The week that started 26th August

This has been a week of endings. But I’m not sad. Because I see it as a week of renewed beginnings.

Like, because I’ve finished The Artist’s Way, again, I get to start it. Again.

Endings are a cause for celebration.

I’ve successfully completed four weeks of study. I’ve learned about learning. Now I’ll learn something else.

I celebrated what I learned in my last job by going to Kew Gardens with and friends. It was important for me to draw a line in the sand, recognise a way marker, and acknowledge that milestone before moving into my next role.

So, here’s to endings. And new beginnings.

LiLi celebrates enthusiastically

Monday: Last day of my residency, Writing in Constable Country

I am plaintive cries from sheep, communicating hotly beneath hawthorn
I am the flawless green coat of the mill pond
I am the fluttering wings of dancing butterflies and bats

This poem extract was inspired by The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee by N. Scott Momaday.

I am the glitter on the crust of the snow.

this line from the poem stood out to me

Having learned more about the poem, and the poet, I felt like what I’d write wouldn’t hold nearly as much symbolism and depth. But, I decided to write something inspired by it anyway.

The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee by N. Scott Momaday

We looked at some other portrait poems to help us too:

Writing residency learnings

  • Definitely want to do a Creative Writing MA.
  • Combining water and woods with writing was fascinating to me. I learned more about willow and beech because I was tasked to look closely at trees that called to me. I intend to gravitate towards a tree, on a regular basis, write what I observe, and form my observations into writing pieces. Looking is the foundation of drawing and botany too…
  • Lots of ideas for writing workshops I want to create!
  • Absolutely going to create my own solo residency experience. I’d like to take myself away for a weekend each month.

Next steps (15% solutions)

  • Pick 1 weekend in September and 1 weekend in October. Block those dates out in my calendar for a ‘Solo Writing Residency’.
  • Pick a date in September to go to the woods and block it out in my calendar. Make sure it’s during a week that isn’t already crammed with too many activities and too little energy. Put in the event details: “Combining water and woods with writing. Gravitate towards a tree, look closely at it, write what I observe, form notes into writing pieces.”
  • Create a ‘Learn me: List of Curiosities’ learning backlog. Put ‘Creative Writing MA’ on it.
  • Start a ‘Writing Workshops’ collection with ideas for what/how/why I want to do things. Including Jot. Bin. Pants. x 1-2-4-all activity from Hamburg’s workshop.
  • Schedule Artist Dates for 3 weeks of September. Because I don’t do them if/when I don’t schedule them. Use, Central Tickets,

Musings about writing activities

Rebecca created and led us through a lot of really useful activities, which involved a lot of looking at & writing about water, trees and people interacting with the landscape.

We used and created lists of words and quotes: Water, textures, trees. Helped me get away from using cliches or relying on the same small set of words.

I appreciated that Rebecca brought so many materials and resources with her. Boxes of books about trees, water and John Constable, laid out for our perusal. Photos and illustrations of trees. Plus, a growing collection of treasures from nature – leaves, wild flowers, nuts – which we all contributed to.

The Bright Field by R. S. Thomas

Tuesday: Learning: Study & Liberating Structures

Not only did I complete the course Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects… I got full marks in my final assignment! 😁

So, the question is, what to learn next?!

And, I’ve got that covered – or, I will – by the learning backlog I’m creating.

It was LS London on Tuesday too. Now, I’m even more sure that what I want to focus on with Liberating Structures are the core repertoire. I mean, up to 10 interaction tools useful in many situations, which I want to support people to use in their day-to-day lives, professional and personal.

I’ll write more about that another time.

Which 10 Liberating Structures would you choose?

Wednesday: Deconstructing Agile

I was really excited about this Deconstructing Agile workshop. Because, in addition to why are we doing agile things I wanted to explore what is this word ‘agile’ anyway?

So, I was curious about exactly what was going to happen in this workshop.

It exceeded my expectations.

We explored the idea of ‘agile in body’ as a metaphor for the thought work we do, discussing which synonyms apply to our workplaces.

Would you describe your work or workplace as nimble, sprightly, graceful? Why? Why not? What words do fit your work or workplaces?

We discussed misuses of this word ‘agile’.

