Posts

The Delights of Teamwork!

Mere words cannot express the fun, the collegiality, and most importantly, the impact of the work we accomplished at the #StanfordLEAD #Me2We2024 event last week. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve included a visual to represent my gratitude for the experience of being a member of an international team, in which each individual contributed something unique to the dynamics of the team and the event.)

The team, assembled by Drawify founder Axelle Vanquaillie, included Alexandra Oporto d’Ugard, Ben Crothers, Erin Nicole Gordon, Filippo Buzzini, Olina Glindev, and me. We hail from six different countries, yet we were on the same page, bringing the impact and influence of visualization to a conference already brimming with big names, big ideas, and participants hungry for engagement.

While we all played several different roles—as grocery shoppers, chefs, dishwashers, errand runners, schedulers, graphic recorders, presenters, and illustrators—I will say that I felt luckiest. The conference committee, h/t to Raphael Auwerkerken for his work in bringing us to the event, and to the conference committee that provided us with a gorgeous space in which to set up our array of analog recordings, were true partners throughout the experience.

As host of the table and showcase space for the first day of the event, I had the opportunity to meet so many of the attendees, share information about Drawify—our purpose and intention for being at the event—and encourage them to share their appreciation for their professors in their program. (They wrote on file cards, which were made into a gift for each of the professors in the program.) As you can imagine, people were curious. I loved sharing my passion for visualization with those who wanted to have a conversation.

Digital graphic recording has become a go-to practice of mine. The four sessions I attended were a pleasure to capture. One of my favorite memories is attending a workshop on improv, sharing my recording with the two presenters immediately afterward, and seeing their delight. They had no idea I was recording the event and were astonished to receive the visual summary. Kesinee Angkustsiri Yip told me that they had just incorporated three days earlier and she was going to print out the digital recording, frame it, and put it on her desk. It was a gift to have the time to connect with Kevin Weinstein and Kesinee after the session.

 

While I had never created tags with snippets/key phrases from the sessions, I loved it! The opportunity to capture a key idea for a session, draw and letter quickly on the Neuland Tag It, and offer it to others as a remembrance was a kick!

Perhaps the highlight of the three days (for me) was my presentation, Re-envision Yourself and Design the Life You Desire. I am dedicated to infusing Appreciative Inquiry, into every aspect of my work. The room was bursting at the seams— there were close to 100 people in a session that was meant for 80. Everyone was all in. We learned together—sharing thoughts, questions, plans, and insights. My role was truly as a facilitator, creating the environment and offering an experience that each individual would make their own. I felt almost guilty that my colleague Erin, who was graphically recording the workshop, had huge swaths of time in which participants were talking with each other. (Maybe a pause during a graphic recording is a blessing?) Of course, she became very busy as they offered up their thoughts. I was thrilled when one of the participants said, “This is exactly what I came for!” Participants left with plans for their immediate next steps for the future they desire.

These new experiences stand out for me (and may provide a few ideas, for graphic recorders, facilitators, and event organizers): 

  • a mid-size international team brings diverse, fresh energy to an experience
  • professionals from different backgrounds and with various skill sets enliven the processes used and the final products
  • hosting a space—being available to explain our work was an amazing opportunity for participants and increased engagement
  • space for showcasing the work, and enabling people to engage with it easily increases the impact on participants 
  • the creation of mini-stories/meaningful takeaways was an additional opportunity to connect with participants—we were surrounded by interested people, and some requested key phrases be “sketchnoted” for them live and in the moment
  • having my session graphically recorded was a gift I don’t often receive—give that gift to all presenters 
  • offering the opportunity for the students to show appreciation for their professors and to give the professors a gift was heartwarming and impactful.

My thinking? Let’s do this again—the results were tangible!

PS: If you’re curious, I posted this piece to LI with the use of Gemini (AI) and a little light editing afterward… Check out the differences

 

Same & Different!

Hello! It’s been a minute, no?

I am happy to put my fingertips to keyboard and be back in communication with y’all. How have you been? Please drop me a line (so reminiscent of paper and pen) to let me know, I am truly interested. 

