Before I left Tampa for business school, I developed a strong working relationship with my friend and mentor Tona Bell. We partnered on the Valentine’s Day 2015 Makers Market, and she helped me arrange my pop-up store in Ybor City. She is the stepmother of one of my oldest friends, and since Hannah left Tampa more than ten years ago, I have become friendlier and closer to her parents Tona and Randy.
After a successful multi-decade marketing career with Tricycle Studios, which she and Randy founded, Tona opened The Paper Seahorse to pursue her love of craft. I say this rather than simply stationery or paper because it really is a place for all sorts of creation—sculpture with paper, scrapbooking, calligraphy, snail mail correspondence, using the original word processor (a typewriter). And, as I experienced, a sort of therapy through making my own vision board.
I have always been visually-inclined and am best organized when I see things laid out. I do this a lot already using Pinterest, but as quick and easy as digital and virtual is, its impact isn’t the same as putting scissors to magazines and rubber cement to foam core board.
I invited my friends Paul and Stephen to partake, and for three hours Monday evening, we wrote our intents, then drank wine and ate popcorn while flipping through all kinds of glossies for images that spoke to us and elicited a visceral happiness.
For me, these were vibrant, textural, and romantic, with themes like water (Pisces!), warm colors like red and yellow, and precise beauty, as embodied in the new Volvo S90 sedan and MaxMara Whitney handbag, designed in collaboration with Renzo Piano.
Our instructions were to not think too intensely; let the images and words guide your imagination and dopamine. Great for me, since I overthink everything.
Paul’s vision board was more escapist and travel-centric, and he touched on his passion for veganism and clean eating. Stephen’s was meticulous like mine, but had large swaths of greenery and cityscapes, since he is an urban planner, and an emphasis on purpose and potential.
Our new friend Christina didn’t finish, but had big intentions for sightseeing and weight loss. She promised to finish hers later.
I’m not sure what will come of it, if anything, but before we started, Tona told us about her experience with vision boards: long before moving to a new house ten years ago, she created a vision board about it and then promptly forgot it in a closet. Later, after moving, she found it, and realized nearly all of the elements she’d chosen were present in this new house (where she still lives).
There isn’t causality there, of course. Our tastes are our tastes, but perhaps something like a vision board can serve to inspire, remind, and “affirm” when there is so much distraction and resistance in our lives. In a way, it is concretely putting out into the universe your hopes and desires, all arranged together.
I have already begun to introduce more things into my life which I help me be mindful of my real intentions, rather than what is temporarily novel, like making ample use of wish lists and setting future reminders to loop back.
An insightful exercise would be create another vision board in one year’s time to see how it might look different.
If you are interested in a relaxed evening of soulful introspection, wine, and tactile creation, see The Paper Seahorse’s schedule of classes. Vision Board Class, $40.