One of the important functions an evaluator performs for a program or organization is to help clarify, question, and make explicit the assumptions upon which activities, processes and behaviors are based. Depending on the context, this can be a welcome opportunity for learning or a threat to deeply held and accepted norms.

We can engage in a similar exercise of thinking critically and asking questions about our own beliefs and thought patterns.  The key here is to be gentle with yourself.  This is NOT an exercise in self-flagellation for past failures and mistakes.  The feeling should be one of curiosity and openness.

Not long ago I realized that between 8th and 10th grade I decided that my sister was the creative and artistic member of the family- the natural heir to my paternal grandmother’s keen eye and considerable flare. There are a few problems with this.  Who said there was  rule that only one of us could be artistic or that my forms of creative expression were less worthy?  Since when does a person have to choose between artistry and scholarship? And why in the world would anyone need permission to play with color, flavor, shape or verse? I put pursuit of artistic expression away in a box- the same box that for as long as I can remember has held crayons, markers and colored pens for doodling.  It was right next to the canvas bag stuffed with yarn, pattern books and Grandma’s crochet hooks.   I carried on my grandmother’s tradition of welcoming a newborn to the world with a crocheted blanket and made a distinction between her work (art) and mine (dabbling).  Pish Posh!

Paint

To challenge my assumptions I’ve started playing with art again.  It feels indulgent and so alive!  I don’t know what I’m doing and it doesn’t matter.

Since blogs are about sharing, here’s the painting I made yesterday. Tibetan Prayer Flags There may be more.

What assumptions have you made about who you are and what you can do? What small steps can you take to gently, bravely challenge yourself?

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Examining assumptions