Planning for Summer!

Summer at LakeSummer of 2021 is shaping up to be a season of emergence – from restrictions necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, from our personal decisions about staying safe, from isolation of various types. Caution is still important; the pandemic is not over. But higher and higher rates of vaccinations are allowing us to make some plans. Planning for summer – what a concept! Last year we couldn’t really make plans!

One tool to use is mind mapping – I wrote about that last year at about this time. http://carolbrusegar.com/creatively-planning-with-many-unknowns/ That post includes additional general mind mapping resources.

Another approach is creating a vision board for the upcoming season. I wrote about that here: https://carolbrusegar.com/create-a-spring-and-summer-vision-board/

Perhaps you are planning a vacation far from home. Even then, there are weeks of summer during which you can enjoy staycations, day trips, mini-vacations and fun outings of all kinds. Put on your thinking cap and think of yourself as a local tourist. Use the same approach as when you are going to an unfamiliar location and spend some time to discover things to enjoy. Make a list and do some planning – get some dates on your calendar.

Here are 5 categories of things to explore.

Find The Water

When it’s hot outside, there’s nothing better than dipping into a cool pool or lake or going for a swim in the ocean. Take a look at what options you have in your area. Go explore local lakes, rivers, and creeks that you can swim, wade, boat or fish in. If you’re living close enough to the beach, take a daytrip to go swimming or get in a boat.

Finding local pools is another great option. Many cities have public pools that are surprisingly fun and underused. Of course neighborhood pools are another fun option. If you don’t have one yourself, meet up with a friend who’s lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a pool.

And don’t forget about having fun with water at home. Get a kiddie pool, water toys, or turn on the sprinklers and cool off. Note: these are not restricted to children!

Dive Into History

How much do you know about the local history in your area? Make it a point to read up on it this summer and explore local historic places and museums. It’s fun for adults, but also a great educational experience for the kids. Encourage them to read up, explore, and maybe even create a project around some aspect of history that interests them.

Many cities and areas with a rich history offer various different tours that you may not be aware of. It’s worth contacting your local visitor or tourist office to find out what you’ve been missing. You can start close by and expand your exploration to a wider circle of possibilities.

Use Calendars of Nearby Events

Take a look at your local calendars of events. There are usually citywide listings available from visitors bureaus and through media outlets. Look also for more localized listings through neighborhoods or larger sections of your city or town. There are often classes, concerts, movie showings, and even festivals you may not be aware of.

Between events your city or county puts on and various other events hosted by cultural centers, museums, and churches for example, you’ll be sure to find quite a few things you may want to attend this summer.

Fun In The Back Yard

In addition to water fun in the back yard, what else can you do? How about dining al fresco – at a table or on blankets for a picnic – or having a campfire/fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, making S’Mores or even sleeping under the stars? Treat your home like a vacation spot, get everyone outside and have some fun.

What outdoor games fit into your yard? Badminton, frisbees, and croquet are a starting point. Plan for occasional outdoor game nights during the summer months.

Explore A New Culture

We sometimes think of traveling far from home to explore another culture, but most likely there are multiple opportunities right in your own city, town, or area. What cultural groups beyond your own are represented close by?

Identify one or more and research what is available. Restaurants, summer cultural events, sections of town and classes are possibilities. Find some books, movies and music of that culture. You might even learn a little of the language.

By simply putting some planning and effort into a staycation you can have amazing experiences this summer that will cost a fraction of a regular trip.

To help all of us in this process, I have created two items which are available on Amazon:

Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations    This includes five sections: 1) Research: Finding Possibilities; 2) Day Trips for Us (specific trips or destinations you are interested in); 3) Day Trip Preparation; 4) Our Day Trips (a page for each trip you are planning, plus journal pages and blank pages for journaling and drawing; and 5) Your Day Trip Log (a list of the day trips you have taken

3-Part Bucket List and Journal  With this 3-Part Bucket List, you will divide your desires into three main categories: 1) things I want to learn about, 2) things I want to learn to do, and 3) things I want to do. In addition there are goal setting/planning sheets, journaling pages and doodling/sketching/mind mapping pages.

Happy planning for summer!!

Five Useful Applications of Mind Mapping

Mind MapMind Mapping – do you use it regularly? Have you tried it but use it only sporadically? Have you rejected it as a tool in your toolbox? Or do you really not know what it is or why you should consider it? I invite you to consider five useful applications of mind mapping that can make a real difference.

