Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The open source PNI Practicum courses are ready to go

The path is clear
Hello everybody. My free and open-source PNI Practicum courses are finally ready for you to use. As of today, any interested group can download the materials, form a cohort, schedule some meetings, and get started.

The courses now require a minimum cohort of at least seven people, at least one of whom is comfortable facilitating group exercises. That person (or persons) will run the sandbox sessions, meetings in which students experience PNI techniques and exercises from a participant's point of view (before facilitating similar sessions themselves). If everyone in your group has had facilitation experience, you can take turns running the sandbox sessions.

I have also created a new "Prelude" course that (at 4 weeks) is much shorter than the I-level (17 weeks) and II-level (21 weeks) courses. This brief course does require students to carry out some outside-of-class activities, so it still - barely - counts as a practicum course. But it saves a lot of time by having the entire course cohort collaborate on one shared project, one with a fixed plan on a fixed topic. If the longer courses are out of the question for you, the prelude may be just what you need.

In transitioning these course materials, I have taken care to leave the door open (just a bit) to the possibility of generating some more return on my two-year investment in building the courses. Anyone can take any of the PNI Practicum courses for free. However, groups who want some guidance and support while they take a PNI Practicum course can contact me to see if I am available for bespoke consulting. If you are interested in this option, send me a note at

Over the past few months, I have spent some time looking for a full-time job, as I said I was planning to do in my previous blog post. I was recently asked to do some consulting work that will keep me busy for the next few months. As I work on that project, I will continue my job search. So far I have noticed that I am most drawn to work that has something to do with ecology and the environment. The idea of coming full circle and applying my decades of experience with story work to my original passion for ecology is an appealing prospect. I am also interested in work that has to do with empowerment and conflict resolution. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate hearing from you.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The PNI Practicum is free, and I'm looking for a job

Okay, folks, it's time for my biennial "well, that didn't work" blog post.

I have been attempting to make a living as an independent consultant and author for about 22 years. Sometimes my work has brought in an income, and sometimes it hasn't. Granted, for a large portion of that time I was working various amounts of part-time while raising a child. But I got pretty good at using my work time well. (Having two precious hours to get things done before it's time for your toddler to pound on your office door again is wonderfully focusing.)

Another reason for the sometimes-it-hasn't portions is the fact that I'm an open-source zealot. Between books and software, I've given away somewhere between 6 and 8 of those 22 years of work. I chose to do that, and I don't regret any of it. But the rest of the work I have gotten has had to compensate for it. And that hasn't happened, at least not enough.

What happened with the PNI Practicum

The project I have been working on since January of 2022 - designing, building, offering, and running two online practicum courses in participatory narrative inquiry - is now at an end. My third set of PNI Practicum courses has failed to fill up, though I have been advertising them since January of 2023. 

Seven people did sign up (the tentative total got as high as 11, but dropped back down later). That's not enough. I've invested a year and a half into this venture, and for it to be financially sustainable going forward, I need to find at least 24 paying students twice a year. Technically there is one more week left before the courses were scheduled to start, and I could wait one more week, but at this point I think it's disrespectful to those who have signed up to keep them waiting. So I'm pulling the plug.

Why didn't the PNI Practicum courses fill up? I've talked to a lot of people about the courses over the past several years, from when I first had the idea in 2015, through designing and developing the courses in early 2022, and through two run-throughs in 2022 and 2023. And I have a much better understanding of the market now than I had before. (That is, now that I'm finished, I'm ready to start.) 

Here's what I've learned. There are people who have the money to pay for a $2000 course; and there are people who have the time to take a five-month time-intensive project-based course. They just aren't the same people. The region of overlap in the Venn diagram is minuscule. 

This fact alone might not have doomed the venture. After all, I only needed to find 48 paying students a year to make the PNI Practicum a success. I thought that might be possible. But there was another factor: I don't like doing advertising and promotion. Sure, I've been doing it for decades, and not particularly badly. But I have no enthusiasm for it, and it shows, I think. I'd rather spend my time making new stuff than telling people over and over about the stuff I've already made. Anyway, those two factors came together to make it difficult for the courses to scale even such a low bar.

