Consistency in the Change











Previously, my work  vocabulary has been filled with words like strategy, communication, flow and infrastructure.  Creating healthy business infrastructure and efficient systems was my passion. I also had a passion in my private life for how individuals develop and sustain mental and physical health.

In the last few years, I have had an increased focus on the individual. In response to this, I have deepened my study of therapies and life style strategies that support wellness and healing. Over time, this interest has increased to a full time level.

This year, I made the decision to shift my professional work focus to massage therapy and natural health. Ironically, I am continuing to help start ups and small business owners in business development, but it has become more of a hobby and side interest.

At first, I struggled with how to explain such a drastic shift to my networking community.  It seemed so random and extreme.  I realized that this change was not random. It was two sides to the same coin, the development and sustainability of the organism versus the organization,  Both function in very similar ways. The patterns for healthy development and the patterns for disruption are similar in both, but I will save those details for a future post. How I think about my work is similar, but the subject matter and technique has changed. I am excited to see how this new field of focus grows and develops me professionally and personally.

What areas of your life seem disconnected, but actually complement each other?

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Value In Group Conflict











Conflict resolution is an interesting practice. It is not difficult or even necessarily unpleasant, if you can keep your ego out of the mix. It is when you take things personally and become defensive that the problems begin. Staying calm and relaxed, allows a person to listen to what is being communicated, as well as understanding the flow dynamic of the conversation.

I facilitiate a monthly discussion group of between 45 and 75 people. I truly value the “Devil’s Advocates” in my group. They never fail to challenge the status quo and cause more discussion and insight to surface. Even those folks who are clearly misguided and determined to be negative can have an inspiring and galvanizing effect on the other participants, who may never have spoken up, had they not felt internally challenged by the words of the “difficult” person.

The following are a few guidelines for managing conflict in groups:

  • Guide any conflict back to discussion by asking questions. When people realize they are being listened to, and that their contribution matters, discord tends to neutralize.
  • Set boundaries in regards to taking turns speaking.
  • Never cut off someone who has a dissenting opinion.
  • Make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute, if they want to.
  • Ask that the others refrain from speaking or having side conversations until the current speaker has finished.
  • Reach out and encourage quieter participants if they are having trouble getting attention.

The most effective way to a satisfying group discussion is to allow the group to flow naturally, with minimal interference. In our fast paced, digitally dominated world, it is becoming a rare and valuable experience to just sit and talk with others. The ability to engage conflicting ideas with others in an honest and safe pursuit of understanding is priceless.

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There is a new phenomena taking place in my home town. For decades, Omaha, Nebraska, has been just a sleepy family friendly midwestern town. There was never anything much to complain about, but nothing much to talk about either.

In the last seven to ten years, we have seen a steady and amazing transformation taking place. What used to be just an underground  handfull of teenage musicians and artists has matured into a full scale creative incubator that draws the attention of talent from around the world.

As destiny would have it, there has also been an influx of corporations moving their offices and headquarters here. This new flow of financing, global networking and business talent has combined with the local creative energy and entrepreneurial ideals to create an ecosystem that is one of the fastest growing, economically stable and creatively nurturing cities in America. You can create almost anything here with fairly low risk and a huge amount of community support. If it happens to be a bad idea, there is more than enough resources to bounce back and try again or go in a new direction. Even a total failure could nurse their wounds working in a coffee shop, live in a small apartment and regather their resources until they were ready to make another go at their dreams.

Perhaps we are just in a remarkable season of our growth, but I suspect it is more than that. I suspect Omaha is headed for even more amazing growth and development that will only continue to strengthen and expand what we are capable of.  It will not take long for the world to sit up and take notice of the great things happening in the heart of the USA.

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Painting the Psyche

Painting has become an excellent barometer for my psyche.Watching the forms develop on the canvas gives me a distance and a unique perspective on my own mental/emotional processes.

During the last few years, I was working on a series that I called “Rational Chaos”. It was very colorful and abstract. While there was some limitation on the palette, there was a  geometric randomness to the form. I realized as I neared the end of the series that I was producing a metaphor of my own psychic state. Much in my environment and personal life felt out of control and very chaotic. I was in a process of learning to let go of what I could not control, but I was also learning to understand and create strategies for myself in the areas that I could control. My creative work was reflecting these lessons of navigation.

