March 31, 2014

How to Make a Vision Board

Despite the fact that making a Vision Board failed to show up in Esquire’s list of “84 Things a Man Should do Before He Dies” this month, and despite the fact that I am not a man – which I suppose precludes me from abiding by that list anyway – I made a Vision Board this weekend!  

While I had started the project about a month or so ago, the Vision Board was my official kickoff to a spiritual and emotional cleanse I’m going on – a two-week period of some much-needed Sarah soul searching, complete with all that self-help-y shit that I love: yoga, meditation, self-help books, and a bit of massage and acupuncture sprinkled in.  The accompanying text to my retreat is Dr. Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living The Wisdom of the Tao, which is a contemporary study of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching.  Similar to how The Power of Now reshaped my thinking, Dyer’s book is already transformative.  Take this gem, for example:

A composer once told me that the silence from which each note emerges is more important than the note itself.  He said that it’s the empty space between the notes that literally allows the music to be music—if there’s no void, there’s only continuous sound.

And also this:

Have a mind that’s willing to flow with life and be shaped by the eternal forces of the Tao.  See yourself as all of these things . . . watchful, yet relaxed and peaceful; alert, yet unhurried and confident; yielding, yet willing to be still and wait for the waters to become clear. . . . Let go of your demands and trust in the perfecting unfolding of the Tao.

How this connected to the Vision Board process is that reflecting on these passages (in addition to others) forced me to take an intuitive and relaxed approach to it.  Here are a few things I learned along the way.

My Vision Board
Develop your Vision Board in two steps.  Since I had collected my magazine clippings about month ago (a process which for me took considerable energy even though I freaking love magazines), during Step 2 I had the energy to sift through what I had previously collected and piece together the ones that had instinctive, meaning, and/or visual interest to me.  I found it interesting that the majority of the ones I had previously clipped were ones that I wound up placing on my board, which speaks to the value in trusting our instincts and intuition.  Surprisingly, some random images wound up appearing on my board, which I’m still contemplating the potential meaning of: reindeer, woman running with cheetahs, and a dog yawning while he waits for his morning coffee.  WTF, right?  Only time will tell. 

Don’t be limited by your visual attraction to an image.  My eye was attracted to lots of ocean-themed images, so much as that if I used them all, my board would’ve consisted of half an ocean.  I scaled that back intentionally to make room for other meaningful images, but nonetheless my board wound up having a strong water element.  I don’t know if that implies that I’m meant to live by the water or if there's a different meaning, but as a Piscean with traits of fluidity and mutability (as symbolized by water), these are the essence of who I am.  This, I believe, is contrasted by what I desire in a partner, hence the word "protect" in the upper left-hand corner of the board.

Listen to calming music (or nothing at all) during your Vision Board process.  I am a music junkie, but because I wanted to hear my flow during my Vision Board-ing, I chose to have contemporary pianist George Winston playing softly in the background.  If you like that sort of thing, you’ll dig him, if not, Chopin is always good or anything with an emotionally neutral sound.  

Consider layout in addition to content.  But let your intuition guide you.  I let my intuition guide where I pasted my clippings, but I was also cognizant of subject and theme.  For example, in the center I pasted a large image centering on relationships – platonic, romantic, familial, etc., but within that I placed a quote that read: “You want to reveal what life is like—to show things we may never fully understand.”  This was clearly something that resonated with me on both a philosophical and creative level.  At the core, connecting and getting to the depth of someone/something is essential to me.  I believe that this is tied to some kind of creative purpose for me.  

Let the board speak for itself and give it time for meaning to unfold.  Don’t think too much when you’re compiling because the outcome will be more surprising and illuminating than you realize.  While clearly love and relationships are important to me, it occurred to me that the kind of relationship I desire is not only one that has a strong protection foundation (vital for me), but also closeness, intimacy, and perhaps adventure.  (Case in point being the couple embracing on the motorcycle and the quote beside it that says, “Everyday will never be the same.”)

Some Vision Board experts say to hide your board away after completion, others say to hang it in a visible spot.  I've taken the latter route and have displayed it because in trusting my intuition I am confident the board is a symbol of what matters to me and what is in store.  IMHO, having the board be visible – at least temporarily – is a gentle reminder of that.    

In case you're interested in reading more about Vision Boards, I found this article by Martha Beck from O Magazine inspiring.  

March 16, 2014

Dessert Before Dinner

During the workweek, whenever I come home after work, I promptly remove my shoes, hang my purse on the closet handle and drop down my work bag, and then scurry around my apartment with my jacket on  (an important little detail) in a rush to relax.  The relaxing part often doesn’t come until two to three hours later, after I’ve worked out, darted back out to run to the grocery store, or triaged my vitamins for the next day, in other words, after I've checked a series of to-dos off my list. 

I know I’m not the only one, with obligations, responsibilities, chores and things that get in the way of that sweet spot at the end of the day when we bask in the glow of full-bellied peace and quiet.  The culmination of our days – when we finally get to that point – is not only the dessert but our sustenance too, though, so why don’t we grant ourselves a taste of that – a prelude or a snippet of this well-fed, happy-place feeling – during the day?  Why do we feel only deserve a dose of it right before drifting off to sleep or during that small sliver of time on a Sunday morning (one of my favorite sweet spots) when all the obligations of the world fall away for a quick minute? 

Rushing to relax is counter-intuitive, but it's something I do on the regular.  Why?  Because though life gets busy sometimes, I live for those moments of pure, unadulterated bliss, that cozy feeling, like a hot cup of tea in your hands but all over your body, and I want to get there as soon as I can.

Last Sunday, after a fun but bustling weekend, I found myself sprawled on my couch at noon, in my “loungewear” (who am I kidding? They’re PJs), book in hand, hot tea on coaster.  My apartment was quiet, my feet were reclined, and all of a sudden I felt my heartbeat soften to that slow thump when you’re about to drift off to sleep.  I could’ve eaten it up, that moment was so freaking delicious.  And I just sat there, fully aware, and basking in the calm emanating throughout my body and mind.  It felt incredible.

Afterward, I felt more recharged than I had been in what felt like weeks, at which point I realized how essential these isolated moments of relaxation are to our happiness and productivity too.  Why do we only grant ourselves these moments at the end of the day or end of the week?  By putting it off until every single obligation is met, all our to-dos are checked off our lists, how can we feel balanced and focused and accept and appreciate life's nuances?

Further, how can we be prepared for life's natural ebbs and flows if we're rushing through it, never taking the time to stop and take short time-outs midway through it?  And really, why must we cleanse our palates only at dusk when we’re often too tired to really taste it?

From here on, I am going to try and taste my dessert during the day, even if it’s just a bite or a nibble.  Because let’s be honest - life is too short not to eat dessert before dinner sometimes.