Alignment, close to the heart.

Drawings, Writing
my one word for 2016, #suedle style.

my one word for 2016, #suedle style.

 

This past year was full of moments of joy, both the planned and the unexpected. When I look back on this year, I realize I had lots of big dreams. Dreaming is my way of finding joy.

When I reflected on my year of joy in search for a new word for 2016, I thought I would do something similar to other reflective posts – link back to a bunch of joyful moments of 2015. I have to admit I hesitated to do this & ultimately decided against it. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to share the ‘happy times.’ I very much do, particularly lately when it seems our world isn’t so joyful.

It’s just that…Well, more than I want to share these moments, I want to hold onto them. I want to keep them in a private space, somewhere close to my heart, near my soul. I want to be selfish.  I want them to be mine. Some moments are not meant to be shared with my whatever-something followers. I’d rather call the few people I would share it with if we were all standing in the same room. Somehow, its more meaningful that way.

 

This may sound weird. I guess it is a little weird, considering I’m sharing this on a blog. But, 2015 really taught me a ton about private moments of joy and how I am in so in love with them. I want more of that.

I think I realized this in April when Dan asked me to marry him. (See? If you just followed me here, you probably had no idea this even happened! Don’t worry, I had no idea it was happening either.) At first, it was pure torture for the both of us not to hop online, update ALL the statuses and tell the world that we would be going on foodventures together for the rest of our lives. However, something pretty cool happened by not sharing right away – I recognized I LOVED not posting about it. Those few days where nothing was online about our newfound relationship status were total bliss. It was like our (and our families & close friends) little secret. I held it close to my heart, just like I wanted.

There were a few other moments over 2015 where I had moments like this. And that brings us to today. My ‘one words’ over the past few years have focused on action & experience. Finish. Do. Joy. During those years, I had listed out some pretty specific goals to go along with each one. I think somewhere in my mind I thought, Oh easy, I’ll pick a word, I’ll do these few things and I’ll feel great! Piece of cake.

But I’ve discovered, for me, that doesn’t really work. (I cannot believe it took me three years to realize that.) My ‘one word’ has to be more like a theme for it to be effective. A mantra, of sorts. ‘Joy’ was great for that – in obvious moments of joy, but also in moments that were complete shit too. It brought me back around, shifted my focus to turn and look at the good.

Les Brown quote

This year, I want to purposefully find the things that are close to my heart. I want to align myself with ‘those’ people. I want to be a bit more selfish. Development, whether personal or professional, has always been something I value. I want to find & invest in things that make me better, in people that strengthen me. This year, I’m working to align the things I want to do with who I am and who I want to be. I have a few ideas of what this might look like (more reading, more drawing, more walking and a suedle rebrand!) and what it might not look like. I definitely know that for now, I’ll be taking a step away from some social media platforms to have time to do other things.

I think the best part about ‘align’ is that those things could change. I think one of my favorite podcasters, Jess Lively, puts it best. She consistently says, ‘this thing might not serve me in this space I am right now. But, it could serve me if things change in the future.’ I dig the flexible, self aware nature of that statement. It aligns with what I’m trying to do.

So, for now, bye bye Twitter & Facebook. And hello to new drawings on Instagram and pictures of my cat on Snapchat. If you want to say hello, you can comment here, find me there or my personal favorite – we can chat offline! Preferably over a caffeinated beverage.

Or you can head over here to hear more about suedles and the update taking place soon. 

Thanks for hearing me out and I hope to see a few of you along the journey.

align

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suedles on stage.

Drawings, Multimedia, Writing

this Saturday marks many firsts for me.

 

it will be my first time traveling to Indianapolis.

ACPA will be my first national conference.

and (drumroll) it’s the first time #suedles will be on a national stage.

 

nervous excitement at its best!

nervous excitement at its best!

 

i’m excited to announce that  i will be sue-dlinglive

for the opening & closing sessions (and more!) at the ACPA National Convention

 

bringing visual language to our field can help ‘reinvent’ how we communicate with each other, process information and encourage this kind of expression in our home institutions. i’m pumped to be involved in such a unique way and grateful to those who helped make this happen.

 

if you are attending the conference be sure to say hi. oh, and keep your eyes peeled during the rest of the conference. you never know where you will find a suedle… 🙂

 

follow the backchannel using the #ACPA14 and #suedle from March 26th – April 2nd for conference fun and illustrations galore! 

finding the batman to your robin.

