As part of my latest workshop I created a gratitude board that I will be using as a reminder of what I learned this year. It will also help me visualize and remember the goals (at least some of them) that I'd like to achieve in 2021.
It was easier said than done! It took several iterations to arrive at a point that I found manageable. After all, this is not an idle exercise in wishful thinking. I am not focusing on creating a decorative piece, but rather a highly practical and utilitarian collage board. For that reason, I needed to reflect carefully and select those goals I found to be most essential to my well being come 2021.
I will share with you some of my observations after creating the board. The process itself spanned three weeks from inception to the finished board.
I hope it will inspire you to create your own board, or it might just help you think back on the lessons learned during this tragic year. In any case, it will be time well spent.
In the center, a man is in free fall. We are the man. Is there a safety net or will he perish? The blue background almost makes him look as if he was suspended in water. Submerged. When under water, one cannot breathe. It gives me an unsettling feeling of not being able to utter a word.
A bird with a red chest cheats the cage behind him and points its beak towards an unsuspecting red butterfly. A larger butterfly is gliding by quietly. The bird is small. Maybe a finch like the ones on the feeders. Small birds (as well as butterflies) represent the souls of children in many cultures. They also represent rebirth and renewal. To me nothing says ALIVE like the song and flight of a bird. Perhaps for that reason, I am deathly afraid of dead birds.
The nurse next to me looks tired. In her eyes I see a mix of exhaustion and resignation. I’m close to her, as if protected, and I am wearing a toppled crown and I am looking away. The crown has grown too heavy, too unstable, too much to hold. It falls down the side of my head and covers my right eye. Perhaps, my abilities are failing as I get older. Perhaps, my role in the family has also changed. I’m not needed as I used to be, but I now need more help. A reversal of roles.
Roses bloom like pink fireworks. Other flowers pop up here and there: orange marigolds and a smaller red rose. A spray of baby’s breath cascades down a corner of the board. The word “FACE” appears next to a lovely little girl with sad eyes and curls coming down her shoulders. She looks fatigued and a bit absent. I think all the female images represent me in different ways: the caregiver, the dreaming child, the swimmer…
Water is everywhere. Water is never the same and it takes the shape of its container. Am I struggling to be malleable? Am I adapting successfully? Some of the water is still, clear, and lovely. Some water is powerful, destructive, and dangerous. But it is the same water. Like humans, water can be a source of comfort or a source of suffering. On the board, I catch a tsunami wave inside a coffee cup. I’m trying to make a situation manageable.
Words are sprinkled on the board from bottom to top. They are flowing, twisting upwards like a fountain. Is it mental chatter? Doubts and worries? They imply my tendency to ruminate. It is a habit I’d very much like to break. I find it very unsettling, unproductive and all around annoying. I will attempt to suppress that inner banter in the next year.
In my case, my board deals mostly with internal work. I need to take steps towards a less frantic mind. 2021 will be a reset year for many of us. I need to find my way back to my own factory settings. I will leave behind self-doubt and dive into the pool of possibilities headfirst.