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In praise of great teaching

It’s so important, I will say it again:

Great teaching, the right tools, experimentation, willingness to get it wrong to get it right, perseverance, and the pull of a challenge are essential elements of the learning experience and lead to success!

The Back Story

Acrylics, with and without Flow-Aid on raw linen, 33″ x 36″

I am venturing into new creative territory—color mixing. I have been playing with all different kinds of paint (acrylics, fluid acrylics, high-flow fluid acrylics, and gouache), additives (water, Flow-Aid, and mixes), and substrates (mixed media and watercolor papers, raw canvas and raw linen) for the past six months. While I loved taking a class in watercolor decades ago, I found it very challenging and lost patience with it (or maybe with myself?). The work and play this past half year have been (mostly) a delight!

Now I am in the process of learning color mixing with watercolor to make my work with acrylics (and the rest of the paints) more consistently successful—meaning achieving my desired results with greater ease. 

I started an online course over the weekend and discovered a few key factors to my success and happiness with my effort:

  • A great teacher makes a HUGE difference! I love learning from someone who goes step-by-step—the mark of someone who teaches with learners in mind, who can step out of their own level of expertise to meet us where we are.
  • The right tools are very important—from the light (a simulation of good daylight), the right paper and paints (I have several sets of watercolors and it took a bit of playing Goldilocks to find the one that worked best), and the best brush for the task (easier said than done).
  • I had to let go of a desire to get it right the first time—I know (in my mind/logically) that it’s critical to experiment AND there are only so many hours in a day so I want to get “there” fast. My heart needs to be involved in this journey as I want to enjoy—and not just learn from—my results). Experimentation and “stick-to-itiveness” is essential. 
  • Ensuring that I use my new skills consistently, so they become second nature is critical. The teacher I am learning from has developed a 14-day challenge in which we use our new skills—I LOVE it! It’s a great investment of my time and money.

Whether I’m focusing on training, facilitation, or coaching, these same concepts and practices are foundational to growing my knowledge and skills and those of my clients. While my example below is a deep dive into the world of visualization skills, if that’s not your world, how would you adapt the ideas to your work and your clients? I would love to hear of your modifications and expansions upon my ideas—I hope you will be in touch!

Aha! Drawing the Connection to Our Plorking* with Visualization

As you reflect on your journey with bikablo—whether you have completed the Basic course (Days 1 and 2), the Advanced course, Extraclasse or coached with me to elevate your work—what are you doing right now to consistently broaden or deepen your skills?

In thinking about visualization, most recently, I am thinking of my practice and my clients through:

  • offering the students in the Gonzaga University course, “Visualizing Meaning and Purpose,” a list of prompts for every day of the week—we share our drawings on our Miro board.
  • working from a list of prompts with several of my Drawify colleagues, to add to the platform (working in .svg format/Concepts)
  • reviewing a beautiful card deck over the weekend and being inspired to create new drawings based on the figures in the deck
  • being part of an international graphic recording team—and brushing off my sketchnoting skills to make “mini-stories” to capture key points shared during presentations at the Stanford University-sponsored Me2We conference last month.

* plorking—playing and working

Here’s a Query!

Are you interested in consciously and consistently improving your visualization skills? If so, how will you do it? While there is a world of possibilities, which is the right match for you at this moment in time (or planning for the future)?

  • Are you seeking a live class—in-person or online? 
  • Would meeting up for 30/45/60 minutes once every two weeks or once a month be the right fit for your style of learning and schedule, based on daily prompts? It could be a place to share your work, ideas, questions, and challenges.
  • Do you like the intensity of a 10-day Challenge—with the opportunity to post your work, see others’ work, and receive encouragement and/or feedback?
  • Is the new Procreate Starter Set package from bikablo the direction you’re moving? What interests you about it? What questions do you have?
  • Is one-to-one coaching a better use of your time and resources?
  • What other ideas are percolating for your professional development?

I hope you will consider the questions I raise in several ways: 

  • answer them, if building your knowledge and skills in the bikablo method is part of your professional or personal development plan—and let me know if I can be helpful as you design your path
  • re-write them to meet your needs and desires. What are you dreaming of learning now (and how does it fit into your plans for the remainder of the year or longer)?
  • tell me what you’re thinking about what I have shared and your plans. I find sharing my plans with the world (wisely, to those who will nurture nascent ideas) brings a different level of commitment from me.

I hope to hear from you!

The Delights of Teamwork!

Mere words cannot express the fun, the collegiality, and most importantly, the impact of the work we accomplished at the #StanfordLEAD #Me2We2024 event last week. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve included a visual to represent my gratitude for the experience of being a member of an international team, in which each individual contributed something unique to the dynamics of the team and the event.)

