The Introspective Salon
At the beginning of this year, I set some intentions and created one big goal for myself. When I set these, I thought about doing monthly reviews to track my progress, but I move slowly toward progress. I'm a sloth, and I'm proud. Reviewing every three months will be much more efficient and fulfilling. If you're interested in doing some sort of review process for your own goals, consider what time frame makes the most sense for your goals. Perhaps you have a big project that needs a weekly review, or maybe checking in at half a year is enough for your needs.
For the first time in my life, I've begun taking my personal growth and my goals seriously, so I wanted to take time for some reflection and evaluation. I already have a vague sense of how I'm doing, but exploring my progress might lead me to see a bigger area for improvement or it might help me to see that I need to set new goals and intentions.
First, I want to define why I differentiate between goals and intentions. For me, an intention is a broad area of improvement while a goal is a specific task that I want to do on a recurring basis. For example, an intention might be "make peace with my past." A goal might be "go to counseling once a week."
My specific intentions this year were to be more grateful and generous.
My goal was to write and post a blog entry every week for the whole year.
1. What went really well?
- Practicing gratitude every day went really well.
- Posting a blog entry every week went really well.
2. What am I most proud of and why?
- I'm most proud of myself for continuing to post blogs every week because often times I slip in to feeling dumb about what I'm posting and feeling like it's pointless and consequently, give up. There are probably five or six failed Trisha blogs out there in the vast universe of the Internet.
- While I did, at times, feel like posting was dumb and pointless, I reframed those thoughts by making the experience about me. Instead of thinking to myself "no one's reading what does it matter?" I thought to myself "I'm doing this for my own benefit."
3. What was challenging?
- Practicing generosity has been challenging. It's hard to measure progress in this area, too, unless I'm donating money every month, but that's not really the type of generosity I'm looking to practice. I mean to be more generous with my time. I volunteered to be a tutor at the Boys and Girls Club here in my home town, but I've only gone twice. I know that this is totally an excuse, but I feel like more of a nuisance than an aid when I go.
- I can definitely get back into going, though! I haven't missed too many consecutive weeks for it to feel like a lost cause.
4. What stumbling blocks need to be evaluated?
- Well, I need to think about how I intend to embody or achieve generosity. While I would like to go back to volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club, there may be other ways I can give my time. I hesitate to just stop going to BGC because I always hesitate to quit things. I have a real complex with feeling like a quitter. However, sometimes, quitting is okay and it's more about redistributing efforts for better results. There may be other organizations where I can have a more fulfilling volunteer experience and therefore bring more to the table as a volunteer.
5. Did I accomplish what I wanted in the first three months of this year?
- Absolutely! I have been posting blog entries every week since 2018 started.
- I've been practicing daily gratitude in a gratitude journal.
- While I haven't got generosity quite figured out, I will note a positive gain here - I've been more generous with my time when it comes to my family. Specifically, I've been more engaged with my husband and sacrificing more of my own time to hang out with him and express interest in the things that he likes. We are both incredibly independent people, so sometimes it actually takes effort to make time for each other. My husband has really stepped up his game in this department. He sacrifices a lot of time for me, and I've been working on and will continue to work on doing the same for him.
6. Have I celebrated my success?
- I have! I haven't had a party or anything, but I've been very celebratory in my attitude and the way I talk to myself. My efforts have not gone unnoticed.
7. Who did I share it with?
- I've shared it with my husband, and now, anyone reading this blog!
8. What do I want to continue doing in the next 3 months?
- I want to continue posting to this blog every week.
- I want to continue my gratitude journaling.
- I want to continue being generous with my time for my husband, and the rest of my family, and friends and co-workers!
- I want to figure out how I can best donate my time as a volunteer.
9. Are there any intentions or goals that need to be reevaluated or modified?
- Yes, I'll work on modifying the generosity intention as needed.
10. Do I want to add any intentions or goals?
- I'm feeling really great about my blog postings and I've actually been thinking that I might have something really valuable to offer others with this space. I am going to set a goal to begin researching how to make my blog more professional. My actionable step to achieve this is:
1. Complete an online course or courses about blogging and SEO.
11. How do I hope to feel in the next 3 months?
- I hope to feel like being generous is a habit that comes more easily.
