Let's play

For the last two months – as befits the end of one year and the beginning of another – I’ve been busy taking stock, planning anew, launching, assessing, guessing at things I don’t know, learning under-fire.

Just like you, I’m sure; ’tis the season.

Last week, against a deadline, I designed, doodled and ordered two new sets of cards for my Etsy store – an “Own Your Weird” set of postcards, and a set of greeting cards based on quotes from The (fearless) Love Essays. I’m really happy with how they came out. I’ll be getting them from the printer next week and if all goes well, I’ll launch them next Friday. (Woo-hoo!) I’ve also been working on a guest post, an essay, a project map, and an accounting system. Plus, I’ve been deliveringΒ  big, mushy thank yous on the phone, in email, on Facebook, through the post office, and in person.

I tell you all this so that when I say I hit a bit of a wall this week, you’ll understand why. There was no one thing that caused it, but after meeting the printer deadline in the 11th hour last Sunday, I just felt spent and uninspired; my mood this week was stuck on meh. I felt dull. I was dull.

And then a funny thing happened.

On the way home one day, the boy and I got my car washed, and as we watched the soapy spray lather up our windows, we started to sing (softly at first, and then louder) “Bohemian Rhapsody”, a capella. We got more and more into it as we went. (How could we not? It was Bohemian Rhapsody.) We were head banging and playing our air guitars, and we were terrible – or, more accurately, I was – but it didn’t matter. By the time we hit the “Let him go!” lines (me singing the high parts and The Boy singing low), we were laughing so hard no one would have recognized the song anyway.

Exiting the car wash, I said, “I need to do that more often!” And then it hit me. I haven’t been playing enough. I’ve been so busy lately that even my walks with Lexi and my yoga practice have felt hurried and half-assed; just two more things I have to fit in.

Which, of course, is totally unacceptable.

Clearly, there needs to be more Queen in my life, more bouncing, more spontaneous nonsense. I need to buy some curly straws with which to drink my crazy-healthy morning smoothie. I need to wear more hats, compose inane text poems for my unsuspecting friends, put on my pirate boots and order coffee at Starbucks like this:Β  Ahoy there, matey! What I really need starboard now be a low-fat latte grande with whip cream and a dash o’ grog, if you catch me drift.



While I work up the nerve to do that, here are some fun things we can do together…

Alex Franzen’s “So THAT happened” idea.

Here’s how it works. You write down all the cool stuff you did in January. Just that. A list of you-generated January awesomsauce. Because we forget. Because we get busy and sidetracked by all the shit life throws at us, and we forget about all the “good, kind, decent, humane (or just plain interesting) things we’ve done.”

I tried it. On the morning of the day I sang Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs in a car wash, I made a list of cool things I’d done in January. And then I belted Queen with The Boy. Coincidence? I think not.

You should try it. It’s very uplifting and affirming. And if you’d like to share any or all of what’s on your list, please do. I’ll happily cheer you on.

Love doodles

I’m going to doodle love in February, and I really want you to do it with me. I’ll post my doodles as we go, and if you send me your doodles, I’ll post them too. It can be anything. Doodle a heart, your true love’s name, your own beautiful body, your pet, a cupcake, our planet, the moon. Whatever love feels like when you sit down to doodle, draw that.

C’mon. It’ll be fun.

Obscure words

I’m designing a set of cards based on obscure words. Right now, I’m thinking each card will have a word, its definition, a (ridiculous) sample sentence, and a doodle.

I gotta say, I’m in love with this idea. I don’t even know if anyone will want them, but I’m crazy about the idea of designing a set of cards for logophiles. (That should probably be one of the words.)

I asked for suggestions on Facebook, and I got a few good ones, but I’m hoping you guys can do even better. Suggest your obscure word(s) in the comments section, and if I use your suggestion, I’ll send you the resulting card(s) for free. Yay! Everyone wins! I’ll be working on these all through February, so if you run across a perfectly strange and wonderful word, stop back by and let me know.

Okay, so…

Let’s play!




  1. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) on February 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    EVERYONE needs more Queen in their life. *nods sagely*

    My obscure word is… gloaming. That may not be obscure enough, though.

    • j on February 1, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      So true about Queen. In fact, “I want to ride my bicycle” right now. πŸ™‚

      Gloaming is an excellent word. I mean, obscure or not, it’s just plain excellent.

  2. Michael on February 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Yes to Queen. How could one not say yes to more Queen? Also to play; again, this seems like a slamdunk argument.

