This form does not yet contain any fields.

    Swimming downhill

    Whenever life gets challenging I remember a phrase that my Mom once used about "swimming downhill." I also remember a story about picking your feet up and going with the river - trusting - rather than nervously trying to control things by putting your feet down and having life beat at you as it follows its natural course.

    Have you had times in your life where you felt like everything was "too hard" or "taking too long" or "not working?" Most of us have moments like that throughout the day. Sometimes we live there for years.

    When we look at the way our deep, unconscious behavior and habit works - fight, flight and freeze - where would you say resistence fits in? Are we actively, angrily trying to "kill" and beat back the circumstances of our lives (fight)? Are we retreating into escapes - excuses, defenses and behaviors that have us trying to get away from our life circumstances (flight)?

    Or are we living apathy? "Nothing ever works for me." "Maybe if I don't move, they won't notice me." I certainly know a few times I've been in that place in my work life! Another face of "freeze" in our lives is when we're constantly thrown into confusion and indecision by our life circumstances.

    All of these are resistance. All of these are shoving our feet deep into the mud at the bottom of the river. All of these are attempts to control, to be safe and to try and figure out how to get love and approval from the people and world around us.

    So, how do we turn it around? How do we begin swimming downhill rather than up? How do we step out of being frozen and trapped by confusion, fighting, fleeing and freaking out?

    Here and Now Process

    1. Close your eyes.

    2. Stop everything - body & mind.

    3. Feel your closed eyes. Feel your frozen muscles.

    If you can feel your body from inside then you're "home" and focused.

    4. Grab and hold your thumb or wrist. Touch your forehead. Bend your knees, Stand on tiptoe, Tighten a muscle and then slowly let them go.

    Are you here now? Are you home? Say it - "Here and now."

    Clear and Decide

    1. Open your eyes and look. Or keep them closed and look at your memory of what happened.

    2. Say what you're feeling.

    I don't know (I'm confused). I'm mad. I'm scared. I need to get that person/situation away from me. I need to know what to do (I'm confused). I want to just forget about it.

    3. Decide to be OK.  Decide, regardless of what's going on that you're OK right now.

    It's a choice - so make it.

    Emotion coming up? Not able to let it be OK?

    Freeze. Feel from inside your body. Are you here and now? Yes. Say "Yes. I'm here now." Decide to let it be OK.

    Say, "I'm OK." (You might feel dumb - but do it anyway - it works!)

    Choose 1 small, natural thing to do next. Keep it simple. Put your body in motion. Do it.

    If you're sitting, stand. If you're standing, sit. If you're in a meeting - pick up your pen and begin to write. If you're in a tense situation - stand or sit up straight - attention focused on what's happening right now.

    Did it work? Yes. Continue on with your day.

    The Game

    The key to this particular way of dealing with the reactive mind is using the physical stimuli to bring you back to the here and now. THEN, look at or deal with the situation. Only when you are back in the present are you able to act and decide.

    I always choose something that I can make into a habit. Mine is touching my forehead in the middle with 2 fingers. If you see me do that - you'll know that I'm getting myself present. If you didn't know my practice - you wouldn't notice. Except that perhaps I'm suddenly a little less crazy :D.

    The secret to stepping out of flight, fight and freeze is not to resist it. It's to learn to catch it as it happens. The instant you begin to recognize what's going on - you're no longer behaving on auto-pilot. You're back to being a person in charge - even if it's just for this moment.

    For this moment - you're choosing. For this moment, you've stopped resisting. For this moment, you're swimming downhill.

    Guess how I got this post written tonight!

    Happy swimming :D.


    Personal Resilience - A Patchwork Quilt of Earning

    I spent enormous amounts of time trying to figure out a single path through to a sustainable work life, growing deeply frustrated and feeling incredibly stupid at not being able to do so. Until one day - after reading a great article on resilience by Ezio Manzini, I finally got it - a single path to a rich and financially stable life wasn't what I needed. It wasn't even possible for me because of my life circumstances. What I needed was a nimble and responsive way to earn money - I needed a patchwork quilt of earning.

