The Blank Page – So Exciting!

With just a few days distance from 2019, I can without hesitation, claim that it was a year of great opportunities, unexpected personal challenges, and ultimately, one of transformation.

What about you? Where did you begin the year? What hopes and dreams materialized as planned, what difficulties did you face, and what did you experience, learn, and accomplish?

My highlights were

  • sifting and sorting through all the types of work I have done through the years and landing in a new, more cohesive, place and space/site (
  • reviewing and reflecting upon my visual practitioner work, and creating a visual tour of the breadth and depth of my offerings as Bikablo trainer, graphic recorder, graphic facilitator and graphic coach to share with colleagues
  • basking in the glow of partnering with colleagues to create new offerings—Heather Martinez, for Bikablo + Lettering, and Julie Swanson and Stephanie Steigerwaldt to offer Bikablo trainings to professionals in the non-profit space through creative fundraising and a creative fee structure
  • learning alongside my Bikablo colleagues in both Cologne, Germany, in NYC and online—and being supported by the Bikablo team
  • stepping into new areas—Generative Scribing with Kelvy Bird online, Fast & Loose Sketching with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in-depth Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training with NYCNVC and the NVC Academy

I feel a sense of deep gratitude to my colleagues, family, and friends—they support me in my all endeavors.

As I envision the blank page of 2020—it appears to be a year full of promise! How are you feeling about it—hopeful, apprehensive, intrigued, curious, perplexed, eager, rejuvenated, in turmoil, full of longing, open—or a melange of feelings, both subtle and strong, positive and challenging?

I feel open, eager, and curious about the year that is unfolding! On New Year’s Eve I happened to choose the newest edition of Mindful magazine from my current stack of goodies by the couch. The current issue is all about self-care—one of my favorite topics and a core value. (I was presenting on the topic of self-care back in the ’90’s at conferences for crisis counselors working with survivors of sexual and domestic violence. We saw too much burn out in our staffs and volunteers, and I loved engaging colleagues in new ideas and practices.) On December 31st, I had a moment of clarity—the desire to engage, again, in delivering training and offering coaching around self-care.

I am beginning to feel the shape of 2020— more Bikablo training, incorporating new forms of drawing and lettering in my visual practice, deepening my coaching work around self-care (EFT, PTT, breath work and journaling), and writing/drawing zines about NVC .

How about you? What is alive for you now? What is worth carrying forward with you into the new year and what will be discarded? If you want to talk about it—I’m ready to listen!

Creating Stellar Experiences for Learning!

When is the last time you devoted your precious time, energy, and resources to attend a retreat, conference, or meeting? How’d it go for you? What did you learn along the way and in reflection after the event?

Earlier this month, I participated in a story-prototyping lab—Friday evening to Sunday evening—that’s a big commitment! It’s an aspect of my work that I enjoy yet it’s not central to what I do. I was intrigued with the opportunity to meet folks in different fields—film, graphic design, illustrators, cartoonists, advertising, marketing—and to use our collective skills to create an original visual narrative work. I also wanted to discover if there were synergies between the various fields and mine, and to sharpen my story-making skills with some well-known names in the field.

The way the event rolled out made me pause and reflect on all the conferences, meetings, and retreats I have attended this year. My musings ran far and wide! They included:

  • Are good intentions enough?
  • Does being respected in a field as a practitioner translate to running an event?
  • What does success look like for all who are involved—designers of the experience, hosts, participants?
  • Are the various parties involved (designers, hosts and participants) clear about the purpose, goals and objectives of the event?
  • Do participants hail from various fields with different ways of interacting? (I experienced that over the weekend—yikes!)
  • How do I suss out the implementation plans for the program in advance of signing up? Am I about to engage in a content-driven experience (a sea of slides with a few activities thrown in or be dazzled by a series of talking heads) in which the presentations are more important than my understanding and use of the material? Or, will I have to opportunity to digest the material and use it practically?
  • Do the hosts/facilitators/trainers now how to create a space for learning—a container with hosts and participants who understand that in gaining new knowledge, skills and attitudes, there will be disequilibrium, differing points of view, possibly conflict, and the need for respect and possibly collaboration?
  • What is the ebb and flow of learning throughout the event, regardless of the duration? (And, multi-day events require more planning.) Will participants have time to reflect and plan for integration of their learning and experiences?
  • If experts are a part of the design, how is their knowledge being leveraged? What guidance do they need to fulfill their roles successfully and what do learners need to make the best use of the resources available?

