My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

My Invisibility Cloak: Self-Confidence

I bumped into Heather, sitting at a neighborhood sidewalk cafe, my fellow Toastmaster talked about career and future plans. What Heather said next… surprised me; complimenting my self-confidence and self-assurance.

“Bearded Iris” pastel painting, (c) Joann Sondy August 2017. Created for my daughter’s birthday.

Wow! I had no idea that people saw or perceived me in this manner.

Recently, people have been noticing my confidence. What?! Me?! Since when?

Truth is… I’m just like you. Knees shaking. Unsure. Introverted. Fear of public speaking. Imposter syndrome.

Many of my Toastmasters’ friends are kind to say how well-rehearsed and prepared as a speaker. It’s true… I practice A LOT; just ask my husband. Rehearsal, not to be rote or mechanical, practicing to become [extremely] familiar with the content, refining my body language and voice and perfecting timing.

I was extremely nervous when delivering my last speech. The content was a subject I’ve been researching deeply the past few months. Valerie, my evaluator took note that I was overtly focused on my content and should have ‘lightened up more’ to engage more deeply with my audience. She also commented about my note cards (a topic for an upcoming article and speech “Val stole my security blanket”).

“I’ve taken several tours and you (Joann) are the best docent so far! Great time, thank you.”

Cheeks flush, I was glowing with modesty after shaking the gentleman’s hand following my CAF ‘Treasures’ tour a few weeks ago. The guest did not know that it had been months since I had lead this amazing tour. Days beforehand, practicing at home and asked a friend to join me for a practice tour.

Success=Self Confidence. Self Confidence is Preparedness.
Urban Sketchers Chicago 10×10 Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Sketchwalk

The Toastmasters speech projects and evaluations have helped me tremendously to overcome fear of public speaking and concentrate on scripting good stories or content. My constant journey of learning about creativity, focus and confidence has added to my arsenal of confidence.

Resources for you:

  • The Tools, Phil Stutz and Barry Michels; especially chapter 2
  • War of Art, Steven Pressfield
  • Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Deep Work, Cal Newport
  • Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

Join me for a Chicago Architecture Foundation walking tour.

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo

Prairie Architecture of Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden

You may have heard about the (former) cemetery near the Chicago History Museum and that most of the lakeshore of Chicago is the result of post 1871 landfill. Both of these factors are key to Lincoln Park’s (the park, not the neighborhood) enduring landscape and beauty that encompasses six miles from North Avenue to Hollywood/Edgewater Beach.

The origins of the Chicago’s largest park can be credited with a doctor, who back in 1830s, campaigned-successfully-to set aside 60 acres of public cemetery parkland. Then formation of the nation’s FIRST park and boulevard system spurred the adoption of three separate park commissions, (Lincoln, West and South) all legislated funded. These three but separate entities acted unilaterally to create a ‘ribbon of green’ that encircled the city.  PS: Chicago Park District was formed in 1934.

Lincoln Park Refactory and Boat Station, now Cafe Brauer

Our Reserve of Leisure Activities

Every Chicagoan and visitor, especially in the summer, knows why we love our city so much… the LAKEFRONT! Historically, it was a means to escape from the industrial and heavily polluted city core; a major concern at the turn of the century. Accessible mostly to Middle class and upper class families due to expense of hiring a horse carriage. Michigan Avenue Bridge opened in 1918 and public transit north of the main branch of Chicago River didn’t exist.

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Leisure time in the park also contributed to the development of neighborhoods, particularly out of need following the Great Fire of 1871.

Park’s Architecture

Most of Lincoln Park Zoo and Garden architecture was constructed in the last 19th and early 20th centuries. Interesting differences between the park projects and the emerging ‘skyscrapers’ in the city’s central area.

During my ArchiSketch workshop, we’ll visit several Prairie style buildings that are worthy of several pages in your sketchbook.