    "We can look to the people of the planet in two ways. We can see 7 billion people on the planet today or 9 billion people tomorrow as the biggest threat and the biggest problem, because we are a little planet. But given that those 7 billion people are you, me, my friends and the people we know, we see them not as problems but as people with capabilities, intelligent operators. So the planet is very rich with potential intelligent operators. What does it mean to enable all the potentialities of so many intelligent people?"

    Click to read more ...


    2013 - exploring prolific

    What is prolific if you move away from doing and output as its defining success? Is it possible to be prolific without ever writing another blog post, talk or book? Taking another picture or tweeting another link? If prolific was a way to satisfying my own enjoyment of moving through the world rather than a way to try and gain approval and love from outside of myself - would it lose it's charge? Is there a quality or shape of life that allows prolific to simply appear?

    I always love a good lived question, don't you?!

    Click to read more ...


    Inspired: blogging simplified

    It was a post on January 2nd that inspired me to come back to my blog again.

    Chris Coyier wrote:

    I wish everyone in the world would blog.

    Did you solve a tricky user interface problem today? I’d love to read about the options you considered and why you picked the one you did.


    I enjoy living vicariously through you, even for a moment.

    Click to read more ...


    stepping into the unknown

    Do you ever stop and look around and realize how shut down by "I can't, I shouldn't, I couldn't, I'm not, they're not, it isn't" you've become?

    It takes courage to step into the life that our lizard brain is screaming is unsafe, out-of-control and filled with dangerous and unloving people, places and things. And yet, as a designer and a human - it's what's required in every single moment.

    Click to read more ...


    No. Yes!

    When attempting to work through a difficult work situation earlier this year I had tried a variety of things to shift the dynamics and find some resolution and flow. When none of these things worked, I quieted down and spent some time away from trying to figure it out. Into my quiet mind popped my alternatives - step out completely (No.) or step in completely (Yes!).

    Click to read more ...


    overcoming arrogance - ask why?

    I like to think of "why" as a quiet and peaceful way to explore new worlds. A discovery of what's going on that I'm not aware of and a climb out of my narrow assumptions.

    Click to read more ...



    This post was inspired by one little phrase that jumped out at me in a newsletter I read a couple of years ago:

    " is amazing how well I feel being equal to them."

    Click to read more ...


    you are not your name

    Happy New Year everyone! It's gonna be a good one.

    My mom often says to me..."You are not your job. You are not what you get done. You are not the book." And in the past two weeks, "you are not your name."

    Click to read more ...



    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that I’m a percolator. I love getting massive data downloads that projects require and then getting a bit of time to digest, work and wander through the information. I read, sketch, have imaginary and in-person conversations with stakeholders, review notes, read requirements docs, talk to engineers, look at competitors, user feedback and marketing materials and then do random searches around the edges of the topic.

    Click to read more ...


    quietAction - reflections from 1 year in

    It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working on getting quietAction out there for over a year now. It’s been an amazing learning experience, from starting the blog to creating a new business card and slowly evolving a description of what it is that I do.

    I’m happy to see the name quietAction continues to hold relevance. So much so that my family and friends still stop and say, “that is perfect for you, isn’t it.”

    Click to read more ...


    love the process not the outcome

    Suddenly, the instructor, Greg Ruzzin, was right in front of me, his gaze intense as he spoke soft and furious.

    “That’s not what this is about. You better love this process and not
    the outcomes or find another line of work.”

    I stopped. Tears forgotten. The class moved on but I still remember that moment with crystal clarity. That was the sound of little old me growing up.

    Out of context that might sound a bit harsh, but in reality it was one of the best and most influential pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. It’s a rare moment when someone steps out of the usual and interacts that directly.

