Lyme Disease in Connecticut

Getting preachy about how to treat disease isn’t my thing, so I’m just going to share my story.  When it comes to what is happening in your body, you need to make the best decision for yourself.  It can be hard in a world with so much information and so few answers.  Everyone has their own opinion.  I’m one of the many cases of Lyme Disease in Connecticut this year already, and I think it easily could have gone undiagnosed.  That concerns me for others who may have Lyme disease, too.

I work with a naturopath and a medical doctor.  Years ago I thought naturopaths were a little whacky.  I went to one out of desperation because I was really sick and no one could figure out what was wrong with me.  My naturopath figured out I was hypothyroid and had Hashimotos.  These are not that hard to diagnose. My PCP at the time denied it (she’s no longer my PCP).  An endocrinologist confirmed the situation and wanted to put me on levothyroxine.  I was hesitant to take medication and read going gluten-free could help.  I went gluten-free and my Hashimoto’s antibodies dropped (a good thing) and my thyroid numbers went back to their normal level.

This worked for me for two years and then I went on levothyroxine in addition to remaining gluten free.  That’s the quick story of how I came to trust a naturopath.  I’m not using this story to knock MD’s.  I think I just personally had a bad one at the time.  But it made me very committed to my naturopath.  And in contracting Lyme this year, it was once again my naturopath that helped.

Lyme is misunderstood.  It’s complicated, and can be hard to diagnose.  NPR’s Where We Live just did a story about the increased incidents of ticks carrying Lyme in Connecticut this year.  It’s worth a listen if it’s something you are worried about.  But they think it’s showing up in higher numbers because the tick population has increased after a mild winter (that February thaw may not have helped kill off the ticks) and the mouse population is high.  Mice are hosts for deer ticks.  Mice like to live in Japanese Barberry (an invasive plant), so if you have some in your yard, you might want to consider cutting it out if ticks scare you as much as they terrify me.

When I was nine years old I had Lyme disease.  After finding a deer tick on my abdomen and never developing a bullseye rash, I tested negative for Lyme.  Six months later I couldn’t move my legs.  I had Lyme.  The treated me, and I was good to go.  But I always like to joke that I’d be a lot smarter if I never had Lyme disease.  Also, Lyme is thought to be linked with autoimmune issues.  This possibly includes Hashimotos and thyroid imbalances.

This year when I got Lyme, I didn’t even consider it until a test came back positive.  I thought I’d be much sicker if I had Lyme because I remembered not being able to walk as a child.  But I never got sick as a kid with Lyme—no fever, no rash.  Just one day I sat on the couch and then I couldn’t get back up.  There was no fatigue.  My legs just wouldn’t move.  I know a number of people who have had Lyme and they seemed a lot worse off than me.  Still, late last summer, I’d been bitten by a deer tick, and I said to Matt, “If I’m complaining of feeling sick in six months, don’t let me forget I got bit by a tick.”  We both forgot.  My symptoms were similar to a lot of the issues I had when my thyroid was off, so I attributed everything to my thyroid, but that was testing fine.

Symptoms:

My major and most worrisome symptoms were extreme fatigue (without sleeping well) and brain fog.  I’d confuse words and forget words.  I told my 91-year-old grandma that she had a better memory than I did.  It was true.  I’d find myself reaching for very basic terms.  But I thought that could be attributed to the lack of sleep.  Matt would ask me what day I wanted to do something and I’d respond, “pasta.”  Moments like that made me really concerned.  Was I loosing it?

I also had some mild knee joint pain that I could l have brushed off as coming from workouts.  My heart felt funny.  It wasn’t palpitations, all I could say is that it felt odd.  I was very aware of it and when I went to bed at night it seemed very obvious it was working. I was extremely light headed.  Nearly every time I tied my shoes I thought I would pass out when I stood up.  A couple nights a week, I’d get night sweats.  And I felt like my brain and heart were buzzing—two sensations you might hesitate to mention to a doctor.  I thought they might want to throw me in the looney bin.

