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Author: Jennifer Hotes

Raised downriver from the Hanford Nuclear Reactor, Jennifer finds her bliss raising two children in the Pacific Northwest. She writes and illustrates and when time permits walks the dog.
#WednesdayWellness – Zentangle!

#WednesdayWellness – Zentangle!

Happy #WednesdayWellness!

A first effort by Jennifer Hotes titled, “My skin is the color of love”

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to a meditative art, Zentangle, and an amazing woman that teaches it, Kellie Fellinge, founder of SoundTangle.

Kellie, tell us about Zentangle and how you became interested:

I received a book about Zentangle for Christmas– and by the first week of January, I was signed up to take the certification class to teach it!  I had no idea what I was getting myself into – I just knew that I had found the thing I had been looking for to spark my creativity and I had a strong desire to share it with others.   

People are drawn to Zentangle by the beautiful images they see, but Zentangle is really more than that.

Zentangle:

  • Teaches us to be present and focused
  • Works out our attention muscles (the ones social media and real life tend to atrophy)
  • Allows us to practice quieting the mind
  • Permits everyone to be creative
  • Ignites our work or creative pursuits 

By using pencil, pen and paper (simple tools) – many students tell me it is easier for them to quiet their minds and get that much needed break than if they try to do something like meditate.

Sitting still does not come easy for a lot of people and I like that Zentangle can bridge a gap.

An original Zentangle by Kellie Fellinge

Another bonus? Zentangle is a process that has no expectation – your lines can be crooked or shaky, and you still reap the benefits of practicing – and the result will be beautiful.  Entangle uses patterns in easily repeatable steps – and the basic strokes you already know are put together in amazing ways. If you look at this example, there are basically 200+ straight lines, in three different patterns. If you can draw that straight line, you already have a great start to being able to use Zentangle as part of your creative practice.

What are the benefits for kids? 

Jennifer’s wild kid on a long ago day at Costco

Once I taught a really energetic group of elementary students, coming in from recess full of wiggles on a sunny day – and within a few minutes they were all immersed in their practice, not a peep. It was pretty amazing.  And on the other end of the spectrum a lot of my students are adults who probably feel more like their brains are wiggly from too much energy, too much going on, or being over worked, stressed and scheduled – the calm and quiet that I could physically see in that room full of students is how many people describe what happens inside their minds when they sit down to practice Zentangle.

What I like about Zentangle is that everything is broken down into simple, easy to follow repeatable steps that are really easy to relax into.

 

Your classes are amazing, Kellie. I’ve been blessed to participate in a few. But my readers span the globe. How else can they learn from you?

Luckily – there are Zentangle teachers all over the world who feel the same way I do about helping spark people’s creativity.  You can find a list here: https://www.zentangle.com/teachers.php .  I know from my personal experience that while learning the mechanics from online sources and books was fun, I really didn’t understand how to apply all the benefits until I took a class and learned how to incorporate the focus and relaxation into my work.

I tend to hold more group classes centered around a workplace or school, but I also really love sharing reflections on my blog  which tries to focus on the quiet side, unseen benefits of the practice – exploring all these elements that aren’t quite as easy to post as the completed art work – to help inspire people to really focus on the process, on finding that quiet in their day.  This has also led me down the unexpected path of hosting a podcast on similar topics with my fellow Zentangle teacher Juliette Fiessinger from ArtsAmuse.

 

Tell me about your podcast series! 

On our podcast TanglePod, we dive into things that inspire us. Juliette and I have found over the past few years that sharing insights on ideas like trust, focus and appreciating ourselves provided us with the incentive to keep working on our creative practice.  These kinds of things don’t usually come up in daily conversations – and we were looking for a way to continue to teach and share with a broader audience than we can with our current class schedules.  The steps and philosophies of Zentangle can be applied in many different aspects of life and we explore this as well as a lot of other topics related to creativity. Our podcast is more like having coffee with a friend than it is taking a class – and our goal is to inspire people to think about creative areas of their lives, and encourage them to reap the benefits that creativity offers.

Our podcast is more like having coffee with a friend than it is taking a class

 

What’s next for SoundTangle?

I never would have guessed that I would be here now:

  • Learning to be comfortable speaking in front of a class
  • Learning how to create and produce a podcast
  • Learning from my students each time I teach. 

We are still in the throes of launching the podcast and learning the best way to help make that financially sustain us. Looking to the future – there is more to learn, more to share and I can’t wait to see where it leads. Find them on Facebook here!

