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Who are the people that have influenced you?

As I pondered the question of who has influenced me over the years, I kept the scope of my thinking rather small, focusing only on people who influenced my work as visual practitioner. And so, I drafted a chronology of influencers and then started to think of a metaphor and some way to indicate time. I left the question of impact at bay… (Perhaps the only reason to walk down that path is to get really clear about what I learned from each of them, gained from the experience(s), and write a note of thanks. That is a task for another time.)

As I stepped back from the page I drafted, I realized that I would never have gotten to the point of even looking for these people if I hadn’t had another foundation to spring from. And so I created another timeline.

I started to think of where I went to college and the two grad schools I attended… and I could track my growth in knowledge and skills. From there, it was a small step to realizing that all the training that I’ve done outside of a traditional academic environment also contributes to who I am today. With that in mind,  and I added my training with Points of You, EFT/Emotional Freedom Techniques, Breathwork, Nonviolent Communication, and Appreciative Inquiry—creating a  second layer of my map. I was playing with paper and pencil, so it became another sheet of paper though I will shift to my iPad and Procreate to be able to make the layers… this is starting to feel like stratigraphy—the science of strata or layers of rock. While I feel the layering aspect is an accurate reflection of my learning and doing over the years, the vision of sedimentary rock is not one that resonates with me… I envision more of the creation of a planet with a core or a journey over hill and dale or even an underwater world… the essence of each of these ideas is quite different for me.

As I was walking Gus this morning, (always a good time for reflection), I realized that it would be interesting to add a layer about my work experiences, as of course, they have changed me too. So perhaps I will add another layer in the coming weeks and, most importantly, think deeply about these varied influences because they are far more subtle and are often not consciously realized without such reflection.

So, I’m thinking that if you know me, even just a wee bit, you know that my strength of creativity has gotten in the way and I have not finished my map—because I have added more layers and complexity! How lucky that I won’t be speaking with the I/O Psych grad students from Baruch University until next week!

Discovery, Learning & Fun—Mapmaking!

What’s your thinking about maps? Do you love them (the paper, how they fold up, the colors), hate them (they’re paper, they fold up, the print is tiny), maybe make them yourself?

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a map lover from a very young age. I’ve always relished playing with the folding maps and pored over them when traveling in Europe as a teenager. I still love paper maps even though these days they feel unwieldy and inefficient at times. Perhaps I feel so at home with them because I’m a big picture thinker and when I can see everything at once I can understand how all the pieces fit together… where things are in relation to each other. Just this past weekend we went to upper state NY. (And, no, Dutchess and Columbia counties are not “upstate” NY, no matter what folks from the five boroughs tell you!) We wanted to visit small towns, walk in forests—and essentially have an understanding of what was where… Hence the need for a paper map—I was in heaven!

Yesterday, I attended a Creative Mornings Field Trip—Anne Ditmeyer’s, Make a Map re-entry Edition. Oh my gosh, it was such fun! I don’t often take time out for Field Trips, as they’re during the workweek but since I delivered one last year, and will be delivering another one on May 13th, I wanted to support the work of others who are volunteering their time to share their expertise.

The prompt was, “Your morning commute.”

I went a little “off script”…

and chose a trip

I had hoped to make last year.

In 60 minutes, we made three different maps. Each one of them was completely different — in subject matter and materials used! I have to say that I have NEVER drawn a map on a piece of fruit—though I have taught folks how to tangle (draw Zentangle patterns) on gourds. It was challenging — and a delight!

 

My map of a recent fun adventure—drawn on a paper towel—was a super cool experience! The texture of the towel and the freedom to just play and experiment was joyful.

Our last map was about imagining a future world we want to live in… with some additional prompts, I started to create a “map” of my place to be… (which is a work in progress).

Plorking Becomes New Inspiration

The experience left me ready to dig into maps all over again.  As I pondered how to get back into my practice of mapmaking, I thought not only of the books lingering in my bookcase but also of my creations tucked into nooks and crannies in the house. Here are a few examples from the past few years…

A map of my heart

From a journal swap about maps!

ZIA/Zentangle Inspired Art of the island of Tasmania!

These were prompted by examples from, Map Art Lab by Jill K. Berry and Linden McNelly.