The point of decision

At this point I have two choices. I've been mulling over this decision since the spring, when it became clear that the course was not likely to fill up again.

I could choose to help the people who have the money but not the time to take the course. I could trim down the hours required until busy people could manage to find the time to do it. 

I actually spent some time working on this idea. I started to create a "Level 0" course in which students would contribute only a few stories to a single group project, which I would manage and facilitate. For the most part, students would only have to show up to the meetings and watch things happen. 

It took me about a week to abandon the effort. It left a sour taste in my mouth. Yes, I probably could make an income helping people pretend they know how to do PNI because they listened to a few lectures and participated in a few interactive workshops. But it would be a lie. You can't learn how to do PNI without doing PNI. Such a course would be like teaching someone to ride a bicycle by having them ride behind you on one. I would basically have a job as a Dunning-Kruger machine operator.

I loved helping people do real projects in the PNI Practicum courses I ran, just as I loved coaching people through their first real projects before that. It was so exciting and motivating to hear people tell me that they went out into their communities and organizations and gathered real stories and ran real sensemaking workshops. I cherished the chance to help people learn from their mistakes and epiphanies. I loved seeing them get excited about what they could do next with PNI, now that they knew how to use it. I don't think I could stand to run a course where that didn't happen.

My second option is to help the people who have the time but not the money to take the course. This is the option I have chosen. I will no longer be offering the PNI Practicum as a paid service.

A silver lining

Even though this business venture didn't work out, I'm still glad I did it, because it produced two useful outcomes for the world.

First, the PNI Practicum can still be useful to people even if I'm not running it. Over the next few to several weeks, I plan to convert the course materials and instructions into self-running versions of the two courses. Groups of people will be able to take each course together. They will follow the course schedule, read and discuss the readings, carry out the project activities, report in on their projects, get feedback on their ideas, and work their way through the interactive sessions using the instructions I originally wrote for myself (which I will rewrite; that's why it is going to take a little while).

The second good thing is that working on the PNI Practicum courses jump-started the fourth edition of Working with Stories. I spent most of 2022 writing the first draft of a picture-book version of WWS (Working with Stories Simplified), plus a set of starter story forms (which will be the WWS Sourcebook). I plan to finish all four books when I can, even if it takes a long time. It took me six years to finish the third edition of WWS. If that happens again, I can live with it. As before, I will release interim versions as I go.

Thank you

I would like to express my deep gratitude to everyone who helped me to create the PNI Practicum courses, from way back when I first started to think about what they might be like, to when I was developing the course structure and materials and web site, to when I was running the courses for the first and second times. You know who you are, my friends. Thank you for your help.

What happens next

My next big project is to look for a real job, with real paychecks and real benefits.

Since I left graduate school 32 years ago, I have worked for exactly one year as a salaried employee. All of the rest of my work has been temporary, most often as an independent contractor. I didn't do that on purpose; it just happened that way. Now I would like to come in from the cold and see if I can find a job with more stability. If I can do that while still working on PNI, that would be wonderful. If not, PNI will slide down into a hobby. That's okay too. I've been doing this work for 24 years now, and it's time to let a new generation pick it up and run with it. 

And people are picking up PNI. From what I am hearing, the number of people using it has continued to grow and grow. For a long time I felt that I could not stop working on PNI because it would die without my support. I don't feel like that anymore. 

Sure, PNI will change as I let it slip away from me. But I always wanted that to happen. I never wanted to own it. I wanted to be part of a community. And it's happening. A community is forming. In fact, fading into the background might be the best thing I can do for PNI right now. Still, it can't hurt to at least find out whether I can continue to support PNI while making a stable living.

