Recently, I have been experimenting with a daily doodle to notice how I am. This creative practice developed after a conversation with coach ‘SS’ who set me the following assignment (I will include SS’s full name if she gives me permission later):

‘Schedule 5 minutes a day to notice your breath. Try it for a week. Set a timer and notice. Don’t try to fix the breath. Just notice it. How was it? What did you learn?’

I adapted this immediately to include sketching – probably because this is the way I best process thoughts. The visuals also help me remember and potentially recognise patterns. These doodles got crammed in little spaces in my sketchbook (so formats are inconsistent here) and the visuals are a combination of noticing breath and thought, which often got translated into heart icons as the centre of breath.

The first one indicates struggle with me as a tiny mouse with a ‘heavy heart,’


Often times, the doodles just recorded thoughts and feelings of the day with a pattern of several having lots of ideas and various interests at the same time. This seems to make me incredibly focused and impatient at times to fit them all in. It also makes me ‘flappy and flighty’ (something friend Pat described me as this week),







Almost all of the doodles use the heart icon, except for one image of me as my cartoon avatar. This was needed to illustrate painful shoulders (which is tricky to draw on a heart character),



This one also indirectly nods to a coaching conversation with coach SS, where I was describing my issue of conscientiousness where I get anxious about fitting everything and everyone in. SS pointed out that it sounded like I was “trying to be good – you’re pushing and forcing, and that will be met with resistance from within and without. Being good is such a load of shit!” For me, this is a wonderfully useful and insightful comment with extra power with the slight swear.

Perhaps most usefully, some of the doodles illustrated what I needed to do to take better care of myself and these things found their way into my day, including; resting, going outside and breathing big breaths, writing out ‘brain chaos,’ and having relaxing baths. This makes this practice very useful for me, as I often end up crashing with exhaustion from inattention.

I very much like this practice for recording the vagaries of emotions of a week, where the practice helps to notice what is happening over time. In the panels below, it is easy to notice the fallout following a family funeral, where I feel in tatters the day afterwards, and then overwhelmed with ‘brain chaos’ the day afterwards. Tough days and experience need recovery time and this is easy to witness here,



My plan ahead is to begin my creative practice with these ‘5-minute breath doodles’ in the sketchbook. I would also like to give my university students studying ‘Graphic Storytelling’ the opportunity to try this.