Posts

Bits and bobs of thoughts and ideas

The beauty of the blank page…

causes me to feel both anticipation and trepidation!

I love opening a new sketchbook or journal. The page, which I really see is a giant canvas, feels endless, and that is both delightful and daunting.

Those feelings bubbled up early last week when I opened up my Sketchbook Project booklet. Actually it was even before that. When I started imagining tangling (drawing Zentangle patterns on) the cover for my book, I had some ideas but they hadn’t come together. Truth be told they haven’t come together yet although I have taken the plunge and started drawing.

 

A different canvas was revealed to me as I opened the book.  Deciding to create on a two page spread, in which each of the pages was a different color and a different consistency, felt fun, different, and exciting. Here’s my work today, though clearly there’s more to be done! And then of course, I’ll turn the page again and start with the having to sort out whether to tangle across one page or two, choose an orientation, and perhaps venture into different media. Such a metaphor for working with what we have in front of us every day we have on this earth, right?

  • What are you planning? How are you feeling about it? 
  • Where are you now? 
  • What are you dreaming about? 
  • What designs/experiments will you create on the journey to your destination?

Planning new programming—a process that happens in my mind and on paper

On a different though related note…

I’m in the throes of designing and developing a membership program – it’s compelling and complex (not just complicated)! There are so many facets to consider. As I work with all the moving parts, I am beginning by asking my people to focus on the results that they want to achieve and then building the experience by creating the goals, milestones, and action steps and all the awesome content, activities and materials, we will use together.

This process of curriculum design and development, which is rather linear, iterative, and results-oriented is really the antithesis of Zentangle, which is organic, with a focus on the present and a letting go of or grasping for a particular appearance, aside from something that is aesthetically pleasing to the tangler. 

I LOVE both of these processes and believe that having a foot in both worlds grounds me.

How about you? Do you gravitate toward the more intuitive, organic approach, or feel more in sync with a more linear methodology or maybe you have crafted your own process and developed a melange of the two? I’d love to know!

PS: If Zentangle might be a delightful diversion for you, keep on eye out for my Creative Mornings Field Trip on July 13th and the FB Live sessions, on my Tangling With Jill (FB) page that I’ll be offering the coming weeks. 

Envisioning the future through reflecting on my past … which is not to say that past is prologue!

Imagine me running full tilt toward the finish line… that’s how I felt on Tuesday—it’s a vision, right?

I was meeting with the students from the Baruch College Industrial and Organizational Psychology program (MSIO). My mission was to share information about talent development as a field, ATDNYC in particular (as the VP of membership), and address their questions about what the future might hold… i.e., “What if I want to switch fields now that I’ve just graduated?” “How do I narrow my focus, as I love all areas of I/O?”

I had taken on the task of creating a visual of my influences on my path as a visual practitioner. Then, I realized that I had to recognize my foundation—how I even started to think of becoming a visual practitioner—and believed that this information was even more important to the MSIO students. I created a visual of my academic background and training experiences and the key influences in each program.

Of course, I had all kinds of thoughts about the background—literal, metaphorical—and with the clock ticking (my strength of creativity getting in the way again!), I went with a simple yellow/golden pathway… reminiscent of the yellow brick road.

I have plans for the second path or stream, which will intertwine with what I have created already. It will be my journey as a visual practitioner. A third path is brewing in my mind, thanks to my buddy Julia Curtis. I am going to share an abridged list of places of work and my consulting clients to highlight the impact of my education and training. This is more complexity of design than I usually work with… and I both am enjoying it and feel challenged by it.

Over the next few weeks, I will share the ongoing process of creating this multi-path vision, which is beginning to feel like a 3-D drawing…

I hope that you will see this as an opportunity not so much to learn about me but rather an opportunity to ask the same questions of yourself and create your own answers… visually or in writing, perhaps collage. It’s the content that matters—choose a medium that calls to you. I hope you will share your creation with me!

PS: Since the event, several students have been in touch and spoken with me about the power of sharing the visual and my story to help them see possibilities for their futures. Understanding the variety of resources at their fingertips (ATD NYC and other organizations) also made them feel more relaxed and hopeful about receiving the support they want and need.

Who are the people that have influenced you?

As I pondered the question of who has influenced me over the years, I kept the scope of my thinking rather small, focusing only on people who influenced my work as visual practitioner. And so, I drafted a chronology of influencers and then started to think of a metaphor and some way to indicate time. I left the question of impact at bay… (Perhaps the only reason to walk down that path is to get really clear about what I learned from each of them, gained from the experience(s), and write a note of thanks. That is a task for another time.)

As I stepped back from the page I drafted, I realized that I would never have gotten to the point of even looking for these people if I hadn’t had another foundation to spring from. And so I created another timeline.

I started to think of where I went to college and the two grad schools I attended… and I could track my growth in knowledge and skills. From there, it was a small step to realizing that all the training that I’ve done outside of a traditional academic environment also contributes to who I am today. With that in mind,  and I added my training with Points of You, EFT/Emotional Freedom Techniques, Breathwork, Nonviolent Communication, and Appreciative Inquiry—creating a  second layer of my map. I was playing with paper and pencil, so it became another sheet of paper though I will shift to my iPad and Procreate to be able to make the layers… this is starting to feel like stratigraphy—the science of strata or layers of rock. While I feel the layering aspect is an accurate reflection of my learning and doing over the years, the vision of sedimentary rock is not one that resonates with me… I envision more of the creation of a planet with a core or a journey over hill and dale or even an underwater world… the essence of each of these ideas is quite different for me.

