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Creating Greater Connection with More Time… Part 2

In seeking to mine for more gold from my various recent experiences with Deep Dive into You (with my colleague/buddy Heather Martinez), the Agile MeetUp groups, the audiences in my Zentangle classes, and a recent meeting with colleagues, I am drawn to thinking more about time, environment, and connection.

Sebene Selassie’s book, You Belong, is also top of mind for me. She writes about reclaiming connection. I wonder about the dynamics of connection/feelings of belonging and their impact on people’s experiences. There are so many ideas and practices in her book that I want to reflect on further and experiment with in my sessions.

In reading, Say What You Mean, Jay Oren Sofer’s book, I am also reminded to create the time and mental space for myself to consider Relational Awareness. It’s “the capacity to include both you and me, the external and the internal, balancing our attention in a dynamic way.” (p. 50)

  • How can I create (and model) more relational awareness?
  • How will I help participants gain greater awareness too?

I believe that knowing and planning for each of these factors alone,

  • time
  • connection
  • audience members relationship with each other
  • setting/occasion

is insufficient. Having two of these variables, or even three working in concert doesn’t “guarantee” a great experience… the more I think about it, having great information about all of them doesn’t promise a stellar experience either. The variables of structure, content, and processes —the design of the experience—and the facilitator’s skills—need to be added to the mix. In my experience, the folks that work effectively with all the ingredients of the recipe, to create the alchemy, are few and far between. There are plenty of folks who can manage one, two, or three aspects of the experience… it’s just not enought.

What’s your experience?

When you connect with your heart and your mind, and reflect on your most meaningful experiences in groups, as the facilitator or as a participant, what are variables matter most? What is your recipe for spectacular deliveries? I’d love to hear about it!

Finding fun and challenging ways to relax and connect with myself and people in my world

This is how it began…

Hello! Jill Greenbaum here from Airmont, NY. I’ll be making quilted postcards. I have a fabulous stash and love to write—and receive—postcards and letters from folks. Super excited to make a practice of sitting down at the sewing machine every day!

In fact, I started doing the 100 Day Project back in 2017. This is going to be my fourth year participating and I am jazzed!

Do you know about this event? It is super cool AND a real challenge!

The key for me is to engage in my project every day—it’s about consistent participation rather than the amount of time I devote each day.

In the past, I’ve chosen to burnish my Zentangle skills, and by the third week of the challenge, I am UNHAPPY with my decision. I always push myself to try a new pattern every day—and it takes more than 10-15 minutes to do good work so I feel overextended because I want to do well not just dabble… and not spend my entire evening tangling. I need conscious and consistent practice in bigger blocks of time to explore more complex designs…  I have learned that it is NOT a task for me to do for 100 days.

As I noodled around the 100 day project site, I found an interesting idea, quilted postcards! I love making art quilts and have a serious stash of fabric. This seemed like the perfect choice—a small, very do-able project, playing with my beautiful fabrics, and reducing my stash!

Long story short, I have learned a few things in just the four days since this year’s project started.

Having:

  • fabulous materials is a start—though organizing them in some way is critical to avoid being pulled into the vortex of colors
  • a plan for the design each is critical—it is easy to become overwhelmed with possibilities
  • a flexible idea as to the desired outcome enables adjustments without upset—while I, conceptually, love a paper backing for writing to folks easily,  I don’t like the feel of it against the quilting.

So, if we move beyond the obvious learning from the actual work with fabric, batting, interfacing, pens for writing on fabric, etc. there are bigger lessons here…

I have learned again that I love…

  • engaging in a challenge that stretches me yet does not overwhelm me
  • having a clear focus
  • consistency/doing a task that has elements of fun and “new-ness” every day
  • getting into a pattern (hahaha) of working so that I feel I am using my time effectively and efficiently
  • being part of something larger (#100dayproject/posting my work to instagram)
  • to learn more about how I learn best
  • that I can walk away from something I don’t (yet) love and say to myself, “I’ll look at this again tomorrow… I might just feel differently about it then!”

Truth be told, I have only completed one quilted postcard so far. I have two more quilt tops sewn and a third in the design stage. I feel good about starting off my 100 days strong. I can’t wait until I have more cards done so I can begin to send them out to people. Who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten, and in this case, also hand-sewn postcard?

I imagine that I’ll make close to 40 of these darlings over the 100 days. Let me know if you’d like to receive one, I’d be happy to send one your way, just be sure to email me with your land address!

Food for Thought on a Friday Afternoon

When’s the last time you declared who you are to the world?

This question of vision, mission, values, capability, and capacity came up for me just this week. I have become a member of a small group of women who are seeking to explore and discover, ways to meet some of the needs of particular underserved populations.

We are graphic recorders, authors, illustrators, facilitators, and educators with the passion and skills

for helping those facing end of life issues through making visible their thoughts and words as they face death.

