It’s early morning, and I just walked out to my deck to see what spring brought into the world last night. I live in the woods on a river, so there’s always something to see. (I came face to face with a bear two nights ago.) I live in a house I sometimes can’t believe I live in. I’d say it was the house of my dreams, but it came along so unexpectedly that I never really had a chance to actually dream about it. My last post had a brief mention of vision boards, so I thought I’d share my own experience of vision boards and my house.
At the time I did my first vision board, I owned a bungalow in an “up-and-coming” neighborhood in downtown Asheville. (I’ve since decided that “up-and-coming” is realtor-speak for “Personally, I’d never live here, but you look like you could handle it.”) I loved the house itself, but over time, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I were getting increasingly tired of the energy of anger and violence. The neighborhood was slow to up and come. Though I believe in being a light in the world no matter where you find yourself, I questioned whether that really meant I had to keep making every condition so hard for myself just so I could prove my capacity to shine. (The clincher was the guy standing there peeing in our front yard in broad daylight.)
At that time, I was meeting once every two weeks with some friends of mine — it was a kind of coaching group, where we each helped each other work on goals and think through challenges. One of the women, Cheri Britton encouraged us to do vision boards as an activity one morning. She said that they had helped her a lot as she grew her new business.
I’ve already written some about the power of setting intent. When I talk about living consciously, it will rarely have the excitable “Go out there and get yours!” vibe that a lot of the more success-driven types would preach. That’s because my life and success have been more of an unfolding and an allowing than a “getting.” Some of the best things have happened unexpectedly because I deeply knew the what but I didn’t push the how.
In this case, I knew the what — It’s no longer okay for me to live among such anger, and I want to live in a peaceful space. Without giving it much thought, as I was chatting with my friends, I cut out a picture of a small contemporary house with lots of windows reflecting light onto a body of water streaming past. The ad said “Beauty Lives Here.” And I crossed out the word “Beauty” with a sharpie pen and wrote over it “Christine.”
In the meantime, my boyfriend and I had mentioned to a realtor that we wanted to move, but that we didn’t want to be pushed. (We decided that we had the time to be picky because we really loved our house itself. Just not the neighborhood.) The realtor would occasionally call to show us something. We’d look, but were never moved to move. One day, about two months after I had made the vision board, the realtor called up out of nowhere and said, “I want you to meet me this afternoon to see this house. It’s not at all what you said you wanted. But my intuition tells me you need to see it.”
When we walked into this house, we both just looked at each other with a deep knowing that it was perfect. It was contemporary, surrounded by rhododendron and woods, and right on a beautiful river. We moved in within a month after looking at it. The process was easy and, with a few exceptions, went smoothly.
It wasn’t until several months later as I was going through my writing-room closet, that I saw my vision board with the cut-out of the house and the text “Christine Lives Here.” It dawned on me that I had unknowingly envisioned this amazing house.
This is teeny-tiny stuff. There are way bigger stories than this. I encourage you to set aside your emotional self and your cynical self and dive into activities like this because they work. When I took a prosperity class at the Center for Creative Living, my inner cynic was writhing at the whole idea of affirmations and positive thinking. But then I told myself that I should just see what happens. If nothing else I’d be a little happier. (And if, after eight weeks I remained unconvinced, then I could go back to being Gollum.)
I love the example that Buckminster Fuller set by making his life “an experiment to discover what the little, penniless, unknown individual might be able to do effectively on behalf of all humanity.” That’s how I trick my ego into letting these ideas in. I make my life an experiment. It’s a great game to play, especially if you tend to take things personally and get bogged down by emotions and discouragement.
Maybe it wasn’t the scissors, glue and magazines alone that led me to this place… then again, maybe it was. I choose to think it was, because in my life experiment, magic is more fun than proof.