The Blank Page – So Exciting!

With just a few days distance from 2019, I can without hesitation, claim that it was a year of great opportunities, unexpected personal challenges, and ultimately, one of transformation.

What about you? Where did you begin the year? What hopes and dreams materialized as planned, what difficulties did you face, and what did you experience, learn, and accomplish?

My highlights were

  • sifting and sorting through all the types of work I have done through the years and landing in a new, more cohesive, place and space/site (
  • reviewing and reflecting upon my visual practitioner work, and creating a visual tour of the breadth and depth of my offerings as Bikablo trainer, graphic recorder, graphic facilitator and graphic coach to share with colleagues
  • basking in the glow of partnering with colleagues to create new offerings—Heather Martinez, for Bikablo + Lettering, and Julie Swanson and Stephanie Steigerwaldt to offer Bikablo trainings to professionals in the non-profit space through creative fundraising and a creative fee structure
  • learning alongside my Bikablo colleagues in both Cologne, Germany, in NYC and online—and being supported by the Bikablo team
  • stepping into new areas—Generative Scribing with Kelvy Bird online, Fast & Loose Sketching with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in-depth Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training with NYCNVC and the NVC Academy

I feel a sense of deep gratitude to my colleagues, family, and friends—they support me in my all endeavors.

As I envision the blank page of 2020—it appears to be a year full of promise! How are you feeling about it—hopeful, apprehensive, intrigued, curious, perplexed, eager, rejuvenated, in turmoil, full of longing, open—or a melange of feelings, both subtle and strong, positive and challenging?

I feel open, eager, and curious about the year that is unfolding! On New Year’s Eve I happened to choose the newest edition of Mindful magazine from my current stack of goodies by the couch. The current issue is all about self-care—one of my favorite topics and a core value. (I was presenting on the topic of self-care back in the ’90’s at conferences for crisis counselors working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. We saw too much burn out in our staffs and volunteers, and I loved engaging colleagues in new ideas and practices.) On December 31st, I had a moment of clarity—the desire to engage, again, in delivering training and offering coaching around self-care.

I am beginning to feel the shape of 2020— more Bikablo training, incorporating new forms of drawing and lettering in my visual practice, deepening my coaching work around self-care (EFT, PTT, breath work and journaling), and writing/drawing zines about NVC .

How about you? What is alive for you now? What is worth carrying forward with you into the new year and what will be discarded? If you want to talk about it—I’m ready to listen!

Creating Stellar Experiences for Learning!

When is the last time you devoted your precious time, energy, and resources to attend a retreat, conference, or meeting? How’d it go for you? What did you learn along the way and in reflection after the event?

Earlier this month, I participated in a story-prototyping lab—Friday evening to Sunday evening—that’s a big commitment! It’s an aspect of my work that I enjoy yet it’s not central to what I do. I was intrigued with the opportunity to meet folks in different fields—film, graphic design, illustrators, cartoonists, advertising, marketing—and to use our collective skills to create an original visual narrative work. I also wanted to discover if there were synergies between the various fields and mine, and to sharpen my story-making skills with some well-known names in the field.

The way the event rolled out made me pause and reflect on all the conferences, meetings, and retreats I have attended this year. My musings ran far and wide! They included:

  • Are good intentions enough?
  • Does being respected in a field as a practitioner translate to running an event?
  • What does success look like for all who are involved—designers of the experience, hosts, participants?
  • Are the various parties involved (designers, hosts and participants) clear about the purpose, goals and objectives of the event?
  • Do participants hail from various fields with different ways of interacting? (I experienced that over the weekend—yikes!)
  • How do I suss out the implementation plans for the program in advance of signing up? Am I about to engage in a content-driven experience (a sea of slides with a few activities thrown in or be dazzled by a series of talking heads) in which the presentations are more important than my understanding and use of the material? Or, will I have to opportunity to digest the material and use it practically?
  • Do the hosts/facilitators/trainers now how to create a space for learning—a container with hosts and participants who understand that in gaining new knowledge, skills and attitudes, there will be disequilibrium, differing points of view, possibly conflict, and the need for respect and possibly collaboration?
  • What is the ebb and flow of learning throughout the event, regardless of the duration? (And, multi-day events require more planning.) Will participants have time to reflect and plan for integration of their learning and experiences?
  • If experts are a part of the design, how is their knowledge being leveraged? What guidance do they need to fulfill their roles successfully and what do learners need to make the best use of the resources available?

As I think about creating multi-day retreats at special destinations in 2020, I am integrating all that I’ve learned from the gatherings that I’ve attended this year. My vision of hosting is one of servant leadership—my goal is to craft experiences that put learners and learning first. I will

  • design and develop experiences with a clear purpose, goals, and objectives, using the lenses of the various stakeholders
  • ensure the usefulness of the content learned to the achievement of the tasks to be learned
  • offer and send materials about the content, activities, and logistics, with prework (with sufficient time for completion), in advance of the gatherings,
  • provide materials for note-making in the welcome materials/before people need them
  • introduce our time together by referencing the creation of a safe container for our work, with attention to checking in with how we are showing up in that moment, asking for people’s expectations, and feeling the energy in the room
  • create early and ongoing engagement in collaborative activities, even if the individuals involved don’t need to work as a team
  • use principles of human learning to guide our schedules so that we maintain our energy and can do our best work
  • be sensitive to the highs and the lows of true learning and nurture eustress—the positive, anticipation of engaging in exciting and appropriately challenging work

I am feeling the creation of a manifesto looming… I’ll share it in the new year!

What’s your thinking? In your perfect world, what would you create? I’d love to know!

New Year, New Offerings!

Ready to step into the world of visual thinking?