If you want an introduction or refresher on the concept, I have written about it here: https://carolbrusegar.com/mindmapping-multi-faceted-tool/

Many people who seek to embody a positive mindset and to break down roadblocks on a regular basis find that mind mapping is extremely effective in these five ways.

Rocking Your Goals Daily

Mind maps can help overcome our tendency to lose focus on goals and be distracted – even going down the proverbial rabbit holes. Having visual mind maps posted where you see them makes it easy to review daily as a visualization and inspire massive action. A good mind map contains your short-term and long-term goals. By viewing your short-term goals daily, you can make mental connections on how achieving them with confidence will lead to the completion of your long-term goals.

Use a goal-setting method that works well for you. The S.M.A.R.T. goal setting system is highly recommended, and it works very well in a mind map structure. With a mind map, everything is in one place, and at a glance, you can be motivated to work on that short term goal right away. The images will stimulate your brain to find ways to help you stay on track with your goals.

Making Your Meeting Count

Planning a meeting often goes off track as you may forget different important items as you make up your written agenda. By using a mind map, you can organize your thoughts and make different connections to related topics, which may not have occurred to you. Meetings that are planned and delivered via a mind map keep the team engaged as everything is drilled down in a logical form and delivered in short keywords and images.

For a couple of years, I prepared mind map agendas for a weekly committee meeting. They provided a unique and helpful way to navigate meetings that included lots of discussion and tangents. The visual made it easy to switch the order of topics and see the way back to what was missed.

Controlling Information Overload

Information overload can cause stress, anxiety, and even mild depression. In a busy workplace and life, you are taking in vast amounts of information, and sometimes it can be quite complex. This may result in overload and overwhelm.

Mind maps using a single page with keywords, images, and the brief notes that you can attach to various branches are so efficient. There is no searching around for related data as it is all in one spot. You can quickly make connections between different facts, ideas, and topics, which gets your brain working in a flow state.

Preparing for Presentations

If you have ever watched an ill-prepared presentation, you know how painful that is. By using a mind map, you can brainstorm ideas and dump them into your mind map. A mind map functionality allows you to quickly sort/move/edit/add to your presentation and make it come alive.

With mind maps, you are more focused on the key ideas, and there is no wandering off-topic. Having a mind map rather than a script makes for a much more engaging presentation. With color and image usage, you will keep the audience participation alive and full of discussion.

This can also be applied to informal, personal situations like important, perhaps difficult conversations – whether one-on-one or small groups like family or friends.

Making Decisions More Easily

Like information overload, you are faced with difficult decisions every day. A mind map allows you to start with your main problem and develop a hierarchy of possible solutions. Entering keywords in related sub-branches helps you organize options. Your brain will sort through these and make connections that you would not have on paper or if you were thinking out loud. Going through your mind map will have you looking at the main issue from different angles, which, in turn, brings up those unique solutions. It also helps you narrow down possibilities. Making decisions becomes so much easier as you become more familiar with and use this amazing tool.

In addition to trying these five useful applications of mind mapping, I encourage you to learn more. There are a wide variety of books, workbooks, and journals available about various aspects of mind mapping and how to effectively use it. Check out what’s available here: Mind Mapping Resources

 

Create a Spring and Summer Vision Board

Vision BoardIt’s spring, and this year we are especially anticipating summer! We are excited about the possibility of more freedom to do the things we enjoy with our family and friends. This is a great time to create a Spring and Summer Vision Board!! We often thing about Vision Boards at the beginning of the year and they are a great part of planning then. I wrote about the basics of how to create vision boards here: http://carolbrusegar.com/creating-vision-boards/

We can use them seasonally as well; creating your very own and/or a family Spring and Summer Vision Board this year can be a great boost to your mental health. Take some time to gather pictures and words that illustrate your goals, ambitions, hopes and dreams for the coming season. Many of us can use a boost in looking forward as we are moving out of the pandemic (we aren’t there yet!) and this is a great way to do it. Here are some tips to get started.

Use Spring Pastels and Bright Summer Colors

Color helps to create more of a theme to get you in the spirit. A great way to do that is by focusing on the colors we associate with this time of year. The pastels of spring – yellow, pink, light blues and greens – reflect the rebirth of the earth during this season. The bright yellows, oranges, blues, red all portray the energy of summer.

Include Flowers and Gardening

To decorate this vision board, use a lot of beautiful seasonal flowers and other gardening images. If you want to create a garden someday, find images of your dream garden, both in size and layout, and the actual flowers you might include. If you just want flowers for decoration and to reflect the seasonal theme, use try hyacinth, bluebells, tulips, and lily of the valley for spring and sunflowers, zinnias, roses and others for summer.