Anne Ditmeyer mentioned, www.handmaps.org and From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association by Kris Harzinski And I poked around a bit online too and am interested in You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katharine Harmon.

My Next Map

I started to think about the I/O (Industrial/Organization) Psych grad students from Baruch College that I would be speaking to within a couple of weeks. Since our focus will be life after grad school I am thinking that a map of my influences—how I got to where I am—might be interesting for them.  I started drafting my ideas map and I have to say it’s not ready yet! I’ve identified my influences but I haven’t picked a plan or a format for sharing my journey. I can’t wait to share with you and with them next week!

What are you noticing in your life right now?

What are you noticing these days about yourself, your colleagues, and your clients?

I’ve noticed in my coaching practice, that some of my clients are working differently than before.

In my practice, I’ve always been the gal that begins working with folks starting with their history and foundation, their strengths, and past successes. We explore and dream about what they want and then design possibilities for experimentation and growth. My process is to help clients move toward creative, solution-based outcomes, in which they are the agents of their own change.

What I’m seeing is that some of my clients are taking smaller steps on their journey.

I wonder about that. Perhaps it’s coming from mental fatigue, competing priorities, concerns about achieving their goals, or … I’m sure the answer is different for different folks. I don’t think that I even need to learn the answers as my role is to listen to their experiences and ask the questions to explore the possibilities they imagine for their futures. And, of course, there are so many paths to achieving one’s goals… enjoying the journey—with its achievements, challenges, failures, and learning—is one of my criteria of success.

What about you—how are you feeling?

As you make time to reflect on your thoughts and actions, what do you notice? I know that we don’t exist in a vacuum. I definitely feel the ebb and flow of connection with the world outside me: work and communication (both professional and personal). I also feel the effects on how I choose to spend my precious time… I crave more art/creativity and silence.

Last week, I wrote about feelings also… Here’s a visual, by Abby Vanmuijen, that’s so appealing to me, . You may want to check out her site too.

What are your thoughts about how you’re doing—and that question comes from a place of curiosity  (not judgment)—looking at the subject like it’s a gem, exploring its facets.

I want to hear how you’re doing… Drop me a line or make a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

We’re more than our minds—Handling our feelings (gasp!)

When’s the last time you felt (out of the ordinary) nervous or anxious?

I had that experience just last week.

I was meeting with my lawyer to prepare for giving a deposition. (Long story short, I have a lawsuit against two companies.) I’ve never given a deposition before. As I learned throughout the process, though I might have guessed it from watching a bit of television, it’s not exactly like having a conversation. It’s not a comfortable back and forth, it’s more about being short and to the point, just answering the question that is being asked. Those of you that know me, know that I am a bit of a chatty person. While I am task-oriented, I do love to share details that make the conversation more full and interesting. In this instance, my focus needed to be laser-like (did I understand the question, was I using the correct language to convey my thoughts), and my answers had to be brief.

Before even thinking about the struggle to get into that rhythm, I needed to manage my nerves. Even hearing myself talking about being nervous was new and different for me. That’s not to say don’t get nervous, I absolutely do, and can feel it in my body, but I just don’t talk about it much.

What about you? When’s the last time you were feeling anxious or nervous?

In 2015, I studied breathwork with Drs. Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg. It was another resource in my repertoire for working with my coaching clients. I became certified in their technique, using it not only with my coaching clients but also as part of the self-care program that I brought to Tasmania in partnership with my colleague Julia Curtis.

In learning the breathwork methodology, I started doing “body scans” of myself. In my practice, and in centers across Tasmania, I taught others the same skill. My training (and ongoing practice over the years) served me well last week when I needed to discover more about how I was feeling, locating tension in my body, and then working to calm my nerves through breath work and tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

What’s your process for discovering how you’re feeling?

Perhaps my question sounds unusual though in my work I have found that many people do not know how they feel. They know how they think, up in their minds, yet they don’t easily locate their feelings in their bodies—joy, happiness, contentment, worry, frustration, anger, surprise. (There’s great information available to learn more about these areas. Let me know if you’re interested in the resources.)

Once you’ve discovered your answers about how you’re feeling, how do you support and care for yourself?

