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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.

Choosing my lens for viewing 2021!

Though it feels almost trite to talk about endings and beginnings…

that is truly where we are at this point in time.

While we can engage in such reflection any day of the year, I found myself feeling and thinking so many different things toward the end of December. I was looking forward to the

  • end of a challenging year that had bright spots or “silver linings”, as I prefer to call them
  • beginning of a new year with the promise of significant change.

Do you recognize, celebrate, memorialize, or in some way acknowledge the ending of one calendar year and the beginning of the next? If so, what do you do—journaling, mindmapping, drawing or …?

On a more personal note, I always do a visual end-of-year wrap up for family and friends that accompanies our family photo/New Year’s greetings. This year, I opted for short and sweet—my visual was the space for capturing what we were grateful for, as a family. In essence, I was answering the question, “What was best about this past year?” (the Poetic Principle, from the field of Appreciative Inquiry)

How would you answer that question?

“What do I want to carry forward/bring with me into the new year? What will become of the fertile soil for the seeds of my dreaming — new ideas, experiences, and endeavors? These are my next questions, answered in the drawing and writing that I do for myself, both personally and professionally,

I am a firm believer in the core AI Principles, that

  • the moment we ask about something we simultaneously begin to move towards it (the Simultaneity Principle)
  • we live into the futures we imagine (the Anticipatory Principle)
  • building on our strengths instead of fixing weaknesses builds momentum for change(the Positive Principle)

Of course, these questions point to the reality that my thinking and feeling in these ways, is only my/one perspective (the Constructionist Principle)—it works for me! How about you?

If this view of the world, is one that resonates with you, you may want to dive into some resources on AI. I have devoted the past half year to learning, studying, working with, and preparing for my AI facilitator certification. it has been an experience filled with new ideas, challenges, and (almost always) joy.

Here are a few of my favorite resources

If this feels exciting, interesting, provocative (in a good way) and you want a taste of this work, I offer Appreciative Living Learning Circles, (the next starts on  February 1st, learn more on my calendar and register here), and Heather Martinez and I will use an AI lens in our program Deep Dive into You, (January 21 & 22, learn more here).

Please feel free to contact me with your questions about resources, how to bring AI into your life/the life of your organization, and AI coaching. I’d love to hear from you!