What will you experience here? 

I’m listening to this amazing book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Father Gregory Boyle. I’ll be honest, I am as surprised as anyone that I am loving this book. (If you’re curious about that statement, let’s chat.)

I listen to it every day as I take my walk, often pausing to step off the path, to tap a quote into my phone so I don’t forget it. Just the other day I was listening to a piece about what volunteers often ask when they arrive at Homeboy Industries (the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world). Their question, is “What should I do here?” The response from Father Gregory is priceless, “The  question is what will you experience here?” I love that! 

Can you feel the difference? As I listen to Father Gregory‘s question I feel an expansiveness, an opportunity to open up to the possibility of what might occur. When I listen to the question about what to do, while it could lead to many possible answers, my sense of it is that one or two answers are being sought. It feels like possibilities are closed off, along with creativity, and imagining beyond what’s right in front of me. While there are times for needing a specific answer… what if we lived that question every day, throughout our days? 

What will you experience here?

What do you think? I have several thoughts about it:

  • It would be exciting and mind-expanding.
  • It might be exhausting and unsustainable. 

I think of the latter because having routines and habits can be very helpful. It certainly streamlines my day and reduces the number of decisions I make, whether I’m thinking of my breakfast routine or the route I will take to the train station. If I approached every task with the query, “What are all the possibilities?” I’m not sure I get enough done during the day.

Perhaps there’s a middle path—discerning the times to choose a routine and when to be open to something novel. I might have more varied and quite different experiences if I  consciously choose to embrace the question of how I will engage in them.

One of my students, years ago would ask me, when he received an assignment, “What to do?” Of course, the tasks varied, some were more close-ended/one right answer while others were more open-ended, with multiple perspectives or answers. 

The question, “What to do?” does not necessarily imply a way to do something or a way of looking at it. Yet, I wonder how frequently I/we step back from an immediate appraoch to tackling a task to wonder about the experience we will have. What do you think? I know that I am already wondering about how I will step into situations later today.

As you enter the weekend, perhaps you will play with these questions. If you do, or whenever you do, please let me know your experiences. 

More than Repetition—Conscious Practice (redux)

I just finished two bikablo Day 1 training programs (in-person for the first time since the pandemic and online) plus I offered a monthlong Mystery Tangling adventure for those who love the Zentangle method (and focusing on the philosophy too).

Both of these experiences explore guidelines for drawing yet more importantly…

  • In bikablo, we have a developmental approach and success factors to guide our work
  • In the Zentangle method, we use certain marks and are supported by a philosophy and techniques

In both, the focus is on being mindful about each stroke, conscious of our process —it is what improves our skills—it’s more than repetition.

When is the last time you were focused and aware of each stroke of the pen/marker? Maybe yesterday or…

What impact did that focused, attention have on your intended result? 

My tangling classes/teaching the Zentangle method and Bikablo trainings offer opportunities to engage in conscious practice and receive appreciative and constructive feedback about the results. 

What work or play are you engaged in that offers you feedback to grow on?

In thinking about how to best support the ongoing growth of my participants’ skills in all of my courses, I am developing a planner. I’d love your help in crafting an agenda/calendar/diary/planner that provides space to practice every day—consistency counts when you are burnishing your (drawing) skills.

Here’s my request for your ideas from my recent newsletter about designing the planner. (My apologies to those of you who are on my ezine list and saw this yesterday.)




I’ve got a bee in my bonnet and I’d LOVE to hear what you think!

For years, I’ve been crafting my own planners/agendas/calendars—I’m a bit like Goldilocks in the story with the three bears. I can’t find a planner that’s just right for me so I keep working to make it.

I came “this close” when I purchased the Passion Planner but alas no… so I’m building one with several objectives in mind.

It’s going to:

  • look great
  • support my planning throughout the year—with a year, monthly and weekly calendars
  • facilitate my practice—ensuring that I’m keeping up my skills

And I’d love your ideas to help make it the best!

I’m thinking of a few variables. Please take this survey now—it won’t take even 5 minutes.

I’m going to make this planner—though I’m thinking that I like the name “Owner’s Manual”—over the next few weeks and offer it for pre-sale in early November. 

Please help me make it great!

Take the survey here.


And, I drafted a practice sheet… Visit this Miro board to see an example of how to use it and download the blank practice sheet for yourself!

Please play with it and lmk what you think! Do you like the different angles of the tiles? Please lmk!

Stepping into Vital Conversations

What kinds of conversations are challenging for you? Are there certain topics, particular people, or a combination of these variables that stop you in your tracks? I think these are questions for both our professional and our personal lives. 

Please make the time right now to pause and ponder those questions.
What bubbles up for you?

                                            I’d be curious to learn your answers if you’re inclined to share them. 

As I reflect, everything I do in my work and in my personal pursuits is about communication —  being a 

visual practitioner is about communication— making visible ideas, dreams, plans, questions, concerns, processes, and more

trainer demands clear communication of knowledge, practices, directions, insights, and feedback 

facilitator requires listening and hearing beyond the words to the meanings and feelings, supporting the development of intra- and inter-personal dynamics

coach is offering companionship on the journey of transformation — being a sounding board, sometimes a mirror, the person who asks just the right question, in the moment, that opens up new ideas and avenues of possibility, “How might you…” or steps into the role of provocateur. 

chaplain means being present, standing with people where they are, helping them find their own values, ethics or spiritual beliefs for their healing, and bearing witness

Whether it’s with other people or with myself, there are “conversations” or topics that are more difficult to approach and to work with to achieve the desired outcome (and by this I mean staying in the conversation and strengthening the relationship not achieving a certain answer).

