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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.

Connection

In these difficult times, I believe it’s important to search for, find, and immerse myself in experiences, relationships, and communities that nourish and support me.

How are you feeling? Are you making time to check in with yourself and take good care? 

Happily, there are a few experiences of late that are providing me with support, inspiration, and a sense of belonging.

  All cards are from The Coaching Game card deck, copyright, Points-of-You.

Just yesterday, I shared one of my favorite experiential encounters with my colleagues and friends in VEOLI  Visualizing End of Life Issues, (www.veoli.net). We made time in our regularly scheduled meeting to pause/step away from what had preceded our gathering together, using The Coaching Game© card deck, (Points-of-You.com). We explored the question, “What is the potential of VEOLI and us (as members)?” We dropped into the experience and shared from the heart about what we feel, believe, and hope. It was a wonderful experience that surfaced questions, pointed to subjects of future conversations, and strengthened our relationships.

When/where and how do you pause and connect with others? What resources do you use? Do you want more of those grounding experiences? 

At the beginning of March, I stepped into a new role, as community engagement coordinator for Drawify (www.drawify.com). It is a delightful experience! I’m connecting with people I know and people I know of (in the larger professional community) for conversations about how we want to show up and be in community together as Drawifiers. We are building on the foundation of what is working in the community of illustrators and imagining into the future about what we want to co-create. The process is exhilarating!

Which elements of your life are a place of comfort, inspiration, or connection for you —perhaps a certain group of colleagues, special events or communities?

And, I find that some one-time events provide me with connection and joy. 

Yesterday I was part of the Visual Jam, sharing my passion for templates with folks from around the world. We connected around the topic and the feelings that arise around the work and play of drawing/creating. 

On Sunday, I was tangling with folks in my Zentangle Series. The sessions are an opportunity to teach (which I adore), to learn (in the moment when I do well and make mistakes), and connect with students who want to grow their skills and experience the calm that accompanies tangling.

I savor all of these different experiences.

When you pause to consider the range of engagement in your life, what are you savoring?

I anticipate that tomorrow’s Drawify event, Viewing Life with an  Appreciative Lens, is going to be more of the same.  I LOVE this topic and can’t wait to offer up Appreciative Inquiry as a way to live in the world. I hope to see you there, you can register here

I hope that you will connect with me, reach out with your answers to my questions, or maybe with questions of your own. 

Will you join me? Let’s make a difference!

Discovering a way to contribute

For folks who know me, even just a teensy bit, you know that I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal.

These are trying times that we’re living in. It’s easy to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and more. I find that I am relying on my passion and deep-seated belief and practice of Appreciative Inquiry to support me day-to-day. I’m looking at the world with eyes wide open—seeing both the positive and the challenging, then choosing to focus my attention on where I can amplify the good, what’s working, inspires, and uplifts me. 

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, I wondered what I could do, as one person. Of course, I could donate money to a cause but I wanted to have more of an impact, to do something bigger. I was struck one day with the idea of creating a fundraiser in which I would donate my time and teach Zentangle, a meditative art form that brings people inner peace, calm, and focus. I spent this past Sunday creating a campaign, Tangling for Healing in Our Worlds. You can find it here. I hope you’ll join me in my goal to raise funds for the people of Ukraine through joining one of the Zentangle Inspired Art sessions or choosing one of the other goodies I have created. If you’re new to Zentangle Inspired Art, look here to learn more,

If Appreciative Inquiry is new to you, I hope you’ll join my session next Friday, March 25 for Drawify. I’ll be sharing the five core principles that will enable you to see the world and your place it in a different way. The impact of this work is truly amazing! You can register here for this free event! (And if you are new to Drawify, check it out here. Here’s a coupon for you to play for two months at the Hero level—free, no strings attached! Let me know what you think—let’s chat!

I also host Appreciative Living Learning Circles and have one beginning in April. Learn more about the circle here and reach out to me with any questions you may have.

Where do you find inspiration?

Where do you find your inspiration?

I am visual learner/experiencer—what I see usually has the biggest impact on me, as opposed to what I hear. More specifically, seeing art—paintings, drawings, photos—are what engages me most deeply and what I recall most readily.

Just the other week we went to the Joseph E. Yoakum exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I was mesmerized by his landscapes. The movement is palpable to me. His use of color is so different than mine—it’s arresting. Yoakum’s drawings and paintings remind me of the Zentangle patterns I so love. His work makes me want to incorporate more tangles/patterns into the drawing that I do. I’ve done a bit of that in my graphic recording but not much… I sense an opportunity to experiment. (If you’re curious about this delightful, meditative art form, join me for a free session. You can learn more here.)

