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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

Skillfully Navigating Mistakes

Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak.

We all make ‘em.

When is the last time you made a mistake?

My most recent mistake was last night. (Hahaha! I wrote “My last mistake was last night” in my first draft—as if! Though there’s an interesting thought, what if I never made another mistake? Well, I’ll never find out the answer to that question!)

… I expected a course to be available to me, based on my mental calculation of dates, and so wrote customer service to ask about the “problem.“ A little while after writing the email, I realized my error. I immediately wrote to them and apologized for my error. Honestly, it was easy, in part, because it was so clear that I was wrong, and perhaps also that I didn’t have a relationship with them or a position to protect in this instance. Food for thought!

Earlier this week I was interested in an artist’s course. I received information about this tantalizing new opportunity in an email and also saw it on Instagram. As I read the copy and saw the Early Bird pricing I was astonished and delighted.

When I clicked through the link to register for the course, I discovered that the EB price was actually missing a zero… so while it was still a good price, I was disappointed. I also thought the artist should know about the significant error so that she could make the correction. I sent a quick email and received a speedy reply. She said to me that the information was already out there through her e-zine and she couldn’t correct it. I was unsatisfied with that response. I wrote her back and said I understood about ezines going out—I certainly have made my share of typos in writing and always want to recall the writings with errors and yet can’t — so I made the suggestion that she re-post on Instagram. I never heard back from her. It made me think less of her—though perhaps that’s too strong. It does make me wonder about her commitment to clarity, honesty, and transparency. It is just one action of a person so perhaps it is more accurate to say that it colored my impression of her and I am warier of working with her.

We all make mistakes.

And there are all different kinds of mistakes—from typos and wordos to pricing and more. And I wonder about the interrelationship between the kind of mistake made and the range of responses that are possible — from doing nothing to nearly obsessing over it.

In my training to become a member of the bikablo global team, we talked about transparency–sharing our mistakes and looking at them as opportunities for learning. It’s a conversation that I have in all my training programs too—as my mistakes are the chance to talk about how we skillfully work with errors, from both practical and social-emotional perspectives.

In my plorking (playing and working) as a Certified Zentangle Teacher, I share the philosophy of the Zentangle method.

There are no mistakes, we work with what we create and make it beautiful.

If you’ve tangled with me, then you know the pencils that we use in the kits that I send out to participants, have no erasers on them. Some folks are uncomfortable with that reality and that perspective.

On a related note, I’m about to start The Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple of years and now feels like the right time. I’m delighted to discover that one of their themes for Volume No. Eighteen  is “no erasing.” It feels like a perfect fit! So as you can imagine, I’m going to make the entire book—16 pages, 32 surfaces (front and back)—a compendium of Zentangle patterns. I know I will make mistakes because I will be working with patterns that are new to me in combination with favorites of mine (and I make my share of mistakes with patterns that are familiar to me too). I’m also going to experiment with a variety of media and no doubt that will provide both joys and challenges.

I will most likely see, on a daily basis, how I am working with the mistakes that I make as a part of my journey. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

Where are you making mistakes? What are you learning as you work through and beyond them?

How do you feel about relaxing, focusing more easily, and having fun?

What is this thing called Zentangle?

Just last week I was sharing my love of Zentangle—a meditative art—with members of the IAF Visual Facilitation SIG. Toward the end of the session, we were talking about how relaxing and fun it was to create such beautiful designs  and I was asked, “So how would you use this in a work setting?” I live for such questions—as applicability is my jam!

So we chatted about it—and I shared a laundry list of ways. Here are a few:

* Enhancing team cohesion—focusing on how, when learning new tangles together, we use the same tools, “string” (spaces within which we work), and tangles (patterns) and our work is both similar and different. It’s a perfect place to begin conversations about how we work together as a team, to recognize areas of commonality and diversity, i.e., we have common goals, similar and different skills, approaches, communication styles, personalities, etc.

 

* making the time to explore how this method engages our minds and bodies simultaneously – creating whole body/embodied experiences.

*diving into new tangles, new combinations of patterns, and re-visiting old/well-known patterns in new ways provides us with fresh, stimulating experiences, challenging us to remain focused, in the moment, experimental.

* wrestling with our inner critic—because sometimes we can’t easily leave that little devil at the door! Learning to breathe through the mistakes we make—because we’re human and we will make mistakes—and continuing to move forward. (Notice that there’s no eraser on a Zentangle pencil!)

* living the philosophy which permeates the Zentangle method. Here are just a few of the ideas I share with folks

* learning to step away and return to our work refreshed. I tangle at night and there are times I don’t love my work as I put it away… when I see it the next morning I am always happier… perhaps it’s because my inner critic got a good night’s sleep!

