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 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.

Creativity Killers Series: Episode 1: Multitasking

Painted Pumpkin with black hair.

This is your brain on multitasking.

In honor of Halloween this month we are going to talk about creativity killers and doing things that scare us. Dun dun DUN. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Also, we’re going to give you ideas about how to deal with these killers and how to move past them.

Our first creativity killer is Multitasking. Multitasking seems to be a way of life these days. A lot of people are very proud of how many different things they can juggle and do at one time. If you’re looking to open those creative channels, have less stress, and enjoy life more, the multitasking has to go. Or at the very least it can’t be a way of life for you.

When you think you’re multitasking what’s really happening is that your brain is having to stop and start tasks over and over again very quickly. When you look at one thing, your brain concentrates on that thing, but as soon as you look away your brain has to stop thinking about the first thing and move over to the second. If you’re doing three or four things at once your brain gets exhausted, and so do you. While you’re doing all of this bouncing around, you’re unable to really concentrate on any one thing fully. That means each thing that you’re doing is suffering at least a little. 

Multitasking is also a form of procrastination.

Why do so many people multitask their way through life?

Some people are addicted to multitasking. They can’t sit still. If they stop, even for a minute, they feel lazy, useless, or stressed. These feelings come up because when we finally slow down and give our mind a break, it gives our inner thoughts time to shine through; inner thoughts that sometimes we’d rather not acknowledge. We would much rather just keep shoving those emotions down and covering them up with busyness. The problem is, those emotions have to arise somewhere at some time. They often show up as a heart attack, exhaustion, or depression and anxiety. It’s much better to slow down, take the time you need to process those emotions, and then move on happier and healthier. Again, I know this is much easier said than done, but still so important.

Some people multitask because they feel like they have to, or because they have overcommitted to doing things. Sometimes it’s because they feel like they are not enough if they aren’t doing everything. Sometimes they are trying to prove themselves. The list goes on and on. These are all pretty deep issues that really warrant more discussion, but for now I just want to mention these things to give you ideas about what could be making you feel like you have to multitask.

If I can plant the seed, then hopefully we can all do a little more self-reflection and figure out our own reasons behind why we push ourselves so hard. Then we can take small steps each day to change our ways.

So how do you break the multitasking spiral?

Stop it. Just stop multitasking.

Ok. Problem solved. See ya next week.

Totally kidding. Although it would be nice if it were that easy.

It’s going to take time, and some effort, but it is possible.

The first thing to do is to narrow down what is actually important to you. If you make a list of everything you do each day, then mark the things on that list that are the most important for you to get done, what would those things be? If something on the list is just on there because you feel obligated to do it, scratch it off the list. Anything that doesn’t bring you joy, that doesn’t help you get to where you want to be in life, scratch it off the list.

Once you find out what is important to you, start saying no to commitments that aren’t in line with what you want for your life.

Next, be realistic about how much time it takes you to do things each day. All too often I see people who schedule themselves into a corner because they have unrealistic expectations about how long it will take them to accomplish tasks. Also, give yourself time in between to get where you’re going, or to switch gears in between tasks. You can’t schedule a class from 4-5 and then a class from 5-6 if you have to rearrange the room in between the two classes. You’ve started off the second class late from the very beginning, which means the rest of the class will be rushed and the need for multitasking will be more necessary to get everything done.  Scheduling our lives is the same. If you don’t allow yourself time in your schedule to get from point A to point B then you’re perpetually late and often forced to do multiple things at once to get everything finished.

Desk with laptop, book, and phone.

When you start going about your day, work hard to do one thing at a time. If you check e-mails first thing when you get to work, only check your email. Then move on to the next thing. I know that sometimes you get pulled away from things by other people. If that happens, help them how you have to, then turn your attention back to your e-mail until your finished. This is not an easy thing to do at first, especially for those that are pros at multitasking, but doing this gives your brain time to concentrate on each task.

It also allows you to slow down and see the world around you a little more. It will take your stress levels down drastically. You will find that you can check more things off of your to-do list because you’re actually focusing and doing each task a little more quickly.

Are you a professional multitasker? Do you tend to take on more than you can feasibly handle? This week sit down and figure out what’s important, make a plan to do only those things, and work hard at focusing on one thing at a time.

Play With Your Food

A glass of milk with bubbles and a straw.

I’m going to sound a little crazy to some people this week, but bear with me. Throughout this week I want you to play with your food.

“Play with our food? Aren’t we taught NOT to play with our food? Shouldn’t we be civilized adults and eat our food rather than playing with it?”

Sometimes, yes. But this week, every chance you get, I want you to play with your food in some way. In whatever way comes to you in the moment.

If this means displaying your food in an unusual way, do it. If it means having a hot dog eating contest with your friends and family, do it. If it means making a picture with the ketchup and mustard as you put it on your burger, do it. Drag your fork through your food and swirl it around and around. Blow bubbles in your drink. Cut your vegetables into interesting shapes. See how tall you can make a sandwich and then smoosh it down to fit it in your mouth. Lay your french fries out to make a picture or a pattern. Stick your finger in your ice cream and swirl it around. Whatever your inner little kid wants to do, do it.

The whole idea……loosen up and have some fun.

A glass of milk with bubbles and a straw.

Even if you don’t have time off this week for Labor Day, take the time to loosen up and have some fun with your food. Playing in general allows our creativity to flow through more freely. Giving ourselves permission to quit “adulting”, for even a few minutes, is a great stress reliever. This also gives us the opportunity to laugh. When we do something silly, like blowing bubbles in our drink, we laugh at ourselves and we make others laugh.

