Enjoy the Moment

Sun setting behind a bridge over water.

We often go through life, rushing from one thing to the next, without taking the time to step back and see the world around us. The power of taking even a moment within each day to notice the little things can do wonders for our bodies, our minds, and our overall well-being.

When we here at The Novel Turtle ask you to take a step back from your day and notice the things around you, write about what you see, play with your food, etc. we want to help you to get the most out of life that you possibly can. We want to help you find your creativity, and use all of these creative little ideas and seemingly crazy things to find your best life. All too often we can miss a beautiful moment because we are worrying about where we’re going next or what is on our to-do list. We miss the opportunities that whisper quietly to us because we’re stuck in the loudness of life.

I love to take pictures. I’m not a photographer by any means, but I enjoy taking pictures. When we’re on vacation I’ve been known to take four or five hundred pictures in one week, depending on where we are and what we’re doing. Whoever is with me often has to make sure that they don’t walk off and leave me. I tend to take a few steps and then take a picture, take a few steps and take a picture. It drives my family crazy. Haha.

A few years ago, we were planning to go on a whale watching tour in California. I was talking to a friend of mine about all of the pictures that I would undoubtedly be taking. She said, “Just don’t forget to put the camera down and enjoy the moment while your there too.”

I had never really thought of it this way. I thought that by taking all of these pictures I was preserving the moment for the future. I thought I was enjoying things to the fullest. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t really experiencing the things that I was photographing. I was spending so much time searching for the perfect shot, fiddling with my camera settings, or digging in my camera bag, that I wasn’t actually experiencing all that was going on around me. So on that tour, I took some photos, but then I put my camera back in the bag and I watched the dolphins swimming and jumping. I listened to the sounds of the ocean and the people around me. I listened to our guides and saw the things that they pointed out. I felt the wind as we were riding along on the boat.

Without that advice I would have missed out on the experience of seeing 100’s of dolphins stampeding. (Yep, that’s what it’s called, a dolphin stampede – Click here to see a video by Captain Dave’s in Dana Point, CA) I would still have the pictures from the trip, but I would have missed the actual experience of it all.

I was reminded of this same advice again when I went on the sunset cruise pictured above. At first I spent my time trying to get my camera to focus on what I wanted it to. I tried to find the perfect shot. Then my friends advice popped into my head again. I snapped this picture, then put the camera down and just enjoyed my experience.

Sometimes we hide behind our busyness so that we don’t have to take in the emotion of the moment. Especially if it’s an unpleasant emotion such as sadness, anger, hurt feelings, etc. If we make it a point to stay busy then we don’t ever actually have to feel these feelings. The trouble with this is that, if we never deal with and resolve these emotions, then they keep popping up and bugging us. They keep robbing us of more and more special moments and time.

Maybe whatever we’re doing reminds us of a departed loved one. Maybe it reminds us of an argument that we had with someone that we just can’t let go of. Maybe it reminds us of a time when we didn’t feel our best. Being around family, especially around the holidays when we are participating in traditions, is one of the quickest ways to put us back in those hard places. We’re doing the same things, with the same people, and we tend to get stuck in the same feelings. Even if we’ve changed since that time, we tend to slip back into our old ways of thinking and feeling.

Maybe you don’t even realize that you have these emotions until you’re in family situations, like Christmas dinner. Once you know these emotions are present, take the time to work through them, deal with them, and release them. That way, next time you are in a situation that triggers that emotion, it won’t. You can sit back and enjoy your time, knowing that you’ve done the inner work to move yourself forward.

When we learn to enjoy the moment, we give ourselves more of an opportunity to hear that small voice inside that is guiding us to our best life.

Something that I have suggested in my posts before, that would work perfectly for helping to remind you to enjoy the moment: Find a physical item that will serve as a reminder. For instance, every time you see a snowman, a Christmas tree, a Christmas card, a dog or a horse. Every time you walk through a doorway. Every time you see a smiley face.

We often get so wrapped up in our routine that we sail through life without looking up. Use whatever thing you choose as a reminder to take a deep, long breath, and enjoy the moment. (Because of my whale watching experience and my friend’s advice, I am reminded to enjoy the moment every time I see a whale or a dolphin. I’m also reminded of the wonderful fun that we had on that trip.)

If you’re going into a stressful family situation, or a stressful situation in general, find a reminder that will be present in the room(s) that you’ll be in. If it’s a Christmas get together choose something like the Christmas tree or Santa. That way you’ll be sure to see it plenty of times while you’re in the middle of that situation.

Use your creativity to make it fun. Maybe you have an Uncle who always says, “when I was a kid….”, use that as your reminder. Or maybe you have a cousin who always find a way to bring the conversation back to themselves. Instead of letting this stress you out, use it as your reminder to enjoy the moment in your own way.

(Also, refer back to our Silent Observer post, where we talked about other ways of dealing with get togethers and the emotions that may arise.)

In whatever way you choose to do it, enjoy the moments that you are given. Snap a few pictures to share with all of your friends and family, but remember to also lay that camera down and be present. I know a lot of you have to do the cooking, cleaning, and hosting. Do those things that you need to do, ask for help to lighten your load (check out our post on how to ask for help and accept it in the way it is given), and then give yourself permission to sit and just enjoy your time.

Holding Onto Your Dreams During Chaotic Times

How do we find creativity in the midst of chaos? Maybe not chaos. That might be a bit dramatic. Let’s say busyness. How do we find creativity in the midst of extreme busyness?

This time of the year especially, we are all busy, busy. With work, family, shopping for gifts, planning parties, going to parties, and participating in the many events we have going on. Not to mention the emotional rollercoaster we may be on with all of the family gatherings and events. From all of this we get tired, we get grumpy, and we get overwhelmed quickly.

