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Making Time to Be Here Now

As I sit down to write this week, I am filled with swirling thoughts and emotions. While I want to share my ideas and questions around my work, to connect with you and be of service, I am also keenly aware of the heaviness in my heart.

I love to focus on what brings me joy and areas that challenge me in my work yet I need to honor this moment in time. I am not just my work. Even when I am working, I bring all of me to everything I do. So I am going to pause now because it feels right.

Perhaps sharing some of the resources that I use to be in-the-moment/present to challenging times, and finding my way through, to tap into the strength to make change—personally, interpersonally, and societally—will be of interest and support to you. Here are some of my tried-and-true, and also a few newer-to-me gems.

Books

  • The Healing Power of the Breath, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg
  • The Joy of Appreciative Living, Jacqueline Kelm
  • Dynamic Relationships, Jacqueline Stavros & Cheri Torres
  • A Fearless Heart, Thupten Jinpa
  • Radical Compassion, Tara Brach
  • Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg
  • Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman

Magazine and Sites

More Resources

I also use these tools in my work and personal life:

  • Points of You card decks:  The Coaching Game and Punctum—for reflection and insight
  • www.zentangle.com—for peace, calm, joy, beauty

 

It’s my hope that you will add your favorites—books, sites, podcasts (I didn’t even go there!), card decks, and more— so that I may expand my cache of resources. 

If you are curious about any of these resources, please contact me. I am passionate about their impact on my life.


Relief, delight, spaciousness, agency—these are the feelings I experience…

when I look at my calendar this morning. No appointments, calls, or video chats, no classes or deadlines for today! While there’s lots to be done, I am the designer of my day—and I LOVE it! Sure, we all have (varying degrees) of opportunity to shape our days—this one is bliss for me, as I am feeling overstuffed of late. The chance to plan, prepare, and dive into my projects is exhilarating.

What about you? How are you feeling about your days (and evenings)? Have you figured out how to ride the waves of work, opportunity, and connection — both professional and personal?

It’s possible that I’m more in tune with appreciating this unusual circumstance because I am in the middle of taking the course, Developing an Appreciative Mindset offered by the David Cooperrider Institute, and reading, The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm. I am quite consistently conscious of making the time to imagine, reflect upon, and note/journal about what I am grateful for, what will bring me joy, and developing an appreciative eye. This work takes me back to my life-changing experience in Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching program, in 2004. His book, Authentic Happiness, and the work in the program made many of the practices integral to both my professional and personal lives. 

What do you know about your strengths? How are you leveraging them during this topsy-turvy time? If you haven’t taken the Strengths survey at The VIA Character Institute, I can’t say enough great things about it! It’s free, requires maybe 15 minutes of your time, and yields valuable and actionable information—even if it just confirms your thinking! It’s what you do with the results that can make a huge difference in your life.

I noticed that my results had changed just a wee bit since 2004…

My strengths—now and then!

A snippet from Our Family Tree of Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the EuViz 2014 Conference in Berlin, Understanding the Light and Dark Sides of Our Strengths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years, in my consulting, training, and volunteer board work, I have used the survey results to help people nurture greater understanding of themselves and others, to leverage strengths of teams.

The strengths survey results of the 2014 IFVP board members.

 

The strengths survey results of NPower interns

What would be possible for you, if you were to consciously and consistently, use your strengths? Can you imagine it?

I LOVE these kinds of conversations! If you take the survey and want to chat about your results—and how to work with them in your life, let’s do it! All my coaching clients complete and reflect on the survey results before we start our formal work together. Click here to join me for a complimentary coaching session.

Visual Note-Making—My Newest Self-Reflection Tool!

I came to the realization slowly… after I had written and drawn all my thoughts. The ideas, questions, concerns, and feelings of frustration, curiosity, and uncertainty were still fresh for me. Once I stepped back from my drawing and realized that I was using it as a reflection and self-coaching tool, I had to chuckle!

