A step into a secondhand bookshop becomes a leap into reflection…

Two weeks ago we headed to the Berkshires for a long weekend that included stopping in nearly every secondhand bookstore in each of the little towns we visited. I happened to pick up a copy of Gay Hendricks, Five Wishes in Yellow House Books (what a gem of a place!). I admit it, I love books that encourage me to make time for deep self-reflection, planning, and application.

As I savored the central questions of the book, I thought of more questions and answers that supported digging deeply into the slim volume. (I feel that I can’t share Gay’s questions, as the total experience of reading the stories is essential to understanding and engaging in the processes.)

* H/T to Martin Haussmann’s original drawing

This drawing* feels like a fertile place for brainstorming then organizing my thoughts to harvest the answers to my preliminary questions that lead to the BIG questions and answers. (Mmm, that feels like a lot of process when written, though natural and seamless when lived.)

I’d like to ask you:

🌀 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 think these questions can be asked about our whole selves (who are we and how do we show up in all aspects of our lives) and/or the questions can inform our understanding of how we approach a project or a relationship. What do you think? Would grounding yourself, by thinking and feeling deeply and broadly better inform your day-to-day living/being? Have you developed a process for reflection that shifts to insight and action?

The visual I shared will become the initial space in which I gather my thoughts. I need to see EVERYTHING before moving forward into discovering how they come together—it feels like alchemy to me. I’ll share my work next week.

If you would like a copy of this visual (without the questions), contact me and I will send you a file. Of course, you may have a different metaphor or way of approaching this big, juicy endeavor. I’d love to hear from you… perhaps you will share your work too!

Will you join me? Let’s make a difference!

Discovering a way to contribute

For folks who know me, even just a teensy bit, you know that I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal.

These are trying times that we’re living in. It’s easy to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and more. I find that I am relying on my passion and deep-seated belief and practice of Appreciative Inquiry to support me day-to-day. I’m looking at the world with eyes wide open—seeing both the positive and the challenging, then choosing to focus my attention on where I can amplify the good, what’s working, inspires, and uplifts me. 

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, I wondered what I could do, as one person. Of course, I could donate money to a cause but I wanted to have more of an impact, to do something bigger. I was struck one day with the idea of creating a fundraiser in which I would donate my time and teach Zentangle, a meditative art form that brings people inner peace, calm, and focus. I spent this past Sunday creating a campaign, Tangling for Healing in Our Worlds. You can find it here. I hope you’ll join me in my goal to raise funds for the people of Ukraine through joining one of the Zentangle Inspired Art sessions or choosing one of the other goodies I have created. If you’re new to Zentangle Inspired Art, look here to learn more,

If Appreciative Inquiry is new to you, I hope you’ll join my session next Friday, March 25 for Drawify. I’ll be sharing the five core principles that will enable you to see the world and your place it in a different way. The impact of this work is truly amazing! You can register here for this free event! (And if you are new to Drawify, check it out here. Here’s a coupon for you to play for two months at the Hero level—free, no strings attached! Let me know what you think—let’s chat!

I also host Appreciative Living Learning Circles and have one beginning in April. Learn more about the circle here and reach out to me with any questions you may have.

Where do you find inspiration?

Where do you find your inspiration?

I am visual learner/experiencer—what I see usually has the biggest impact on me, as opposed to what I hear. More specifically, seeing art—paintings, drawings, photos—are what engages me most deeply and what I recall most readily.

Just the other week we went to the Joseph E. Yoakum exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I was mesmerized by his landscapes. The movement is palpable to me. His use of color is so different than mine—it’s arresting. Yoakum’s drawings and paintings remind me of the Zentangle patterns I so love. His work makes me want to incorporate more tangles/patterns into the drawing that I do. I’ve done a bit of that in my graphic recording but not much… I sense an opportunity to experiment. (If you’re curious about this delightful, meditative art form, join me for a free session. You can learn more here.)

While at the museum, I found a book on Yayoi Kusama‘s work. I love the intensity of the color she works with and the patterns she creates. I bought the book (I’d been looking at books about her work for quite a while and this moment felt right) and I am drawn in by the artwork and poetry. I want to learn more about her life.

What has inspired you lately?

To be honest, right now I’m just sitting with wonder and delight. Perhaps that’s because I’m in the midst of playing with watercolors and Posca acrylic markers, inspired by Catherine Taylor‘s work. I am making my way through her online course. I am continually amazed by how easily I slip into flow… time has no meaning when I am painting.


Then yesterday, I received a visual created by Drawify’s founder, Axelle Vanquaillie, that combined some of my drawings in a way I had never imagined. I was gobsmacked! I had never thought of composing those drawings in that way to convey the essence of a session I will be co-hosting at the end of the month! I was inspired by Axelle’s collage of my own drawings—for me, the key is her vision of what is possible with the different elements. (If you don’t know of Drawify, check it out! While you can start with a free account, I’m happy to share a gift —a coupon code, Drawify2MonthHeroJill,  for two months of free access to Drawify’s Hero level.)

Where is inspiration leading you?