- I hope to feel more prepared to create an inviting space on the Internet for a community of self-improvement junkies like me.
- I hope to feel accomplished!
Ok, that's it! That was my quarterly review. In coming up with my questions, I accessed these two blog posts:
I tailored the questions to fit my own needs, but I didn't simply create them all on my own, so I wanted to share with you where I found the ideas.
Here are the questions without my answers attached in case you would like to use them for yourself!
Hi everyone, it's Trisha and today I’m going to be taking you on a tour of my Cabinet of Excuses.
Now, this is a metaphorical cabinet as no real cabinet would be big enough to hold all these ways that I convince myself I can’t or shouldn’t do things. This cabinet is sort of like Mary Poppins' bag. You can just keep pulling things out of it. The size of things that can fit in my cabinet is limitless.
I’ve always had a cabinet of excuses. It’s one of those things that you come out of the womb gripping, I suppose, but I really started getting use out of it in High School. When I was fifteen and my biggest worry was looking like a dork in gym class, the cabinet of excuses was on the lighter side. It was hard to have too many excuses in High School because that’s one of those things that you pretty much have to do, but I still had them. Like, I’m ditching gym class because I look like a total dork playing badminton. Or, I’m not going in during lunch hour to make up for my failing grade because it’s a failing grade in gym simply due to me ditching all the time and you know what, I’m a good student in all my other more important classes, so who cares?
Those excuses are at the far back of my cabinet, now. Gym class is in the distant past. Do you know what’s in the present, though? The simple and honest "I don't want to" excuse.
Which is the perfect excuse for not working out. For not going to a gym. There's also the "I don't like getting sweaty," or the "I don't have good exercise clothes" excuse. To be fair to myself, I have gotten into a great habit of stretching every morning, so I'm moving my body, at least.
Oh, is that another excuse?
Yea. “But I already do this thing so why should I do this other thing, too?” is another pretty typical excuse found in my cabinet. Like, I drink lots of water every day so why should I cut back on caffeine?
Let's see what other excuses I can find in this cabinet.
Oh, okay, there's the "I don't have time" excuse.
While this is actually true sometimes, most of the time it isn't true. Most often it isn't a matter of not having time, but a matter of poor time management or anxiety around time. This is a great excuse for anyone. You can convince not only yourself, but others, that you're too busy! There's no time in your day!
For me, this is the biggest, fattest, lying excuse in my cabinet. I loathe this excuse, whether I'm giving it or hearing it, so let's move on.
The next excuse in my cabinet is an honest excuse. It's the, "I'm no good at this thing and I'll be embarrassed if I fail" excuse.
This excuse must be relayed in a catchy sing-song cadence so that it can stick in my brain and plague everything I want to do, or may want to do, or even things I've already done. This may be the most honest excuse, but it's the hardest one to overcome.
If I simply don't want to do something, sometimes it's enough to tell myself "just do it" or "do it now so I don't have to do it later." If I feel like I don't have enough time, then I can work on rearranging my schedule or reprioritizing my tasks for the week. If I feel like I actually can't do something and that I'm worried about failure, well, that's pretty hard to combat.
There are many other excuses in my cabinet. I can't even close the doors and I come up with new excuses all the time. The key to working through them is to recognize an excuse as different from a pretty reasonable reason. For example, I've been watching some "Hoarders" lately and because my brain is so trained to make excuses for my behavior I came up with this excuse: “Watching "Hoarders" helps my anxiety because I like seeing the process of cleaning up so much junk. It’s cathartic. It’s like a metaphor for cleaning up emotional baggage.” I realized upon drafting this blog post, though, that that is a perfectly reasonable reason. I'm not bingeing episodes or zoning out and losing touch with my own reality, I'm simply enjoying a few episodes from time to time. If I was actually using "Hoarders" to procrastinate dealing with my anxiety (as I do with Youtube videos all the time), then that would be a pretty far-fetched excuse.
