Tuesday, February 1, 2022

My Vision Board

 RHYS BOWEN

Last summer the whole family was together for the first time in ages for a blissful week on the beach. On the last day we sat around the big table making vision boards. It’s something I’ve never done before: I’ve never been good at journal keeping, expressing my feelings on paper (when it’s not one of my characters in fiction). I’ve always hated the sort of small group exercises where you are supposed to share feelings and experiences. I suppose I’m essentially a private person and perhaps I don’t want to confront my feelings or reveal my inner self to the world.





                So the vision board was a big shock to me, because I actually enjoyed it. It was fun sifting through hundreds of glossy magazines, finding that perfect picture—one that spoke to me, resonated with what I wanted for myself. The results for the whole family were stunning. (I should add that while the two male grandchildren worked with us, none of the adult males participated. It’s just not a guy thing, I guess.

                I know that my son and daughter-in-law do this every year on New Year’s Day, setting up their plans, hopes and dreams for the new year. I have always done something similar in a notebook that I keep. Each year I write the year-plan: what I am going to write, where I hope to travel. Resolutions of a sort: this year was STAY HEALTHY, STOP WORRYING at the top of the list.  Each year I go through last year’s plan and resolutions and see what worked and what didn’t. For 2020 there was an awful lot of stuff crossed out.  Cruise to Caribbean? No. House in Torquay, Devonshire for the whole family. No. Channel Islands? No. Conventions? No.  Then last year was pretty much a repeat. No travel, except for that one perfect week.

                So this year I was hesitant to put down any plans. We’ve already cancelled the cruise set for February. I’m still hoping to go to England in September, but we’ll play it by ear. And I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for Malice Domestic and the Edgars. I’m guest-of-honor at one and nominated at the other. How often does that happen? So please, no new theta, phi and omega strains!

                Ironically all my writing has gone so smoothly, with few interruptions. Sales have been brilliant. I won the Agatha last year. Edgar nom this year—so no complaints on that score. But while those successes are great, they are not the things that matter. I miss my friends, my family, my social life of pre-pandemic. A big group sitting around the table, laughing and eating. We did manage this at Christmas but that was before omicron. Since then four family members have had Covid. So have multiple friends. So it’s back to hibernation mode. 

    One thing this pandemic has done is to make us realize what is important in life. How many times have I had my nails done (zero). How much new make-up have I bought? Not much. Am I sad about that? No. So it's the relationships, the friendships, the human interactions that I miss terribly. Nothing else really matters. 

How about you? Do you make vision boards? Year plans? Resolutions? Are you daring to make plans for this year? Have you come to any realizations during the pandemic?

57 comments:

  1. It’s lovely that your family had that one perfect week . . . .

    No vision boards or year plans or resolutions . . . .
    We have, despite the pandemic a paltry few plans for this year. We traveled to celebrate a grandbaby’s birthday [she’s eighteen, so I suppose I shouldn’t call her grandbaby, but that’s a hard-to-break habit] and we’re planning a repeat trip for her high school graduation. And even though it was only a few days, and our other daughter and her children weren’t there, I guess that might be as close to a perfect week as we’re going to get these days.

    Before the pandemic, I really took traveling to visit family for granted. We made arrangements at work and we went. I’ve come to realize that being able to pick up and go like that was such a precious gift . . . and I desperately miss it. I’m already tired of saying, “Maybe next year” . . . .

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    1. We have 4 graduations this year, Joan. No idea if we will be allowed to attend

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    2. Oh, I SO agree. It's impossible to plan at all now. And I have just about given up on it, for better or worse. I'm all about we shall see. Maybe it's time to make a vision board!

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  2. I'm right with you on work going smoothly, and missing easily gathering with friends and family the most. I also hope to get to LCC, Malice (it would be nice to finally have my first Agatha teapot, which they did not mail to me), and Bouchercon. But we'll see.

    One year when the Wicked Authors gathered in person for our annual retreat, we made vision boards. It was fun, but not something I'm drawn to unless others organize it.

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    1. I'm like you, Edith - I'd be happy to do it if it's organized by others, but it's not something I'm likely to take up on my own. Plus, I LIKE my magazines intact!