Drawings, Writing
the dynamic duo.

the dynamic duo.

there have definitely been moments this past week where i have felt like part of a dynamic duo.

if you haven’t heard yet, my partner in crime Amma Marfo released her first eBook, which i had the pleasure of illustrating. this was such a surreal experience in itself, but i am SO incredibly proud of her (and us) for getting it done. in true introvert fashion, the amount of attention the book received left me craving for some time to reflect. so i did what any person would do – watched a documentary about one of my favorite childhood shows – ‘Holy Batmania!,’ featuring Adam West as Batman and more tacky pows and bamfs than you could ever want to see.

different people can push you towards your goals in very different ways. i have found that there is nothing more motivating than a partnership – someone who shares your goal (or a version of it) and someone who is in the trenches with you. the recent collaboration with Amma was refreshing; it felt like finding the Batman to my Robin. here’s a few reasons why having a partner is uniquely motivating.

it’s someone to be drafty with.

i’ve written before about how showing your drafts can leave you feeling very exposed. in the right situation with the right partner, being drafty often encourages growth. this growth can happen rapidly and deeply, in a very organic state. in Steven Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From“, he talks about slow hunches. slow hunches are ideas that are ‘half-baked’ and develop from a series of connections over time. a partnership is one way to enhance your slow hunches by sharing them. Batman didn’t sit there and twiddle his thumbs when he was pondering the Joker’s next move. he talked to Robin about his hunches.

share your tissues and your pom-poms.

when Amma approached me about illustrating her book, i was quite excited. i soon realized ‘much to be done’ was an understatement. during a collaboration, prepare yourself with two things: tissues and pom-poms. many would expect the latter; it’s exciting to work closely with someone, celebrate the wins and see the end result. but the tissues are just as important – for the frustrating times, the times of doubt and to wipe up some sweat from working so hard! keep both in your utility belt. your partner will appreciate it whilst scaling the side of a building.

showing your diversity. 
personally, i prefered Robin’s colorful attire as opposed to the muted Batman garbs. but, you have to appreciate Batman’s calculated way of devising a plan and serious driving skills. in many ways, this dynamic duo displays why diversity is key in partnerships. Batman and Robin both have different ways of handling situations. this can be a struggle and a benefit of teamwork. partnerships can work the same way. experiencing this first hand as an illustrator to an author have given me a greater sense of appreciation for my strengths and the will to work on my weaknesses. not only is Robin better under the guidance of Batman; they are a better team because of one another.

what do you love about partnerships? who are you collaborating with? how has it helped you grow?

cheers to the finish.

Writing

not to be a downer but…new years was never my favorite holiday. back when i worked as an overnight counselor, i always offered to pick up the new year’s shift. (full disclosure: my employer left butter pecan ice cream for me as a thank you, which was enough to keep me coming back for a few years…) my fondest memories include hanging out with my family watching Life Is Beautiful and participating in the Coney Island Polar Plunge.

last year, NYE was especially memorable for two reasons – this blog and my #oneword2013. both had peaked my interest late in the year and i was terrified to give either a shot. what if i can’t think of anything to write? what if no one reads it? what if i fail to keep my one word resolution? what the heck am i going to pick?

i chose finish as my one word for 2013, knowing full well that this phrase has always been a weakness of mine. need someone to brainstorm and generate new ideas? i’m your gal. it’s seeing things all the way through and ‘tying them in a bow’ that needed work.

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as we finish another year, i look fondly upon the end of 2013. while it wasn’t the easiest at times, i ‘finished’ several tasks i set out to achieve. two half marathons, a 5k, the creation and development of this blog, successful programs at work, my first conference presentation, my new apartment with Dan and spreading quirkiness via the #suedle – i have tied those bows so tight, good luck ripping them off.

while focusing on finishing brought me a sense confidence, i learned some unexpected lessons in resilience and compromise. there are goals that i didn’t finish and goals that i met with disappointment. i tried to tie the bow and wound up with knots instead. my second half marathon took me almost 3 hours to complete – nearly forty minutes longer than the last. instances like this called for reflection to find patience and strength that i sometimes loose along the way. that lesson + the will to keep working towards the finish makes completion so much sweeter.

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i hope that you tie your bows tight, cherish the knots and find your finish in the new year. cheers!

letting it all hang out: the creation station.

