Courtney is joined by Heidi Muller, a Residence Hall Coordinator, artist, and a member of the Council for Women’s Concerns. Heidi tells us about the work done by the council and shares her experience as an artist!


All right. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome everyone to Wellbeing Wednesdays. My name is Courtney Weaver. I am your host of this illustrious podcast with its dozens of listeners. My guest today is Heidi Mueller. She is a residence hall coordinator in the Department of Housing and Residential Life here at West Virginia University.

Uh, Heidi, she's actually coming from us outside the state, cause she is quarantining back in Michigan, which is also where I'm from. So it's super exciting about we're being responsible citizens and really she knows social distance measures. Uh, and those shelter in place guidelines put out by our governments and our public health professionals.

Um, so Heidi, hello. Hi. Um, so why don't you talk to us a little bit about your role here at the university before we dive into the content that we're going to cover today. Sure. Sounds good. So, um, like you said, I'm a residence hall coordinator. Um, I actually run both that Usman and Sonic or halls. Um, I've been working as an RHC for, I think this is my eighth year.

It's been a long time. Um, but it will be my third year and data's my Sonic or next academic year. Um, and basically what I do is, um, just run the day to day operations of both buildings. Um, I'm the supervisor of all the RAs. Um, I handle, you know, conduct cases that comes through promote programming, um, you know, all different kinds throughout the building and, um, and draft and write a curriculum for my students for the entire year.

Wow. That sounds great. In addition to all of your duties as described, uh, you also serve in a couple other different capacities here at the university. And one of the ones that we're going to talk about today is your work for the council for women's concerns. So could you give us a brief overview of what the council is and what its purpose is.

Yeah, sure. So, uh, the council of women's concerns, um, what is to promote is here to promote equality of women in the academic and local community. Um, the council works to address concerns, highlights, accomplishments and effects, and affect change and celebrate successes. Um, and then of course, we're obviously here to empower women, um, and just to give an overall positive change to our campus.

And so the council is, Mmm. Can you tell us? Sorry. The council contains many different kinds of committees, so what are the different committees that are part of the council and what are some of the initiatives of those committees? Sure. So we have quite a few, actually. We have an executive committee, um, which includes, of course, the chair, the vice chair, which I just got elected to for next year, yesterday, today, my very first day, um, and our communication secretary, and of course a financial secretary.

Um, and then they oversee everything to the council. Of course. Um, we have an outreach committee, um, whose primary purpose is, is to coordinate large signature events. Um, for the council as well as partner with other organizations, um, on outreach and service initiatives on campus and within the mortgage community.

Um, that particular committee is actually responsible for, um, uh, hosting the women of color luncheon in the fall. Um, and then they do the same, um, the same event in the spring. Um, and usually that's at a table nine, I believe. Um. And then we have, uh, the campus climate committee, which works to cultivate a culture of equity and inclusion and respect at w.

Um, they do a lot of assessment, um, and, um, advocating the needs of women and amplifying the university's successes. Um, so that's a pretty interesting one too. Oh, we just developed a new one this year. Um, which is the women of color committee. Um, and this, this particular committee works to cultivate a culture of equity, inclusion, um, and of course all the same issues, um, as the campus climate committee.

But more so towards, um, the unique positions that women of color hold in our community. Um, they, um, yeah, I think they're also going to be working with, uh, the outreach committee. Do you kind of help. Push the women of color luncheon, um, to be more, um, towards what we want to work on for 2022 and, and kind of pushing it into our current realm of what's going on in, in that particular group, if that makes any sense.

Yeah. I don't know. We have two or three more power base, personal violence prevention and education, um, which is what I served on this year. And, um, we, um, work to educate and, um, and just address problems with sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on, on campus as well as in our community.

Um, the wellbeing committee is a new one, I think for this year. Um, and that was, um, to help identify wellness program programs and incentives. Um. That help, um, you know, our overall health and wellbeing, of course. Um, and then the final one is awards and membership, which oversees the Mary Catherine bus bus wall award.

Um, the student activism awards and other words, um, to be presented on behalf of the council. And then they also recruit new members every year. That's quite a lot. Yeah. I mean, I think this is really critical and important work, so it's exciting that it's taking place at WVU. Um, and so I know it's your first day as in your new role.

Really exciting. So congratulations on that. But your previous work on the committee that, um, addresses sexual violence. So what were you most proud of in the work that you did with that group? Uh, so the thing that I'm most proud of that the power base personal violence committee did this year was, um.

