Where These Cards Came From
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
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 be
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.
The Back of the Cards
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) this way.
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
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.