June is celebrated as Pride month for the LGBTQ+ community in many Western countries, but representation in the Eastern world is severely lacking. This year, Tbilisi Pride is bringing the celebration to the Caucasus, making Georgia the easternmost country in Europe to host Euro Pride. Tbilisi Pride will take place from June 18-23 in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia.

When Tbilisi Pride was announced, it was internationally recognized as one of the most political and important Prides of the year. It was notable that Georgia, a country which is considered the regional champion of human rights, decided to host its own LGBT+ Pride. The country of Georgia is located near the banks of the Black Sea on the crossroads of Europe and Asia. It borders Azerbaijan as well as Turkish and Russian regions - places where LGBTQ+ people’s rights are regularly violated and queer lives are senselessly taken.

According to the Tbilisi Pride Facebook Page, “The pride week will be concluded by a March of Dignity, which will not take a festive shape since unfortunately we queers have little to celebrate in Georgia today.”

“Come Out for Equality” Campaign Video

It has been six years since a peaceful rally marking the International Day Against Homophobia,Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) was met with violence in Tbilisi. The anti-gay demonstrators, led by priests and clergymen, broke through the police defense and fiercely chased a group of nearly 50 LGBTQ+ activists. Law enforcement moved the LBGTQ+ activists into marshrutkas (public yellow minibuses) to safely escort them from the scene.

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Not much has changed in Georgia since that day. The Orthodox Church, the most influential force in Georgia, declared May 17 “Family Purity Day” and compared LGBTQ+ people to drug addicts while demanding that the government not allow another LGBTQ+ rights rally. Since then, LGBTQ+ activists have resorted to guerrilla movements and small unannounced demonstrations. In 2018, they were pressured into calling off a Pride rally amid increasing threats from Neo-Nazi groups.

IDAHOT Anti-LGBT Demonstration, May 17, 2013,  Facebook

IDAHOT Anti-LGBT Demonstration, May 17, 2013, Facebook

IDAHOT demonstrators are escorted by yellow minibuses, May 17, 2013,  Facebook

IDAHOT demonstrators are escorted by yellow minibuses, May 17, 2013, Facebook

Nino Bolkvadze, a 41-year-old lawyer, openly lesbian activist, and the organizer of Tbilisi Pride explains “Homophobia is an output of the repressive Sovite Politics where homosexuality was criminalized”. She adds “Georgia is no different from the countries on the same level of development, and in Georgia too, politicians use this topic to build their career.”

The Georgian Human Rights Committee pledged in their 2017-2020 action plan to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) annually on May 17. Amid criticism in late 2018, Sophio Kiladze, the head of the committee, refused to do so. Bolkvadze criticizes her action and claims Kiladze is worsening the situation for LGBTQ+ Georgians.

According to Bolkvadze, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a branch of government concentrated on securing people in Georgia, told them that conducting a LGBT demonstration on the 17th of May was not possible because this date is also Family Purity Day. LGBT activists decided to compromise, for they too have families and hope to join this celebration in the future. Bolkvadze also highlighted the rise of Neo-nazi groups in 2017 after the government's bid to define marriage as the relationship between man and woman. Bolkvadze also criticized the media, saying "If we follow the media that government uses, we will see that they promulgate hate speech and relate groups, such as LGBT people, drug consumers, and sex workers, to each other. This new group is described as immoral, diseased, and threat to the society.”

On May 31, the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a statement that it would not be able to support the March of Dignity. This outraged NonGovernmental Organizations and International Non Governmental Organizations in Georgia and abroad. Ms. Bolkvadze explains the main reason for the Government’s lack of cooperation- “They don't want the March to be conducted because they have not worked to make society more tolerant, they are afraid to be politically hurt, and as a consequence to lose their votes for parliamentary elections.” However, Bolkvadze still hopes that after the June 9 elections, the Georgian government will change its mind and support the march. Government officials received an outpour of criticism from the West, who pleaded with them to cooperate with organizers to find a securable safe space for Tbilisi Pride to conduct the March of Dignity.

Despite the hopes of Bolkvadze, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has yet to make any statement. Meanwhile, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate made an accusatory statement towards LGBT activists - “Unfortunately, LGBT groups and their supporters portray their situation to foreign countries as if they [are being] persecuted in Georgia, and receive significant funding based on this”. Furthermore, the group called on the government once more not to allow “so called gay-pride”.

In response, LGBTQ+ activists and their supporters gathered in front of the Chancellery on March 14 to urge the Government of Georgia to provide security during the March for Dignity. On the same day, Neo-Nazi groups surrounded the LGBTQ+ activists and demanded that the Police not let them have a gathering. The LGBTQ+ activists were allowed to exercise their right to free speech, and the police detained at least 8 counter-protesters for attacking journalists.

Live video posted by Tbilisi Pride

Live video posted by OC Media

After the demonstration the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a statement- “The Ministry protects and will further protect the right of assembly, as well as freedom of expression of every person, despite their political views, religious believes, sexual orientation and other features, if their freedom of expression does not exceed the limits granted by law,”.