So during these times, how do we find creativity? How do we hold onto our dream of being __________ (You fill in the blank) when life is swirling around us? How do we stay balanced, calm, and focused on what is really important to us?

This is partially a call for self-care. Sleeping when our bodies need rest. Taking time to sit and clear our minds for a bit. (See our post on “Moving Meditation”) Taking a walk. Doing a little movement of some sort. Eating what we know our bodies need, rather than always grabbing quick junk food. (I’m preaching to the choir with all of this. Don’t think that I’m putting this out there for you all to do and I’m not in need of it myself.)

If you take care of yourself then you have more to give to those around you. You have energy to put into finding and living that dream. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean that you need to lose sight of where you really want to be in life. Being busy for a spell can slow us down, but it doesn’t have to stop our forward progress.

To keep your mood high, your mind clear, and to keep that forward momentum, even when life gets crazy busy, try doing some of the things that help me.

Do something at least once a day that makes you smile. Something that you do just for the fun of it.  

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time for fun, I have too much to do.” It doesn’t have to be a long time. Start with 5 minutes. It can be stressful working, then going to the store, home to cook, and getting everything on our to-do list done. If you can’t spare 5 minutes, then at least make what you have to do fun. While you’re driving, listen to fun music rather than the news for a change. Listen to a funny podcast. Or turn the radio off all together and just enjoy the silence.

Watch a funny video. Brandon Farris is one of my favorites to watch when I need a little break. He never fails to make me laugh. Or watch Mark Borella’s videos. You can’t help but smile when you watch him. He’s so passionate about what he does.

Read a book. Even if it’s just a few pages at a time. Or read an inspiring story in a magazine. The goal is to steer clear of anything serious or heavy. Find something that is light-hearted; something you can read and just turn your mind off for a bit.

Take a nap. It has been proven that even cat naps can improve your mood and mental well-being.

Write; in whatever way that seems fun to you. Write in a journal to get ideas out of your head before you go to bed. This will help you to sleep better. Write a little short story about something. For more ideas check out our post about writing. Write a drabble. What’s a drabble? Check out this post to find out.

Watch how others do things. This is something that most people don’t do. Or they don’t do it without judging. Watch how someone else wraps a present or loads their groceries into their car. We can learn from others and find new ways to do things. Sometimes we may even find easier ways to do things. Most of us are stuck in our own routines and we don’t ever search for new ways to do things. Even if we know our old ways aren’t working, we are more comfortable staying set in our routine than making the effort to change things because it’s familiar. Stepping outside of your routine will open up new pathways in your brain, it will give you a chance to improve, and it will open up your creativity.

Whatever you choose to do, give your mind a little while each day to recharge. This allows that little voice inside to be heard. It allows you to make decisions based on what you really feel you should do, what you really want to do, versus making decisions based on being tired and overly emotional. It allows you to stay in a space where you can handle anything that is thrown at you, versus constantly being stressed out. It allows you to see the beauty in life, versus seeing only the bad.

Embrace the chaos. Sometimes all we can do is embrace what is going on around us and roll with it. If we spend our time trying to fight what is going on, complaining about how we wish things were different, we just end up being more stressed. On the flip side, if we go with the flow, take what is happening and always find the positive or find the lesson, it lowers our stress levels drastically. Accept that it is a busy time and adjust accordingly. Accept that things may be out of your control and do what you can with what you have.

These are some of the things that help me to stay in a good place, even when things around me are insane. What creative ways do you use to stay calm, centered, and focused on your dreams when life gets crazy?

Help Wanted: Ask for Help and Accept It the Way It Comes

Help Wanted Sign

We post a “Help Wanted” sign, but when people answer the call we turn them away.

How many of you ask for help decorating the Christmas tree and then cringe every time someone places an ornament? How many of you ask for help with the dishes and then rearrange how things are placed in the dishwasher, or re-stack the dishes? Raise those hands high.

Now…..This week I want you to ask for help with at least one thing. One thing that will somehow make your life easier. Then when you ask for help with this one thing, don’t try to control how it’s done. Just stand back and let whomever you ask to help you do it in their own way; without fussing at or judging them. If you ask your husband to help you cook dinner, and he uses all the wrong pots and pans, and does everything differently, let him. If you ask your kids to help you fold the laundry and they don’t fold the towels the way that you would, let them do it.

This sounds like such a simple task, but it is SO hard for so many of us. It requires us to show vulnerability, to admit that we can’t do it all ourselves. To some, this is like admitting total defeat.

“I can help open these. Seriously guys, just let me get in there. What about this little one on the top?”

My sweet husband offered to do the dishes for me the other day. He knew that I’d had a long day and I was tired. We were talking about something so I stood there for a minute while he was washing, to finish our conversation. Watching him wash and stack the dishes got to be so distracting that I couldn’t pay attention to our conversation. He was doing everything all wrong (translation = not how I normally do it). When I suddenly realized what I was doing I busted out laughing. He asked what I was laughing at. I said, “I have a post coming up about asking for help and then letting people do it their way and I’m standing here stressing out over you not stacking the dishes the right way”.

Even though I try really hard not to do this, I still find myself doing it occasionally. It is really hard for me to ask for help at all. I want to be able to do things myself. I don’t want to bother people. I want to do it all and then some. But in reality, I need help. We all do. Sometimes I can be Super Woman, but sometimes even Super Woman needs help from her friends.