Recognizing these three major excuses has been beneficial in helping me watch out for my own bullshit and keep it in check.
I can't think of a way to end this blog post, but, you know, I don't want to. I worked hard enough, anyway.
I was having coffee with a professor from my undergrad and she said something that really surprised me. She said she remembered that I had cool clothes!
When I was getting my undergraduate degree, I experimented with my style a lot. I had gone from the more extreme days of my pseudo-goth-style in Junior High School -
to my I'm-doing-everything-I-can-to-not -be-immodest-(but also I kind of want to look sexy)-style in High School -
to the I-don't-know-who-I-am-style in college. That's why it surprised me so much that my professor remembered my clothes as anything other than how uncomfortable I thought they made me appear. Unfortunately, I can't find any photos that accurately represent this hodge-podge fashion moment, but it was something like lots of shorts and tights and colored cardigans and chunky necklaces and red lipstick and skater dresses with leggings. Perhaps I wanted to look something like Jane Lane -
but I got confused somewhere along the way.
After college, I got a job as a preschool teacher and I no longer wanted to fuss with my wardrobe. I needed clothes that required minimal maintenance and that were comfortable enough for a wide range of motion. I leaned heavily on jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. After a year of working in that stressful environment, I got a job as a paraprofessional at a charter school with a business casual dress code. I rarely felt comfortable in my clothes at that job. I had one awesome legitimate suit that I’d wear on days when I was substituting for the teacher I worked with - and I felt pretty badass in that - but otherwise, I felt like clothes were a total nuisance.
Come to think of it, most of my life, clothes have been a total nuisance. My mom used to have to plead with me to try clothes on in the stores. I used to cry on those school clothes shopping days and many of the clothes I got would go to waste because I'd later discover that they made me look fat. Even when I was playing around with fashion, clothes were still a nuisance because I was either stressing over looking good or stressing over how uncomfortable I felt.
Now, I will try clothes on and I don’t absolutely dread shopping and I know my style well enough to purchase clothes that make me look and feel good: jeans, unassuming tops, and black boots. I have about seven outfits on rotation for work and only a few outfits to choose from for non-work days, which makes choosing my clothes one-hundred-million times easier. On occasion, I do look forward to gussying up for a date with my husband or going to a concert or meeting up with my family for holidays, but the majority of the time I just want to wear what I always wear. Jeans. T-shirts. Hoodies. Well, I don’t really wear hoodies too much anymore. I’ve advanced to neutral-colored cardigans. So adult.
What I’ve discovered about this style is that I feel comfortable, and when I feel comfortable, I feel badass. When I’m wearing my jeans and my ratty old pirate boots and a plain top I feel like I don’t just walk around, I strut. On the occasion when I have a sexy and cool outfit for date nights or concerts I go back to that joy I got from crafting my pseudo-goth wardrobe in Junior High School, but I don’t need to have a unique outfit every day.
Whether I like it or not, the clothes I wear affect how I feel and how I present myself. It feels a little bit trivial to be concerned about personal style, but we have to wear clothes if we’re going to go do stuff in the world so for those of us who have the luxury of personal style, we might as well feel good about what we wear.
Something else that's helped me become more comfortable is that I've learned to love a good quality clothing item over a fashionable one. I've become much more interested in shopping ethically and purchasing fewer, higher quality items. If this is an issue that interests you, too, I encourage you to do research about capsule wardrobes and how to shop sustainable fashion. I'll link resources that have been the most helpful for me in navigating this new way to shop:
Justine Leconte, fashion designer and content creator:
Justine Leconte on escaping the fast fashion trap:
Justine Leconte's TED Talk:
Adam Ruins Everything: Why Fast Fashion Fails Us:
Go forth, will you, to shop smart and kind.
The idea behind the law of attraction (LoA) is that where you put your focus and energy is what you will get out of life.
Hmm, phrased like that I actually really believe in it. That doesn’t quite sum it up.
It’s the idea that if you have positive thoughts, you will have positive experiences. Meanwhile, the reverse is also true. If you have negative thoughts, you will have negative experiences.