After Neo-Nazi demonstration on March 14, their leader, Levan Vasadze, announced the creation of “Vigilante Patrols”. He declared that they would be policing the city throughout the week and would detain the LGBT activists using belts. According to him, this patrol would use force with police if they stood in their way. Following those statements, Tbilisi Pride activists and lawyers demanded his detainment (on the basis of creating a police force and threatening people, including police officers) and further investigation of Neo-Nazi groups.

As the March of Dignity approaches, the fluidity of the situation is worsening. However, Bolkvadze is standing still and is not afraid to march alone if she has to. She is optimistic, saying “I hope that after this demonstration, people will understand that we LGBT people are just as normal as any other person and we are no threat to society.”

For more information and to attend the Pride, visit Tbilisi Pride on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In order to support the March for Dignity and put more pressure on government of Georgia, you can sign this petition by ALL OUT.

By: Soso Chikhladze

Soso Chikhladze is an 18-year-old, Georgia born graduate of Fremont High School in Michigan. Soso worked with Pro-Gun-Control activism in the US, and hopes to become a diplomat in the future.

Edited by Jessica Hutt

We Talked With Cope Notes Founder Johnny Crowder. This is What He Wants You to Know.

Johnny Crowder is an accomplished musician, advocate, creative writer, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. In 2018, he founded Cope Notes, a mental health service that uses daily text messages to train the brain to develop healthier thought patterns. Join Tangible Movement Editor-in-Chief Jessica Hutt in discovering Crowder’s motivation, journey, and aspirations.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What led you to this work?

I’m a 26-year-old touring musician, mental health advocate, and the founder of Cope Notes. I grew up in an abusive home, where I battled all sorts of mental health issues. I always had this feeling that I’d never improve, that I’d never get better or start to climb out of the hole I was in. Once I finally started taking initiative and responsibility, when I finally started growing in the right direction, I was so frustrated at how difficult it was for me to get started down that path. I couldn’t find many resources that actually helped, so I knew I had to do something about it. I wanted to help people who were just as frustrated as I was when it came to self-improvement and self-care, so here I am.

How did you come up with the idea of Cope Notes? Once you had the idea, how did you bring your vision to life?

I used to write myself these little notes and leave them scattered throughout my house – in my bathroom mirror, on my nightstand, inside of my shoes, etc. But after seeing them once or twice, they started to blend into the background, and they didn’t have the type of effect I was hoping for. I wished someone could just randomly ping me with these messages so that I wouldn’t see them coming and accidentally tune them out. Then, one day, I sent a positive text to 30 or so of my friends, and I couldn’t believe the response. Everyone interpreted the text differently, but the common sentiment was, “How did you know I needed to hear that right now?” The secret was that I didn’t – it was their brain that did all the heavy lifting. The power of the human brain to interpret stimulus is downright astounding, and the proof was right there in front of me. That was when I knew I might be onto something.

How does your background in music intersect with your work in mental health?

I think a lot of people wind up in music – specifically in heavy music – because of frustration or discontentment in other areas of their life. The music scene is filled to the brim with misfits; people who don’t feel like they can be themselves at work, at school, or with their families. They feel too weird to fit in anywhere else. When I think of the audience that Cope Notes serves, the audience that Prison (my band) serves, and the audience that I serve when do public speaking and mental health advocacy, they all fall into this gigantic, messy melting pot of beautiful, misunderstood people, and I love them all to death. We’re not so different at the end of the day.

How do you come up with the messages you send to subscribers?

The messages are inspired by all sorts of things, but they all have to align with the reality of lived experience. Whether the initial concept comes from a TED Talk, a psychology textbook, a university lecture, or a conversation with someone at a concert, every text we send gets filtered through the lens of real-life experience with mental illness. That’s how we can ensure the authenticity that is so important when it comes to peer support. Then, of course, all of the texts are reviewed by mental health professionals to verify that they’re appropriate, valid, and actually helpful.

Have you heard back from users who have benefited from Cope Notes? How have they told you your service has helped them?

Absolutely – on days when I feel overworked and understaffed, this is the best kind of fuel. We’ve had users tell us they’ve applied to their dream colleges, gone on mission trips, moved across the country, quit their unhealthy jobs, leave abusive relationships, and even step down from the ledge of suicide, all because of a simple text message we sent them. Whenever I become discouraged or overwhelmed (every entrepreneur can relate to this), I turn to messages like these to remember why I do what I do, and what it is that makes all of this hard work so important.

Why do you randomly stagger the texts? What is the reason for the timing?

This goes back to what I mentioned before. Our brains are very, very skilled at tuning out information that it finds repetitive or unimportant. Without you consciously realizing it, your brain will selectively ignore things like the hum of your air conditioner, along with all sorts of other types of stimulus. This phenomenon, called habituation, is what allows you to sleep through your alarm or dismiss the smell of your own apartment. As long as we keep the texts totally random, from timing to content to sentiment, and even vary them from user to user, we’re combating your brain’s tendency to ignore something that can genuinely help it.

Is there anything else about yourself, your story, your music, or Cope Notes that you would like to share with us?

I’d just like to say this: No one ever showed up at my doorstep and gave me permission to do what I do. My band isn’t signed, but we’re touring all over the country. I didn’t go out and raise $10M from investors to launch Cope Notes, but we’re texting thousands of people every day from all over the world.