My dream job

The way I have always looked for jobs is to start by looking for my dream job. When that fails, I look for a job that is acceptable. When that fails, I look for a job I can tolerate. I always hope to stop at the first level, but I know I have to be ready to drop down to the third level, and sometimes beyond it. That is the way the world works.

So, what does my dream job look like?

  • In my dream job I work on PNI projects, one after another, small and large, short-term and long-term, for some entity. The participants in the projects are citizens or community members or customers or employees or patients or teachers or students (or similar groups), either of my employer or of clients or beneficiaries (or employees or citizens or students) of my employer.
  • My dream job sponsors my open-source work by allowing me (and paying me) to spend 4 hours a week finishing my rewrite of the Working with Stories book series and 4 hours a week maintaining and improving NarraFirma. Since my employer benefits from this work (along with everyone else) they see this as a mutually beneficial arrangement. They are proud to sponsor the work, and they are happy to be known as its sponsor.
  • My dream job does not require me to stop speaking in my own voice. I am allowed to write and build useful things for the world in my spare time. What I do and say during my work hours (except for the open-source sponsorship hours) belongs to my employer. What I do and say during my spare time belongs to me.
  • In my dream job I am granted the unchallenged right to opt out of working on any project I find to be ethically objectionable. (For example, I will not work on projects that lie to or disrespect participants.) I am always willing to listen and to negotiate, but I have the last word on whether I will do each project. I am also always willing to help my employer find someone else who can do any project I cannot do.
  • In my dream job I train people in how to do PNI - by doing PNI - as needed. I am also willing to give talks and create bespoke instructional materials, but I am never asked to tell people that they know how to do PNI without ever having done it.
  • In my dream job I work with or in some kind of team. In our team we work out how best to support each other as we merge our various strengths and compensate for our various weaknesses.
  • In my dream job I work at home. (I've been working at home for about 25 of the past 30 years, and I do my best work there. Also, I live in the middle of nowhere and would like to stay there.) My work hours are flexible. (I get up late.) I travel at most a few times a year. (Allergies.)

What's an acceptable job? One that uses my skills well, treats me with respect, and gives me useful things to do. I'm good at explanatory and technical writing, teaching, coaching, facilitation, project management, qualitative and/or quantitative research, prototyping, software design, user interface design, testing, technical support, and just plain programming. I have BS and MA degrees in biology. I have no degree in the field I've been working in for the past 24 years, but I have wide and deep experience in it. I'm a responsible worker, I know what I'm doing, and I know how to admit it when I don't. I am self-propelled and excel at independent work, but I am also a good collaborator.

If your organization would like to offer me a job, whether it's at my dream or acceptable level, drop me a note.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Two weeks until the PNI Practicum

There are still two weeks left to sign up for a PNI Practicum course! The next round of courses will begin (if enough people sign up) on 5 and 7 September 2023.

Here I am answering another question people often have about participatory narrative inquiry. 

Join us in a PNI Practicum course and learn how to use participatory narrative inquiry in your work with groups, communities, or organizations.

In the course, you will carry out a real PNI project of your own design in a group, community, or organization of your choice. In our weekly meetings, you'll get peer and expert feedback and advice on every phase and aspect of your project. In addition, you'll experience PNI from a participant's point of view as you exchange and work with stories in our interactive workshop sessions.

By the end of the course, you will have finished your first real PNI project. Even more importantly, you will know enough about PNI to carry out many more projects like it in the future, and you'll be able to mix the ideas and methods you have practiced into your future work.

Rob Peagler, who was part of the cohort in my first PNI Practicum course last year, had this to say about it:

The opportunity to do a practicum with Cynthia, in a cohort of deeply experienced and committed story-workers, was truly an invaluable experience. The practicum allowed me to coalesce two decades of experience in the story trenches. With the feedback and support of Cynthia and my practicum cohort I was able to move through the full arc of PNI story work — from project design, through crafting story prompts, gathering stories, leading sense making workshops, and working with our target community to leverage insights to shape and motivate action. I didn't just gain technical knowledge; I explored the moral and ethical responsibilities of PNI project leaders to clients, communities, and anyone who shares or reads a story in the course of a project.