Just yesterday, I signed up for more training as a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Nine years after my first training with the creators, Maria and Rick, and more than a thousand students later, I remain inspired by the possibilities of this meditative art form… I know that the four-day experience in the fall will be immersive and intense. I am looking forward to it with juicy anticipation. 

What challenges you and brings you joy or peace or calm or…

What is on your calendar that excites you?

In these very difficult times, how are you making sure to feed your soul so that you can rise to the occasions we are facing? In part, I replenish myself through making art. 

I’m wondering what inspires you, what feeds you, or if you are seeking Inspiration and maybe some support.  I am curious to know how you are doing,  I hope you will be in touch. 

What are you observing and thinking about your life?

As I take a moment for reflection, I am struck by four different events in my life that reveal different aspects of who I am. 

When is the last time you paused to engage in self-reflection about what’s happening in your life—professionally, personally, or both? 

I ask that question knowing that there are times such meta-awareness happens spontaneously for me (this morning) and there are times that I plan for space in my schedule, (the beginning and end of the day, week, month, and year).

How are you engaging with your thinking? What are you thinking and learning about your thinking?

Stepping back from being in my everyday reality/busyness enables me to realize how I want to approach what is present for me now:

  • I’m about to head into a two-year training program, which I believe will bring great personal challenges and rewards. 
  • Just yesterday, I accepted an ongoing project that will bring me into new relationships with colleagues. It’s an undertaking that’s founded in the work that I have been doing for decades and yet it is also uncharted territory with the startup.

    This morning’s walk

  • This morning I decided that I needed to engage in a small yet important-to-me project that I’ve been thinking about since 2013.
  • And sitting on the couch with my cup of coffee early this morning, I heard the snow and sleet tapping at the windows. I realized I was not relishing the idea of walking the beloved dog. 

How are these related you might ask? Here’s my thinking:

  • I am so looking forward to my training, and am making time to prepare myself—organizing materials, planning my schedule, and anticipating the mindset about this new adventure.

    My creation—still to be named

  • My project from 2013 is to submit a Zentangle pattern that I created during my Certified Zentangle Teacher training over years ago. That task feels a little bigger than I’d like… it’s not that the individual pieces are difficult, it just feels rather tedious. I have to look forward and yet it does feel like I will be sending my pattern into the void as a process is clear though the possibility of response is uncertain. (And if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I always want feedback about my work.) I think I’ll handle my concern about the length and uncertainty of the process by sharing my work after I have submitted it to—so I can be sure it gets out into the world.
  • As I step into this new role in this growing organization, I’ll be using my skills of Appreciative Inquiry to guide my process. That feels like a great foundation. and a new way to utilize my learning.
  • And, as I stepped outside fully prepared for terrible weather in the dark early morning, I discovered that I loved the crunch of the snow and sleet under my feet, dampness in the air, and quiet of the very early morning. I chuckled to myself because I’m not usually a negative anticipator and was delighted with my ability to be present and find ways to enjoy the moment.

All these different experiences (just like all of life) call for meta-awareness (the ability to observe my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses as they are happening) and metacognition (the process of thinking about my own thinking and learning).

What do you think and feel about all of this? How are you supporting yourself through the use of metacognition and meta-awareness?

Would you like to chat about it? If so, shoot me an email and we’ll chat!

Perhaps all of this reflection is being unconsciously supported by my reading in The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. It’s a delightful and thought-provoking read. I highly recommend it!

What is captivating, challenging, and developing you?

I’m in the midst of a project that captivates me. Drawing and writing a graphic memoir of my recent internship experience is a delight and a challenge on so many levels—intellectually, emotionally, and practically. 

  • What is my purpose in creating this work? 
  • What do I want to share and what will be of service to others’ learning?
  • How will I convey my very visceral experiences?

What are you working on right now? What questions are you wrangling with —whether it’s a work or a personal project?

This project is a labor of love, so it’s not part of my “workday.” I devote 30-60 minutes a day, early in the morning, five days a week to diving back into the experience. (My approach is founded on advice from a colleague and I am grateful to the Graphic Memoir Intensive Group of the Sequential Artists Workshop for their support and encouragement.) The time often flies by… though at times it stands still. 

There are times I recall an experience with a patient, begin to draw and write the essence of our conversation or the situation, and just cry. Being in touch with the experience months later and having time and space to explore it, is both wonderful and demanding. In the weeks that I was in the hospital, during the days there was little time for deep reflection and tapping into strong emotions—there was so much to be done. I was present/having experiences—working with them and through at the time… this feels like a new, deeper adventure.

How do you make time to explore what happens during your days and weeks?

While I made certain I was talking with my supervisor at the hospital, my professor, and classmates about my experiences, I was so in the thick of it, I didn’t step outside it often. I believed that my self-care practices (meditating, walking, tangling, and painting) and connecting with family and friends were enough. Upon reflection, I realize that these are qualitatively different encounters that require a more thoughtful approach.

What methods do you use to give yourself perspective?

This project has become such a rich experience for me—I am learning even more about myself during my reflections and the questions that arise. 

In what ways are you consciously, actively—maybe even formally—supporting your personal or professional development? 

I’d love to know!