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Reflecting on the Shape of Our Lives

Two weeks ago, I posed these questions…

🌀 What experiences have nurtured and shaped you throughout your life?

🌀 Who has inspired and supported you over the years? Who might do so in the future?

🌀 As you view and reflect on all these answers, how have these “nutrients” formed your essence? (Another metaphor may be, “What is the foundation you are standing on?“)

🌀 What more do you want to bring into your life? And, conversely, what will you let go of or re-shape to better serve who you are now and want to be in the future?

I am wondering if you made the time to answer them. I hope so! Here’s the overview of my thoughts:

As promised, I devoted time to reflecting on the people in my life—past and present—who have helped me grow intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. While my drawing identifies few folks by name, I took a walk through my memories, from childhood through to the present. The revisiting of my life experiences—from relationships to schooling, travel, work, and more has led me to appreciate the successes and challenges that have, in part, formed who I am at this moment in time.

Happily, I have an ever-widening circle of friends and colleagues who continue to inspire me. Interestingly, I am letting go of just a few of my projects (though I love them) to make more time for what I am deciding matters most to me.

I hope that you have savored your journey from the past to the present too.

Opportunities for learning and growing—oh my!

Gosh, it’s been an amazing couple of weeks! I’m stretching in new and unexpected ways!

What’s your spring been like?

  • In March, I began a course of study that requires me to use new processes and formats. Part of the work is writing/drafting, submitting, revising, submitting, revising, and sending off finished papers about all of our courses. It’s a rigorous (and lengthy) process! 
  • I’ve started working with a mentor. Deciding on the shape of that experience with a person completely new to me is both exciting and challenging. I am at the beginning of a two-year journey and there is much to consider… my background, interests and goals, her expertise, our styles of interaction, the nature of such a relationship—it’s complex!

  • Just last week, I offered a joint coaching session to the two participants who had most successfully followed the guidelines I created for assessing graphic recording work, (from my session for the Visual Jam). It was such a delight working with these women who came in with high-quality visuals and helping them to make their pieces even better. Another set of eyes, a different perspective, it’s a gift.
  • I’m developing a visual storytelling piece to present at a conference in July. While the concept is really clear in my mind, how it comes together on paper/my iPad is still a work in progress. I decided that I needed support and so reached out for an accountability buddy—to get the work and play of it done—and to offer me feedback. It’s been awesome! My colleague, who is an accomplished author, shares ideas that would never have occurred to me. Happily, I do the same for her current project.
  • One of my clients is seeking to dramatically change her approach to digital recording. Each coaching session we review recent pieces together, identifying what’s working and why, then we discuss alternatives to the options chosen re: layout, use of color, lettering hierarchy, iconography, and the harmony of text and drawings. (This is the type of work I do for myself too. At the end of almost every project, I look at what I have created and think of at least one other way to do it completely differently! It is both a blessing and a curse to have those insights.)

What projects are on your plate?

How are you gaining perspective about your work? 

Who are your mentors, guides, or coaches as you continue to learn and grow? 

How is the “feedforward” you’re receiving supporting your goals?

As you can tell, I always believe that it’s possible to do things just a bit better! Old dog, new tricks!

Reach out to me if you want to explore your next best steps.

 

Postscript: In honor of  May as Mental Health Awareness Month, I am going to post again tomorrow with my visual from two weeks ago and one of my favorite resources for taking good care of myself. 

More than love or passion… Dedication

I have had a passion for haiku since high school. It’s a form that felt so easy to create. While I love the poetry of Mary Oliver and David Whyte, to name just two of my favorites, I believe, or should I say that I believed, that writing poetry other than haiku would be much more difficult. Now, I am not so sure.

What is your experience with dabbling in an area of interest and then, as you dive in more deeply, you are surprised to learn how rich and complex the experience can be?

It wasn’t until last March at Haiku: Three Simple Lines – Haiku as Refuge In Our Times with Roshi  Joan Halifax, Sensei Kaz Tanahashi, Natalie Goldberg, and Clark Strand, hosted by the Upaya Institute that I really began to study the form.

 

Beauty of first snow

breathtaking and heart-stopping

Vanishes quickly

jg

 

When, and why, did you take a step in a more serious direction?

Fast forward to January, 2022: In my desire to become more proficient, I enrolled in Clark Strand’s, Haiku Master Class. It’s a year-long program with a small cohort in which we submit up to 18 haiku a week in two different forums and then three more each month to be included in a KuKai, (a peer-reviewed poetry contest).

Winter morning friends

Gather round the feeder to

feel community

jg

How are you exploring your new knowledge or skill?

Folks who know me, are aware that I relish great feedback. Great feedback for me, is that which is both congratulatory and constructive, with information about how I have done things well (so I can repeat and expand on them) and what I can do even better. I need this interaction to make progress. 

How have you integrated receiving feedback about your learning into your practice?

I am still finding my way in this part of the work and play of this endeavor… reading the material that Clark is sharing with us each week, working to keep up with what folks are writing on the two haiku pages on FB that Clark hosts, writing my 18 poems each week plus those for the KuKai, incorporating the feedback I receive on my work, and learning from feedback given to others. It’s close to too much AND I love it! 

How are you working to create harmony among the roles, responsibilities, need to play, and make time to rest and rejuvenate?