 

A final note from Jennifer:

Readers!  I rely on Zentangle when my writing brain is rusty or the ideas simply won’t flow. I spend fifteen-minutes with Zentangle and afterwards, I have focus and inspiration. Give Zentangle a try and let me know how it helps with your daily pursuits.

#FridayFood – Tokyo Station

#FridayFood – Tokyo Station

The weekend’s here. Time to think about food. And I woke up thinking about the best food I had this year. Ramen Row in Tokyo Station dazzled my whole family. Proof two teens and two middle-agers can still agree on something.

Logo for a Japanese delivery company – I want to ship myself via mama cat! How about you?

Ramen Row is tucked away inside Tokyo Station. Twenty or so tiny restaurants serve a variety of (yep, you guessed it) ramen! We looked at menus and peeked over the shoulders of diners before we settled on a ramen house in a far corner. We slipped our coins into a machine and pushed a button with the picture of the meal we wanted, and wallah! The machine spit out a ticket. We waited for a minute or two in the queue and a helpful person took our ticket, shepherded us to a table and poured us warm tea.

A few minutes later our ramen came. I chose ramen with chicken katsu, which was fantastic.

Choices, choices, and more choices!

We were so charmed by the concept, our family dreamed of setting up a ticket machine ramen house in Seattle. But, until we make that happen, we’ll have to take another trip to Japan to enjoy our favorite food of 2016.

Happy weekend to you and yours!

 

#MondayMotivation – Look Back to See Forward

#MondayMotivation – Look Back to See Forward

Monday Meh

Glowing fake cheesecake in Harujuku district

I was feeling blah this morning. Monday. Seattle was cloudy and cool. My kid had school even though most of her friends were out spring breaking.

And then I began to blog. I searched through old photos to find inspiration and found photos of our trip to Japan last summer. Wow. What a difference that made to my spirit. It was the best trip our family ever had. The country. The people. The food. The culture. And oh, God! The trains.

Tokyo Museum – me carrying water and failing

So if you’re feeling blah, take a few minutes to scroll through the photos on your smartphone. Find a favorite and make it your new home screen. I swear, it will turn around your mood! Love you.

Chopstick choices! (I picked the red ones)
#MondayMotivation – Love Yourself

#MondayMotivation – Love Yourself

“Love Yourself”

Orchid by Jennifer Hotes

It’s not only a Justin Bieber song title, it’s good advice. No matter how fierce the pressures of job and family and service, steal a few minutes a day for yourself. A better you is better for everyone around you.

Ten Minute Re-Boots

  • Yoga stretches
  • Quick pencil sketch on a napkin
  • Text a compliment to someone
  • Pray or meditate
  • Watch a silly cat video
  • Enjoy a cup of tea
  • Stand outside and breathe deeply

As always, sending you my love. I hope you have a lovely week.

 

 

Two Miles at a Time

Two Miles at a Time

On your mark! Get set! Go!

Running. It works wonders for me. Why? Running two miles a day is free and gives me so much:

  • A good night’s sleep
  • Alleviates my depression and anxiety
  • Burns calories (so I don’t have to fuss over treats)
  • Boosts my mood
  • Helps me concentrate at work
  • Lowers my blood pressure

It’s magic. But, only a few years ago I couldn’t take a step without burning pain in my feet and knees. I didn’t know then, but I had a bone infection due to a poorly done root canal. Yikes. Under stress to finish my first book and unable to exercise in any way, I gained weight. Lots and lots. Too much for my little frame. I suffered:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Poor sleep
  • Stomach problems
  • Lack of concentration

A new dentist discovered my infection and after two rounds of antibiotics, my bones healed. Technically, I was able to run again, but I couldn’t even manage to walk at a steady pace for more than a few minutes. Each day, grateful to have pain-free feet, I pushed a tiny bit more. I walked a little longer, a tad faster, until I was finally able to jog. And then, after a few months, I ran.

And I’ve never looked back.

I don’t think my genetics (Black Sea Germans) were meant to be marathoners, but I enjoy 2.5 miles, sometimes three. At nearly fifty, I stretch before and after my runs to prevent shin splints. And I write my miles on a calendar, a calendar that tracks my monthly goal. My goal for the month varies. Sometimes I aim to move everyday – walk or run or lift weights. Other months, I set a mileage goal.

Experts agree that exercise has fantastic benefits.

Teens that run 30 minutes a week for three weeks in a row saw a reduction in anxiety and depression and better sleep patterns.

This comes from a study found in Runner’s World. For us older people, the effect is similar. We simply need to exercise more days of the week.

Another study showed that running cut the risk of having cancer in half!