I found, that in this nerve-jangling experience,

  • maintaining my awareness of my internal state and working with it,
  • getting congratulatory and constructive feedback from my lawyer as we practiced my testimony, and
  • seeing myself on Zoom—regulating my appearance and demeanor

left me tired and yet generally pleased with my performance.

I also credit my extensive work in Nonviolent Communication with being able to discern my emotional state, to put labels, and assign meaning to my feelings so that I choose how to work with them as opposed to them “running” me.

If you’re curious about breathwork (and the science behind it), I’d suggest Drs. Brown & Gerbarg’s book, Breath, Body, Mind. It’s an easy-to-learn process and always available for our use.

If you’re interested in gaining some of these skills, breathwork, and EFT or perhaps shifting to an appreciative perspective on your life and the world, I hope you’ll be in touch. I coach individuals in all of these areas and use all of them myself.

How do you learn best?

How have you discovered the answer to my question over your years in educational systems and in training programs?

I find that I am most aware of how I learn best when I am in a situation that doesn’t meet my needs.

What about you?

When is the last time you had a stellar learning experience? What made it great? I find that when the design and delivery of the materials are masterful it can be difficult to say why, because everything comes together so beautifully.

When is the last time you had a challenging, difficult, or awful learning experience? What made it so?

THE CONTEXT

So… I feel compelled to share just a wee bit about my background and how I come to the thoughts I am sharing… It is my effort to share my lens for viewing/experiencing training programs. If you know my background, skip the next paragraph and go straight to the story.

The short of it is:

  • I am a former teacher, principal, and administrator in special education settings in New York City.
  • My doctorate is in curriculum development and my passion is the creation of engaging, learner-centered learning experiences.
  • For me, teaching and training are all about knowledge AND skill acquisition—the ability to use/act upon what has been learned.

THE STORY

For just over a month I attended an online class on a subject which I had only a little knowledge about and yet a keen interest. I knew there was a lot to learn and I was excited.

The first session was almost impossible for me to understand. Even though it was an introductory course, people had varying degrees of experience. The trainer’s approach and materials were not sufficient to work with the varying levels in the group. The second session was marginally better, in that I reviewed videos and slides to gain more knowledge—though I still had only a little idea of how to put it all together to achieve the goals of the program. In my desire to learn what I had come for, I reached out to the trainer and shared, in a forward-looking conversation, information about how I could gain more from the class. Happily, she was very responsive and changed aspects of her style for the next class. I believe a sign of her realizing that folks were struggling was her offer to add one more class to the series… I appreciated that, as it took me until session three to feel like I understood most of what was being said. And, to be clear, understanding what is being said is not the same thing as being able to use the information to do the tasks we were learning.

MY CONCLUSIONS

With these thoughts in mind, and in my effort to focus on the positive—here’s a list of what I need as a learner—

I need:

  • a trainer who has explored her/his philosophy around learning and training, and then worked to develop programming that is all about delivering content in service of the learners/learning, i.e., more than a content expert
  • a course that is appropriate for my level of knowledge and experience (as advertised)
  • to know the elements/topic areas for the entire course to understand it best—I am a “global” learner needing an overview to create the framework in which I can place the details
  • a description of what I will learn/know and be able to do, i.e., the skill(s) I will have gained by the conclusion of the course
  • an agenda for each session in the course—just a few words about the content/subjects
  • use of techniques and materials that support my learning in an online environment—the skillful use of platforms to show materials, and development of print materials that are clear, consistent, well-organized, and provide accurate information
  • to practice with what I am learning—having some “scaffolding” for my learning. For example, in the course I was taking, what are good/some correct examples, what are examples with errors and can I find the errors and correct them, then when I do the work on my own, getting informative feedback about what I did correctly and where I have room to improve… useful feedback that is actionable, not just cheerleading, “You’re doing great!”
  • an opportunity to ask questions as I am learning, not waiting until the end of a session or at the beginning of the next session
  • honesty—in some instances, “there are no wrong answers” is true. In this course, it was not, yet in an effort to encourage us to participate we were told… an untruth
  • a trainer who is aware of what’s happening in the “room” and able to adjust to the dynamics
  • requests for feedback about how participants are doing in their learning and how they are feeling about it… and the time and willingness to listen to it, at the conclusion of every session.

What do you need? How do you do your best to ensure that you get what you need?

I’d love to hear your answers!