New Year’s Collage

Do you do anything special to start a new year?  I usually spend the first week of every year engrossed in post-conference survey data analysis and adding my tasks to our team’s work plan.  This year I only worked half time over the holidays and got to do other things.

One of the things I did was unexpected and full blame credit goes to my sister.

You see, my sister shared a Facebook post from Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things describing Gilbert’s love of collage as a tool for reflection and planning.  (I  recommend Eat, Pray, LoveThe Signature of All Things is on my “to read” list.)

Have you ever created a vision board for personal or professional purposes?

It’s been years since I have.  Part of the reason I stay away from vision boards is I dislike the term “vision board”.  It’s too hokey, even for me. (If you want to call it a “vision board”, that’s OK.  You make a “vision board” and I will put quotes around it.)

My sister and her friends were enthusiastic about this and Elizabeth Gilbert is sassysmart.  It sounded like fun and I was surprised by that. I had time, supplies, and old magazines.  Why not? There was no plan or theme. I knew I didn’t want words- only images and patterns.

One of the first images I cut out was a butterfly with a pencil body.  I had to have it! It connected to my desire to come out of my cocoon and write more…and more elegantly.  I found a Keebler ad with three elves in a tent called to mind the joy our family experiences on our backpacking adventures.  The picture of one girl with her arm around another reminds how much I cherish my sister and friends and the importance of compassion, gentleness and taking care of each other. Some of images I liked and didn’t know why (A lace clock?!).  It didn’t matter. I collected them anyway.   The dining room was littered with magazine confetti and I was having a blast long after the official child in our house lost interest.

The next morning it felt incomplete.  I promptly added asparagus, eggplant, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and running shoes. Also, more trees.

There was not a single obvious image related to my job. I felt terrible.

Chart scrap glued on and guilt averted, I appreciated the result.  (My scanner wasn’t big enough for the whole collage and the chart scrap got cut off. You’ll have to trust me that it’s there on the real thing.) I still felt bad for leaving my job off the collage in the first pass.


After a week pondering this image I see the reasons WHY I do what I do on the page. The collage expresses what I value most.  Connection…of people and ideas. Recognition… of  what matters most deeply and how hard it can be to know if and when we’re moving in the direction we intend.  Sparkle…from colleagues and committee members who liven up my working world with their insights and personalities.  Space… for growth and learning, reflection and action.  Balance… between multiple forces (the epic battle of asparagus and eggplant vs. ice cream and chocolate cookies).  Fun, silliness, a bit of design.

I like this possible vision of the year- or whatever it is.  What I see will evolve over time as visions tend to do.

What’s images and patterns would you like to see in YOUR new year?

I know you have scissors, glue, and old magazines…

P.S.  Sharing the collage was NOT part of  my plan.  One of the reasons I created this blog was as a place to explore new ideas and things that matter to me. This qualified and I plan to do it more.

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