Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seven Gifts (Visions & Values)

Welcome back to my 

After I made my Visions & Values board, I had the idea to make a smaller board as a motivational reminder. I want to take care of the things that are most important to me in life.

It's one thing to want whatever it is you want, or to desire an improvement in something you already have. It's quite another thing to actually work toward it and to make sure you're being a good steward of it.

So... I made a seven gifts board. I had never seen anything like this, so if it seems weird, well, what can I say?

The seven gifts: SPIRIT, FAMILY & FRIENDS, HEALTH, HOME, MIND, MONEY, TIME. Just about everything I value and that I need to care for each day can be tucked into one of those categories.

SPIRIT: my relationship with God, my emotional well-being, Bible, prayer, worship, inspiration, counseling...  

FAMILY & FRIENDS: relationships with others  (starting with those who live with me) including spending time with them, serving, encouraging, peacemaking, hospitality, advocacy for the vulnerable, home schooling, social media...

HEALTH: diet, exercise, medication management, sleep, water, doctor visits...

HOME: organizing, decluttering, cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking, laundry, home repairs, gardening...

MIND: mental growth, reading, writing, creating artwork, problem solving, memory, brain storming...

MONEY: budgeting, penny pinching, contentment, planning, record keeping, giving, resourcefulness with my possessions...

TIME: schedules, eliminating time wasters, using the little minutes...


What did I do with my "seven gifts" board?

I put it by my bed to look at each morning, evening, and in between.

And I think, "What do I need to do today to take care of these seven gifts in my life?" or "How did I do today?"

I usually get a sense of satisfaction as I mentally go through my day. Maybe I didn't do as much in one area, but I focused on another. Or maybe I need to get back in gear on all of them; tomorrow's another day!


I found the blue board (with two thin metal rods across it) at Target for $3. The rods had little clothes pins on them. I tried using them with card stock tags for about a week, but it didn't look right. Just temporary-ish.

So I bought wooden mason jar tags on sale at Jo-Ann Crafts and painted them with acrylic paint. It took several tries to get the color right, and I ended up redoing them. Messy!

Then I took colored permanent markers (the same ones I used for my vision board) and drew on the symbols and words. If I did it over again, I would use a very fine tip permanent marker.

I attached the tags to the board with light blue lace that I already had. Blue - from robin's egg to teal - is my signature color in my bedroom, so I keep this pretty lace on hand for whatever.

I propped up my seven gifts board on my bedside table with one of those little picture display racks. Voila!

Spirit, Family & Friends, Health, Home, Mind, Money, Time: How are you doing with your seven gifts? What would you add to the list?

Virginia Knowles

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Visions and Values

Dear friends,

It's a new series: Visions and Values!

In my last postI included two photos of my "Virginia's Visions and Values" board and promised to write a little about it. While I'm at it, I'm going to use it as the springboard for a new series. I've got lots of stuff to share over the next couple of months. I've had it bouncing in my brain a while, and now it's time to get it on the blog. 

I've been meeting with Christian therapists on and off for several years. For quite a while, we were focusing more on solving the most pressing problems I was facing. More recently, we turned a corner to more of a life coaching approach of planning and progress for the future. This is encouraging and empowering for me. 

One of the assignments that my therapist gave me a couple of months ago was to make a vision board. I had heard of them as a means to motivate people toward their big goals in life. Many people include pictures of the things they want to obtain through their work and wealth. 

Mine is a bit different. I bought a three panel folding display board from the dollar store. I thought about it for a while, and decided I didn't really want pictures on my board. I am totally a word person and many of my visions are non-tangible anyway. I still wanted it to be visually appealing, so I pulled out my set of colorful permanent markers and got to work.

I started in the middle with a big heart filled with words describing what values I want in my life: reverence, compassion, wisdom, integrity, hope, diligence, wonder, creativity, joy, justice, peace, faith, patience, courage, inspirations, responsiveness, and responsibility. What we do flows out of who we are. I've got a long way to go, but this is what I want as my strong core.

At the bottom of this middle panel, I wrote three practical areas which need the most work for the foreseeable future: family, finances, and health.

I chose to do the left section on what I already love to do by myself or with a friend. This gives a clearer picture of my unique personality, lifestyle and giftings.

Finally, the section on the right lists my Future Dreams, which are mainly extensions of my present life. 

Yep, I want to travel as much as I can. Maybe I'll never get to tour Europe in person, but I can browse through pictures on-line or in books. I could take a virtual tour of the great art museums. And I can continue to take trips with my kids up the east coast to see my family, visiting historic and scenic places along the way. On the home front I seriously want a sweet little cottage when all of my kids move away. I actually have a file in Evernote describing my dream cottage in detail. There is a time to get specific! 

But again, most of my vision for the future as well as the present is about who I am and how I affect other people.

It's not like I'm doing anything spectacular. Since I'm in my fifties with multiple physical disabilities and my kids still need me so much, I'm not planning on launching any new lucrative career. I will likely be going back to work part time in about a year. For now, I'm taking care of my family and my home, trying to be a good steward of my time and resources and health, and seeking to make a lasting impact in my spheres of influence. I have a lot of on-going challenges in my life, but I'm taking this step by step with confidence.


I brought the board in to my next appointment. I think my therapist was surprised to see that I hadn't printed out any pictures to go with my goals, but she understood once she took a good look at it. Weeks later, we're still talking through it, especially those three practical work areas of family, finances, and health. I'll share some of this in future posts, and include pictures of some other visual aids that I've made to remind me.

I find that the simplicity of these visual reminders (all near my bedside) is even more motivating than the detailed list of goals that I made at the start of 2015. (I didn't follow through on big chunks of it. Too complicated!) 

I am a rather fluid ADD mama with five of my ten children still living at home. I need a lot of flexibility and spontaneity in how I move forward in life. However, I also still need some structure to keep me on task and out of trouble. I keep current checklists for upcoming stuff in the gTask app, which also lists the events in my Google calendar app.

With this more simplified interactive approach, I pause each morning when I wake up to glance at my visual reminders, check my To Do list in gTask, and think: What am I going to do today to move forward into my future? Before bedtime, I check all of this again and think: How did I do today? What progress did I make?

Think about what you would put on your own visions and values board. Give it a try! It doesn't have to be fancy!

I look forward to sharing with you some of the other tools I'm using to develop my visions and values.

In the meantime, you might want to take a peek at the Move Forward series I wrote last year. I reread it recently and it was good to be reminded of some of the concepts and practical ideas. It's amazing how much I can forget if it's not right in front of me. Here are some of the posts in that series.

You may also like these posts on productivity:

God bless!

Virginia Knowles