How do you deepen your practice (skills)?

I have to tell ya, I’m a gal who loves the idea and results of a daily practice. The actual practice (of the daily practice) can be challenging. I’m a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears… finding just the right combination of excitement, simplicity of engagement, and ease of achievement is critical for me.  

Lately, I’ve been delighted to gain skills in a new drawing style that has checked all three boxes—or to be a bit more imaginative, it’s the right recipe/combination of elements. I have been drawing Tiny People.

  • I’m excited to make more tiny people every day.
  • All I need is my sketchbook, marker, and subjects.
  • It’s fast!

I learned of  Nishant Jain’s very special style of drawing people from a colleague in the graphic memoir course I am taking through Sequential Artists Workshop. As soon as I saw them I was smitten!

Over the past year, I’ve learned Sashiko, (literally, “little stabs,” is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching/functional embroidery from Japan). It too has all the ingredients I desire:

  • Simple materials, “portable”
  • Easy to start and put aside when needed
  • Immediate results 

and, of course, each of these practices is practically daily. I’m creating conscious, consistent practices to fine-tune and burnish my skills. 

What about you?

How do you deepen in your practice—

whether it’s drawing, painting, meditation, a sport, a process or …?

Honestly, I’ve also had a few epic fails, well, that would be a bit of an overstatement, perhaps just learning opportunities. I have started projects that I thought were the right mix of elements to discover that I was incorrect. At the beginning of the year, I started doing a stitching journal, which I believed would require perhaps 15 or 20 minutes of my time daily—for a year. The designs I was choosing were fun yet  proved to be too time-consuming (there is more to do than stitch for over an hour every evening). While I finished the month and I like it, I don’t have the same sense of satisfaction or belief that it’s the best way to devote my precious time to skill building.

Last year I also started a watercolor course that is self-paced, and I thought that would be good for a daily practice. What I found is that it required more learning than I anticipated. While I enjoyed it, it was not what I was seeking at the end of my day for feelings of relaxation and achievement. I am continuing with it yet it is not a daily practice as it too takes too much time each time.

Happily, I am quite philosophical about all this. It’s all learning, and I feel great when I am able to recognize what isn’t working, and step away from it to look at something new.

             Have you ever made the active decision to let go of a daily practice? 

What did that feel like? What did you learn from the experience?

I’d love to know!

What fills you up?

 I am surrounded by books and have a zillion tabs open (okay, I am exaggerating a wee bit). For the past few weeks, I have been sussing out resources for the graphic memoir writing course I am enrolled in. It’s both a blessing and a curse when the folks taking the course are as avid as I am about sharing book titles, podcasts, and videos. Granted, I don’t HAVE to track them all down, yet… Happily, the county in which I live has a robust collection of graphic memoirs and resources for writers. (Oh! I didn’t even share the book titles on my Kindle!)

Resources, opportunities to learn from others—from their knowledge, skills, and experiences—

are exciting, thought-provoking, and galvanizing to me! 

What is inspiring to you?

Are you up to your eyebrows in resources, considering taking a new course, reading a new book, or enhancing your practice in another way?

One of the resources suggested by more than one of the women in the graphic memoir group was the work of The Sneaky Artist. I was intrigued, as I am always looking for other ways to draw figures—something totally different than my style. I did a bit of reading and listening to Nishant Jain… And signed up for an outdoor event in Brooklyn hosted by him and Samantha Dion Baker on March 5th. I believe it’s a creative experience that will support me in trying something really different. (And, it turns out that two of my colleagues from the graphic memoir group have decided to join me for Sam and Nishant Draw Brooklyn! We will meet in person for the first time—so awesome!)

If I expand my thinking to include more adventures in visualizing/visual thinking/visual storytelling, then my stack of books grows! Reading sources on end-of-life issues and concerns informs my work in the areas of creating visual obituaries, and working with individuals on their advance care planning.

My final year of chaplaincy training involves a capstone project—I am in the throes of crafting my proposal. Ever the curriculum designer, it’s my desire to design a program/book that creates alchemy between contemplative practices and creative processes. I am exploring several ways in which use my expertise in Appreciative Inquiry to develop a program full of experiences in which people find ways to increase their awareness, mindfulness, and equanimity. In engaging in such practices,  they can more readily and easily plan for the lives they wish to live and the ways in which they want to live their final days. There are many wonderful resources for such work (another stack of books and list of websites) yet I want a comprehensive guide to processes that folks can work with on their own, with a partner, or me/a professional skilled in accompanying individuals as they work through their thoughts and feelings, and imagine their lives.

