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Finding joy in new projects

Gosh, I love new projects! I admit it, my heart beats a little faster and I feel such delight when beginning something new. Happily, in most instances, I get the same feeling of joy when I complete the project.

What’s your style? 

My strengths* of curiosity, creativity, and love of learning lead me into considering many projects. Over time, I have learned to tap into my strength of perspective to keep me from going down every rabbit hole!

From the VIA Character Strengths Survey—showing the”sunny” and the “shadow” sides of my strengths.

Where do your strengths lead you? Where do they get you in trouble? How do you use them to support your endeavors?

Within the past few days, I’ve been working on a few new projects and I’m making time to note my energy and commitment to each. This opportunity for reflection is helpful.

How often do you step back from your projects and the processes that you’re engaged in to assess what’s working for you and what can be sharpened?

As I wrote last week, I am beginning The Sketchbook Project. I am smitten with the idea of a blank canvas! It feels exciting, challenging, daunting and the adventure pulls me in.

Surprisingly, the video of the sketchbook is a peek at the small zine that I created as the final project for the course, Tiny Memoirs, offered by my colleague and friend Julie Gieseke. Truth be told, I discovered in the last week of the course that I had a bigger tiny memoir in me (what a juxtaposition!) that would take too long to complete by our final session, in which we shared our work. So I put that more intensive project aside because it’s really near and dear to my heart and I need time and energy to make it into the gem I believe it can be. So instead, I made a little zine to share my thoughts about receiving and planning for making my very own Sketchbook Project. I loved using several techniques that Julie suggested, tell your memoir in four sentences, show your memoir in six visuals, and consider creating a zine. What fun!

What has captured your curiosity and desire to create lately?

Another project, the upcoming Visual Binge developed by Deepti Jain and Charu Aurora, grabbed my attention yesterday also, as I put the finishing touches on my planning for the session for July 11. I felt such anticipation,  imagining the session and what the participants and I would be doing together.

I’m also looking at a new way of organizing myself. I’ve been trying several different bullet journal formats and honestly, life just feels too full right now and I am unwilling to make the time to create the format that I like using each month, week, and every day. While, I thought I’d have the interest in the energy to devote to making a bullet journal, I’m finding that I don’t. And that’s okay!

A friend of mine, Jane Massengill, mentioned on Instagram how much she likes the Panda Planner. I’m a Passion Planner gal from way back when it was a Kickstarter campaign. I shifted away from it because I wanted to personalize my planner and so I’ve been experimenting with different formats of bullet journaling for over a year. I’m finding, lately life is so full of good things that I’m not willing to devote time and energy to create the layouts and so I am turning to the Panda Planner, to give it a shot. As you can imagine, I downloaded the free PDF and I’m trying out all the different layouts. I want something that’s just right (sounds like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, no?) because I need to put this task behind me so I can move forward. (There’s a visual!)

I have to say that new projects are the spice in my life every week! As you can see, my strength of hope also carries me forward. I just have to be sure I stay on the sunny/positive side of my strengths because the shadow side (overuse of them) can lead to overwhelm… but that’s why I’m picking a new planner!

I am happy to share more ideas about these resources!

The Sketchbook Project

VIA Character Strengths

Visual Binge

Panda Planner

Feel free to book a Connect session with me if you want to learn more about character strengths and how they work in real life. And you might want to check out these resources too

Enabling Folks to See What They Haven’t Yet Imagined…

The Setting: Meeting this Week

Earlier in the week, I bumped up against some folks’ inability to envision something that was outside of their experience…  And, their subsequent thoughts that it couldn’t be done. I had hoped for their considering the opportunity with curiosity and possibility.

What do you do when you are suddenly, and surprisingly, faced with folks who are not (hopefully, not yet) on the same page as you?

It took me about half a minute to tap into my strength of creativity and swing into a different frame of mind.

I understand that if people aren’t able to envision something because it’s unfamiliar or outside their experience, they often shut down and say “No.” Realizing this reality, I made every effort to approach their questions with enthusiasm.  I needed to create a context in which they could begin to understand the thing that they didn’t know… I started to share stories of how creating a visualizing exercise for a group of almost 100 participants over Zoom had been achieved with a variety of groups to great success.

What’s your approach to introducing new and different ideas to people? How do you help people step into understanding the experience that you have had and what you can provide? How do you prepare to create a context for people and plan to meet their needs, doubts, and questions? What kinds of evidence are you sharing—is it both thinking- and feeling-oriented?