Too many times we ask someone to do something for us and then we stand over them and tell them how to do it. We ask for their help, but when they don’t do it exactly as we would, we get frustrated and take it back, or worse, we do it over. Doing these things defeats the entire purpose of asking for help in the first place. We ask for help so that we have the time to do something else. If we are standing over someone, telling them how to do the thing we asked them to do, then we aren’t doing anything else we need or want to do. If we fuss at them for not doing things the way we would, then they start to wonder why they agreed to help in the first place. This only serves to make them less likely to offer help in the future. It also robs them of the benefits of helping you.

“Excuse me…..that’s not the right way to do that.”

Ask for help, and then accept it in the way it is given.

What does any of this have to do with creativity and living our dream?

Asking for help, and accepting it, gives you a little extra time to do something that you want to do. It relieves some of your workload and thus your stress. Asking for help is an often overlooked form of self care. For people who try to take on everything themselves, this is a big deal. Once you allow yourself to ask for help, and accept it, you can start to zero in a little more on what it is that you would LIKE to be doing. You can start to find those things that you enjoy doing just because they are fun. You can begin to take the steps needed to find and start living the life that you dream of. You will have the time to do the things you know you need to do to help yourself feel your best.

Too many of us get caught up in doing everything for those around us. We may say, “If I don’t do it, then who will?”. We may be subconsciously using our to-do list as an excuse to play the victim. “I’m so busy I just don’t have time for myself anymore.” Or we may be using busyness to hide from certain emotions that we don’t want to feel.

Some people actually stay busy to avoid doing what they love to do. “Why would anyone do this? That’s just crazy!” I see people doing this all the time. They have a dream that they want to follow, but they are too scared to take that first step towards making their dream happen. They stay so busy that they “don’t have time” to move forward. This is just another way of allowing doubt and fear to stop you in your tracks. You’re not confident enough in yourself and your dream to get started making it happen, so you use busyness as an excuse to stay where you are.  

So, ask for help. Allow people to help you in their own way. Then use that time to move yourself toward where you want to be in your life.

Flying high and loving life.

It’s not always easy the first few times you ask for help. (I’ve found that leaving the room helps.) It gets easier and easier the more you do it. You’ll start to appreciate the fact that people are willing to help and that you have more time to do other things. You may even learn more about yourself and those around you in the process.

If you need help getting started with asking for help, here are a couple of good articles:

  1. 7 Effective Ways to Ask for Help (and Get It) | Psychology Today According to what I’ve learned, 3, 5, and 7 are especially true.
  2. How to Ask for Help and Actually Get It – NY Times Tim Herrera

What do you have trouble letting others help with? What did you ask for help with this week? Let us know in the comments.

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Kristi Slaughter, Radio Host

This week I interviewed my friend Kristi Slaughter, a radio talk show host (among many other things). Her show airs on Saturday mornings from 9-11 on WFHG Supertalk 92.9 FM. I’ve been in the studio a few times while she has been doing her show. It’s always so fun to watch her do what she does because you can tell that she loves what she is doing. It comes through in every aspect of the show. Part of our goal here at The Novel Turtle is to inspire people to find what they love to do. Kristi is an inspiration to us because she follows her passions, she does what she loves to do, and she encourages others to do the same.

1) What made you want to do a radio show?

 I’ve always enjoyed public speaking, even as a child in school. I’d look for every opportunity to talk! Radio was a natural progression for me to share with others. I have spent time working in the television industry but there’s something extremely special about radio. There are similarities between both arts, but in radio, you’re painting a picture with only your voice and energy. 

2) Was this something that you always wanted to do?

 I got bitten by the “radio bug” when I was 16. A local DJ heard that I was interested in radio. He graciously took his time to give me a tour of the station and let me read the weather report on his show. My love for radio was ignited that day and will remain in my heart forever. Consider being a mentor; you never know what difference you can make in someone’s life. 

3) What is your favorite thing about doing the show?

 My favorite thing about the show is the opportunity to meet new people and learn about their story. Everyone on earth is playing a particular part in what we are creating. I receive much enjoyment in assisting my guests in communicating their passions with the world. 

4) What is your least favorite thing about doing the show?

My least favorite thing about the show is when guests fail to appear. The majority of the time, my guests are very dependable about their appearances. However, when a guest is a no show, it can be very challenging to fill the interview block.

5) How do you choose the subjects that you’re going to talk about and guests you’re going to talk to?

 I enjoy covering a variety of subjects on my show. The topics for my show are chosen based on upcoming events, topics listeners suggest, areas that I’m passionate about, and sometimes are even divinely guided. Since I’ve been working for several years on the program, I often have publishing companies and outside organizations who contact me to be potential guests.

6) What are your favorite subjects to cover?

My favorite subjects to cover are subjects that inspire, educate and motivate the listener. I don’t necessarily have a particular topic that’s my favorite to speak about. For me it’s more about the excitement and energy behind the message. 

7) What is the most interesting thing that you have learned from your guests so far?

Everyone has a past, a present, and a future. I’ve learned that people are so different in many ways and yet most of the underlying themes throughout life are often the same. We all have seasons of ease, joy, and bliss. Yet, we all have times of growth and challenges. The most interesting thing that I’ve learned is how so many of my guest have used the trials and perceived struggles in their life as springboards for something great and many times magnificent. 

8) Are you ever nervous about doing your show, doing the interviews with guests, or doing commercials?

Over time, I’ve become less nervous. However, there’s always an underlying feeling of excitement and anticipation, particularly with live radio and television. I think that’s one of the aspects that makes live media so much fun. This creates somewhat of an adrenaline rush. There’s a level of uncertainty because anything can happen! 

9) You and your producer, Rick, banter back and forth about things sometimes. Do the two of you plan what you’re going to say? Or is it all improv?

