Feeling Gratitude & Being Appreciative

Off the top of my head, and in less than 5 minutes, I generated all these ideas—big and small, specific and general of people, relationships, and experiences that fill me with gratitude.

As I breathe in the crisp, cold, early morning air as I walk Gus, a sense of gratitude washes over me. I start to explore that feeling.  A cascade of experiences and names of people start tumbling through my mind— the training courses I have attended, the courses created and delivered, the people met, the new relationships formed, the books read and listened to, the places traveled, times with family and friends, and the list goes on. And these are very specific memories I’m thinking of—like snapshots in my mind.

Honestly, there have been challenges this year too. Life is full of ups and downs. In my world of family and friends—sickness, chronic conditions, and death—to the state of our country, the ever-present scourges of racism, misogyny, lack of adequate food, healthcare, and housing, gun violence, immigration atrocities, unequal educational opportunities, our class system, the reality of climate change, unstable geopolitics, and more.

I have had to develop ways to effectively work with and handle these realities. In essence, I am particular about the sources of information I choose to consume and conscious of the “right” amount of information. I seek to be informed and engaged without becoming overwhelmed as this is the way I move forward.

What are the tools and resources you use to re-balance?

Who and what support you in your efforts to live in a state of equilibrium?

I want to be sure that I’m being clear that working to achieve equilibrium through:

  • eating well
  • hydrating
  • exercising
  • connecting with family and friends
  • learning
  • creating art consistently
  • and reading books that challenge me

enables me to volunteer my time to organizations/causes I believe in and pursue my (rigorous) studies in chaplaincy. I’m not talking about ignoring the world and our challenges to sit and eat bonbons on the couch (but you knew that). I am talking about ensuring that I have the energy to pursue change in my personal and the larger world.

Here are just a few books I’ve read over the past few years that support my mind, body, and soul. Perhaps you will find one or more of them interesting.

I’d love to hear from you about the resources and practices you turn to on this journey. Please share them!

I realize what a very full year I have had…   I am reminded of how much there is to appreciate in my life. With that in mind, I was thinking it’s time to offer another Appreciative Living Learning Circle. It seems fitting to start before the end of this year and continue it into the beginning of next year. If you’re curious to learn more, check my Calendar page.

Quick, name your recent, best learning experience!

Oh my gosh! The past two weeks have been a deep dive into training—expanding my knowledge and giving me opportunities to practice my new learning. I have revisited material from a new perspective, (Nonviolent Communication), faced the challenge of working with emotionally difficult material  (the reality of homelessness in the US), explored hope with Valerie Brown (Hope Leans Forward), and tangled with new patterns and materials from dawn to dusk (okay, a slight exaggeration, 9:30 am-6 pm) with my Certified Zentangle Teacher colleagues).

It became so clear to me, once again, that content and engaging in deep processes (time for reflection, powerful questions, discussion with others, and more) must be integrated into my learning experiences, as they are essential for me. These elements are more than preferences. I do my best learning when I have an opportunity to engage with the material in ways that are meaningful to me—and I am clear about what that looks like.

What about you? What are the components of your quintessential educational experiences?

How do you compensate for the instances in which the teacher/trainer/professor/speaker/expert doesn’t measure up? 

If I’m presented with new facts and concepts, then learning about them through working with them is more interesting and fruitful than a didactic presentation from the speaker. The opportunity to ask questions, to hear others’ queries, and to be prompted to further discovery through thought-provoking questions makes for a rich experience. 

For me, “less is more”… meaning, I’d rather have a deeper understanding of less material than an overview and little depth. The phrase, “A mile wide, and inch deep,” comes to mind. 

When the task is conceptual and psycho-motor, (visualization, drawing, tangling), I need a clear, logical, well-paced approach, and some time to reflect on my work as I am doing it. Playing with the materials is also a factor — what pens, markers, pencils, and paper am I using? How familiar am I with the inner interaction of the different variables?

Sharing what I have learned in a cohesive manner, through organizing my thoughts, writing papers, and/or teaching classes requires me to engage with my learning experience (my notes, and/or my drawings). That process brings me to a greater understanding and brings me to a higher level of knowledge and skill.

