Our family makes its way through an annual New Year’s resolution process that serves us pretty well.
This year was different.
Our family is dealing with a lot of transition: our daughter transitioning to middle school; both my husband and I changing our employment – in ways that drastically change family time and the way we share family work; and the transition for our extended family that came along with my father-in-law’s brain bleed and ongoing recovery. Frankly, this year knocked us on our butts.
I thought our family needed to shake things up a little this New Year’s.
We did our standard steps. We reflected on 2010 together over Christmas Day dinner. My husband and I went out on our annual date night (this year at the Dal Rae) during which we usually can manage to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the next one by the time dessert is served. This year, we weren’t even done processing 2010 by the time we paid the check.
So I proposed to my husband and daughter that it was a good time to create a family vision. (well, that implies they had an option, and they knew they didn’t)I spend my days helping organizations be more effective – and many times that includes creating a clear vision of the future the organization wants for itself and the people it serves. Families need that too. We get so wrapped up in the lunch-making, work-doing, homework-harassing, daily-rat-racing, that we don’t pause to consider what we really want to be as a family.
I adapted an activity I’ve used at executive retreats and personally with coaches to explore careers or personal goals or develop a vision for the organization – a vision board. (For some fabulous thoughts on vision boards, see my friend Bev’s blog, Creativity on the Loose.) Because it’s creative and designed to get at feelings, a vision board is ideal for kids and ideal for getting past the “to-do list” nature of many resolutions.
I even managed to convince David and Kate that we should do it on our vacation when we were out of our daily environment. We were lucky enough to have a house in beautiful Santa Cruz, California for four days after New Year’s. One evening, with a wall-to-wall view of the town and ocean sliding into darkness, chicken roasting in the oven, and some wine (for the adults!), we spread out on the floor with paper, a stack of magazines, scissors and glue.
First I had the three of us meditate. Yes, meditate. They laughed at me but they did it. I had us all close our eyes and suggested we all bring to mind a picture of our family on Kate’s high school graduation day eight years from now. What do we look like? How do we feel? What would be remembering fondly about the eight years leading up to that day? Hold on to that feeling I said, now open your eyes.
Okay, I said, grab a magazine and pull and tear out images that match the feelings you have, the things that came to mind in that picture you created. Kate quickly left the two of us in the dust from this point on. She ripped and tore and flipped. All of us made piles of pages and torn bits.
After ten minutes or so I switched us over to cut and paste mode. Cut up your images and put them on a piece of paper. Again, Kate madly taped, overlapping things, hanging them off the edge of the paper, leaving no white space. She made two vision collages in the time it took each of us to make one! Ah, the creative energy of being ten years old.
Then it was time to share. Kate had a funny image of a cat that had to go to the bathroom, and she related that to us having humor in our lives and laughing. She pointed to the green, satin, high-heeled shoes and said that they felt “bold” and she thinks we are bold. David had a picture of a tall beautiful woman in a gown, between two trumpeting elephants, her arm raised as if announcing something. He said it felt like Kate on her graduation day, “Ta-da!!” I included an image of an over-the-top party to capture the feeling of celebration on that future day and the expectation that we would be remembering the many times we’d entertained our friends and family at our home. Each of us had images that related to traveling together.
It was amazing to me that we each pulled images based on feelings and that led to amazing and revealing insights when we then talked about our collages. The experience pulled us very quickly out of our “2010 stunk!” mindframe and into a future we wanted to create together.
And, it set us up quite nicely for the next part of our family vision session – the conversation we started after dinner about “We are…”, “We believe…”, and “We want…”
For that part of the story, read Creating a Family Vision: Part 2.
P.S. We plan to hang our collages up in the house, and I photographed them so we have them on my computer anytime we need them.
P.P.S. Kate woke up the next morning and kept going. The floor was covered with collages. She announced that she had found “her art form.” So I welcome shipments of old magazines from any of my readers! : )