The team, assembled by Drawify founder Axelle Vanquaillie, included Alexandra Oporto d’Ugard, Ben Crothers, Erin Nicole Gordon, Filippo Buzzini, Olina Glindev, and me. We hail from six different countries, yet we were on the same page, bringing the impact and influence of visualization to a conference already brimming with big names, big ideas, and participants hungry for engagement.

While we all played several different roles—as grocery shoppers, chefs, dishwashers, errand runners, schedulers, graphic recorders, presenters, and illustrators—I will say that I felt luckiest. The conference committee, h/t to Raphael Auwerkerken for his work in bringing us to the event, and to the conference committee that provided us with a gorgeous space in which to set up our array of analog recordings, were true partners throughout the experience.

As host of the table and showcase space for the first day of the event, I had the opportunity to meet so many of the attendees, share information about Drawify—our purpose and intention for being at the event—and encourage them to share their appreciation for their professors in their program. (They wrote on file cards, which were made into a gift for each of the professors in the program.) As you can imagine, people were curious. I loved sharing my passion for visualization with those who wanted to have a conversation.

Digital graphic recording has become a go-to practice of mine. The four sessions I attended were a pleasure to capture. One of my favorite memories is attending a workshop on improv, sharing my recording with the two presenters immediately afterward, and seeing their delight. They had no idea I was recording the event and were astonished to receive the visual summary. Kesinee Angkustsiri Yip told me that they had just incorporated three days earlier and she was going to print out the digital recording, frame it, and put it on her desk. It was a gift to have the time to connect with Kevin Weinstein and Kesinee after the session.

 

While I had never created tags with snippets/key phrases from the sessions, I loved it! The opportunity to capture a key idea for a session, draw and letter quickly on the Neuland Tag It, and offer it to others as a remembrance was a kick!

Perhaps the highlight of the three days (for me) was my presentation, Re-envision Yourself and Design the Life You Desire. I am dedicated to infusing Appreciative Inquiry, into every aspect of my work. The room was bursting at the seams— there were close to 100 people in a session that was meant for 80. Everyone was all in. We learned together—sharing thoughts, questions, plans, and insights. My role was truly as a facilitator, creating the environment and offering an experience that each individual would make their own. I felt almost guilty that my colleague Erin, who was graphically recording the workshop, had huge swaths of time in which participants were talking with each other. (Maybe a pause during a graphic recording is a blessing?) Of course, she became very busy as they offered up their thoughts. I was thrilled when one of the participants said, “This is exactly what I came for!” Participants left with plans for their immediate next steps for the future they desire.

These new experiences stand out for me (and may provide a few ideas, for graphic recorders, facilitators, and event organizers): 

  • a mid-size international team brings diverse, fresh energy to an experience
  • professionals from different backgrounds and with various skill sets enliven the processes used and the final products
  • hosting a space—being available to explain our work was an amazing opportunity for participants and increased engagement
  • space for showcasing the work, and enabling people to engage with it easily increases the impact on participants 
  • the creation of mini-stories/meaningful takeaways was an additional opportunity to connect with participants—we were surrounded by interested people, and some requested key phrases be “sketchnoted” for them live and in the moment
  • having my session graphically recorded was a gift I don’t often receive—give that gift to all presenters 
  • offering the opportunity for the students to show appreciation for their professors and to give the professors a gift was heartwarming and impactful.

My thinking? Let’s do this again—the results were tangible!

PS: If you’re curious, I posted this piece to LI with the use of Gemini (AI) and a little light editing afterward… Check out the differences

 

Getting Un-Stuck!

What do you do when you’re stuck?

I was stuck the other day…

I took part in an online class, Day Schildkret’s offering on impermanent earth art, and found myself blocked—unable to move forward because of my preconceived notion of what I should be doing/creating.

Day’s beautiful work is symmetrical—and his creations often look like a kaleidoscope though they are made from petals, leaves shells, stones, and more. I entered my design stage of the workshop experience with a vision of what the final product should look like.

The vision of my goal got in the way of moving forward!

When I stepped back and looked at my materials, I felt symmetry would be impossible, certainly in the time I had to complete the task, maybe in any amount of time. With that revelation in mind, I turned to another aspect of the guidelines we had been given, and that was to think of to whom or to what I was dedicating the artwork. With a new lens for viewing the task, I had another avenue for interacting with my materials. I shifted my focus to meaning and not structure, and it led me to my final creation. (If you’re curious about to whom I dedicated my creation, visit my instagram page, @jillig to learn more. While you’re on insta, check out Day’s work too, @morningaltars.)

 

What about you?

