Once upon a time….

Monday, March 18, 2019

*Special note of thanks to Joanne for inviting me to add to the Zenspired  conversation that happens here every Tuesday*

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved words and letters and books. After she read all of the Nancy Drew books in the Hurst Elementary School library, she moved on to the Hardy Boys series to connect with adventuring friends inside the pages. Friends she could come back to again and again for new stories. Besides reading words and letters, the girl would write and doodle letters and shapes, never venturing into the world of official “art” but dancing outside the edges filling pages with alphabets, quotes, and scribbles.

I’m that girl and now I’m several decades older (and wiser? Some days, maybe. But don’t count on it. Ha!) I wanted to incorporate a practice of drawing and creativity into my daily life. Here’s what I did. See if any of it resonates with you and, if it does, feel free to borrow my ideas and make them your own. I’d love to see what you come up with if you do!

I draw my daily To Do list. I call it my To Doodle list. I’m a busy person. I have family, a full time job, I do art-related activities on the side, I practice yoga and go to the gym, I go to meetings and volunteer at church, I’m a middle-aged newlywed for heaven’s sake! Who has time for a daily practice? Well, I did. I do! It has improved my life and my drawing. I can better think about what is important and prioritize. It feels fun and light. It gives me energy. Come join me on a tour of To Doodle lists in my old sketch books.

This appears to be one of my first To Doodle lists. I like the sun in the middle with the date written around it. I used colorful markers, which is so like me. In my work area of the list I see that I was going to call my boss at the time Matt and “gently ask for clarification”. Ha! I hope I did that. Mostly I love how I needed to handle setting up “cable TV repair”, but right next to it my intention was about “appreciation and gratitude”. My life is full of tasks big and small!

This one is so much like my life. On this day (I think it was the second day I tried To Doodle lists) I apparently needed to buy an expanding folder and I cared a lot about my mood. That seems unusual, but its all here in technicolor! Also I must have had an idea to use this a bit like an eating log… I had cereal for breakfast. Interesting idea although I’ve moved on to focus elsewhere these days.

I tend to use semi-traditional mind mapping techniques like:

  • Start in the center with the main point (for a To Doodle list, it’s a date icon of some sort)
  • Main categories connect to the center (my errands connector looks like a road, my work connector looks like a cord with a plug, and so on)
  • My “rule” is to try to draw as many of the items on the list as possible and to add words for explanation, detail, and so on. I notice that over time I figure out icons for things so there are more icons and drawings and less words in my current To Doodle lists

At some point I thought to add a quote for the day, it is in pencil on the lower left. I started crossing off completed items at some point. And occasionally I will do a To Doodle list for the whole WEEK at a time instead of daily. I prefer not to, but now and again it just works better for me.

Over time I continue to tweak things. I added Connect as a separate area on my To Doodle lists. Connect, for me, means people I need to communicate with… I use icons for a telephone (old school), Facebook and eMail. I want to spend a lot more time focusing on self- care (it can drop off my list sometimes) so I always make sure to leave good space for that. I kept an inspiring quote on the lower left. And I see that I incorporated an arrow at the top right where I am looking ahead to things I need to keep in mind. I mostly try to keep the focus on PRESENT DAY (that is a big enough challenge for me), but sometimes something in the near future needs some awareness.

As an idea starter I created a page of icons in my current journal. I put in the icons I use most frequently. I experimented with adding color only to the main categories. As we say in a group that I attend regularly, “Take what you like and leave the rest”.

If you have wanted to add a touch of creative whimsy, incorporate a daily drawing habit, or organize your life in a way other than the never ending linear list of To Do’s… give it a try for a week or a month and see if you like it. Any and all ideas and sharings are welcome. I’m always looking for new things to try and ideas to “borrow”!

Adding ‘Stay Zenspired’ on my To Doodle list for today,


Please join me in on Facebook at TraceyLyonInklingz to introduce yourself, see what I’m up to, and continue this conversation!

2 thoughts on “Once upon a time….”

  1. Tracey, that was very inspiring. But I think drawing that list would take up most if my day. I don’t do “To Do “ lists everyday but the next time I do, I will draw it. Thanks for sharing this.

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