That still doesn’t quite capture what I’m trying to reveal about the LoA.
Okay, let’s see, what I’m trying to get at here is that I believe the law of attraction has value, but I also believe that it’s not a guarantee to success. I believe that it’s a passive approach and it’s a way to avoid making any real, tangible progress on a goal or dream. What really rubs me the wrong way about the LoA, though, is the idea that you can “manifest” your dreams. Dreams are pretty nebulous and there’s no way of knowing exactly what’s going to put you on the right path to achievement, but you’ll never get on that path if all you do is sit around and visualize the path rather than go out and pave it.
I’ve had tremendous success with some aspects of the LoA. I count my blessings every morning in a gratitude practice. I have worked on fostering positive thoughts. I have set intentions to manifest things in my life, but I’ve also taken action. For example, the biggest area of lack in my life is in the social arena, and I’ve made efforts at improving that, but if all I did was sit around and visualize myself hanging out with friends, then I wouldn’t have made any progress. I had to make a plan. I had to text friends and choose a date to get together. I’ve done that even when I’ve felt as though they’ve never made an equal effort with me. I have a friend who almost never invites me to hang out, but every time we do hang out we have a great time and we always say “let’s do that again.” She rarely makes the next move and that used to really put me off, but, I’ve reframed my thoughts and decided that in that friendship I’m the leader and I make the decisions. It’s up to me. That feels much more empowering than telling myself “she never tries.” (To be clear, if she seemed like she had a miserable time with me, then I’d give up, but since we always have fun, I think it’s worthwhile to continue to extend the effort).
In this regard, I manifested my goal of improving my friendships by reframing my thoughts and thinking more positively about them, but, more importantly, I took action. Friendships haven’t simply appeared in front of me from the dust. That’s where I get hung up on the LoA. I’ve never read or heard anything about it that talks about the necessary action. I can’t just say to myself every day, “I am worthy of friendships” and expect to make friends. I do believe, however, that repeating a mantra like that will change how willing I am to make the effort, it’s just that the LoA is not a solo gig. The LoA is helpful as a part of a goal-setting process, but it’s not a means to an end.
The other problem with the LoA is that having positive thoughts doesn’t guarantee a more positive experience in life. Positive thoughts won’t harm you and it’s definitely worth it to think more positively, but it’s not a weapon against the bad and harmful things in the world. Just because you’re grateful for everything you have in life doesn’t mean that they won’t all be senselessly ripped from you. It’s comforting to believe that, but that’s just not the way the world works. Pain is a part of life and it's better to accept that and learn how to cope than avoid it.
The LoA is great to form a generally better experience in life, but it’s not a means to stop suffering altogether.
“Write every day” is a piece of advice that writers hear a lot. I also assume a lot of writers get sick of this advice making them feel guilty for missing a day. It’s not very good advice, but I’m kind of going to defend it, just a little bit.
The thing is, I used to absolutely abhor that advice. It made me so mad, mostly because it made me feel terrible for not measuring up. Some days, I just don’t want to write. I have always taken that advice the wrong way, though. I thought it meant to write for at least an hour and to write something meaningful toward a bigger project. I thought it meant to sit down and get super serious about what you were working on every single day.
Then, I started journaling. I have never been good at keeping up with a journal because I always get so precious with it and I want to fill it with only the best of my writing so inevitably I always give up, but I changed my journaling mindset. I realized journaling is just for thoughts. It’s not for my most prized stories and poems. Those usually start off in a word document on my computer anyway. No, journaling is for quick notes and observations. When approached like this, writing is very easy to do every day.
I will add to that, that some writing is also better than no writing.
Now, I defend the advice "write every day" which plagues and torments writers. In fact, I would extend the advice to non-writers, too.
For as long as I can remember I have had a habit of watching television in the mornings and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to break that habit, but I would always come up with some excuse. I used to feel like it helped me to ease into and adjust to the day and that every time I tried to stop the habit I had an off day. I used to think that it didn’t matter whether I did it or not because it was only a half hour of my morning. I used to think it was just a thing that I did and oh well. That was until I started journaling.
