Category Archives: Just for Fun

In the Air There’s a Spirit of… Panic?

I have to tell a little story on myself if only because it is, in retrospect, a bit funny. The experience also serves as evidence of the mind’s ability to process information quickly. Quickly is not the same as accurately.

I was shopping in Staples. Office supply stores are a personal weakness and I often allow myself some wandering time by rationalizing that there’s probably something I need that I’m going to forget. I was near the front of the store, noting there was already some Christmas spirit in the air.

Noticing things is important. I’ve always prided myself on being “situationally aware” — a skill that’s helped me avoid trouble on more than one occasion. In addition to the Christmas spirit, I noticed another shopper  standing about six feet away. She seemed distracted and was gazing about the area.

Suddenly a dot of light appeared in the center of her chest. Just as quickly it disappeared. But in what must have been a second or two I saw it re-appear, moving from the left back to the center of her chest. It was like a scene in a movie.

For a split second I considered yelling, “Gun!” and tackling her to the floor.

Except there was no gun.

A quick look around yielded no shooter but did reveal more dots, some on me. And they weren’t just red. Some were green!

So it turns out there was actually a laser light attached to the ceiling of the store. Similar to the disco balls that were popular a few years ago, it was rotating and sending random dots of red and green light throughout the front of the store’s featured gift area. The intent was, of course, to contribute to the holiday spirit and not to create momentary panic for those familiar with laser gun sights.silhouette-114436_1280

Since I try to find lessons in life events, I’ve replayed this several times in my mind. But instead of finding a moral in the story I tend to get chuckling over the prospect of how it might have turned out if I had reacted by leaping forward and tackling my fellow shopper. I’m sure it would have frightened her at first. So one version of the story has us both getting back up laughing.  But another considers the panic that could have resulted, not to mention someone deciding I needed a psychological evaluation.

We think of  “situational awareness” as being attuned to our environment–sensitive to what is taking place around us. But it also includes a need to be aware of how we are responding to the events and conditions going on around us. Overreacting may be as dangerous as not noticing.

 

Stress Relief in a Box?

custom_colored_crayons_box_17397Feeling stressed? Grab your crayons!

I’ve often used crayons… myself, with adults, and as a way to occupy children who are visiting. So I wasn’t surprised when I learned recently that the New Canaan, CT Library has colored pencils and coloring sheets for adults to “check out” and use to relieve stress and even help with writer’s block. What a great idea!

Of course it’s not just crayons and coloring. Art therapy is accepted method of reducing stress and increasing creativity. The experts tell us that activities like coloring help us by serving as a distraction–even if only for a few minutes. Even coloring a picture means thinking about color choice and concentrating on “staying inside the lines.” When we become completely engaged in an activity we achieve a state of “flow” that can be almost meditative. Consider the “runner’s high” as another form of this.

Personally, I think coloring is even more fun if you can do it with a kid. When my nieces and nephews were younger, holiday visits often meant finding a quiet corner and engaging in coloring marathons. At the time, I thought we were playing, In retrospect, we may have been practicing a little stress management. Holidays with the family aren’t always easy.

But coloring can be useful with adults. When I was doing lots of organization design and development programs, I would often have the conference room table set up with boxes of crayons and art paper. The president and vice president would arrive and, while waiting for our session to begin, many would open the crayons and smell them, smiling with evoked childhood memories. The activity itself might be “draw a picture of how you see this organization…” It always took a while to get them started–unfortunately our childhood art skills and courage get surpressed as we “grow up.” But there were always some great and often revealing results.

I was a little disappointed recently when a friend who is very artistically talented said that she’d never call herself an artist because that is not a career choice she’ll be making. We are all artists, really. Art is about many things such as creativity and expression. We can see and use art in different ways. We don’t have to make a living with art, but art can help us make a life.

So I salute the Canaan Library for the reminder. Drawing and coloring are good. In fact, I think I’ll start keeping a box of crayons on my desk.