My stomach was a mess, but testing found that was linked to SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which can sometimes develop with Lyme disease.  It can also be unrelated, but Lyme disease affects your nervous system, which can influence a lot of our moving parts.  Those intestines are moving parts we normally don’t have to think too much about.  I didn’t relate any of this to Lyme.  I was convinced it was all my thyroid.  I could come up with an explanation for everything.  Brain fog from lack of sleep.  Knee pain from riding the bike.  Heart issues from thyroid.

Testing

I was visiting so many doctors—a gastroenterologist for my intestines, my endocrinologist about my thyroid, my regular doctor’s office because my heart and light headedness (which may have been related to my thyroid actually or the Lyme).  When all my numbers seemed good, my naturopath suggested I go see a naturopath she recommended who specialized in Lyme disease.  They ran some blood work.  I had to pay out of pocket for the bloodwork, but not to see the doctor.  The test came back positive for a current case of Lyme.  This wasn’t remnants of the last time I had it.  Naturopaths can’t prescribe antibiotics, but I wanted to take them.  They worked for me when I was nine.  Lyme is pretty serious.

So it was back to my PCP where they reviewed all my bloodwork.  They ran a test for Lyme disease that came back negative.  And that’s what concerned me.  My PCP was surprised.  The test they ran was negative.  The Lyme Naturopath had run a more in-depth test that tested more bands for Lyme disease.   My PCP explained that they run the test she used and when results from that test are uncertain then they run a more extensive test like the one my naturopath opted for.  They wouldn’t have run a more extensive test for me, but I still would have had Lyme disease, but I wouldn’t have gotten treatment. And I would have felt like I was just going crazy.

That’s the piece that concerned me.  It’s important and helpful to catch Lyme early, and the test my PCP would have run would have missed my case completely.  Catching Lyme early matters because the people I know who really suffer from Lyme catch it very late.  Perhaps in part to poor testing.  Doctors know the testing is limited.  This isn’t something everyone’s denying.  I’m just not certain why they don’t skip the first test and go straight to the more detailed option.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, Chief of Infectious Diseases at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center on NPR mentioned that he was skeptical of some labs showing false positives.  I wish he had time to go into more details on why because he also discussed the fact they think nine in ten cases of Lyme go undiagnosed.  But he fears Lyme is both over and underdiagnosed. You wouldn’t want to miss an autoimmune disease or cancer and think you have Lyme disease.

Dr. Paul Fiedler, the Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and principal investigator of Lyme disease research at Western Connecticut Health Network, pointed out on the show that the two-tier test recommended by the CDC only comes back positive the first time it’s administered a third of the time for patients that have Lyme symptoms.

You may not develop symptoms until weeks or months after being bitten so by the time you go in for a test, you may have been living with Lyme for a while.  Often the same test will eventually be positive a few weeks later.  So your doctor would need to know to run the test again.  This is in part because the test doesn’t look for Lyme disease.  It looks for antibodies.  Our immune system has to start fighting the Lyme before anyone can catch that we have it.  I would assume once you have symptoms the body is doing that, but maybe not.  Dr. Fielder and his team are working to come up with better testing, and it looks like they have some promising results.  Both doctors emphasized that testing can be accurate when administered appropriately.  Again, I’m not knocking doctors here.  They can’t know everything, but you can advocate for yourself and ask for a retest or a more in-depth test.

I opted to treat with antibiotics and herbal medications.  I’m done with the antibiotics and continuing with the herbals for the next couple of months.  I’m feeling better—so much better.  Things still aren’t perfect, but I’m certainly on the mend.  No more night sweats and my heart feels fine.  And when I stop treating then it’s just a waiting game.  I wait and see if I feel sick again.  I’m thinking positive.  My body fought Lyme back at nine, I’m confident it can do it again.

The doctor’s I use:

Dr. Marina Franzoni, Hart Acupuncture & Nutrition in Farmington, CT  –my regular naturopath

Dr. Keith Yimonyines, Tao Vitality, Hebron, CT –my Lyme naturopath

Dr. Sachdev, Connecticut GI, Glastonbury CT –my GI

I won’t weigh in on my PCP because while I liked her, my Lyme diagnosis was just my first visit with her.  We’d just gotten assigned to each other.