As I reflect on the different ways in which I learn and then share my learning, I envision a path or steps in a process:

  1. Listening for enjoyment and understanding
  2. Sharing my visual notes with someone (talking through what I have learned)
  3. Clearly and concisely articulating the essence of my learning in a conversation, paper, and/or visual
  4. Teaching the material to colleagues and/or students

What opportunities exist—or can you create—to broaden and deepen your knowledge and skills? 

What will you learn next? How will you integrate your learning? I hope to see you on your journey!

The Delight of Creativity—and the Reality of Time

Just the other week, I had two experiences that gave me pause. 

Very close to the actual event, I was asked if I was interested in volunteering to pull together a pop-up extravaganza for the IAF Impact Awards … I discovered that folks in the NYC Metro area didn’t have the appetite/time/energy to get together in person to watch the awards and discuss facilitation. Wanting to support the event, I offered to graphically record it. The timeline for prep was tight—I had a lot of other projects on my plate too and so not a lot of time to devote to this last-minute choice to offer my services. 

Truth be told. It was a very challenging event. So many winners of the awards, fascinating, life-changing projects, and many moving (SHORT) parts to the agenda. Orchestrating the capture of info in the breakout conversations happened at breakneck speed. I also, true to form, felt I had to try something new to make it a learning experience for me. I usually create my own templates or design and yet this time, I decided to work with their imagery—a blessing and a curse. With a bit of working with their materials—gaining new skills and ways of thinking in the process—I achieved new and different results. It was a bit messy —getting to the result I desired—and it took a bit longer than I’d planned, yet creativity is like that for me. 

What about you? When is the last time you chose to take a new and different path? 

What did you discover—like and dislike—about the process that will influence your work going forward?

The very next day I started preparing for my session for Drawify. To share the fun and excitement of using the new Drawify plug-in for Miro. In fact, I hadn’t used this new app on Miro so I had to learn how. It was a snap (yay!). Then I needed to design the session to teach how to install the app (easily accomplished) and show a few use cases… because I’m me, I also wanted to make the session an engaging learning experience for participants. 

As I started playing with the app, I became immersed in the possibilities—thank goodness that there are only about 800 images in the plug-in and not the almost 10,000 on the Drawify site as I would have fallen deeper into the rabbit hole! I also wanted to show folks how quickly they could create a fun, appealing, and useful visual. I timed myself—the very first time using the plug-in on Miro—and in just over 30 minutes. I had found more images than I needed, combined illustrations and text, and had a fresh look for material previously conveyed in my hand-drawn visual. 

Using a wide variety of styles was joyful. I had also designed a way for participants to collaborate with this new piece—something I hadn’t done when I originally presented the material. 

I then shifted to preparing the frame in which the participants in the session would collaborate with me to develop an evaluation/feedback tool. With my original hand-drawn digital piece from several years ago and a draft of the text for the new document, we got to work searching for illustrations. In less than 10 minutes’ time, we had created a new resource that was easily interactive for a group of virtually any size. Granted, it needed just a little more fine-tuning yet the results were… well, you can judge for yourself! 

It was great fun and people’s questions arose while learning/working with the plug-in:

  • What illustrations are available in the plug-in-in? 
  • How do I search for them? 
  • What happens if I don’t find what I’m looking for?
  • How is the plug-in different from the Drawify platform? 

Our 30 minutes together flew by! Folks left with the ability to use the plug-in immediately… my work was done.

If you’re planning to create Miro and you’d like a hand in working with the plug-in, (perhaps a 10-minute conversation over Zoom in the app) let me know! My guess is that you’ll get it in a heartbeat—if not, you know where to find me. 

If you’re interested in playing with the Drawify platform—having access to the almost 10,000 illustrations there, you can try it out for free for two months—no strings attached, https://drawify.com/promotions/Drawify2MonthHeroJill

If you’d like to walk this path of reflection and learning with me, let’s talk. I offer coaching with an Appreciative Inquiry lens. 

What will you experience here? 

I’m listening to this amazing book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Father Gregory Boyle. I’ll be honest, I am as surprised as anyone that I am loving this book. (If you’re curious about that statement, let’s chat.)