Don’t get me wrong, on weekends or over breaks I’ll still delight in watching some television while I eat my breakfast, but I always journal after the show is over, even if it’s just a short paragraph. During working weeks, I journal while I drink my coffee and I don’t miss the noisy chatter of the television at all. I have grown to appreciate the silence of the mornings and the time to jot down my thoughts. Journaling has become the activity I need to ease into and adjust to the day.
Some days, all I write is the things that I’m grateful for or what great book I finished the night before, but the magic is in the habit, not the end result.
I’ve been journaling for four months now, and it has officially replaced my morning TV watching habit. It didn’t take four months to get here, but it did take at least two months. At first, I was really excited about my new habit, then I became disenchanted and wanted to quit, but I didn’t. I kept going until the thought of not journaling in the morning felt uncomfortable.
While being able to write every day has been fruitful, the best thing that has come out of journaling, for me, is the process of self-evaluation and discovery. I’ve been using the bullet journal method and have been finding a lot of different journaling prompts and activities to fill my pages. I’ve created a Mood Tracker,
a plan to overcome depressive episodes, a Gratitude Log,
challenges to work on anxiety and depression, a “Things I Am Good At” page, and a Life Balance wheel.
As you can see from the photos, I’m not that precious with this journal. I’m not trying to create art. Instead, I’m learning about myself in a way that has no-pressure of goodness or intrigue attached. It’d be easy to feel pressure because I see some pretty amazing bullet journals online and a lot of people do approach bullet journals as art, but I have approached this journal as a process and not a product. It’s a space just for me and that mindset has made all the difference.
The benefits of journaling have been such that I can't imagine suddenly not doing it. My writing has improved since I've begun writing nearly every day. I feel more confident in the craft and more invested in my own vision. Moreover, I'd say, I have felt quite a shift in my overall mood and my ability to cope with stress since I started journaling. As an example, the other night I started having some negative thoughts about myself. We’d just been to the in-laws where my husband was the center of everyone’s attention. I mean, it was his family. I just have a tendency to feel like no one ever thinks I have anything interesting to add to the conversation. My husband has a fascinating career so my stories pale in comparison and I feel like his family just assumes I’ve got nothing going on in my life except supporting him, so I started to withdraw and feel insignificant. Normally, I’d let those thoughts invade completely to the point of madness, but instead I told myself that just because others don’t always recognize the worth of my work doesn’t mean there isn't any. I told myself that I am significant and I do matter. And you know what, I actually believed it.
Journaling isn’t some magic cure. It’s not like creating a better habit around writing and my ability to think better about myself and overcome negative thoughts has been solely hinged upon whether or not I journal, but I do believe that it has been a big factor in my triumphs over these elements in my life because I've used the journal to be more curious about who I am and keep myself accountable to maintaining better habits overall. It has become a daily practice not only in writing, but in both accepting and challenging myself.
Noticing progress is the best feeling. Whenever you’re working on a project or a personal goal it can feel like it’s taking forever to see results, but when you notice them, whether because you’re tracking progress or because you’re being observant in a moment, it is the best feeling ever!
This happened for me recently in a rather unexpected scenario. I’ve been working on my self-worth and confidence for a really long time, so sometimes it feels like I’m going nowhere and still feeling the same shitty ways about myself that I always have, even though I know that’s not true, it’s hard to believe it without evidence. I have been much more vigilant about keeping track of my progress and becoming observant to the ways in which I’ve grown, but there hasn’t been any times where I’ve acted on this progress in public (at least as far as I've noticed), until I met Nebula the Happy Space Monkey.
I met Nebula last night when I was I hanging out with a new friend. I have had a friend crush on her for a while (you know that friend crush feel, right?), and we've had tentative plans to go to the Glow Golf place in the mall together, and last night we finally realized our plans. After Glow Golf, we walked around the mall, and she wanted to stop at one of the kiosks because they were selling those little Happy Monkey toys (apparently, these are knock-offs to the crazed Fingerlings, but I'm not seeing that they're any different).