Templates, creating vision maps (hand-drawn, as different from visions boards {though I do that too and LOVE it}), and capturing coaching client sessions by graphically recording them (for my notes of the experience) are all in my wheelhouse… but I had never done this before. Sure, I used mindmaps and other visuals to plan or capture, but this was different. This literally helped me see my thinking and feelings, enabling me to have great clarity about my personal experience in a meeting and to begin to determine if I wanted to continue being a part of the group for future meetings. It was AWESOME! I do this all the time with clients and had NEVER done it for myself. How crazy is that?!

I want to know—do you use your visual practitioner skills for yourself? As you can tell, I am not talking about using visuals for visioning or planning or creating agendas (all great uses of our skills) instead I mean using thinking and drawing as a reflection tool?

When I got over the shock of realizing I had used my favorite tool on myself, I remember that for about three months, many years ago, instead of journaling about my days, I drew mindmaps of my days. It was super fun and fast… Alas, because I did it close to bedtime, the habit didn’t last that long… I am a morning gal and sometimes fall asleep with a coffee cup in my hand.

In practice, journaling spanning my years and experiences…

In thinking more about this, because I am excited to do more of it, I’m reminded of one of my tasks in my current coursework on Appreciative Inquiry from the David Cooperrider Institute. We just read about the importance of journaling in a Forbes article.

I have many journals, spanning from my teen years to college and graduate school requirements for my teaching credentials.

As a Points of You trainer, I journal all the time about the cards and spreads I work with from the deck.

I’m also reminded of a coaching session that I did with my colleague, Erin Randall. She was the impetus for me starting very successful bikablo programming in Austin, Texas. In the coaching session, she asked me to draw what I was thinking—and it was HARD! I was unclear about my own thinking and that made representing it particularly challenging. In the more recent instance, I’m writing about, it was so much easier because I had a jumble of thoughts, feeling, and needs that just need an avenue of expression.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in an effort to practice both my drawing skills and integrate more of nonviolent communication into my work, I have been capturing (through drawing/in single panel/comic format) moments between people that demonstrate or indicate their feelings and the needs behind them. I have quite the little collection of files cards with drawings… I see this as another form of journaling… though maybe I am stretching the word too far?

 

 

In essence, I am fired up again about the possibility of journaling using my visual practitioner skills—what fun!

How about you? Do you use your tools for yourself, your personal reflection? Please share if you do! If you want to chat about this, let’s do it!

What was the nature of your journey to your current position?

How did you get to where you are now? Was yours a rather straight path to your current work or were there bends in the road or interesting side trips that enriched your travel to your current destination?

Over the past few weeks, I‘ve been having conversations with folks from around the world about how I found my way to being a visual practitioner. People are curious as to the path I have taken… and I get it! How did I shift from teacher to instructional designer to principal to administrator to my current foci/passions for the roles of trainer, coach, facilitator, and visual practitioner? Was it boredom, dissatisfaction, wanderlust, or the lure of new horizons? For me, it was always about a new adventure in learning, sharing what I had learned, and a greater connection with colleagues.

To tell the truth, I have had friends chide me—saying they don’t understand what I do or that every time we see each other, I have a new area of interest to share with them. I believe that my friends do understand the pieces of my puzzle, just not why I choose to have so many pieces… To me, they are all aspects of an integrated whole… I am a multipassionate or multi-hyphen {Emma Gannon, The Multi-Hyphen Method}, believing that all I do has at least one touch-point with another area of interest and expertise.)

 

Where are you now? What are you thinking and feeling about your work life? Are you connected to your vision of who you want to be and your values? Which of these feelings describe your current experience?

Which of your needs, the ones that are critically important to you, are being met by your work?

  • What’s at your core—your vision of who you are in the world and how you live your values?
  • What’s your style—staying in your comfort zone, being at your learning edge, or both at different times of the year or dependent on your workload?
  • What interests/paths are open to you, given your knowledge, skills, and attitudes?