As I rush to the end of the year, with visions of challenges accomplished and those yet to be explored… I’m excited to share plans for Bikablo training programs in the first quarter of  2020! Here are several of the public sessions on the books—with one to come in California in late March!
Reach out to me with your questions—Here’s the link for the NYC session, and Kansas City has one remaining spot, grab it here! If you’re interested in the Bikablo program in India, contact me, let’s talk, it’s going to be great!

Loving the Integration of Recent Adventures in PD!!

It’s been a whirlwind of experiences! The last three weeks have held:

  • the six day Fast and Loose Sketching Retreat with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • the last of three NYCNVC (nonviolent communication) Integration Program retreats
  • and, a bikablo training at University of St. Thomas (as part of my bikablo + Lettering partnership with Heather Martinez)

I won’t lie, with all the work and play of the last three weeks, it’s been challenging to cleave to my goal of immediate application of my new knowledge and skills.

In each of my experiences, I was asked about my plan for/commitment to integration of my learning into my every day world of work(how nice to have that “assist” from all the trainers!). So, here’s how the post-immersion experiences have played out for me…

My Plan(s)

In seeking to up my game/practice my new fast and loose skills, I committed to posting a mask or a caricature a week to our What’s App group. We visited and drew masks at this fabulous mask museum, Another Face of Mexico in SMA and I was smitten! I bought the book—it’s wonderful! While I want to be drawing every day that’s not a commitment I am willing to make—as I want to make realistic promises that I can keep. I have been drawing about three days a week… it’s a start!

Though I was teaching bikablo in Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of taking Heather’s lettering class again—I CANNOT get enough of it! I love learning new aspects of lettering and the practice time—with feedback— is priceless! This time we worked/played a bit with the Fat One—and I now, finally, like (the lettering style)Neuland Hand! I had such fun, and gained confidence so that I am now making new headlines on my charts with minimal review of my notes and quite good results! I will continue on this happy adventure—as there is so much opportunity for me to practice lettering in my training, facilitating, and coaching work. Mmm, I will have to try Neuland Hand on the iPad, for making templates!


At the close of this last NVC retreat, I was struck by my need to feel well-grounded in the knowledge and skills that I had been developing. I devoted my energies to being present in the learning of concepts and practices through the discussions and real-plays… and while I took notes, they were too sketchy (no pun intended). While I had quite a bit of experience with, and observation of the methods over the more than 10 days of retreats, I was not feeling as close to being a “conscious competent” as I wanted to be… In our check out, I was struck by the idea of combining my loves of learning more deeply, teaching/sharing what I have learned, drawing, and writing. While I have shared my new project idea with perhaps two dozen people, I am keeping it under wraps for the time being. When I finish thinking through my mindmap of ideas, and make final decisions about goals, objectives, format/media, and timeline, I will share it with the world—for greater accountability!


And so, as we begin to think about year’s end, what professional development or personal growth work have you engaged in this year? How have you made your learning a part of your daily (weekly or monthly) experience? What can you celebrate about the processes you have created to support yourself? Are there aspects you would like to do differently? I’ve discovered that I have to feel excited about a project AND have a plan for implementation to enable me to commit to change with a light heart. How about you?

If you’re ready to commit to your goals and seek support in that process—let’s chat!

Squeezing every juicy bit out of my professional development

I am super-excited to be preparing to go to San Miguel de Allende for Fast & Loose Sketching with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws (yes, that is really her last name—these days).

The Backstory…

I have been thinking about this trip for almost a year now. When I first started seeing Christina post about a drawing course she was taking in Mexico during, wait for it, Day of the Dead, I was intrigued. I was diligent in tracking down Rhoda, asking about her schedule for this year, and then had to sit on my hands and wait until decisions about programming were made… which led to my taking an online course with both Christina and Rhoda in the spring. The online course was great yet I knew in my bones (haha!) that I wanted to go to Mexico.

The Planning

In what ways do you do to prepare yourself for a deep dive into a learning experience?

I start by…

  • reviewing the objectives of the program—what will I learn and be able to do as a result of being in the program
  • reflecting on what from my background and previous learning will form the conscious foundation for this experience
  • wondering about my personal objectives. In this instance, having taken the online course, how will this in-person intensive stand on the shoulders of that experience? What have I learned about my strengths in this style of sketching—which is so very different than my personal style—and what are areas of growth and development for me?

I’ve been sitting with all the content we learned, my notes from the online classes, and my drawings — both those created with markers and paper and my digital work — and musing about the two or three areas I want to focus my energies.

The Preparation

What steps do you take, how far ahead to you begin?

I find that while I have been thinking of this event for months, I am only now (less than a week away) assembling all the goodies.  Gathering resources for the experience is my next step. There are materials to be read, notebooks and markers to be chosen, and some additional notes. I want to bring along some of the lettering work I’ve done, as that might add a special touch to this experience.

The Post-Learning Experience/Integration Plan

How do you plan for the consistent application of your new skills and their integration into your existing work and routines?

  • I find that sometimes, I become so engaged in the learning process that I don’t make the time to step back and reflect. What have I learned and how it is showing up (concepts and practices), how am I using it now, in what other ways might I use it now and in the future?
  • In reflecting on Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, and Charles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habit, I am struck by the importance of creating a routine that includes using my new skills, and a trigger for ensuring the routine happens. To be honest, I haven’t figured out that answer yet. My pattern is to connect with a colleague/friend and make dedicated time each month to practice our new skills. (I’ve learned my lesson from Duhigg’s book.)

What’s your approach? How do you ensure that your investment of time, energy and resources is used best?

In essence, I believe professional development/lifelong learning requires thoughtful planning, timely preparation, conscious implementation, and intentional integration.