    My word is “antidisestablishmentarianism”. Personally, I am not an antidisestablishmentarian, believing very firmly in the separation of church and state, but I always liked the word for its useless-piece-of-knowledge value. Also, you would have a great excuse to do a landscape-oriented postcard. πŸ™‚

  3. j on February 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you, sir! Antidisestablishmentarianism is not nearly as obscure as it should be though. It’s probably not true, but as a kid I learned that this was the longest word in the English language, which meant, of course, that we were all spouting it off all the time in order to sound knowledgeable. Of course, the only sentence we ever actually used it in was “Did you know that antidisestablishmentarianism is the longest word in the English language?”

    So maybe it is obscure in the sense that no one uses it in context. Hmmm…

    As for play, it should be a slam dunk but I think for some of us, it’s easy to forget about it. Or to think that we have to schedule time for it, plan an outing. When, in actuality, choosing to skip instead of walk can (and should) be a totally spontaneous thing.

  4. Amy on February 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    How about Penultimate and Luciferous? Those are pretty obscure. And fun!

    • j on February 2, 2013 at 8:25 am

      I just realized that I’m not sure how to define “obscure.” For instance, I love the word penultimate and have used it before (though only in writing). Luciferous, on the other hand, I’ve heard but had to look up (and it’s awesome). Does that make penultimate less obscure, or should I not make myself the arbiter of obscure?

      Clearly, I need coffee.

      In the meantime, here’s an interesting fact. When I typed both your words into Thesaurus.com, there were no suggestions. You gotta love words for which there are no substitutes!

  5. raywilcockson on February 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I like Hamlet’s “fardels” (To be or not to be speech) – from Arabic via Old Fr and Middle Eng. A fardel is a burden, a pack. You can have little ones “fardlets”, the collective “fardellage” (everyone’s baggage). So useful metaphorically – f of faults, of sin. of troubles, of responsibility.

    • j on February 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Oh, nice one! I love that too. Plus – bonus! – it would be fun to doodle!

      • raywilcockson on February 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

        Thought you might be inspired to a fardle-doodle πŸ™‚

        • j on February 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

          Absolutely. Stay tuned. πŸ™‚

  6. Nancy on February 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I’m all in for more play!!!!

    I need to redeem myself on the obscure word front…..how about quaintrelle?


    • j on February 2, 2013 at 8:31 am

      You are redeemed! Quaintrelle is excellent. In fact, I need to go look it up because I’m only half sure I know what it means. (And by half, I mean pretty damn doubtful.)

      You should doodle with me, Nancy!

  7. lunajune on February 2, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I sing myself crazy everyday… out loud wherever I am
    I use crazy accents in a lot of the old cowboy songs
    when people tell me they don’t sing I just don’t understand it
    it’s not about being a singer and standing on stage, it’s about letting
    your song out and having fun…
    and for a sure letting go of everything CD Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf
    you just gotta sing the whole thing.. loud :~)
    my sister and I where making our jarred tomato sauce last september
    and it was pissing rain all day so we had to do it in her garage with the door up
    well we sang the entire album blasting.. the neighbours kept coming by
    a few would join in, but mostly they just looked at us an laughed..
    sometimes you just have to be comic relief to the world LOL

    ah play…. yes I’ll do love doodles…
    been feeling like that might be the way back into drawing for me
    as for the kid thing… I think about that all the time
    everyday we did that.. you ate , you left the house, you saw who was around
    then you went and rounded up more kids… then decided by numbers what
    we’d play.. didn’t matter if we knew you.. we would soon enough…
    I’d sit with friends going wouldn’t that be cool if we just showed up now
    knocked on doors and said, “hey wanna come outside and play ?”
    I still have my skipping rope.

    have an awesome day… thanks for the inspirations daily

  8. j on February 2, 2013 at 8:35 am

    “Sometimes you just have to be comic relief to the world.”

    I. Love. That.

    Yay! You’re going to doodle with me. It’s a date! Can’t wait to see what you do. Can’t wait to see what I do either. Let the mad love doodling begin!

  9. Pam on February 2, 2013 at 8:56 am

    More Queen? But of course!

    Yes, play time is key. You just have to bust out with “Hey hey we’re the Monkees” when the moment strikes. (And I fully endorse skipping.)

    Looking forward to seeing the new cards!

    I like the January list idea…will work on that this weekend.

    Who knows, maybe some of February’s doodles will qualify as love doodles.