What is your capacity right now? Are you’re feeling the desire to step into something new? How do you create harmony between where you are and where you want to be (I do wonder if there is such a thing as “balance”)?

If now is not the time, then perhaps tuck away these questions for a time that is more auspicious for such deep thinking and conversation.

What juicy insights have you gained from reflecting on these questions and your own musings about your current circumstances? What conversations might we have that would bring you greater clarity and create more possibilities for you? I hope you will reach out to me—I’d love to connect!

How is your work being viewed and (possibly) used?

Do you have a sense of where in the world your work can be found and how it is being seen, understood, and, perhaps, used?

Just a few days ago, I woke up early, checked in on social media, and became emotionally involved with a post. Truth be told, I wrote a fairly thoughtful response to the visual and shared it, then I edited the post, shared my thoughts a second time, and edited it a second time, all within the space of less than five or six minutes. By the third posting, I took it down and replaced my (perhaps) critical thoughts (as in judgmental, not essential) with a “placeholder”— a short paragraph that essentially said that I was still caught up in getting clear about my swirling emotions and thoughts and that I would post when I was feeling more articulate about my reactions.

I have thought about that visual, my reactions, and now responses, for the past few days. The experience has led me to wonder about a few things—some are big picture musings and others are ideas that are specific to this incident.

  • How is our work (that of visual practitioners) out in the world/wild?
  • For whom are we creating…ourselves, others present with us in the experience (as graphic recorders, facilitators, or coaches)? Or, others who are not in the room yet will see and/or use, and therefore need to understand, the work?
  • What are the implications of the answers to those questions?

I saw this visual, without attribution or explanation on the Graphic Facilitation FB page. I can identify the person who originally posted it, though I do not know if it is his work.

Heres what I initially wrote on the GF FB page and “took back.”

“I find this piece to be of interest only as a starting point for a rich discussion about the language/labels chosen, the lack of fluidity/static nature of the categories, and the realities of our human conditions (plural) right now—as if anyone “identified” with being in just one place. (Sounds a wee bit angry about this conceptualization, no?)

I cannot find any depth of understanding or nuance in this particular delineation of aspects of our experiences. I walk away from it —both the visceral reaction to the actual visual/Venn diagram and (what appear to me like the judgments embedded in the design)—feeling frustrated, angry, and inspired to talk about both the content of this topic and the process of depicting it! Does this accurately represent our/people’s lived experiences?”

My experience took this path…

I am feeling a swirl of emotions and thoughts—anger, surprise, puzzlement, disbelief, disgust.

This piece feels static, without nuance, and judgmental… the language, the labels, is this reflecting real peoples’ lives?

How can I shift my thinking?

Can I become curious? Yes, I can!

Perhaps my reactions are actually a very good experience—in that I am feeling stimulated to think more deeply. I wonder

  • Where did this visual come from?/Who created it?
  • What is the context of its creation?
  • What is it based on/what’s the data and where did it come from?
  • What is this visual meant to convey?
  • Wouldn’t the diagram actually “go the other way” meaning that the biggest percentage be the largest circle? If that were the case then maybe I would see that a person could be in all three places simultaneously—or is that just my thinking and not meant to be implied?

Okay! Perhaps I have shared my concerns enough… It’s time to turn the spotlight on the big questions when creating visuals:

  • What assumptions is the visual practitioner working with?
  • What types of information are being shared (what are the sources, are we viewing facts, opinions, ideas, etc?)
  • What are the goals of the piece developed?
  • How do we discover the context for the works we see—what annotations might be developed?
  • How does seeing this piece without knowing who the creator is, or the context, intersect with conversations about use and copyright?

In my training programs, we discuss the breadth and depth of the field of visual practitioners. We also address the question of the audiences for whom the works are developed and how they will be used, in the present moment and/or the future. I believe that planning for, annotating, and curating our own work are critical steps in creating greater clarity in our field.

What do you think? What’s been your experience? Please tell me!