    An inveterate people pleaser, that moment gave me the opportunity to start living my work and heading toward finding process and people that I loved rather than going after approval and praise for the results of that work.

    Click to read more ...


    learning to trust

    A little over a month ago Scott Berkun (@berkun) asked a question on Twitter about trust. The resulting conversation went off the rails but it definitely cued a bit of reflection about my own “learning to trust myself” journey.

    For me trust is wrapped up in the little choices. Lately, I’ve been noticing hundreds of trust moments in a day. What I choose to eat, doing a task as soon as I think of it, taking this job and not that job, exercising, sleeping - just about every detail of my life provides an opportunity for me to pay attention and ask myself what is mine to do in that moment.

    But do I? Do I ask myself?

    Click to read more ...


    begin again

    In many ways, today is my new year. It's time to stop and reflect on the lessons learned and also to launch and continue some of the plans that I began last summer. Lucky for me, spring is here to inspire me in the tending, mending and minding phase that creates those little sprigs of new growth and innovation.

    Last year was filled with powerful ups and downs. One of the most repetitive lessons was about being true to myself - authentic. After an epic streak of fails, I finally began to get traction on relearning listening and trust for my instincts. And in a few critical moments, I was even able to support that knowledge with action.

    It's always fun (in a spiritually geeky sort of way) to unpack our own unconscious behaviors. By doing so, it makes us more powerful in our work lives by helping us recognize when these invisible beasts are operating in our companies and colleagues.

    The ego, unconscious, reactive mind has quite a few tricks. The reptilian portion of our brain is always looking for danger. Once identified, it begins to line up all input to support its conclusion and assessment of the situation. Fight, flight and/or freeze behavior ensues. When a tiger or hot stove is in front of you, this is helpful behavior. When your boss is, this black and white view of the world – these reactive assessments of the situation - lead to simplistic and often deeply counter-productive decisions and behavior.

    Click to read more ...


    twitteripation - socializing a ux hermit

    It's quite simple really. You can use all the fancy terminology about broadcasting, push technologies, etc. but basically it comes down to this: I love using Twitter because it lets me wander around and discover new people to listen and interact with in and out of my field. It allows me, a much quieter person than I was when I started my career, to dip into the informational stream and come away with relevant information and connections. And it's fun.

    Click to read more ...


    begin - a quiet action

    I know, I know...I've been in the cave for a good long time haven't I? I appreciate your patience and encouragement, as it's been an amazing and challenging few years of percolating and quieting things down for myself. Who knew that the Type A person I was for so many years was really secretly a closeted Type E (easy) or maybe more of a Type S (simple). And as I've grown more quiet over the past several years, I begin to notice the world change - new clients, new work – as old patterns and ways of looking at the world fall away.

    I'll write more about this transition later as it's time to come out and play once again. This time around I've chosen a fabulously abstract and at the same time perfectly tuned name for myself - quietAction. This is one that can hold all of my fascinations and work. I figure I'm up for a nice 20-year arc this round.

    quietAction came about through a series of serendipities. A journal entry from 2005 jumped out at me as I went back to find a discussion of a project I was working on.

    A quiet action is building in me. A quiet action of stillness, release and trust. Of letting go of that I fear the most - my life to be lived. And in this moment I see the sweet surrender that transforms the fear to love and the love to these quiet and solid actions in the world and in my self.

    So, of course I typed "quietaction" into the domain name search engine. You can imagine my shock when it was not only available but also available in every form with no need to adapt with - or _ or an extra "s." When does that ever happen these days?

    I'm making up that it was waiting for me.

    This blog will be a compilation of my thoughts, theories and obsessions in user experience, information architecture, interaction design and very likely a lot about life in general.

    Sometimes I'll ask you to chime in and sometimes I'll be using a post as a more of a percolation space. Your conversations with me are invaluable so feel free to add to the story and let me know where what I'm talking about fits in with what you see in your world and where it disconnects.

    Let's get started - it's time to make up some more great stuff!