Dare to Connect

Last night I said ‘fare thee well’ to a friend.

No, our friendship isn’t over, but it’s moving into a different phase.

My friend is moving out-of-state after having lived in our fair city for just a year and a half. I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with her on the eve of her departure. My friend is from France; a place where outward over-sentimentality can be frowned upon – though she would never do as such. In our goodbyes I wanted to be respectful of her culture so I did my best to keep it together as we chatted about her time here in the Middle of America over a glass of wine.

I failed.

During a lighthearted story about spending a few weeks with the circus, the tears began to flow.

“I can see that you are sad! Why are you sad? This is a happy story!” My friend exclaimed in her disarming upspeak as she rushed to comfort me.

I was moved by the moment that has capped off our main experiences together in Wichita. As I sat down on the couch and got comfortable; my friend did something so touching, without touching me at all. She positioned herself on the ottoman directly across from me, took her drink in her hand, looked me in the eye, leaned forward with her elbows on her knees and she gazed at me. She made eye contact. She acknowledged me. Everything about her countenance said, “I accept you.” This is one of the most powerful messages we can ever send another human being.

I praised her for her bravery and blooming in this new country and she told me that we had both grown so much during the time she’s been here. Vulnerability is something I’ve been working towards at the urging of Brené Brown, and my friend knows this – she has given me the gift of allowing me to be vulnerable in her presence. As I was leaving she said to me: “We are both brave, because we dared to connect.”

Connectivity is so important and can be lacking in our lives. As my friend pointed out, it takes courage to connect. As I left her last night I was reminded of the powerful emotions that washed through me when I first saw a video of Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist Is Present“. I encourage you to be present with your friends and those you love. Look them in the eye. If you are alone, be present with yourself – gaze into your own eyes in the bathroom mirror, you might be surprised by what you see.


In the Wake of a Vision Board

I have resisted vision boards for years – I’ve always thought they were materialistic, à la “The Secret”. The Law of Attraction is great, but is often used and misused much like prayer: The Universe/God is not our magic genie! But about six months ago, I was (and still am) feeling directionless. Encouraged by a group of free-lancer ladies with whom I meet about once a month, visionaries who have created such interesting lives for themselves as professional pioneers on how to live life, I was inspired to give vision boarding a try.
Here is what I discovered:
It’s not so much about the Law of Attraction as it is about discovering and acknowledging who you are and what you want; self-reflection. Never had I given myself “permission” to indulge in something as simple as looking through magazines and saying “I want that!” and then creating a physical record of it. (Ok, maybe not since I was in third grade – circling electric guitars and leather boots in the JC Penney catalog to let my parents know what I wanted for Christmas – and I gave up doing that when what I got was white cotton panties and a leather bible instead). So, as you can see, my experience with “wish lists” was wanting.
Feeling crummy on a very cold and snowy December day in 2013, tired of watching movies, I looked over to a stack of magazines I’d been meaning to throw out, I decided that I could give making a vision board a shot. With the help of my trusty cat, Mathilde, I started flipping through the magazines and cutting away to my heart’s content. Immediately I felt more energetic and purposeful.
A picture of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland? I wanna go there!
So I cut it out.
A lofty well-lit living space with wood floors? That’s where I wanna live!
So I cut it out.
A picture of a couple wearing masks, and sitting intimately entangled on a couch? I want to experience a certain comfort of intimacy without immediately taking off my mask.
So I cut it out.
Perfume? Sure! Coffee at a European café? Why not? A foggy New Orleans street or the road leading to Oak Alley? I’ve always wanted to go to those places! A strong, beautiful, and curvy silhouette? I want to more fully embrace my curves!
So I cut them out.
And so it went. I taped the pictures to an unfolded file folder because it was the closest thing I had to poster board on a day when leaving the house for art supplies wasn’t an option. I wrote little captions next to each photo, explaining what each item symbolized for me. I showed my third-grade looking creation to the group of free-lancer ladies who applauded my initiative. The day I put down a visual representation of my wants and desires was the day I learned to recognize themes within myself I hadn’t realized were there. This was a way of getting to know myself more than I had originally envisioned.
And then I forgot about it. I put it in a drawer and left it alone. I think that typically you’re supposed to hang your vision board in a place you will see it often so that your subconscious mind will start veering you in the right directions. But this is not what I did.
How did things turn out?
Within a month a new apartment found me, one that was south-facing with wood floors on the second story – and it was situated only a few hundred feet away from my old apartment. Who knew what I wanted had been visible from the place I’d been living for nearly five years? Did I make that apartment materialize? No. But when the opportunity came across my path, I new it was something I wanted and I so said, “yes”. (Never mind that the apartment had been freed up because someone had died in it just days before) *[Be careful people, vision boarding can be powerful]. Posting photos of my new apartment and decor morphed a longtime social media man-friend into a romantic partner who afforded me the intimacy of daily, yet mostly superficial, contact – just the type of attention I needed without the complications I didn’t. Oh, and he loved my new perfume, my new signature scent; Gucci Guilty. The one I sought out because through the art of vision boarding I realized that I’d been wanting it, so I made it happen. I’m that much more comfy with my silhouette since losing a solid ten pounds in the past few months, and I’m a little healthier, too!

I still haven’t been to Iceland or New Orleans. All in good time. The magic of this project wasn’t really “magic” at all. Learning new ways to acknowledge what lies within was all the magic it took to see myself in a new light. Knowing what my core desires are gives me the authority to pursue them. Part of our mission in this life is to become authorities on ourselves. This is not a selfish act. Quite the contrary – the better we know ourselves and celebrate who we are as individuals, the more we become who we were created to be – thus reflecting more brightly on the world around us.