Posts

The Joy of Exploration

How often do you stop to really reflect about the the tools you’re going to use for a project?

What motivates you to look at your “go-to ” resources with new eyes?

Honestly, I don’t often think about the tools that I use because I’ve already vetted them (explored the possibilities, tested their capabilities, compared them, and made my decisions). When working with markers and paper for graphic facilitation, graphic recording or visual coaching work, I will choose my Neuland markers and the paper that fits the task best. For digital work (and play), I’ll work with Procreate on my iPad with my Apple Pencil but if I am creating illustrations for Drawify, I’ll need to work in Concepts. 

If I’m working on Miro, the online collaborative space, I will continue to discover new resources available through plug-ins and different ways of imagining the canvas. I have mounted large projects,  (my Appreciative Inquiry final project for certification)and imported photos, visuals, documents, and more.

When making my own projects with Zentangle designs or teaching, I use my Sakua  Micron 01, 08, 1, 10 or PN black pens and the lovely Italian paper “tiles” that are a signature resource, or watercolor, or mixed media paper. In  preparation for my first mural work. I tested many markers, paints, and varnishes plus brush tips. And in my Tangling BIG class I am working with markers on canvas and still wondering how I will translate the beauty of using graphite on paper to such a different surface—I’ll know soon!

What about you?

When is the last time you shook it up a bit and did a “tasting” of new tools, materials, and resources?What’s new in your bag of goodies? 

Yesterday morning, I was imagining all kinds of projects for my upcoming Tangling from the Heart class. I broke out many of the possibilities at my fingertips. An hour later, I had made so many discoveries—my paper was crammed with notes: “Love this!” “Oooo, that brush tip is too soft.” “Best result when I write more quickly.” “Oh! These markers smell terrible!” ”Make the tangle pattern first and then do the lettering.” 

Do you ever straddle the line of how much you need to keep experimenting and when is it time to move on?

My love of creativity and play is a double-edged sword. Honestly, there are only so many hours in the day. I also need to remember that my time for experimentation is not limited to this one experience. So finding what will work now and leaving the door open for new possibilities feels right… even if I’d rather keep plorking (playing and working).

What are you working on that brings out the need to experiment with new tools—pens, markers, colored pencils, paper, tablets, apps, and more? 

What’s your approach to the process?

For me, it’s all about finding the best materials for the project AND having fun in a (mostly) efficient way. I’d love to hear how you dive into this realm of your work… no doubt I can learn from you!

 

More than Repetition—Conscious Practice (redux)

I just finished two bikablo Day 1 training programs (in-person for the first time since the pandemic and online) plus I offered a monthlong Mystery Tangling adventure for those who love the Zentangle method (and focusing on the philosophy too).

Both of these experiences explore guidelines for drawing yet more importantly…

  • In bikablo, we have a developmental approach and success factors to guide our work
  • In the Zentangle method, we use certain marks and are supported by a philosophy and techniques

In both, the focus is on being mindful about each stroke, conscious of our process —it is what improves our skills—it’s more than repetition.

When is the last time you were focused and aware of each stroke of the pen/marker? Maybe yesterday or…

What impact did that focused, attention have on your intended result? 

My tangling classes/teaching the Zentangle method and Bikablo trainings offer opportunities to engage in conscious practice and receive appreciative and constructive feedback about the results. 

What work or play are you engaged in that offers you feedback to grow on?

In thinking about how to best support the ongoing growth of my participants’ skills in all of my courses, I am developing a planner. I’d love your help in crafting an agenda/calendar/diary/planner that provides space to practice every day—consistency counts when you are burnishing your (drawing) skills.

Here’s my request for your ideas from my recent newsletter about designing the planner. (My apologies to those of you who are on my ezine list and saw this yesterday.)

 

 

Hellooooo!

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet and I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

For years, I’ve been crafting my own planners/agendas/calendars—I’m a bit like Goldilocks in the story with the three bears. I can’t find a planner that’s just right for me so I keep working to make it.

I came “this close” when I purchased the Passion Planner but alas no… so I’m building one with several objectives in mind.

It’s going to:

  • look great
  • support my planning throughout the year—with a year, monthly and weekly calendars
  • facilitate my practice—ensuring that I’m keeping up my skills

And I’d love your ideas to help make it the best!