They were having a Buy One Get One Free deal so I agreed to get one with her. I had my eyes on a little white monkey with a pink tuft of hair - she looked like a little space monkey - while my friend was eyeing the little turquoise monkey with a purple tuft of hair - she looked like a little 90s troll monkey.
With visions of possessing our own little happy monkeys, we walked up to ask about it. The guy said, "Oh no, it's one for $15 but two for $25."
“Well, that’s dumb,” my friend scoffed.
I explained to the guy that that is not what we wanted and we were about to walk away, but then he started to haggle with us! The haggling caught my friend off guard, and then I caught my friend and myself off guard by pushing back!
"What about $20?" he asked.
“The sign says buy one get one free," I said.
"OK, would you do $18?" he pleaded.
"I just don't understand why the sign says buy one get one free if that's actually not the deal you're offering," I said.
"Oh, yea, my boss said there was some deal . . ." the kid mumbled something I didn't quite understand, "but if you want two for $15 then I'll do that."
"Well, I mean, obviously that's what we want," I said. And my friend and I walked away with two little happy monkeys for the deal that was advertised!
I feel pretty damn great about that. It might seem small and insignificant, but because I’ve become observant to my progress, I know this indicates a shift in my confidence and understanding of my own self-worth. A past version of myself would have simply told the guy “no thank you” when he tried to sell up the price. I would have blamed myself for being innocent and easy to fool, but this version of me knew that he was trying to cheat us. This version of me wasn’t afraid to point that out and get the advertised deal.
When we walked away my friend was laughing, “I can’t believe you did that,” she said. I kind of couldn’t believe it either, but then, I also could believe it - I can believe it - because I’m not the same timid person that I used to be.
Initially, I only went in on the purchase because my friend was so excited to get a little happy monkey of her own. I didn’t totally want one for myself (ok, I kind-of wanted one for myself), but I’m glad that I have her. Nebula, my little happy space monkey, can remind me of how far I’ve come.
Something a lot of people probably don’t know about me is that I’m a low-key paper hoarder. I don’t mean important documents or receipts, I mean craft paper. I have a random collection of patterned and textured papers and gift wrap. I save any kind of pretty paper that I think might work well in a craft. I do this mostly because I like to make my own cards for birthdays and holidays, but sometimes I endeavor in a different craft project and find that all these papers I’ve saved really come in handy. As an example, for Christmas last year I made my mom a scrapbook. I don’t have a lot of scrapbooking supplies, but I have a lot of random paper. I was able to use those resources at my disposal to make her scrapbook. I don’t think I ran out to the craft store once to get anything new, I made everything with all that paper I already had.
Over this last weekend my little paper collection came in handy again because I made a vision board. I’ve been thinking about making one for a few weeks, but I’ve been hesitant because I think they can be a little hokey. The best way to achieve goals and make the life you want is to have an action plan, but I couldn’t let the idea of making the vision board go. I figured I have the time and the supplies and the desire so I might as well do it.
I don’t know how interesting this is going to be for you, as the reader, but I’m invested in exploring this board and what it means to me. If you happen to take inspiration from it, I’m honored, but if not, then I invite you to stop reading at any time.
My vision board is a little different than others that I’ve seen in that I only used one magazine clipping. Most the vision boards I see online are pretty pictures from magazines, but the only magazines I had was a small stack of New Yorkers and they just aren’t cut out for vision board making. There aren’t many ads and there aren’t many pictures. I did take one cartoon from a New Yorker and I put the rest of my stack in the recycling. I may be a low-key paper hoarder, but I do know when it’s time to cut ties.
To start my vision board, I wrote out all the things that I wanted it to reflect:
This way I could keep it focused on the goals and dreams that really matter to me right now and not get sidetracked by simply picking pretty papers or cute stickers.
I then collected all the items that contributed to my goals and dreams and played around with different placements. In the end, I think I essentially broke it down into four quadrants and I'm going to take you on a tour of each one.