I’m the host of the show and Rick is my producer. Rick works the board and does the production and broadcasting aspects. When I developed the platform, I thought it would be interesting to have Rick join me for the show opener and the closing. Depending on my guest and the interview topic, he will occasionally participate. I think my listeners enjoy our banter for the most part. The dialogue between us is not rehearsed, which I think adds an extra dimension of personality to the show. I have certain key points, interview information, and events that I want to make sure are covered, then I decide when to address Rick and have him join the conversation. 

10) What is something that surprised you the most about radio when you were first learning about how to do your show/structure things?

When I first began as a radio host, I worked for a non-profit station for approximately 3 ½ years. Most of these segments were 30-minute pre-recorded programs that I produced myself. I then made the transition to my current radio position at a for-profit station. While there are some similarities, there are many differences working with a 2-hour live program with ads, news breaks etc. It took a while for me to get accustomed to my new platform but it was a positive change. There’s a certain amount of excitement that comes with live programming and also a certain amount of risk. I think that’s what makes the type of programming that I’m doing now so special. 

11) Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get started in radio?

In the age of the internet, it’s very simple to start practicing your skills using an online platform. Finding something you’re passionate about and that you want to share with others is crucial in relaying a genuine and unique message. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 15 years ago. Through a journey of self-discovery and exploration in the field of wellness, I had a desire to share my story with people. My first radio program was about health and wellness. I chose the name “Beyond Wellness” and focused on a personal connection with my listeners. I still have a passion for health and wellness but I have also branched out in many more subjects based on current events. I recommend contacting your local college radio stations. These are not paid positions; however, they are an excellent opportunity to practice your trade, develop a listener base, and contribute to the community. 

12) When you’re on live radio, anything can happen and you have to fix it (sometimes while you’re on the air). When things have gone wrong on the show (a computer freezes up, an ad doesn’t play right, something gets erased), what are some of the creative ways that you have of handling the situation?

My favorite description of my show is “relaxed and organic”. My hosting style is very casual which is extremely helpful when “those situations” arise. During one show, a dog entered the studio and ran right into my lap! Even though it was a sweet and rather large dog, I was surprised and caught off guard. I decided to share the experience with my listeners instead of panicking. There’s been all sorts of interesting mishaps during live shows, including a microphone that fell off the stand and into my lap. Sometimes I’ll share these events if they need to be addressed or if they make the show interesting. If not, I pretend like they never happened and move right along. This was the case one day when my microphone was turned on during the commercial break.

13) Because The Novel Turtle is all about creativity, we ask everyone this question: What is your definition of creativity?

Self-expression is my definition of creativity- existing in this beautiful world as you truly are. Creativity is a picture of your uniqueness and individuality. This can be expressed or un-expressed in any way that’s right for you. God and the universe love variety. I think it’s our weirdness that makes us special! 

14) Do you do other creative type things?

My background is in dance and the arts. I began college as a double major in dance and mass communication. I dropped my mass communication degree and continued pursuing my dance degree. For years after graduating, I regretted not continuing the communications concentration. Fast forward approximately 15 years and I was invited to be a guest on a local radio show. Just a few short weeks later, I found myself pitching a show, preparing a pilot and beginning the career I always hoped for. 

15) How do people find you/get into contact with you if they are interested in listening to the show, scheduling an interview with you, or booking you for an event? (Email, phone number, website, etc.)

If people are interested in learning more, they can visit me at: www.kristislaughter.com

Email me at: kristisupertalk@gmail.com

Or call: 276-591-6552

Listen to Kristi’s show every Saturday on WFHG Supertalk 92.9 FM from 9-11 am.

Thank you Kristi for joining me this week and for sharing one of your many passions with us!

Have you ever wanted to host your own talk show on the radio? Is this something that you have dreamed of doing, but fear keeps getting in the way? Use this as your sign to try something new this week. Even if you just record yourself on your phone.

What is “An Attitude of Gratitude”?

With Thanksgiving approaching, the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude” is everywhere. When I see this I often wonder, what exactly does this phrase mean, how does one develop an attitude of gratitude and how do you hold onto it when bad days come along?

So first, what does this phrase mean? To have an attitude of gratitude means appreciating what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. It means being thankful for what we have AND for what we don’t have. It means looking at the hardships in life as an opportunity to learn, to grow stronger, rather than seeing rough times as the world being out to get us. It means staying in a positive mindset when everything around us seems to be going wrong and understanding that better things are coming. It means trusting in the Divine timing of things rather than trying to control when, where, and how everything occurs. As Adriene often says in her Yoga with Adriene practices, “Honor where you are now”.

Developing an “attitude of gratitude” takes practice. Staying in a gracious mindset is like working a muscle in your body. The more you work it, the more you practice with it, the stronger it gets and you develop muscle memory. It’s the same reason that people practice marital arts forms over and over again. They do it so much that they instinctively just know how to do it. In doing this, when the bad days come, you are more likely to be able to find the silver lining. Because you have practiced looking for the positive in things every day, when those bad days occur, you’ll look for the positive without even having to try to. It will be muscle memory.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful in making this gratitude muscle stronger:

1) Write down the things that you’re thankful for in your life. I’m sure that everyone has heard this one before. There’s a reason that people keep recommending it. Because it works. You don’t necessarily have to write down what you’re thankful for each day, but make the time to do it regularly. Not only does it help you to be grateful when you’re writing, but on those bad days, when things are less than stellar, it helps to look back and be reminded that they won’t be bad forever.

2) Surround yourself with grateful people. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What that means is that the people you choose to surround yourself with affect you, for better or worse. Things about that for a minute. Who are the 5 people that you spend the most time with? Do those people reflect who you want to be? Are those people appreciative of what they have? Or do they constantly complain about the things that they don’t have? Find those that have a grateful mindset and learn from them. See how they do things differently, how they react differently in situations.