As I think about creating multi-day retreats at special destinations in 2020, I am integrating all that I’ve learned from the gatherings that I’ve attended this year. My vision of hosting is one of servant leadership—my goal is to craft experiences that put learners and learning first. I will

  • design and develop experiences with a clear purpose, goals, and objectives, using the lenses of the various stakeholders
  • ensure the usefulness of the content learned to the achievement of the tasks to be learned
  • offer and send materials about the content, activities, and logistics, with prework (with sufficient time for completion), in advance of the gatherings,
  • provide materials for note-making in the welcome materials/before people need them
  • introduce our time together by referencing the creation of a safe container for our work, with attention to checking in with how we are showing up in that moment, asking for people’s expectations, and feeling the energy in the room
  • create early and ongoing engagement in collaborative activities, even if the individuals involved don’t need to work as a team
  • use principles of human learning to guide our schedules so that we maintain our energy and can do our best work
  • be sensitive to the highs and the lows of true learning and nurture eustress—the positive, anticipation of engaging in exciting and appropriately challenging work

I am feeling the creation of a manifesto looming… I’ll share it in the new year!

What’s your thinking? In your perfect world, what would you create? I’d love to know!

Loving the Integration of Recent Adventures in PD!!

It’s been a whirlwind of experiences! The last three weeks have held:

  • the six day Fast and Loose Sketching Retreat with Christina Merkley and Rhoda Draws in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • the last of three NYCNVC (nonviolent communication) Integration Program retreats
  • and, a bikablo training at University of St. Thomas (as part of my bikablo + Lettering partnership with Heather Martinez)

I won’t lie, with all the work and play of the last three weeks, it’s been challenging to cleave to my goal of immediate application of my new knowledge and skills.

In each of my experiences, I was asked about my plan for/commitment to integration of my learning into my every day world of work(how nice to have that “assist” from all the trainers!). So, here’s how the post-immersion experiences have played out for me…

My Plan(s)

In seeking to up my game/practice my new fast and loose skills, I committed to posting a mask or a caricature a week to our What’s App group. We visited and drew masks at this fabulous mask museum, Another Face of Mexico in SMA and I was smitten! I bought the book—it’s wonderful! While I want to be drawing every day that’s not a commitment I am willing to make—as I want to make realistic promises that I can keep. I have been drawing about three days a week… it’s a start!

Though I was teaching bikablo in Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of taking Heather’s lettering class again—I CANNOT get enough of it! I love learning new aspects of lettering and the practice time—with feedback— is priceless! This time we worked/played a bit with the Fat One—and I now, finally, like (the lettering style)Neuland Hand! I had such fun, and gained confidence so that I am now making new headlines on my charts with minimal review of my notes and quite good results! I will continue on this happy adventure—as there is so much opportunity for me to practice lettering in my training, facilitating, and coaching work. Mmm, I will have to try Neuland Hand on the iPad, for making templates!


At the close of this last NVC retreat, I was struck by my need to feel well-grounded in the knowledge and skills that I had been developing. I devoted my energies to being present in the learning of concepts and practices through the discussions and real-plays… and while I took notes, they were too sketchy (no pun intended). While I had quite a bit of experience with, and observation of the methods over the more than 10 days of retreats, I was not feeling as close to being a “conscious competent” as I wanted to be… In our check out, I was struck by the idea of combining my loves of learning more deeply, teaching/sharing what I have learned, drawing, and writing. While I have shared my new project idea with perhaps two dozen people, I am keeping it under wraps for the time being. When I finish thinking through my mindmap of ideas, and make final decisions about goals, objectives, format/media, and timeline, I will share it with the world—for greater accountability!


And so, as we begin to think about year’s end, what professional development or personal growth work have you engaged in this year? How have you made your learning a part of your daily (weekly or monthly) experience? What can you celebrate about the processes you have created to support yourself? Are there aspects you would like to do differently? I’ve discovered that I have to feel excited about a project AND have a plan for implementation to enable me to commit to change with a light heart. How about you?

If you’re ready to commit to your goals and seek support in that process—let’s chat!