Statistics:

From Dr. Theodore Andreadis, Director of Connecticut Agriculture Experimentation Station & Center for Vector Biology and Zoonotic Diseases (from the Where We Live episode):

The testing center is getting 10-times more ticks sent for testing than usual in Connecticut

Of the over 1,000 ticks they have already tested (prior to peak season) 38% are positive for Lyme.  Fifty-percent have Lyme or another tick borne illness or both.

Peabody Ducks

On our recent trip between Dallas and Nashville, which included Oklahoma City, Hot Springs and Memphis, we liked Memphis the best.  In part this was because the Peabody, an historic hotel in Memphis, may very well be one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever been in.  The place was so comfortable that I wanted to spend time in the hotel, which is not like me.  The lobby usually had a live pianist.  And ducks.   They were known for ducks in their fountain.  The Peabody Ducks.  We didn’t know this when we arrived, but we read something about it online: “Don’t miss the ducks.”  So we asked, “What’s up with the ducks?”

The Story of the Ducks

The Peabody Lobby

It turns out that in 1933, the general manager went duck hunting with decoy ducks.  After a day of drinking, he brought the ducks back, put them in the fountain, and fell asleep.  Upon rising he recalled the error of his way.  He ran to the lobby expecting the ducks to have destroyed the place.  Instead he found that all the guests loved the live ducks in the fountain.  Ducks became a mainstay.  But these are no ordinary ducks.  These ducks live on the roof.  Every day at 11am they take the elevator down to the lobby, and walk the red carpet to the fountain.  At 5pm they return home.

Waiting for the Ducks

I wanted to see these ducks.  The hotel staff suggested I get to the lobby an hour early to beat the crowds that form to watch the duck parade.  The place fills up quick and some spots are designated for children—the typical population enticed by ducks.  Loving the lobby, I was happy to sit, write in my journal, sip tea, and listen to the piano.  Eager and early, I got the best seat I could.  It gave me a clear view of the last four feet of red carpet, the stairs up to the fountain, and the fountain.  The crowd filled in as the minutes ticked by.  Thirty minutes before the main event, the hotel duck master—a man in a red jacket with a duck cane—laid the red carpet and began explaining the history of the duck parade.

The ducks already in the fountain.

Ten minutes before, a child who has been pre-selected joined the duck master to help him with the ceremony.  And then, precisely at 11am, a voice boomed over the loud speaker, “Please turn your attention toward the elevator.”  I couldn’t see through the people to the elevator.  I tried peeking through legs to see when the ducks came off.  I envisioned five ducks walking slowly and deliberately single file to the fountain.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about how ducks walk a red carpet.  They were huddled and racing toward the water.  By the time I caught them out of the corner of my eye, my gaze still trying to figure out if the elevator had opened, they were in the fountain.  I’d waited an hour and I’d missed the damn ducks.

I suspect the cuteness factor for ducks on a red carpet is high, but never having seen it, I can’t say for sure.  What I can say, is that if you ever get a chance to stay at the Peabody, go.  It’s a little more pricey than the other hotels around, but worth it and well located.

To My Mother for Mother’s Day

To my mother:

My mom is the best mom, at least for me.  To keep you reading, she’s not perfect.  If she were, I might not like her as much.  I’d certainly be less impressed.  While I am about to gush about her for a moment, she has her flaws. She is human.  I don’t say that to knock her, but it’s even more impressive to me how much I’ve grown to admire her as a parent knowing, and even liking, her imperfections, for the most part.  Every moment of my childhood wasn’t perfect, although luckily, for me, the good certainly outweighed the bad.  But what my mom gave me was a person in this world who seemed to enjoy me endlessly.  For me, that has been truly vital.

Growing up she made life fun—dancing to show tunes in the living room, swimming in the pond at Misquamicut Beach, nightly massages as she listened to every detail of my day which included obnoxiously, exhaustive, extremely comprehensive information.  If I ate my sandwich top down instead of bottom up, she heard about it.  If I went to the bathroom five times or three, she heard about it.  It didn’t matter what level of meticulous data I provided, she always seemed intrigued.  Did I mention she was an actress and theater teacher?

