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Finding fun and challenging ways to relax and connect with myself and people in my world

This is how it began…

Hello! Jill Greenbaum here from Airmont, NY. I’ll be making quilted postcards. I have a fabulous stash and love to write—and receive—postcards and letters from folks. Super excited to make a practice of sitting down at the sewing machine every day!

In fact, I started doing the 100 Day Project back in 2017. This is going to be my fourth year participating and I am jazzed!

Do you know about this event? It is super cool AND a real challenge!

The key for me is to engage in my project every day—it’s about consistent participation rather than the amount of time I devote each day.

In the past, I’ve chosen to burnish my Zentangle skills, and by the third week of the challenge, I am UNHAPPY with my decision. I always push myself to try a new pattern every day—and it takes more than 10-15 minutes to do good work so I feel overextended because I want to do well not just dabble… and not spend my entire evening tangling. I need conscious and consistent practice in bigger blocks of time to explore more complex designs…  I have learned that it is NOT a task for me to do for 100 days.

As I noodled around the 100 day project site, I found an interesting idea, quilted postcards! I love making art quilts and have a serious stash of fabric. This seemed like the perfect choice—a small, very do-able project, playing with my beautiful fabrics, and reducing my stash!

Long story short, I have learned a few things in just the four days since this year’s project started.

Having:

  • fabulous materials is a start—though organizing them in some way is critical to avoid being pulled into the vortex of colors
  • a plan for the design each is critical—it is easy to become overwhelmed with possibilities
  • a flexible idea as to the desired outcome enables adjustments without upset—while I, conceptually, love a paper backing for writing to folks easily,  I don’t like the feel of it against the quilting.

So, if we move beyond the obvious learning from the actual work with fabric, batting, interfacing, pens for writing on fabric, etc. there are bigger lessons here…

I have learned again that I love…

  • engaging in a challenge that stretches me yet does not overwhelm me
  • having a clear focus
  • consistency/doing a task that has elements of fun and “new-ness” every day
  • getting into a pattern (hahaha) of working so that I feel I am using my time effectively and efficiently
  • being part of something larger (#100dayproject/posting my work to instagram)
  • to learn more about how I learn best
  • that I can walk away from something I don’t (yet) love and say to myself, “I’ll look at this again tomorrow… I might just feel differently about it then!”

Truth be told, I have only completed one quilted postcard so far. I have two more quilt tops sewn and a third in the design stage. I feel good about starting off my 100 days strong. I can’t wait until I have more cards done so I can begin to send them out to people. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten, and in this case, also hand-sewn postcard?

I imagine that I’ll make close to 40 of these darlings over the 100 days. Let me know if you’d like to receive one, I’d be happy to send one your way, just be sure to email me with your land address!

Food for Thought on a Friday Afternoon

When’s the last time you declared who you are to the world?

This question of vision, mission, values, capability, and capacity came up for me just this week. I have become a member of a small group of women who are seeking to explore and discover, ways to meet some of the needs of particular underserved populations.

We are graphic recorders, authors, illustrators, facilitators, and educators with the passion and skills

for helping those facing end of life issues through making visible their thoughts and words as they face death.

The Back Story

Long and delightful story short, we have found our way over the past few months to sharing who we are, how we come to the subject matter, and the project that we are co-creating (with what questions, interests, and skills). We are learning about each other and imagining how we can each contribute to creating a more multi-faceted endeavor. Last week we realized that it was time to craft a manifesto/vision/mission statement to share with the world, or perhaps a little less grandly, with colleagues and new contacts, potential partners, and funders to help them understand what we’re doing and why.

When have you recently paused to reflect on who you are and what you stand for personally and/or professionally? If someone asked you about your values and why you’re doing what you’re doing in your life, how easy would it be to share your thoughts?

Several years ago I created a simple process —PRISM—for writing a manifesto, to support my coaching clients (parents) in getting clear about themselves and who they wanted to be in relation to their children. I had written a manifesto for myself, about who I wanted to be in the world, and I had written another about the parent I wanted to be… These creations were both based on who I was at the time and were aspirational.*

PRISM

Pause

to create the time/space in your schedule and environment so that it becomes easy to do this work and play

Reflect

on questions that resonate for you at this time (and find sources to help you do so)

(Who do you want to be? What are your values and how do you live them? What are your hopes, dreams, and priorities? What aren’t you addressing because it’s not comfortable, and how will you do that? What will stretch you?)

Imagine

all the possible answers to your questions and how you want to capture them (sticky notes, narrative form, drawings or…) so they are at your fingertips

Select

the constellation of ideas and desires that inspires you to commit and act

Manifest

your vision of yourself by making time to plan for the transformation you desire.

We began our meeting this week with an appreciative eye toward what we enjoy about our plorking (play and working) together. Everyone’s answer to the check-in question was uplifting and strengthened our foundation.

The language and imagery we used to describe our best experiences crafting such statements were exciting, generative, and surprisingly similar. When we shifted to our wishes for what we saw ourselves doing together and the content of the manifesto/vision statement, we saw many different possibilities.

Our next step, on our own, will be to visualize and share our ideas for our manifesto—what will it say about us and what we want to do in the world? I can’t wait to find out!

Finally, we will draft our manifesto.

 

* If you would like a copy of the ebook I created for manifesto writing, let me know and I’ll send one your way!

Life Lessons —Learned from Flower Arranging

In arranging flowers earlier this week, I found surprising parallels to endeavors in life!

