What Do Our Doodles Mean? 5 More Ideas for Doodling

Doodle of a man with a bow tie

Yesterday in our “What Can Doodling Do for You?” post I talked about the Nazca Lines having a greater purpose and meaning something more. This brought up questions for a lot of people: What do my doodles mean? Do they mean something deeper? If I doodle a lot, is there something wrong with me, or am I just creative?

I feel like I need to start with this: It’s best not to read too far into what your doodles are and what they mean. I say that because some people can get too caught up in the minute details of things and miss the bigger picture. The whole point of doodling is to calm yourself down, give your mind time to take a break, and to stop the overthinking that a lot of us do. If you’re looking too far into what your doodles mean then you may miss the whole point of things.

Doodling can definitely be how some people process information that is given to them quickly. It can simply be how some people learn. (Those types generally do have other creative leanings)

With all of that being said, our doodles can also tell us about our state of mind and where we’re headed in life.

If we’re drawing flowers, people smiling, and more positive type things, we are happier. If we’re in a funk or angry then we’re more likely to be drawing dark clouds with lightning bolts or people with no expression, or no face at all. If we feel out of control in a situation, we may start to draw figures that have no arms or hands (much like the one I drew above). If we feel like we don’t have any say so at the time we’re doodling, our figures may have no mouth, or the mouth may be closed/not smiling. If we’re feeling exposed, or vulnerable to the world, then we draw figures with no hair, or we draw more fragile things like flowers or birds.

The key to all of this is, those things that we associate with certain emotions, feelings, or states of being, are what we draw when we’re feeling those things. So everyone is different. If we think birds are fragile and symbolize being in a cage, then we will draw birds when we’re feeling that way. On the flip side, if we see birds as being happy and symbolizing freedom, then we draw birds when we’re feeling happy and free.

It’s often hard to tell what someone’s doodles mean without knowing that person, or knowing at least a little about them.

Another hitch is when our feelings get mixed up. For instance, when we’re sad and we’ve refused to acknowledge it for so long that it turns into anger at the world. Or when we’re so angry and we don’t know how to process it, and our anger turns inward and becomes sadness over what we don’t have.

The way that we write can tell us about ourselves as well. If we’re angry or frustrated about something then we tend to push down harder on the pen. The lines in the page will be deeper or they will show through to the next page. Or if you’re using crayons or colored pencils you may find yourself breaking the tips a lot more than normal. If you’re sad, or feeling left out or neglected, the opposite is often true; you will write and draw with a lighter touch. You’ll notice that letters may not be completely finished or lines may not connect.

These things may not be true in every single case, but they are generally true of people.

Pay attention to these little tell tell signs, but definitely don’t obsess over them. Sometimes we can spend so much time looking for the hidden meaning that we miss what is staring us in the face. For instance, if you keep drawing a house over and over again, you may just really want a new house. Or your inner knowing may be telling you that it’s time to “move” on. While you’re doodling a house and a tree, you may realize that you need to end the relationship that has been limping along for a while.

But again, don’t miss the forest for the trees. Don’t miss out on the benefit and stress yourself out more trying to figure out what it all means. Sometimes the lesson is in the doing.

For more on doodling, or if you missed our first post click here to read it.

Here are a few more doodling ideas to get you started. Just like yesterday, these could be done as a little doodling game with other people, a collective effort:

1) Have you ever tried doodle painting? It’s like what we used to do (or sometimes still do…=)) in Paint. Draw connecting lines all over a page. Once you’re finished, paint different colors inside each little section. You could also do this with colored pencils, crayons, or markers. Here’s an example. (You would paint in between the lines)

Doodle Painting Template

2) You’ve likely heard of zen tangles. But did you know how easy they are to draw? (These aren’t perfect, but hopefully you get the idea)

Zen Tangle Doodles

3) See if you can fill an entire page with the same little picture. Daisies for instance; or swirlies. Or both.

Flower and Swirl Doodles

4) Can you make a picture out of only straight lines? Or only squiggles?

Doodle on white paper

5) Can you doodle an entire picture with just one line, without raising your pen? (This one was a little more difficult, but fun)

Flower in a vase doodle

Have fun!!!!! Post pictures of your doodles on our Facebook page, or tag us on Instagram (@thenovelturtle)

What Can Doodling Do For You?

Doodle on a napkin

This week I invite you to take a little “brain break” and give your thinking mind some time off. For a few minutes each day, give yourself permission to doodle. On your notepad at work. On a napkin while waiting at a restaurant. On a pad of paper before you go to bed. When ever, where ever you get the chance, doodle.