Me and my mom, my mom and me

She remembers the moments she was tense.  I remember that being very rare.  Mostly she kept her cool.  Like the time I trimmed the hedges in the front yard, but I wasn’t tall enough to reach the top so she came home from work to discover my limited topiary skills.  I’d left two, giant, green penises on either side of our door.  As I write this sentence, I notice how much I want to write the word peni instead of penises.  That’s because of her too.  She’d make up her own words or intentionally pronounce them wrong.  She pronounced the “p” in pneumonia.  There was an embarrassing day in elementary school when I took a stance on the pronounced “p” insisting it was said pee-neumonia.  After all, my mom said it.  It must be right.  I was wrong.  Now I laugh.  I laugh because of my mother’s random quirk.  Did I mention she was an English teacher?

There has never been a moment where she hasn’t made time for me.  Kids can be exasperating, so as an adult with a job and no children, I’m endlessly amazed by this.  She must have really liked us.  Even when I was a grown, college grad with a full time job, she took a day off work when I was sick and didn’t want to be home alone.

Her best trait has always been her advice.  In my elementary school there was this boy who had kooties.  Obviously, boys were disgusting until they weren’t.  A couple kids would tease me that I wanted to marry him.  I hated it.  I didn’t want to marry him.  He was gross. I told my mom the predicament.  She suggested that the next time someone proposed I’d marry this boy that I should just confirm I would.  If they couldn’t see they were getting to me, they would stop teasing me.  The next time it happened I was on the swings at recess.  It was my time to pretend I was totally fine with marrying a boy with kooties.  My heart was racing.  I knew that if my mom was wrong my life would be ruined.  She better not be wrong.  It better not be like the “p” in pneumonia.  I said I’d happily marry him.  And I saw on the other kids faces immediately that I’d won.  There was no more teasing.  Because, of course, she was right.

My favorite picture of me and my mom

If you like my stories you can thank my mom.  My mom and my dad.  They both have always responded the same way when something bad happens.  “Well aren’t you going to have a story to tell.”  It was never said as a question.  It was a fact.  From a very young age my parents taught me that even when things don’t go your way, at least you get a story so it’s not all bad.  Honestly, some of my best stories are from moments gone wrong.  My parents provided that perspective.

She had her own interests.  When we were little she did regional theater and she’d pack us up with sleeping bags and My Little Pony (or whatever toy we wanted) and we’d play in the back of the theater or lobby while she rehearsed.  Seeing what she was passionate about opened worlds.  Schools, teaching, and theaters were all comfortable places.  We came with her when she taught summer camp.  We’d help her set up her room for the new school year.  She might just say she didn’t have a baby sitter.  And that may be true, but is enabled us to peer into her life.  It made me familiar with roles I might possibly take on in the future.

People meet my mom and they like her.  You can’t help it.  In the past month multiple people have made a point of telling me how special my mom is.  She’s kind, funny, easy-going, a good listener, thoughtful, open to discussion and debate, and, as I mentioned, really good at giving advice.  Plus, she loves me no matter what.  I’d like to think everyone has this love from a parent.  But I’ve seen that’s not the case, and it’s what makes me so grateful.  I’m not sure there is anything more important you can do for your kids than that.  At least not for this kid.  Everybody’s different.  Everyone might have a different need from their parent.

Moms I know, including mine, are always hard on themselves.  Their “mistakes” seem to haunt them.  My mom has always worried about what I’ll tell the therapist (or in the event I ever become a comedian, the audience) about her and our family.  We have our funny stories.  We’ve had real rough patches.  I’m not sure you’d be a real family who is honest with each other if you didn’t.  But even her supposed mistakes have only helped me build character and learn what I do or don’t want in life. They’ve given me a story to tell.

She instilled a sense of strength of character from the women I come from by telling me stories of the strengths of her mother and her grandmother.  My great-grandma came from Italy as a teenager.  Her name was Santa Sparano.  My mom would always tell me I was a strong Sparano woman.  My Grandma survived polio and learned to walk again.  She lived through the depression.  In meeting these women and my mom always talking about them, she provided a history, an ancestry for me to build my life on.  I could stand on the shoulders of these women who came before and somehow linger in me.