3) Get involved in some way with those who have less than you do. No matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less. Too often we are so focused on what we don’t have that we don’t even see all of the wonderful things that we do have. Unfortunately, for some people, they don’t see those things until they are gone. If you spend time with those who have less than you, you begin to see how truly blessed you really are. I’m not just talking about money. Someone could have all of the money in the world and have no family, no one around them that loves them. On the flip side, someone could have little to no money, but be surrounded by those that love them. I’m not saying that you have to give money. Go visit someone who has no family. Go to the animal shelter and walk the dogs or play with the cats there to give them exercise. There are endless possibilities for those that want to help others. Not only will this make someone else’s day, it will enrich your life in the process.

4) Show your gratitude, your appreciation, to those around you. If someone does something nice for you, tell them how much you appreciate it. Send them a handwritten note, an email, a text, or call. If an employee at a store is extra nice or helpful, tell the manager. People tend to only involve a manager when there is a problem. Put a smile on the managers face and the employee’s by letting them know the good things as well. It will make their day happier and they will be more likely to pass that smile along to someone else. Instead of assuming that people know you appreciate them, let them know.

5) Find a physical thing to serve as a reminder to be thankful. (This idea is one that I got from Brendon Buchard) Set an alarm on your phone for several times throughout your day. Each time it goes off, take a moment to think of something that you’re grateful for. Or use a door frame, a certain drawer, or a picture as a reminder. Each time you walk through a door, each time you open your desk drawer, each time you see a turtle, think thankful thoughts.

(If you read this post and post your own picture of a turtle on one of our social media pages, or just type the words “Found It” – Facebook and Instagram – we’ll draw one of your names to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. Ends 12/8/19)

6) Find a way to shake off the negativity that inevitably happens in life. Try doing a video like Chris and Parisa Shelton’s “Gratitude Qi Flow”. Watch Brandon Farris and all of his hilarious antics. Watch Mark Borella’s “Feel Good Friday” videos. Take a walk. Anything that helps you laugh, relax, and remember that there are good things in life, even on days when you feel like there aren’t anymore.

7) Read last week’s post about being “The Silent Observer” for even more ideas.

Hopefully these ideas will help you to create that attitude of gratitude for yourself. I’m curious, what are some of the ways that you use to cultivate “an attitude of gratitude”?

The Silent Observer: A Tool to Help You Deal with Stressful People and Situations

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” – Marilyn Vos Savant

“If you go to a very busy place and simply observe, you will learn a great deal about the world, and a great deal about yourself.” – Jody B. Miller, author of The MISOGI Method

One of the hardest things to learn to do sometimes, but also the best thing that we can do for ourselves, is to learn to be the silent observer.

What do I mean by that?

First let’s clarify: observing is not about judging. Judging means we put ourselves above the person or situation as if we’re better than. Observing is simply stepping back and watching what is going on. Observing is being aware of what is going on both for the other person/thing and within ourselves.  

We are often so wrapped up in trying to judge what we are seeing, trying to process it and make it fit into our box, that we miss what is really happening. Being a silent observer allows us to view situations and see the bigger picture. Much like flying in an airplane and being able to see a wide area versus being in a car and only being able to see your immediate surroundings.

For a lot of people, one of the most stressful times of the year is coming up: the holidays. This is true for many different reasons, but one of them is because we tend to take things that people say and do as a personal attack. Even if they are attacking us, it is important to know that it is almost always about them and their own insecurities, rather than about you.

This is much easier said than done for most people, myself included. It has taken me a very long time to learn this lesson, and I still slip up sometimes.

If you go to your family’s house for a holiday meal and a relative is on your case about something, put your observers hat on. If they are on your case about something then you can almost guarantee that it’s something that they are either insecure about, something they don’t like about themselves, or it’s something that they have no clue about and they are just spouting off. Sometimes it can be a misguided attempt at showing they care.

When this happens, step back and pretend that you’re watching a movie. Look at the cast of characters. Remember that each person there has a role to play, including you.

It sounds cliché, but you choose how you let things affect you. Someone can say anything they want to you, but you choose what you let in. You choose to see that cashier as hateful rather than hurting, and you respond accordingly. You choose to see that weird aunt as critical and unbearable rather than someone who regrets most of her decisions throughout her life. It starts with reminding ourselves on a daily (maybe even hourly) basis, that everyone is dealing with their own set of issues and how they treat us is about them, not about us.

Looking at people through the lens of an observer doesn’t change how people act. It will change how those actions affect us and our overall state of being.

We also have to remind ourselves that just because someone says something, doesn’t mean that we have to have a reaction to it. Often the reaction is what they are wanting. If we don’t give them that reaction, if we do the opposite and don’t react, they generally lose their steam. No matter what is thrown at us we simply refuse to swing at it.

“When you realize it’s not personal, there is no longer a compulsion to react as if it were” — Eckhart Tolle

In addition to helping us deal with outward things coming in, being observant helps us to see if we are imposing our own insecurities onto a situation. Maybe you think everyone is judging you for not having a better job because you feel bad about yourself for not having what you deem a “better job”. Maybe you think everyone is making fun of you because you are feeling insecure about how you look. To take it one step deeper, maybe you think people are judging how you look, what you wear, where you work, etc. because you judge other people for those things.

A few years back I kept finding myself feeling like everyone around was judging me for my life choices. I felt like what I did was never good enough for anyone. What I finally realized was that I wasn’t happy with my life choices and I was projecting those feelings onto everyone around me. Once I realized this, I started to see most of the comments people made as an effort to help rather than judge.