    • j on February 2, 2013 at 10:59 am

      I will watch your February doodles for doodles of the love variety. I was just listening to the B52s and think I might need to doodle the Love Shack today. (And possibly a car as big as a whale that’s beginning to set sail.) πŸ™‚

      No obscure words from you? I thought for sure you’d have something for me. *bats eyes in imploring manner*

  10. jb on February 3, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Happiness and love doodles and singing and more — I’m in! I think I’ll have to do the “so that happened” more often than monthly – or I wouldn’t remember the itty-bitty good stuff that so easily goes unnoticed. As for singing, I sing all the time and even take requests. Since my most frequent request is to stop singing, I usually sing when no one else can hear me and frequently dance whether anyone is looking or not. (I’m much better at dancing than singing; at least that’s what I tell myself.)

    Obscure words are not my strength. It’s embarrassing how many words I think are obscure, when actually they are only obscure to me. So, I’m sharing some of my favorite words that are not used enough: hooligans, shenanigans, hootenanny, gobsmacked, trifle and platypus. (I dare you to use them all in one sentence… :-D)

    • j on February 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Oh, I hope you do some love doodles. (I’m going to remind you often.)

      Actually doing the “so THAT happened” more often than monthly is a great idea if you can remember. If not, monthly is fine. My list has 14 things on it and I didn’t strain to get them. Once you start thinking of the cool, (amazing, sweet, surprising, kind) things you did, you’ll be amazed at how one bit of awesomeness leads to another.

      Your favorite words are completely awesome and infinitely doodleable. And… let’s see…

      I was gobsmacked and knew better than to trifle with those hooligans at the hootenanny, given their giant platypus’s tendency to engage in audience shenanigans.

      Phew! (And, done.)

  11. Estrella Azul on February 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Can’t say it’s obscure, but I love “stroopwafles” (both as a word and as the yumminess it stands for!) πŸ˜‰
    I also love “muselet” ever since I read your blog post in which you were telling us about it. Now that’s a cute word nearly no one uses without a Google search first *laughing*

  12. Estrella Azul on February 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

    And I jut hit “enter” too soon πŸ™‚ But here’s the rest of my thoughts:

    I’m realizing some of the things on my plate which are supposed to be for fun and relaxing, are ending up feeling like a chore. All because work is draining me. And I do not like it one bit!
    So I’m game. Will report back with a link to a blog post on “so that happened” and my love doodles. (Notice I’m saying it’ll be in a blog post. My way of scheduling it) πŸ˜‰

    • j on February 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      I think stroopwafles and muselet qualify as obscure (seeing as how I had to look them both up the first time I heard them). Excellent suggestions!

      Definitely come share the links for your posts, but also send me your doodles. I’ll post them on the blog, but also add them to the community doodles page! xo

      • Estrella Azul on February 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Yay! *fingers crossed j end up using my suggestions*

        Will do, both the blog posts and the e-mailing you the doodles πŸ™‚

        Thank you for the nudge to play a little. It’s not that it hasn’t been on my mind… I just let life get in the way too much.

  13. Estrella Azul on February 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    PS: can’t for the life of me tell where it came from, but “ubiquitous” has been popping in my head nearly every other day for the past week.

    PPS: how’s that for comments making up for my lack of them on other posts? *laughing*

    • j on February 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      Your comments on this post are ubiquitous! (In the best possible way!) πŸ™‚

  14. Annika Martins (@annikamartins) on February 6, 2013 at 1:30 am

    This post makes me beyond joyous. There’s a faith and commitment to mindfulness in your writing (in your life!) that moves and lifts me. Muy inspired. I, for one, will most definitely be sending you a doodle! xox

    • j on February 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Your comment makes me beyond joyous! I cannot wait to see your doodle. xox

  15. Chris Edgar on February 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Hi J, it’s interesting, I just had an in-depth conversation with someone today about the same issue — giving myself permission to “act weird.” What I noticed during that conversation is that, if I’m not giving myself that permission, I start feeling resentful, as if someone else is suppressing my creativity, when in fact I’m the one doing it (a difficult thing to see!). But if I feel allowed to act as weird as I wanna be, my ability to genuinely love people feels more accessible.

    • j on February 7, 2013 at 11:18 am

      That’s interesting. I’ve had the same experience with general “downtime,” having to actually give myself permission to relax and not accomplish anything, and feeling resentful when I (naturally, in the absence of permission) work to the point of burnout. There are probably dicey psychological explanations for why we are the way we are, but who cares? I say, let’s just be really, really free with the permission.

      And, also… more Queen. πŸ™‚

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