My point is that you don’t need that permission, either. You can go out there and make the difference you want to make in the lives of people you want to impact. You can do it right now. You don’t have to wait around for someone to tell you that your idea is good. If you believe in it, and you know it can help people, go do it. Today.

Want more Crowder? Check out Cope Notes here and the Cope Notes podcast here.

By: Jessica Hutt

Tangible Movement x Miguel - WE RISE LA

Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Miguel will be speaking on a panel alongside Tangible Movement founder, president, and executive director Torri Shack this Sunday, May 19 at 7:20 pm at WE RISE LA. The talk is titled “Suicide + The Semicolon”, and will also feature panelists Stan Collns, Kevin Hines, and Chris Rountree. WE RISE is a free event that brings together artists, activists, service providers, and community members to raise awareness about available resources. It was designed to support a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose. WE RISE will feature educational workshops, exciting performances, community town halls, intimate conversations, and a world-class art gallery full of contemplative, inspiring art. RSVP here for the Suicide + The Semicolon panel, and learn more about WE RISE here!


By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Tangible Movement x Miguel + Maya Angelou Mural Festival

Tangible Movement is excited to announce that we will be represented by Miguel at the Maya Angelou Mural Festival this Saturday, May 18 from 6:30-7:30 pm. Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Miguel will be presenting a special conversation and performance about the intersection of mental health and art and meditation. Miguel will be introduced by Tangible Movement founder, president, and executive director Torri Shack. More information about the event can be found here. We hope to see you there!

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About Miguel:

Grammy Award winning recording artist Miguel first hit the mainstream in 2010 with the infectious first single ‘All I Want Is You,’ from his major label debut album of the same name, a song which blended a stark hip-hop beat with Miguel’s creamy vocals to form a sound that was absent from the radio and established Miguel as one of the most unique and soulful voices in modern R&B. The album also features ‘Sure Thing,’ which hit #1 on Billboard’s Hip-Hop/R&B chart and second US #1 ‘Quickie.’ Miguel’s follow up was his critically-acclaimed, four-time Grammy Award nominated, sophomore album ‘Kaleidoscope Dream,’ which features his third US #1 hit single ‘Adorn,’ the intoxicating ‘How Many Drinks?’, ‘Do You…’ and ‘The Thrill.’ In 2013 Miguel was nominated for a total of 5 Grammy Awards. Lead single ‘Adorn,’ written and produced by Miguel, garnered Miguel his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Song and resided at #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hip Airplay chart for more than 23 weeks becoming the longest running #1 in the history of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hip Airplay chart.

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Burger King Launches 'Real Meals'!


In an effort to join in on the national conversation about mental illness, Burger King has launched a line of mood-inspired meals for Mental Health Awareness Month. These kits, which were created in partnership with the organization Mental Health America, have been dubbed “Real Meals”, and were created to recognize that “No one is happy all the time. And that’s OK.” The line includes a Pissed Meal, a Blue Meal, a Salty Meal, a YAAAS Meal, and a DGAF Meal. Each one includes a Whopper, fries, and a drink. The meals are rolling out across several major U.S. cities, including Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami. The “Real Meals” line was branded with the hashtag #FeelYourWay, which plays on Burger King’s classic slogan “Have it your way”. The campaign was launched with a video that can be viewed here. "While not everyone would think about pairing fast food and mental health, MHA believes in elevating the conversation in all communities in order to address mental illness Before Stage 4," said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. Stage 4 refers to the stage with the highest severity of symptoms of mental illness, which MHA describes as persistent, severe and life-threatening. MHA's Before Stage 4 campaign works to address mental health issues before they reach that point. What do you think about Burger King’s new “Real Meals”? Will you be purchasing one this month?

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

May Mental Health Month Begins!

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Today marks the start of May, which is mental health month! Since its start in 1949, Mental Health Month has reached millions of people through the media, local events, and screenings. The objective of mental health month is to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. In support, our lead ambassador Miguel will be speaking at a school in Los Angeles. To get more involved with Mental Health Month, check out the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses’ Why Care? campaign here. How will you share the importance of mental health treatment, support and services this month?

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

How to Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

In this day and age, nearly everyone we encounter is tied to some form of social media. While these sites can be great, they also have the potential be overwhelming, and are known to cause a number of issues. Having a poor or unhealthy relationship with social media can lead to a low self esteem as well as the decrease of key human relational skills like empathy and conflict resolution. If used correctly, social media can be a great tool to build your brand and keep up with friends. Next time you’re scrolling through your feed, keep in mind these tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with social media:

  1. Be Selective About Who You Follow

    Sometimes, looking at certain peoples’ feeds can anger us, make us feel left out, diminish our self esteem, or make us feel unsafe. By following only the people who make us feel our best, we can keep our feeds full of the things that we really want to see - and void of the things we don’t.

  2. Don’t Draw Comparisons

    According to a study conducted by PLoS One, the more time people spend comparing themselves to others on social media, the more depressed they get. Make sure that when you’re looking at the things that others post, you remember that these people are sharing one specific moment, rather than the whole story. It’s also important to keep in mind that others’ happiness does not minimize your own.