* slowing down and taking multiple perspectives—feeling the beauty and surprises in seeing our work from different angles—just by rotating the tiles… and carrying the skills of pausing, becoming open to possibilities, and shifting perspectives into our work and personal lives.

* actively supporting people’s taking care of themselves—making time, from five minutes to a lunch hour —for stepping away from work and the ever-present screen, to become absorbed in the delight and the challenge of using simple tools to create beautiful patterns… emerging from the experience refreshed.

* encouraging thinking in new and different ways—not only when we approach a new tile, but also in the media that can be used… look here to see many of my “off the tile” creations—on sneakers, mugs, jewelry, pencil cases… and in instances where I engage in ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) most often for fundraisers/causes I support and gifts for family and friends. How can we look beyond the ways we have previously engaged in processes and developed products to literally change the foundation from which we work. (I feel a parallel here to Ben Zander’s ideas in The Art of Possibility, about changing the table on which the game is played. (If you don’t know the book, check it out, it’s one of my favorites!)

While it’s clear that I am passionate about the Zentangle method and tangling, I haven’t shared the most important element to me. When I teach folks to tangle they see themselves in new ways—in an hour’s time! My heart sings when people say at the end of our session, “I am an artist!”

Are you ready to tangle? Join me for Relax, focus, and have fun with Zentangle on Thursday, May 13th for my Creative Mornings Field Trip, learn more and register here!

Story of my life: Exciting Opportunity + Deadline = Motivation

What motivates you?

Just last week I was presented with the opportunity to do something I’ve been meaning to get to for a few months—something that I enjoy doing, love to share, and have folks ask me about often—teaching Zentangle!

Background

The practice of this art form, (developed by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts), is meditative and relaxing in nature. The tangling looks complex, yet it’s the use of one or more of five simple lines to form myriad patterns, and there are guidelines for doing so. Engaging in the drawing transforms people’s beliefs about themselves. Really! Learners enter the classes unsure of themselves and their capabilities and leave feeling that they are artists.

“I found the Zentangle class very soothing, relaxing, and meditative after a stressful week. Jill Greenbaum is an excellent instructor who goes step by step for someone like me with no artistic talent.” Berthe Burnside

Recent Past

At the beginning of the pandemic, I offered free Zentangle classes to my visual practitioner colleagues. It was such fun! I started thinking that I should offer more classes online—I am generally a hands-on learning gal. As often happens, life got busy, and I didn’t pull together all the pieces to this puzzle.

Then fate/opportunity stepped in. My friend, Catherine Allen, whom I met while volunteering for a medical service trip to the Humla Valley in Nepal, created an ezine, Little Bit of Zen, and began offering free meditation sessions on Saturday mornings. I meditate consistently and love to support my friends. Catherine also came to one of my online Zentangle classes and enjoyed it. As we brainstormed a bit about how to get the word out about our endeavors, we decided to promote each other—and that’s when I got serious about offering Zentangle classes again.

For me, a learning opportunity, or sharing a learning experience, and a deadline are the perfect combination!

How about you?

What ignites your passion to begin a project? What do you know about yourself that supports you in getting done those delightful, exciting, new, or even old ideas, that are languishing? Do you need a buddy, a coach, to carve out time in your schedule, resources, or more information/learning? Can you put your finger on it? 

Because Catherine asked me for information to share about my Zentangle work with her growing group of meditators, I created a new page on my website, to share my passion for tangling. I’ll start offering online classes again on September 5th. I am excited to be walking on this path again.

Learn more about the joys of Zentangle here, and Catherine’s offerings here. 

Upon reflection, I realize what I need to motivate me—and I will leverage that information when I get caught up in wanting, and yet not moving forward.

What’s calling to you—and how will you find a way to answer?

Relax, focus, and have fun with Zentangle!

Start your day with me! Join me for my Creative Mornings Field Trip on Thursday, May 13th at 8:30 am ET.

Discover the many ways to draw beautiful patterns with the Zentangle method, an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.  As you practice, you will learn to create wonderful pieces with this art form.  You also can increase your focus and create a different mood and state of mind. We will explore, with a small paper, pen, and pencil, simple deliberate strokes which build on each other in mesmerizing and surprising ways.  Zentangle can be enjoyed across a wide range of skills, interests, and ages. Everyone is welcome to become a part of this delightful journey. No artistic experience is necessary.

Find the link to register on my Calendar page and learn about the few tools that you need to begin your journey. Hope to see you there!