Rational Chaos #1

Rational Chaos #1
by Cherisse McCoy

Rational Chaos #2 by Cherisse McCoy

Rational Chaos #2
by Cherisse McCoy

Rational Chaos #3by Cherisse McCoy

Rational Chaos #3
by Cherisse McCoy

Recently, I’ve begun a new series. The elements of this series are very different from the last. Working in black and white monochrome gives me the opportunity to scale down my palette even further and focus on essential form details. I am really enjoying finding the most expression in the least amount of complexity. These images are not abstract, but rather they are portraits. The portraits are much more intimate and accesible to the viewer. They are by no means lighthearted or shallow. Each one has it’s own mood and emotional depth.

There has been a natural progression in my learning that is being portrayed on the canvas.  I have learned to limit the complexity  and chaos in my life, which in turn has allowed me to focus on more of the meaningful details. I have also created and nurtured more confidence and internal strength, which has allowed me to become more accesible and intimate with those I care about. I can see all this in my paintings. The images are also more vulnerable. The expressions and details are strong but simple. They are personalities that the viewer can relate to, without working too hard to understand.

State of Mind #1

by Cherisse McCoy


by Cherisse McCoy


by Cherisse McCoy

I consider myself blessed to have a skill that allows me to see and explore myself while creating imagery for others to enjoy as well. The marketability of the work is always secondary to the authenticity of the process. I think that once those priorities become confused, the work loses much of it’s life and value. The creative expression of the reality happening within me keeps the work fresh, as well as refreshing myself.

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The Creative Cycle

Creativity for me is like breathing. There is an in-breath and an out-breath. For me this is a 3 step process.

During the in-breath season,  I am engaged with life and information, learning, observing and gathering input.

Then there is a middle step, a season of stillness and quiet. Sometimes, this season lasts for a short while, other times it lasts longer. It took a while for me to understand that this was not a season of laziness or stagnation, but rather a season of processing and absorbing the information that I had been so busily gathering the season prior.  I need to integrate the information I have brought into myself.

As the third season arrives, I am filled with an urgency to create, to exhale. This generally manifests in a very specific direction, and my entire life also seems to resonate with variations on the theme that I am expressing. Currently my creative season is in full bloom. I have very specific images in my mind that are queued up, waiting their turn to appear on the canvas. It is hard for me to focus on anything else, for very long.

When this season of expression runs it’s course, I will likely feel a bit of disorientation after being so focused and busy. But, I have learned that is ok. I will simply enter into another season of gathering information and absorbing life. Breathing in the multiplicity of experiences that life brings, processing and exhaling out something new, that is my creative process.


“Up” by cherisse01

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Creativity and Information

Fire Lily by cherisse01

Often times, creativity and information seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. Creativity is assumed to be the purview of the artist, something dreamlike and magical that at least implies a disconnect from the concrete and practical. Information encompasses facts and data. Things that can be observed and known, if not stacked, measured and quantified. We also like to categorize people and ideas as creative or informational.

In actuality, creativity is a way of organizing and expressing information. Creativity gathers vast amounts of data, often seemingly random data, bringing it into organized patterns and giving expression to the varied conclusions of the artist. What we process in this partially unconscious way allows us much more resource for analyzing large quantities of information quickly. Patterns and rhythms replace specific identifications of value. Feeling and intuition compete with rational thought for dominance. We are able to see an idea with a more complete view. It is no longer limited to 2 dimensional thought. It becomes multifaceted, much more like real life experience.

If we choose to use creativity as a way to process information, we become able to understand and utilize information more quickly and with more accurate results than otherwise. Of course this does not happen without an interweaving of analytic observance and some classic rational logic that checks and compares the creative process against observable results and truths. Creative process alone is not sufficient for producing good conclusions. One must be able to step back and see where truth has become manifest through the creative expression. The proof of true creativity is a deep retelling of truth.