Doodling by definition is absentmindedly drawing pictures without really knowing what you’re drawing to begin with. (dictionary.com) So it doesn’t have to be anything specific. Just doodle what pops into your head.

Doodling is something that a lot of us have gotten into trouble for over the years. This is why I said, “give yourself permission”, because we’ve come to see doodling as a bad thing. People see someone doodling and assume they aren’t paying attention. While that can sometimes be true, in my experience doodling helps people to pay more attention to what they are doing.

I was the student that was always illustrating what the teachers were talking about. I still do it to this day in classes or meetings. Not anything elaborate, just stick figures and little drawings. Illustrating things as I’m being taught helps to solidify the concepts in my head. It also helps me to pay more attention. This sounds counter intuitive, but really, it’s not. If I’m listening and drawing things out as I go, then I’m still focused on what is being said. If I’m just trying to listen then my mind will often wander and I’ll lose what the teacher is saying. This has nothing to do with the teachers, or their style of teaching, it’s just the way my mind tends to process things.

If you need to do something like this to help you pay attention, to help you learn, then I say go for it. As far as I know they don’t teach “Illustrating Your Professor’s Lessons” in any study habits classes. Maybe that’s a new idea for someone. Study habits that are outside the box. What works for each of us may be different. Honor who you are and how your mind works. You’ll learn a lot more in the long run than you would by trying to force yourself into someone else’s box.

Studying is not the only area that doodling can benefit us. It’s a simple way to relieve stress. Those little moments that we take throughout the day to relieve stress may not seem like much, but they add up. Taking these 5- or 10-minute breaks keeps all of that from piling up and exploding at some point later on.

Doodling also opens your mind up to seeing new possibilities. Where someone might just see an equal sign, you may see eyes or a mouth. I mean, this is how the whole world of emojis began…..=).

To some doodling seems pointless, but it can serve a greater purpose. Read about the Nazca Lines in Peru. Seeming doodles all over the desert. They are starting to find out that these lines had a larger purpose. Among other things, they pointed the way to water sources, which was the basis for life.

While your doodles may not point to water, they may point to a life-changing solution to a problem you’ve been trying to solve for a while. They may point to that new job that you’ve been trying to decide whether or not to take. They may point to that new dream that you’ve been attempting to pursue.

If you need a little more guidance, or if you want an extra challenge, try this: Draw two or three random lines or squiggles on a page, touching or not. Then make a picture out of those lines. (See the pictures below for doodling ideas.) If you have a hard time finding something to draw, turn the page around, shift your perspective.

You can draw several different squiggles and lines at the beginning of the day or week and then go back to it each time you see something a little different. I have doodles laying around that I will add to here and there. Or if I’m writing in a journal or notebook, I’ll have doodles in the margins that I add to when I see them again.

You could tag team with your spouse, roommates, co-workers, or friends: Put a squiggle or lines on a page, leave it in a common area, and then each person can add to it as they go by throughout the day. It’s pretty neat to watch how each person sees something different.

There are also books and postcards that you can buy to have inspiration with you if you need it.

The basic idea is that you just put your pen (pencil, crayon, marker, whatever you have handy) to your paper and start drawing. You don’t have to have any idea what you’re drawing or why.

Have fun with it, see what random things you come up with. Post pictures of your doodles on our Facebook page, or tag us in your doodle pictures on Instagram(@thenovelturtle). It’s always fun to see what others come up with.

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.

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?

Move Along: Finding Movement that You Actually Enjoy Doing

Find a way to add movement to your life this week. Our bodies were designed to move. It doesn’t always feel that way after we’ve done a work out and our muscles are screaming at us.

More importantly than just adding movement this week, I want you to add movements that you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy doing it, you’re either not going to keep doing it long term, thus losing the benefit, or you’re going to force yourself to do it, thus taking all of the fun out of it and staying at odds with yourself and your body.

It benefits us in so many ways to learn to listen to what our bodies are telling us. If you spend the entire time you’re running thinking “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this” that is going to create a blockage in your body. You will be more tense while you’re running, risking injury and more muscle pain in general after your workout. You’ll be more likely to find excuses not to go for a run because deep down you really don’t want to anyway. This could apply to anything; running, weight lifting, yoga, kayaking, anything.

