From the category archives:


Intuitive Painting

Last August, I embarked on a 10-month Expressive Arts Teacher Training program with Chris Zydel. We completed our fourth and final retreat this past week! It’s hard to believe how fast time flies and how much has happened since the first retreat. While I was really excited to finish the training so I can bring the work out into the world, I also enjoyed getting to play with my fellow teacher trainees one last time (including a hilarious game of charades that still has me in stitches).

That’s Danielle Saunder’s paint palette above – she got creative with glitter paint barriers to prevent the watery paint from running everywhere – see we even got a kick out of our supplies!

Matchbox collages from Linda Kennedy

The amazing Linda Kennedy made each of us a unique collaged matchbox. Mine had a tiny handmade book inside of it to celebrate writing my book. I absolutely love my matchbox and it’s now part of my altar at home.


On Tuesday, I led the afternoon session and took the women on a magical journey in nature to meet their inner muse.  The weather was perfect for some frolicking in a green meadow! I picked a gorgeous peony for our altar as a beautiful reminder that our inner muse is always blooming inside of us. Facilitating the intuitive painting session was a blast and it was an honor to witness the inspiring creativity and courage that poured from paintbrush to paper. I can’t wait to lead more of these kinds of workshops soon (stay tuned for an announcement about a class or two this summer in Oakland!).

Teacher Trainees

Here are all the creative goddess graduates surrounding Chris after our lovely graduation ceremony. Sweet Chris gave us some fun goodies including our graduation certificate declaring us “Master Facilitators of Intuitive Painting and the Expressive Arts” (woohoo!). Then we dined on celebratory cheesecake!

Intuitive Painting

On the last day, we did our completion circle and talked about our painting process that week. I had worked on the same painting from the last retreat and to my surprise it continued to get bigger. This one ended up being 32 sheets of paper – my biggest one yet! I was already straining to reach the top panels, so when I knew I needed to add more paper (the red creature was just begging to materialize!), I had to ask for help to lower the bottom part to the floor. The painting process continues to show me that my edges involve stepping into bigness, finding ways to make things work despite challenges that come with my ambitious drive and desire to keep pushing the envelope, asking for help (without feeling like I’m imposing), and following/trusting/listening to my inner muse.

Intuitive Painting

Each painting is special in its own way and I really enjoyed the playfulness that showed up in this one. I grew quite fond of my cannon turned pink elephant blowing glitter snot. I’m always amazed at the crazy creatures that emerge from the world of my imagination!

Chris Zydel and Jennifer Lee

And here I am with the wonderful Chris who is so full of love and generosity. I’m thankful for her guidance throughout this training and for the special magic she brings to the intuitive painting process.

I loved gaining a deeper, more intimate understanding of intuitive painting and expressive arts and appreciated developing more skills to facilitate this internal creative journey for myself and others. The biggest take-away for me, though, was fully owning and embodying leadership from the get-go. After having done CTI’s leadership program back in 2004, it was super empowering for me to experience how much I’ve stepped into leadership since then. Just like being face-to-face with my paintings has helped me to see myself in new ways, participating in this program has helped me to see how much I’ve grown and continue to grow as a leader and a creative being. I continue to be in awe of how the creative process provides such valuable insight and opportunity for self-development. What a gift! Here’s to more painting!



Today was the first full day of the Wild Heart Expressive Arts Teacher Training Program with Chris Zydel and seven other wonderful women. There’s so much to share and process (just on Day 1).  More to come on that later.  For now I’ll just include a few pictures to set the scene.


Here’s a peek into part of the portable studio that another student and I helped Chris set up yesterday afternoon.  There are large cardboard easels throughout the entire room.


Plenty of colorful paint to choose from.  I loved opening up several brand new bottles – so satisfying!


We’re staying at the Mountain Home Ranch in Calistoga.  I was actually here before about 4 years ago for another retreat which was quite challenging for me, so it’s been interesting to be back here with a new perspective.  I know there’s lots of learning in looking at how far I’ve come since then and how differently I’m showing up now.  There’s definitely more to write on that later!


It’s funny to hear the cows mooing while we’re in the painting studio.  A great reminder about how expressive sound can be!


And I just love this huge dog.  I can’t believe her name is Jessica.

Gotta get ready for another intense day tomorrow and I’m hoping that I can finally get a good night’s sleep!

BTW – Yes, my painting did get even larger today!

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Last night I read this quote from Joel Barker to my Incubator group, “Vision without action is a dream.  Action without vision is simply passing the time.  Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”  We talked about how important it is to have a clear vision of where you’re headed and how that vision makes it easier to continue moving forward with focused action even when times are challenging.

One of my dearest friends, Brighid, exemplifies how action with vision makes a positive difference.  As an avid advocate for mental health, she founded the non-profit Cheryl’s Dreaming Big to shed light on mental illness.  Through theatre performances, sharing personal stories and facilitating dialogue, CDB is breaking the stigma of mental illness, generating awareness and having a positive impact in schools and communities in the Chicago area.

