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Sheila Moeschen

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Pin-Up Power: Why Pinterest is Good for Caregivers

Posted: 03/28/2012 4:22 pm

A photograph of a rainy, moody street in Chicago? You can find it on Pinterest! Three butt-busting exercises to shake up your fitness routine? It's been pinned on Pinterest. DIY wedding invitations, kicky summer dresses and recipes for Rolo-candy-baked-Oreo brownies are only a fraction of the manna awaiting you on Pinterest. True, Pinterest is a time-siphon in the way of sites such as Facebook, Tumblr or YouTube, but with a unique distinction: Pinterest is an unabashedly feel-good forum. For women who are also caregivers, it becomes a platform for connection, stress release and the rediscovery of joy.

For those unfamiliar with the site, Pinterest functions like a digital bulletin board that enables individuals to responsibly "pin" images from virtually everywhere onto boards customized to the person's interests. You can "follow" other people's boards, comment, repin or like whatever it is you stumble across in the vast Pinterest ocean. Think if you and 50 of your closest friends got together to clip pictures out of magazines and put them on a giant piece of poster board. But, you know, much nicer.

Pinterest trades on items that are visually appealing, creative and often inspirational. It promotes self-expression, supports positive affirmation, feeds our need to take in beautiful, awe-inspiring, or simply pleasurable images and it unapologetically encourages something we could all use more of right now: the freedom to dream.

These qualities are ones we advocate women caregivers to practice and nurture to assist their long-term well-being through the program I run, HerSelf First. With this in mind, I created the "HerSelf First: Inspiring Connections" board and implemented a HerSelf First Pinterest Word of the Day project. Each day, a group of women listed as contributors receive a word prompt, or "pinpoint" to post about. A word such as "reach" produces a picture of an elegant yoga pose, "simple" brings forth an image of couples sharing kisses on the cheek, "energize" invites photos of sunny yellow Converse sneakers and a potter's hands mired in clay.

I love perusing these images. It is one of the best parts of my job and time out of my day that I look forward to. Women connect with each other over these words/images, they reconnect with parts of themselves that have been locked away, they demonstrate a strong desire to play, have fun, and make each other laugh by unearthing clever, silly, or idiosyncratic images. And I like to think they give themselves permission to dream again.