If I were to encapsulate the past six months, I’d say that it was like a mountain range—full of peaks and valleys that were a combination of exciting, fun, challenging, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. At this moment in time, I feel ready to use my foundation, recent learning, and experiences to move in a few new directions. 

What about you?

We’re past the habitual conversations of January about setting intentions, making resolutions, etc.. Honestly, I don’t mean to belittle such practices. Yet, I believe that every day is a new day with the potential to make changes. We can decide when and how often we need to check in with ourselves to step into dreaming big, charting a new course, or engaging in course correction.

What surfaces for me is grounded in my conscious understanding that my life/our lives are finite, creating a bittersweet tension and desire to search for the good, beauty, joy, and what’s possible every day. My North Star is a belief in being in connection with others. This awareness leads me to:

  • be grateful—for even the cold, grey, cloudy, ache-y days 
  • engage consciously with family, friends, and colleagues—who do I want to be and how do I want to interact in this moment in time
  • look at all my work and play with new eyes/actively choose where I will devote my precious time—letting go of what no longer serves me and picking up new and exciting endeavors
  • practice self-care daily—meditate, create art, read/listen/learn, and keep strong boundaries

Where are you at this moment in time?

What is your North Star—your values or guiding principle(s) that facilitate easier decision-making about the direction of your life and all you do? 

I can’t wait to create more of what I desire in my life and in the world… I hope the same is true for you.

More to follow…

Rituals Create a Rhythm

This time of year, the late fall, and the beginning of the holiday season has a different rhythm and feel to it. What do you think?

I start to plan differently, make space in my schedule to slow down, to shift the balance of work, studies, play, and connection—areas which are really overlapping circles in the Venn diagram I imagine.

I easily slip into rituals of baking, shopping, and making gifts, choosing a photo for the holiday card (I am a paper and pen gal), envisioning my yearly drawing that will accompany our card, and more.

What rituals and habits support you?  What has become second nature and comfortable?

What new traditions are you creating in response to your changing circumstances?

These questions are equally relevant to our work, wouldn’t you agree?

What practices do you bring to your work to create and hold space, build rapport, increase connection, and nurture success?

I considered this question, “How are working in person and online similar and different?” with a new lens last week at an in-person training (an event that remains relatively rare).

Here are a few of the methods I use in my training and facilitation work.

  • When I’m online I ask people about where their feet touch the ground, to learn where people are coming from at that moment —literally—to create greater awareness of who is in the room. And I share that I live and work on the land of the Munsee Lenape and the Schaghticoke, in New York.
  • When in person, I’m relating to where folks are from yet making that connection in a different way. Last week when I was in NYC with participants from the five boroughs, I shared where I lived in the city, on the land of the Lenape on the Upper West Side, during my years in graduate school, and saw nods of recognition around the room.
  • Rituals in my work include using methods and practices that will create a warm and welcoming environment by recognizing people’s individuality and their group affiliations.
  • I plan for co-creating the learning experience. I endeavor to ensure that participants are fully engaged not merely consuming content, which means making the time and space for participants to think, question, practice with real-life applications, reflect, capture their knowledge, and plan for using it.
  • Asking for their written feedback about their learning and experiences is a sign of respect (from me to the participants) and an opportunity for me to learn what was new, important, interesting, perhaps puzzling, and what can be improved.

In your work, what are rituals, routines, habits, or practices that serve you and others?

What needs to be explored for its continuing efficacy, as people and circumstances change?

What is your North Star/the values or principles that guide your assessment?

My approach for all design and re-imagining/re-design—whether for change and growth in my personal or work worlds—is the 5D model of Appreciative Inquiry, because it:

  • is supportive/grounded on a positive foundation
  • exploratory
  • invites experimentation
  • flexible, and
  • results/success oriented.

I seek to create rituals, habits, and practices that support my own growth and that of everyone with whom I work.

I’d love to learn what you think and feel as you take a step back to reflect on the habits and practices that support you. Perhaps you will even share one or two with me!

Feeling Gratitude & Being Appreciative

Off the top of my head, and in less than 5 minutes, I generated all these ideas—big and small, specific and general of people, relationships, and experiences that fill me with gratitude.