I have to say I was surprised by people’s reactions. And, I felt the pressure of the time allocated to the conversation weighing on me. If time had permitted it would have been so much more fun and engaging to demonstrate the experience by having them engage in the activity I was suggesting, and then discuss how I scale it to larger groups.

Suffice to say that the information I provided, the real world and congruent examples, and my passion and history with the group enabled us to move forward with the initiative. This is a lesson that I don’t usually have to learn and yet it’s a good reminder:  when called, or moved, to step up and share a new idea, to be ready to be open, understanding, and able to take others’ perspectives to enable them to envision, and truly understand, your idea, concept or practice.

I realize that to enable people to grasp something new and different does not always lead to acceptance of the idea. In this instance, we moved forward with the initiative I suggested—what a happy ending!

How is your relationship with time?

I can’t say that I have a love-hate relationship with time but my feelings about it vary due to the circumstances… Perhaps that’s no surprise but my experience of it does take very different shapes.

What about you—when is the last time you thought deeply about how you engage with time?

In general, I tend to run toward deadlines because I like that feeling of some, but not too much, pressure.  Honestly, I prefer if someone else imposes it. When I make a deadline for myself, unless there is a deliverable to a client or a colleague, I am likely to postpone the task if something more urgent or interesting arises.

I noticed just the other day, as I was working on a project that I had given myself enough time to be able to think very creatively about what I wanted to accomplish. I had space to let my mind wander, really engage in some divergent thinking before shifting into reaching decisions and conclusions. This experience of giving myself an abundance of time to imagine, change my mind, make new connections, experiment, and revisit ideas, was outside my pattern of thinking and doing, and enabled me to really consider a variety of perspectives and possibilities. My approach and process felt quite different and enabled me to realize richer results. It was great! Upon reflection, I’m realizing I need to find that balance between feeling the welcome pressure of a deadline and having enough time to explore deeply, draft a design or plan, revise, and develop/move forward with the final design.

What’s your pattern? How does it serve you? Would you like your habit to be just a bit different, to gain even more from your experiences?

This lovely experience also has me re-thinking how I talk about myself, how I see myself as a result of discovering and develop this new relationship of time. I am no longer imagining and describing myself solely as a person who talks, works, and makes decisions “New York fast.” I will say though, that there is a challenge in this spacious feeling and generating so many ideas that the convergent thinking process becomes longer and more involved—but that is a “happy problem” and I’m fine with it!

 

Perhaps my feeling was also an aspect of that particular experience’s nature and composition —I was so deeply engaged in the work and play of the project the I was in a state of flow… I lost track of time, having given myself permission to devote as much time as I wanted to this task. Of course, I don’t often have that luxury, though I think that there’s something for me to learn about this. I believe that it’s consistently dreaming about what I want more of, then designing those experiences, because I LOVED the generatively that was possible when I gave myself free rein to create.

Appreciating Life!

I’ll be honest, last week was a tough one for me, my family and friends, for our nation, and for the world.

How did you cope effectively last week?

What tools do you have at the ready for times of challenge or distress?

Were you able to find glimmers of joy in your days?

I found that I needed to really lean into my Appreciative Inquiry practice. One of my favorite tools from the Appreciative Living Learning Circle I am hosting is the creation and use of “Goodness Glasses.” (I created my very tangible reminder with a pair of extra glasses, a hot glue gun, and beads.)

My glasses remind me and help me to choose where I focus my attention. While I acknowledge what is, I consciously decide to look for the positive or the good that may be well-hidden in the situation, challenge, or feeling that I am experiencing.

I’ve been sure to keep up with my gratitude list too. I devote five to seven minutes each morning to reflecting on the previous day. My list-making and contemplation keep me feeling grounded and fortunate. These are simple, quite easily accomplished, and relatively quick techniques—that is, in part, the charm of them. They buoy me up when things start feeling difficult, heavy or on the verge of overwhelming.

 

What do you do to re-direct your attention to awareness of what is going well for you?

In this new week, I’m doing a lot of visioning work and play. Whether it’s trying to imagine the future of this country and my place in it, the next 18 months of my business or the integration of AI into the lives of the women in the Appreciative Living Learning Circle, as we have our last session this week. The five principles of AI are almost always in my mind. I’ve been inspired to create visuals of each of the principles, to keep them foremost in our minds. Here are a few of those drawings.

Where are you in this moment?

Are you searching for more joy in your life, realizing that we find what we look for… and maybe there’s something to be learned about that seeking process? If so, I hope you will join the next circle I am hosting, beginning December 7th.

