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.

Starting a community…Who knew I’d walk down this path?

I am passionate about being in connection with folks. And, I’ve realized of late (through doing a deep dive into Nonviolent Communication Training) that I have a need to contribute. The question of how to share my love of visualization/visual thinking/drawing with more folks for whom this work is intriguing, a bit foreign, perhaps even scary, has been rolling about in my mind.

Honestly, I have done more than my share of coordinating groups and meetings over the years. I have no desire to be the glue that holds a group of folks together. I’m searching for people who share an interest in visualization AND who want to co-create the experiences. This isn’t another opportunity for me to be a trainer, facilitator, or coach. I want to have a place online where we can connect, choose dates, and activities for meetings. Such a site online can lead to spaces and experiences offline that enable us to learn, enjoy each other’s company, and time “plorking”/playing and working.

Creating such a forum/space feels like both “me” and “not me.” Striking a balance between my usual role as the person at the front, center or side of the room (as trainer, facilitator or graphic recorder) and wanting to co-create the experiences with whoever shows up online at the MeetUp New York City Visual Thinking Friends, and then in person on the meeting date is a challenge. Folks showing up in both places have interests and expertise in different areas. As we discovered together this week, they come wanting to learn in various ways— from “teach me how to draw this” to “I want to have a time and space to practice” and everything in between.

Our Graphic Jam

This has become an experiment in holding the space and watching the experience unfold—something I think will happen both similarly and differently every time. I wonder what aspects of the MeetUp will be constant (conventions such as greetings/check-in, planning for the future, closing, and sharing impressions), and which will be responsive to the people in that moment (types of activities, decision-making processes used, etc.)… I just don’t know yet.

How about you? Where are you in your groups, circles, or meetings? What is stimulating, fascinating, surprising, satisfying, and perhaps challenging, frustrating, discouraging, or overwhelming? What do you long for in your experiences? What tools and resources do you have or need to make the changes you—and perhaps others—desire?

If you are yearning for new ideas and practices, I have a few resources to offer. Over the past five years, I have been fascinated and supported by the work, experiential encounters, and materials of

  • Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, both their book, A Leader in Every Chair, and the Circle Way Practicum
  • Points-of-You card decks, stories, materials, and activities
  • Art of Hosting—the variety of powerful conversational processes that enable the harnessing of our collective wisdom.

If you’re interested in having a conversation about how I have used these methods, let’s talk!

And, if you are in, or visiting NYC, be sure to visit our MeetUp, New York City Visual Thinking Friends, to learn about our next event!


How’s the view from 30,000 feet?

Yay! It FINALLY feels like fall is here! I bask in the memories of getting ready for the adventures of a new school year. Getting new notebooks, organizing pens, markers, and pencils, making book covers from grocery bags—wow, there’s a memory—are the stuff of halcyon days.

Before diving into the remainder of this year, I’m getting out my iPad and Apple Pencil and envisioning the future… I’ve drafted it here. Are you feeling the same?

I am asking myself,

  • Where have I been this year—both literally/on the planet, mentally, and emotionally?
  • Where am I now and what are my plans for the next three months? Remembering to keep my focus on how much I have achieved—and celebrate it—and not feel any discouragement about how much I have yet to accomplish to achieve my goals for the year…

For me, this has been a year of transformation—folding my many interests, areas of experience, and expertise (and websites) into one place/new offering… helping me, and all I serve to understand my work in a new, more integrated way. It’s been a challenge—really bittersweet— to talk with my wonderful web designer, Margaret Rode, about closing down sites I have had for over a decade, and incorporating aspects of my more recently developed sites into jillgreenbaum.com.

Where are you? Is it full steam ahead, your direction charted? Do you desire to ease a burden, move in a new direction or perhaps, just pause before choosing your next steps?

As I imagine these next 3 months/12 weeks/85 days—wow, that day count makes it seems so intense—I am excited! It will be a time of seeing if I can exceed my goals for the year AND reduce the breakneck pace of the previous nine months. Professionally and personally I feel energized.

What about you?

  • What are you aware of right now?
  • What is calling to you?
  • What do you really want?
  • What would your future look like, if it went as you want it to?

I hope you’ll contact me if you want support playing with these questions!

Work—Life Balance? I think not!

The reality feels more nuanced to me,,,

I get it. Folks all want to feel like they have their lives under control—I like to feel that way too.

The idea of balance, feels really cozy and, well, balanced, stable. It seems like an ideal to be realized, that becomes a way of living, a practice.

My life feels different. The idea I have worked with, and endeavored to achieve over the past dozen years or so is, harmony. So while there are days that I feel like this

I am always seeking this


Years ago, early in having my own firm, a friend (with a 9-to-5 position) asked if I was working almost all the time. I was surprised by the question, as she knew my love of being with family and friends, tennis, skiing, art, reading, travel, the list goes on. I shared the reality of the bookends to my work day—the hours that our daughter was in school and a few evenings—were, for the most part, my working hours. When I wasn’t traveling, I was the daytime caregiver and when the school day ended, I chose to shift away from most of my work to other personal pursuits. I guarded my early mornings and evenings.

One of my close friends chose to create her work and play lives differently, combining the two almost every day. I lived with her for a while, when working on a project, and while I adopted that approach for several weeks, I never felt completely “off” or away from work. Maybe it’s just a habit I chose not to shake—working during week days (though making Friday the day for what I enjoy the most about my work and taking at least part of the day off, whenever commitments permit).

What’s your thinking, and your reality? How are you fashioning the play/rest/rejuvenation time that you need to do you best work?

As you reflect on the totality of your life, your

  • personal time and growth
  • relationships—being with family and friends
  • fun/play/recreation
  • livelihood, professional development, and career


… Are you living the life that you want?

Have you recently looked at a typical week in your life and literally calculated how you spend your precious time? With 168 hours per week, do the ways in which you have used your time over the past few weeks sync with your values and the life you desire to lead?

What sources do you use for philosophical or spiritual foundations, inspiration, or support in having your full, whole-hearted life? Over the past few year, these resources have stood out for me, in my personal and professional lives.

  • Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman
  • The Coaching Game, www.points-of-you.com
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
  • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  • Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less, Greg Mckeown
  • 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Laura Vanderkam, Elizabeth London, et al.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo
  • headspace.com
  • focus@will.com
  • passionplanner.com
  • Mindful magazine
  • Tricycle magazine

Would you add to my list? I am always looking for more resources, for myself and my coaching clients. I LOVE the conversations and practices that center on the intersection of our visions, values, and our daily lives—both work and play. I hope that you will share a comment or email me at jill@jillgreenbaum.com