All of the videos and quotes I am posting here can also be found on the PNI Practicum web site at Special thanks to Augusto Cuginotti, who helped me put the video series together.

If you have any questions about participatory narrative inquiry or about the PNI Practicum courses, drop me a note on LinkedIn or at

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Three weeks until the PNI Practicum

Hello again good people of the internet. My next PNI Practicum courses start on 5 and 7 September 2023. Here I am answering a common question about the PNI Practicum: who is it for?


No new signups this week, but there are still three weeks to go!

If I get enough signups to run these courses, I will run them with enthusiasm. If I don't, I plan to convert them both to free self-running courses, with instructions and materials (but without me). Then I'll move on and look for another way to make money. The ball is in your court, life/universe/everything.

Here's another recommendation video. 


Some things people have told me they have valued about the PNI Practicum: 

  • the ability to tack back and forth between theory and practice, practicing the application of concepts with real people telling real stories
  • the ability to compare notes and brainstorm solutions with other students
  • the solid base of support and advice from a leader with decades of experience

Some things people have not liked:

  • the high time investment (6-8 hours per week)
  • the difficulty of finding people willing to share stories (a challenge in any type of participatory work)

As I always say, working with stories is a magical thing - and magic has never been easy. Learning together makes it easier, though.

If you want to take a PNI Practicum course but cannot meet at either of the times listed in the course descriptions (Practicum I, Practicum II), be aware that those meeting times are tentative. At our first meeting we will talk about how we can time our weekly calls to accommodate everyone.

All of the videos I am posting here can also be found on the PNI Practicum web site at Special thanks to Augusto Cuginotti, who helped me put the video series together.

If you have any questions about participatory narrative inquiry or about the PNI Practicum courses, drop me a note at

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Four weeks until the PNI Practicum

Good news! As of this moment, ten people have indicated a strong interest in taking one of my September PNI Practicum courses (which start on 5 and 7 September 2023). I cannot yet promise that the courses will happen, but I can definitely say that it is looking increasingly likely.

Here I am explaining what the courses are about.


To be clear, you do not need to take my course to learn from me. My book ( and software ( have always been free to everyone. My business model is an open-source one: I ask those who have budgets help me support those who do not. My online courses are for people who have budgets.

So if you have a budget, why should you take a course from me? Because my courses provide a solid base of support and advice from a leader in the field of story work. They give you a chance to compare notes and brainstorm solutions with other people who are learning the same thing at the same time. And they lead you through an experience designed to help you combine theory with practice. Practicum courses do take longer and require more effort than lectures or just-show-up courses. But after a practicum course is over, you have a much better chance of actually being capable of doing the work you want to do. That's worth a lot, I think.

Here's another recommendation video.


All of the videos I am posting here can also be found on the PNI Practicum web site at Special thanks to Augusto Cuginotti, who helped me put this video series together.

If you have any questions participatory narrative inquiry or about the PNI Practicum courses, drop me a note on LinkedIn or at

Five weeks until the PNI Practicum

(The title of this blog post is not correct. I started posting these videos only on LinkedIn, but decided on the third week to post in both places at once.)

Hello good people of the internet. My next PNI Practicum courses start on 5 and 7 September 2023. In preparation, here I am answering another common question about participatory narrative inquiry.

If you are thinking that you might want to take one of my courses next year (when you have more time), be aware that if these fall courses don't fill up (enough), I will have to stop giving them. Having poured my time into so many open-source projects over the years, I'm out of funds, and I can't run my courses half full.

If you don't have time to take a course right now, but want to help me keep offering them, please consider making a donation in support of my free books and software. You can find donation buttons on (on the download-it page) and on (at the bottom of the main page). I also offer bespoke coaching and training (see

Here's another recommendation video from a course that ended recently. 


