Open Up and Switch Off

Work is all encompassing right now — at least through the end of next week when I will begin a much-needed and hard-earned sabbatical.

As I inch towards this hard stop (for me) and handing everything over to my team to support while I’m away, I can’t help reflect on this internal mental health storytelling campaign built around stories from employees that I creative directed with the brilliant paper-cut artist, Owen Gildersleeve whose meaning has become much more personal over the last year that we collaborated on it.

Undulating waves of colored cut paper shapes with a butterfly flying through with a trail of white behind it
A multi-layered paper form that looks like a brain with a butterfly flying through the center of the illustration
A butterfly made from paper off-cuts in orange, pink, blue, yellow, red and green colors
A butterfly twists and turns through layers of colored cut paper shapes
Sound waves made from cut paper in green, blue, pink, orange, and yellow colors with a butterfly flying along the edge of the soundwave

Aside from being the last design project I led since transitioning into an entirely new role within the Open Arts team — a challenge in itself — it’s been a gentle reminder of my former battle with burnout and the signs to pay attention to during periods of intense work such as I’ve experienced over the last several months.

While the last two years have offered opportunity for many to slow down and reflect, I find myself distressed seeing organizations (ahem) now going back to their old ways as if nothing has changed and priorities have not been re-evaluated. We are not our jobs which many — including myself — have truly come to understand will not love us back.

Working with Owen on this expansive project was a welcome reminder of the thrill of collaboration, experimentation, and how creative projects can be their own medicine for addressing difficult questions. Right now I’m looking forward to a month of switching off.