Connect the Dots

I love planning!  Dinners, Days or Room Designs–it makes no difference.  When you’re planning on paper, it’s impossible to make a mistake!  If you don’t like what you wrote, you just erase it or cross it out and write something new in its place.  Planning sparks my creativity.  The possibilities are exciting.  I love the feeling of pen in hand (my preference is blue, medium point) and notebook in front of me, and visually seeing the plan develop on paper.

A few years ago, I learned something about myself from my brother.  In some ways, my brother and I are very alike. Not all ways, but at times it can be quite insightful about “me” to be around him.  As we talked over our plans for the two weeks that he was visiting, he took out paper and drew a calendar. Then he took out his bright-colored markers and began to tie different events together with color, and highlight activities.  I got really excited.  Fireworks were exploding and I felt tingling in parts of my brain I didn’t know were there!  All in response to COLOR!  As he animatedly explained why and how he uses colored pens and markers–in his work and in his life–I completely related to how it helped him visualize ideas.  I promptly went out and bought myself some bright-colored pens.

I love planning and I love color and that led to my love for…mindmapping.  If you are not familiar with mindmapping, watch Tony Buzan, who is credited with coming up with the idea, explain it in the video below.  Until I knew about mindmapping, I loved outlines.  Well, actually, I still love outlines.  You know, Roman Numeral I, followed by Capital A (indented), etc.  I love a perfectly lined-up outline.  Aaaah.  I can still remember exactly where I was when I learned to outline. I was in Mrs. Ausen’s 4th grade class.  The classroom was set up, as I recall, in a wide U-shape with 2 or 3 rows of desks going all the way around the U.  I sat straight out from her desk, in the second row, in the middle of the U. Jeff M., Cheryl S., and I had so much fun passing notes back and forth that year.  But I digress. Outlining. It was incredible.  An outline was this…Miraculous Tool Thing…that brought my disjointed wild and random thoughts and ideas into ORDER!  But Mindmapping is brilliant when even an outline won’t bring order to my thoughts and ideas!  Mindmapping helps me see connections.

Did you ever play “connect the dots”?  I did.  I loved connecting the dots when I was a child.  I was good at connecting the dots.  I loved taking a page full of random black dots and turning it into a PICTURE!  Planning is related, but planning is taking the finished Picture in my head and “numbering the dots”, so I can then connect them. I think of Mindmapping as being at the beginning, when I’m not even sure what the Picture is of, and nothing is numbered.  Maybe I even have more than one picture’s dots in front of me!  I can’t number them, until I know how they relate and what goes with what.  Mindmapping encourages my creative thinking.  It helps me visualize which random dots go with which picture, and helps me recognize what the picture is in my head.  Mindmapping helps me see how it all fits together and what the picture may look like when it’s finished. Its specialty is showing where there are relationships.

Mindmapping helps me organize the dots of different ideas in my brain, that seem to be unrelated, but sometimes aren’t. And color, well, color groups like things together and makes relationships jump off the page, which makes processing information in my brain go lickety-split, which reduces brain-strain. I love mindmapping and I love color. But, most of all I think I love planning!

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