Something good is on the way

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By Carla Kucinski

Something good is on the way.

I felt it as my husband and I walked our dog this evening in the September breeze. The temperature dropped a few degrees, giant puffy clouds rolled in, and the wind kicked up. Dried up crinkled leaves tumbled across the brick walkways as we strolled through the college campus near our house. The last of summer’s fireflies blinked their green bodies in the dusk. I no longer hear the chorus of cicadas. The heavy thickness of the summer air melted away and I felt like I could breathe again. In that moment, I longed for my fleece pullover. I also longed for change.

This summer has felt endless, unmovable. Like summer, I have been feeling stuck, unable to move forward, forced to stay in the present. I want newness.

Today I watched a Facebook Live video of one of my favorite life coaches, Martha Beck. She was elaborating on a recent piece she wrote on her website titled “The Storm Before the Calm.” I felt like she was talking about my life. She writes: “When we ask for better lives, we are calling the whirlwind. When the Storm hits, we don’t connect it with our wanting, with our calls for help. We feel blindsided by misfortune, attacked by circumstances, drowned in agony we can’t control.”

My grief this year has felt like one giant earthquake. There’s the initial impact—the shock, the loss, the anger, the sadness. That one simple question has stayed with me this whole year: Why?

Then, without even noticing, the grief slips away. I hear myself laughing when I thought I would never laugh again. What follows for the next few months is an ebb and flow; this earthquake of grief has ripples of aftershocks. They creep up on you when you’re not expecting it. A song on the radio. Walking by baby clothes at Target. Another friend’s announcement of their pregnancy. These moments used to take my heart days to recover from. Now, it take hours, sometimes only minutes to return to center.

Beck says, “The storm isn’t the curse, but preparation for the blessing.” Gosh. I love that. When I’ve been in the throes of these storms before, I often find myself asking “Why is this happening to me?” But reading Beck’s article today erased that question from my mind and replaced it with her sage words: “This is happening for you not to you.”

This feeling is not foreign to me. I felt it after I left my ex-husband and a shit storm followed for the next year. A tornado-like storm knocked down a towering elm in my backyard and crushed my fence while my house was on the market. (Yes, I do recognize the possible metaphors here.) Four months later, my dad almost died when his aorta split in half and he had to be airlifted to the hospital. We thought we lost him. Eight months later, my vet found a softball size tumor in my dog, Yoshi, and 24 hours later, I had to put him to sleep and he was gone from my life.

“The greater the gift we’ve requested, the wilder and more violent the storm will be, and the deeper the grace. … The very thing you thought would drown you turns out to support you,” Beck says.

And she’s right. The day I left my ex, my whole world was flipped upside down, but it left room for newness to come into my life. I met my husband Andrew because of that storm. We adopted our dog Molly because of that storm. I grew closer to my best friend Addy, whom I share this blog with, because of that storm. She was in her own storm, too, but we found each other in the tempest. Now, she’s like my sister; she’s my family. And I got closer to my dad because of that storm.

I’m still waiting for this year’s storm to reveal its path so I can make sense of it all. I want to get to that moment where I say: “Ah. I get it now.”

Truth is what keeps us calm, Beck says. When these storms are raging in our lives, we have to keep coming back to what we know is true so that we don’t completely lose it and unravel.

Truth: My heart at times feels like a wide desert of emptiness, and I fear that I will carry this feeling between my ribs as long as I am breathing.

Truth: Yesterday, I cried in the shower.

Truth: I have no road map.

It’s strange how acknowledging those simple truths anchor me. It makes the storm seem less scary, and maybe, even necessary.

Truth: Something good is on the way.

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Photo by Carla Kucinski

 

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How to create a vision board

Photos by Carla Kucinski

I like to think of vision boards as a visual inner compass; it’s a creative way to help you focus on who you want to be and what you desire your life to be. Vision boards can help you see your goals and achieve them. Assigning an image to the goal (or multiple goals) makes it feel more attainable. It’s no longer a thought floating around in your head; it’s real and has meaning. If you can’t see the goal, how do you know where to begin or where you’re headed? And when you finally get there, how will you know you’ve arrived?

I started creating vision boards about 8 or 10 years ago, when my therapist introduced me to the process. She didn’t refer to it as a vision board necessarily; rather, it was like drawing a map of your subconscious mind. The process involved flipping through a stack of magazines and tearing out anything that sparked something in me. You’re not supposed to question your selection or hesitate before ripping it from the pages. It’s supposed to be a free-flowing process. No second guessing. No questioning.