As I was walking Gus this morning, (always a good time for reflection), I realized that it would be interesting to add a layer about my work experiences, as of course, they have changed me too. So perhaps I will add another layer in the coming weeks and, most importantly, think deeply about these varied influences because they are far more subtle and are often not consciously realized without such reflection.

So, I’m thinking that if you know me, even just a wee bit, you know that my strength of creativity has gotten in the way and I have not finished my map—because I have added more layers and complexity! How lucky that I won’t be speaking with the I/O Psych grad students from Baruch University until next week!

What are you noticing in your life right now?

What are you noticing these days about yourself, your colleagues, and your clients?

I’ve noticed in my coaching practice, that some of my clients are working differently than before.

In my practice, I’ve always been the gal that begins working with folks starting with their history and foundation, their strengths, and past successes. We explore and dream about what they want and then design possibilities for experimentation and growth. My process is to help clients move toward creative, solution-based outcomes, in which they are the agents of their own change.

What I’m seeing is that some of my clients are taking smaller steps on their journey.

I wonder about that. Perhaps it’s coming from mental fatigue, competing priorities, concerns about achieving their goals, or … I’m sure the answer is different for different folks. I don’t think that I even need to learn the answers as my role is to listen to their experiences and ask the questions to explore the possibilities they imagine for their futures. And, of course, there are so many paths to achieving one’s goals… enjoying the journey—with its achievements, challenges, failures, and learning—is one of my criteria of success.

What about you—how are you feeling?

As you make time to reflect on your thoughts and actions, what do you notice? I know that we don’t exist in a vacuum. I definitely feel the ebb and flow of connection with the world outside me: work and communication (both professional and personal). I also feel the effects on how I choose to spend my precious time… I crave more art/creativity and silence.

Last week, I wrote about feelings also… Here’s a visual, by Abby Vanmuijen, that’s so appealing to me, . You may want to check out her site too.

What are your thoughts about how you’re doing—and that question comes from a place of curiosity  (not judgment)—looking at the subject like it’s a gem, exploring its facets.

I want to hear how you’re doing… Drop me a line or make a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Searching My Treasure Chest for Gems!

When’s the last time you had the opportunity to re-discover a delightful aspect of your work?

Last night was ATDNYC’s Volunteer Connection &  Happy Hour—what fun we had!

I offered to develop an interactive activity that would introduce folks to each other. It’s been a while since I’ve kicked off an event with more than a well-crafted check-in question. I do love my check-in questions yet I wanted to provide a deeper experience. A few different ideas came to mind and then, I had it!

Several years ago, I crafted a networking activity for the inaugural event of the Women’s Leadership Center of the American Management Association. I suggested a storytelling and storycatching experience, in which the women created their own fairytales to introduce themselves and to learn about their colleagues. (A story catcher is a listener with a special intention—who illuminates the gifts and attributes of the storyteller. As listeners, we can become a force for deepening relationships.) The experience was a smashing success.

How often do you make the time to scan the landscape of your past and polish off a gem for a new use?

So I dove back into my materials and created a new fairytale to share as an example. Materials were sent in advance, just in case folks wanted to think about the story they would quickly create during the activity. I had just a few minutes before the meeting to draw a visual capturing the essence of the fairytale—the past, coming to a crossroads, and making a choice. The event arrived and I set the stage by talking about storytelling and story catching, helped participants understand the tasks, and then prepared them for the fun by reading my colleague’s poem, Once upon a time…

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, she said, is a very good place to start.

It takes you very far away, yet stays close to the heart

Of things that were and things that are, both difficult and true

And yet, if you can look this way, they seem outside of you.

 

Start right at the beginning, when someone gave you birth

And tell a bit about the frame of sadness or of mirth

Did you come into a castle, a village or a shack?

Did you have everything you need or did you live with lack?

 

What were those gifts, given there, that stayed with you since then?

What have you used, what have you left, what have you to befriend?

What was it in your character, your nature or your play

That pulled you to the centre or made you stay away?

 

Of course a child, must grow up soon and leave the family home

So did you find a place to be or take to the world and roam?

What were the challenges you met, what was the love you found?

Where was the world a swampy mess and where was solid ground?

 

What lessons still remain in you, what have you had to shed

That makes you who you are today, with all the life you’ve led?

What brought you to the crossroads, the place where you now stand

And by what name are they called, that place of sacred land?

 

Who stands there now to challenge you, what message have they brought,

About that which now could lie ahead, the calling that you’ve sought?

So take courage first, and take a breath and then pick up your pen

And craft a story for us now, the journey can begin…

 

Mary Alice Arthur

30 April 2011

 

It was awesome! I had a partner too and discovered so much more about her in the few minutes she shared her story that I had learned over the last half-year we’d known each other. Several of the participants spoke about the experience and others wrote about it in the chat…

“I loved listening and learning about my partner in this creative, fun way. You could learn about the person in a deeper way through this storytelling format.”

“We learned so much more than in a typical intro!”

I closed the activity with the thought that we are the authors of our stories… let’s be sure to write the ones we want.

 

What activities have you created over the years to amplify the experiential nature of the events you design?

What are some of the best experiences you’ve had as a facilitator, trainer, or participant? I’m guessing that you have your own treasure chest full of ideas, and just a few might have been buried for a while. Time to polish those gems and share them!

If you’re seeking to get more in touch with your story, or have a desire to start a new page (so to speak), let’s get together!