So not only am I asking you to observe your situations and what is going on around you, I’m asking you to observe what is going on within yourself.

If you place yourself in the role of the observer then you will find yourself being happier more often. You will also find that your mind is freed up to think about the things you would like to do and become, rather than being bogged down by negativity. You can allow yourself to see the good in the people and the things around you, rather than only seeing the bad. You will begin to see the possibilities that exist, rather than all of the obstacles.

The key to all of this is doing it on a daily basis. Start being observant with the small things. That way, when you get into a more heated situation (at a family meal, at the store, or at work) you have practiced being the silent observer and it makes it easier. It’s like training for a marathon. You can’t just jump off of your couch and go run a full marathon, you have to train for it. Train yourself daily to be an observer and when the marathon comes, you’ll be able to handle it.  

Read our post, “What is An Attitude of Gratitude?” for more ideas.

A few things you can do to help you to deal with the negative energies that may be swirling around you this time of year:

This is from zennedout.com. Click here to read the article.

  1. Try the Kashyapa Mudra: Mudras are a way of holding your hands that allows you to encourage or prohibit certain energy movement around you or within your body. I used to use this one a lot when I worked retail. Before going out to deal with an angry customer I would hold my hands in this position. It would remind me to be an observer rather than reacting based on my assumptions.
  2. Do Qigong to release the negative emotions that you are feeling towards others or yourself. Click here to see Chris and Parisa Shelton’s video on YouTube “How to Let IT Go”. In it they give you several ideas about how to deal with the stress and negative energy of the holidays (and life in general).
  3. Give yourself time to just get away and be alone. Even if it’s 5 minutes in the day, take the time to have some alone time. Leave your cell phone in the other room, or put it on silent, and just take some deep cleansing breaths. Doing this will work wonders for your mental and physical state.
  4. Sleep! Most of us go through life running on empty. Try to arrange things so that you can actually get some rest this holiday season. When you’re rested you are less likely to be grumpy, stressed, and have a short fuse with people.

Your Favorite Socks, The Little Things, and a Giveaway

If I asked you right now what your favorite pair of socks are, what would you tell me? Would you look at me like I am a complete looney? (Are you looking at your screen like that now? =)) Or would you immediately know the answer?

Why am I asking about your favorite pair of socks?

These are currently my favorites at johnscrazysocks.com

First, I love wearing fun, colorful socks. It’s a way for me to show my personality when I have to wear a certain thing to work, or out and about. My favorite socks look like a pair of Converse shoes. I love to wear them when I fly. When I take my shoes off to go through security, it looks like I still have shoes on. It’s the little things, but it makes me and others smile at a time that can often be stressful.

I heard a lady say one time that she loved to wear fun socks because they are a good conversation starter. She works with people in their homes, so it’s often a little awkward at first. People see her fun socks, it makes them smile, and it breaks the ice. Anything that we can do to make someone else smile is worth our time.

Secondly, I’m asking because I want to make you more aware of the little things in life. Socks are not something that the majority of people think about on a daily basis. They are one of those things that we put on and then we go on about our business.

According to an article written by Give Back Homes, “socks are the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters”. (Read the full article here.) So, something that we barely notice in our day to day life, many people are beyond grateful to have. Pay closer attention this week to the “little things” in your life. Things that we often take for granted.

When you are choosing what to wear each day, choose your socks with purpose. Each time you put a pair of socks on, say a little thank you that you have them. Use this activity as a moving reminder to be grateful each and every day.

In doing this we can begin to cultivate more gratitude in our lives overall. (This is something that we will talk more about in the next few weeks.)

Get a little more creative with it and wear fun socks this week. If you have the ability, go buy a pair of fun socks. If not, just go look through them. Part of the fun of fun socks is picking out the ones you like; seeing all of the different kinds, patterns, and sayings.

Go to John’s Crazy Socks and look through all of their different socks.

I love this site because they have a wide variety of great socks that you don’t find anywhere else. The story behind this company is also amazing. A big part of the reason that they do what they do is so that they can give back to those around them. They “want to show what those with differing abilities can do” and “what happens when you give people a chance” (From their website). Read their story here.

In the spirit of the season, get together with friends or family and have a “Sock Swap”. Everyone who comes buys a pair of cute socks. Either draw names before or do a fun gift exchange game. Get together, eat good food, and have fun.

Or, if you’re buying gifts for people this season then get each person a pair of fun socks. Pick out a different pair for each person, a pair that fits their personality.

To celebrate our week of fun socks, we are doing our first ever giveaway, and it’s two-fold.

1. Put a picture of yourself wearing fun socks or a picture of fun socks that you would like to have, and/or comment on our giveaway posts on Facebook or Instagram. For every picture and original comment we will give a pair of socks to our local homeless shelter. We will do this through the end of November 2019. 
2. At the end of November we’ll draw one name from our email list. That person will win a $25 Gift Card from John’s Crazy Socks. 

(Our giveaway has ended and we ended up giving over 50 pairs of socks to our local homeless shelter. Click here to see a picture on our “Giving Back” page. )

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(All of the pictured socks are from johnscrazysocks.com. The picture rights belong to them as well.)

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Mark Borella, a.k.a. The Seeds of Happiness Guy

I found this adorable little smiling face on a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. When I read the accompanying card, I was hooked. They are such a simple thing, but the heart behind the project is amazing. This week we talk to Mark Borella, who is known as “The Seeds of Happiness Guy”. If you haven’t heard of these little Seeds, take the time to look at their website, read all about the company, and see their adorable products. If you watch any of Mark’s Instagram or YouTube videos, you see instantly where the smiles get their origin. His smile, his happiness, his excitement, is infectious. He loves to make people smile. He loves to make people happy. He loves what he does and it shines through.