When were you last stuck? How did you work through it to a successful result? As you reflect on how to move forward, does your approach depend on what kind of stuck you are? Perhaps you are

  1. feeling anxious about how to start a project
  2. a conflict with a colleague, friend, or family member
  3. a technique you are seeking to improve or master

In reflecting on just these few examples, I notice that I would use different approaches to get unstuck

  1. I’d work to move through the overwhelm at the beginning a project by referring to processes I’d used in the past or by taking a small step on the path that I have visualized. (I like George Kao’s thoughts on visualization of the process and not just the goal, in his book, Joyful Productivity)
  2. I would work to find some common ground with the person I’m having a conflict with, as suggested in one of my favorite books, Dynamic Relationships by Jacqueline Stavros and Cheri Torres. The focus on Appreciative Inquiry in relationships is powerful!
  3. In the instance of working with a challenge in drawing or facilitating with a group, I would keep putting myself in the situation of having to consciously practice new behaviors. Sometimes I ask a colleague for observations and reactions about what I’m doing well and how I might enhance my work.

While there’s a saying, “How you do one thing is how you do everything” that’s not true of me… for me, it’s more nuanced. I endeavor to discover what the circumstances need and create differentiated responses.

What are your thoughts?

And if all this chat about a new lens for viewing you, your work, or your relationships feels important and worth your time and energy, please reach out to me for a complimentary call about my Appreciative Coaching work. I believe that this work and play of how we see ourselves, others, and the world is one of the most crucial and exciting challenges we all face.

What inspires you?

This very question leapt into my mind when I viewed the beautiful impermanent earth art work of Day Schildkret, on instagram in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. I’ve seen his work before and I am awestruck.

The experience led me to think about what inspires me, and by that, I mean moving away from what people generally say—heroic actions, speeches, quotations—to what is really meaningful, powerful, and energizing for me.

My shortlist of inspiring experiences from the past few weeks

Visual beauty

  • Mayumi Oda, Japanese American visionary, read about her work here
  • A particular walk in the evening in my neighborhood
  • Dave Schildret’s work, morningaltars on Instagram. I am taking his workshop this Sunday, perhaps I will see you (on Zoom) there?

 

Writing/visual imagery

  • When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver, (find it here)
  • At Home, from The House of Belonging, by David Whyte

 

Generosity

A colleague making time in her day to support me in new learning— and going even beyond our conversation to preparing information for me and following up with more ideas and advice.

 

Kindness

Bearing witness to people’s pain and strength. I am taking the course, Living Fearlessly: Facing the Inevitable, which is about preparing for dying and death though it is really all about living too. I am struck by the deep listening, caring, and compassion that people, who were strangers before they met in this course, show to each other.  If you are curious about the course you will find more information here.

Loving kindness meditation, helping me be more compassionate and caring toward myself, family, friends, those I find difficulty connecting with, and the world…

May you be safe

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you live with ease

Learn more from Sharon Salzberg, here

 

I’d LOVE to learn what inspires you in your everyday life.

What circumstances have arisen recently that surprise, delight, excite, and stimulate you?

I hope you will get in touch with me so that I may learn what inspires you. Perhaps we’ll even start a conversation!

Summer is waning, what are your reflections?

Memories of long ago…

At the beginning of the summer, with the possibility of carefree days of vacation—camp, friends, sometimes a bit of travel—the idea of having to complete a summer project for high school felt like a burden. By the time the summer was over, with the project completed, I had a sense of accomplishment. As it was a time filled with fun and a bit of work, which was usually (mostly) of my own design… it was really not so bad after all.

What was your project this summer?

Was it making it through every day endeavoring to stay afloat —mentally, emotionally, and maybe financially too?  I hear you, these remain trying times.

Were you, your family, or friends touched by sickness? Members of my family and my circle of friends have been affected. Most have recovered but not all. 

Did it include thinking in new ways or maybe taking on new work? My work has changed in many ways—I miss being in the room with my participants and yet love the connections I am making across the continents too.

How are you feeling about what has changed and what remains the same? I am curious to know.

My summer project has blossomed into a coaching circle for women. 

Roots of Resilience grew out of my desire to synthesize my academic background, training in coaching, and experience across the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness, Appreciative Inquiry, Compassion, communication, and NVC/compassionate communication.

I started this project after listening to many of my women colleagues around the world talk about feeling tired, depleted, and sometimes pessimistic. I designed this circle for the folks like them and like me—women whose strengths feel buried by a combination of unforeseeable circumstances.

These have been trying times and I believe they will continue to be so for the near future. I believe it is a time to come together, share our knowledge and skills, and build them together so that we all emerge stronger, more resilient. Would being a member of a circle with women provide the foundation and the impetus to regain your resilience— to tap into your perhaps dormant knowledge and skills, and build on them?

If this work interests you, as a member of the circle, or individually, please learn more about it here. And if you are one of my colleagues who is an IFVP member, I made the offer at our annual conference this year and I will provide a discount for you. As a field, we have been hit hard by this pandemic. Scholarships are also available to those desiring to join the circle.

Please contact me with your questions. I am offering this experience in one-to-one coaching sessions too—for anyone who feels drawn to this inner work (and play).