For several years I tried to do yoga. I searched for a good teacher that taught actual beginner classes. A lot of people say beginner, but they go straight from step one to step five with no stops in between. I finally found Yoga With Adriene and I loved her videos. I really got to where I enjoyed doing yoga and I did it as often as I could. Recently though, I’m just not feeling it. Nothing against yoga as a practice. I still think it is a great form of meditation, exercise, and all of the other benefits that go along with it. I still highly recommend it for those who are drawn to it. But for some reason my body no longer enjoys doing yoga. It’s not just the exercise it’s the movements. In the process of all of this I hurt my elbow and couldn’t do any of the poses that involved putting pressure on my arms (which is most of them). I’ve been doing TaiChi and Qigong more and more over the last couple of years and really enjoyed it. As I explored what was going on within my body, I started to realize that Yoga just isn’t for me anymore. That’s not to say that I will never do it again, or that I think it’s bad for you. Right now, my body just doesn’t enjoy that type of movement. So, I’m making every effort to respect what my body tells me and to move in ways that I actually enjoy.  

This may not look fun to some, but he loves it.

Sometimes the key thing that we miss is doing the movements that we love. Doing the movements that make our bodies feel good and not strained. All too often we think of movement as something we have to do to punish ourselves for eating poorly. Or we’ve been told by our doctor that we have to exercise and lose weight. Maybe our intentions started out as good ones, to get in better shape and to live a healthier lifestyle, but somewhere along the way we started beating ourselves up for not following a stringent diet or for not doing the amount of exercise that we feel is appropriate. We see what others are doing and we do that, even though we secretly hate every minute of it.

Everyone is different. We all enjoy different things. I’m asking you to search yourself this week and find those movements that your body actually enjoys doing. Find those movements and do them.

Try doing some form of movement for at least 5-10 minutes a day. Once you find what you enjoy you can add more time to that and get the recommended daily value of exercise. You can try something different every day, or, if you already know what you love, make time to do it.  

Find a taichi or qigong class, a dance class, pilates, yoga, or whatever is interesting to you. If you’re not into group classes try finding a video on YouTube. Go for a jog or a run. Take your kayak or stand up paddle board (or rent one) and paddle around the water for a little while. Go swimming. Find a playground and play like you used to when you were a kid.

If you live near a light house, go climb the stairs and see the beautiful views. Anything that gets you up and moving.

All of these things will not only benefit you physically, they will also benefit you mentally. Exercise is a proven stress reliever. Stepping away from the grind of the day and spending some time doing what you enjoy will serve to give your thinking mind a break. When you’re moving your body, you can focus on what you’re doing and take your mind on what needs to be done or what has been done. You live in the present moment or you fall over (in yoga), fall in (kayaking or on a SUP), or completely lose your place (in Taichi or dancing). In finding what you love to do, what feels good to you and your body, you will open up those creative channels.  

Some of my favorites:

Yoga with Adriene, she has videos from beginner to advanced. Her motto? Find What Feels Good =)  

Click here to see her videos.

For Qigong, try Chris Shelton with Shelton Qigong. Again, he explains things in a way that anyone can understand. You don’t have to have some advanced knowledge to do the practices. The movements are easy enough for anyone to do and incredibly beneficial and relaxing. To see all of the Shelton Qigong videos click here.

However you choose to do it, find movement. Even if it’s just dancing around your kitchen for 5 minutes while your dinner cooks in the microwave.

Tell us how you choose to move this week. Let us know if you tried new things or if you already know what you love and you were able to make time to do it.

The Novel Turtle Presents: Q&A with Haley Hensley

This is Haley and her sweet Great Dane, Emme.

Welcome to our Q&A session! This week our guest is Haley Hensley. Haley is a photographer, animal lover, and all around fun person. Her website is www.haleyhensley.photo.

Q: What made you want to start taking photographs?

I am a shy person, even more so when I was younger. I didn’t really have a place to fit in at school. I didn’t play sports or an instrument. When I heard about yearbook staff in middle school though it really sparked an interest in me. When I was old enough to join yearbook staff, I did. I loved taking photos of the different activities going on at school. In a way, I was fitting in by hiding behind a camera. 

Q: At what age did you do this?

At age 9, my father bought me my first camera. He bid on a box full of items at an auction. A 35mm Minolta XG 1 film camera was in the box. I was fascinated by it. We took it to Ritz Camera to be looked over and repaired. I remember standing outside of the store, pointing the camera at something. A gentleman walked past and asked if I was a photographer. From that moment, I may not have been a photographer but I knew that I wanted to be one in the future. So, I started photographing everything: family, pets, nature. 

