The joy factor

Vision board for 2011

Almost every time I do a vision board, I think “ooooh… this one is my favourite so far!” That’s how I felt last night when I completed this one. I love it. It’s the biggest one I’ve done so far (I wanted to think BIG for 2011), and it’s colourful and beautiful and MINE.

There is something so gratifying about seeing your vision appear in this way. I think it works for me for a number of reasons:

  1. I’m a visual thinker. Give me images and vibrant colour and I’m a happy girl. I can get lost in an image without necessarily needing an explanation.
  2. BUT I also love words. (I’m a writer, after all.) I like to flip through magazines to see which words jump out at me and offer me some frame for my life at the time.
  3. I love to combine images and words and then watch what the combination evokes. AND I love surprises, and there are always a few of those when I put words and images together in new ways.
  4. I am comfortable with ambiguity. I don’t need to know what every image or combination of words means when I glue it on the board. Sometimes it just speaks to me and the meaning appears later.
  5. I like evolving, fluid structures. I don’t enjoy being hampered by boxy things like “strategic plans” or “business plans”. I prefer to watch the way my vision boards evolve, with changing colour themes, imagery, words, etc.

Some of the things I see so far in 2011’s vision board are:

  1. running – this is the first time I’m whispering it aloud, but I really want to run a half marathon!
  2. joy – my word for the year
  3. growth – exceeding my limits and expanding my horizons
  4. travel, adventure, journey (those things always seem to appear on my boards)
  5. leadership, sacred space, wisdom
  6. variety, options

This type of visioning speaks volumes to my Sophia heart. It’s the wisdom that flows from me when I am true to myself.

For years I tried to fit in a world where strategic planning and corporate vision statements and agendas and action items and objectives and goals felt like stiff wooden boxes that didn’t fit the soft curve of my heart. Though I became adept at adapting to that world, it never felt like my full truth.

Not that those things aren’t necessary – it’s just that they weren’t fully balanced with the wisdom of the feminine.

Now I’m looking at the world differently. I’m looking for the curves and circles, the organic ways of growing, the spaces in between the cold hard facts, the colour behind the black and white, the softness in the structure, and the joy factor.

This year, as I look ahead to my first full year of self-employment, I’m focusing on the joy factor. Instead of a business plan, I’m working on a “joy roadmap”. Instead of a vision statement, I’m creating a “joy image”. Instead of goals and objectives, I’m asking “what things will make my heart feel alive?”

Do it with me! Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. List five moments from the past year when you felt deeply joyful.

2. What was it from those moments that contributed to your joy and how can you replicate that in 2011?

3. Who were the people who surrounded you in those moments and contributed to your joy? How can you continue to surround yourself with these joy people?

4. Create a vision board, adding images and words that make you feel joyful.

5. Answer these questions:

  • I am joyful when…
  • I can bring joy to other people by…

Now go back and read your answers to the questions in #5. Are there intersections? Is it possible that the things you do that bring you joy are also the things that contribute to other people’s joy? I suspect so!

Joy is contagious. Go out there and find some. And then pass it on.

In preparation

Our house in winter
I’ve spent much of the weekend preparing for the arrival of my dear friend Randy, who, like the wise men of the Christmas tale, will soon come from the East.

The house is clean (or at least reasonably so), the bed is prepared in the family room, and a little basket of goodies is waiting for his arrival. Randy is one of the best gift-givers I know, and so I delight in gathering things to honour him. Some of my long-time readers will remember Randy as the friend in Nova Scotia who gave me a beautiful spiral necklace. Because he is about to embark on a year-long contemplative study, I created a special journal for him to gather his thoughts in. I have no doubt that he will react with just the right amount of pleasure.

Though I’ve been scurrying a bit, and stressing a little too much about the house being “just right”, it is with eager anticipation that I prepare for his arrival. Soon I will leave for the airport, and for the next two days, I know that we will have many deep conversations, lots of hearty giggles, a road trip or two, and the odd glass of wine. (Randy is one of those rare humans who is as comfortable with his feminine side as his masculine, and so it is easy to be myself in his presence.)

As I look forward to his arrival, it occurs to me that all of this preparation serves as a kind of mirror reflecting the season we’re currently in. Advent. The time of waiting, anticipation, and preparation for the coming of the Christ child.

Advent is a big season. It holds so much in its weeks of waiting. It holds the hopes of nations waiting to be rescued by a new kind of leader. Slaves waiting to be released from bondage. Women waiting to be liberated from an oppressive culture. People of all stripes and colours waiting for a new paradigm, a new kingdom.

Sometimes I underestimate just how revolutionary the coming of Christ was – how it turned the world upside down. Sometimes I forget that Advent is still happening today. We are still waiting. We are still hoping. We are still being released, liberated, and set free from old bondage.

It is Sophia – the wisdom of Christ – that releases us. We are free to be who we are meant to be. We are redeemed from the old rules, the old paradigms, the old bondage. We can live fully in our bodies, dare to be bold and powerful, embrace our femininity, and BE BEAUTIFUL.

We can dance with Sophia Рembrace her and move forward into new life  Рbecause Christ came.

Just as I anticipate the arrival of Randy, who affirms me and celebrates me just the way I am, I welcome Christ, who knows me more deeply than any other, forgives my failings, and says “my child, you are beautiful.”

That is why I celebrate Advent.

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