Drawings, Paintings, Writing

balancing the creation station.

this weekend, Dan and i finally transformed our new place into a home by adding some finishing touches. one particular area that needed some extra TLC was our spare room.

when we were apartment hunting, extra space was a key factor in our decision. Dan is a music teacher rockstar and i have more paint than i’d like to admit. we both needed a door to close and a space to accommodate our creative needs.

the end result?

my own little space.

my own little space.

after stepping back to admire the space, i found myself wondering why we hadn’t done this sooner…and why i had never dedicated a place where my supplies were easily accessible. Dan pushed for our ‘gear’ being out in the open. “if you have to unpack something, or take it out of the closet, you’ll never paint.”

he was right. it’s easier to find an excuse when your paints aren’t staring you right in the face.

how creepy are these guys?

creepy paint #suedle.

after watching an interview with artist’s James Victore (from The Story Of Telling) i kind of figured out why i hadn’t prioritized this room. finishing this space would mean that i wouldn’t have an excuse. i was, as Victore puts it, “resisting what i needed most.”

producing and creating on a regular basis means letting it all hang out, having no excuses and preserving the space and time to do so.

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scribbles during the interview.

good thing i have three nice little shelves, a bunch of paint and a Dan to remind me that my work is a gift.

hey, you. your drafts are showing.

Drawings, Writing

if you live in my house, a ‘draft’ references one of two things – football or a piece of art that’s halfway done.

both raise my blood pressure, but let’s go with the second example for this post.

 

the most common draft that i experience looks a little something like this:

20131029-173220.jpg

the many by-products before a suedle.

however, they take many forms.

a policy that needs editing,
a run that wasn’t the best,
a presentation that contained stutters,
and a conversation that resulted in a mess.

drafts rear their ugly heads everywhere.

20131029-173438.jpg

we all have our own version of a draft monster.

drafts also offer something else.

a chance to step outside the box,
the time to practice it once more,
the gift of reflection and revision
and the opportunity to make it better than the first time.

it can be very difficult to let your drafts show.

but hey, every once in a while, it might be worth the risk to get a little drafty.

seein’ Sparks: Light the Night.

Drawings, Writing

 

a #suedle for the walk.

a #suedle for the walk.

a few posts ago, i wrote about a student of mine who passed away recently.

i’d like to share a letter that i wrote for his memorial service this past week.

 

Dear Branson,

I remember sitting in the Servery of your second home the day you left us. It was pretty late and I was staring at the leftover food from the transition session. Through sadness, I remember smiling as I put the leftovers in the Student Refrigerator; there was actually a decent vegetarian salad that you would have claimed had you been there.

As I sat back down, the day’s emotion caught up with me; I opened my notebook looking for an outlet. I thought about you, your family, friends, peers and staff members.

I sat there for a little while longer. I guess I didn’t realize it at the time but I was listening. Listening to how quiet the building sounded without your laughter or comedic voices. Wondering how many chocolate pieces would go uneaten in our offices and how many IT issues would go unsolved. Figuring out how I would get all my work done without your daily emails about the latest stamp released or latest artist you had heard of. Worrying about all the members of our community. I know many other people in this room are wondering similar things.

My mind turned to the good. I remember the moment I ‘met’ you. It’s a moment someone has actually spoken about – your application picture. I remember specifically commenting to my supervisor, “oh I think I’ll get along with this one just fine.” I remember your first OBGYN Initial Clinical Experience and how you had me doubled over with laughter describing your day. I remembering helping you pick out a piece of art for your room. And I remember you telling the story of how you found our school and couldn’t wait to start your life as a physician.

The funny thing about all of this is Branson, you were already a doctor in your own way. Besides your unshakeable faith in what this school stands for, you have taught us so much about resilience and courage in the face of an absolute mess. Your daily rounds took the form of conversations and laughter with the people in the School of Medicine. In a lot of ways, we were your patients and your goal was to make our lives a little brighter.

Upon further reflection, one of my fondest memories was a conversation we had about a post on your blog “a little bit of the best of everything.” It was dated October 5, 2011 – right around this time two years ago. It goes a little something like this:

“There are many times that life intervenes in things that we like to do. Despite what everyone has said, medical school is tough. Please note the thinly-veiled sarcasm in that last sentence.

I will post some pieces when I can, hopefully very soon. I’ve got some interesting projects in the mill, but none of them are quite ready for primetime.

Know that even though no activity is immediately discernible here, the wheels ares still cranking behind the scenes. I promise!”