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    2. It'll be more fun to walk to the podium and accept that teapot, Edith! And you will!

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  3. RHYS: I agree with you that the pandemic making me realize what is important. Before the pandemic, I took my good health for granted. But 15 months of long-COVID and the cataract surgery problems prevented me from enjoying things I loved such as reading and cycling/hiking last year.

    I have never done a vision board or New Year's resolutions. Like EDITH, I am still planning on going to LCC and Bouchercon. Just waiting to see when the airlines stop cancelling so many flights due to omicron before booking my April trip. I am double vaxxed and boosted so I am as protected as I can be to attend.

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    1. Oh Grace. I hope long Covid is finally over!

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    2. RHYS: Well, I don't think COVID will ever go away totally. We will just need to learn to live with it. I guess my risk tolerance is higher than others who have not gotten sick yet. If I get it again, hopefully the 3 shots will make it shorter-lasting and milder than the first one.

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    3. Health is so crucial. And so easy to take for granted.

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    4. Grace, that's how it went for me, that my second bout was of very short duration, shorter than some migraine headaches I've had, and with much diminished symptoms from the first time.

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  4. Your family has some wonderful goals for 2020. May they gain in wisdom. Resolutions, if you made them in December, and loss track in January, Fear not! This is the period of Lunar New Year (Tiger). You can begin anew.

    My daughter and I were just talking about affirmations. We remembered my old one: "I love my nose and I love my toes and everything in between". It occurred to us this morning that I had neglected my brain. Might explain a few decisions from back in the day.

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    1. Coralee, I hope you meant for that to be wryly comical, because it did make me laugh!

      Yes, brains are important!

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  5. What lovely pictures, Rhys. Such big smiles!

    For many years now, I have made a vision board to start the new year and I enjoy the ritual. The process of contemplating the year ahead and translating feelings and understandings into a visual piece is both grounding and inspiring for me. What is maybe most interesting is to look back over the boards from past years to see how my priorities and perspectives have shifted over time.

    Maybe ironically, I have chosen 'plan' as my word for the year. I don't want to just drift my way through the weeks and months as we continue to live with the wretched virus. True, my plans don't feature much travel, though my fingers remain crossed for a visit to my mother in Alberta at some point and maybe Bouchercon in Minneapolis in September.

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  6. What a lovely family and a fabulous vision board.

    I made one once, many years ago when Oprah discussed them in an early edition of Oprah magazine. It was fun, going through various magazines and pulling the photos together that best expressed who I was and what I wanted, but I'm not sure it's something I would do again except as a group activity. Like you, I tend to be more private than public.

    I firmly believe that we are going to have to come to terms with the pandemic and learn how we can move on and live with it. Although I am vaxed and boosted, I'm still in hibernation mode while I figure out my comfort level. Baby steps, but I'm planning to attend conferences in 2023! It will be here before we know it.

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  7. "Man plans, God laughs." That's pretty much my philosophy these days.

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  8. Oh, Rhys, there is so much love and joy in that photo of you and your beautiful grands.

    A friend who at the time was studying psychology encouraged me to make a vision board 30 years ago. I wish I'd kept it, because every bit of it, even the most wildly aspirational parts, has come true. She had me take small photos of myself and put them in the photo of the house I wanted to live in, etc. I guess the theory is that you can't get what you want unless you define it, and picture yourself in the situation, too.

    Now my problem is that my aspirations and desires are in direct conflict with my husband's at the moment. I so want to attend Malice again this year, but Steve's documentary he's been working on for nearly four years--the story of his dad's historic career as a wildlife photographer--debuts in Cincinnati that Sunday, and the first showing is 11 AM. And I really need to be there.

    Why has no one yet invented astral projection, I ask you?

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  9. Very few things matter anymore. Good health, safety from storms (two of my kids live in the gulf hurricane belt), health insurance, employment. And lots of writing time. A year ago, my oven died. I have the replacement and am waiting for the final trim kit installation after the installer recovers from Covid.

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    1. We have an air fryer now. I guess that could take the place?

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  10. I am making plans... but no vision boards. I don't anticipate being back to anything I would have called "normal," but I am hoping to teach at a writing conference or three IN PERSON! Seconding Margaret on health insurance. Essential.