  3. Set Aside Time

    If you find yourself scrolling through social media at all hours of the day, it might be helpful to set aside a prescribed amount of time solely to keep up with social media. By doing this, you can become more present during the rest of the day without falling completely out of touch.

  4. Remember Why You’re on Social Media In the First Place

    We’ve all been stuck in the loop of opening our social media apps to check out one specific post and then realizing an hour later that we’ve been scrolling aimlessly, looking at post after post! Avoid falling into this trap by being thoughtful of why you are logging in and making sure you sign off directly after you’re finished. This will help make sure that you are using social media the way you want - to connect with friends and keep up with others - without getting sucked in.

  5. Don’t be Afraid to Go off the Grid

    If you feel that social media is negatively impacting your life, consider taking a break and reaching out to someone. Missing some posts is a small price to pay for avoiding the complications that continuing with this negative habit would inevitably cause.

Overall, social media can enhance your life, but it can also easily turn into a stressor and intensify the symptoms of anxiety or depression. By keeping these tips in mind, you can become more mindful and develop healthy social media habits. By having a healthy relationship with social media, you can create balance, protect your mental health, and make your social media use a positive force rather than a negative one.

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Introducing Our New Lead Ambassador, Miguel!


Tangible Movement is thrilled to announce that our newest ambassador is Grammy-award-winning singer/songwriter Miguel! Miguel started pursuing his music career at age 13, and has since released four studio albums combining R&B, funk, hip hop, rock and electronic styles. He joined Tangible Movement as the lead ambassador in order to share his story and to inspire and encourage others. Miguel is excited to be working with Tangible Movement and to be speaking out on mental health and awareness.

We're Totally (Not) OK Podcast Features Tangible Movement!


We’re Totally (Not) OK is a podcast about the intersection between mass media culture and mental health, hosted by Canadian actors Caleigh Le Grand & Tanya Bevan. Recently, they brought Tangible Movement Founder and Executive Director Torri Shack on as a guest to discuss the connotations that rear their weird heads in dialogues about mental health and mental illness, and how she shifts her position within said conversations from one that is affected by them to one that is affecting them. She speaks about her personal challenges with depression, addiction, suicide, bipolar II, and personal relationships, and how she came to form a movement that supports the education, awareness, recovery and wellness of those dealing with similar matters. You can listen to the podcast featuring Torri here, and find all We’re Totally (Not) OK episodes here.

Susie's Story

Susie Weaver is the founder of So Happy In Town, a lifestyle and parenting blog that emphasizes the importance of mental health. Join Tangible Movement Editor-in-Chief Jessica Hutt in discovering the role of mental health in Susie’s career and beyond.


Jessica Hutt: What is your personal experience with mental health? Why do you chose to speak out on this topic?

Susie Weaver: I was first hit by depression in my early 20’s when I was at university and it really came out of nowhere. One minute I was this happy go lucky student and the next I was floored with daily panic attacks and crippling anxiety. Back then, in the mid 90’s, mental health carried a lot more stigma than it does now and I felt embarrassed and ashamed that it was happening to me. It was such a lonely place to be because nobody even talked about it, never mind admit that their mental health had taken a nosedive. I knew I had to speak out and launch my #itsoktofeelshit T-shirt campaign because I don’t want any young person to ever feel like I had.

Hutt: How does the value you place on mental health influence your parenting style? What do you tell your children about mental health?

Weaver: I place a huge amount of value on mental health in my parenting because I feel it’s so important that I educate my children to understand that mental health is just like physical health - sometimes it’s good and you feel strong, but sometimes it’s not so good and you need some support. And the most important thing is that it’s so ok to ask for that support by talking about it. You never have to feel alone. The #itsoktofeelshit T-shirts have opened up so many conversations between children and teens and their parents about mental health - the power of having a naughty word on your top! That’s really made the campaign so worthwhile.

Hutt: Why did you decide to start a blog? How has doing so helped you?

Weaver: I started my blog because I wanted to talk about the highs and lows of parenting and life in general. I wanted to write about the good times but also the tough times, because the most important thing is we’re all in this together and trying our best to get it right. Mental health was one of those subjects that I wanted to be really open about because it affects us all, both as parents and our children.

Hutt: What advice would you give others who are suffering in the ways that you have? How do you cope and maintain your mental health?

Weaver: My main piece of advice would be to keep an open conversation about how you’re doing with a close friend or family member - someone you can trust to give you their time when you need it. Don’t ever think you’re being a pain and nobody wants to be bothered with you - I know this is easier said than done because we’re all guilty of thinking we shouldn’t burden others, but anyone who cares about you would hate you to be dealing with your struggles on your own. If ever I feel the beginning of a panic attack, I remove myself from the situation if possible and concentrate on my breathing (breathe in slowly for 3 and out again for 4). I find exercise hugely helps my mental health, getting plenty of sleep and having regular digital detoxes - too much social media definitely isn’t good for me.

Hutt: How do you believe we can take steps towards erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness?

Weaver: Talking, talking and talking. Basically normalising mental illness as much as possible and sharing our own stories. I know it’s not easy for everyone but many people find once they have shared, not only does it help them, it really helps others know that so many of us have been affected by mental illness at some point in our lives and it’s ok. 

