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Just a few ideas about finding and maintaining equanimity…

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US…

How are you taking good care of your mental well-being?

While it’s always been important, the past few years have highlighted the need for giving consistent attention to our own self-care. The direction to, “Put on your oxygen mask first” is critical for us and all those around us. (I don’t even need to draw that visual right?) If we do not take care of ourselves we cannot work with the challenges in our own lives, much less care for and help others. 

In the early summer of 2013, I discovered Zentangle during my search for resources for high school students engaged in the college admissions process. My coaching clients wanted and needed tools to support them in moving through their feelings of anxiousness, confusion, and overwhelm. I wanted to provide methods that would help them feel agency in their lives— something they could do on their own, developing their confidence, giving them pleasure, and engaging their creativity.

The Zentangle Method is a way to find calm and focus using simple steps and basic strokes to create beautiful designs. 

In November of 2013, I became a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Since then I have taught over a thousand students around the world — in Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, Singapore, South America, and the United States, in person and online (even before the pandemic). It is a practice that brings me, and my students joy, and nurtures relaxation.

What do you do that nurtures your well-being?

Okay, maybe walking and resting…

There are so many possibilities! I love the idea of a vacation—really getting away from the daily routine. And yet what supports me consistently is the small actions I take on a daily basis.  Enjoying a cup of coffee and reading for 20 minutes or so before walking Gus in the early morning, making art of some kind—tangling, watercolor, painting with acrylics. Getting out and walking a mile every day, in all kinds of weather, or working with crafts—knitting, quilting or slow stitching. And, there are those weekly “musts” of connecting with friends around the world over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to find equanimity. I hope you will share your methods and resources with me.

 Just in case you want to try your hand at tangling…

On June 16th, you can discover the joy of Zentangle (or take your tangling skills to the next level) in my free session. Bring a friend to support you in continuing to tangle after our class together!

Learn to tangle!

Begin the journey by exploring the roots of this art and the steps to follow to draw your own beautiful patterns. In the very first class, working with creamy white tiles, a black Micron pen, pencil, and a tortillon/smudger*, you will learn how to create your own beautiful Zentangle tiles and leave with a hunger to learn even more!

6.14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST/6 pm MST/5 pm PST

Register here.

*When you register you will receive information about the Zentangle materials to have on hand. I also provide a list of alternate materials that everyone has around the house. 

I hope you will join me!

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. 

Envisioning the future through reflecting on my past … which is not to say that past is prologue!

Imagine me running full tilt toward the finish line… that’s how I felt on Tuesday—it’s a vision, right?

I was meeting with the students from the Baruch College Industrial and Organizational Psychology program (MSIO). My mission was to share information about talent development as a field, ATDNYC in particular (as the VP of membership), and address their questions about what the future might hold… i.e., “What if I want to switch fields now that I’ve just graduated?” “How do I narrow my focus, as I love all areas of I/O?”

I had taken on the task of creating a visual of my influences on my path as a visual practitioner. Then, I realized that I had to recognize my foundation—how I even started to think of becoming a visual practitioner—and believed that this information was even more important to the MSIO students. I created a visual of my academic background and training experiences and the key influences in each program.

Of course, I had all kinds of thoughts about the background—literal, metaphorical—and with the clock ticking (my strength of creativity getting in the way again!), I went with a simple yellow/golden pathway… reminiscent of the yellow brick road.

I have plans for the second path or stream, which will intertwine with what I have created already. It will be my journey as a visual practitioner. A third path is brewing in my mind, thanks to my buddy Julia Curtis. I am going to share an abridged list of places of work and my consulting clients to highlight the impact of my education and training. This is more complexity of design than I usually work with… and I both am enjoying it and feel challenged by it.

Over the next few weeks, I will share the ongoing process of creating this multi-path vision, which is beginning to feel like a 3-D drawing…

I hope that you will see this as an opportunity not so much to learn about me but rather an opportunity to ask the same questions of yourself and create your own answers… visually or in writing, perhaps collage. It’s the content that matters—choose a medium that calls to you. I hope you will share your creation with me!

PS: Since the event, several students have been in touch and spoken with me about the power of sharing the visual and my story to help them see possibilities for their futures. Understanding the variety of resources at their fingertips (ATD NYC and other organizations) also made them feel more relaxed and hopeful about receiving the support they want and need.

How do you feel about relaxing, focusing more easily, and having fun?

What is this thing called Zentangle?

Just last week I was sharing my love of Zentangle—a meditative art—with members of the IAF Visual Facilitation SIG. Toward the end of the session, we were talking about how relaxing and fun it was to create such beautiful designs  and I was asked, “So how would you use this in a work setting?” I live for such questions—as applicability is my jam!

So we chatted about it—and I shared a laundry list of ways. Here are a few:

* Enhancing team cohesion—focusing on how, when learning new tangles together, we use the same tools, “string” (spaces within which we work), and tangles (patterns) and our work is both similar and different. It’s a perfect place to begin conversations about how we work together as a team, to recognize areas of commonality and diversity, i.e., we have common goals, similar and different skills, approaches, communication styles, personalities, etc.

 

* making the time to explore how this method engages our minds and bodies simultaneously – creating whole body/embodied experiences.

*diving into new tangles, new combinations of patterns, and re-visiting old/well-known patterns in new ways provides us with fresh, stimulating experiences, challenging us to remain focused, in the moment, experimental.

* wrestling with our inner critic—because sometimes we can’t easily leave that little devil at the door! Learning to breathe through the mistakes we make—because we’re human and we will make mistakes—and continuing to move forward. (Notice that there’s no eraser on a Zentangle pencil!)

* living the philosophy which permeates the Zentangle method. Here are just a few of the ideas I share with folks

* learning to step away and return to our work refreshed. I tangle at night and there are times I don’t love my work as I put it away… when I see it the next morning I am always happier… perhaps it’s because my inner critic got a good night’s sleep!

* slowing down and taking multiple perspectives—feeling the beauty and surprises in seeing our work from different angles—just by rotating the tiles… and carrying the skills of pausing, becoming open to possibilities, and shifting perspectives into our work and personal lives.

* actively supporting people’s taking care of themselves—making time, from five minutes to a lunch hour —for stepping away from work and the ever-present screen, to become absorbed in the delight and the challenge of using simple tools to create beautiful patterns… emerging from the experience refreshed.

* encouraging thinking in new and different ways—not only when we approach a new tile, but also in the media that can be used… look here to see many of my “off the tile” creations—on sneakers, mugs, jewelry, pencil cases… and in instances where I engage in ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) most often for fundraisers/causes I support and gifts for family and friends. How can we look beyond the ways we have previously engaged in processes and developed products to literally change the foundation from which we work. (I feel a parallel here to Ben Zander’s ideas in The Art of Possibility, about changing the table on which the game is played. (If you don’t know the book, check it out, it’s one of my favorites!)

While it’s clear that I am passionate about the Zentangle method and tangling, I haven’t shared the most important element to me. When I teach folks to tangle they see themselves in new ways—in an hour’s time! My heart sings when people say at the end of our session, “I am an artist!”

Are you ready to tangle? Join me for Relax, focus, and have fun with Zentangle on Thursday, May 13th for my Creative Mornings Field Trip, learn more and register here!