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How do you work through hesitating, second guessing, stopping or… and embrace uncertainty?

Do you ever put off something challenging or even stop yourself… when moving forward is best, if daunting?

Tuesday was primary day in New York. My daughter was running for one of the county commissioner seats in Brooklyn. Early in the day, she sent me photos of herself and a flyer with her name on it. I loved the photos and immediately posted them on Facebook because I thought it was so great! When I told her I posted them, she asked me to take them down. I double-checked and she was firm. I felt disappointed. I so appreciated her energy and moxie, and wanted to celebrate it. She said, “I don’t want to share because if I lose I’ll have to explain that I lost.” My response was, “There is glory in the running! And, I understand and  will take them down.” I waited (impatiently) for the results and then posted the photos—because she won a seat!

When is the last time you wavered before taking a challenge or revealing that you were doing something where you might fail, lose, or feel embarrassed? What did you do?

There is no one answer for what’s right here. We are all different, circumstances vary, and we each have a continuum of comfort around risk, embarrassment, losing, and more.

Were you able to work your way through the feelings of hesitancy? 

When I pause (significantly) to ponder whether to share a new challenge with uncertain results, I work to recall my past successes. They form the foundation for moving into the endeavor.

Did you remember that there is no predicting the future? We just can’t know what will happen. Did you fortify your inner risk-taker, rally your support network or maybe reach out to an ally who continuously champions you?

I totally believe what I said to my daughter and understand her hesitancy. 

I’m about to apply for some consulting work that I would really like and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get it. But this is the life I have chosen—to continuously put myself out there in the world and work with the results. 

More immediately, I’m about to teach a Zentangle pattern that I find particularly challenging (Rick’s Paradox). I don’t see it as easily as other patterns. So I’m taking extra time and practicing before doing the work in my beautiful book. I’ve heard the same kind of hesitation about drawing from participants in my sessions. We all wonder about the drawing we will do and whether it will meet our hopes, desires, or expectations. I always hope for the best, discover what happens in the moment, breathe deeply, and use my skills when I feel challenged.

This is what I said to one of the participants just recently, 

“Ah, it is a challenge! I believe that I will do my best to create the beautiful designs and knowing that I am human, I will probably make mistakes along the way. I work to breathe, let it go, and make it beautiful. I hear you.”

I believe it—and live it—and it isn’t always easy.

One of my most recent resources for working with my emotions and feelings is the book  Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. I am a part of his coach training program and have started to integrate some of his work into my coaching practice with clients. This work feels just like home to me, do you know what I mean? In 2004, I completed Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching Program. (His book, Authentic Happiness is great!) I also value and use Jackie Kelm’s work, The Joy of Appreciative Living: Your 28 Plan to Generate Greater Happiness. Do you know these works? If so, what do you think? I’d love to chat!

In response to the very difficult times I/we are facing, I reach out to friends and colleagues, and gather resources and methods, that will support my self-care so I can step into working to address the challenges of our lives.

What about you?

If you would like to talk about great resources or are ready to step more fully into the work and the play of your life, please reach out to me!

 

*Written on Wednesday… it’s been a full week!

When the path is clear to me, the project gets done

I’ve been musing about several projects… Why is one at completion, another a bit of stop and go, and a third feeling both exciting and daunting?

What’s your style of working?

Do you live the adage, “How you do one thing is how you do everything?”

Is your style of work the same across the variables of

  • size of project
  • timeline
  • complexity
  • need for research
  • collaboration
  • perhaps, final approval? 

While I can make generalizations about how I work, I chafe at the literal meaning of the saying.

As I complete a project today that I started in September, I am making time to reflect… as it’s my intention to teach folks how to do what I have done. I want to be able to support them through the peaks and valleys of the process and so I am taking a magnifying glass to my journey. I think it’s also helpful to me to stand back and look at how I do what I do—there are lessons in it for me. 

When I realized how many photos I had taken of the process (who doesn’t love a photo essay?) I decided to quickly make an annotated visual timeline —such fun taking this walk down memory lane!

How do you review and reflect on your projects—appreciating and celebrating what worked well and learning for the future about what might be done differently?

Honestly, I don’t always take enough time for such reflection… Note to self, build in the time!

For my other projects, I’ve discovered…

My fifty stories/sketches about experiences with patients… I have 50+ more about my reflections

The one-page visual I am creating around how chaplains work in a hospital grew out of a need I saw in (you guessed it) my chaplaincy work… In my effort to address the need, I decided to create a useful resource for patients in hospitals (and their family members). As it turns out, this is just a bit complicated to achieve in a visual storytelling style, on one page—there’s a lot I want to say! So this project is a bit of “stop and go” as I navigate my thoughts about how to share information in a fun, accessible, visually appealing style. As time marches on, (and I do love a deadline), it will be done in just over a week so that I can put it aside, review it again in 10 days or so, make any minor revisions needed, and enjoy sharing it at the Graphic Medicine conference.

Here for Good, my graphic memoir project feels a bit like reaching through the fog at times. since I started the actual work of writing and drawing. I have never told a story this big or this long nor am I very familiar with the genre. I have lots to learn and do and sometimes I am uncertain as to my path:

  • What do I do first?
  • Which tasks can be done simultaneously? 
  • Which books will support my process? 
  • How might a mentoring group work for me? *SAW—Sequential Artists Workshop
  • Shall I seek an accountability buddy?

As you muse about my stories, what have you realized about your way of working and playing with projects?

I’d love to hear how your style or styles of work both enhance your experiences and also get in the way—there’s always something to be learned! 