This aspect of life remains a work in progress for me—with some days feeling more harmonious than others.

It’s my plan to complete this course and then decide if I want to move forward with learning to teach haiku. I am always interested in finding ways to use art to inspire and heal. I learned of the book, So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms, Haiku from the Year of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami, edited by Madoka Mayuzumi, last year. Perhaps I will teach haiku as a way of helping myself and others work through grief and pain. It’s a star in my universe of possibilities… we will see what this year brings!

How will you integrate your new learning into your life? How will it show up for you or others?

I hope that you will share your thoughts about your experiences with your passions and learning!

Zentangle, a lens for viewing my life

Zentangle is…

A simple, though not always easy, way to bring beauty, focus, and calm into my life every day with ease and a minimum of effort (re: time and materials).

A lens for viewing my life, a reminder to perceive my life with fresh eyes, understand that I will make mistakes—it’s part of living—because I try new things and I get them right and wrong. I am sometimes tired, my best efforts are not always my best work, and that working through the tangles (patterns)—by fixing them &/or moving on/making peace and learning from them is what enables me to grow. 

Art & a science… I bring my own special flair to the guidelines for working with the method.

A reminder to step back and gain a new perspective… there’s always at least one more way to view a situation. I’m always thinking to myself and saying to participants, “Hold your tile at arm’s length and rotate it—90, 180, 270, and then 360 degrees. What do you find as you do so? Which view is most interesting or appealing to you?”

Poke Leaf (the final stoke of the “Z”) invites new ways of working with a challenging pattern.

About both comforting and challenging myself. I LOVE and work with about two dozen patterns regularly—they feel easy and natural. The liveliness of Jetties, the wildness of Squid, the energy of Cadent, and the boldness of Knightsbridge delight me.

And, I’m always on the lookout for changing up the way I do one of my “go-to” tangles and for new patterns and media, to keep me sharp and humble… aware of my growing edge.

“What if, instead of just shading the leafy part of Poke leaf, I use my pen to color in the stem, shade the top of the stems, and use the tortillon/smudger to move the pencil lead into the body of the leaf?”

These four panels are 12-inch squares!

“How might I use/create on a larger area/literally a canvas—how do I need to adapt to the new dimension? What tools will I use?”

A reminder, that there’s a time to put down the pen and walk away from my work… because I have done enough, and doing more may overwork the tile. I  caution myself at times, “There’s a time to pause and reflect. Then, choose to leave it for now or pick up the pen or pencil again to continue.”

An opportunity to sink into the process, experience flow, and remain unattached to the result. There are times that I enjoy the drawing, learn a lot about the patterns and how they fit together yet don’t love the final look of my work and play. I counsel myself to walk away and return to the piece the next morning, knowing that I may feel differently about the tile then… or I will have learned from it and take that knowledge forward. 

Tangling on the inner surface of shells is delightful—it’s silky smooth.

Engaging in tangling is just like so much of how I live my life.

If you’re interested in exploring Zetangle, please reach out to me. I offer classes that cater to beginners and challenge those who are more advanced with a variety of media and long-term projects. I share most of my ongoing work on both instagram and FB.

What journey are you on…

and where are you on that journey?

Just recently, I began a new coaching relationship with a young woman from a country far from here/NY and a culture that I know very little about. It is exciting! 

While coaching in my practice is always an adventure, founded on co-creating the experience, this will be different. To borrow some of the language from my chaplaincy training, our

  • major life events
  • relationships
  • social location
  • cultural contexts
  • and social realities that impact our personal identities

have few similarities.

I have much to learn—by being particularly astute in my observing, listening, asking questions, pausing, and checking in… ensuring that nothing is assumed and time for reflection and conversation about the journey we are making together is a fit for her needs and wants. 

The more I think about it, the more I am reminded to be aware of false assumptions about similarities and perceived congruence with coaching clients who appear more like me (regarding the variables noted above).

My lens for all the work I do is Appreciative Inquiry. It is a path that provides a framework that is truly generative and in alignment with my vision of coaching relationships (and honestly, all the work that I do).

Similarly, last Thursday, I hosted two thoughtsketching sessions (a bikablo technique) for quite different groups of people mostly unfamiliar with visualizing/visual thinking: first for my colleagues, (known to me from my years at the American Management Association in my consultant roles as a speaker and instructional designer), and then for the AIF-NYC Facilitators Group, which attracted people from around the world, Vietnam the UK Belgium, the US, and Canada.

In all three instances (coaching + trainings), the majority of people joining the sessions were stepping on to a new path or in a new direction… whether tentatively or diving in with abandon.

In each encounter, my approach was Appreciative, engaging, and interactive in nature—

  • What is your foundation/what do you know about…?
  • What do you like about your work (what you are presenting that we are building on or what are you creating at the moment that you like/admire/are proud of)?
  • What do you believe to be your growing edge? (And, how will we keep your inner critic at bay? Focus on strengths.)
  • What more do you want to discover (about the topic, process, project) or… before moving forward?
  • What are you dreaming about?
  • What experiments do you want to design—to work and play with your new ideas?
  • How will you create what will be?

I am passionate about this work! If you’re curious to learn more about coaching with an Appreciative Inquiry approach, please reach out to me.