I listen to it every day as I take my walk, often pausing to step off the path, to tap a quote into my phone so I don’t forget it. Just the other day I was listening to a piece about what volunteers often ask when they arrive at Homeboy Industries (the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world). Their question, is “What should I do here?” The response from Father Gregory is priceless, “The  question is what will you experience here?” I love that! 

Can you feel the difference? As I listen to Father Gregory‘s question I feel an expansiveness, an opportunity to open up to the possibility of what might occur. When I listen to the question about what to do, while it could lead to many possible answers, my sense of it is that one or two answers are being sought. It feels like possibilities are closed off, along with creativity, and imagining beyond what’s right in front of me. While there are times for needing a specific answer… what if we lived that question every day, throughout our days? 

What will you experience here?

What do you think? I have several thoughts about it:

  • It would be exciting and mind-expanding.
  • It might be exhausting and unsustainable. 

I think of the latter because having routines and habits can be very helpful. It certainly streamlines my day and reduces the number of decisions I make, whether I’m thinking of my breakfast routine or the route I will take to the train station. If I approached every task with the query, “What are all the possibilities?” I’m not sure I get enough done during the day.

Perhaps there’s a middle path—discerning the times to choose a routine and when to be open to something novel. I might have more varied and quite different experiences if I  consciously choose to embrace the question of how I will engage in them.

One of my students, years ago would ask me, when he received an assignment, “What to do?” Of course, the tasks varied, some were more close-ended/one right answer while others were more open-ended, with multiple perspectives or answers. 

The question, “What to do?” does not necessarily imply a way to do something or a way of looking at it. Yet, I wonder how frequently I/we step back from an immediate appraoch to tackling a task to wonder about the experience we will have. What do you think? I know that I am already wondering about how I will step into situations later today.

As you enter the weekend, perhaps you will play with these questions. If you do, or whenever you do, please let me know your experiences. 

More than Repetition—Conscious Practice (redux)

I just finished two bikablo Day 1 training programs (in-person for the first time since the pandemic and online) plus I offered a monthlong Mystery Tangling adventure for those who love the Zentangle method (and focusing on the philosophy too).

Both of these experiences explore guidelines for drawing yet more importantly…

  • In bikablo, we have a developmental approach and success factors to guide our work
  • In the Zentangle method, we use certain marks and are supported by a philosophy and techniques

In both, the focus is on being mindful about each stroke, conscious of our process —it is what improves our skills—it’s more than repetition.

When is the last time you were focused and aware of each stroke of the pen/marker? Maybe yesterday or…

What impact did that focused, attention have on your intended result? 

My tangling classes/teaching the Zentangle method and Bikablo trainings offer opportunities to engage in conscious practice and receive appreciative and constructive feedback about the results. 

What work or play are you engaged in that offers you feedback to grow on?

In thinking about how to best support the ongoing growth of my participants’ skills in all of my courses, I am developing a planner. I’d love your help in crafting an agenda/calendar/diary/planner that provides space to practice every day—consistency counts when you are burnishing your (drawing) skills.

Here’s my request for your ideas from my recent newsletter about designing the planner. (My apologies to those of you who are on my ezine list and saw this yesterday.)

 

 

Hellooooo!

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet and I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

For years, I’ve been crafting my own planners/agendas/calendars—I’m a bit like Goldilocks in the story with the three bears. I can’t find a planner that’s just right for me so I keep working to make it.

I came “this close” when I purchased the Passion Planner but alas no… so I’m building one with several objectives in mind.

It’s going to:

  • look great
  • support my planning throughout the year—with a year, monthly and weekly calendars
  • facilitate my practice—ensuring that I’m keeping up my skills

And I’d love your ideas to help make it the best!

I’m thinking of a few variables. Please take this survey now—it won’t take even 5 minutes.

I’m going to make this planner—though I’m thinking that I like the name “Owner’s Manual”—over the next few weeks and offer it for pre-sale in early November. 

Please help me make it great!

Take the survey here.

Thanks!

And, I drafted a practice sheet… Visit this Miro board to see an example of how to use it and download the blank practice sheet for yourself!

Please play with it and lmk what you think! Do you like the different angles of the tiles? Please lmk!