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 “My artwork is not serious, but I take my art very seriously.” Mark Borella, The Seeds of Happiness Guy

1) For those who have never heard of the Seeds of Happiness, tell us how you got started making them.

My wife and I have been together since we were 15 or 16. I taught her how to drive. We’ve known the lady that put us together since we were kids. That lady’s son was diagnosed with neuro blastoma when he was young. As he was going through treatments, I wanted to make a piece of art to represent him, to do something for the family. But I got blocked. I was so close to the family and the situation. Previously, as I was doing other sculptures and projects, I had the little leftover lumps of clay. So I started making a handful of smiles, and I put them in a bowl in the studio. Our friend’s son went through his treatments, but didn’t do well. I got the call one day that he wasn’t going to last much longer. The family told me that I needed to come and say my goodbyes. As I walked out of the studio, to go to their house, I looked over and saw those smiles laying in the bowl. I grabbed them, blew off the dust, and went to the family’s house. When I got there, I told the mother of the little boy, our friend, “There is nothing I can say or do, but here is a handful of smiles. Maybe you can hold onto them until you get your smile back.” A few months later, she called me. She told me that she had kept a smile in her hand every day since I had given them to her. She said that those smiles in her hand were the only thing that she had to hold onto during that time. She said, “You need to do this for other people not just me”. I continued to keep the leftover clumps in my studio. I made them and gave them out to people when they needed a smile. I would give them to people and say, “Here’s a seed of happiness I hope it grows”. As time went on, I started getting more and more calls from people who were wanting the Seeds. So we put together a little website and started selling them.  

2) What is your hope with the Seeds of Happiness?

What we are selling is the story behind the smiles; not just my story, but everyone’s story. These are making a huge difference in people’s lives. If I hear that someone gave someone a Seed, and I ask where it is now, they always know. If I ask them who gave it to them, they always know. We get stories all the time about how these smiles change people’s lives in all kinds of ways. People who have lost loved ones, people going through cancer treatments, people who are contemplating suicide. Someone gave them a smile and it made all the difference in the world. That one little gesture shows that they are cared for, that they matter. The people giving the smiles away are the heroes of the story; and that’s the way it should be. Someone told me one time that I had reinvented the greeting card.

3) What was your biggest obstacle when starting the business?

The business end of it all. One of things I figured out early on, even as a kid, is, if you’re not arrogant and you don’t think you can do everything, if you find someone who is better than you at something and you acknowledge that then you will go farther. I found someone that doesn’t suck at business. I also found someone who is better at detail painting. Learn to recognize your weaknesses, find someone who is better than you at it, and you’ll go much further. 

4) Did you have people that thought you were crazy when you decided to make this a business? How did you deal with them?

I was already making a living on art in college; selling sculptures. I’ve never worked for anyone. The people that understood what I was doing knew it was a mission and they supported it.  There were those that didn’t of course. That’s one thing about going to art school. You learn to deal with criticism. You learn your basics, how to do the actual art, and you also learn social skills. The biggest thing you learn is that you suck as an artist, someone is always better than you. This is not meant to be discouraging, it just is. No matter how good you are at something, there is always someone better than you at it.

5) I see on your “Meet the Team” page that you include a lot of people that most companies wouldn’t include. (I especially love that Munch, your doggie mascot and model is included) I think it is amazing that you are willing to share the spotlight and recognize everyone’s contribution to your products. Do you think this philosophy and practice has helped to fuel your success?  

This is a team effort. Without the team, it wouldn’t be a success. Each year I give everyone that works for me an original piece of art that I create. One year I gave each person a puzzle piece. I told them to put them all together. Everyone laid their piece down, fit them together, and they made a Seed of Happiness. Next, I told one of them to take a piece away. I said, “Take one piece away and the whole picture is not the same.”

With Canterbury Enterprises, we employ 2-20 people a day. When they come to help us, it gets them out of their house, gives them and their caregivers a break, and gives them a sense of independence.  

6) How important do you think it is for people to find what they love to do?

If what you do is something you have a passion for then you’ll do a better job. Believe in the magic of what you’re doing and you’ll do well.

7) How did you come to work with the teacher that “helped shape your love of sculpting” (a quote from the website)?

Growing up I was the dumb kid. I struggled in school. When I got to high school there was an art teacher, it was his first year teaching. This was before ADD and ADHD and all that was recognized as a thing. He said, “You’re not dumb, they just don’t teach the way your brain works”. He offered to help me with my homework. Later, he was going back to college for his master’s degree. He got my mom’s ok and I went to college with him, took classes with him. Along the way he saw the potential in my art and began entering it into contests. Because of him I was able to go to art school. Over the years, he followed what I was doing in art, he kept in touch. When he retired from teaching, I asked him what he was going to do with his time. He didn’t know so I asked him to come work with me at the studio. He’s been here ever since.

8) Because The Novel Turtle is all about creativity, we ask everyone: What is your definition of creativity?

Having your eyes open to other things, other than what is mainstream or normal, in every situation. Even seeing things like rivers: the way they flow, the color.

9) Each of your smiles is handmade in The Smile Factory, in Kirkwood, MO. Do you do factory tours of any kind?

Our studio is always open to the public, Monday-Friday 9-5. Sometimes people walk in and they are enthralled. Sometimes they walk in and are like, “this is it”. It’s a working art studio. The name, The Smile Factory, pays homage to Andy Warhol’s art factory.  

10) Some interesting facts about the Seeds of Happiness: They go through 3200 pounds of clay each month. One seed takes about 3 weeks to make. They make 40,000ish each month. The card that comes with each seed is part of the art work.

