22 things I'm thankful for

The fam.
'Tis the season to be thankful. Well, we really should be thankful more than just once a year, which I totally am. But this being the Thanksgiving weekend, it's an excellent time to actually put it in writing. So here's my list of 22 things I'm thankful for right now.

1. My mom and dad, and the fact that they're still alive and married to each other.
2. My sister, who is the most thoughtful and kind woman I've ever known.
3. My brother, who is unbelievably smart.
4. My fiancee James, who's just as weird as me. 
5. My grandparents, and being able to know and hang out with all 4 of them during my lifetime.
6. My friend Julie, who knows everything about me and still loves me.
7. My friend Marilyn, who is the sweetest friend I could ever ask for. 
8. My friend Jill, who is absolutely hilarious and such an incredible mom to her son.
9. My friend Leigha, who makes me laugh every time we get together.
10. My future in-laws, and for how welcoming they are.
11. My education. I am really lucky that my parents saved ALL the money it costs to attend college and paid for me.
12. The Internet.
13. Art.
14. My car.
15. Four seasons, and fall in particular.
16. My metabolism because I should probably weigh twice what I do. I know, #firstworldproblems.
17. Chocolate. 
18. Living in Chicago. I've always wanted to live here and it's still as cool as I thought it'd be. There's always stuff to do and if you get bored, it's your own damn fault. (I stole that from Time Out Chicago.)
19. WGN Morning News. Larry and Robin make me laugh every morning.
20. America. I love this country and all the freedoms we have.
21. Social Media Club and all the awesome people I've met in my local club and through the global network.
22. Editing. Because I know I left stuff out and may want to add to this list later.


Try vision boarding to accomplish your goals

In high school my friend Jill and I spent hours creating collages. We used photos, magazines, construction paper, packing tape, colored pencils, glue and nail polish to make all kinds of fun collages. Mine were mainly about fashion and models, with words of all the big cities spelled out. Back then, the purpose was just simply to make art. It was fun. I proudly hung the collages up all over my bedroom.

I was stoked when Nicole Yeary invited me to a vision board event at Dev Bootcamp! Ms. Tech, the women in tech group held a class on how to make vision boards. Our instructor was Shawna Burkhart, founder of The Honest Edge. She's a life coach and one of the things she does with clients is teach them how to create vision boards.

"Vision boarding" is all about letting go of left brain thoughts (logic, critical thinking, reasoning) and focusing on pretty pictures that make you happy. People create vision boards for all kinds of reasons. To help them figure their passion in life and where they want to take their career. To help plan events and visualize how you want them to go. To help set goals, like weight loss. Shawna taught us that the best way to begin is by trying to stop thinking about the images that you select and focus on how they make you feel. When flipping through a magazine, you might like a photo of a skinny chic and want to be thin like her, but if the image doesn't make you feel good inside, then don't pull it. She also said to try to stay away from words. You would think that inspirational words might help, but they actually detract your thinking, since language is part of the left brain.

Once we were wrapping up our projects, I asked Shawna what we were supposed to do with them. I thought she was going to say to hang them somewhere you would see every day, maybe in the morning getting ready for work, or at your desk. She surprised me by saying vision boarding is more about the process. You've already pulled the images and placed them on your board, so you don't need to remind yourself of that every day. They're already engrained in your head. She said that we'll probably find ourselves being aware of things going on in our lives that relate to our vision boards. We've trained our brains to watch out for these things, but also want to seek them out.

Shawna showed us a vision board that she had created many years ago which had a couple photos from India on it. At the time, she wasn't sure why she'd pulled them, she just liked how they looked. She ended up taking a vacation there and absolutely loved it. Had she programed her brain to visit the country, or was it a coincidence? Somehow her left brain knew the trip was something she should do.

In addition to taking all the pictures and gluing them onto paper, Shawna also has "vision piles." This is probably just as effective as actually making a board. You may not realize it, but Pinterest is like digital vision boarding. By using the principles of letting go of the left brain thinking, you can make this form work for reaching your goals. Making my own vision board was one of the coolest things I've done in a while and definitely recommend you give it a try!

Have you ever made a vision board? How'd it turn out?

Check out some pics from the event on the Ms. Tech Facebook page!