More than love or passion… Dedication

I have had a passion for haiku since high school. It’s a form that felt so easy to create. While I love the poetry of Mary Oliver and David Whyte, to name just two of my favorites, I believe, or should I say that I believed, that writing poetry other than haiku would be much more difficult. Now, I am not so sure.

What is your experience with dabbling in an area of interest and then, as you dive in more deeply, you are surprised to learn how rich and complex the experience can be?

It wasn’t until last March at Haiku: Three Simple Lines – Haiku as Refuge In Our Times with Roshi  Joan Halifax, Sensei Kaz Tanahashi, Natalie Goldberg, and Clark Strand, hosted by the Upaya Institute that I really began to study the form.


Beauty of first snow

breathtaking and heart-stopping

Vanishes quickly



When, and why, did you take a step in a more serious direction?

Fast forward to January, 2022: In my desire to become more proficient, I enrolled in Clark Strand’s, Haiku Master Class. It’s a year-long program with a small cohort in which we submit up to 18 haiku a week in two different forums and then three more each month to be included in a KuKai, (a peer-reviewed poetry contest).

Winter morning friends

Gather round the feeder to

feel community


How are you exploring your new knowledge or skill?

Folks who know me, are aware that I relish great feedback. Great feedback for me, is that which is both congratulatory and constructive, with information about how I have done things well (so I can repeat and expand on them) and what I can do even better. I need this interaction to make progress. 

How have you integrated receiving feedback about your learning into your practice?

I am still finding my way in this part of the work and play of this endeavor… reading the material that Clark is sharing with us each week, working to keep up with what folks are writing on the two haiku pages on FB that Clark hosts, writing my 18 poems each week plus those for the KuKai, incorporating the feedback I receive on my work, and learning from feedback given to others. It’s close to too much AND I love it! 

How are you working to create harmony among the roles, responsibilities, need to play, and make time to rest and rejuvenate?

This aspect of life remains a work in progress for me—with some days feeling more harmonious than others.

It’s my plan to complete this course and then decide if I want to move forward with learning to teach haiku. I am always interested in finding ways to use art to inspire and heal. I learned of the book, So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms, Haiku from the Year of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami, edited by Madoka Mayuzumi, last year. Perhaps I will teach haiku as a way of helping myself and others work through grief and pain. It’s a star in my universe of possibilities… we will see what this year brings!

How will you integrate your new learning into your life? How will it show up for you or others?

I hope that you will share your thoughts about your experiences with your passions and learning!

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

My current dilemma is to describe my newest area of work…

How do you talk about what you do for work? 

Or, perhaps a better question is, how do you describe what you do for your clients in your work? Because it’s really all about them, right?

These are very practical questions for me as one who has had many different types of work.  When I was a teacher of children with special needs, a principal in schools, and then an administrator in schools, people assumed they knew what I did. To be honest, I’m not sure they had any idea of what it took to be a teacher of children and young adults with special needs back in the late ’70s and ’80s (but that’s another conversation). I was a constant in the lives of my students, an authority figure who nurtured their social-emotional growth and created an environment in which they could engage meaningful learning. 

Becoming a curriculum developer (or instructional designer in the language of business) was a title that my colleagues in the education field understood. In my experiences in the business world however, the understanding ran the gamut from in-depth knowledge of the requirements of designing and developing curricula/training programs to think that ID’s create slide decks (and training is about reading slides).

I heard these questions, as a

  • coach (“Are you a life coach?”)
  • trainer (“Do you work in a gym?”)
  • facilitator (“So you make facilitate things, make them easy, what does that mean?”)
  • visual practitioner/graphic recorder, facilitator and coach (“How do pictures and words help people communicate?”)

I have faced so many questions—granted, that is a good starting point for a conversation though the frequency with which they occur is alarming. 

What’s your label? Does it really describe what you do?

My current dilemma is to describe my newest area of work. Visual practitioner, visual storyteller, sequential artist, comics artist, cartoonist, graphic novelist, graphic memoirist…when I say any of these terms, what do you think of?

What do you think?

I grew up reading comics and so my idea of “comics” —what they are—is tied up in those memories…Peanuts, Archie, Dennis the Menace, Batman, Spiderman, and more.

Here are some examples of this work from my project/book to illustrate (haha!) my experience training as a chaplain. I feel like I’m straddling different genres and I wonder how much a label matters…

When I visit the Graphic Medicine website and read the description of their work, it makes me change my thinking about the word “comics.”

“Graphic Medicine is a site that explores the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare. We are a community of academics, health carers, authors, artists, and fans of comics and medicine.”

They believe “the graphic is the medicine.” Think about that for a minute or two, the graphic IS the medicine—so cool right?

I think I will choose between these labels for the time being — Visual Storyteller or Comic Artist — the first being more inclusive of my work (graphic facilitator and recorder, observer of life) and the second being more my next move/my multi-panel works about my internship experience.

I’d love to hear your thinking!

If you’re the plant, what’s the sun, nutrients, and water?

There are so many changes possible in 2022 and yet there are some deeply challenging aspects from the past few years that remain.

With an eye on the present, and a desire to take good care of myself so that I can continue to grow and be of support to others, I’m focusing on what nurtures me. 

What’s nourishing you now?

Several times a week I turn to my Zentangle practice for the creativity and calm it provides me. For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with botanicals and last week I added color. 

I’m writing a few haiku almost every day (as part of a year-long program), as it really stretches me. Here’s one of my favorites:

Beauty of first snow

breathtaking and heart-stopping

Vanishes quickly

Meditation almost daily, and a silent retreat for part of this week, are both restful, a respite (from the cacophony of my life), and CHALLENGING.

My daily walks in the neighborhood and a local state park, and my standing desk keep me from feeling rooted in my chair and energize me.  

Happily, I’ve found a few groups of colleagues who stimulate and support me and I leave those meetings feeling inspired and connected. 




How are you growing yourself—whatever that looks like to you?  

What habits have you created? 

What is no longer serving you, that needs to be let go?

(And, just knowing that we need to leave that which holds us back, doesn’t make it easy to do.)

What dream do you have that will move you forward? How will you design the ease, growth, play, calm, or whatever it is that you desire? I’m guessing you know those answers if you make the time to ask and answer the questions and develop a plan. 

If having a sounding board or a partner to ask some of the questions and support you in the design of your own self-care package, please reach out to me. It is a delight and privilege to walk on the path/be a part of the journey with those who want to take good care of themselves and step into more of their dreams. 

New (and old) tools and resources

What’s new and/or different in your repertoire?

Last week, I started an online art course and learned not only new ideas and techniques but discovered tools I had never really used before (okay, a bit of dabbling in the past).

I have to say that I am smitten with Posca acrylic paint markers! They’re juicy, rich, thick-delightful! (It was my first time really working with acrylic markers… I have concluded (!) that I need more nibs of different sizes to enable me to color backgrounds more quickly AND get into tiny spaces.)



I started to reflect on tools I love and use consistently to make my work more fun (for me) appealing (to me and to others)!

What about you?

What’s new in you’re toolbox?

I swear by my fountain pen with PlatinumCarbon Ink Cartridges. The feel is so smooth and the ink seems to last FOREVER!




And, I was reminded yesterday of my “five-finger sketchpad” (h/t to Clark Strand, haiku editor for Tricycle magazine, for the reminder of how I use my fingers for counting syllables for my haiku every day).

What are the tools and resources you adore using?

What might increase your enjoyment of your daily work or special occasions? I’d love to know!