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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. 

If you’re the plant, what’s the sun, nutrients, and water?

There are so many changes possible in 2022 and yet there are some deeply challenging aspects from the past few years that remain.

With an eye on the present, and a desire to take good care of myself so that I can continue to grow and be of support to others, I’m focusing on what nurtures me. 

What’s nourishing you now?

Several times a week I turn to my Zentangle practice for the creativity and calm it provides me. For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with botanicals and last week I added color. 

I’m writing a few haiku almost every day (as part of a year-long program), as it really stretches me. Here’s one of my favorites:

Beauty of first snow

breathtaking and heart-stopping

Vanishes quickly

Meditation almost daily, and a silent retreat for part of this week, are both restful, a respite (from the cacophony of my life), and CHALLENGING.

My daily walks in the neighborhood and a local state park, and my standing desk keep me from feeling rooted in my chair and energize me.  

Happily, I’ve found a few groups of colleagues who stimulate and support me and I leave those meetings feeling inspired and connected. 

 

 

 

How are you growing yourself—whatever that looks like to you?  

What habits have you created? 

What is no longer serving you, that needs to be let go?

(And, just knowing that we need to leave that which holds us back, doesn’t make it easy to do.)

What dream do you have that will move you forward? How will you design the ease, growth, play, calm, or whatever it is that you desire? I’m guessing you know those answers if you make the time to ask and answer the questions and develop a plan. 

If having a sounding board or a partner to ask some of the questions and support you in the design of your own self-care package, please reach out to me. It is a delight and privilege to walk on the path/be a part of the journey with those who want to take good care of themselves and step into more of their dreams. 

New (and old) tools and resources

What’s new and/or different in your repertoire?

Last week, I started an online art course and learned not only new ideas and techniques but discovered tools I had never really used before (okay, a bit of dabbling in the past).

I have to say that I am smitten with Posca acrylic paint markers! They’re juicy, rich, thick-delightful! (It was my first time really working with acrylic markers… I have concluded (!) that I need more nibs of different sizes to enable me to color backgrounds more quickly AND get into tiny spaces.)

 

 

I started to reflect on tools I love and use consistently to make my work more fun (for me) appealing (to me and to others)!

What about you?

What’s new in you’re toolbox?

I swear by my fountain pen with PlatinumCarbon Ink Cartridges. The feel is so smooth and the ink seems to last FOREVER!

 

 

 

And, I was reminded yesterday of my “five-finger sketchpad” (h/t to Clark Strand, haiku editor for Tricycle magazine, for the reminder of how I use my fingers for counting syllables for my haiku every day).


What are the tools and resources you adore using?

What might increase your enjoyment of your daily work or special occasions? I’d love to know!