Whimsy and creativity. Inspiration for becoming a published author. Lovely words. Try new things. Art.
(Oh, in the interest of complete honesty, I also took that little stack of books by Judy Blume from the New Yorker. It's a little embarrassing how long I looked through those magazines before I finally realized I wasn't finding enough to warrant the search. Let this be your warning, if you make a vision board, don't use New Yorker magazines).
Anyway, for this quadrant, I chose to write out the names of two women that have really inspired me recently, Judy Blume and Amanda Palmer. I want to be a thoughtful and boundary pushing author like Judy Blume and I want to take action and be persistent about my passions like Amanda Palmer. (I’d also just love to adopt Amanda Palmer’s style and aura and way of being, but a vision board should be realistic).
I also included some images, like the panda unicorn, to reflect my desire to maintain whimsy and creativity in my life and in my work. I especially like the cartoon I clipped from the New Yorker because it reminds me to push against what’s standard and create what I want, even if it defies logic. I am a writer, after all. I can make whatever worlds I want. I may write primarily realistic fiction, but that doesn't mean I can't push boundaries there or play around with fantasy elements in other writing and work.
I included a little bit more than nature in this quadrant, like “fresh diet” “style” and “simple.” I also included a sticker that says “made from recycled paper” to remind me to be mindful of producing as minimal an amount of waste as I can. I think that these all tie back into nature pretty seamlessly, though style is a bit of an outlier. That would have made more sense in Quadrant 1, but oh well, it blended in nicely with the paper. Overall, this quadrant is a reminder to get outside and appreciate the beauty of nature. I find a lot of peace and stillness when I can do that. Plus, I’m super lucky in Colorado because there’s hardly ever a day that’s not nice enough to get outside for a walk, at least.
Love and family
One of the most important areas of my life to foster is relationships. I’m so blessed to have a loving and supportive family and a few (but damn good quality) friends and I feel pulled to pour my energy into those relationships as much as I can. I included the word “shine” at the bottom without much thought, but looking at it now I see it as a reminder of how wonderful fostering these relationships makes me feel.
As for Spanish, I used a bit of magnet so that I can play around with my Spanish magnetic poetry kit Unfortunately, the makers of this set didn’t do the most comprehensive job, so I can’t write very riveting sentences and it doesn't appear that they have every word in both its male and female variety, (which is why I have toda instead of todo. Just in case you noticed that - know that I know and it's bothering me greatly). But hey, I’m only learning the basics right now anyway.
I have a bit of an outlier with the butterfly wing encased in plastic. I wrote “ala de mariposa” on it, which means butterfly wing in Spanish, to tether it to this quadrant, but it also fits in with the nature or creativity quadrants. I’ve had this wing for several years now. It has stayed intact, even though I’ve never had it protected like I do now. The wing’s longevity and slight brokenness inspires me. To that end, it also kind of fits in with the “God” quadrant, which I’ll explore more in a moment.
Then there’s this other little outlier, my I am . . . board. This doesn’t really fit in with any of the categories I initially listed, but were I to give it a category now I’d call it “self-improvement” or “self-exploration.” To make it, I used another piece of magnet and glued a little cardboard frame around it. The magnet is so that I can interchange the word with my (English language) magnetic poetry kit often. I think it’s important for a vision board to have moving pieces because if you look at the same thing every day, eventually you stop seeing it. The placement of this works well in between my creativity quadrant and my relationships quadrant because I think those are the two elements of my life that influence who I am the most. I left the board blank for the pictures I took, but I have since put up the word “loving.” I’m looking forward to figuring out what word to put up next!
Nature and God
For a few years now I’ve been thinking more steadily and reflectively on death and dying, which has sparked a lot of existential and spiritual thinking. I want to return to a more consistent spiritual practice. I’m not sure yet how I’ll do that. I’ve been putting off going to church again, but that is ultimately something I’d like to do. I’d like to pray more. I’d like to give more. I'd like to be more mindful of peoples' brokenness and how it shapes them, and how worthy we can all be of forgiveness. I’d also like to have more conversations about God and the universe and what’s out there so I can better understand my own thoughts about it.