Enjoying your food, and using all of your senses when you eat, has the added benefit of making you more mindful of what you’re eating and what you are doing while you’re eating. So many of us rush from one thing to the next without looking up from our phones in between. We often eat our meals on the go, or worse, while still working. Make it a point this week to actually sit down and eat your meals. Step away from your desk or office. Even if you just go down the hall, or out to your car for your lunch break. While you’re having dinner, be present. Don’t spend your time watching TV or playing on your phone.

Use all five of your senses while enjoying your meals. Smell the food you are getting ready to eat. Listen to the crunch as you bite into it, or the sounds that are around you as you’re eating. Feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Or, go deeper and feel how your body reacts to what you’re eating. We often know if we’re eating something that isn’t great for us by how our body responds. Look at the colors and textures of the foods you’re eating, how they are presented. Eat slowly and take the time to taste each bite that you take. Chew slowly and savor whatever your eating. Even if you’re eating a piece of toast, or a pack of peanut butter crackers, take the time to enjoy what you’re eating and to be present in the moment while you’re eating it.

If you can’t bring yourself to play with your food, or if you want to mix things up a little…….Try this little game.

You can play by yourself or with others, with meals you’re cooking or eating out: Write out on cards (or little sheets of paper) what you are going to eat for dinners this week, or 5 places that you would like to have dinner this week, or a mixture of both. Fold them up and put them in a little jar. Each night draw out one of the little cards and have that for dinner, or go to that place for dinner.

For example: Your 5 cards could be – Chicken Casserole, Mexican Food, Chinese, Pizza, and Seafood. You would write each of these choices out on a card, fold the cards up and place them in a jar or bowl, then draw one out each evening.

Not only does this alleviate the decision-making process each night, it also teaches us to be more flexible. Maybe even throw a new recipe in the mix or try a new restaurant in town.  

Let us know below how you choose to play with your food this week. Did it make you, and others around you, smile? Did others join in with you as you were having fun?

We believe that you should have fun every chance you get. Life can be stressful and there are enough things to be serious about each day. Give yourself permission to loosen up this week, make yourself smile, and make others smile in the process.

Smiley face made out of donut holes.

How to do "Moving Meditation"

A stack of rocks next to Lake Huron.

Meditation? Again? I can audibly hear the groans of those who are like, “Not this again. I’ve tried this and I just can’t. I can’t sit and clear my mind and wait for inspiration to descend. I don’t have the time”. For some, that method works perfectly. For others, not so much. I’m sure you’ve heard all of the statistics about how good meditating is for you, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Meditation lowers your heart rate and your blood pressure. It gives you more energy. It relieves stress, increases self-awareness, reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It allows you to be more in control of your emotions. The list goes on and on. If you want more go to Pinterest and type in “Meditation Benefits” in the search bar.

Now, all of that being said, have you heard of moving meditation? Moving meditation is basically just meditating while you are doing something else. “Shouldn’t I be mindful while I’m doing my tasks? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do, be present?” Yes. But, being present and meditation can go hand in hand. Being present in the moment is a form of meditation.

For example, while you’re washing the dishes: instead of standing there thinking about what you have to do next, being upset that no one is helping you, or wondering why your family can’t scrape their own plates, instead of rehashing the conversation you had earlier….take that time to meditate. Listen to the running water, feel it flow over your hands as you rinse the dishes off. Watch the bubbles form in the soap. Allow your mind to wander around aimlessly. Don’t latch on to any one thought.

Pretend that there is a bubble of space around your kitchen sink. When you step into that bubble it is your space to just be. Give yourself permission to stand there and day dream while you do the dishes.

Or take a walk around your neighborhood, or the park, or your office building. Do this without any music playing in your ear. Smell the fresh cut grass. Feel the warmth of the sun. Look around you and take note of what is there. Again, don’t get attached to anything. Just use this time to let your mind wander aimlessly.

This takes a little practice. I know this may sound crazy to some people, but try it for a week.

If you do this, you’ll be surprised at what starts to come up for you, what inspirations come your way. Our minds are full of good ideas, full of simple solutions that are waiting right there on the surface. We just need to quiet that daily chatter long enough to allow those ideas to come through.

Some other things you could try: doing TaiChi, Qigong, Yoga, or any other type of slow moving exercise. All of these practices cause you to focus on what you’re doing physically so that you can give that mental chatter a break. They are all forms of moving meditation.

Do a little something every day this week that allows you to just shut your brain off for a bit. Try not to control your thoughts, just let them flow. Whether it is once a day for 30 minutes or 5 times a day for 5 minutes each time, put the phone aside, get away from your work space, and give your mind a break. Sit on a park bench and just watch butterflies or squirrels, take a walk around the block or around the room, knit or crochet, shred papers, or dance around your house. Whatever works for you.

To be clear, if “regular meditating” works for you, then keep doing it. By no means am I knocking it. I simply want to offer alternatives for those who don’t like doing that style of meditation.

Another style you can also try is guided meditations. There are several free options on YouTube. Some of my favorites:

Melanie Beckler -of Ask-Angels.com. Her voice is very relaxing. Click here to try one that I really like.

Chris Shelton with Shelton Qigong, “How to Heal Chronic Pain and Inflammation Guided Meditation”.

Victor Oddo has a couple of great ones. If you watch his YouTube videos he often has a link to them in the comments section. I think this is one that you get for free if you sign up for his emails. Click here to see those.

There is also a channel called “Meditative Mind” that has guided meditations. They have music that is specifically designed to be played while you are meditating as well.

The whole key of meditation is doing it regularly. Everyone is different. If the thought of sitting still and trying to clear your mind of all thought just stresses you out, then you aren’t going to do it. If you don’t do it then you aren’t going to get any benefit from the practice. Find a way that works for you. Trust me, you will still get the benefits. 

Comment below and let us know if you will give meditation another try. Or if you already have a meditation that works for you, what are you doing? Share with us so that we can all learn from each other.