And running increases hearing! Yep. Both facts come from this article in the Telegraph.

So, if you’re willing to feel the burn in your lungs for the first couple attempts, I want to encourage you to get out there and move! 🙂 And then share your experience with us here!

Happy running!

 

A Force for Good

A Force for Good

A pledge to myself: This woman, this blog, the books I write, the words I speak, the actions I take, the way I walk in life will be a force for good.

These days, vitriol has become the norm.  Trying to be heard in a hurricane of hate might be futile, but I am going to try. And I refuse to shout. I won’t point fingers. I won’t judge.

Instead, I will think the best of others. We all want simple things: a safe place to raise our families, food to eat, a chance to work or learn. That’s gotten lost somehow.

Today I pledge to stand in sharp contrast to what has become shamefully normal. I might get lonely, but I don’t care. I operate in love not hate.

Wishing you love as you pursue the simple things you need.

Jenn

Ten Times Seattle Nailed It!

Ten Times Seattle Nailed It!

Ten Times Seattle Nailed It!

img_4012I have to end the week on a light note. As a Seattle girl, I’m proud of my quirky, trend-setting, diverse and loving city. Here’s ten times Seattle nailed it!

Back Camera
Backpack! You’re welcome students everywhere

img_4539Got a good idea? Well, Seattle’s waiting to hear it. Check out the McKinstry Innovation Center and talk to them soon about your idea. 

Want more? Check out this article in Geekwire http://www.geekwire.com/2013/bezos-center-innovation/

Would Martin Luther King, Jr. wear a safety pin?

Would Martin Luther King, Jr. wear a safety pin?

thWould Martin Luther King, Jr. wear a safety pin?

I woke up with that question on my mind.

Our nation is still reacting to a presidential election that surprised everyone. Millennials are wearing safety pins to say, “You are safe with me. I stand with you.” Here’s a link to a more in-depth article that explains the origins of the safety pin movement. 

th-1Again I ask. Would MLK wear a safety pin? I’ve been streaming his speeches on Spotify and have to wonder. Would MLK want us to feel safe? Maybe. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought against racism from pulpits, pavements and prisons. He gave his life for a civil rights movement that shaped our country into something better. When things got violent, he stepped into the fray and preached a position of love and peace. Here’s a link to his famous speech, “Loving Our Enemies.” I encourage you to take a few moments to read it. Don’t worry. I’ll wait. 🙂 In this speech, Dr. King tells us that “Jesus wasn’t playin’.” He says we are to love (not like, LOVE) our enemies. In other speeches he urges us to look upon our fellow man and expect goodness. Those sentiments lead me to feel that Dr. King might not have donned a safety pin. A recurring theme of his speeches was to challenge us to look upon each other and expect the best, expect goodness, expect safety.

thMaybe that’s why I resist wearing a safety pin. I want to walk through my days and look into the eyes of my fellow man for goodness, not look down for a pin on a lapel. Because what if it’s not there? What then? Do I assume that person is unsafe? Ignorant? Racist? Misogynist?  I can’t. I won’t. Right now there’s enough us versus them, him versus her in the world. I choose to look upon everyone as safe and if I am harmed because of that supposition, well then, I’ll hurt. But I won’t let it color my judgment against everyone.

To every single person wearing a safety pin, I respect your choice. Your fear is real and I have great compassion for you, but the truth is places of fear and discomfort have inspired the most dramatic steps forward in civil rights. If Rosa Parks hadn’t refused to give up her seat on that bus, forward progress would have been delayed for who knows how long? Anxiety, fear, anger, discomfort, and the passion to right a wrong led to change.

I guess the mom in me needs to say something else, too. Whether you’re a millennial or middle-ager like me, you have a right to feel however you feel. For now honor it. Cling to one another. Grieve. But then for God’s sake rise up! Take action to defend what you feel is most at risk. Use your fear and anxiety to push you out of your comfort zone and use your voice, your strong, unique and perfect voice to take action.

Attend that city council meeting. Write a letter to president-elect Trump and and local politicians to say that you expect the rights of all to be preserved and revered by this administration. Volunteer for a suicide hotline. Give to the local food bank. Help a neighbor. Do. Something. Now.

This has been my strategy all week and I feel better, way better doing something with my anxiety and fear than not.

And I’ll confess something ugly to you, too. If Hillary had won last week I’d be smiling. I’d feel safe. I’d feel comfortable. And I sure as hell wouldn’t be recommitting myself to the causes I’ve always felt most strongly about. So for me, a self-confessed Pollyanna, this is the silver lining.

