As someone who recently left full-time work to pursue freelancing, I want to make sure that I still get out of the house to socialize and stay on top of my professional development. My latest attempt at this was attending an event called Creative Mornings. Here’s a quick recap of the experience!
My Creative Mornings crew. Selfie credit to Eva Vargas.
What do you get when you mix creative types, strong coffee, and inspiring speakers? Creative Mornings!
If you’re not familiar with the event, Creative Mornings take place on a monthly basis in cities around the world (check out the interactive map here). They’re free to attend and they provide a forum for creative people to get together and exchange ideas. Every month centers around a different theme and there’s a mix of scheduled announcements and presentations and open time for hanging out and networking.
I recently attended my first Creative Mornings event in Oakland, and wanted to share a little bit about what the experience was like. The theme for the session, held at Pandora’s downtown Oakland office, was “Anxiety.” Luckily, the goal of the event was to help us reduce our anxiety rather than amp it up, so we had the opportunity to stock up on relaxing teas, chill out to some ambient tunes from DJ Afrodijiak, and release tension with five-minute massages. As an introvert and sometimes awkward shy person in new social situations, I loved having activities to fill up the free time portion of the event.
Once the official programming kicked off, we heard some announcements about the Creative Mornings community and its sponsors and then a few people came on stage to do their 3o-second pitches. These were local creatives who wanted to share their projects and events—it was really inspiring to hear about all the cool things people are doing from book clubs to painting projects and more.
The main speaker for our session, Jenee Darden, is a local journalist, podcaster, and mental health advocate. She also happens to be the daughter of Chris Darden, one of the prosecuting attorneys from the O.J. Simpson case. In her talk, Jenee shared how her father’s role in the Simpson case transformed her life. She went from being an ordinary high school student in East Oakland to a target of media and paparazzi attention. She received calls and pages (it was the ’90s, after all), her homecoming picture was sold to a tabloid, and she faced a lot of negative reactions from people who had strong opinions on what her father was doing.
Jenee discussed how anxiety and depression have affected her life (for better and worse, though mostly for worse—she refers to anxiety as a “frenemy”), offered a few tips for taking care of your own mental wellbeing, and threw in a few Star Wars references for good measure. Jenee ended her presentation with a quote from Carrie Fisher (AKA Princess Leia) describing her own battle with mental illness (Fisher was bipolar):
“If you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
It was a motivating, inspiring morning, and I’ll definitely be going to more of these in the future!
Do you have any fun events you participate in to stay creative and connect with your community? Leave a comment to let me know about it!