I’m thinking of a few variables. Please take this survey now—it won’t take even 5 minutes.

I’m going to make this planner—though I’m thinking that I like the name “Owner’s Manual”—over the next few weeks and offer it for pre-sale in early November. 

Please help me make it great!

Take the survey here.

Thanks!

And, I drafted a practice sheet… Visit this Miro board to see an example of how to use it and download the blank practice sheet for yourself!

Please play with it and lmk what you think! Do you like the different angles of the tiles? Please lmk!

The deliciousness of re-imagining work and play

The past few weeks have been flurry of activity—with travel, speaking at a conference, meetings with colleagues from around the world, a summit, and a wee bit of vacation too. The experience of doing something different every day was exhilarating.

Now that I’m back home, it’s time to dive into the work and play of crafting new aspects of my professional and personal lives. I feel a desire to find my way back into the comfort of a routine to support the changes I want to make. I wonder a bit about that feeling, though I realize that a routine can facilitate processes for me.

How are you experiencing your life right now? 

Have you had some time away from work? What did it feel like to step away? And to return?

The Visual Thinking Global Summit in Bilbao, Spain, SHAKE it to SHAPE it!, gave me the time and space to explore my world—where am I now, what will nourish, challenge, and support me going forward?

What existing and new knowledge, processes, tools, resources, and relationships can I tap into, explore, leverage, or amplify to move in the slightly new direction I am envisioning? I have ideas grounded in my reflections and insights from the summit. These questions  loom large for me:

  • What do I dream about?
  • What experiments will I design to discover the path I want to take?
  • What will I let go of?
  • What I will commit to?
  • What timeline I will create for developing these ideas, the pieces of the mosaic of my life?

Related to all this imagining is the practical piece… How will I carve out the time for this work and play of altering the course of my practice? As a maker, I need large blocks of time to work on projects — to dream, imagine, design, question, play, create, revise, and complete. As a solopreneur, I have to ”manage”/guide my business and the various projects that comprise my work.

A recent article in Upworthy on Paul Graham’s work, by Annie Reneau, describes how makers and managers perceive time (and meetings) made me pause. I felt that it explained a lot about my scheduling of myself. I am both a maker (for work and play) and a “manager” of my practice and my life.

I loved this visual by Reese Jones, it feels spot on to me. It made it so clear that I need to create blocks of time and then be certain to use them in the way I intend. It’s also critical to have those smaller chunks of time for smaller tasks. 

What’s your understanding of how you use time? Is it serving you?

I am going to recalibrate my schedule and keep an eye on whether I am using it in alignment with my intentions. A new routine seems in order for the present. When I have a new plan, I will need to assess my calendaring again—that feels right to me!

I’d be curious to hear your experiences with making the time to reflect on your business/work, how you plan for and make changes and what supports you in the process. I hope you will be in touch!

It’s about the how as much as the what, and definitely the why!

In my travels over the past few weeks, I’ve met folks who didn’t know me or my work. Answering the question of what I do, sometimes feels challenging!

Have you had that experience? What do you say? How has your response changed over time?

In the (recent) past I would briefly answer, “I teach people to think and draw so they can communicate more effectively” without getting into the details of visualization or bikablo.

My new answer is, “I help people visualize… (Wait, what does that mean?) to express, share, and capture ideas through combining drawings and words, to more effectively communicate.”

When sharing about visualization/Bikablo

It’s about the how…how to

  • hold the marker
  • draw the various types of lines
  • attend to the details
  • create layouts 
  • use color 
  • understand and use the methodology

and the what

Simple planning for the weekend.

Whether we are “talking” to ourselves (planning, strategizing, remembering, creating) or working with others (graphically recording a meeting, event or training, graphically facilitating an experience, coaching, or training) we are clear about our purpose—it is not art. We consciously do it all in service of clear communication.

When talking about Zentangle 

I share with people, “I teach a meditative art form.” (Wait, what does that mean?)

My new answer is, “I help students create beautiful designs through drawing simple, structured patterns. In the process of learning, they gain perspective about their capabilities and a new understanding of themselves.”

By learning the Zentangle method, its philosophy, and drawing techniques, I guide people in discovering their inner artists.

