Fuck the vision board!
Yay! I finally said it. I was never a big fan of cussing, but I did discover later in life just how cathartic that F word can be. I’ve tried more genteel substitutes in the past, but they feel akin to drinking diluted wine. But I still feel a twinge of guilt using it. Even if I promised myself in a previous blog that as part of my healing regime I would give myself permission to use it as frequently as desired. (https://www.elephantjournal.com/2019/12/niceness-kills-the-link-between-chronic-illness-people-pleasing-marci-laughlin/)
Please excuse this brief digression, but maybe you too have noticed that old conditioning dies hard? It doesn’t matter that I’ve thrown off the Catholic mantle, or am trying to throw off the “good girl” mantle. Still. In spite of giving myself more permission, that voice pipes up and says, “Really? Does an intelligent, educated, spiritually minded person truly need to use that kind of language? It’s not very becoming.
But the answer is YES. And since practice makes perfect: Fuck the vision board!
Misplaced anger you say? Why be mad at the vision board? Did it not fulfill its purpose? Did you fail to manifest the goals or objects of desire represented on the vision board?
Again, the answer is YES. I did fail. Not a single thing on my vision board of January 2018 came to fruition.
For those of you who have aced Vision Boarding 101, you might be asking some key questions. All from the Law of Attraction (LOA) rule book of how to successfully manifest. For example: Did you muster up the feeling of already having the desired object in your body first? Did you hold the feeling or thought for at least 17 seconds? Did you practice non-attachment to outcome?
Yes, I’m familiar with the golden rules of manifesting. I’ve seen the movie The Secret, read Abraham-Hick’s book Ask and it is Given, and other LOA material. But you know what? While I agree that there is much merit to the power of focus, and the power of the mind, in my very humble, non-spiritual-guru opinion, it might be bullshit.
What about the law of karma? The law of cause and effect? What about forces that are way bigger than us, that we can’t see, and rarely, if ever, perceive?
In January of 2019, I looked at that vision board – a year after creating it, and then ripped it to pieces. The gorgeous elegant orange blouse was not yet hanging in my closet. I was not yet running 5 Heart Circles and manifesting abundant monthly income as a coach. That cozy little nest by the sea still remained a mere scrap from Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
You want to know what I manifested instead? A broken heart, some shattered dreams, and a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
So, either I really suck at vision boarding, or life simply doesn’t work that way.
But fear not. This isn’t a blog about how much my life sucks after my failed vision board. It’s actually about how life can show up gloriously in its imperfections and unfold in its own mysterious ways, in spite of our earnest attempts to harness, manage or orchestrate it.
I’m coming to believe that when life is left alone, with all its disguised orderly chaos, we have the possibility to end up on distant shores we never dreamed of; find answers to questions we didn’t know we had; meet people offering gifts we never knew we needed.
But I can only speculate now with some hindsight, as I sit here in my little nest (on a lake, not the sea) in Minnesota, watching out my window as intermittent hail storms pass by, punctuated by occasional frames of sunshine. Only now can I connect some dots, and reflect upon the non-orchestrated events which led me to where I now sit. And I’m tempted to hypothesize that If I hadn’t been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I would not have met Mark, my biological father. And I might have been deprived of the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given.
Perhaps I’d still be busy trying to manifest my way to happiness through the idols in my mind.
What life manifested on my behalf is this: A nest of my own, very lovingly created by Mark; (see previous blog: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/03/a-severe-case-of-pms-post-miracle-syndrome-struggles-of-an-adult-adoptee-chapter-8/) a safe and loving environment that is optimal fertilizer for my healing quest; and an amazing journey of getting to know my biological father.
I’ve felt so much childlike joy the last two months as our similarities and resonances reveal themselves. In fact, I have so much fun teasing Mark about all the things I don’t have to blame myself for anymore! All my slowness and inability to multi-task. My incurable extroversion. My addiction to people-pleasing and guilt complexes. My inability to find things. My non-linear thinking. My penchant for pondering people, relationships, and the world ad nauseum. I now know, it’s all his fault! It’s been so fun living in the wonder of what’s inheritable and what isn’t. But the best part of all has been the giggling. We get each other going, and we can’t stop.