I’m also starting to work as a teaching artist at an agency that serves survivors of human trafficking. While I devoted more than twenty years to volunteering and then directing programs for survivors of sexual violence (and their families), the world has changed and the two fields are related yet different. There is much for me to learn. I am delighted to be stepping back into this work and using art and craft to support creativity and healing. (Have you read about “craftivism”? It’s fascinating!)

What are the areas of your life that call for more learning, something new and compelling, or perhaps challenging? 

What’s your stack of books, podcasts or videos look like? I’d love to know!


If you’re feeling in need of a spark and not sure of your direction, let’s talk! Appreciative Inquiry coaching is an engaging, generative, and delightful process.

How do you do your best work?

What’s your style of engaging in a new project?

A few experiences I’ve had over the past month have highlighted and reminded me of the ways in which I work best. Yesterday, I participated in the #WICxWorld Records: Guinness World Records title attempt for the most users in a vision board hangout. Patti Dobrowolski was the presenter and I joined several hundred people in an attempt to make a world record. I met Patti at the 2013 IFVP (International Forum of Visual Practitioners)  Big Apple conference, where I attended her workshop, bought her book, and used her future planning/visioning technique.

Her approach resonates with me and I have used her template myself and with conference participants over the years. My most memorable event was in Bucharest in 2015. I combined questions to be answered by using The Coaching Game deck* with teaching people to draw, and then creating their goals for the upcoming year based on their conversations with colleagues.


Last night, I discovered several aspects of my process/endeavoring to do my best work that aren’t always apparent to me.

  • I like the idea of getting together with folks and using a process that is fun, exciting, and will yield a tangible result.
  • Gathering up my tools—big paper, markers, colored pencils, and Gelly Roll Pens—is such fun and enables me to slip easily into a generative frame of mind.
  • When there is constant conversation/auditory stimuli (talking), I can only work at a surface level on tasks. I require quiet time (silence or instrumental music—I love using the app,  focus@will)  to set the stage for me to engage in deeper work.

While I like what I created last night, it was not the in-depth work that I needed and wanted to do. So that will be my work later today or over the weekend using my own, slightly different approach. (I am a huge fan of mindmapping for this visioning process.)

I also just completed a paper that was a reflection exercise on my development over the past year in my chaplaincy training program. In my desire to answer respond to the prompts thoroughly, I reread all my papers about the courses I have taken, the books read, the projects completed, and field trips to agencies and organizations.

I had to smile at my approach. I’m reminded of my dad who would chide me for being a woman with a doctorate who had to read every item on the menu for making a decision about what to eat.

As you may imagine, it’s a style of engaging with what’s in front of me. I use that approach with everything I do. I need to know all the possibilities or the scope and depth of the information to be considered before I can move forward comfortably. I have found this approach to be both a blessing and a curse.

What’s your style? Is it to respond to the prompts in front of you knowing that the answers are within you and you can easily access them?

Or, do you prefer to review and reflect then sift and sort?

Ultimately, I crafted the story of my transformation. Well, it didn’t follow the smooth storyline that I enjoy—here’s where I was a while ago, here is where I am now, and this is what I see for the future—I believe I conveyed answers to the prompts in a way that revealed not only the answers but also me and my story.

As we take a moment to reflect on your processes of engagement, what do you realize? I’d love to hear it!

*If you are not familiar with this card deck, it is a wonderful tool that can be used in so many different ways. You can learn more about it on my website here.

What’s your learning path?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve experienced a delightful mix of learning. I stepped into the Dalai Lama‘s Guide to Happiness, the free 10-day challenge on the 10% Happier app. (If you’re unfamiliar with this work, the focus is on gaining skills in happiness and compassion through meditation.) I also had the good fortune to be a part of the Drawify team to graphically record sessions of the New Rules for Work Symposium. I attended Genein Letford’s session,  Intercultural Creativity for Leadership. These experiences reminded me of:

  • the beauty of targeted, relatively brief learning experiences
  • my love of applied science/research
  • the wealth of great resources at my fingertips 
  • the importance of connecting with colleagues to deepen my learning after the experiences. 