All of the videos I am posting here can also be found on the PNI Practicum web site at Special thanks to Augusto Cuginotti, who helped me put this video series together.


Getting ready for the next PNI Practicum Courses

Hello good people of the internet. My next PNI Practicum courses start on 5 and 7 September 2023. I rarely promote my work, but if I want to give these courses, I had better find people who want to take them. So I am posting new FAQ and testimonial videos once a week until September, here and on LinkedIn. 

Here I am explaining what PNI is in the first place.


And here is the first of several recommendations from satisfied students.

All of the videos I am posting here can also be found on the PNI Practicum web site at Special thanks to Augusto Cuginotti, who helped me put the video series together.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

My next courses will begin in September, not July

Please excuse me while I learn how to run international online courses.

After much feedback, I have decided to move my next set of PNI Practicum courses to begin in September instead of July. This is mainly to accommodate the many people who don't work (or work much) during some or most of July and August.

  • The next PNI Practicum I course will now run from 5 September to 19 December 2023.
  • The next PNI Practicum II course will now run from 7 September 2023 to 1 February 2024. 

To make the courses fit into these time frames, given the various holidays, I have had to remove the one-week mid-course break.

The only other change I have made is to simplify the multi-ticket bundles from three to one. Now there is only a ten percent discount if you buy two tickets at once. 

If you have any questions or suggestions about the PNI Practicum courses, write to me at

Monday, May 1, 2023

New course and book developments

I have updates for you. 

Working with Stories is changing

I spent most of 2022 writing materials for my new PNI Practicum courses (about which more below). 

  • I wrote a "picture book" version of Working with Stories, one that says the same thing but with far fewer words and a lot more diagrams and photographs. 
  • I wrote a "story form library" of 36 question sets to suit a variety of PNI project goals.

Both of these resources have been appreciated by my students. However, I don't want to keep them behind a paywall. It's not how I do things. So this year, while running the courses, I have been working on getting the new materials out into the world. 

I've been thinking about what people need when they are learning how to do PNI. And I've been thinking about what people have said to me about Working with Stories over the past eight years. Based on what I have learned, I think WWS wants to be four books: 

  • the original book (trimmed and updated)
  • a shorter, simpler version (the picture book)
  • a resource library (story forms and case studies)
  • a book with abundant details (for the nerds who want everything)

So that's what I'm working on - when I'm not working on the courses that are going on right now, that is.

I think it's going to take me at least several months to get all of these books ready to publish. So I decided to put them up in draft form now while I work on finishing them. You can find the new books on the More page of the WWS web site. 

These are the new book cover designs (so far). Coincidentally, the original book has four pictures on the cover. It's almost like WWS knew it wanted to be four books before I did.

Four new WWS books

So: have at the new stuff, and please send feedback.

The PNI Practicum courses are changing

The PNI Practicum courses are going very well. People are doing lots of wonderful projects, and we are all learning and making useful mistakes together. For myself, I have learned a lot about how to give online courses (well, how not to give online courses; but that works too). So my next set of courses (starting in July) will incorporate many changes.

Some changes have to do with what will happen in the course.

  • Calls will be recorded. I wasn't sure if people would want to be recorded in our course meetings. Turns out they do. So, all Zoom calls are now being recorded and are available to all students for review as long as the course goes on. So if you miss a call, you can see and hear what happened in your absence.
  • We will use Miro. I had wanted to show people that you can use a variety of online tools to facilitate interactive sessions. But Miro is so much better than every other option that I'm switching to it entirely.
  • Students will make presentations. To give people better opportunities to practice selling PNI to their participants and funders, in the next set of courses, each student will be asked to make two brief presentations to the class. 
    • Early on, each student will pitch their chosen project as if they were soliciting approval for it and participation in it.
    • At the end of the course, each student will make a brief presentation on what happened in their project: its goals, plans, challenges, surprises, and outcomes.
 Some changes will be structural.
  • There will be a mid-course break. From now on, there will be a one-week break between parts 4 and 5 (weeks 8 and 9) of each course. This will help people catch up if they have fallen behind, and it will give us all a spring or fall break.
  • One meeting time will be different. In the next courses, our Zoom calls will happen at 1700 and 2100 (was 2300) UTC. This should help when people in farther-apart time zones want to be on the same calls.