Q: What are some of your favorite things to photograph?

I’ve always loved photographing nature, from mountains to beaches. I love capturing the beautiful areas that surround me. I also love photographing dogs. Dogs are one of my biggest passions, along with photography. So being able to connect with them through my camera is one of the most rewarding experiences. I am currently trying to learn more about photographing couples and newborns!

Q: Where is the craziest place you’ve ever stood to take a photo?

This one is easy for me. Although I will do just about anything to capture a shot that I have a vision for, this one experience always comes to mind. It was November on the Nolichucky River. The Noli is already extremely cold, but in November it is REALLY cold. I had a 4×5 film project I was working on for school, and I saw the perfect shot about knee high out a little ways in the river. I was thinking, “I have on rain boots, I’ll be fine!” The rain boots didn’t help, I was not fine, and it was COLD. I remember my legs going numb in a matter of seconds! I got the shot, found my way out and called it a day! 

Q: Do you have a favorite photo, or collection of photos?

A project that was one of the most challenging and most rewarding is my Virginia Intermont College series. I photographed my school several times, between a few weeks up to a year after its closing. Those are some of my favorite images and always will be because of the personal connection I have with them, and the challenge it posed for me as a person and photographer. 

Q: You have a book about Virginia Intermont, tell us about that. What gave you the idea to do it? How did you choose the areas that you photographed? 

We were told 2 weeks before school ended for summer break that we would not be able to come back. We had already registered for classes and had out next year planned out. In a matter of seconds that was taken away. I was desperate to hang on to anything I could from Virginia Intermont. I knew that I would never see it again. So, I told myself, I have to photograph everything. I walked in every room of every building. Even places that had been closed off to students previously, areas I didn’t even know existed. I photographed places that I connected with or felt emotional about. 

Q: What did you learn in school that you were surprised to learn about photography?

That even though you have a beautiful, creative idea it needs to be technically correct to actually be a good photograph. I had been photographing for years! When I started college I was amazed by just how much I didn’t know technically. Learning how to shoot a camera in manual so that you can control every aspect to achieve your vision is one of the most important things. If your photograph is overexposed then it’s ruined! You can edit a digital image and correct any mistakes but printing a film negative is a bit more challenging if it is not technically correct. 

Q: What are a few tips, that you could give those of us who are amateurs that love to take photos, to help us?

Learn. Learn. And keep learning. In today’s world with YouTube, Facebook Groups and other endless internet resources it provides a whole learning field for anything and everything. Learn about your camera, composition and ways to manipulate your image and be creative. Watch videos, ask other photographers. You can always study others’ work, but always give credit and be respectful! 

Q: Are there other types of creative projects that you do?

I have to be creative! If I am not creative, I am not happy! Outside of photography, I am also a woodworker. I work for a small business (extremely successful, but family owned) that builds furniture! I also love to make greeting cards. I have been making cards since I was a little girl. I love the personal touch it adds. 

Q: Because this website is all about expanding our ideas of what creativity is, I’m always interested to ask this question: How do you define creativity?

Expressing the ideas that are in your mind, or how you’re feeling, through activities that you love to do and that make you happy. 


Haley, thanks so much for joining us this week!!! It has been a lot of fun getting to know more about you and your business.

If you would like to see more of Haley’s work, purchase her book with the Virginia Intermont collection, or get in touch with her:

Website: www.haleyhensley.photo

Email: info@haleyhensley.photo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/haleyhensleyphotography/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/haleyhensleyphotography

Writing for Fun

Graffiti on a train.

Try writing, in one form or another, every day this week. Even if it’s just for five or ten minutes at a time. I’m not talking about sitting down and writing a novel. Although, if that’s something you want to do, then absolutely make time to do that.

While you’re at a restaurant, waiting on your food, write a little story about something you see around you. Make up a story about a person or group that is sitting near you. Where are they from? Why are they there? Are they undercover spies who are trying to blend in? Did one of them just get a new job or a promotion and they are there celebrating? Let your imagination take over.

If you take the subway or a bus home, use that time to write about your day. That way when you get home you can leave your day behind you, relax, and enjoy your evening. If you do this daily you will start to see a big difference in your stress levels. You’ll also see a big difference in how your relationship is with the people you live with. If you constantly bring your work day home with you, you also bring that stress home with you. Leaving it at work, or getting it out on the way home, you allow your evening to be filled with things that you would like to be doing, rather than being filled with re-hashing the day.