While at the museum, I found a book on Yayoi Kusama‘s work. I love the intensity of the color she works with and the patterns she creates. I bought the book (I’d been looking at books about her work for quite a while and this moment felt right) and I am drawn in by the artwork and poetry. I want to learn more about her life.

What has inspired you lately?

To be honest, right now I’m just sitting with wonder and delight. Perhaps that’s because I’m in the midst of playing with watercolors and Posca acrylic markers, inspired by Catherine Taylor‘s work. I am making my way through her online course. I am continually amazed by how easily I slip into flow… time has no meaning when I am painting.

 

Then yesterday, I received a visual created by Drawify’s founder, Axelle Vanquaillie, that combined some of my drawings in a way I had never imagined. I was gobsmacked! I had never thought of composing those drawings in that way to convey the essence of a session I will be co-hosting at the end of the month! I was inspired by Axelle’s collage of my own drawings—for me, the key is her vision of what is possible with the different elements. (If you don’t know of Drawify, check it out! While you can start with a free account, I’m happy to share a gift —a coupon code, Drawify2MonthHeroJill,  for two months of free access to Drawify’s Hero level.)

Where is inspiration leading you?

Just yesterday, I signed up for more training as a Certified Zentangle Teacher. Nine years after my first training with the creators, Maria and Rick, and more than a thousand students later, I remain inspired by the possibilities of this meditative art form… I know that the four-day experience in the fall will be immersive and intense. I am looking forward to it with juicy anticipation. 

What challenges you and brings you joy or peace or calm or…

What is on your calendar that excites you?

In these very difficult times, how are you making sure to feed your soul so that you can rise to the occasions we are facing? In part, I replenish myself through making art. 

I’m wondering what inspires you, what feeds you, or if you are seeking Inspiration and maybe some support.  I am curious to know how you are doing,  I hope you will be in touch. 

What brings you joy?

Almost every week since the beginning of the year I have experienced delight by enabling others to step into their Zentangle practice and to feel joy too. This meditative art form is a place of beauty, peace, and calm.  

What brings you joy?

As I reflected upon my Zentangle practice and teaching, I realized that it truly brings me joy. I feel totally alive and engaged with my pen in hand.

Zentangle for me is…

a simple (though not always easy) way to bring beauty into my life every day with ease

a lens for viewing life, a reminder to see my life with fresh eyes and new perspective(s), understand that I will make mistakes—it’s part of living—because I try new things and I get them both right and wrong. I am sometimes tired, my best efforts are not always my best work, and working through my missteps—by fixing them or making peace, learning, and moving on, is what enables me to grow. 

art & a science… I bring my own special flair to the guidelines for working with the method.

a reminder to step back and gain a new perspective… there’s always at least one more way to view a situation. I’m always thinking to myself and saying to participants, “Hold your tile at arm’s length and rotate it—90, 180, 270, and then 360 degrees. What do you find as you do so? Which view is most interesting or appealing to you?”

a way to recognize any struggles I’m having and choose a different path.

Poke Leaf is the lovely, organic pattern at the top of this piece.

How often do I say to folks, ”If you’re having a challenge with a particular stroke, try rotating the tile for greater ease.” 

about both comforting and challenging myself. I LOVE and work with about two dozen patterns regularly—they feel easy and comforting. The liveliness of Jetties, the wildness of Squid, the energy of Cadent, and the boldness of Knightsbridge delight me. And, I’m always on the lookout for changing up the way I do one of my “go-to” tangles and for new patterns and media, to keep me sharp and humble… aware of my growing edge.

“What if, instead of just shading the leafy part of Poke Leaf, I use my pen to color in the stem, shade the top of the stem and use the tortillon/smudger to move the pencil lead into the body of the leaf?”

These tangles (patterns) span four 12 inch square canvases.

 

 

“How might I create in a larger space/literally a canvas—how do I need to adapt to the new dimension? What tools will I use?”

a reminder, that there’s a time to put down the pen and walk away from my work… because I have done enough, and doing more may overwork the tile. 

I  caution myself at times, “There’s a time to pause and reflect. I can choose to pick up the pen or pencil again to continue or leave it for now.”

an opportunity to sink into the process, experience flow, and remain unattached to the result. 

There are times that I enjoy the drawing, learn a lot about the patterns and how they fit together yet don’t love the final look of the work. I counsel myself to walk away and return to the piece the next morning, knowing that I may feel differently about the tile then… or I will have learned from it and take that knowledge forward. 

just like so much of how I live my life.

What is your answer to my question, “What brings you joy?” I’d love to know!

If exploring Zentangle piques your interest, please look on my Calendar page to learn about the free class I offer each month and series that is a deep dive into this beautiful art form.