Finding the Zen: Phone Games

I have one of those newfangled gizmo phones that is arguably smarter than I am. On that phone, I have a few applications that I use, like Instagram, Fooducate, Craigslist and Pinterest. I am not big on games, but for some reason, I find myself playing Hello Kitty Cafe. (There is A REAL ONE in Korea!) Not like, hours on end… not even half hours or even half of half hours, for that matter. Each “day” (round in the game) is about 2.5 minutes long, so I’ll play for an average of five minutes at a time, once or twice a day Or a handful of times more, if that’s how the days go.

At first, like trying anything new, it was really overwhelming, learning the ropes. I’ve been a server/waitress before- the multi-tasking and various needs/wants/demands of the patrons reminded me a bit of what it feels like parenting more than one child at a time.

When 10 different things need to be done at once, it’s time to simplify and prioritize. I never have more than two hands, no matter how hard I try! I have to remember that I can only do so much at a time, be it doling out amazing pink pie slices to round headed cartoons or braiding hair while babywearing, debating the difference between and opera and a musical and remembering where my 9 year old’s other shoe went.

In HKC, if you take too long to take or make an order, the little round patrons start flashing their orders. What the screen looks like is exactly how it feels in my brain when I start getting overwhelmed.

::FLASH!:: birthday party! ::FLASH!:: flat tire!:: FLASH!:: I miss my daddy… ::FLASH!:: Piles of Laundry!:: FLASH!:: I should have been kinder earlier ::

The demands begin to all light up at once- but I’m reminded that it’s simple and easy to push pause. Sometimes, when things get heated at home, I have to “press pause” and go lay down until the dust storm in my mind has settled; until I can see the forest for the trees again. These are the times I grab my phone and take five to play my Hello Kitty game and think about something… ANYthing else until I realize that the world isn’t caving in- just the walls of my thoughts are.

It might seem funny that I use something seemingly pointless and possibly stress-inducing to cope with stress, but there’s method to my madness. Usually, since all problems are really a reflection of myself of my own creation, the problem will come out on its own. The game is nearly the same, every time- it is me who changes.

It’s a good place for one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite psychologists;


  • I want there to be less customers. I see that I need some slow time, where I can address my own needs, so that I can continue helping others with theirs.
  • I am angry at the customers themselves. “Why won’t this lady stop ordering?! There’s a huge line and she’s had pie THREE times, dammit!” I do not need to take the desires of another personally, nor do I need to create a desire in myself for what another should desire.
  • There is too much happening at once. I can only do one thing at a time. Choose one thing and make it better. Then, another. This too, shall pass.The world isn’t ending. In fact, it just keeps on spinning, constantly, slowly, no matter what I choose to do on it.

Thanks for the reminder, Chef Kitty.

One thing that’s great about HKC is that after every round, Hello Kitty reminds me that, “Hey- it’s a new day!” All of the overwhelming crap I just felt is over. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to start again and try my best. Even failing miserably gets “experience points” which are the path the next level. Are you starting to see where I find the Zen?

As an added strangeness- Hello Kitty smiles- sometimes. There is no rhyme or reason to it that I can find. At first, I tried analyzing my score, number or patrons served, etc to find the method to the madness. It was maddening. Once I realized that she smiled, I wanted her to. I became frustrated when I handled what felt like ten zillion little cartoon plates of cuteness and all I want is a stupid namesake cat to wink at me- is that too much, you confounded fake feline?! Apparently, yes. It is. But the negativity I was feeling was because I had stopped playing to stay in the moment and to help my mental dust settle and had created an agenda that I wanted for Hello Kitty- I wanted things from her in exchange for what I was doing…. not Zen at all.

Smartness, right there. 

I play HKC when I need a short break from life to blow off some steam, so I don’t say or do something hurtful that my grief is urging me to- to myself, my partner or kids. One of the best methods I have found to help me process my grieving is to prioritize, take time-ins to reflect (or just bite my tongue!) and find something to carry me through those inflamed moments that has ZERO to do with what is going on– like playing a game on my phone. It comes in handy when I need to detach, find some perspective, reevaluate, reset. I’ve also taken up embroidery and find the even-paced in and out of the thread to be very soothing, as well. And hey, I’ve even made some neat stuff along the way!

A pillowcase I made for my son

Finding Zen is everywhere- it’s not just something for monks in deep mediation on top of grassy knolls. It is in crappy drivers, crying babies and bad communication. In fact- it is those seemingly non-Zenlike places more than anywhere else that I find the compass to my own discontent- and when I keep that in mind, I become able to move forward and *ahem* progress. 

I invite you to check in on my current return-to-Zen parenting & life journey in my 30 Days of Gratitude posts, (and join in & create your own version of a gratitude journal! I’ll be checking in on Facebook daily to hear your gratitude lists- five things a day!) inspired in serendipitous timing with National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo, as they call it.) The theme this year is “Blogging for Blogging’s Sake”, which is pretty Zen in itself, really. Write to write. And so I am… and sharing other ways I reconnect with myself and the world around me.

Do you have tools you’ve found that help you reconnect?
Are they as goofy as mine? 🙂 

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