The Back Story

Long and delightful story short, we have found our way over the past few months to sharing who we are, how we come to the subject matter, and the project that we are co-creating (with what questions, interests, and skills). We are learning about each other and imagining how we can each contribute to creating a more multi-faceted endeavor. Last week we realized that it was time to craft a manifesto/vision/mission statement to share with the world, or perhaps a little less grandly, with colleagues and new contacts, potential partners, and funders to help them understand what we’re doing and why.

When have you recently paused to reflect on who you are and what you stand for personally and/or professionally? If someone asked you about your values and why you’re doing what you’re doing in your life, how easy would it be to share your thoughts?

Several years ago I created a simple process —PRISM—for writing a manifesto, to support my coaching clients (parents) in getting clear about themselves and who they wanted to be in relation to their children. I had written a manifesto for myself, about who I wanted to be in the world, and I had written another about the parent I wanted to be… These creations were both based on who I was at the time and were aspirational.*

PRISM

Pause

to create the time/space in your schedule and environment so that it becomes easy to do this work and play

Reflect

on questions that resonate for you at this time (and find sources to help you do so)

(Who do you want to be? What are your values and how do you live them? What are your hopes, dreams, and priorities? What aren’t you addressing because it’s not comfortable, and how will you do that? What will stretch you?)

Imagine

all the possible answers to your questions and how you want to capture them (sticky notes, narrative form, drawings or…) so they are at your fingertips

Select

the constellation of ideas and desires that inspires you to commit and act

Manifest

your vision of yourself by making time to plan for the transformation you desire.

We began our meeting this week with an appreciative eye toward what we enjoy about our plorking (play and working) together. Everyone’s answer to the check-in question was uplifting and strengthened our foundation.

The language and imagery we used to describe our best experiences crafting such statements were exciting, generative, and surprisingly similar. When we shifted to our wishes for what we saw ourselves doing together and the content of the manifesto/vision statement, we saw many different possibilities.

Our next step, on our own, will be to visualize and share our ideas for our manifesto—what will it say about us and what we want to do in the world? I can’t wait to find out!

Finally, we will draft our manifesto.

 

* If you would like a copy of the ebook I created for manifesto writing, let me know and I’ll send one your way!

Life Lessons —Learned from Flower Arranging

In arranging flowers earlier this week, I found surprising parallels to endeavors in life!

Have a vision

Bring your tools

  • scissors, vase(s)

Be open to the reality of materials at hand

  • be flexible

Cut as necessary

  • length of stems to create bouquet

Choose

  • use everything in one arrangement or making several

Manage frustration when challenges arise

  • no leafiness/fullness, imperfect blooms, having to switch vases after initial dissatisfaction

Think about next time

  • learn/remember that different flowers require different resources/vase, materials/greenery/baby’s breath

Be resourceful

  • consider greenery from the backyard

Tap into ability to sit with disappointment

  • not realizing initial vision and to shift to contentment in the present

Know when to walk away

  • Re-encounter/look at the arrangement with fresh eyes the next day

Clean up the debris of the creative process

  • Sweep away the cut stems and leaves

 

Ulitmately, I liked it—even in it’s difference from my expectation…

Enabling Folks to See What They Haven’t Yet Imagined…

The Setting: Meeting this Week

Earlier in the week, I bumped up against some folks’ inability to envision something that was outside of their experience…  And, their subsequent thoughts that it couldn’t be done. I had hoped for their considering the opportunity with curiosity and possibility.

What do you do when you are suddenly, and surprisingly, faced with folks who are not (hopefully, not yet) on the same page as you?

It took me about half a minute to tap into my strength of creativity and swing into a different frame of mind.

I understand that if people aren’t able to envision something because it’s unfamiliar or outside their experience, they often shut down and say “No.” Realizing this reality, I made every effort to approach their questions with enthusiasm.  I needed to create a context in which they could begin to understand the thing that they didn’t know… I started to share stories of how creating a visualizing exercise for a group of almost 100 participants over Zoom had been achieved with a variety of groups to great success.

What’s your approach to introducing new and different ideas to people? How do you help people step into understanding the experience that you have had and what you can provide? How do you prepare to create a context for people and plan to meet their needs, doubts, and questions? What kinds of evidence are you sharing—is it both thinking- and feeling-oriented?

I have to say I was surprised by people’s reactions. And, I felt the pressure of the time allocated to the conversation weighing on me. If time had permitted it would have been so much more fun and engaging to demonstrate the experience by having them engage in the activity I was suggesting, and then discuss how I scale it to larger groups.

Suffice to say that the information I provided, the real world and congruent examples, and my passion and history with the group enabled us to move forward with the initiative. This is a lesson that I don’t usually have to learn and yet it’s a good reminder:  when called, or moved, to step up and share a new idea, to be ready to be open, understanding, and able to take others’ perspectives to enable them to envision, and truly understand, your idea, concept or practice.

I realize that to enable people to grasp something new and different does not always lead to acceptance of the idea. In this instance, we moved forward with the initiative I suggested—what a happy ending!