She taught me to always make my own money and open my own jars (that’s part of being a strong Sparano woman).  She made me do chores.  She took me to the movies and then discussed them.  When she comes over she still does my dishes.  I never do her dishes.  She was a terrible cook when I was growing up, and she was one of those people who cut the mold off the bread and gave it to you.  I still can’t eat food that’s even nearing its expiration date. (Is that one of things she thinks I’ll tell the therapist?)  She toasted English muffins and covered them in cheese and V-8 and claimed it was a Weight Watchers special.  It was special alright.  It was actually one of the good meals.  Now, that I’m out of the house, she’s a pretty good cook.  I think having grown children that don’t make her listen to which sock they put on first in the morning anymore frees up her time to make better food.  She looks up gluten-free recipes.  She made brains for a Halloween party out of spaghetti.  She drove me to drama and field hockey.  She watched my games and wrote lyrics to Kenny G songs—a fact I’ve never let her live down.  She let me paint my room every few years.  She taught me how to paint my own room.

Parenting is hard.  Kids can be ungrateful, snotty, challenging, exhausting.  At one point or another, I’ve been all of them.  My mom always seems to enjoy being a mom and being with me.  There is no greater gift you can give someone then to make them feel truly enjoyed by your company.  I know I’ll never convince my mom of what a good mother she is and was.  She’s a mom so she’ll never fully believe me, and she’ll always have her doubts.  But, man, her love sure does boost me up.

When I was little I used to tell her that when I grew up I’d want to marry her.  She would retort, “Maggie, when you grow up you won’t want to marry me.  And that will be okay.”  She was right.

Thank you for still listening.

Public Bathing and Massages in Hot Springs Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas is known for natural hot springs that are plumbed through the hotels and bathhouses positioned around bathhouse row.  This might be a little bit underappreciated today, but during Hot Springs heyday, hot running water in a building may have seemed miraculous.  My grandma who was born in 1926 once told me that the most life changing technology of her lifetime was hot running water.  We take it for granted now.

Hot Springs seems like a time capsule.  Bathhouse row came to prominence in the nineteen-teens.  As far as I can tell, some buildings did some updates in 1960, and no one has touched anything since.  It’s a cross between two distinct times.

Buckstaff Bath House

I was eager to try the public bathing experience offered at Buckstaff Bath House. (I’ve gotten braver after my Turkish bath.)  Buckstaff offers the same experience you would have received in 1912, except the attendants don’t dress as nurses.  I was game.  Matt was not.  (After his Turkish bath, I think he’s had enough strangers bathing him and public nudity for a lifetime.)  Plus, he’d pulled his back earlier in the trip.  All the driving didn’t help.  He headed back to the hotel to see if he could get a massage.  In hindsight, this was a mistake.  Our hotel was kind of dank and dreary.  Not the kind of place you’d want anyone to rub you with your clothes off.

Eager to improve his back, he inquired.  Buford, he was informed, was currently available for a massage.  And then they staff proceeded to wake up a man slumped over his own arms, asleep, leaning on a table.  “Buford.  You have a massage.”  Buford looked like a 70-year-old Dizzie Gillespie.  When he approached Matt, Matt saw he was blind and thought it was possible this would be the best massage of his life.  This could be the Ray Charles of massage.  He may feel the muscles the way Charles feels the piano keys.  Buford escorted Matt to an uncovered massage table and Matt got down directly on the plastic.  Buford put on some rubber gloves, doused Matt in talcum powder and some lotion and commenced poking.  That’s right, poking, not rubbing.  If that wasn’t bad enough, Buford had long nails.  Twenty minutes in, Buford announced the torture was over.  Matt got up, relieved that the massage had ended early, but his joy was short-lived.  The other staff members said, “Buford.  What are you doing?  That’s an hour.”

“That’s okay,” Matt said.  “I’m good.”

“What do you mean it’s okay?  Get back on the table.” Buford ordered.

So Matt lay down again.  Buford set a timer: one minute, two minutes, three minutes, four minutes.  Each number recited up to forty.  And Matt settled in for his full punishment.  He should have just had a stranger give him a bath.

Ladies bathing in the 1960’s.