Hutt: Is there anything else about yourself, your story, or mental health that you would like to share with us?

Weaver: It is said 1 in 4 children in every classroom are struggling with their mental health in some way, and that’s why 100% profit from every single #itsoktofeelshit T-shirt sold is going to YoungMinds, who are fighting for a new era where mental health support is available to every single young person who reaches out. Let’s keep talking about mental health as much as possible because the more of us that share our stories, the bigger our voice will become.

Want more Weaver? Check out her blog here or purchase a S.H.I.T tee here.

Ten Terrific Tips for Improved Mental Health

Be Good to Yourself

Mentally healthy people value themselves and treat themselves with kindness. This week, try eliminating negative self-criticism and making time for your favorite hobbies and projects. Broaden your horizons by trying something new like planting a garden, learning a language, or going to a dance class. By treating yourself with respect, you will become happier and more balanced.

Try Physical Wellness

It is no secret that there is a direct link between physical and mental health. Taking care of your body can help your mind. Some ways you can improve physical fitness are eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep. Exercise is also known to decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improve mood.

Surround Yourself with People who Spark Joy

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. This week, try surrounding yourself only with people who make you happy. Make plans with friends and family members who support and uplift you. Or, try meeting new people at places like a club or a support group.

Serve Your Community

People who give themselves to their communities are likely to be happier and better-adjusted. Try volunteering your time and energy to help those in need. You will feel happy and fulfilled to have benefited your community, and you might meet new people along the way!

Talk About It

Get help when you need it. Seeking aid is a sign of strength rather than weakness. Treatment is effective, and people who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and lead full, rewarding lives. If you don’t have the means to see a counselor, speak to a trusted friend, teacher, or family member. You can also try to seek out resources at your school or place of work.

Track Gratitude and Achievement

Appreciate yourself to the fullest by journaling the things you have accomplished. Additionally, count your blessings by recording the things in your life for which you are thankful. Try starting with three things you were grateful for and three things you were able to accomplish each day. If you want to record these digitally, check out the free apps Happier and Attitudes of Gratitude Journal.

Go Off the Grid

Sometimes, it can be helpful to leave your phone at home and live a day free from constant texts, emails, and other interruptions. Try having a genuine experience and being present in the moment. Spend some quality face-to-face time with those you love without your smartphone getting in the way.

Hang Out with a Furry Friend

Research shows that time with animals lowers cortisol, a stress hormone, and boosts oxytocin, which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.

Appreciate Nature

As simple as it may seem, going for as short as a thirty minute walk in the woods can do wonders for mental health. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression, and boost well-being. Whether a stroll through the park, a hike in the woods, or camping in your backyard, try spending some time outside this week!

Find the Silver Linings

As much as we would like to hope otherwise, stress is inevitable. Bad things are bound to happen, but mentally resilient people will take the moments that they are totally overwhelmed and try to find the good in them. In many cases, it’s all about how you view the situation.

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Sara’s Story

Sara Sheehan is a Connecticut-based author and fierce mental health advocate. She is the author of MoonSoulChild: The Journey Through my Heart, I Was Never Broken, and Letters to You. Join Tangible Movement Editor-in-Chief Jessica Hutt in discovering the intersection between Sara’s mental health journey and her writing career.


Jessica Hutt: Tell us about your writing! How does mental health influence your work?

Sara Sheehan: My writing is a trip through my mind and a journey through my heart. Writing has been a huge part of my life because it’s the one therapy that has worked. Being in my own solitude, away from everyone, and just inside my own heart. I felt secure when I wrote, and that’s not a feeling I felt from anyone, including myself.

Hutt: What is your personal experience with mental illness? How did it become such an important part of your life?

Sheehan: Anxiety has been a huge part of my life before I even knew, or could accept it. Growing up I didn’t talk. I would get anxious to just talk around people I didn’t know, or even close family members. I never did public speaking until college. I feared talking, and the impact put on my shyness. I became the girl who “didn’t talk” or “couldn’t talk”, and it was miserable to be made up into a joke because I didn’t speak to anyone. I remember people would find it odd that I actually had friends, and the people I was close with didn’t treat me like I was abnormal. I wanted to be normal, I wanted to be how open everyone could be, I wanted to be outgoing. I didn’t have the voice, my anxiety had other plans for me. I found my voice when I wrote - that’s how I managed. I grew up and out of my “shy” phase after I graduated high school, I managed my nerves well, and when it came to situations, I did the best I could and wrote my heart out. My anxiety hit all time high when my friend passed in 2017. I spent a whole year anxious, depressed, and trying to grieve, while trying to understand myself. Anxiety is a mind game. It will have you believing what your own mind makes up. I’ve became “sick” off illusions I created to the point where I actually felt sick, and it’s terrifying because you can accept it, and still never catch it the next time around.

Hutt: How did you get into writing? How does it help you?