It’s about the how…how to 

  • use the five marks of Zentangle in a variety of combinations 
  • work within guidelines for drawing
  • integrate the philosophy so that it becomes a practice
  • become more mindful, relax and focus
  • breathe and let go when we make mistakes (as we will inevitably do… we are human)

It is an easy shift, for everyone I work with, to understand that we are the artists, the creators of our work and our lives.

As artists/people, we all face challenges— interacting with others, with materials, living within systems, learning and failing, and more. 

 

 

Why do you do what you do? What have you noticed about why you have chosen your work?

I’ve noticed patterns in my life. I have always gravitated toward transformational work—whether it is my personal growth or the needs and desires of those I want to work with or the systems that I believe need to change.

My work continues to evolve—now I seek to be more aware of the inner struggles, learning and growth of individuals… discovering and shining a light on people’s strengths, values, and capabilities, and asking people what supports them through challenges. I find that I can ask these questions no matter the content that I am sharing (or the hat I am wearing).

What is your thinking about your work… the what, the how, and the why?

If I asked you for a brief and rich description of your work and why you do it—what would you say? I’d like to know.

How do you work through hesitating, second guessing, stopping or… and embrace uncertainty?

Do you ever put off something challenging or even stop yourself… when moving forward is best, if daunting?

Tuesday was primary day in New York. My daughter was running for one of the county commissioner seats in Brooklyn. Early in the day, she sent me photos of herself and a flyer with her name on it. I loved the photos and immediately posted them on Facebook because I thought it was so great! When I told her I posted them, she asked me to take them down. I double-checked and she was firm. I felt disappointed. I so appreciated her energy and moxie, and wanted to celebrate it. She said, “I don’t want to share because if I lose I’ll have to explain that I lost.” My response was, “There is glory in the running! And, I understand and  will take them down.” I waited (impatiently) for the results and then posted the photos—because she won a seat!

When is the last time you wavered before taking a challenge or revealing that you were doing something where you might fail, lose, or feel embarrassed? What did you do?

There is no one answer for what’s right here. We are all different, circumstances vary, and we each have a continuum of comfort around risk, embarrassment, losing, and more.

Were you able to work your way through the feelings of hesitancy? 

When I pause (significantly) to ponder whether to share a new challenge with uncertain results, I work to recall my past successes. They form the foundation for moving into the endeavor.

Did you remember that there is no predicting the future? We just can’t know what will happen. Did you fortify your inner risk-taker, rally your support network or maybe reach out to an ally who continuously champions you?

I totally believe what I said to my daughter and understand her hesitancy. 

I’m about to apply for some consulting work that I would really like and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get it. But this is the life I have chosen—to continuously put myself out there in the world and work with the results. 

More immediately, I’m about to teach a Zentangle pattern that I find particularly challenging (Rick’s Paradox). I don’t see it as easily as other patterns. So I’m taking extra time and practicing before doing the work in my beautiful book. I’ve heard the same kind of hesitation about drawing from participants in my sessions. We all wonder about the drawing we will do and whether it will meet our hopes, desires, or expectations. I always hope for the best, discover what happens in the moment, breathe deeply, and use my skills when I feel challenged.

This is what I said to one of the participants just recently, 

“Ah, it is a challenge! I believe that I will do my best to create the beautiful designs and knowing that I am human, I will probably make mistakes along the way. I work to breathe, let it go, and make it beautiful. I hear you.”

I believe it—and live it—and it isn’t always easy.

One of my most recent resources for working with my emotions and feelings is the book  Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. I am a part of his coach training program and have started to integrate some of his work into my coaching practice with clients. This work feels just like home to me, do you know what I mean? In 2004, I completed Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching Program. (His book, Authentic Happiness is great!) I also value and use Jackie Kelm’s work, The Joy of Appreciative Living: Your 28 Plan to Generate Greater Happiness. Do you know these works? If so, what do you think? I’d love to chat!

In response to the very difficult times I/we are facing, I reach out to friends and colleagues, and gather resources and methods, that will support my self-care so I can step into working to address the challenges of our lives.

What about you?

If you would like to talk about great resources or are ready to step more fully into the work and the play of your life, please reach out to me!

 

*Written on Wednesday… it’s been a full week!