How do you deepen your practice (skills)?

I have to tell ya, I’m a gal who loves the idea and results of a daily practice. The actual practice (of the daily practice) can be challenging. I’m a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears… finding just the right combination of excitement, simplicity of engagement, and ease of achievement is critical for me.  

Lately, I’ve been delighted to gain skills in a new drawing style that has checked all three boxes—or to be a bit more imaginative, it’s the right recipe/combination of elements. I have been drawing Tiny People.

  • I’m excited to make more tiny people every day.
  • All I need is my sketchbook, marker, and subjects.
  • It’s fast!

I learned of  Nishant Jain’s very special style of drawing people from a colleague in the graphic memoir course I am taking through Sequential Artists Workshop. As soon as I saw them I was smitten!

Over the past year, I’ve learned Sashiko, (literally, “little stabs,” is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching/functional embroidery from Japan). It too has all the ingredients I desire:

  • Simple materials, “portable”
  • Easy to start and put aside when needed
  • Immediate results 

and, of course, each of these practices is practically daily. I’m creating conscious, consistent practices to fine-tune and burnish my skills. 

What about you?

How do you deepen in your practice—

whether it’s drawing, painting, meditation, a sport, a process or …?

Honestly, I’ve also had a few epic fails, well, that would be a bit of an overstatement, perhaps just learning opportunities. I have started projects that I thought were the right mix of elements to discover that I was incorrect. At the beginning of the year, I started doing a stitching journal, which I believed would require perhaps 15 or 20 minutes of my time daily—for a year. The designs I was choosing were fun yet  proved to be too time-consuming (there is more to do than stitch for over an hour every evening). While I finished the month and I like it, I don’t have the same sense of satisfaction or belief that it’s the best way to devote my precious time to skill building.

Last year I also started a watercolor course that is self-paced, and I thought that would be good for a daily practice. What I found is that it required more learning than I anticipated. While I enjoyed it, it was not what I was seeking at the end of my day for feelings of relaxation and achievement. I am continuing with it yet it is not a daily practice as it too takes too much time each time.

Happily, I am quite philosophical about all this. It’s all learning, and I feel great when I am able to recognize what isn’t working, and step away from it to look at something new.

             Have you ever made the active decision to let go of a daily practice? 

What did that feel like? What did you learn from the experience?

I’d love to know!

What fills you up?

 I am surrounded by books and have a zillion tabs open (okay, I am exaggerating a wee bit). For the past few weeks, I have been sussing out resources for the graphic memoir writing course I am enrolled in. It’s both a blessing and a curse when the folks taking the course are as avid as I am about sharing book titles, podcasts, and videos. Granted, I don’t HAVE to track them all down, yet… Happily, the county in which I live has a robust collection of graphic memoirs and resources for writers. (Oh! I didn’t even share the book titles on my Kindle!)

Resources, opportunities to learn from others—from their knowledge, skills, and experiences—

are exciting, thought-provoking, and galvanizing to me! 

What is inspiring to you?

Are you up to your eyebrows in resources, considering taking a new course, reading a new book, or enhancing your practice in another way?

One of the resources suggested by more than one of the women in the graphic memoir group was the work of The Sneaky Artist. I was intrigued, as I am always looking for other ways to draw figures—something totally different than my style. I did a bit of reading and listening to Nishant Jain… And signed up for an outdoor event in Brooklyn hosted by him and Samantha Dion Baker on March 5th. I believe it’s a creative experience that will support me in trying something really different. (And, it turns out that two of my colleagues from the graphic memoir group have decided to join me for Sam and Nishant Draw Brooklyn! We will meet in person for the first time—so awesome!)

If I expand my thinking to include more adventures in visualizing/visual thinking/visual storytelling, then my stack of books grows! Reading sources on end-of-life issues and concerns informs my work in the areas of creating visual obituaries, and working with individuals on their advance care planning.

My final year of chaplaincy training involves a capstone project—I am in the throes of crafting my proposal. Ever the curriculum designer, it’s my desire to design a program/book that creates alchemy between contemplative practices and creative processes. I am exploring several ways in which use my expertise in Appreciative Inquiry to develop a program full of experiences in which people find ways to increase their awareness, mindfulness, and equanimity. In engaging in such practices,  they can more readily and easily plan for the lives they wish to live and the ways in which they want to live their final days. There are many wonderful resources for such work (another stack of books and list of websites) yet I want a comprehensive guide to processes that folks can work with on their own, with a partner, or me/a professional skilled in accompanying individuals as they work through their thoughts and feelings, and imagine their lives.

I’m also starting to work as a teaching artist at an agency that serves survivors of human trafficking. While I devoted more than twenty years to volunteering and then directing programs for survivors of sexual violence (and their families), the world has changed and the two fields are related yet different. There is much for me to learn. I am delighted to be stepping back into this work and using art and craft to support creativity and healing. (Have you read about “craftivism”? It’s fascinating!)

What are the areas of your life that call for more learning, something new and compelling, or perhaps challenging? 

What’s your stack of books, podcasts or videos look like? I’d love to know!


If you’re feeling in need of a spark and not sure of your direction, let’s talk! Appreciative Inquiry coaching is an engaging, generative, and delightful process.