List Your Health Goals

Decide what you want to do in the upcoming months in terms of your mental or physical wellness. Use words, lists, and images to reflect your personal health goals. Break them down to specific things you will do. For example, meditate and/or journal daily to improve your mindset and attitude. Or connect with 3 friends per week. Or picture favorite spring and summer fruits and vegetables that you will enjoy each week. Make those goals come alive and be appealing with the visuals and well-chosen words.

Choose Activities and Outings

Although we still aren’t sure what limitations will exist in the coming months due to the pandemic, it’s important for us to anticipate and make preliminary plans. With the attitude that these things may need to change, choose some of the things that are reasonable and that you would really enjoy. You may want to resume sports that have been suspended – outdoor tennis, volleyball, badminton, etc. For many of us, water-related activities will be high on the list. Think about the safest ways to do them this year and make some preliminary plans. Many of our favorites – zoos, botanical gardens, museums – have been not available, or at least in the same way, over the past year. Perhaps we can begin returning; put your priorities on your Spring and Summer Vision Board and know that pre-planning and possibly getting reservations will be necessary.

Think Creatively

One of the gifts of this time has been to raise questions about what we really want in our lives. Are there things that had seemed to be givens that you realize weren’t healthy or helpful? Let them go as you look forward. Are there things that you discovered you really enjoy and value? Assure that you do more of them.  Incorporate some of these into your Spring and Summer Vision Board.

Set aside some time and get started! This can be a great launching point to the coming months. Happy Spring and Summer!

Another tool to jumpstarting your dreaming and planning for the coming season is MIND MAPPING. I wrote about this about a year ago as we approached our first summer of the pandemic: https://carolbrusegar.com/creatively-planning-with-many-unknowns/

Use a Planner and Journal

Once you have created a Spring and Summer Vision Board or Mind Map, this could help you continue the planning and record your experiences: Planner & Journal: For Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations

Creatively Planning for a Season With Many Unknowns

Question Mark - PuzzleAs we move into the official summer months of 2020, our normal anticipation is drastically changed. Things that we typically spend time doing, whether for adults or children, may be cancelled or modified – or still have unknown status.  Plans we had made or things we anticipated doing are questionable or changed. Some things that are available may not feel safe yet. And things could revert back to more restrictions if the infection rates rise too much with re-opening. It’s very hard to plan right now.

This has at times paralyzed me – I don’t know how to look forward, even to the next 3 months. So I often go from day to day feeling numb. Have you had that experience?  What can we do?

Creativity in this situation is important and needed.  Yet we may feel as though we have used up a lot of our creative potential just getting through the past 3 months. Managing just the maintenance of daily life – especially if there are children in the household – has required lots of innovation.

How can we re-activate our creative juices as we edge into the summer months with few of the normal anchors and expectations?

I suggest mind mapping as a tool that can release creativity and engage the entire household. Mind mapping is a two-dimensional technique that uses imagery, drawings and color to help us tap into both sides of our brains. It is an alternative to the outline and list making techniques we often use. This powerful tool helps us visualize tasks or ideas, come up with new possibilities as we brainstorm, and organize our thoughts.

Mind Map

 

Basics of Mind Maps

Here are the steps to do simple, hand-drawn mind maps.

  • Gather plain paper, colored pencils, markers, or crayons.
  • Choose a topic you want to explore.
  • Draw a circle in the center of the paper and write in your topic in a word or phrase.
  • Draw lines out from the center where you write a few words, a symbol or drawing for each idea you have, and add sub-topics or related ideas in lines off these main points.

Include all the ideas no matter how absurd they may seem. Here’s where a new perspective or angle may reveal itself.

Make additional maps as off-shoots or expansions of your first map. You can expand, modify or discard ideas from the first map on the topic.

An Example of a Summer Mind Map

Start with the main topic of “Summer 2020” and think of several categories of things you want to be part of the season, like:

Accomplish 1 Big Goal, Have Fun/Recreation, Help Others, Explore, Read, Start a New Hobby

These are the spokes that come out from your main topic. Then add specific things that you want to do under each. For example, under Help Others, you might list Deliver flowers or a treat to a neighbor, Call an isolated relative weekly, etc.

Then start a new mind map for each subtopic, add the ideas as subtopics and think of how, when and who would be involved in each one. Here’s where you may weed out things you don’t want to do, and you can always add additional things that come to mind.

Mind maps become a planning tool that are good reminders of the larger picture and help keep track of details. Keeping your mind maps in a folder or binder is helpful.