Here are the comments from participants in one of the circles…

I had no idea what to expect from the Appreciative Living Learning Circle, but I certainly wasn’t anticipating a material impact on my well-being so quickly. In just a few short weeks I find myself far better equipped (and likely) to access the power of gratitude even in challenging moments. It’s a game-changer!      L. Clark

These Appreciative Living learning circles have been delightful. It’s almost magical how this simple process illuminates the many moments of joy that otherwise easily go unnoticed. I realize now that I’ve generally thought of joy and happiness as something to achieve – a destination to reach – rather than a state of mind/body feeling that is genuinely accessible in almost any moment of my day. Thank you, Jill, for facilitating this transformative experience for us!       S. Steigerwaldt

You can find details about the circle on my calendar. And please, reach out to me with your questions about Appreciative Living, the circles, and the AI coaching that I offer.

The Double-Edged Sword of Our Strengths

Ahhhh, It’s happened again! My strength of creativity* had wreaked a wee bit of havoc in my schedule… because it’s also my weakness.

As I am seeking to continuously enhance and add value to how I deliver my bikablo trainings, I decided to explore some new mobile elements. We use that term for items that can be added, moved, and removed when creating charts for graphic recording, graphic facilitating, and training. The elements might be sticky notes that are rather ordinary, such as squares or circles, or cute, such as thought bubbles or punctuation marks, or that might be handcrafted.

What’s your process for augmenting or refining your existing processes or materials?

In all transparency, when I made a color error choice on my mobile elements explanatory chart, making the giant hands yellow instead of creamy beige. (Note to self, pay close attention to colors when working at night.) I felt compelled to fix my chart rather than begin again as I LOVED the hands I had drawn. So the hands were transformed from lemon yellow to Hulk green. In my defense, it IS almost Halloween…

What do you do when you’ve made a significant error? Does it depend on the project and/or the error? Or do you have a general way of responding to a challenge?

The next morning, just a few hours before the training, I looked at my chart and decided that it lacked a certain “something”… I wandered down another path. I started thinking of witches and spider webs, bats, and broomsticks. I wondered about what other mobile elements I could create quickly and easily. I began thinking of the bikablo icons that I teach all the time and got down to work! Ultimately my chart gained a spiderweb and a third hand—a little creepy, no? I did have visions of creating a witch on a broomstick but I never got there because I got sidetracked again!The creativity bug had bitten me once more and I was thinking, “Oh I love what I’ve seen a few other people within the bikablo community, and Brandy Agerback do with mobile elements/collateral. And, that’s something that I can create quickly and easily. My deadline for the class was looming!

My mind went back to the 2017 IFVP conference in Decatur, Georgia, when Greg Whicker taught me how to make giant structures with foam core, a hot knife, and tape. We had so much fun! I dug out some foam core, then started thinking, well, while this will be fun, it’s going to take more time than if I could use a different backing material for my large hand-drawn icons. I started thinking of posterboard or cardstock , and of course, found some easily in my stash of paper supplies. I thought a little further, using my creativity and logical skills together, as I watched the clock tick, and realized that I didn’t need to make exactly the same forms of the backing material but I could use something smaller and faster.

How do you assess the value of the changes you make—whether that’s starting from scratch again or finding ways to work with the mistakes made?

I am totally delighted with the goodies and I have created and I can’t wait to make more. They bring me joy just looking at them! They are so fun and easily express what I want to get across.

So as you can imagine, I used these new darlings in class and shared short stories of when and how I had seen others use these tools, such as my colleague, Iulian Olariu from bikablo. He uses simple file cards to write and draw messages, and then shows them to people during online trainings. They’re fresh, encouraging, and really boost the energy.

How do you make time to reflect on the entire process you have used (whether actively chosen or fallen into)?

While I felt pressure to complete my task in time for the session, the steps of imagining, designing, developing, and delivering were exhilarating. The fact that I could step back long enough to alter my design and shorten the development process was unusual for me—I usually dive into pursuing my first idea. This experience felt like a step forward in my own development. I created time and mental space to pause so that I could reconsider and adjust—when the deadline was quickly approaching. I will remember this experience and consciously work to replicate it!

It was so much FUN and very effective!

What do you know about your strengths and how they show up in your life?

If you’re interested in exploring your strengths and learning more about how to use them to make your life easier, contact me. As a graduate of Dr. Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness Coaching Program, I LOVE to work with people to leverage their strengths to meet their needs, desires, and challenges.

* (as revealed by the Brief Strengths test at www.authentichappiness.com). It’s one of my favorite resources!