Aubrey Stark Miller & Structures of Self: Unpacking Ourselves From The Outside In.


Aubrey Stark-Miller is the creator and founder of Structures of Self, an educational service that provides information and guidance in environmental wellness. She is also the creator and facilitator of Subjective Sobriety, a womxn’s sobriety group in Austin, TX that implements tools to develop purpose and goals for womxn who have removed alcohol from their lives in order to thrive.

About

City where you’re from: Westford, Vermont

Favorite quote: "We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men."

Social accounts:

Instagram

Q&A

Tell us about Structures of Self. What about it is meaningful to you? 

Aubrey Stark-Miller: Structures of Self aims to unpack complicated ideas in an easy to digest way with actionable steps individuals can take for themselves. Specifically I look at how the physical spaces we are in and the people we surround ourselves with affect our mental and physical health. I have a podcast, host workshops and coach individuals. I provide resources to help mitigate stress, create healthier environments and increase well-being. 

Through my own personal development I grew tired of the narrative that if a person isn’t making changes, it’s due to their own lack of willpower or hard work. Coupling that with higher rates of anxiety and stress nation-wide, I became deeply interested in better understanding what the underlying factors could be, and how I could help. I deeply believe that anyone can make change in their lives, but they may not have the right resources or be in an environment that’s conducive to change. I have done extensive research in environmental psychology, behavioral science and sociology and it has opened my eyes to factors that may increase stress and lower a person’s cognitive focus, without them being aware. 

I work with people to implement small, easy changes. These changes, generally speaking, fall under what I call The Five Pillars: Indoor/Outdoor Environment, Movement, Creativity, Internal Self, Community. Breaking down larger concepts and creating applicable, manageable lifestyle changes leading to personal growth. These concepts are also applied quite frequently in Subjective Sobriety, as we use them for topics during our weekly virtual meetups. 

 

What are your main promotion channels, how do you creatively market yourself?

Aubrey Stark-Miller: Currently it’s mostly through Instagram. I also have Structures of Self and Subjective Sobriety pages on Facebook and a private group for Subjective Sobriety. In addition I have structuresofself.com, where I post blog entries, current projects I’m working on and plan to create a discussion forum. My podcast, Structures of Self, is available through the usual platforms: iTunes, Spotify, etc. In order to make it easier to connect during covid-19 social distancing, but is also a permanent fixture, I created a Subjective Sobriety Slack group that’s open to all womxn and has a range of discussion channels including sobriety, relationships, finance and wellness. 

 

What is one tip you have for creatives just starting out? Go specific.

Aubrey Stark-Miller: Ask yourself, what is one thing that you enjoy doing, or get excited about? Write out what you enjoy about that ‘thing’ and expand it. Figure out what pulls you in and how it can help you grow. Or simply do it more frequently, as any sort of creative work leads to more innovation and creation. Maybe that ‘thing’ isn’t your life long passion, but it could open doors to new opportunities, connections and ideas. And connect with other people who are doing what you want to do. Learn from them, have a chat, set the ball in motion, because every little step counts. 

 

Teach us something we don’t know about environmental wellness.

Aubrey Stark-Miller: While most of us know that nature is enjoyable...you enjoy a hike, swim, walk in a park...we are not aware of how much it helps to lower blood pressure, take us out of “fight or flight mode” and improve creative impulses. Can’t go to the woods? Life hack: Adding tones of green and blue to your home can mimic the effects of nature, albeit on a smaller scale. Say you’re working on a project at home but are fatigued, mentally blocked or highly distracted. Small adjustments to your decor could have help calm your nervous system and regain or even increase productivity, creativity and focus.

 

If you could only read 3 books for the rest of time, what would they be?

Aubrey Stark-MillerDo I have to limit it to just three? Haha. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams for sure. I found this book when I first started researching environmental psychology. It has drastically influenced my own personal practices and those that I implement in my business.

The Molecule of More by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long. The book is about dopamine and all of its many roles within the brain. It’s a fascinating dive that connects so many behaviors and social scenarios to this chemical in our brain. I’ve found it helpful in better understanding things like goal setting, particular differences between people and its connection to substance use. 

Connected by James H. Fowler and Nicholas Christakis. I’ve read a few books that spoke to the importance of social networks and healthy relationships, but this book really brought it home for me. Humans are social creatures and fulfill their greatest potential when part of a community. 

 

Where is your vision going in a couple years? What’s the ultimate dream?

Aubrey Stark-Miller: The projects I work on always come back to two things: The physical spaces we are in and the communities we inhabit. I have found an immense amount of fulfillment and personal development as a direct result of the communities I am a part of. I want to share that and create that for other people. Pertaining to space: How a city, community, neighborhood is designed influences what activities they get involved in, what people they interact with and the choices they do or do not make to better themselves. While I am not a city planner I am a bit enamored with it as a concept and would love to, ultimately, open a community center or space that nurtures healthy relationships, intellectual creativity and personal growth. 

The community center (or maybe a village, who knows) is the long term trajectory. Over the next few years I plan on developing my coaching business as well as my womxn’s sobriety group and exploring various avenues and mediums to share what I have learned, connect with others and expand what is possible. I envision this being done via collaborations, group work and through building an integrative physical and online community.

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