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

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

Take a moment to let that question marinate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drive Around Aimlessly & Explore

Road through a covered bridge.

Do a little aimless driving this week. Maybe a little each day, or maybe one adventure, one day for a few hours. Drive around with no particular destination in mind.

Doing this helps you to see different things and clear your mind.

Go wherever you think looks interesting. Even if it is a street that you have been on before, you may see something you never have because you’re normally hurrying to your next destination. You may find a better, quicker route between places that you go every day.

My husband and I do this a lot, especially when we’re on vacation. We start driving down a road and then one of us will say, “That looks interesting, let’s go that way,” and we do. Doing this we have found all kinds of things that we otherwise never would have seen. We found a light house that we didn’t know was there in Cape Cod. We found a beach in California that had some interesting cairns. We found a train museum in PA. (Unfortunately it was closed, but we still got to take pictures of the outside.) Even here at home we sometimes do it. We may go on roads that we have been on before, but we always see something new.  

The other night we were driving home from dinner and got stopped by a train. I’m the only person I know that gets excited about being stopped by a train. I enjoy the time just to sit and take a “forced” break in the day. (Also, I love trains and the graffiti that ends up on them.) As we sat there, several other people came and parked behind us. They were taking photos over at the train station. When the train stopped, they realized it was the perfect opportunity to get an even better angle for their pictures. They could stand in the middle of the road and not have to worry about traffic. We all talked and took pictures. It was an impromptu little party. None of this would have ever happened if we hadn’t taken the time to drive around, stop for the train, and take in the scenery that we generally just pass by.

Train sitting in front of a building.

Ever since I got my driver’s license, getting in my car and driving around randomly has been the best way for me to clear my mind and process things. If I don’t have a lot of extra money for gas, or time to go far, I drive to a nearby park or parking lot and just sit (without the radio on and without playing with my phone). I’ll go the long way home just to go through a nearby park area. It always gives me time to relax and enjoy the views, instead of being stressed out by traffic all the way home.

Trees in front of a river with a bridge across it.

If you live in the city and don’t really have a good place to drive around, or don’t even have a car to drive, trade driving for walking. Walk around aimlessly, with no real destination in mind. Just let you mind wander and see where your feet take you. It’s the same concept.

If you need a little more direction and a little less random, try flipping a coin:

Pick a starting point, the end of your street, the restaurant parking lot, or where ever you happen to be. Flip a coin. Heads you go left, tails you go right. Let this be your guide and see where it takes you. If you end up at a dead end or going in circles, pick another starting point and flip the coin again. This is good for exploring somewhere that you have been before. It will help mix things up and allow you to free your mind of the decisions about where to turn or go, so that you can see more of the world around you.

Doing this is also like a mini vacation for your brain. When you free your mind from having to make so many decisions about where to go, where to turn, what to do next, it frees up space for creative solutions, problem solving, and finding things that you really enjoy doing.  

If you take the road less traveled you never know what you will find, who you might meet, or what you might discover about yourself.

You may find a cemetery in the middle of the road. You may see geese walking on water. (They were really walking on ice. =)) Or you may find the end of a road you didn’t even know you were on. Haha!

So tell us, do you ever drive around aimlessly? Or take different roads just because they look interesting? What other things do you do to clear your mind?

Move Along

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?

The 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.

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.

Move Over 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.

Perspective

Sunset over a lake.

We go through our lives each day, often doing the same things in the same order. When you take a shower, brush your teeth, get ready in the morning, eat meals, drive to work, drive to the store, and drive home you go the same way each time.

I invite you to mix it up. Begin to look at things from a different perspective and see how it affects your over all wellbeing.

When you shower, do things out of order. Try driving a different way to and from work. Even if it just means taking a different way out of your parking lot. Take an extra few minutes and drive around your neighborhood. Look at each house you pass and find something beautiful about it. Look for something in each yard that you’ve never seen before. When you are eating a meal, put your phone down and look around you. See the colors in your food, look at the pictures on the wall, notice how the tables are arranged, look out the window (if there is one) and watch cars passing by.

I used to go out and eat in my car when I worked retail. It would give me a break from the noise inside the store. I would take that time to enjoy my food and relax a little, but also to watch what was around me. Where I worked there were trees around, so there were always little birds searching for food, hopping from branch to branch, or flying around. If you have the ability to eat outside, take time to look around you, look up at the sky, the clouds. When you are waiting somewhere, look up at the ceiling. I have found over the years that a lot of places have the most beautiful ceilings. Especially older, historic type buildings. If I walk into a store or restaurant and they have utilized the ceiling as shelf space, or have it decorated, the place is automatically that much more interesting. To me that shows that the owners think outside the norm. 

Take this all one step further and literally change your perspective. Lay upside down and look at things that way. How does it change? Tilt your head sideways and see what pops out. If you are having a hard time finding a solution to something, change your perspective. Step back and think of it like an outsider would. Try playing devil’s advocate and argue the position from the other side to gain clarity. Sometimes when we get stuck in one loop in our heads the solution alludes us.

Comment below and let us know what you did to change your perspective this week. Share with us other ways you use to change your perspective.