Drawing Solutions: How Visuals Will Change Your Life
Up your Creative Genius: Tune in here for innovative ideas to keep you relevant and expansive. Discover how visuals will increase your team's alignment, help you brainstorm and strategize, and become a living accelerator for your vision of success.
Yesterday a woman that I work with mentioned she was starting a group to help bridge the divide between us. Since the government can’t seem to do it, she felt it was up to us to begin the dialogue that will help to bring us together. “We live in the city of bridges”, she explained, “Doesn’t it make sense to start here?” There would be t-shirts that said, “I’m With Us.” I love her idea.
The world around us is so polarised. When we watch the media, everyone appears to be for or against everything. We avoid dialogue and deliberation and instead, just try to find a forum to shout out our opinions, especially on social media, as if none of us feel heard. The frustration people feel on all sides is palpable.
It’s fascinating to me the level of distress and disruption. Many people were shocked by Trump winning, but just as many people were happy. The gaps in who voted for whom were wide in some demographics - race, educational background etc. What does this tell us? Here we can clearly see the width of the divide.
And what keeps widening that divide? Fear. Our fear of the other, our desire for a better life without a clear route to get there, our constant comparison to others who have or have not. All this set in a culture of blame and lack of empathy. Right now it feels like a hot mess out there.
But we vent and cry and take a deep breath. We pick ourselves back up, we carry on, and we try to shift our perspective. "I’m With Us.”
We can choose love over fear.
We can choose to look beyond the surface of our beliefs and examine the perceptions we hold of others to imagine what it’s like to stand in their shoes.
Why does this new President strike fear into the heart of an immigrant? Why do mothers of black sons lie sleepless at night? Why would someone choose this President? Ellen DeGeneres said on her show, “If we take away the labels, we’ll find out just how alike we really are.”
We are love at the root. Have compassion for yourself and those around you this week. Then dig down for the love.
You will hear bad news this week. You will hear stories of violence and bigotry. Don't let them scare you. There are bad people out there, but the vast bulk of people (Yes, even Trump supporters) are good people. They are people who are afraid for themselves, and for their families. And yes, they may have voted for a person with disgusting views on women and minorities, but they were scared. Many voted for him despite his views, not because of them. Remember that. And remember we are love.
"Good and bad are mixed. If you don’t have both, you don’t belong with us." — Rumi
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Yesterday I was speaking at PSU Women’s Forum in Portland, and everyone there was really amazing – speakers, participants, panelists. One of the morning speakers was Victoria Lara, and she told a story that stuck with me.
Victoria said that some years back she had been under a lot of stress and was working all the time. One day she passed out due to exhaustion and stress, and had a mild heart attack. During the time she was unconscious she had a near death experience. In her experience she saw a long, long line of all the people she had ever known, helped or connected with. It went on and on. There were all kinds of people from her work world, from her personal life, from her community advocacy and service. In that line were her two children, and her brother who had passed.
The people were in that line because they were waiting to get on a scale. A love scale. One-by-one, they would step up to this scale, and it would tell her how much love they had given to her and how much love she had given to them in exchange.
The love scale. That powerful image reminded me of what we're measured for in life.
What she learned from this - and what she shared with the audience - is that it's so, so important to connect with those around you. Not that fake, “How you doing?” “Oh just fine,” kind of connection, but to really take the time to fully experience another human being, or living creature, or just the world around you.
You have the capacity to be a powerful vehicle for love. This week, step onto the love scale and see how much love you give to yourself and how much love life gives to you. I think you’ll be surprised at how much there is to go around.
It’s fall and when the weather starts to change here in the PNW, I notice a few people around me commenting about the feeling of melancholy.
While SAD (seasonal affective disorder) doesn’t affect everyone (especially you Virgo/Libras whose birthdays are coming up) other people are affected, and find themselves eating more bad food and carrying around a deepening sense of gloom.
So how does this happen to us? Is there some brain reaction to the change in weather? I did a little digging...
A little brain backstory…there are two parts to the autonomic nervous system, which work together to control bodily functions. The sympathetic system stimulates body processes, while the parasympathetic system inhibits them.