Can’t think of anything to write? Is your mind running in circles? Are you trying to gain clarity on something?

TRY THIS: Sit down and write every thing that comes to your mind for at least 5 minutes. Or more. This allows your brain to basically disconnect. This is also a great form of meditation.

(Check this post out for more ideas on meditation.)

Even if the words you write are: Moving over the small ball wall tall mall all saw a bug in the light of life, etc, etc, Keep writing for at least 5 minutes. It may not make any sense at all, but somewhere in there will be a seed of an idea, or at the very least you’ve cleared that out and made room for a solution to shine through.

I often do this and end up writing several pages worth of stuff.

Everyone has a story to tell. If you think you don’t, just start writing. Start with “Once Upon a Time” or begin writing little random facts about yourself. Pretty soon a story line will start to emerge and you’ll see your story develop.

This doesn’t even have to be something that you show to other people. It could be something you write and then throw away. Or something you write and keep in a notebook.

Journal with chocolate chip cookie pen.

My chocolate chip cookie actually smells like chocolate chip cookies. Yum!!

Keep a notebook, a journal, or a pad of paper with you this week and write out little inspirations. You could even put your ideas into a memo in your phone and then transfer them over to a journal when you get home. This is what I do. Sometimes you have to be creative about how to hold your phone up while your writing. Haha!

Hand on a laptop with a phone sitting in yarn next to it.

I have found that if I try to remember these inspirations, if I try to keep them in my head, they tend to disappear. If I write them down as they come, they just keep coming.

The more you open yourself up to creative inspiration, the more it reveals itself to you.

What will you write this week?

This is one of the more interesting journals I’ve had, and one of my favorites as far as creativity goes. It’s made out of elephant poop. Yep, you read that right, elephant poop. Mr. Ellie Pooh’s Handmade Recycled Paper-Elephant Conservation through Innovation. www.mrelliepooh.com if you’re interested.

Comment below and tell us how your week of writing went. Did you discover a new talent that you didn’t know you had? Were you able to solve a problem that you couldn’t before? Did you come up with a funny story?

Become a "Local Tourist"

Brick building with tree.

Pretend that you are a tourist in your own city.

What would you do? Where would you eat? Where would you go?

Act like you have never been to your city before. Google your city name and see what pops up to do. Go onto Pinterest and search for your city. Make an entire board full of things that you can do in your area.

When my husband and I go to a new city we Google the area. We look for things to do and read restaurant reviews. We always try to eat somewhere local.

Do the same thing in your own city. Go to your local airport or welcome center and browse through the brochures there. Look for things that you have never done, but are interested in trying. It can be anything from finding the local parks and hiking spots, to taking a hot air balloon ride over the city. You can search for free things to do or budget a little and spend. Just as you would if you were traveling.

Buildings and a yard with flowers.

Walk around the city as if you’ve never been there before. Look at the displays in shop windows. Go into stores that you’ve never been in before. Take pictures of things that a tourist would. Admire the architecture. Anything that you would do on vacation in a new city, do in your own city.

Look on RoadsideAmerica.com and see if there are any oddities in your area that you could take pictures of.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and a spaceship.

A house near us has a spaceship in their front yard. It has been around for over 20 years now. One day we caught an icon, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, taking a picture of a local icon.

Take it one step further and treat your home as if it were a hotel, or an Air BNB, for a night or two. I know, you’re the one who will have to clean everything up in the end, but for at least one night, suspend that reality and just enjoy yourself. Don’t do anything that you have to do. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if you weren’t on vacation and staying in someone else’s house.

Doing all of this opens you up to new experiences. You begin to see the things and people around you in a new light. Places that you may have gone many times over can become new again if you see them as a new visitor to your city would. New experiences add to your ability to be more creative.

Once you do go back to reality, your experience of “traveling” in your own city will stick with you. Use this experience and remember to take a step back when dealing with your day to day life. If you view your life, your problems, from an outsider’s perspective you can get a clearer picture about what is going on. If you allow yourself to step out of the situation and become a silent observer, you can more easily see the bigger picture. This can help you find a solution that you may have missed because you were too close to the issue. You give yourself the chance to be more creative about problem solving, or about life in general, when you aren’t going through life on auto-pilot.

Tell us below if you found anything new and interesting in your city. Or if you went to all the same places and viewed them as a tourist would, with fresh eyes.

These are pictures from our tour around our city.

Pal’s is a local chain in our area. They have the BEST sweet tea (a Southern staple). I also love that they have a different fun saying on their sign everyday.