In my post, “Let’s talk,” on (Visualizing End of Life Issues), I ask you to take on a critically important conversation with those you are closest to in your life. I hope you will read it, think deeply about it, ask me questions if you have them, and engage in these sometimes challenging, most often heart-opening, and truly life-affirming discussions. I’m also happy to provide support in the process, you know where to find me.

And please, if you have even the tiniest inclination to tell me how it’s going—the good, the bad, and/or the ugly—be in touch with me. 

Insights from Spontaneous Co-Creation

A walk on the beach led to an idea and several days of spontaneous co-creation ensued.

When was the last time you were suddenly in a situation in which you shared an idea with another person and yet had no process for moving forward?

As my friend (whom I have known the longest in life) and I walked along Folly Beach, SC, I was reminded of a beautiful mandala I had seen in San Sebastián, Spain. I saw “our” beach as a potential canvas…

I shared my photo and made the suggestion that we attempt such a feat. We set out to find tools/sticks, and began to talk about possibilities. I’ve made many mandalas in my day (I love The Mandala Guidebook and The Art of Mandala Drawing: Create Geometric Patterns). Nancy had never made one before. 

We both wanted to share in the creation, so we talked briefly about what we knew about mandalas. I didn’t want to share a lot because I didn’t want to influence how she came to this experience. We talked about taking turns: each of us drew a layer of the design, building on what had just been completed. Sometimes we weren’t sure what to do next. We would each offer up a few ideas and then whatever struck the fancy of the person responsible, became the next layer.

How do you approach co-creation when there’s a significant difference in the knowledge and skills of the people involved in the project?

No doubt, the import, and nature of the project, plus the timeframe are factors in how to proceed in the developing process of co-creation. We had the luxury of knowing that enjoying our experience was paramount and therefore we felt no pressure about achieving a particular result. 

We both encountered challenges with our tools and resources. The sticks were of varying widths (which became an interesting design element), and the sand on our first and second days was the same consistency across the diameter of our design (perhaps 8 feet). On day 3, in the same area of the beach, we were confronted with the sand so wet that it altered the strokes that we created. 

How do you work with a variety of tools, resources, and unexpected challenges? 

We finished our first mandala and were delighted! We approached the next two days with enthusiasm and without any plans in our minds. In part, that was the charm of our experiences.

I know that during this time together, we were in flow. The late afternoons at the beach were one of the highlights of my days.

What are some everyday experiences from which you have harvested insights? 

I was very conscious of letting go of what I knew about mandala design and creation. I wanted us to approach this as equals. And truth be told, the majority of the mandalas I’ve drawn have been, at the most eight inches in diameter, so working at this scale was a new experience. 

A few folks came and visited us every day, to ask questions and share their delight in seeing what we had created. On the first day, a man said to us, “This must not be your first rosette.” Nancy was excited to tell him that in fact, it was the first time we had worked/played together in this way… and that way we have been lifelong friends. Now that’s memory!

There are insights to be gained from all we do. I would love to hear some of your insights from similar experiences!

Learning &  Feedback—for Learners & Trainers (Facilitators & Coaches)

As a learner, I love sharing my thoughts and feelings about my learning experiences. Giving feedback is a gift.

As a trainer (facilitator and coach), I’m always interested in hearing from those with whom I work. I take people’s thoughts, questions, and future-oriented suggestions very seriously. Receiving feedback is a gift.

How do you ask for feedback and how do you use the information you receive? 

Just last month I attended a multi-day intensive online training. The courses and the speakers varied in their quality—the relevance of the content for the audience, the presenters’ styles of delivery, and group facilitation/engagement skills. Upon completion of the program, I happily filled in the Google Doc/evaluation. I endeavored to be open, honest, and forward-thinking – offering suggestions and alternatives, wherever I noted something I believed could be improved.

Just a few days after completing the evaluation form, I gave a Zentangle class. I have been teaching Zentangle since 2103. I LOVE teaching it as it is almost always a really wonderful experience for everyone.

This time there were a number of variables to work with:

  • the pattern was complicated—more so than usual—almost an optical illusion when finished
  • participants’ skills were at quite a variety of levels of expertise
  • people work at quite different speeds (from slower to faster)

It’s rare for me to complete a session and feel that there are a few things I could’ve done better. I say that because my business is being an educator/teacher/trainer. I’ve studied long and hard to hone my skills over the decades. I am very good at what I do. (I imagine you are very good at what you do too… I don’t believe in false humility, do you?) 

When things don’t go as I plan, and I feel learners could have achieved better results or had a more wonderful time together, I am curious about what I can improve and determined to make it so.

I reached out to the participants the next morning to ask direct and specific questions about their experiences. Happily, I received very thoughtful and helpful feedback. I went to work planning for my next session.

Last night we had another class and it was a resounding success. In part, the patterns that we tackled were not as complex, and yet I had also, perhaps, more importantly, re-imagined and changed my approach based on the feedback received. I also talked to the participants about the difference between the two experiences—I love those meta-cognitive moments!

It feels great to recognize the places where I can grow and change to facilitate and deepen learning experiences for my participants.

Over the years I have observed that feedback is often not requested. Is that your experience too? In those instances, I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that the individual and/or organization do not seek to assess the quality of their work — to discover what is particularly effective and what might need some adjustment. It is disappointing—though only slightly less so than when feedback is requested and then not used to improve experiences. 

Whether you’re a trainer, facilitator, coach, or truly anyone working with others, here’s my question for you: How do you solicit feedback about your work? What do you do with it when you get it? How do you grow and change through the process? I’d love to know!

PS: If you’re interested in tangling/learning about Zentangle, a meditative, relaxing art form, visit this page to learn more, and this page to see the classes that I am offering.