Our booth in the tunnel of awareness event, which happened at the end of February. Um, and we focused our abuse on, um, the invisible signs of domestic violence. Um, we included, um, just different things within the LGBTQ community that you wouldn't necessarily know about in a, in a heterosexual relationship.

Um. And, um, just some other really interesting facts and science to watch out, watch out for when you, when you interact with your friends and family members. Um, and we also kind of, we will research all the names of the victims, um, for this entire year or the year 2019, of course. Um, and put it on a poster so that it kind of just, it's gut wrenching when you see it and you see all the names of the people just in, I think in just in West Virginia.

Um. Yeah. And then we created this interactive, like a trifle thing where people are able to write about, um, maybe some examples of gaslighting they might've done to somebody without realizing it or that they've had done to themselves. And it was really interesting what people wrote about. And, um, I actually still have all of the responses back in my apartment in Morgantown.

Wow. It's funny to think about that event because it was at the end of February and, well, WVU participated in it as well and did an exhibit with a student from the pre-pharmacy association, but it feels like it was three years ago. Honestly, it truly does, and I did love your guys' booth for sure. Well, thank you very much.

And I like to, so the council for women's concerns, it is primarily focused on faculty and staff, right? Is there a student participation. There are students that do participate. Um, I will state that we'd ha we didn't have too many students this year, but I know that, um, for the following year, we've elected a few more.

Um, so hopefully we'll, what I would love to focus on this upcoming year is to get more student involvement to hear from them, um, because it's very different at their level than it is from the faculty Senate standpoint, as well as even just a member in the Morgan talk community. Because it does, our council does include people from the community that have nothing to do with w.

Oh wow. So what would you say are the benefits of joining the council. Well. Um, for me, I really think, um, you know, this is a great opportunity to promote positive changes for, for women, um, you know, on our campus in the, in the Morgan town community to kind of highlight some of the things that we think that need to be fixed, whether it's.

In regard to safety or just, um, well as or whatever. Um, I love being a huge advocate. Um, pretty loud. I think, you know, that helped me out. Um, and, uh, I like to get my voice across, so that's kind of what I really think is a huge benefit for me for joining. But of course, it's also a great opportunity to meet, um, faculty, staff and community members that you might not necessarily interact with on a day to day basis.

Um, in general. No

true story. Well, thanks Heidi for all that information on the council. It's great group that's doing great work and hopefully that work will be able to continue as we move through this pandemic. Um, um, so we're going to actually switch gears because. Heidi, as some of you may know, if you familiar with her, is also an incredible artist seeing her work.

It's beautiful. And so we're actually going to talk a little bit now about art and stress management. And, um, for you, Heidi, how does creating art help your personal wellbeing? Besides like taking out the fact that we're living in a pandemic, like how did it help you beforehand? Sure. So I, yeah, cause I mean, obviously we can, the whole pan down I think is completely different than anything I've typically dealt with before.

Um, you know, I guess it just depends on what's going on in my life. So, um, you know, I had a brother who passed away from, um, an overdose, um. In, in fall of 2018 and, um, when that happened, you know, my immediate response was to kind of hole up, but I, you know, kind of pushed past that and I created some things based off of the emotions that I was feeling at that time.

Um, which is a lot, if you've ever lost somebody, I'm sure you know that. Um, and so I guess, you know, my answer to that question is that I, um, you know, I use art to help me move. And go through whatever emotion I'm feeling or whatever personal, um, you know, problem I'm facing and kind of just lets me focus on something more tangible when everything else is crazy on the outside.

Um. I will state that, you know, a couple of weeks ago, I had a pretty, um, pretty awful traumatic experience happen, which was kind of gut wrenching and, and just, you know, knock the wind out of me. And, um, it's the reason why I'm in Michigan right now. But, um, I have a good friend, tan Hawkins from the career center who, you know, she's just an amazing person, um, checked in on me and she said something to me that just.

Kind of helped me out a lot. I haven't had any interest in drawing recently because of what happened. And, and that's kind of sad for me since that's a, that's a huge part of who I am. Um, and to you and told me, you know, you have to create regardless of of what you're feeling right now, you need to sit down and you need to draw.

And she said, um, make something ugly. It doesn't have to be something pretty, it doesn't have to be anything that you need to sell, but you need to make for you to get everything out. Um, and I kind of hold that in my heart now, and I think that was a really good point. And I'm trying, I mean, that's, that's a beautiful, beautiful thought.