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    1. Teaching should be fine. I’ve spoken at a couple of events pre omicron

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  11. I have never made a vision board...Hmm. I bet it might be revealing.
    And yeah, I don't see myself going too much of anywhere. It still seems very dangerous. Karen, that's kind of amazing--there are lots of people who say exactly that, that you have to say it and define it. Sue Grafton, for instance. Kind of tempting...

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    1. Isn't it called something like self actualization?

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    2. power of manisfestation in metaphysical terms

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  12. Listening to you all reminds me of how much we've lost during these virus times, and yet how brave we've been! We went to see our days old grandson (more on that coming) in CA--stressful but it felt necessary. We are lucky in Key West to be able to see people outside.

    A story on vision boards...at a Presbyterian church retreat years ago when I was still working in mental health, I was asked to run a group. We chose to do vision boards. There was one very painful moment when my co-leader showed his board, which was nearly empty. It became clear that he had nothing positive to say about his marriage. He's been happily remarried for years and has two great kids and good work, but that moment of transition in public was hard.

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    1. Ooo, Lucy, that's a tough one. But interesting to see how the exercise can force someone to put all the little things together to come up with a picture (or not) of where they are.

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    2. Roberta, do you think that was a turning point for him, that he realized how bleak his life had become?

      I really think that is a powerful exercise, for lots of reasons.

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    3. Karen: I so agree with you. Putting together a vision board can be very revealing and powerful. Seeing what 'shows up' on the page in visual form can be highly illuminating. Certainly, it has been for me.

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  13. We give away magazines at our local library to make room for the new year's issues. And since we are due for a hellacious snowstorm in a day or so, I can see an idea for an activity when we are snowed in.

    Rhys, you are so right about the pandemic teaching us to embrace what's really important in our lives. It's wonderful that you were able to have that precious week with family. And Coralee, thanks for the chuckle this morning!

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  14. I'm not making plans, except for hopefully? attending Malice. And even that is wait and see and go with my gut.

    I haven't done a vision board since my teen years (I recall slicing through a lot of 17 magazines with my friends) but I do like ways to organize my thoughts and goals - like the resolutions, word for the year, etc. Since today is the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the year of the Tiger, I'm going to think about what ways I want to increase my courage, wisdom and strength over the next twelve months.

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    1. You and me babe! We’re going to shine!

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    2. YES! Doing it! (And Malice--crossing fingers.I will be so wonderful to see you both as stars!)

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  15. What a delightful post, Rhys. I used to make a plan every year, much like a vision board of family adventures we would take, books I would write, conferences I would go to, all the way to plays and concerts and sporting events the Hub and I would attend, and life felt very intentional. Now I feel as if I can't make any plans and life is something that happens to me. I will say that one nice thing that's changed is that I used to be the family cruise director, making all the plans, but now that the Hooligans have moved out, I get invitations from them to do things all the time. Just this week, one wants me to go to the Phoenix Art Museum with him and the other has asked me to go to the movies -- with their mom! So, I haven't been envisioning much of anything but my people are taking care of me and that's really quite lovely.

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    1. Jenn, I love being the mother of adult sons! It's so rich, and is something I never thought of when they were younger.

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    2. How great that your kids want to do things with you! Mine too. And grandkids which is really nice

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  16. Vision boards sound like a lot of fun; I love yours, Rhys. I have spent time at business retreats visioning but without making a board.

    We have traveled twice since 2020. Between Christmas and New Year's 2021 we rented a lovely cottage in Charleston SC and now we're spending a month in Key West having skipped last year. I agree with Roberta that I feel fairly "safe" here in Key West because so much socializing and dining is outdoors. I'll get to hear Roberta and her friend Barbara Ross discuss their books at an outdoor KW Library event in two weeks which will be a joy.

    Six immediate family members have had COVID but only one was hospitalized and she was unvaccinated. It's hard to stay positive as this pandemic drags on and on. I am thankful for a husband who is a VERY positive person and keeps me (mostly) out of the land of fear and dread.

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  17. We’ve had 5 family members now. All careful and masked. So we have the feeling no one is safe and it wears one down, doesn’t it?