Knowing that you are still behind the scenes definitely gives me some comfort. I feel blessed to have known you and learned from you as an administrator and friend. Thank you.

Big hugs,
Sue

it’s amazing how one little ‘Spark’ can have such an affect on our world(s).

in honor of an amazing medical student, i am walking with our school to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. your contribution, no matter the amount, can make a difference. please join me in remembering Branson & looking forward to a bright future. many thanks.

win, lose or – dash.

Drawings, Writing

preface: i do not have a good poker face. at all.

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my friend and mentor Chris tweeted this today…

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Mallory and Chris have both written fantastic posts in the past few days about finding your ‘why.’ (check ’em here and here.) normally, any mention of a #suedle makes me squirm with anticipation and grab the closest felt tip pen.

today, not so much. Chris’s tweet literally made me recoil. then it made me reflect on the ‘why.’

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june and july are busy months in medical education. this year, we welcomed a new class of MS1s and congratulated our MS2s and MS3s on successful transition. it’s an exciting time and one of the only things that can keep me indoors during beautiful summer months.

confession: i am struggling to celebrate these beginnings properly this year. beginnings and endings often go hand-in-hand. in all of this happiness is an underlying reminder of two recent endings. one is the loss of a student in his year long battle with cancer. the other was the sudden loss of my uncle in july. its hard to find words to express how i feel about these events. it’s been more difficult to express them with my preferred medium too.

i have been at a loss for a suedle.

when dealing with wins and losses, new beginnings and endings, i often find that it’s the ‘why’ that hits us the hardest. it’s enlightening to articulate the ‘why’ when you can. when you can’t, it can be frustrating, sad and impossible. it’s really difficult to embrace that unknown ‘why’ and just roll with the punches, especially when it effects the people you love.

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one of my cousins shared a really beautiful poem during the services for my uncle. not only did i find comfort in this piece, but it also made me think (a ton). it made me reflect on my own journey so far, and all of the things that i would want to share in my dash…and all of the ‘whys’ to go with them.

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an exercision.

Paintings, Writing

on sunday morning, i participated in The Color Run held in Brooklyn, NY. The Color Run is literally my dream come true. it’s a leisurely 5k race, open to all levels of runners. the atmospheric excitement is a lot to handle as participants get ready to “race” through stations and have colored chalk thrown at them. the end result looks something like this:

20130709-150439.jpg

hi mom!

it’s addictive, exciting, and just a good environment – literally the perfect race. i would highly recommend participating if there is one nearby.

yesterday was a ton of fun for me. however, it was probably one of the worst races i have ever run. the heat and chalk made the environment difficult to breathe and it took a larger toll on me than i imagined. i wound up walking for a fair amount of the race.

after spending some of the evening pretty disappointed in my performance, i had a little revelation. running is a lot like creating a new piece to me. you can’t just pick up a paintbrush after a few months & expect your first creation to be genius material. and you definitely can’t sit on your couch for two weeks and then expect to run a 5k in 90 degree heat. if i train for runs, just like i ‘train’ the creative side of my brain, the outcome will show how hard i worked.

20130709-150410.jpg

a breakthrough piece in 2010.

i created many duds before i produced the piece pictured above. i believe this piece was created because i failed many, many times and pushed through that. when the time was right and my training was done, this piece was the result. if i want my running career to echo my creative one, it’s time to dig deeper.

on to the next race!

 

 

untitled

acrylic and marker on canvas

3 feet x 3 feet

fall 2010

let it settle.

Drawings, Writing

i had a huge problem with the word ‘settling’ – or more specific the verb to ‘settle for’ – for a long time.

settle for, to be satisfied with: to settle for less.

that definition derives anything BUT a settling feeling. who would want to ‘give up’ and settle? aren’t we supposed to push and give 110% all the time?

contrary to this belief, i’ve recently come to think that the act of settling can have a greater value than i ever anticipated. a quote from my yoga teacher helped me reach this conclusion.

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a suedle of the settling sorts.

the teacher repeats this several times throughout the 90 minute class during periods of savasana. these short rest periods are meant to provide a break to energize and heal the body from the taxing poses. they also serve as a mental break; they allow us to teach our minds how accept quiet and focus when we reach our tipping point. finding a sense of calm on the yoga mat matches a secondary definition of settle that i have come to appreciate:

to come to rest, as from flight: A bird settled on a bough.

not only do i appreciate the imagery that is associated with this definition, but it provides an important reminder… settling is an important part in the process of taking flight again.