‘Agile’ has often come to mean:
We can change our mind whenever we want and everyone else has to keep up.

We discussed agile principles being guidelines for ways of behaviour, in the same way that religions have guidelines for ways of behaving. On the other hand,

Some folks talk of organisations as being 50% agile in a way that no one describes being 50% Catholic.

We looked at the manifesto for agile software development. Really looked at it. Taking each line separately we distilled them to 1 or 2 words each in small groups (trios).

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

· Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

· Working software over comprehensive documentation

· Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

· Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

What words would you choose to summarise each of these values?

I really recommend this as an exercise for anyone reading this, before you continue.

I was surprised to see that each of the 3 groups came up with fairly similar findings:

  • Relationships
  • Value
  • Partnerships
  • Adaptive

By doing this I/we came to realise that agile only really covers the last of the 4 values.

We explored what is important to each of us, and what we want to focus on in our lives.

For me, connection is primary. More humane workplaces is what’s important to me. It’s what runs through all the ‘extra curricular’ work I do around recovering from burnout. Wellbeing is so important to me that a previous manager said I put ‘too much’ emphasis on it. I don’t think that’s possible. How could working to encourage people’s health and happiness be ‘too much’?

So, what’s most important to me in the manifesto for agile software development is relationships and partnerships. Maybe I would call it the manifesto for collaborative software development, or the manifesto for people-centred software development. Which is pretty cumbersome to say. No wonder it gets abbreviated to the agile manifesto!

We need all 4 things, but having this clarity helps me get clear on where and how to focus. As well as what I’m likely to overlook or leave behind.


Thursday: Ending the Artist’s Way, for the second time

We each picked a card to focus on for the future. I picked Rest, so I’m going to cut this write-up short and follow the advice!

Friday: Riverside

Immediately putting into practice the directive to rest I spent some time beside the river Thames with a dear friend. Very chilled.


Chatting with a dear friend about goals and things, I referenced Tobias Mayer’s article on VAGUE dreams.

Which reminded me that I wrote about goals and set priorities earlier this year.

Re-reading , I’m reflecting on what’s stayed the same and what’s changed.

My priorities now (August 2019):

  • Writing
  • Trees
  • Healthy habits

Learning is important to me too. And I think I’m doing that anyway. Like, there are lots of things outside of this list that are important to me. And it’s super helpful having a list of 3. And the idea is to make all of these things so habitual that I’m just continuously giving them time and energy. Working on that!

My priorities then (January 2019):

I gave myself a word for the year – Connection – and a guiding principle – Personal > Professional or Personal is priority.

And I called these my key areas of focus:

  • Personal
    • Haha, talk about vague. Spending time with trees, friends and myself is more like what I want for this area, I think. Connection covers these more specifically than ‘Personal’. 
    • I’m doing pretty well on connecting with friends, and prioritising them. It’s not something I need to explicitly focus on here. And, time with myself is covered by my extensive – and renewed – bullet journal habit, as well as writing weeknotes. ‘Trees’ covers the rest.
    • There’s also something in ‘Personal’ about enjoying my life, doing things I want to do, having fun, doing things that are meaningful to me. And I think I’m doing these things and/or they’re included under ‘Healthy habits’.
  • Food & fitness
    • Fits under ‘Healthy habits’ for me. Definitely more work to do here.
  • Creativity
    • Fits under Writing for me (it’s bigger than ‘just’ writing and simultaneously I do a bunch of stuff that isn’t writing in order to be more creative in order to do more/better writing)
  • Travel
    • I travelled *loads* in March and April, and am a bit over it now. Like, I feel like I did pretty much all the travelling I needed for the year in the space of a month or so
  • Community
    • Bit vague, but I used it to add a line in my budget for investing in community, and it’s habit for me now. So I don’t need to focus on it.
  • Professional
    • I focus on my professional life in a pretty unbalanced way even when I don’t specifically mention it. So, I don’t need to include it.

And this is serving as a good reminder to create an overall summary of my sabbatical when it’s ending:

Anyway, it’s time for me to switch to travel-mode and log off. So, see you in a week. 👋🏿

LiLi floating on clouds in space and captioned DREAM BIG