At the end, you glue the images to a piece of paper or poster board or you can paste the images to your canvas as you collect them. Then you sit back and analyze what you see. I found the experience freeing and eye-opening — and at times surprising. Objects appeared on the board that tappped into parts of my subconscience that hadn’t been unearthed. Seeing my completed vision board was always an “a-ha” moment.

Our busy lives create busy minds that prevent us from connecting to ourselves and listening to what our hearts truly desire. Vision boards help us pause, take a deep breath, and dive into our subconscious minds to discover what we truly want in our lives.

Creating a vision board is a very meditative process. It quiets the mind. (I recommend doing the exercise in silence so that you can fully immerse yourself in the process and limit distractions.) The experience feels similar to painting or writing or wandering through nature snapping photos. You get in “the zone.” Hours glide by without noticing.

Although you can create a vision board at any point in your life, I find I gravitate toward vision boards after I’ve undergone something life changing or I am in the middle of something that feels life-altering. (It’s definitely been one of those years.) I recently decided to create a vision board after reading life coach Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight,” a fantastic book about finding your destiny and how you can guide yourself to that destiny. She calls her vision boards “pictorial star charts,” a collection of images that represent the vision for your life. In her version, you can tear images from magazines, but she also recommends printing images from the internet if you have a specific goal in mind.

Once your star chart is complete, she suggests closing the activity with a “spell” or a prayer. Some sort of statement that you send out into the universe. She likes to start her statement with one simple word: “Thanks.” It’s “gratitude for what you’ve received (in the future.)” I love that concept of believing you will receive what you put out into the world. Already imagining that you will obtain your destiny gives hope. Beck says that most of the time her clients’ charts come true, sooner than they had imagined.

For my board, I adopted Beck’s statement method but added a twist. In addition to stating gratitude, the statement should be a phrase that you tell yourself. Maybe that phrase is to help guide you (“Follow your heart.”); or to keep you from feeling discouraged (“Great things await you.”); or a sentiment that you need to express to yourself daily (“Trust the journey.”). Perhaps it’s not a sentence that resonates with you but one single word or a title for your vision. (Dream. Strength. Peace.)

The vision board I created is a combination of the approaches by Beck, my therapist, and author Julia Cameron, who briefly shares her thoughts on the practice in her book, “The Sound of Paper.” Definitely worth checking out.

Below are my step-by-step instructions to take you through the process of creating a vision board. Set aside an hour — two if you really want to dig in deep — and unlock your subconsciousness. Ready. Set. Go.

Step 1: Gather supplies


I picked up this square cork board and the dry-erase board at Target for $9.99 each, along with some fancy push pins for under $3 (also a Target find). I liked the idea of hanging my vision board in my office with my “statement” written on the dry-erase board underneath. You can also use a plain sheet of paper or poster board or a small canvas and glue the images to the material.

Step 2: Grab a stack of magazines


Aim for a good variety of about 12 of your favorite used magazines.

Step 3: Let it rip


As you flip through the pages, tear out any images that ignite a positive response. Anything that evokes feelings of freedom, pure joy, etc. It’s usually the images that cause you to pause that you should tear out. Don’t question why you’re gravitating toward that image; it will all become clear later. You can use scissors to cut out your images or for those of you who desire a more “freeing” experience, use your fingers to gently tear the inages from their pages. Feel free to rip out any words that grab you, too.

Step 4: Assemble


Now comes the fun part. Pin (or glue if using paper) the images to your board. Try not to edit yourself during this process. Let your intuition guide you as you place the images on the board. Again, don’t question or try to analyze your board until it’s complete.

Step 5: Step back and observe


Take a step back from your masterpiece and for 5-10 minutes observe what you’ve created. Journal about what you see. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.

  • What sort of themes emerge?
  • What do the images have in common – if anything?
  • What’s the overall tone/mood?
  • Does anything surprise you?
  • What goals are present?
  • What’s the overall vision?
  • If you could give the piece a title, what would it be?

Once you feel like you’ve fully explored your board, write or say “thank you” followed by your statement/affirmation/prayer.

Place your vision board somewhere in your home where you’ll see it every day. Then sit back and enjoy the journey.