Sheehan: High school days, young and in lust. But really, Neyo got me into writing. I remember loving his music and admiring the fact he wrote every word. Still to this day, I pray one day we can write something together because he’s my inspiration. I started off wanting to write music, but when I really started to write, I just let it flow. I wrote best when it came to my heart. I expressed myself through my writing and I loved having an outlet to be my own person. Writing has saved my life, because I wouldn’t be this sane without putting my feelings into words. I always thought of writing as a friend to me, it was always there when no one could understand, because I was the only one who actually felt it. Writing has helped me overcome my fear of being known, though I still get anxious being the center of attention. I’m more known, but with a little mystery.

Hutt: What advice would you give to people who are suffering in the same ways that you have? How do you cope?

Sheehan: I’ve said this one time in one of my pieces - “I can’t give you ways to overcome anxiety, or any mental illness, or weight you’re carrying, but I can tell you you’re not alone. I can tell you it’s just your mind playing tricks on you. Some days I find myself not ready to take on my everyday life, or even in a mood that I can’t shake, and seem to not know what’s wrong. I take a mental health day and do what it is I need to feel better, whether that’s sleep, enjoying a good tv show, getting some sun, or writing. Just because you’re suffering in that moment doesn’t mean every moment has to be so bad. Find something that helps you feel secure and in control. Think of something that makes you feel good in the same moment you feel you lose yourself, do more of that. Writing is that for me.

Hutt: Is there anything else about yourself, your story, or mental health that you would like to share with us?

Sheehan: My story is all in my writing, each book I’ve released is a piece of myself. I write for my own healing, but in hopes that my work comes across someone it may help, too. I inspire to open the eyes of the hearts of many, to show their heart and stop spreading hate. I want everyone to know they’re worth more than how they appear to be, and that your true worth is never in the eyes, but only felt within the heart.

Want more Sheehan? Follow her on Instagram and Twitter! Her works can be purchased on Amazon.

Motivation Monday - MLK Day


Hello all, and happy MLK Day! Today is a day to promote equal rights for all Americans and to honor the legacy of one of the greatest civil rights activists of all time. For this reason, it is designated a national day of service, to be celebrated as a “day on, not day off”. MLK Day of Service is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community." Use this tool to find a volunteer opportunity today.

I also wanted to share this blog post written by Natalie Cohen, the social media coordinator for Walden Behavioral Care. Titled “Five Mental Health Lessons We Can Learn From Martin Luther King Junior”, this piece relates Dr. King’s preachings to mental health. She writes that we should “educate society about matters that they may not have been exposed to or those who have been misinformed” and that “the mental health field needs each of us to become an advocate for social justice and change”. I couldn’t agree more!

Dr. King is remembered as a passionate and eloquent speaker. Today, I would like to honor his memory by sharing some of his most moving, inspiring, and relevant quotes. Please click on the title of this post and comment your favorite MLK quote - I would love to hear from you!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong.”

“If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.”

“I have decided to stick with love. hate is too great a burden to bear”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

“All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

I hope you all enjoy your holiday and utilize today to make your community a better place. Let’s all try to incorporate MLK’s values of charity, tolerance, equality, and justice into our lives this week!

Therapy Thursday - Social Media


One of the greatest benefits of living in the age of social media is having access to other peoples’ experiences. While some social media influencers have been criticized for promoting unattainably perfect lifestyles, others are refreshingly honest, and candidly share their messy, flawed truths with the world. One such truth is the positive influence that going to therapy has had upon their lives. These people have realized that therapy is just another form of self-care, like a workout or a massage. Going to therapy has allowed them to process their thoughts, prioritize their wellness, and help them feel better and more productive. This week for Therapy Thursday, we are going to shout out three amazing social media influencers who have spoken candidly on how therapy has helped them become their best selves:

Nicole Modic (@kalejunkie) - Nicole Modic is a wellness blogger and recovered bulimic. In a blog post entitled “How I Healed My Eating Disorder, Part 2”, Modic writes “Find a therapist, or at the very least, someone who is NOT a family member or friend, that you can talk to, 1-2x each week. Consider these non-negotiable meetings that take priority over everything else you’ve got going on in your busy life.” She speaks openly about finding the right therapist, suppressing the urge to cancel standing appointments, and the challenge of being vulnerable in front of a stranger.





Carolyn Brown (@carolynbrownnutrition) - In a recent Instagram post, New York City-based nutritionist Carolyn Brown, RD told followers that therapy is “pretty much my favorite hour of the week.” She also debunked the myth that things have to be wrong for one to go to therapy, writing “I don’t go to a therapist cuz I’m crazy (mostly), I go so I DON’T feel crazy”. Check out the post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BhjXVKlFIP_/?utm_source=ig_embed

Chris Sol (@secretsofsunshine) - The lifestyle blogger behind the Instagram account @secretsofsunshine shares how she finally found her way to therapy in this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiAIl0FHvVY/?utm_source=ig_embed. In it, she writes “Being raised in an emotionally and verbally abusive environment, there was lots of distorted layers of beliefs that needed to be explored and dismantled. I refused to even entertain the idea. Shrinks are for crazy people who don’t have control… but let me just tell you, that is SO FALSE. Everyone needs a therapist, life is hard and sometimes it’s nice to not have to put on a brave face and a fake smile”. She couldn’t be more right, therapy is a great tool for any and every body! Read the blog post in full here: https://www.growwitheflow.com/2018/04/25/where-is-my-mind-a-mental-health-journey/.