And then there’s the icing on this miracle cake: the addition of another mother and friend to my life: Mark’s wife Alice. She’s a healer. A wise woman. The grounded and earthy energy so necessary for my imbalanced Vata constitution. A constant voice guiding me toward disrupting the ingrained pattern of co-dependency, teaching me how to honor my needs, to be true to myself.
Yet none of this could have ever found its way to a vision board. Because my mind had no idea of the remedy my soul was needing. Would I have been led to this buried treasure had I not been diagnosed with cancer?
In early December of 2018 I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. But something in me said that surgical removal of my thyroid and lymph nodes, while the recommended treatment method, was not my path for healing. Something in me whispered that these nodules, this ‘cancer’ was a symptom, not the cause. And thus began my pursuit of alternative healing.
That decision led me to Rome for three months last summer, in order to work with and learn from Stefano, a friend and healer I’d known when I lived there. In the course of those three months, however, I began to have some misgivings about the choice I’d made to work with Stefano.
I was in the throes of wondering if I’d gone astray, when I made an overnight journey to Tuscany with a friend, in order to help her with a project. My friend booked us in the very small and unassuming Airbnb of Eleonora. I had no idea when we pulled into the “piccolo borgo” –i.e. the four stone houses on the outskirts of a national forest, that I was about to have an encounter that would alter my life. As I mentioned in my very first blog in this series (https://www.elephantjournal.com/2019/10/to-search-or-not-to-search-musings-of-an-adult-adoptee-chapter-one/), Eleanora was not just an excellent hostess, a savior of dozens of stray cats, an herbalist, a writer, and businesswoman, but she was also a gifted tarot reader.
However I only came to experience her giftedness weeks later, when I turned to her for some mystical guidance, as the foundation around me was crumbling: my trust in my healing choice, the collaboration with my friend, and the friendship itself. Thus I came to Eleonora seeking some concrete guidance for my future.
But my past showed up instead. Again and again a father figure appeared in my marathon reading with Eleonora, and questions around my birth. I explained to her that my twin sister and I were adopted at 11 months and that we had almost no knowledge of our birth parents. And it was then that Eleonora asked me that fateful question: How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from?”
When she saw my quizzical look, she had iterated with a gentle intensity, “It makes a difference. To know if you’re a seed from a poppy or a seed from an oak tree—it matters.”
And because of those words, because of a chance encounter with Eleonora, a different future was set in motion. Her words had resonated deeply. So upon my return to California, I decided that it was finally time to open the door to my past, to find out about my roots. I just NEVER imagined that Mark would emerge so instantaneously from behind that door.
So, is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it’s more of question: What if our life is meant to unfold more like a constellation, and less like a garden path with clear stepping stones? What if the dots, the pattern of our lives, come into visibility only from a distance, only when emblazoned in the contrast of a dark sky?
Sometimes life wants to wake us up. It nudges us to grow, evolve, and break down so we can rise anew. But how many of us put that on our vision boards? What might we miss in life while we are intently focusing the flashlight on our garden path, our lists and vision boards?
Maybe the moral is that there are bigger forces at work that orchestrate our lives. In fact, I feel awe as I reflect on the dots that connected me to Mark—dots only the universe could have painted with its mystical brush. Have you ever wondered if perhaps the heart has a magnetic attraction and intelligent organizing power, all its own? Looking back, I see that it was my mind that determined that my healing path was through Stefano; but maybe the real healing path was the one indicated by Eleonora? The path my mind never envisioned.
To be honest, I don’t yet know where this path is going. But I’m finding immense joy in the journey of discovering what kind of seed I am. And gratitude for having two oak trees at my back.
And at least ONE thing is very clear to me: I’m trading in vision boards for star gazing.
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