As I breathe in the crisp, cold, early morning air as I walk Gus, a sense of gratitude washes over me. I start to explore that feeling.  A cascade of experiences and names of people start tumbling through my mind— the training courses I have attended, the courses created and delivered, the people met, the new relationships formed, the books read and listened to, the places traveled, times with family and friends, and the list goes on. And these are very specific memories I’m thinking of—like snapshots in my mind.

Honestly, there have been challenges this year too. Life is full of ups and downs. In my world of family and friends—sickness, chronic conditions, and death—to the state of our country, the ever-present scourges of racism, misogyny, lack of adequate food, healthcare, and housing, gun violence, immigration atrocities, unequal educational opportunities, our class system, the reality of climate change, unstable geopolitics, and more.

I have had to develop ways to effectively work with and handle these realities. In essence, I am particular about the sources of information I choose to consume and conscious of the “right” amount of information. I seek to be informed and engaged without becoming overwhelmed as this is the way I move forward.

What are the tools and resources you use to re-balance?

Who and what support you in your efforts to live in a state of equilibrium?

I want to be sure that I’m being clear that working to achieve equilibrium through:

  • eating well
  • hydrating
  • exercising
  • connecting with family and friends
  • learning
  • creating art consistently
  • and reading books that challenge me

enables me to volunteer my time to organizations/causes I believe in and pursue my (rigorous) studies in chaplaincy. I’m not talking about ignoring the world and our challenges to sit and eat bonbons on the couch (but you knew that). I am talking about ensuring that I have the energy to pursue change in my personal and the larger world.

Here are just a few books I’ve read over the past few years that support my mind, body, and soul. Perhaps you will find one or more of them interesting.

I’d love to hear from you about the resources and practices you turn to on this journey. Please share them!

I realize what a very full year I have had…   I am reminded of how much there is to appreciate in my life. With that in mind, I was thinking it’s time to offer another Appreciative Living Learning Circle. It seems fitting to start before the end of this year and continue it into the beginning of next year. If you’re curious to learn more, check my Calendar page.

286 hours…A Time of Transition 

I am about to complete, a long, intense, and deeply satisfying internship. Now is the time of transition for me. The change—from being in the hospital seeing patients and in-class wrestling with thoughts, feelings, and questions—will end next week though I have been on the emotional roller-coaster of the ending for a week or so—that’s transition.*

I sat with my preceptor on Wednesday and said, “I am still here and I already miss being here.”

Do you ever have those feelings? You’re still in the experience and yet mourning its end?

And then in class last night, I also welcomed the change of pace that will occur as soon as I am done, as it’s been just about 35 hours a week of placement, classes, readings, and papers—in addition to my everyday work that I also love, and making time for family, friends, and self-care.

The true dichotomy of wanting to continue the experience and also the sense of peace (and relief) that settles in when a “chapter” is complete… 

Have you had experiences and feelings that are similar?

What is it about certain experiences that makes them qualitatively different?

Happily, in my class, I was assigned the last slot of the semester for the delivery of my presentation/“Didactic & Dialogue.” I took the opportunity to tell the story of my lived experience over the months in pictures and words…what I learned about myself, people as individuals and in relationships, life, death, pain, suffering, happiness, connection, power, self-care, silence, the systems within which I was working (hospital, department, university, and class/group), and more. It felt big. It was big.

While I do a lot of reflecting on my learning and life through drawing my thoughts, wonderings, opinions, and plans, I don’t often do so religiously. Over the course of 16 weeks, I filled a notebook and then culled over 100 ideas that I want to explore more deeply. I’ve started creating diary comics to further process and then share my musings…  I think I will discover even more through this process and perhaps it will become a graphic memoir. 

This finite timeframe certainly made it easier for me to capture the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of this great adventure though I am taking with me a newfound love of creating containers around experiences and finding simple ways to memorialize them.

I’d love to hear the ways in which you choose to capture aspects of your life and how you carve out time and space to reflect upon your journaling, drawing, artwork, or… I hope to hear from you!

 

*My favorite resource on this topic is Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.