The other day, I watched the Cheryl’s Dreaming Big video above.  I was so inspired to see Brighid’s vision come to life in such a profound way.  A couple of years ago, I co-designed and co-led a CDB leadership program with Brighid.  I learned so much through partnering with her and being a part of CDB.  I learned how mental illness can impact people when it’s not addressed openly. I learned that there’s such a spectrum of mental illness and that there are probably times when many of us, myself included, have danced at the edge.  I learned to have deeper compassion for those who struggle with mental health challenges.  I also learned the power of having a big dream and mobilizing people to take action and create positive change.

I can’t wait to see Brighid’s vision for mental health awareness and education spread across the country and the world.  She is truly an amazing person up to amazing things!

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The Anatomy of Peace

by jenn on September 26, 2008

in Books,Leadership,Spirituality

A few months ago, I was working with a client using some of the concepts from the powerful parable Leadership and Self-Deception.  He valued the learnings so much that he looked into Arbinger’s second and equally-profound book, The Anatomy of Peace, which I recently checked out.

The Anatomy of Peace paints a poignant and engaging picture of how we unwittingly create conflict.  And how we can resolve that conflict on an individual and even global level, which is very timely given the challenges our society currently faces.  The key lies in how we “be” more so than what we “do.”  You can read an excerpt from the book on the Arbinger Institute site.

When our heart is a peace we see others as people who have hopes and fears just like we do.  From this place of being, we naturally have a sense/desire to help or extend ourselves to others. When we betray that sense, we then see the other person as an object as we find ways to justify the fact that we went against our urge to help.  We put ourselves in the box and our heart goes to war, creating a vicious cycle of blaming and self-justification.

I realized that recently my heart was at war with my husband, Brian – poor guy!   He took last week off for a “staycation” (a.k.a. – a vacation at home).  I had all these thoughts about spending time with him, but I ended up choosing to work a lot instead. I spun into a “better-than-box” of “I am just sooooo busy” and an “I-deserve-box” of “Gee, don’t I get a break, too?!!!”  I thought, how could he be laying on the couch reading when there was so much stuff to do?  It was not pretty and made it difficult to enjoy our time together for part of the week.  It’s a rather mundane example, yet it can be those day-to-day triggers that build up and lead to more significant discord.

The Peacemaking Pyramid depicted in the book shows that we must spend more time helping things go right (starting with a heart at peace) rather than dealing with things that are going wrong (i.e., correcting the other person).  I mean really, how can I “correct” something that probably isn’t “wrong” in the first place.  Of course it’s just “wrong” in my mind because then that makes me “right.”  So, just by noticing I was “in the box” toward him, I was able to be in relationship with him as a person again.  Get out of the box and come from a place of peace.  It sounds simple, and it is.  AND the challenge is continuing to choose to stay out of the box.  Awareness obviously helps, as does practice.

I highly recommend both books to help with individual relationships as well as group dynamics.  And I also highly recommend The Coaches Training Institute’s Leadership Program (where I first came across Leadership and Self-Deception).  Check out their new video.  You’ll see that much of the program is about the “being” of a leader and coming from a heart of love and peace.

What do you notice about being in the box versus out of the box toward other people?  What happens when you come from a heart at peace rather than a heart at war?


This week is Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.  I, like many others who watched Jaws at a tender age, am scared to death of sharks.  In honor of Shark Week, Larry Olson of the J.O.B. radio dedicated a whole show to this theme.  So, I dove into the waters of radio once again, this time being interviewed by Larry on leadership and how to swim with sharks in the office space.

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Happy Unbirthday

August 8, 2008

For some reason, Plaxo thought today was my birthday.  Colleagues sent me birthday wishes and e-cards.  It was pretty cool to have an extended celebration!  My actual birthday was on Tuesday.  I enjoyed my day by taking the afternoon off, hanging out with my friend Kate (who gave me the lovely orchid pictured above), going […]

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Living “On Quest”

June 14, 2008

Last weekend I was in Toronto as a Circle Coach for Quest, The Coaches Training Institute’s latest leadership program. In three days, it’s amazing to see the transformations that occur and the quests that participants have embarked on! The concept of a quest is rooted in Joseph Campbell’s model The Hero’s Journey. In his research […]

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London Calling

May 7, 2008

At the end of April I took a short trip to London to visit with four of my dear friends from my leadership tribe. It had been about three and a half years since we were all together, so we were thrilled to have a mini-reunion. The four bellas – a radiantly pregnant Tina, Lisa, […]

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Questers, Dreamers and Launchers

January 26, 2008

The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of excitement, connection, fulfillment and fun! I visited Washington DC to be a Circle Coach for Quest, returned home to lead a dream box workshop at It’s Yoga and then flew out to Cleveland for our Ladies Who Launch leader training. I had a great time at […]

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The Creative Connection – AEDM Day 15

November 15, 2007

In the half hour before leading a call today about Expressive Arts Coaching, a wave of anxiety came over me. Gremlins were hard at work grilling me… “What makes you think you can talk about this or that anyone would be interested in what you have to say? Do you even know what you’re going […]

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