Have a vision

Bring your tools

  • scissors, vase(s)

Be open to the reality of materials at hand

  • be flexible

Cut as necessary

  • length of stems to create bouquet

Choose

  • use everything in one arrangement or making several

Manage frustration when challenges arise

  • no leafiness/fullness, imperfect blooms, having to switch vases after initial dissatisfaction

Think about next time

  • learn/remember that different flowers require different resources/vase, materials/greenery/baby’s breath

Be resourceful

  • consider greenery from the backyard

Tap into ability to sit with disappointment

  • not realizing initial vision and to shift to contentment in the present

Know when to walk away

  • Re-encounter/look at the arrangement with fresh eyes the next day

Clean up the debris of the creative process

  • Sweep away the cut stems and leaves

 

Ulitmately, I liked it—even in it’s difference from my expectation…

Time for TLC!

How are you taking exceptional care of yourself?

How do you feel about that question? Does it seem over the top, just a little too much? Would you be more comfortable with me asking about taking good care of yourself?

Perhaps, because of the pandemic, most of us have finally accepted the idea that taking care of ourselves is critical to our well-being and success in every aspect of our lives. I’ve been saying it for years and I propose that we elevate our self-care to an exceptional level because these are extraordinary times… these times though can make it even more challenging to meet our needs.

A part of taking exceptional care of myself is reflecting on and choosing wisely about how I want to devote my time. I’ve found that time feels different—I’m realizing that some tasks just take longer than in the past. While I could spend precious minutes parsing out the reasons, I will just live with the reality for now. I have the sneaking suspicion it’s the state of the world, our country, my business, and my concerns for family, friends, and colleagues that lurks in the back of my mind day and night. There’s good reason for it, so I am moving on.

I’ve found that engaging in the activities I love and love to share has been a joy during this time.

What are you doing to soothe yourself, work with your emotions (they’re there all the time whether we’re paying attention to them or not), and be kind to yourself so that you can engage with all the aspects of your world in the ways that you desire? 

Late last month and earlier this week, I had opportunities to teach Zentangle, a meditative art form that I learned back in 2013. I LOVE tangling—whether I am creating designs myself or teaching others.

Truth be told, tangling is fun AND challenging. It involves using new tools —tiles of Italian paper, Micron pen, a tortillion/smudger, and a pencil without an erase— and

  • learning new skills
  • working mindfully
  • enjoying the slow pace of aspects of the process
  • viewing our work from a variety of perspectives (turning the tile as we work on it)
  • breathing deeply
  • leaving our inner critic “at the door” (when we make an unintended stroke or two).

When plorking (playing and working) with others I slip into a side of myself that is delightful to experience. I can always find something beautiful in everyone’s work. Folks are amazed at the flow of compliments throughout the session. This exchange encourages them to see their work and themselves in new ways.

This “work” is a delight that I have shared all over the world with children as young as 3 years old in Nepal (at House with Heart, for abandoned children) and folks in their 80’s at nursing homes and senior centers. While it’s different over Zoom (though I have been teaching it for years in that way), I still find ways to see and discuss each person’s tiles.

These experiences feed my soul and refresh me.

 

What nourishes you?

In what ways are you carving out time to take special care of yourself?

How are you finding peace, calm, and beauty or whatever emotions and experiences you need to sustain you?

If you’re interested in Zentangle, let me know! If finding ways to take exceptional because these are unprecedented times is too challenging on your own you, reach out to me for a conversation.

I believe we need to start with ourselves, and then, if we can, help others. We are in this together.

Enabling Folks to See What They Haven’t Yet Imagined…

The Setting: Meeting this Week

Earlier in the week, I bumped up against some folks’ inability to envision something that was outside of their experience…  And, their subsequent thoughts that it couldn’t be done. I had hoped for their considering the opportunity with curiosity and possibility.

What do you do when you are suddenly, and surprisingly, faced with folks who are not (hopefully, not yet) on the same page as you?

It took me about half a minute to tap into my strength of creativity and swing into a different frame of mind.

I understand that if people aren’t able to envision something because it’s unfamiliar or outside their experience, they often shut down and say “No.” Realizing this reality, I made every effort to approach their questions with enthusiasm.  I needed to create a context in which they could begin to understand the thing that they didn’t know… I started to share stories of how creating a visualizing exercise for a group of almost 100 participants over Zoom had been achieved with a variety of groups to great success.

What’s your approach to introducing new and different ideas to people? How do you help people step into understanding the experience that you have had and what you can provide? How do you prepare to create a context for people and plan to meet their needs, doubts, and questions? What kinds of evidence are you sharing—is it both thinking- and feeling-oriented?

I have to say I was surprised by people’s reactions. And, I felt the pressure of the time allocated to the conversation weighing on me. If time had permitted it would have been so much more fun and engaging to demonstrate the experience by having them engage in the activity I was suggesting, and then discuss how I scale it to larger groups.

Suffice to say that the information I provided, the real world and congruent examples, and my passion and history with the group enabled us to move forward with the initiative. This is a lesson that I don’t usually have to learn and yet it’s a good reminder:  when called, or moved, to step up and share a new idea, to be ready to be open, understanding, and able to take others’ perspectives to enable them to envision, and truly understand, your idea, concept or practice.

I realize that to enable people to grasp something new and different does not always lead to acceptance of the idea. In this instance, we moved forward with the initiative I suggested—what a happy ending!