Some changes will be to the course requirements.

  • NarraFirma will be required in the II-level course. I had been making a special effort not to require the use of NarraFirma, in case people wanted to use other things. However, all of my students thought I should require everyone to use NF, so everyone can learn how to use it together. So now, if you want to take the PNI Practicum II course, you will need to use NarraFirma. (The I-level course still requires no particular software.)
  • Course fees will need to be paid two weeks ahead. To avoid last-minute scheduling difficulties, anyone who wants to take either course must pay the full course fee two weeks before the course starts.

And finally, I have made some changes to how I will promote and manage the courses.

  • The course syllabi will be available to review before you sign up. I have posted the syllabi for the two courses on the PNI Practicum web site, so you can see what is going to happen in each part of each course.
  • Refunds will be pro-rated. If you need to drop out of a course for any reason, I will refund your course fee on a pro-rated basis, counting how many weeks you have attended (and not counting the first week, which is covered by the nonrefundable deposit). However, I ask people not to take the course (or dropping out) lightly, since dropping out will affect the peer learning experiences of everyone else in the course.
  • There will be a new 6-student minimum. If either course does not have at least six people signed up (and paid in full) by the time the course fee is due, the course will not run, and I will send out refunds (including of deposits) to those who have signed up.
  • There might be an extra course. If either course fills up completely and people still want to take it (if that happens to you, tell me), I will open up one more course of that type. If at least 6 people want to take that course, I will give it.
If you have any questions about the PNI Practicum courses, or if you have any suggestions about Working with Stories, reach out via email (

Monday, April 10, 2023

Here I am talking to Madelyn Blair about stories

Hey everybody. Recently I had a wonderful conversation with Madelyn Blair, one of my role models in getting out there and doing things in the world. It was about stories and working with them, and it was part of an episode of her Unlocked TV show.

(Watch out, the music starts suddenly. Made me jump.)

For those who are new to story work, you might find our conversation informative. For those who know me and my spiel well, the conversation will probably be pretty familiar - it's the same stories I always tell. Though of course I keep polishing them, don't I, and that can be interesting in and of itself. 

That's one of the things I find most interesting about stories: they have stories. I try to remember this when somebody starts telling me a story I've already heard ten times. When I catch myself thinking, "Ugh, there they go again," I (try to) challenge myself to think, "Ah, it's that story. I remember it well. I wonder what it's been up to since I last heard it." I don't always succeed in meeting this challenge, but when I do, I always find out something new.

It's like being in the woods. Even though I have spent time in my particular bit of forest a thousand times, I find that if I can be quiet and pay attention to it for at least fifteen minutes, something new always happens. Sometimes it is something as dramatic as an owl teaching its baby how to fly, a squirrel rushing up and reading me the riot act, or a woodpecker poking its way up and down a tree. Sometimes it's something as simple as a conversation between birds, an operatically creaking tree, or a busy insect going about its workday next to my boot. And sometimes the thing that happens is in my own mind. I hear or see something, and it brings up something new and different. That's an event too. 

Things are always happening, fascinating things, even in the things I know very well. The trick, I find, is to stop not noticing them. I don't know if that's helpful to you - maybe it's just more sighing of my branches - but here I am writing it anyway, because I'm here, because you're here.

Thank you, Madelyn, for inviting me onto your program. I enjoyed the experience very much.


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

I Made a Story Journal

I like to watch YouTube videos in which people do things I like to do - woodworking, photography, crochet - so I can learn. Lately I've noticed an interesting trend. People keep giving their videos titles that are condensed stories, like "I Built a Cabin" or "That Rescue Turned Out Differently than I Expected" or "I Created a Wildlife Pond." Interesting, huh? Says something about society and stories.