Clarity of purpose—it’s an essential ingredient for success!

Time is precious. How I spend my 168 hours* each week is of great importance to me.  I’m the gal who squeezes out every possible juiciness from my day.  I choose my play and work with care. 

Lately, I find myself reflecting on a variety of my engagements. How I am spending my valuable time?

The questions I ask myself include: 

  • Am I a fit for this organization, program, or experience?  
  • What was, and is, my purpose in being a part of this endeavor?
  • Am I achieving my goals and/or re-designing them to meet my developing needs?
  • Am I surrounding myself with people of the same mindset that I seek to live into—curiosity, hope, discernment, full engagement, and a willingness to tackle the challenges that arise with an eye toward the goals to be achieved?

What describes—or how do you envision—

successful, productive, life-affirming working, learning, and playful relationships?

These questions are not academic for me.

Several recent conversations have prompted me to realize that by returning to my touchstone of purpose, I am best able to answer my questions.

In one instance, re-grounding myself enabled me to speak with clarity about where I am in the moment and what I hope for the future of the organization. 

In a different conversation, I realized my colleagues and I have come together because of a shared interest in the learning experience yet we are all so different. While we felt an instant camaraderie, when we being to listen deeply to each other, our ways of being in the world were clashing causing disharmony. Perhaps we will find ways to come together though I am not sure… I also am weighing how much time I will devote to discovering the answer. 

What’s your thinking about engaging in learning, working, and playing relationships?

How do you find the right partners for those adventures and endeavors?

I am reminded that being clear about my purpose(s) becomes both my compass and my lens as I step into new adventures and make time to assess current projects and relationships.

How are you spending your precious time? 

* If you’re seeking support in wrangling what you want from your time (because time management is self-management, right?), I highly recommend 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam. I’ve also just learned of Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. I can’t wait to listen to it! And, one of my favorite resources, The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jackie Kelm, offers a different lens for viewing how we engage in our lives. My Appreciative Living coaching is one of my favorite offerings … maybe it’s a gift you give yourself this summer. If you’re interested, let’s talk!

How often do you have the tools and resources to do your best work?

Just this past week, I had the experience of thinking deeply about the tools and resources I have available at my fingertips, how I use them, and what else I need to accomplish my work or play in the way I believe to be best.

On Monday, I read a post in a thread I’m following for my graphic memoir work, that proclaimed that groups can’t make decisions. I then watched the cascade of comments and gifs that appeared to reinforce that statement. My response was,

Totally disagree! Groups can be effective at decision-making – they/we need the tools to do it. I totally believe it because I am a graphic facilitator helping groups make decisions. 

This group didn’t use any tools and it was messy!

Can you relate to this scene?

How many times have you experienced the effects of a lack of planning and preparation? The process takes longer, sometimes feelings are hurt and the result is often not optimal. 

Another opportunity for reflection came about as I was rewriting the description for my basic Zentangle class for a new, and very different audience, Zen Peacemakers. As these folks don’t know me, probably most are not familiar with Zentangle, and the majority are from a contemplative, Buddhist practice, the invitation to join the session had to be particularly compelling from their point of view. I went back to my source material and thought it through. The task required that I make time to shift perspectives and voices, in my desire to craft the best possible session description. 

My thinking and practice around all of this are influenced by one of the tenets of Zentangle: Use the best materials at hand, whatever that may be.

I reminded that in all of my public sessions people come either having purchased the suggested (best) materials or some people work with what they have on hand at home. Both are fine because we are doing the best with what we have available. 

It brings to mind my experience in Nepal, at House with Heart, a nonprofit organization that provides a warm and loving family atmosphere for up to 30 children by providing nutritious meals, education, enrichment activities, and healthcare. I happened to meet a board member from HwH in the US at an environmental fundraising event. Knowing that I would be in Kathmandu several months later, and wanting to share this fun, relaxing, and confidence-building practice,  and teach “tangling” to the children. I had brought the “official” materials for the older girls, yet the three, four, five, and six-year-olds wanted to be part of the experience too. We found crayons and notebook paper and they tangled with us beautifully and joyfully. 

When is the last time you worked with materials you had available and did your best work?

Just last week and I completed my work with a coaching client. She came to me with a desire to dramatically shift her digital graphic recording skills and style. We started our journey together by appreciating what she was doing well and built on that foundation, with an eye toward what she wanted to achieve. We co-created her path and I provided her with a variety of ideas, tools, and resources. 

She stepped up, broadening and deepening her knowledge and skills both in her work between our sessions and in the sessions we had together. She discovered new ways to appreciate her work and also discerned opportunities for further growth. This client showed up for the work and play of pushing her growing edge.

This week I attended what I thought would be a meeting like many other meetings—one in which people would share their thoughts in an informal way and little would be done to move forward to meet the challenges we face. I was happily surprised to learn that the meeting method, a Circle, would be used by a skilled facilitator. It was a great example of planning and preparing to have the best experience possible. Our conversation was both heartwarming and difficult. With a safe container and processes, we had the opportunity to go deep. Serious obstacles were revealed. I left the meeting with a mix of emotions. Happily, one of them was hope. 

I believe there is opportunity in crisis — the chance to move forward in a transformational way. 

My question for you is, how do you ensure you have the best materials, resources, people, and more available to you? Of course, the nature of the task, time available, energy, resources, coordination, and collaboration with others are variables to consider, yet the question remains for you. 

What is your philosophy and practice that enables you to do your best?

I would love to learn new ways of bringing my best to every situation. I hope you will share your strategies, tactics, ideas, questions, and resources.

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!