A Zine-Maker and a Therapist: Lucy White practices mindfulness and self-care through writing, while working with survivors of trauma

Lucy White is a 29-year-old writer and therapist who lives in Chattanooga, TN. For two years, Lucy has been making and selling zines. A poet and a creator, Lucy hopes to connect with other people through art, mindfulness and storytelling.

We were first introduced to Lucy’s work in Feels Zine’s third issue Body Love and remain inspired by her commitment to help others in all aspects of her life.

Though we’ve never met Lucy, the way she answered our interview questions make us feel as though we’ve sat down and had a wonderful conversation with her, in a safe space, about self-care, the creative process and the healing power of writing.

Read more about Lucy’s story below:

  1. What were some of the themes that your first zine explored?

I had just moved to Chattanooga when I put together my first zine, called Our Daily Nectar. It’s a very short story where the main character is a lil bee, but with a big truth to share. It covers themes of working hard and knowing limitations.

  1. How have the zines you currently make shifted since that first publication?

I’ve found that the themes I cover remain similar: mental health, community and plants. The “how to” series (how to be cool at a party, how to say I’m sorry, etc.) was what I was only producing for a while, which was fun, but I’ve begun to create other types of zines now, too. Though as far as the tangible zine, I’ve played around with different sizes, binding methods and design.

  1. On your blog, Loose Pages, you have written about how the zines you create are the byproduct of your surroundings. Why do you think you chose zine-making as a way to express yourself?

I’ve always been a fan of book arts. Zines are so accessible, to the maker, because they can be made any way and cover anything, and they’re often cheap. It felt like a natural endeavour to place myself in, without any pressure to have any background experience.

  1. Which audiences gravitate towards your brand and the products you sell? Why do you think this is the case?

For a while, I kind of thought my friends and family were just being nice to me. I don’t exactly know what audience gravitates to my work, but I do know I’ve connected with a lot of people online and at zine fests with broken hearts, and healing hearts. I guess just people with hearts, that feel deeply and are interested to learn how to carry each other’s grocery bags better. I do count it as a win to have the chance to de-stigmatize brokenness with others.

  1. Do you have a favourite zine?

Tender Loving Self Care is one I still enjoy.

  1. You’ve also created a series of self-care tattoos. What are some of the ways you practice self-care?

I try to infuse my days with mindfulness, so that I don’t have to go on vacation after vacation to recover from overhaul. Mindfulness for me is simply being in tune. Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I exhausted? It is bringing attention to the moment I’m in, so that I can know which tool in my resource box to use. Self-care, for me, can also take form in lying flat on my back, exfoliating or eating a really nourishing burrito bowl.

  1. The creative process can be really empowering and uplifting, but at times it can be daunting. How would you describe your creative process?

I usually have a few ideas or words I’ve been playing around with in my head, when I sit down to flesh them out. If the vibe is right, and the idea is able to unravel more, I’ll try to stick with it until an obvious stopping point is reached. I rarely finish a poem or zine in one sitting. I’ll revisit it throughout the week. Or in some cases, a few months later, as old words are granted new insights.

  1. How do you manage the peaks and valleys that come with the creative process?

I usually don’t know that I’m dealing with a creative block until after noticeable frustration, and then I’m like, “Oh, that’s what’s happening!” It helps me to change gears at that point, possibly do something tangible with small success – folding zines, stapling or binding zines with thread.

  1. When you’re not working on zines and writing poetry, you’re working to support adults who have experienced trauma and live with mental illness. What do you think inspired you to become a therapist?

I was inspired to become a therapist after encountering mental illness as a young person, feeling overwhelmed and wishing I had the training to know how to help.

Lucy White. Photo courtesy of: Lucy White.
  1. How long have you been working as a therapist? What’s a day in the life of Lucy at work?

I’ve been working in the capacity of a therapist for a little over two years. I worked with children in crisis initially, which [lead me to sit with] families during really hard times. I now work in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility, where I support many vibrant adults in recovery from mental illness. Every day is different, as it is in recovery too. We work side by side, we set goals, we name celebrations and we laugh. The adults I work with have all experienced trauma on some level, but without stigma, dignity can get the final say.

  1. Would you say zine-making and working as a therapist are related? If yes, how?

in some ways, I can see the connection. Therapy is magical. With the combination of trust, intuitive words and an open heart, light can get into the dark places. You can experience a lot in a few short moments. Similarly, maybe I strive for this through the content I put out. Most of my zines are really short, though the experience that the thought was conveyed from is often big.

  1. After your work day is done, do you ever experience moments of heaviness and helplessness as a result of the people you meet?

Every now and then. If I’ve had a really tough day, there will be times I’m not able to be the best listener in my personal life. It just emphasizes the need for mindfulness to communicate through that situation if it arises. I’ve mostly learned how to have compassionate separation, though. Anxiety for the world’s brokenness doesn’t always help. Making art, though, can channel some of the angst in a lighter direction.

  1. How does zine-making and writing poetry help you relieve any of the stresses that you’ve described above?

We can process life differently through storytelling, I think. Healing has no formula, but I think writing can be life-giving in seasons of fear and anxiety. In that, we decide there can possibly be meaning, which can offer us some helpful consolation.

  1. How many hours a week do you spend writing and creating zines?

It really varies. I’ll sit down on average twice a week to jot down ideas that the week has brought.

  1. You’ve been at zine fests and you’ve written for other independent publications, including Feels Zine, which is produced in Toronto. How has this outreach benefited your brand and zine-making?

It was really rewarding to share publicly what I had been working on privately, and to receive so much connection through that act. Additionally, this outreach has introduced me to some really talented folks, where inspiration is plenty.

  1. What have you learned about yourself through zine-making and writing poetry?

So much! I’ve learned that words matter and that telling the truth is the best thing we can give each other.

  1. What do you hope others learn from the zines you create and the words you write?

We all have a lot more in common than not. I would hope readers would be inspired to give voice to their own truth, too.

  1. What advice would you give to fellow creators looking to launch a brand or idea?

I would invite any fellow creators to play with process and let product come later. Rather than being hyper-focused on the end product, let yourself surrender to creative play every now and then. Find some people you trust, and ask for focused feedback. Collaboration keeps things fresh!

To learn more about Lucy, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram at @_loosepages. Readers, Lucy has also offered to connect via snail mail! She has a few poetry pen pals and enjoys crafting with writers from coast to coast. Interested? Send us an email and we’ll connect you with Lucy.

Thanks for sharing your story, Lucy. We’re so grateful to have you as a part of the A Quarter Young community.

 

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