Words Matter

November 9, 2011


Last year I tried to throw out a cheap, ugly reproduction of Van Gogh’s irises.  It had been in my office for over a decade and had faded from the sunlight.  The frame was early 1990’s and the image that was once interesting to me had become overexposed and under-appreciated.  I pulled it off the wall and put it in the “donate” pile.  When the company that was taking donations came, they “forgot” to take the picture.

Hmmmm.  That was a first.  Maybe it was meant to stay with me.

I stared at that frame for awhile and brainstormed what to do with it.  After some discussion with Billy and a quick trip to Michaels, we decided to spray paint the frame and apply some chalkboard paint for the canvas.  An hour or so later, our family had an our very own Encouragement Board.  (It deserves a better moniker, so make suggestions!).  We love this board because of what it lets us do for each other.  We use it to intentionally say things to each other that matter. We (and by “we” I mean Billy) make great drawings to create a theme for the week/month/season and then the whole family adds to the board. 

So if school is starting – we have a new board. The first field trip – the board gets a face lift.  But it’s not just for events, but for saying thanks.  It’s for brainstorming ideas of how we can grow.  The board is a way to say I love you – you matter – you are doing great.  It makes us talk to each other in ways that go beyond the logistics.

I wanted to make another board and give it to a friend of mine and her family.  Billy told me that it would be like giving her a puppy. It’s cute and fun, but it comes with work attached.  For it to be meaningful, you have to be strategic in what you say.  You have to pay attention and articulate what you love about the people around you on a regular basis.  (It doesn’t hurt to have someone who’s been schooled in drawing.)

However, like owning a puppy, I think the joy it brings is worth the effort.


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