The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Looking for my Mojo

I’d given up a few weeks ago. There was nothing left for me to offer myself, let alone anyone else. I was so flat and drained. Worn out by all the stress of the previous months, and the overwhelming sense of responsibility I had felt. It wasn’t that I would neglect what had to be done – it’s just that there was no zing left – no life or enthusiasm. I just plodded forward.

I knew I couldn’t let that continue. I had to get out there and find something for myself again, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be any use to anyone. I needed to find my “Mojo” again – not Austin Powers style, but just a bit of zest to keep me going. I needed to reclaim “me”.

It was one of my crafty friends who pointed it out – a mental health worker in her other life, she loves the idea of “finding your Mojo”. I think I’ll call her “Mystic Z” here – she’ll like that!  Anyway, Mystic Z pointed me towards some discussions on the net about “Mojo” versus “Nojo” and the concept appealed instantly. So much more fun than saying “Pull up your socks – you really need to look after yourself ..”!

The Mojo/Nojo ideas come from an author called Marshall Goldsmith, in his book Mojo: How to get it, how to keep it, how to get it back when you need it. I’ll confess I haven’t read it yet as there seems to be a focus on business rah rah stuff – but the principles can apply anywhere.

I’m going to quote a little of his work here, as I think it sums things up beautifully.

Take responsibilityVictim
Run the extra mileMarch in place
Care about doing a great jobJust want to get by
Love doing itHave to do it
Appreciate the opportunitiesTolerate the requirements
Make the best of itEndure it
InspirationalPainful to be around
Great attitudeLethargic
Zest for lifeZombie-like – living dead

So how could I twist this thinking to apply to myself – a pudgy middle aged suburban mum? Well, first step was to make sure that I didn’t stop doing things like my really bad tap dancing. No matter what, I HAD to get myself out to my class on a Monday night. Even if it was cold and dark outside, or I was tired, or I just couldn’t be bothered. I had to commit to being unco-ordinated – and not caring what other people might think of me! (As a result I have to top up the sparkles on my shoes because they are shaking off!)

At work I tried harder to focus and not let myself drift into worrying about my son. I tried to clear my “too hard basket” of work, and focus on doing a really good job. I handed over responsibility for my son during those hours. There was nothing I could do, so no point thinking about it. (This was REALLY hard, because the worry is so constant.)

When Mystic Z suggested we try burlesque life drawing I jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad I did – so much fun and so not what anyone would expect me to do. I feel like the daggiest bohemian in the world as I sit there trying to capture a burlesque dancer on paper during a 10 minute pose (yes, that’s one of my drawings here). Love it, love it, love it ..!

And I am trying to inspire others the only way I know – by doing this site, by sharing my work with clinicians and … wait for it … by committing to presenting my work at the Mental Health Services Conference (TheMHS) in September – yikes, that one is going to take a lot of courage!

There are smaller things too – like getting up and moving early(ish) every day, even when I don’t need to. Trying to accomplish something, no matter how small, so no day is wasted.

It works, this Mojo stuff. Every day that I do just one little thing for myself – something that makes me feel good in any way at all – I get a little bit stronger. I won’t be a victim. I will be pro-active. I will acknowledge my limits, but not let them stop me in my tracks.  I just have to change direction sometimes – and isn’t that how great discoveries are made?

Story and illustration by Helen Wilding, 2011

Cite as: Wilding, H. (2011). Looking for my Mojo. The Caring Together Art Journal Project. Retrieved from

Comments on “Looking for my Mojo”

You are an inspiring woman. Burlesque Life Drawing yet. If I was in Australia right now, I’d join you.

Comment received on “Looking for my Mojo” 30 November 2011

Yes so right! We do need to find something to keep that spark when you feel a bit flat with worry . Burlesque life drawing– what fun. Good on you and looking forward to seeing some more work. For me it’s always a toss between jewellery or mosaic but more lately felting is creeping in thanks to being introduced to it!! Always fun to try something new. One day I plan to try leadlighting and or pottery but then again who knows something else might present itself.. keep seeking that Mojo and what a great site.

Comment received on “Looking for my Mojo” 8 October 2011

As a Carer Consultant and carer, I provide the carers I work with a journal. Sometimes when you can’t sleep with things going around in your head and worrying about the person you care for, it helps to ‘externalise’ (get it out)how you’re feeling. If you write down somewhere exactly what it is that you are thinking or worrying about, put it beside your bed (a must)then the weight of it is lifted as if you were talking to someone. You can then pick up the thoughts the next day.

Comment received on “Looking for my Mojo” 16 September 2011


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