Wishing you all love and peace,

Jenn

 

 

 

Are we addicted to hate?

Are we addicted to hate?

Love and Hate text concept on red and black dices
Love and hate are closely related

Hate. Did you listen to mainstream media today and scream? Did you jump on social media and stalk a few haters using words you’d never use with your kid in the room? Did you scream at the television during the ball game and scare off the cat?

You may be one of millions of Americans addicted to hate.

Brainscans show hate triggers OCD behaviors
Brain scans show hate triggers OCD behaviors

Neurologists studied brain scans and found some alarming facts. Feelings of intense hate and intense love trigger the same areas of the brain except for one key difference. Hate triggers the brain to judge more sharply. Love clouds those same judgmental neurons. Hmm. Interesting. Here’s the study if you want to read it in full. So love and hate ARE related, but love makes us look past each other’s flaws and hate does what? Oh, hate makes us harshly judge one another. Ouch. That’s right. No matter what the truth is about that other person, our hate filter shows them as ugly.

Here’s another interesting part of the study. Both intense hate and intense love are closely linked with the areas of the brain that trigger OCD behavior like compulsive thoughts. So if we feel intense hate, neurons are triggered that cause us to want to create that hate-filled surge again and again. Yeah. That seems addictive.

Does this explain why we troll people/groups on social media that make us angry? (I might’ve done this to the kicker’s wife that threatened Richard Sherman…) Is this why talk radio continues to flourish? Is this why sports are so damn popular? I’m not sure. Maybe. All I can say for sure is that I’m a simple woman that had a question and started down a rabbit hole of research about hate that I’m finding really really interesting.

So what does hate say about the hater? Well, according to Psychology Today, hate says everything about the hater and nothing about the hated. Hate is usually accompanied by fear and anxiety and often shows an ugliness inside us that we’ve spent a ton of energy stuffing deep deep down into the shadows of our minds. If you feel hate, let it be a wake up call. Notice that hate, name it and then ask yourself where it came from. If you can put a finger on that wriggly little thought-worm, then you can also deem it powerless.

thFinally, no matter what cause haters organize against, hate is a terrible vehicle for action. In another Psychology Today article about the toxicity of hate, I was struck with this powerful quote, “Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” 

We all remember the hate-fueled Westboro Baptist Group, right? That group was most certainly addicted to hate.

Well, I won’t hate. More than ever, today I’m called to love and care and give.

And for me, love and compassion are the antiserum to this climate of hate. When I dip a toe in social media and start to feel the hate, I yank myself away and tie on my Asics. After running a couple miles, the runner’s high hits and the hate fades to nothing. The fake ugliness, the not-so-important differences between us seem insignificant. And again I  see my fellow humans as they are, beautiful, loving, complicated people just trying to do the best they can.

 

I Am Grateful

I Am Grateful

Back CameraWhen I was in college I began a list called, “Good Things Coming My Way.” Yeah, looking at the title now it seems a bit…umm…me-centric. But, the point of the list was to take note of all I had to look forward to in the coming days. Back then I was juggling a volunteer position for University of Washington athletics, a part-time job, and a full load of classes. It was easy to feel overwhelmed, but my little list put the positive in sharp perspective.

Here are a few that showed up every week:

  • Clean white socks on my feet
  • Food in my stomach
  • Healthy legs so I can exercise
  • My paycheck
  • A call or visit home
  • Spending time with my friends

Simple stuff, right? Well, I didn’t realize how well that attitude for gratitude has served me until I lost it recently.  This election season has been derisive, corrosive, mean and ugly. And when people hurt, I hurt. It’s who I am. For a time, I was struggling to get out of bed.

Now though, after a week away from the news and social media, I’m lighter in spirit and seeing the blessings around me again.

PollyannaToday I am grateful for:

  • Shelter over my head
  • Food in my cabinets
  • The freedom to worship God
  • The freedom of others to worship or not as they choose
  • Family and friends
  • Good schools and great teachers
  • People that do their jobs, not for the paycheck, but because they feel called to
  • My neighbors and community
  • Hope and healing
  • Healthy feet and legs that allow me to exercise
  • Fresh starts, not just on New Year’s Day, but every single day we  choose to forgive, try again, or move on

flag series copy copyA president will be elected tomorrow and we will all be okay no matter who wins. We will be okay. And if your gut still burns, focus on every little thing that is actually good in your life. You’ll find that other stuff shrinks shrinks shrinks and your heart (hopefully) heals. And if you’re still feeling fatigued, check out some panda vids here. 🙂