In Beyond the Bio

Welcome to Beyond the Bio, the series where we get to know our WRSPC staff a little better. Here are the answers to our 5 Beyond the Bio questions from WRSPC Program Coordinator Amanda Demmer.

Q1: Which aspect of your work gives you the greatest sense of purpose or meaning?

I find most meaning in opportunities to bridge the gap between the realms of academia and lived experience. As someone who has had one foot in both of those worlds, I understand the importance of evidence-based knowledge through research and of the experiential wisdom of those with lived experience. Doing any sort of research or knowledge mobilization work puts me in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’ state, but what really makes that work meaningful for me is when that work is community-based and guided by the voices of lived experience. I’ve worked many jobs that involve teaching or mentoring, and find those opportunities also bring me a sense of meaning. Ultimately, I hope to contribute to greater meaningful inclusion of lived-experience perspectives in both traditional research and in applied research to inform services.

Q2: What is one thing you are most looking forward to re-engaging in once physical distancing restrictions begin to lift?

I’ll look forward to opportunities to feed my wanderlust once travel restrictions lift. My partner Steve and I love to travel, and our ideal travel experience would involve lots of hiking, camping, and an immersion in nature. I typically like to spend vacations in places surrounded by mountains and/or waterfalls and look forward to re-engaging with the sense of connection that rock and water can give me. This picture is from one of our go-to vacation spots in the Finger Lakes upstate New York. Also, boardgames. I miss board games nights.

Q3: Name one place, community, or situation where you feel a sense of belonging or feel most at home?

When I began rock climbing, I was amazed by the atmosphere of respect and encouragement within our local climbing community. Immediately I felt a welcoming sense of belonging within the climbing gym. Transitioning to outdoor climbing requires huge levels of mutual trust and support, regardless of differences in experience or ability, and that furthered the sense of belonging I felt within the climbing community.

Q4: What are some of you go-to self-care routines or stress-reducing habits that you’ve been utilizing during this pandemic?

My home office shares space with my yoga mat and being able to practice yoga throughout my day, whether I’m doing a full practice or a quick couple minutes of grounding, has helped me stay mindfully aware of both how my body and mind are doing through this transition. I’ve also been drinking lots of tea (it’s nice to have access to my full tea collection during my work day as opposed to the limited selection I kept in my desk in the office), spending time lost in good books, raising my average daily step count on plentiful walks, and picking up my guitar a little more often lately.

Q5: If you decided to change careers and leave the mental health world, what would you do instead?

I LOVE learning, and if I could just eternally be a student I think I would be content with that. I have lists upon lists of things I’d like to study and would be curious to learn more about. If I couldn’t be doing anything related to mental health / community psychology / public health, I’d be most interested in fields that combine philosophical thinking with sciences. Recently I’ve felt interested in astrobiology (which I understand to be a field that uses biology, physics, and astronomy to theorize about whether extraterrestrial life could exist), environmental engineering, and applied moral philosophy like bioethics (philosophizing about the ethics of scientific advances in biology or medicine). Either that, or I’d do something where I could spend my life travelling or just closer to nature. Sometimes the idea of an isolated and self-sufficient cabin in the woods starts sounding pretty great to me. Luckily, I’m nowhere near ready to leave the mental health realm yet!

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