So, it’s the very beginning of a new year, a year more than ever that we’ll need to be profoundly grounded in our faith, resistance and co-creating solutions. The intractable and seemingly insurmountable challenges we face require creative, innovative tactical solutions reminiscent and a grounding in our heritage of Divine inspiration. 2018 brings forth challenges many of us either could not have imagined, or could have imagined, but could not have foreseen the maniacal degree of devastation wrought on so many fronts.
For decades now, I have engaged in a practice over the first few weeks of the year in which I craft and create a vision board for myself. As simple or as complex as you like, vision boards are collages reflecting and embodying your wishes, intentions and prayers for the year. This might seem a tad “new-agey” to some of you, but hey, I’m a Native Californian (although I do claim adopted East coast status due to the amount of time spent in the Northeast and New England). So, this might be a tad more challenging for some of you. Regardless, I have found that taking the time and energy to sit down, and then reflect, pray, discern, envision, dream and hold your highest aspirations for the year can be a powerful and profound practice. And by creating a visual representation, we channel our inner artist.
Sarah Ban Breathnach, New York Times bestselling author of Simple Abundance, speaks to the power of creatively responding to our dreams for the new year:
“New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived … carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.”
I am not talking about writing down our aspirations and goals for the new year, nor am I talking about only thinking about what we want to bring into the new year. Instead, I am talking about visualizing what will serve our ministries and prayers for our lives, our communities, our world.
I use this creative process: pray, reflect, collage – it’s like Eat, Pray, Love, but more fun, with arts and crafts! If you are like me, you probably have more than enough elements you want to bring into your life in service to your higher vision. I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions (although if that framing helps, use it), but rather, instead of thinking about specific behaviors you might want to change in the new year, I find it useful to reflect on experiences, relationships, emotions, feelings, and results I want to have in my life within the year.
Next, collect all the magazines you haven’t had the time to read over the past year, as well as any calendars you have just taken down. If there is a Creative Re-Use, Teachers’ Resource Center, or Goodwill store close to you, take a trip and gather a whole bunch of magazines, etc. Lifestyle and travel publications that have an abundance of pictures, illustrations and graphics prove most helpful, such as O Magazine, National Geographic, Afar, Fast Company, Inc., Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, Saveur, Vanity Fair, and Black Enterprise. Faith-based magazines also have fantastic captions, so check out Sojourners, Spirituality & Health, and Today’s Christian Living, among others. Since this is a regular practice of mine, I collect magazines all year round and throw them in a box in my garage, along with various arts supplies. Here you can gather glue, glitter, stickers, scissors, yarn, scrapbook materials – really, whatever strikes your fancy.
Next, the Spirit takes over, for inspiration comes. Begin flipping through magazines and calendars, tearing out pages of images, phases, and pictures that capture your imagination and are in alignment with your goals for the year. Cut them out. Then, begin sorting through them by themes, and finally, begin laying out the images. I oftentimes plan how I want the entire vision board to look before I actually glue down the images. Other times, I just begin gluing images onto the cardboard to see what unfolds.
Suspend your judgement and just create: you will be pleasantly surprised with what unfolds! Voila. I display my vision board in my office or in a room where I can look at it often, and at times, pray with it, because my vision board offers me inspiration for the entire year.