Carlson Cottage (1888) is a quaint representation of the popularity of the Park at the turn of the twentieth century. Designed by Joseph Silsbee, who would design other buildings in the Park and Zoo, this fieldstone cottage is a reminder of the city’s past and ambition.

Cafe BrauerThis is an early reference to Arts & Crafts style, which originated in England in the late nineteenth century, with its organic appeal and direct link to “urbs in horto” (Chicago’s motto: City in Garden.) The cottage appears as though it emerged from the earth, nestled next between the two ponds. Yet, this small intimate women’s lounge seems unproportional when you step back; the fieldstones, the large corbels and low-hanging hip roof. An artistic conundrum.

Take a few steps and there it sits, hugging the curvature of North Pond… Cafe Brauer (1908).  Arts & Crafts movement wasn’t fully embraced in the U.S. It quickly became Prairie Style–the midwestern style popular during at this time and closely identified with Frank Lloyd Wright. Cafe Brauer, designed by Dwight H. Perkins, who also designed the Kovler Lion House. Cafe Brauer, fka South Pond Refactory, stays true to key Prairie-style characteristics:

  • Integration with landscape
  • Horizontal lines
  • Flat or hipped roof with over hanging eaves
  • Windows in groupings or horizontal bands
  • Emphasis on CRAFTSMANSHIP

Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden Workshop

The last is central to the ever-lasting charm of these buildings.

Join me for ArchiSketch Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden while we sketch crawl our way to discover these buildings and several more.

 

 

Postcard image source: John Chuckman’s Chicago Nostalgia Blog

Guastavino Vault of Lion House

Kovler Lion House
Kovler Lion House

Guastavino Vault of Lincoln Park Zoo Lion House

During the Lincoln Park Zoo & Garden workshop held on Saturday (the FIRST public workshop!), I had the pleasure of working with an interior designer who was very enthusiastic about Chicago architecture and working on her drawing skills.

One of the highlights for Molly O. was the Guastavino vaulted ceiling of the Kovler Lion House. Crazy how two women with different backgrounds could get so excited about a vaulted ceiling in a big cat house on a very hot & humid summer day.

“We must be the only people in this space who are looking up.” True. Standing just inside the entrance with sketchbooks and pencils in-hand, we discussed the engineering and masonry this landmark. We did stop to admire the two female lions who were spread out on top of the cool rocks…panting.

What is a Guastavino vaulted ceiling? These soaring tiled vaults can be seen in several iconic buildings around the country. Most notable are Grand Central Terminal, Boston Public Library, U.S. Supreme Court, and many more. The Guastavinos also created spaces for some of America’s wealthiest families, including the Rockefeller Chapel at University of Chicago.

The Guastavino Co. was most prolific during the late 19th to mid 20th century; designing and creating some of the most spectacular and endearing public spaces. It all started with Rafael Guastavino Sr., a master builder in his native Spain, he came to New York with his son, Rafael Jr. in 1881. Bringing with him is tiling system, based on centuries old building method. The construction of self-supporting arches that were lightweight yet strong, fireproof and elegant. Then, a system of interlocking and layered thin clay tiles were placed with quick-setting mortar–creating the decorative pattern. Guastavino’s system, which was patented in 1892, were cost-efficient and flexible.

Visit these spaces in-person. Even the best professional images can’t truly capture the caliber of craftsmanship and hours investing in the details.

P1020394There are ten (identified) Guastavino projects in Chicago:

  1. Lincoln Park Zoo, Kovler Lion House
  2. Elks National Memorial Headquarters
  3. Temple Isaiah
  4. St. Hyacinth’s Catholic Church
  5. First Unitarian Church, Hull Chapel
  6. Chicago Theological Seminary
  7. University of Chicago, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
  8. University of Chicago, Harper Memorial Library
  9. M&H Theatre
  10. First Methodist Episcopal Church (Evanston)

 

 

Resources:

National Building Museum. Places for People; Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces

NPR. How One Family Built America’s Public Palaces

MIT/Guastavino.net (most complete collection)