My experience was great.  You have to be okay being naked in front of people, but there was far more modesty than when we took a Turkish Bath in Turkey.  After stripping down, the attendant wraps a sheet around you like a toga.  Then they take you for a 20-minute bath with raging bubbles.  A motor and what looks like a giant meat thermometer stick out of the tub.  One is there for the bubbles.  One is there, I assume, to ensure the water doesn’t get too hot.  They give you hot water to drink straight from the springs.  Sweat is the goal.  If you’re on the shorter side like me, they stick a wooden board at your feet so you don’t slide too far down the tub.

After the tub comes the vapor chamber.  This is a box that is basically a steam room.  You sit down and they close the stainless steel door in front and close the two sides of the top around your neck so your head is sticking out.  I know everyone else is doing it, but I couldn’t help but wonder how funny I looked as this disembodied head sticking out of a box.  Everything is very clinical and industrial looking.  Stainless steel and small white tiles abound.  Just as you’re about to pass out from the heat of the steam, they move you to the sitz bath.

What the sitz bath looked like (found in a local store).

This, I was informed was for hemorrhoids or low back pain, but I can’t imaging getting into this thing if I had back pain.  It’s basically like an old farmers sink on the floor.  You sit with your butt in the sink an your legs dangling out over the edge—an awkward, public butt bath that someone else was just in.  Then they lay you on a padded stainless steel table and cover you in hot towels.  At almost every station just as I was about to fall asleep they’d come to move me to the next place.

After the towels came the shower.  Though I kind of felt like a cow being led around, this station, while scary looking, was wonderful.  Today, nice showers often have multiple heads in order to hit the body all over.  It’s never right though.  It’s never where I’d position the water flow.  This historic relic was superb.  It was metal pipes, inches apart, that ran from the neck to the knees.  Each tube was pocked with holes.  My body was completely saturated in water.  Wonderful.

Then a massage and, unlike Matt, my therapist was fantastic.  She knew her stuff.  We talked about fascia and how movement reduces pain.  I was pretty much in all my glory.   I could have slept the entire day.  I came out as exhausted as after you’ve spent too much time in the sun, but it felt superb.  Water therapy has been used as a tool for centuries.  I think I now know why.

Luckily for Matt, we have the greatest massage therapist in our home town, so he made an appointment with Kim at Woodside Massage for our first day home.  To say she is better than Buford is an understatement.  She’s incredible.  But at least he has a story to tell.

Vision Board Party

My vision board…front and back.

Stephanie Tishler of Tishler Coaching Services hosted a Vision Board Party.  Full disclosure:  Steph has been a client and friend for years, which is the reason I went.  I’m not anti-vision board per se, but it’s not something I would normally seek out on my own.

I didn’t know if I was going to know anyone else at the event (turns out I did), but I was a little concerned about creating a vision board with a group of people I didn’t know that well.  It seems sort of personal.  I had nothing to worry about.  The entire night was great—better than I expected.  In fact, I’m writing this post because I think it’s a great way for a group of friends, co-workers, or interesting strangers to spend a few hours together.

The Set Up:

We basically got together, mingled a bit over snacks and drinks and then went to a long table where Steph had everything we needed.  She provided note cards for us to jot down our visions.  What goals did we want to reach for?  What did we want our day or our future to look like?

Then we flipped through magazines—some Steph had provided, some we all brought.  You started to get a taste of people’s interests based on the magazines they had brought.  In my recent purge challenge from last year, I’d thrown away nearly every magazine I owned, so I had to bring some of Matt’s Aerospace magazines.  I’m not sure if they provided inspiration to anyone.

As you flipped through, you cut out images or words that applied to your vision.  Sometimes you could find the perfect match.  Sometimes, you couldn’t find anything.  Sometimes you had to think outside the box—could this pool represent the pool I want even though it’s not exactly what I’m picturing?  Could this picture of people on a beach represent the dream vacation I want?  Could these Harry Potter books represent wanting to read more?  I’m not a fan of Harry Potter, so I had to let that one go.  In one case I found the Northern Lights.  I hadn’t included that on my notecard, but for years I’ve wanted to go see the Aroura Borealis so I cut it out.  Once you have everything cut out, you glue and paste.