According to George Wilson of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, SAD could be a "programmed reaction to shorter daylight hours in winter."
Before an animal hibernates, their parasympathetic system works to decrease body processes like temperature and metabolic rate. A colleague of Wilson - Margaret Austen - looked at SAD in humans, and found a similar response.
"Animals prepare for winter by fattening up and then sleeping though it," says Austen. 'In humans that is not practical." Instead of hibernating, we #CreativeGenius humans gain weight and move less in winter - it's part of a natural adaptive mechanism that conserves precious energy.
This watered-down form of hibernation is part of our genetic encoding, and it’s natural to feel its affects, so why not embrace it? Sleep deprivation is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in society, so why not use this natural process to nudge you in the direction of more naps?
Here’s a few hibernation to dos:
Get ready to get some sleep! Make some new pillows or find a deal on new sheets for your bed – if you are going to sleep more, make sure it’s comfy cozy! Then organize a “sleep in” date with yourself to get more than the usual shuteye. Woohoo!
Refresh your winter stores with quick, healthy, satisfying options. Make it easy for yourself to resist the temptation to order more Domino's!
Germinate some of those good ideas. When visiting a friend who is working on a new book, he mentioned he was going to put it away for the winter and look at it in the spring. This might seem illogical to some people, but sleeping on your ideas can give you excellent insight!
Why not embrace the fall? Go pick up leaves and press them into books, or use them to decorate a space in your house. Pick out some pumpkins and litter your porch with them. Light some candles, pull out your warmest, most snuggly blankets and prepare your space for that long winter’s nap. You earned it #creativegenius!
*SIDENOTE: Have some extra blankets, coats, towels or canned food you need to clear out? Skip the trash can and donate them to a shelter! Both human and animal shelters need just this kind of thing in the Fall. Have a Google around to find your closest drop-off point. Everyone deserves to be warm and well-fed this winter.
Sometimes, all we need is a little sweetness to remind us of who we are. #BeSweet #BeKind #BeLOVE
What do I DO?
Recently I have received a number of emails from those of you creative geniuses who have watched the Draw Your Future TEDx talk and afterwards wondered, “What if I don’t know what I want to do?”
Whether you are just starting off your career life or you're switching things up, “What should I do?” is a hard question. It's often loaded with expectations from parents, family or friends. People have lots of “shoulds” when it comes to your life and what you should do with it. Shoulds have a tendency to freeze us in our tracks.
Let’s step back and start by asking a different question, to see if we can open up our options and turn our search into an adventure. Anyone can find a job or a career, but finding something that will fill you up and allow you bring your best self into the world requires a deeper dive into what you desire.
I like to leap over my confusion and anxiety about “how” I do it, to imagine what it could feel like. In the best case scenario, what will I feel like 3 months, 6 months or a year from today.
It's your turn. Start by getting a blank piece of paper and pen or pencil.
Write DESIRED NEW REALITY at the top.
Then ask yourself:
In this new reality, what are the qualities and characteristics I'm experiencing?
On that piece of paper, write and draw what you want to experience. Scatter everything around the page, until you have a mishmash of the things you want to feel a year from today.
Maybe you want to be more creative, or to feel more love. Perhaps you want to know what you are meant to be doing in the world, or you want more friends. Write down all of these things in simple words like “Creative”, “loved”, “happy”, “clear”. Then add a few pictures to remind yourself what that might look like. If you don’t think you can draw, do it anyway, drawing, both good and bad, helps juice up your brain.
Now you know what it will feel like. These are the things you want to be experiencing, no matter what you are “doing” in a career or in your life.
Let’s add some booster fuel. On a separate piece of paper, create a list from 1 to 100. Now, brainstorm and come up with 100 ideas for what you could do, and let yourself really have fun with this. When you have to come up with 100 you are bound to break out of your box. (I know belly dancer wasn’t first on your list, but put it down anyway!)
Now look at the two pages you have created. There are bound to be two or three things on your “do” list that match the things you want to experience in your desired new reality. Let the adventure begin. Choose one or two of your “do” things and come up with 1-2 actions that you could take right away to work towards that goal.