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A supportive environment is one that does not punish people for every failure which leads to a corporate culture of playing it safe and finger pointing when things go awry. In order to build an effective alignment between business and IT you need to build a high trust level between the two divisions. If you have a supportive corporate culture you will build higher levels of trust and view the other side as a partner or a team player that just plays a different position than you.
-K. Burger

A supportive environment …

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Elephants and Other Possibilities


Have you ever heard the story of the blind men and the elephant? There were 4 blind men who approached an elephant from different directions. One reached out and grasped the tail and said, “Oh, what good luck, we have found a rope.” The second blind man reached out and felt the elephant’s side. He said, “what are you talking about, it is only a wall”. The third blind man felt the trunk and in a panic said, “Oh no! We shall die. It is a snake”. (I don’t remember what the fourth man felt.) The moral of the story is that depending on your perspective, you can have a very different understanding of the same thing, especially when your understanding is based on limited information.

I tend to react strongly to impressions and experiences. Good or bad, I have strong emotions. What people often interpret in me as changing my mind, is often me playing the part of the different blind men. I initially experience something from a certain perspective and have a response based on what I perceive. My nature is to keep going and see if there is more. Then, I move to a different perspective and feel that.  I find out something new, have to adjust my position and with it my response changes, etc…

I am a learner and I am expressive. Things can get a bit messy, sometimes.  I really like it that way. Of course, I want to learn to not be hurtful to others and to clean up any messes quickly, but, I like being a messy experiential learner. I like finding out there is more to a situation than I originally knew. I even like being wrong and having to change and grow. I like it in others as well. It’s one of the things I love about teaching, watching kids/people learn to like learning. One has to  feel safe being wrong in order for understanding to develop, otherwise, instead of comprehension, you end up with simply reaction.

“A supportive environment is one that does not punish people for every failure which leads to a corporate culture of playing it safe and finger pointing when things go awry. In order to build an effective alignment between business and IT you need to build a high trust level between the two divisions. If you have a supportive corporate culture you will build higher levels of trust and view the other side as a partner or a team player that just plays a different position than you.”
-K. Burger

Relationships have to create room for growth and change. You don’t get this without giving others permission to make mistakes and be wrong. Perfectionism strangles creativity and learning. These principles hold true in work, romance, family and society. Every area of life requires a certain amount of messy privilege if progress is going to happen.

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Digital Relationship

Working in social media affords me an interesting perspective on modern relationships, relationships in the general sense, not only the romantic variety. Not too long ago we primarily got to know people through shared experience, conversation and observation. In the last decade, with the advent of the internet and social platforms, we have seen a dramatic shift in the primary ways people communicate. This shift is not limited to how we communicate. It has also dramatically affected our expectations and perceptions of others as well.

With social media we are able to control and manage the view others have of us. The concept of building a brand is no longer limited to businesses and public personas. Everyone is encouraged to manage their image and to carefully assess how they are viewed so as not to damage work/social associations or potential career opportunities. While this is great and opens new worlds of possibility regarding networking and career strategizing, it also creates a deceptively limited world of social interaction. More and more we default to watching what our friends are posting and possibly   responding with our own momentary thoughts, in place of spending actual time and energy talking and sharing experiences. The interesting problem that this creates is an illusion of intimacy. We become extremely familiar with the personas that are being presented. We create complex webs of assumptions and expectations that might be appropriate if the persona truly represented the person. However, this is not possible. Real people and relationships are not built on an endless supply of tweets, postings or status updates. Without observation and shared experiences, over time, we cannot know a person in context. The most profound of comments or visual representations fall short when we don’t know the context of life that created that expression.

All this is not to say that digital communication and internet networking is bad. Some relationships are meant to be transitory and limited. It is great to have an audience for your work and ideas. Having a platform for reaching out to the world at large to meet new friends is incredible. The key is remembering that digital relationships cannot replace life in context. We do a disservice to ourselves and others when we assume that long term exposure to a digital persona equates to having a close relationship with that person. What we have is an appreciation or distaste for what that person shares online. If we want more we have to take the time and exert the effort to share life with them.

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