Going to therapy is an act of self-care that nourishes your emotional and spiritual needs. Don’t get caught up in a baseless stigma that will hold you back. Talking to a therapist has changed all of these people for the better, and could help you too.

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Wellness Wednesday - 10x10 Challenge

Physical health is a vital part of wellness, and is essential to mental well-being. However, fitting workouts into a busy routine can be difficult. Instead of completely neglecting your physical health, try our 10 Minutes for 10 Days Challenge. Everyone has an extra ten minutes. What’s your excuse?


Day One: Try a ten minute run. Running is a great exercise for this challenge because you can do it anytime and anywhere. Motivate yourself by wearing something you feel confident in!

Day Two: Let’s ramp things up today! Try the following regimen:

50 High Knees

25 Lunges

20 In & Out Squat Jumps

15 Burpees

Day Three: After two days of challenging workouts, you must be sore. Try yoga & stretching today to recover. Here is a great video for full body stretch yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SZ2xVnbcxY

Day Four: It’s day four, and we’re back at it! Today, try the following lineup:

20 Squats

30 Bicycles

30 Plank Dips

20 Side Leg Raises

Day Five: Get your jam on and try a fun cardio workout today! This dance workout from Popsugar is amazing and will definitely have you sweating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj2IubFfEqY

Day Six: You know what day six means? It’s pilates day! This workout is amazing because it is both relaxing and makes you feel strong. Enjoy Dreamingreen’s pilates routine for a stronger body today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A98Glp5DuY

Day Seven: You’re almost there! Today, your goal is to complete:

30 Lunges

25 Leg Presses

20 Crunches

15 Squats

Day Eight: You’re doing great - keep it up! Today, your challenge is to go on a run. If you have extra time, try to do 35 sit ups. You got this!

Day Nine: You’ve trained hard over the past few days. Today should be full of well-deserved rest and recovery. If you feel up to it, try some stretching and yoga. You can refer back to the video from day three if you would like.

Day Ten: You made it! Let’s make the last day the best. Start the day off with twenty five push ups, then go into thirty five sit ups. Rest and rehydrate before completing thirty lunges and fifteen leg lifts.

Congratulations! You made it through. I am so proud of your strength and persistence. I hope you can integrate some of these habits in your routine, and that this challenge has proven to you that everyone has time to work out.

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Tip Tuesday - Breaking Up with Shyness

Do you know the difference between shyness and introversion? Introversion is a basic personality trait that is characterized by inward-looking thoughts and feelings, while shyness is insecurity and inability to speak up. Despite the fact that shyness is most often the result of a painful experience, between 40 to 60 percent of adults define themselves as being shy, and most of us will experience shyness at some time in our lives. The good news is that shyness can be overcome by changing our inner dialogue and strengthening the voice within.

One person who has succeeded in breaking up with shyness is author and life coach Joel Annesly. On January 2 (World Introvert Day!), Annesly released a new book entitled Quiet Confidence: Breaking up With Shyness. In the book, he “assures those plagued by shyness that they can overcome the traumas that caused their shyness to develop, learn to embrace the beauty within and express themselves with confidence”. Here are some of the best tips that Annesly shares in his new book:

Avoid Negative Labels - Annesly writes that “labels can build you up or destroy you”, and encourages his readers to choose a label that empowers them instead of tearing them down. He says that you should think of yourself as “quietly confident” rather than “shy”.

Look Within - There is no better way to discover your true self than looking within and celebrating yourself. Annesly says that you should “Practice non-judgemental awareness, self-compassion and loving kindness for the beautiful person you are inside and the way you see the world.”

Stop Overthinking Everything - It is no secret that overthinking and shyness go hand in hand. Overanalyzing can lead to indecisiveness, mental exhaustion, and self-defeating, negative thoughts. The solution, Annesly argues, is to learn how to outsmart your overthinking.

Find a Safe Space - Annesly says that “When you develop your safe environment, a place where you can be free to be vulnerable, you will have no need to overthink things.” When you slowly expand this environment, your “quiet confidence” will also expand and grow.

Find your Friends - Develop a group of friends that builds you up! Make sure to only keep relationships with people who support and encourage you unconditionally.

Find a Creative Outlet - Annesly suggests that “Developing and expressing your creative passions can lead you to become a ‘Subject Matter Expert’, which will help you will naturally become more confident.”

Develop Positive Body Talk - Confidence doesn’t have to be verbal. Annesly writes that “Becoming aware of, and adjusting, your body language, posture and physical appearance can provide you with instant confidence.”

Want to learn more about overcoming shyness? Quiet Confidence: Breaking up With Shyness can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Confidence-Breaking-Up-Shyness-ebook/dp/B07J427PNV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547469725&sr=8-1&keywords=quiet+confidence%3A+breaking+up+with+shyness

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Motivation Monday - Reach for the Stars!