What about you? What fun and challenges in learning have you taken up lately?

What’s a new experience, resource, or practice for you?

As I reflect on my journey, I notice that I have a path or way of engaging…

There was a time when I would gravitate more toward all kinds of learning experiences that piqued my interest. Even if I wasn’t sure how to incorporate the learning into my life, I was game. For the past half dozen years or so I have:

~ sharpened my focus (there are only so many hours in a day, right?)

~ increased my discernment (because I can see relationships between so many diverse areas, i.e., coaching teens in the intricacies of the college admissions process and the art of Zentangle) and improved my habit of ensuring a direct connection between engaging the learning and using the new knowledge, skills, and attitudes in my business

~ strengthened my capacity to say, “No.”

I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy to say “No”… and there are even more temptations since the pandemic.

What is your path(s) for your personal and professional development?

Have you noticed a pattern in your approach? What aspects of your plans for growth are serving you and which need some fine-tuning?

On a different and yet related note, i.e., taking on projects that are relevant, and useful, though in this instance required more time than imagined…

Last fall I decided to support my resolve of drawing as a daily practice by deciding to create a calendar that offered space to practice every day. I’ve been making my own planners for years, since my daughter was born and I wanted to include pictures of her in the one planner I worked with daily. Well, truth be told, the idea was exciting AND a bigger task than I anticipated… I reached out to folks, sought ideas for what they might want in such a planner, sifted and sorted through their responses, and got to work. I quickly realized that what I wanted was both similar to and different from what they wanted…

I worked to accommodate myself and the majority. Here’s a visual of my energy around the project…

 I am using the first month now… making discoveries about what I have created. I will post a video of it on my Instagram account, jillig. I hope you will take a peek! I am:

  • happy to offer it in this format for the remainder of the year. If you are interested. (I will have it published through Kindle Direct so it will be bound like a regular book. and with a different cover… I just had to make the prototype a fun visual.)
  • going to make it an undated planner just for weekly practice starting in March…  Stay tuned!

Never too old, never too late…

An early morning exchange on WhatsApp between Drawifiers* prompted me to take a moment to reflect on beginnings. Perhaps more literally, starting something brand new.

My colleague Bene was posting on LI, sharing in detail, for the first time, how he came to be an illustrator in his fifties. And, just today, he’s beginning to step fully into using the power of LI. (Perhaps visit his page and share a little love and appreciation for his work.) Joao piped up and said he was starting to do the same (leverage LI) at 38. Axelle chimed in and said she started a start-up  (Drawify) at 47. I added that I  might just win the “start something new prize” as I chose to go back to “school” in a totally new field (chaplaincy) 39 years after my last degree. 

Our conclusion? We/People are never too old to start again. 

What do you think?

When you reflect on your life, with the focus of stepping into new endeavors, big or small, what has been your journey?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what has shaped me—intentionally/of my choosing, by circumstance (friends moving away, deaths in the family, COVID, the economy, and more) and more serendipitously, (meeting new folks and developing new relationships). As I chart that path, my belief in our abilities to continuously develop turns to certainty. 

No doubt, I/we face limitations or constraints—personal and professional commitments, time, funds, capacity, and energy. And, while I am the gal who says, “Yes” probably a little too often, I make time for relaxation and fun.

Here’s a visual I created in 2020, about my professional journey. Gosh, there’s more to add since then! And, I have a parallel journey that includes my art and craft adventures and travel. Perhaps that’s a drawing in my future or an addition to this one… another thread (or two)  in the tapestry.

May I suggest that you make time right now, for just a few minutes, to recognize and celebrate your adventures over the year in your professional and personal development…

I’d love to learn what you have taken up a bit later in life.

How have you surprised yourself with your energy and desire

to continue to learn and develop?

Maybe you will even consider what the future might hold. I hope you will be in touch to share your reflections.


* illustrators for Drawify. Drawify is a platform offering over 10,000 hand-drawn illustrations from artists worldwide. If you’d like to learn more about using our work for telling your stories visually, grab a spot on my calendar and we can explore together, or venture out on your own with this coupon for two months of free Hero-level access to the site (no strings attached), and contact me with your questions.