Um, and what's your favorite medium to create in? So, honestly, it depends on what my mood is. Um, I typically go for acrylic pants, but I'm the type of artists that I don't have like a set. Style, like there's some people that do a lot of oil portraits better, gorgeous. But me, I'm just kind of sporadic and I get into whatever I want to make.

And, um, but most of my stuff I would say is acrylic paints. And, um, do you have like an artistic process? And if you do, what does that look like? Um, it depends on what I'm making. Um, if I'm doing, you know, a fluid project, I gotta, you know, just prep my surroundings. So I don't, I get any of the university's furniture or flooring, um, messy cause I think Dr.

McDonald would kill me.

I, uh, you know, honestly, I think I just, I usually just sit down and I just do it and I just don't think, and I just create and let my pencil do whatever I want it to do or whatever it wants to do. Really. Yeah. It's interesting. I'm not a very artistic person in the sense of like the creation of art. I do like to write and other other stuff, but when I was a senior in college, my last semester of school, I.

They had to take a bunch of gen ed classes because I had put them off like a response. And one of the classes that I took was an art course that was sort of an introduction to all types of different mediums. So like charcoal and water. Color and things like that. And it was taught by a woman who was an MFA student, and she made, I mean, beautiful paintings that were like bold, rich colors and like mermaids and just beautiful.

Um, but I remember she kind of had the same line of thinking that Tiana had of. Just create, it doesn't matter what it looks like. You're not going to be graded on how good it is. Um, but it was helpful for me because my senior year of college was very stressful because I didn't know what I was going to do with my future.

And even when I graduated, I still hadn't gone into my grad program at that time. And you know, I was moving back to live with my parents and work the same summer job that I had for four years. And so it was such a stressful time. And aye. Basically channeled all of that anxiety into my final art project, and it's still at my parents' house and I saw it recently and I just, I feel all these emotions, like I know exactly what I was going through.

I think art has that power to do that. Um, it wasn't like wasn't good art, but. I mean, in the end, that doesn't really matter. It's for you. Right. And, um, that's something what T that's what exactly what tan was telling me. And, um, I'm not gonna say that I actually, you know, sat down and did it right away like she told me to, but I've been trying to get back into.

Drawing and just getting back to my normal self a little bit. For sure. Uh, and so on this podcast we like to do, I used to say that it was a pop culture moment, but really it's more like a wellbeing snapshot of like what's happening right now. And the past couple episodes have been heavily focused on the pandemic and how people are adjusting.

Um, so what did you have for folks who want to create art during this time? So I would say, um. Just explore, like just get into something that you're, you're not used to. Um, learn some new hobbies. Get messy, get dirty, get, I mean, get into some stuff that, you know, might scare you a little bit because you're just not, you're not sure what will happen.

I mean, that's what I did when I started painting as I was using fire and I lit up a bunch of canvases. But I learned though, you've got process about some tools, techniques that I can use for my paintings. And um, for me personally, like I'm trying to get into some different art, art related things. I bought a frickin embroidery kit from Amazon and it's coming here soon. And, um, and then I kept seeing like little ads for those diamond painting things. I don't know, I just keep my hands busy, but I got a couple of things and why not? It might be something cool that I can sell later or it's just for me and it's fun. Um.

But get messy. That's what I mean. That's what I would do. It gets a lot of stress out. Just do whatever makes you feel happy. Yeah. I think, and something that's happened with this pandemic is that artists are making their skills available. So there's the Kennedy center artists and residents who host a daily doodles, uh, at one o'clock.

And so he teaches you to draw different doodle. I mean, they put all of Bob Ross. Uh, all seasons of his show on YouTube that you can watch. Uh, and then, and then, uh, such as painting either or drawing, I mean, you could write poetry, you could write, you know, fan fiction, you could knit and like you said, cross stitch or brighter.

I have a golden girls cross stage kit right now, so I'm going to open. But really, I mean, any kind of medium where you can express yourself is going to be good and it's going to be good for your mental wellbeing for sure. Exactly. Alright. Well thank you so much Heidi, for taking time out of your day today.

We really appreciate you speaking with us. Hopefully you'll be on again, cause I know you have so much to offer the university community and our audience. Um, and to our listeners, thank you so much and we will catch you next week on Wellbeing Wednesday.