Hello, all! As much as I like to keep these Motivation Monday posts positive, this past week has been a real struggle for me. As if getting back into a regular routine after the holiday season isn’t difficult enough,  I also faced a nasty virus that kept me out of school for days. I felt like I was being crushed by a mountain of work that just kept piling up. It seemed useless to even try to chip away at the work because I thought I would never catch up to my classmates. Frustrated and discouraged, I felt my eyes keep gravitating towards a sticker on my laptop, which reads “Look. If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?” The quote, which is from Eminem’s classic pump-up song “Lose Yourself”, prompted me to look at my life in the big picture. As much as I wanted at the time to wallow in herbal tea and self-pity, what I want in the grand scheme of things is to do well in school so I can have a shot at being admitted to my dream college. I don’t have a lot of time left in high school, and I don’t want to look back and regret not trying harder. As trivial as it may seem, the sticker made me realize that right now is my window of opportunity to get what I want out of life, and a runny nose is not going to take that away from me.

While this might be a goofy example, the sentiment remains. The way we act now can and WILL determine our futures. Every single person faces challenges in their life. The truth of the matter is that the real world doesn’t stop to accommodate them. This week, I challenge you to take control and push your limits. Don’t wait to step out of your comfort zone - do it now!  If that means something drastic to you, more power to you! If it’s something smaller, like just getting out of the house, that is completely valid too!

In the spirit of my Eminem sticker, I have also included some of my favorite motivational quotes to bring you power this week. I hope that this is a productive and inspired time for you, and know that you have the potential to excel:

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. - C.S. Lewis

Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine. -  Roy T. Bennett

Your true success in life begins only when you make the commitment to become excellent at what you do. - Brian Tracy

Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. – W. Clement Stone

If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you. - Les Brown

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @jessica.hutt

Wellness Wednesday - Holiday Charity

Recently, I came across a quote that I found to be particularly relevant during this time of year. The quote, spoken by Mother Teresa, said “we shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” The idea of doing something simple to improve the lives of others fits in perfectly with the values of the holiday season. We all want to be charitable people, but sometimes, our busy schedules or tight budgets get in the way. Here are some simple ways to give without sacrificing this winter:

⭐️Spontaneous Acts of Kindness - Community service can fit into your routine, rather than the other way around! Try “paying it forward” the next time you are at a coffee shop or café. If you have some extra change burning a hole in your pocket, take the opportunity to help someone out. Maybe you will inspire a stranger to “pay it forward” next time!

⭐️Make A Donation - “Anything helps” is a cliché because it is TRUE! No matter how little you have to spare, giving any amount of money to a charity you believe in will help you get involved in making change. Thanks to the Internet, it is faster and easier to make donations than ever before!

⭐️Bring Cookies to a Nursing Home - Being charitable doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time! Distribute sweet treats and get to know nursing home residents this winter. Many of these people are not fortunate enough to have friends and family who will visit during the holidays, and you are sure to bring a lot of joy into their lives!

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: @Jessica.Hutt

Motivation Monday - New Year!

Hello, all, and happy new year! Today is the first day back “in the swing of things” after a cheerful holiday season. Though it may be hard to adjust, take time today to be present and clarify your intentions for the new year. Motivate yourself to stay on track with your resolutions by implementing small changes into your lifestyle. I know that today may feel difficult and tedious, but after the day is done, the worst will be over. Focus today on re-assimilating yourself with your routine. This week may be exhausting and tiresome, but each day is a new beginning. Each night is an opportunity to refresh and start over. Remember self-care this week and nourish your physical and spiritual needs. You can make it through this week, I believe in you!

By: Jessica Hutt

Instagram: Jessica.hutt

Motivation Monday - Winter Holidays!


It is no secret that the winter holiday season can become an overwhelming whirlwind of stress. In fact, according to a survey by Healthline, 62% of people report increases in their stress level during the holiday season. Whether your trigger is having family around, the burden of buying gifts, or getting thrown off your diet, here are a few tips to stay sane during the holidays:

Avoid Making Too Many Commitments

It’s okay to say ‘no’! Be honest with yourself about how much you can handle, and remember that you don’t owe your presence to anyone! Self-care and mental health always comes first, and it’s easy to forget that we are in control of our schedules. If going somewhere will put a strain on your happiness, just say no!

Make a Budget

 One of the most common sources of stress during the holiday season is fiscal strain. The best way to avoid overspending is to plan ahead and stick to your budget. Try downloading an app to help you keep track of your expenditures, such as EveryDollar (free on iPhones, Androids, and computers!)

Be Thankful

Somewhere in the mayhem of shiny new gifts and heaping piles of cookies, the true meaning of the holiday season can be lost. In the coming weeks, try to stay grounded in what is really important. Put things into perspective and reflect on how lucky you are.

Be Present

 Every joyous moment spent with family and friends deserves your full attention. Try to experience the excitement of the holidays in real-time. Not every Snapchat needs to be replied to instantaneously, and not every funny moment needs to be documented on your Instagram. Focus on making happy memories instead of pretty pictures.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Having a busy schedule can be a real roadblock during the holiday season. However, scrambling to buy gifts for everyone on your list at the last possible second is a recipe for unnecessary stress. Try planning ahead and getting a little bit done each day. Remember that buying gifts and decorating is supposed to be fun more than anything.

I wish you all a joyous holiday, and look forward to the new year ahead!