“Remember happiness is a way of travel not a destination,” is a glaring quote from the vision board I created almost a year ago for 2015. I hadn’t created a vision board since (I’m guessing) junior high. I would guess most people stop putting their visions to paper early on even though we hear repeated reminders about the wisdom of better actualizing the things we write down. Life settles in and sometimes we can forget that it’s the magical, sometimes unexpected things that help us light the way.
For the last 13 years, I built a professional career in higher education. I did all of the things those who are upwardly mobile typically do as a professional. I went from a graduate student to a Director and grew my professional profile. Truth be told, I was always committed (sometimes overly so) to my work due to my love for the institution of education and the idea of contributing to something bigger than myself. But something interesting happened when I created this year’s aforementioned vision board (in a trance-like state on my close friend’s apartment floor): I imagined a different story for myself. The vision I created for 2015 included a lot of color, inexplicable symbols, significant travel and writing, and a possible career shift. In short, I envisioned Change (yes, with a capital “C”) for this year’s journey.
Somehow, my internal clairvoyant knew that 2015 would be a year devoted to meaning-making (defined by extreme Change).
I could not have known it in early January, but my mom would suffer a heart attack in May and experience a considerably rough recovery. My vision board has the words: “gift of life” and a picture of a hummingbird (a totem for my mom) about a third of the way across its terrain. When I looked back at the board and saw those two things, I started to really pay attention. [The board was speaking to me.] Seeing my mom’s mortality and challenges reminded me – emphatically – to continue to take the best possible care of myself. I committed to fitness even more (if you’ve read my other posts, you know I’ve been chronicling my weight loss for a while) and redesigned this very blog around the notion of “walking” and the paths we take. I relaunched the blog this summer; at the midway point of my vision board, there are a pair of boots, mid-stride (again, these were symbols, pictures and snippets of life and actions I arranged in January). I also made a critical decision for myself in late summer that was incredibly empowering: I left the same job I came to LA to create in order to travel, write and contemplate my next career move more thoughtfully. On the board, my work life is seemingly symbolized first by my (now-former) business card and, at the far end, books.
Since then, I have traveled considerably and written prolifically. I created a wholly new category on my blog devoted to the simple concept of wandering in place, taking three-mile journeys around the places we often take for granted (urban hikes, if you will). At the same time, I have been tackling other entrepreneurial and writing-based projects. A book is imminent. All of these things have, in hindsight, been experiences by which I have grown in new directions and made meaning out of things that were more opaque prior to 2015.
There is something profound about contemplating what my mind painted out for me ahead of my actual 2015. I feel a continued shift in my sails for 2016 – where life isn’t as certain or comfortable but is still a grand adventure. Work, instead, lives in artistic endeavors whose scope and meaning are still open for me to fully define (I suspect education will still be a theme). There are things not yet realized (and I realize this may be a tall order for the remaining month of December) according to the board, the collective of which might answer another compelling question for myself: what now? There are reminders to give thanks and relax, pictures having to do with more travel (and possible relocation), magazine scraps that read “the soul” and “be the boss” (me gusta), and a persistent commitment to the world of books. I read all of this as continuing to be more still in appreciation of my life and not forgetting the things that feed my soul: writing, traveling and committing to a professional life that will allow me powerful agency in sharing my creativity with the world. Very likely, through writing.