“When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them, I change the world one smile at a time.” Mark Borella

To learn more about The Seeds of Happiness, to see what Mark and the team are up to, and/or to purchase any of their products, go to SeedsofHappiness.com.

Be sure to follow Mark and the Seeds of Happiness on Instagram and YouTube to get your daily dose of smiles.

Thank you Mark for joining us this week, and for what you and your team are doing to make the world a better place each and every day!

Creativity Killers: Episode 3: Letting Fear Control What You Do

What is one thing that scares you? One thing that keeps you from following a dream you may have. This week I’m asking for a big one. Dig deep and figure out what scares you about moving forward towards your dreams. You probably already know what that thing is. If you don’t, it was probably the first thing that popped into your mind when you read that first sentence. So, I’ll ask it again. I’ll give that thought a chance to pop back up. In regards to your dreams, in regards to you living your happiest life, what scares you the most?

Take a moment to let that question marinate.

Are you afraid you aren’t good enough? This is a big one. Maybe you want to become a writer, but you are afraid people won’t like your ideas. Maybe you want to be on stage and teach people, but you’re afraid of public speaking. Maybe you want to put your art out there for sale, but you’re afraid that people will judge you. Maybe you want to open a business, but you’re worried you will fail.

Often, we can kill our own creativity before it even starts by holding onto our fears and refusing to step forward. We refuse to hear those stories that are coming through because we think they all have to be best sellers. This is one of my big ones. I enjoy writing. I enjoy telling stories through writing. But when I start writing something, those little ideas about not being good enough creep in. I used to read about how other people had written books, how other people said I should or shouldn’t start a book, and it would block all creativity. My ideas would no longer pour out.

(This is another creativity killer by the way……allowing other people’s ideas to overshadow your own. Click here to read all about this.)

To get beyond this I have tried to just do what I love to do. Sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes I still find myself doubting, worrying. When those moments come, I do my best to stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself to just have fun.

This week I want you to do one thing that takes you one step closer to creating your dream. If you want to put your art out in the world, put a picture of it on Instagram. Or even just show it to your close friends. There are plenty of people out there who draw or paint and no one ever knows it. If you’re happy with doing it just for the fun of it, then do that. However, if you feel like your art can inspire people, or if you want to try to sell your art, start putting it out there one baby step at a time. Or, just paint, just draw, just create. If you want to write, start writing. Write in a notebook. Get a flash drive and start writing and saving it. If you want to start a podcast, start writing out ideas for shows. Or maybe record one and let someone listen to it.

Maybe you have pushed your dream so far down that you won’t even allow yourself to acknowledge it anymore. Give that dream a chance to shine through again.

I don’t want you to do any of this for anyone else’s approval. I don’t want you to show others your art, writing or other creative endeavors so that they can say “Yes I love it”, and then you can move forward. The idea is to put your art out there, put yourself out there, because it is something that you enjoy, something you want to do. No approval needed.   

Share with us below what your fear is. Or what you’re going to do this week to take a baby step in the direction of your dream. Then we here at The Novel Turtle can send you all of the good vibes we have. We can all support each other in living our happiest life.

Creativity Killers Series: Episode 2: Listening To Everyone But Yourself

This picture started out as me trying to do something exactly the way someone else told me to. When it didn’t work out, I did my own thing and had way more fun with it.

If you want to do something, the quickest way to kill your excitement about it is to read how other people are doing it, and then try to do it exactly the same way.

I did this when I first started writing again. I was having fun, doing my thing, and I started reading all of the “dos and don’ts” of writing. When I was finished reading, I was so bogged down with what I should and shouldn’t be doing, I lost all interest in writing. Everything I wrote felt completely wrong in some way. It was only after I decided to write for the fun of it that my enjoyment in the process of writing returned.

I have a friend who opened a business. At first she tried to do everything the way that other people were telling her to do it. Everyone had an opinion about things. She found herself feeling like a complete failure and questioning why she had even started the business in the first place. Once she realized what was happening, and she began to listen to her own inner guidance about things, her business picked up. Her joy for what she was doing returned and she was able to begin helping people in the way that she was created to do.

Do I suggest that you ask for advice from those who have done what you want to do? Absolutely. Those who have gone before us have surely made mistakes along the way. If we learn from their mistakes then we are less likely to make them ourselves.

However, if we set out to do something on our own, and we try to follow someone else’s exact plan, more often than not it doesn’t work out. Why? Because you are unique. The plan worked for the other person because they did it in the way that was best for them. I’m not saying be stubborn, don’t listen to helpful suggestions, but…take them as just that, suggestions.

When you are setting out to do something, to create something, to build a new idea, figure out YOUR strengths, YOUR weaknesses. Don’t look at other people’s strengths and try to play to those. Use a similar idea, but tweak it to fit your needs.

When you have an idea that you are excited about, you tell others about it. Many times, they like to give you a long list of reasons that it won’t work. This is especially true if they have tried it before and it didn’t work for them. Or if they are the type of person who can’t bear to see someone else succeed. Or sometimes even if they care about you and they don’t want to see you have to fight an uphill battle. There will be those people who think they know everything about whatever you are trying to accomplish. They will try to tell you how to do it their way.

All of that to say, some people will attempt to discourage you from chasing your dreams. This discouragement has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. So don’t take it to heart. Simply take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.

I’m not saying don’t have people that you admire. I’m not saying don’t learn from those who went before you. I’m saying, if you’re going to do it, then make sure you do you.

Don’t allow other people’s ideas to overshadow your own.

Have you ever been excited about a project, only to be discouraged by other people’s opinions, “how-tos”, or by trying to do it just like someone else?