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#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.

 

 

#FridayFood – Donuts

#FridayFood – Donuts

It’s (almost) the weekend.

Time to get your party face on. Okay. Maybe not for a few hours. But in the meantime to get you in the weekend mood, let’s talk food porn. For me, that’s basically something homemade or donuts.

 

In the weeks to come, I’ll use #FridayFood posts to share recipes or awesome food I ate with you.

So today, I want to talk about donuts. My favorite donut of all time is a vanilla cake donut with vanilla glaze sprinkled with peanuts. I got them at Spudnuts in Pasco, Washington as a kid. Now, I get them locally at Countryside Donut House in Kirkland. If you make it to Countryside, try the maple bar, too. It is the best I’ve ever found. Another favorite of mine is Top Pot Doughnuts. Their pink sprinkle doughnut inspired my daily sketch a few months back.

My five-minute sketch
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!

 

Sunny Side Up!

Sunny Side Up!

Dreary Seattle Winter 🙁

It was a long cold rainy winter in Seattle, the worst I’ve seen in my thirty years here.

But we survived.

  • The election
  • The aftermath
  • Free Speech on life support
  • The addiction to news cycles
  • Social media squalls
  • Flu season.
  • The mad slough of friends and family on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Is is over yet?

Well, my calendar says it is spring. And in a few days we begin a fresh month. It’s another chance to sweep away residual fear and worry and hate. Another opportunity to be our best selves and love others with an unjaded heart.

Last week, I was skimming Hacker News and found an article about ritual smudging or saging. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it is something I do regularly in my house – usually when my husband goes out of town because he doesn’t love the residual scent.

It is derived from Native American roots, and is a spiritual ‘house cleaning’ of sorts.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • First, locate a bundle of dried sage, a bird feather (to fan smoke) and a large shell
  • Light the sage bundle
  • Walk through each space in your home
  • As you walk, ask  God (or the Universe) to clear out dark energy and invite light, positive energy  inside your home. I pray and walk slowly from room to room
  • Sometimes the sage bundle extinguishes. Stop and relight the bundle and remain in that space until the smoke clears the energy.
  • “God, fill this house with your love and light.” That is something I say as I walk the house, but you will find your own words.
  • When you’ve saged your home, respectfully empty the shell of ashes outside and say a thank you to God or the Universe.

My family used to (okay, STILL) roll their eyes at me for saging. But this article I found justifies the ancient ritual. It has been proven that herbal smoke has powerful antibacterial properties. Sage smoke cleans the air and keeps it clean for days. Wow, right? Here’s the article.

After I post this blog, I am going to sage my home. I will start this new season with a clean house and spirit. I will let go of any darkness and make room for something better. Because any day is a good day for a fresh start.

Sending you all love and light.

 

 

 

 

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