So anyway, one morning several months ago I was starting on my usual morning yoga, and one part of me said to another part of me, "I don't wanna do yoga." The second part said, "You know we always do yoga. It's self-care." And the first part said, "Self-care means not doing things I don't wanna do." "No it doesn't," said the second part, "it means doing things we need to do to take care of ourselves."

That got me thinking. What is self-care? Is it self-discipline? Is it self-indulgence? These thoughts continued (usually during yoga) until I had created a 24-part fill-in-the-blank daily journal that could help a person (like myself) explore aspects of self-care in their everyday life. I tried using it for a while, and it was fun - a sort of game to play at the end of the day - and then other end-of-day things crowded it out, as they do.

At some point I showed part of this journal to a work colleague, and they said, um, that looks like a personal thing. And I thought, well, yes, yes it is, but with a few tweaks it could be a community thing or an organization thing. In fact, in fact! it could be a ritualistic device that helps a group of people keep their fingers on the pulse of their collective social health by sharing stories on a regular basis.

So the idea rattled around in my brain for a few more months, and then I thought, how about I do what I always do with little ideas: release it into the world and let it swim away. 

journal clip art
Yeah, it's clip art, and it's trite, but it's true.
So here it is. This could be a self-help journal for individuals, groups, families, communities, or organizations. You could use it as a check-in game during a weekly or monthly meeting (pick a question and answer it). You could use it as a something-just-happened story collection device that powers a years-long community-wide sensemaking effort. Or you could just have it around as an aid to discussion in a place where people meet.

Here's the group version. To get to the individual version, change the plural pronouns to singular ones. The questions are in three sets of four, each with a less-intense pair surrounded by a more-intense pair. Each of the 12 questions has an optional embedded counter-question that expands its exploration.

  • Joy - What happened lately that was happy for us? What lifted us up? (And what small sadnesses were hidden inside our times of joy?)
    • Satisfaction - What did we do lately that was easy for us? What was effortless? (And what small difficulties were hidden inside our ease?)
    • Frustration - What did we do lately that was hard for us? What was a struggle? (And what small moments of ease were hidden inside our struggles?)
  • Sorrow - What happened lately that was sad for us? What brought us down? (And what small happinesses were hidden inside our sorrows?)
  •  Control - What happened that was in our hands lately? What were we able to do, make happen, or make stop? (And in what small ways was our control incomplete?)
    • Certainty - In what moments lately were we sure of what was going on? What was rock solid for us? (And in what small ways was our certainty incomplete?)
    • Uncertainty - In what moments lately were we unsure of what was going on? What was unknown or unclear to us? (And within our uncertainty, in what small ways did we have some certainty?)
  • Powerlessness - What happened to us lately that was out of our hands? What were we unable to do, make happen, or make stop? (And within our powerlessness, in what small ways did we have some power?)

  • Self-discipline - In what moments lately did we set out goals we hoped to achieve? What plans did we attempt to carry out? (And in what small ways did we give ourselves the permission to partially achieve our goals and the freedom to partially depart from our plans?)
    • Self-care - What did we do lately to take care of our future selves? When and how did we attempt to support the people we will become? (And within our support, in what small ways did we leave some things for our future selves to handle?)
    • Self-indulgence - In what moments lately did we give ourselves gifts? When and how did we indulge ourselves? (And in what small ways did we deny ourselves gifts in order to support our future selves?)
  •  Self-compassion - In what moments lately did we forgive ourselves for our limitations, failures, or mistakes? When and how did we let ourselves off the hook? (And in what small ways did we place limits on our forgiveness?)


So that's the little idea. I tried drawing these questions in a variety of graphical shapes, but I didn't arrive at anything that seemed more useful than just the words themselves.

If anybody wants to pick up this little idea and use it or improve it, go ahead. Also, if anybody would like to talk about the idea, send me a note.