Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creating Vision Boards

It was as perfect a time as we could have hoped for -- that mid-January weekend that my daughters, Amina and Asila, returned to Bakersfield for a visit. We always get together in May for Relay for Life, but this January was a bonus. As a mom, it’s casual time such as this with one’s adult children that warms my heart.

Amina suggested that we make vision boards, and Asila and I enthusiastically agreed. A vision board is a creative expression in the form of a collage or poster. Constructed from images and words cut out of magazines, the finished product is a representation of our vision for the future,
of what we want or seek in our lives. It may be for the coming year or further out.

I’d done this exercise before with friend and colleague Rose Lester, once in her private workshop and once through the Art for Healing program at Mercy Hospital. Though similar, both times the board brought new insight into what I wanted my life to look like over the coming year. This was the first time either of the girls had tried it.
Saturday evening hunting session

Working on our projects individually, but together, we shared photos and discussed ideas. Armed with red wine, scissors, and a stack of magazines, we chuckled as we noticed the same words or phrases and similar pictures in each others’ stacks.  

Asila and her vision board

Amina finishes her vision board

I loved how it all came together after concentrated arranging and assessing. Then, soon we were wielding our glue sticks and proudly displaying our completed vision boards.  We laid out our boards and celebrated with a “tour” of our creations.

My completed vision board

My vision board illustrates my life in familiar themes. Central is the Tree of Life with my family at the base. Circling the perimeter clockwise, the images I chose exemplify freedom, meaningful work, organization, travel, the arts, and health. As I write this and review it now, I see that a few things are missing. But that’s okay; I'll be on the lookout for them and can add them whenever the proper image comes along.

You can create your vision board anytime, but since it's still early in the year, making one now can help guide you through 2012. For more specific information on how to create your own vision board, see the article “How to Make a Vision Board” by Christine Kane.
~ xoA ~

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seeing What We Look For

It’s true. We see what we’re looking for. That’s a phenomenon that motorcycle safety folks have known for a long time, as a result of research on motorcycle accidents and human behavior. The most common thing that people who’ve hit a motorcyclist say is, “I didn’t see him.” Nowadays, the motorcycle safety bumper sticker phrase is “Look for Motorcycles.” We see what we are looking for.

A gratitude search sends us looking for things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Years ago, Oprah called upon us to write those things in a daily Gratitude Journal. So did my friend Emily when she led our AAUW book group meeting after we’d read Freedom Writers. Emily even supplied us with journals and pens. My enthusiasm for those projects lasted for awhile, then waned. Over the years, I would occasionally return to jot down a few items on a list in my Gratitude Journal.
Just before Christmas, PattyB, another friend, challenged our small facebook group to list three things great or small that we were grateful for each day and to post our list to the group. My first reaction was less than enthusiastic. Hey, I was grateful enough without writing it down. And, I had ‘been there, done that.’ But, I decided to join in anyway. 

That decision to participate has made a huge difference. PattyB’s challenge and her example have forced us to take a good look at our lives. I began to more often notice and appreciate small things along the way. When it’s time to report and I scan the day, I realize my ‘cup is overflowing.’ I have many instances for which I am grateful.

Expressing gratitude restores us and lifts our happiness levels. Lee Coit, author and teacher, writes that gratitude forces us to look deeper than the surface. It allows us to see more and directs us away from the negative to what is right in our world as we focus on the positive aspects. 

Even in the best of lives, we can get caught up in seeing the negative. We may forget the positive or take it for granted. But, looking for the gratitude spots brings renewal and the realization that a lot of things really are going our way. We do see what we are looking for.

Today, I am grateful for 1) friends who encourage me and enrich my life 2) being able to sit outside in the sunshine on a January afternoon 3) my decision to participate.

What three things are on your gratitude list for today?

~ xoA ~