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  18. Rhys, what a lovely post, and your grandkids are wonderful! What a joy they must be. Thank you for reminding me about vision boards. I did a few, years ago, when I first started writing and making some other really big changes in my life. I think it would be a great idea to put some things out in the universe again, rather than just waiting for life to happen to me. Two years now without any plans! I still can't really imagine going to a conference--today I'm just venturing out to the grocery store for the first time since the week before Christmas, as our Covid numbers are going down. But if I put a trip to England on a vision board, maybe I will actually get there this year!

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    1. Maybe we should all make vision boards with photos of ourselves maskless and enjoying group and indoor activities! Manifest that, right?

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  19. I don't tend to be a goal setter, resolution maker, or vision boarder. Which is probably obvious with how my life winds up going from one thing to another without any clear goal. But that takes thought and planning and it is so much easier to pick up a new book.

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  20. I've been drifting the past few years. Where we lived was always predicated by Frank's job. He is pretty much retired now and I've been wanting to move. He is a Gemini and it really shows on this subject. Supportive one moment and reluctant the next. Anyway on our third hunting trip to Lexington, VA last week I found a house and submitted a bid. I was of the mind if it's accepted, good! If not, I will focus on another area and to heck with it. Much to everyone's surprise the owners accepted our counteroffer, contingent, of course, on the inspection. My dear husband is in shock. Even though he was supportive he didn't think it would really happen. So now we have to make plans. I need to see what we can get rid of even though the "new" house is slightly larger than our current house. My husband feels he has to sell his acreage in east Texas. So I feel a bit guilty but he knew when he bought it that I wanted to move. And I have to point out I have followed him around the country for almost 50 years and it's my turn to pick where we live. I'm feeling guilt, anxiety, excitement, and half hoping the inspection turns up something horrible so we can cancel the whole thing. We've no family in that area, know no one there, and I'm probably nuts wanting to move there.

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  21. I have never done the vision board exercise. I'm not very good at visual thinking, so it doesn't feel like a good match for me.

    As for plans, my husband and I agree that it doesn't feel realistic to plan any travel out of the country until at least 2023. But we do have a few little things planned in the US. We're driving to Nashville for a weekend at a nice B & B later this month, and in May, we are tentatively planning to attend a wedding in Colorado. (Flying still feels really high risk to me, but we are both vaxed and boosted, so we will take all reasonable precautions and hope for the best.)

    Strangely enough, we haven't planned anything beyond that wedding -- just waiting to see how things feel as we move forward. I would love to take another decent sized domestic trip -- almost anywhere, really -- and am so hoping that the COVID numbers allow us to feel safe doing so.

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  22. The vision board exercise sounds like it could be fun, and at another time of my life, I would have probably enjoyed doing it. I am a list maker and keep a running projection of what books I'll read and when. But, without going into a lot of detail, the past few years have been mostly unpredictable in a bad way. I've lost three of my best friends and now another has just received a devastating diagnosis. Planning on traveling and going to book events have been a huge disappointment. I can't even plan to go visit with my son. OK, I'm through complaining, and I have to admit that I still retain a hope. It's just hard to plan ahead right now with much enthusiasm.

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    1. I'm so sorry about your friends, Kathy. That's so very hard. Sending virtual hugs.

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    2. Kathy, I am so sorry about your friends. Sending my hugs along with Edith's. I hope things will be better this year. xx

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  23. RHYS,

    I've given up on making plans by now since there is a new variant of the pandemic right after I get vaccinated for the upteenth time! It can get tiring after a while. I had hoped to travel to Malice Domestic or Left Coast Crime or Bouchercon or the mystery conference in Iceland this year. I'm not going to complain as I still have my health and so far my vaccinations are up to date.

    Counting my blessings and reading good books. I used to make vision boards for my classes in school. I could do that for fun now if I wanted to. it is fun making a vision board.

    Diana

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  24. I don't do new year's resolutions, but I have done a few almost eerie visualizations of where I wanted to be in 3 years' time, notes taken on the backs of dry cleaning receipts and the like at moments of intense reflection. The fascinating (to me, anyway) thing is that a collection of verbal images that I didn't share with anyone in each case led to a perfectly matched and successful career move that I didn't realize WAS a perfect match untikl it happened.

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