To make this quadrant, I used Velcro to attach a clothes pin so that this can also be a movable part. I have a box of cards called “Pocket prayers” and for now, I aim to interchange these cards. Maybe later on I’ll find other things to affix to this quadrant, but I like the Pocket Prayers because they are non-denominational prayers and they offer universal sentiments of hope, appreciation of nature and beauty, gratitude, and peace.
I spent a whole morning making this vision board. I had the time to do that and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I love organizing things into different categories and coordinating colors and themes. While I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a vision board to a busy person because it requires a lot of work and reflection that could be put to better use on an action plan. I definitely wouldn’t recommend a vision board to someone who hates paper crafts because even if you use magazine clips or print outs from the Internet, you still have to do a lot of searching and cutting. I think that vision boards are best suited to people who truly want to make one because they aren’t quick fixes to achieving your goals. I don’t have any delusions that looking at this every day will manifest success, but it is nice to be reminded of my inspirations and dreams. I hung it up right next to my desk so I can see it every day and easily interchange the moving parts.
If you stayed with me through this journey, I want to ask, what do you think about vision boards? Have you made one? Do you now want to make one? Or is a project like this a total waste of time for you?
The last time I think I truly enjoyed social media was back when I had a MySpace account. I used to take a lot of pride in designing my page and I would actively seek to learn how to use the interface so that I could make a really cool looking page. I also truly enjoyed taking pictures and sharing them.
Shoes. Very interest. Much intrigue. Many aesthetic.
I miss those shoes, actually. Those loafers were pretty magical.
I found a lot of gratification in taking and sharing these images. It was fun to share a hobby.
The older I've gotten, the more I have used social media in a much less engaging way. I have nurtured the horrible habit of mindless, passive scrolling. Ever since I made the switch from MySpace to Facebook I stopped engaging with the platform and started merely using it to zone out. That's why I ended up getting rid of Facebook for years and why I now use it very, very moderately. For me, mindless scrolling was contributing to mounting anxiety and feelings of shame and then there's that whole comparing game. That's always fun. I'm sure I played the comparing game with MySpace, too, but I always balanced it out by engaging with the platform more. I would message my friends and fill out those little surveys where you actually had to copy and paste and type your answers - those surveys that predated the infamous BuzzFeed click and pick quizzes.
I'm not trying to muster up some flood of nostalgia for MySpace, here (though I do think those surveys are probably more beneficial to the young users of social media than Buzzfeed quizzes). I'm finding, though, that I've been missing that element of engagement.
A 2015 American Psychological Association study found that passive Facebook use contributed to more negative feelings and feelings of envy (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25706656). Wow! It's no wonder that scrolling passively was making me feel so terrible.
I pulled back from sharing as much on social media in college. I started to feel very embarrassed about anything that I would share and I would constantly think about what I could share, even though I knew that sharing would likely lead to me feeling bad. In fact, the act of thinking so much about what to share made me feel bad! It was such a vicious cycle. I would share something and then get no response and I'd feel embarrassed. I'd see other people sharing and get a lot of responses and feel shame. I have such a negative track of thoughts laid out in my brain associated with Facebook that I don't think I will ever go back to using that platform regularly again, but I have been trying to engage more on Instagram because I use that platform at least once a week, if not every day, and I don't seem to have the same negative cycles with it that I did with Facebook. I've been sharing more personal stories and expressing my interests through Instagram and I'm trying to get better about engaging with other peoples' posts beyond simply liking them. I don't want my process with Instagram to ever match the process that I created with Facebook. That was misery making.
Social media can be such a great tool for an introverted person like me who struggles to make relationships in real life. I could really be using it to my benefit, but I've been using it for so long to my detriment. Since I've started working on engaging more with social media, I have felt much less frustrated with it. I am now even kinder with myself when I slip into using it to procrastinate, and because I don't beat myself up about it, it's easier to log off when it's becoming a problem. It's also easier to keep it from becoming a big distraction because when I engage it feels like I've done something productive and I can then move on to the next productive (or not) task!