What Made the Vision Board Party so Meaningful:

When we are young we have regular art classes, but after high school or college that goes away.  I’ve often missed the structure of an art class.  You are simply taking time to be creative at a table, but there are others in the same setting—you can talk, discuss, get tips, but yet you have something of your own to focus on, whether that be a clay pot, a painting, or, in this case, a vision board.  I loved that aspect of it.  It’s something I truly miss in adulthood.  The paint bars that are popping up everywhere create that environment too.  But I didn’t expect it from the vision board so it was a really nice surprise.  It was both the comradery and the creativity of the experience that I want more of in life.

This was a fun way to meet people because you immediately find ways you connect, “Oh, you like wine.  I like wine.  You can’t sleep?  Neither can I.  Neither can I. Neither can I.”  Turns out about half the group struggled with sleep.  And, the world must know that because there were no shortage of advertisements for a better night’s sleep in the magazine we were sifting through.  The group experience help create bonds.

There are a few factors that play a role in creating friendships.  One is sharing multiple unplanned experiences together.  Another is being in situations where you feel safe to confide and reveal yourself a bit. That’ why we typically make most of our friends in high school and college—both meet those two requirements.   I’m not saying this one night making a vision board created lasting friendships for everyone there, but it certainly was one of those types of moments.  So if you are looking for ways to bond people and create friendships, this would fit that category.

A vision board party would be fun with friends, a bridal party (whether you each do your own or make funny ones for the bride), co-workers, or teammates.  Anyone who wants to bond creating their own visions or connect creating visions that unify them would benefit from this process.

In addition to the benefits with the group, I had a couple self-realizations too.

My Vision Board:

My ‘skies the limit’ notecard filled with my visions/dreams for my future included the following:

Peace/calm/comfortable not being busy

Debate

Write a Book—Tour—Talk on NPR

Close relationships with good friends and family

Healthy relationship with food

A pool with a pool boy (the second part of this a piece I am just realizing did not get on my VB)

Travel—Private Jet—Just Go

Good Sleep

Movement

Time with people I love

Moments that make me smile

Chocolate that doesn’t have calories

As I started hunting through the magazines, I realized that I have a lot of the things I want for my future already.  Sure I have goals that I’m working toward and haven’t reached yet.  The pool boy and the private jet aren’t current realities (sigh).  But I have lots of moments that make me smile.  LOTS.  And I have a good relationship with a number of important people in my life.   And in some ways those may be my most two important visions.  Because with those, I feel like I’m more capable of achieving my goals.

How Vision Boards Work

Here’s the thing.  I don’t buy into the concept of the Secret, although I’ve never read the book.  I don’t think you can just think yourself somewhere, which may not be what the Secret says, but is simply my impression.  That being said, mindset matters.  There are studies that show the effectiveness of visualizations.  But here’s the important part.  Visualizing something helps if you do it.  If you are a golfer and you visualize yourself practicing your swing it will help you get a better swing.  If you never golf, but you envision golfing, you don’t become a golfer.  You must take action.

But vision boards can force you to take a moment to check-in and decide if you are on the path you want to be on right now.  Then they provide some accountability.  If you work with a group, you’ve voiced some of your goals out loud.  When you go home with the board if you place it somewhere you’ll see it, it’s a reminder of what you want to work on or toward.

When I first moved back to Connecticut, I was unemployed.  One of the best pieces of advice I got was to let everyone I knew know that I was looking for a job.  That’s how I found one.  I looked at job listings every day, and I applied to anything and everything in education or writing.  I never saw a listing for an opening at the Mark Twain House.  Matt’s Aunt saw it and sent me the info.  “You’d be perfect for this,” was her message with the job description.  I’d never seen it on my own, and if I had, I’ve always wondered if I would have thought I’d be perfect for it.  Her immediate determination that I would be right for the job provided confidence for me.

A group vision board party is like that.  You announce to the people you know what your future holds and together your friends and family help you find what’s right.

If you would like to get in touch with Stephanie Tishler to plan a vision board party, she can be reached here:  Stephanie@tishlercoachingservices.com