This summer is going to be unusual and unique in so many ways. Your household can thrive in the midst of it with creativity and innovation. As things change, regroup with new mind maps. Flexibility and creativity are the keys to having an enjoyable season in the midst of the continual changes.

 

If you’d like to read more about mind-mapping, I have some previous blog posts here:

https://carolbrusegar.com/mind-mapping-enhances-innovative-thinking/

https://carolbrusegar.com/transforming-years-after-50-introducing-mind-mapping-multi-purpose-tool/

If you really want to learn about mind mapping from the originator of the technique, Tony Buzan published this just a couple of years ago. It’s a distillation of global research that has happened in the 5 decades since he first created this technique.

Mind Map Mastery: The Complete Guide to Learning and Using the Most Powerful Thinking Tool in the Universe 

Mind Map Book - Buzan

Mindmapping as a Multi-faceted Tool

mind mapAre you a mindmapper? That is, one who uses the technique of mindmapping to help create and organize ideas and information? I sporadically use this tool, coming back around to it after sliding away for a while. I have used it to take notes at conferences, prepare agendas for meetings and then taking meeting notes right on that mindmap, and create visuals of my business.

I recently found an article that explained the technique, demonstrated in a clear and simple way how to use it, and suggested resources. It both inspired me to get back to mindmapping for some current needs and to share it with others because the article makes the technique so clear and useable.

“How to Make a Mindmap” is a WikiHow article, a group creation co-authored by Paul Chernyak. Behind the technique is research about how our minds work, described as ‘radiant thinking’ by researcher and educator Tony Buzan:

When our brains lock onto something – an idea, sound, image, emotion, etc. – that “something” stands at the center of our thinking. Radiating out from it are countless other things, ideas, other images, emotions, etc. that our brains associate with it.

A mind map helps you make connections between and among these different pieces of information and concepts. And, the more connections or associations our brains make to a thing, the more likely we are to remember it.

I am using this article to refresh and improve my knowledge of the technique and then use it to work on my plans for the coming year and to outline some upcoming products.

Check it out and give it a try if you haven’t. I would love to hear what you think and how it works for you!!

5 Stages of Creative Thinking to Enhance Your Life

5Very few people are innately gifted with innovative thinking. But we can use techniques and approaches to promote creative thinking, and mind mapping is a very effective tool to that end. Using these tools can enhance your life.

Mind mapping can aid in completing the thinking process. With some practice of techniques, we all can create lots of innovative ideas – perhaps even more than a group brainstorming session can generate.

USING THE 5 STAGES OF CREATIVE THINKING WITH MIND MAPPING:

Mind mapping burst (Quick-Fire) – choose an interesting topic and draw a central image to represent it. You can use a blank paper or any other material that you can write on. The ideas that radiate from your mind should be indicated on the page. Try to generate ideas for twenty minutes. Even if some ideas seem absurd, jot them down because sometimes these ideas can be the key to breaking bad habits and coming up with new perspectives.

• 1st Reconstruction and Revision – don’t over exercise your brain. You can take a break and then try to integrate the ideas you’ve generated. Create another mind map – but this time, try to categorize the preliminary ideas. You can build hierarchies – add more subtopics to the branches – and note but don’t remove identical ideas in different branches.

• Incubation – when you’re at rest, running, or sleeping, there are times when you experience sudden realizations. In this stage, the thinking process can create probable breakthroughs.

• 2nd Reconstruction and Revision – do another mind map burst because at this stage, you have a fresher perception. Integrate all the ideas and information found in the initial mind maps and try to create a comprehensive mind map.

Final – after you’ve created a comprehensive map, you can now look for the realizations, decisions, and solutions for the topic or issue you chose.

These are the five stages in the creative thinking. Hopefully, you have seen how mind mapping can be an extremely helpful tool in creative thinking. Give these steps a try on other areas of life, issues, etc. You will surely be surprised with the explosion of innovative and creative ideas. Let mind mapping help you in uncovering your creative thinking so that you can use it often.

Mind Mapping Enhances Your Innovative Thinking

Transforming your life after 50 is clearly a creative project requiring innovative thinking. We are seeking to create a custom-designed joyful life that contributes to others and is deeply fulfilling. For possibly decades, we have had limited ability to step back and CREATE what we want in our lives because of commitments, responsibilities and obligations.

Innovative thinking can benefit greatly from mind mapping because it is able to consume all the common skills found in imagination, creativity, flexibility, and organization of ideas. There are some fundamental elements, identified in psychological research, that can improve your creative thinking. They include using shapes, colors, unusual elements, and dimensions. According to further studies, mind maps are the best tools in nurturing creative thinking. If you try to apply mind mapping in any of your activities, you will be able to create lots of innovative ideas than what you’ve expected.