Right away today, go do something to help yourself move towards that goal. Keep it super simple to begin with. Maybe it's a phone call, a Facebook post or a Google Search. Start taking those baby steps towards your desired new reality.
Know that you might not experience the feelings you desire right away because getting there takes work. At each step in the journey, pull out that Desired New Reality picture and ask yourself, “Does/will this new thing fill me with more…(creativity, love, friendships…etc)
Finding your “What Should I Do?” is an evolving process. Know that the more fun you have in the process, the more room you’ll make for #creativegeniusyou.
Wow this is a troubling time. Heartbreaking. Difficult. Lots of fear everywhere.
Fear can have a powerful grasp if you let it in. It can choke creativity and freedom and put a big stop to your momentum.
You can freeze in the face of fear, or you can take control, double down and keep moving.
When I was studying as an actor in NYC, late one night after some serious partying, our car broke down in a very scary part of town. I was petrified to even get out of the car. The woman I was with, turned to me and said, “Well, we can’t stay here.” She steered us into the closest all night convenience store and brought out 2 big steaming hot cups of coffee and handed one to me.
“Here”, she said, “We probably need this to keep our hands warm and if someone unruly comes by, here’s our response.” Then she turned and we started quickly walking towards the subway station way across town, both of us talking as loud as we could, at her insistence. She seemed so brave to me. Her instincts just kicked into high gear and the next thing I knew we were home. Safely.
I learned how important it is to step into and through your fear. Be bold and be smart. Fear tries to hold you frozen in place. But right here during these times, let’s choose love over fear. As a country we have come so far in our state of consciousness in some areas, we can’t go back.
This is the month of Pride so let’s celebrate for all those who can’t. Get out and show your love and support for the people around you. Meet your neighbors, take a box of biscuits to the lady down the street with that barky dog, show compassion to people who are having a hard time and just give as much love as you can. Thank people for being in your life and be thankful for your life.
Love is the antidote to fear and hate. Take the love challenge and see just how much love we can give, to ourselves for who we are and to those around us for being with us on this journey.
As a matter of fact I might need to beat it everyday until I remember to practice it.
It’s the judgment diffuser.
It’s the beautiful entry point into truth vs. story.
It’s the portal into fact vs fiction .
Someone bugging you? Be curious.
Feel frustrated by something? Ask “What’s this about?”
Wishing something or someone would change? Boot up your curiosity gene.
I’m in a session, a participant talks incessantly to his neighbour at the back of the room. He covers his hand, whispers something, then laughs uproariously. It’s. Very. Distracting.
Politely, I ask him to be quiet. As if I am a fly, he swats at the air and then persists. I try an old school technique of separating the two of them. He refuses to move. His neighbour refuses. Next I embarrass him. Fail. Then the ultimate intervention. Shame. Yes, I did. I stooped that low. UGH.
Driving to the airport, I debrief myself and something hits me: CURIOSITY. That’s what was missing; simple, judgment-free curiosity. Real curiosity. Why was he talking? What did he need? What was he getting out of that moment with his friend? OK too late to ask him, so I turned to myself. Why wasn’t I curious in that moment in the room?
Was I worried about distracting the other participants? Yes, but…
That wasn’t the real thing. The truth wasI was taking it all personally.
I made up a whole story about why he had to talk and it went something like this: He didn't like me.
Once that story was set, my brain got out an old vinyl and dropped the arm down on “Not good enough.”
Unfortunately the end to a fictional story that judges someone else’s behaviour inevitably ends with you.
This week get curious about everything. Start asking questions when you aren’t bugged so when you ARE bugged you’ll have programmed yourself to be curious by default.
Walk into almost any office and you’ll see people furiously writing away on whiteboards, frosted glass walls, and erasable table tops. According to The Wall Street Journal, the late Steve Jobs and Seattle’s own Jeff Bezos have both been hailed as whiteboard virtuosi. So, the idea of working through problems and storytelling using a whiteboard is definitely not new. What is new, is making the art and science of visual storytelling teachable. And teach it we shall.