Where These Cards Came
I was at a regular monthly board meeting ... and I allowed
myself to get WAY engaged by what people were saying and how
people were acting. I felt compelled to respond, justify,
explain, sigh. I was TOTALLY frustrated. The
meeting moved soooo slowly. It drove me NUTS!!
But what it really did — was make me sick. I had to go
straight home and go to bed and stay there the rest of the
day. My health is not good and I had allowed myself to
make me sick! This could not go on. Would I have to
give up being a board member? If I continued as a board
member, then how could I change my reactions so being there
didn’t make me sick??
I was talking to a friend and said, “What I need are, like,
flash cards” that would remind me of the things I need to
remember in each & every moment. Those things that I
tend to forget until it is too late. I was joking, I
thought, about flash cards. But then, I thought, I have a
bunch of “business card blanks” from making myself fun cards to
hand to people when I wanted them to know my address,
etc. And I just loved the cute clip art that I had used
on those cards. Hummm, I think I could play with that —
and that might even be fun.
I made them solely for me. I never expected to even
show them to anyone else. I took a lot of time to refine the
words to reflect my exact need.
I used them at the next board meeting. I spread them
out on the table and shuffled them around, depending on which
issues were being triggered. One thing that surprised me
was that no one commented on their even being there. It
was almost like they were invisible to everyone but me.
But they helped me. They reassured me that I do have at
least some control over my behavior. It IS possible to be
on my best behavior, even if I can’t change my underlying
issues. I can leave a board meeting and be tired, but NOT
And I have found the reminders on these cards are useful
throughout my life. On a trip, at the airport, driving
around town. These reminders make me feel like I can be
the better person that I so want to be.
I put the clip art on the back of the cards because I thought
that over time I might memorize the message and “attach” it to
the pictures — so that the picture alone would remind me of
what I needed to remember. I could have the cards
on the table at the meeting with only the pictures
showing. I hoped to draw less attention to them (and me)
Description of Original Set
Yellow-winged Angel: For some reason I need
the reassurance that my soul is safe. I used this as a
mantra in the dentist’s chair on my 1st visit in maybe 20
years. I need to remind myself of this every single
day. MY SOUL IS SAFE, no matter what is happening outside
of me. And usually I talk too much. So, it is
always good to remind me that my mouth can be closed!
That actually is possible. And I don’t need to talk to
keep my soul safe.
Chick in Egg: Lean back & breathe...:
When I am engaged I lean forward. I may or may not be
leaning forward physically – but I am always leaning forward
mentally. I am not centered when I do this – I am off
balance, leaning way forward. And often I don’t
breathe. And a friend told me that she can tell when I am
frustrated because my smile disappears. Oh my. Now
I am telegraphing my mood and frustration to others. Now
it is no longer just something going on inside of me — it has
now entered the outside arena and is now affecting others (the
whole board, in this case). So, I lean back — try to
regain my center — breathing, which really does help to relax
me — and I keep that smile pasted to my face, whether I feel
like smiling or not. And these 3 things change my whole
energy make-up. I feel there is space between me and
others in the room. I’m no longer “right in their face” —
or, how it feels to me, they are no longer right in MY
face. There is space to maneuver — space to think — space
to make a choice about my reactions and my behavior.
Balloons: I was letting a person’s words
“spear me”. I let them go right into the heart of my
being, and then I just had to respond. So, I thought,
what I need to do is see that stream of words coming toward me,
but when they get close to me they float over my head and out
of the door behind me. I hear them, but they don’t engage
me. They miss me and cannot spear me.
Rainbow: When the meeting is moving WAY too
slowly for me, I remind myself that I have all the time in the
world for this. Time is stretched out just like that
rainbow. Getting anxious or upset at the speed things are
moving just hurts me — it doesn’t change the speed at
all. So, I have all the time in the world. I come
from this centered place where I can be calm.
Orange Cutie: Boy, how often do I
need to tell myself this: Butt Out! But I want to do it
gently — out of concern and caring, not out of anger or being a
bully. So, my Cutie helps me remember that I can butt out
and still be loveable!
Miss Prissy: This one is often coupled with
the one above — but not always. Soooo many things are
just none of my business. But, my oh my, how often I
forget that. I hear a conversation where I know the
answer & I want to butt in and tell them the answer.
I want to offer my opinion on things that are just none of my
business. This one is good for all of those times I find
myself close to criticizing someone, usually for something
petty so I’ll feel better about myself. It applies to how
other people drive, how they talk or dress. It applies to
how much space they take up and how they live their
lives. Pretty much none of that is my business. And
this is true, even if they inconvenience me — or piss me off —
or make me take evasive maneuvers.
Hot Air Balloon: This is to remind me not to
jump in before my turn (and there just may not even be a “my
turn”). This is a good reminder for me in personal
conversations as well as at the board meeting. Wait and
listen while the other person is speaking. Don’t be so
anxious to have the spot light that you speak on top of them or
don’t let them finish. Give them the spotlight and allow
it to stay on them. Don’t yank it away. Don’t jump
in when it is not appropriate or kind.
Yellow mask: This is a little different
from the “lean back” reminder, tho’ also sort of the
same. Sometimes I am so way out in front of me that I
have almost left my body. When this happens I think that
I am sooo exposed that I have little chance to choose my
behavior — it is all just automatic reactions. So, I need
to pull back inside of me, way back behind the mask that will
buy me time so I can make choices about my reactions. I
was on an airplane recently and recognized that I was just all
over everywhere — spread way out around me. So, I
thought of this mask, and pulled back, and then pulled back
some more until I felt like I was actually within my body
space. That feels like a MUCH safer place for me — and
for everyone else.
Hush: Again, I tend to talk too much – and
often too loudly. When I lived in an apartment in Texas I
heard a neighbor and her boyfriend coming home in the middle of
the night. The boyfriend sounded drunk and was
practically shouting. My neighbor said, “Hush,
hush”. It was such a gentle way of saying “shut
up”. I just loved it. So, this is my try to gently
tell myself to be quiet. And to comfort me at the same
time. Because I care.
Red Mask: When I made this card for me, I
had “disabilities” in the singular, because I was thinking
specifically of my physical disability (chronic fatigue).
At the board meeting I was feeling guilty because I couldn’t
help weed the grounds. “Hey, I can’t even bend over”, I
wanted to yell at them! I wanted them to know that I
didn’t volunteer because I was lazy (even tho’ I am), but that
I was disabled, and, if anything, I deserved their
sympathy. My disability made me feel guilty because I
couldn’t volunteer to help in every way possible (even tho’ I
wouldn’t have wanted to do most of those things even if I
didn’t have a disability). So, I wanted a card to remind
me that, whatever my disabilities are, I want to accept their
reality. And if I accept them, then no one else even
needs to be told about them, let alone understand them and
accept their reality. Only I need to do that.