USING SIMPLE MIND MAPS FOR CREATIVE THINKING.

Start by drawing a central image to represent a general topic. Make sure that the image is drawn at the center of the paper or blank page. Try to focus on the image and take note of the ideas that come into your mind. Welcome all ideas that enter your mind and indicate it on paper. You don’t have to write a lot of text; in fact, it will be a lot better if you use graphics or drawings instead. Take note of all the ideas no matter how absurd they may seem.

Then, take a break so that your brain can also rest. Look at the ideas that you’ve generated. Get another blank paper and create a new mind map. Use the same central image but this time you need to identify the categories and major branches. Add more subcategories in the various branches and look for new associations from the preliminary ideas. If you see repetitions of ideas in different branches, disregard them and don’t try to remove them because they might be important later on.

Your mind map will reflect your current thoughts. Study it carefully and you will be able to explore intellectually, making room for growth. When your mind is at rest, for example when you’re sleeping, you may have creative realizations. These are sudden bursts of ideas and you should immediately add them to your mind map. Continue to reconstruct your mind maps and integrate all the ideas into one map.

The goal in creating the mind map is to look for decisions, realizations, or solutions. Examine your mind map again and look for breakthroughs or new insights. Soon you will realize that all the ideas are connected with each other and you will be able to see more of how to innovatively create and transform your years after 50.

 

Transforming Your Years After 50: Introducing Mind Mapping, a Multi-Purpose Tool

Mind Mapping is a great multi-purpose tool that can help with various aspects of transforming your years after 50. I first became familiar with it when Tony Buzan, the creator of modern mind mapping, published Use Both Sides of Your Brain in 1976. I have used it sporadically ever since then.

Perhaps you are not familiar with mind mapping. Tony Buzan describes it as a two-dimensional technique that uses imagery, drawings and color to gather information and associations around a specific topic. The image in this post is an example. Mind mapping allows us to visualize tasks or ideas that relate to one another and to organize them. The technique taps into both the left and right sides of our brains, which makes it very powerful.

Mind mapping can be used for endless purposes, by people of all ages – including children. For example, mind mapping is very effective for taking notes, brainstorming, goal setting, planning, problem solving, organizing, setting agendas for meetings, and more.

Here are a couple of examples. If you have a project that needs immediate attention, you can simply write down your goals using lines, short words, drawings, and graphics. In no time at all, you can already see the solution to achieve your project. Also, a mind map agenda is a great way to set out the topics of a meeting without putting them in a rigid order. The meeting can flow more organically from one topic to another.

The power of combining words and images is immeasurable and taps into the potential of the human brain like few other tools. Perhaps you are somewhat skeptical of the claims of effectiveness. Numerous studies have confirmed the how effective the tool is for various tasks, which are easily located online.

This is an invaluable tool for your toolbox as you are in the process of transforming your years after 50. Other posts will go into more detail about how to use mind mapping.

Transforming Your Years After 50: Activating Your Vision Board

Now that you have created at least one vision board as you are transforming your years after 50, what’s next? There are alternate ways to “activate” the power of vision boards. Most proponents advocate placing them where you can see them daily, preferably multiple times daily. This repeated exposure develops strong neural pathways in your brain to what you have included.

Some practitioners talk of specific placement, i.e., being at your eye level in fairly specific places in your home or work. There are also stories of vision boards that were created and packed away for a few years before being re-discovered–and significant parts of the vision board were now reality.

Brandi Russell in her blog post about vision boards suggests posting your board in the bathroom where you can look at it while you brush your teeth in the morning and at night. That’s pretty practical. She also makes the important point that we still have to take action. We have to take advantage of the resources and opportunities that present themselves as we are focusing on what we want our life to be. If you are focused and are open to the “nudges”, the ideas that pop into your mind, you will have things to do. As you take the action, believe that the answer is “yes” and that what you desire is already on its way.

Katy on her Midlife Rambler blog identified 5 reasons that vision boards may not have the results you desire. These may be helpful as you look back at what you have created and are ready to try this strategy:

First, you may be focusing on goals rather than feelings. You always want images that elicit the feelings you seek. Second, is not being clear about what will make you happy. Also, rushing the process too much, keeping a vision board that doesn’t resonate any more, and forgetting to look at the board.

For a specific tool, check this out:

Vision Board Kit

Vision boards can be very helpful wherever you are in life. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!