Dream Board

Earlier this year, I read the book Quantum Leaps which talked about a variety of ways that you can use both your left and right brain to solve problems. One exercise the book recommended was to create a dream board.

To make my dream board, I gathered images that make me super happy. Most of the ideas for topics came from my blog What Makes Me Happy so compiling that list is really the first step.

Then I started arranging the images in categories that flowed into each other. I did this for many weeks. As I arranged the images, it caused me to think of other images to add.

I know this presentation can be overwhelming, so let me lay out the themes more simply.

Performance & Bravery Magic & Peacefulness Rediscovering Ways of Making
Changing Perspectives & Values Places that Encourage Making
Surprises & Creative Reuse Making Things in Groups,
Community Building
Systems and Organization

The Bee and the Firefly

One image that came to me as I was making the dream board was the bee and the firefly:

* works in groups, usually quietly and tirelessly
* creates patterns & organization

* works alone with a flourish!
* randomly glows – surprises and delights

So in most of my life, I am the bee. I am rewarded for being the bee. And so I have an ongoing wish to have more firefly in my life. I find myself talking about making magic. And while bees make honey, which is pretty magical, I’m talking about the firefly kind of magic – the “what was that? something is going on!” type of magic.

So the left hand side and top of the dream board is more firefly – the right hand side and bottom is more bee. But they do overlap in meanings at the edges.

Let’s zoom in a bit on the quadrants:

Upper Left Quadrant

Dream Board Upper Left Quadrant

Dream Board Upper Left Quadrant

The sub-themes in this area are:

* Drumming – a variety of international performance forms that I love to watch and do, such as Taiko drumming, the Haka by the Maori people of New Zealand, the Gum Boot Dance from South Africa, group cathedral bell ringing and air guitar competitions. All of these performance have a strong drum beat to them.

* Costumes – masks, Carnivale costumes, Halloween costumes – I love costumes especially that have a three-dimension aspect that makes a human look bigger and more colorful.

* Doing the Unexpected in Performance – images of the Gallaudet dance company and a modern dance performance by someone in a wheelchair

* Elevation – treehouses, high ropes courses – being up in the air with trees and wind, overcoming fears

* Outdoor Decorations – Luminaria, strings of lights in the dark, colorful bells hanging from trees – I just love the feeling of being outside in nature in a celebration – especially at night.

Lower Left Quadrant

Dream Board Lower Left Quadrant

Dream Board Lower Left Quadrant

The sub-themes of this area are:

* Creative Reuse and Playfulness – Making whimsical, beautiful, useful, playful things from trash – here are some of my current projects like TrashAnatomy or ones I want to do like my fedoras from juice pouches. Here is a project where people crochet plastic bags to make mats for homeless people. There are the crochet bottles from Filth Wizardry, some trash fashion, driftwood houses by Kirsty Elson, Austin Bike Zoo.

* Listening to the right brain – feeding the right brain with a balanced life that includes stimulus & rest, fitness, time alone and time with others

Upper Right Quadrant

Dream Board Upper Right Quadrant

Dream Board Upper Right Quadrant

The sub-themes of this area are:

* Valuing Wisdom – learning old ways of making things, preserving old tools – there are images of my Nanny, Kings Landing, double-knit mitts, fiddleheads (that you eat!) and even down to the drawers built using Shaker methods

* Places that Encourage Making – especially rooms filled with looms, Economusees which are museums where you learn how to make things

* Organization – keeping things organized in patterns and categories – love all those drawers & shelves because when you are relying on your right brain, you need to keep those materials ready and find-able. This also represents the more virtual systems – the databases, the project plans.


Lower Right Quadrant


Dream Board Lower Right Quadrant

Dream Board Lower Right Quadrant

* Making as a Community – This speaks to the idea that it is all about sharing the knowledge in the end – inspiring others – making them feel safe as they make things that are not obvious.

* Simple Solutions – Designing things from the beginning so they have many uses


So Now What?

This dream board is a compass. When I’m trying to decide how to spend my energy, I can say – does this fit into the patterns? Or do the patterns need to be amended because I have grown and changed?

The things that feel “right” fit into this dream board. And the things that feel like maybe I’m doing it because someone else has taught me that I should do it, those don’t really fit.

Some of the things that take up a lot of my time zoom in super focused on only one thing here. So for example, my job is mostly all in that area with the drawers and shelves. And I find myself constantly fighting for projects that will let me zoom out more – make more magic, or build more community or creatively reuse our assets. And that makes sense because I’m trying to be this whole person.

It will be interesting to see how the dream board shifts as time goes on.

Would you like to make a dream board?

It’s a good start to make a mind map and that list of “what you love.” The process of gathering the images takes it to the next level. And you need a spot where you can leave the images spread out for a while, to let it percolate. Moving it mid-stream is not fun. Get the widest craft paper you can find so the board can grow in the direction it needs to grow. Don’t tape it down right away – keep moving things for a while. Take a photo each time in case someone knocks it over.

Did you learn anything about me from my dream board? Or did you know it all? 🙂


4 thoughts on “Dream Board

  1. Dad on

    Carla – Thank you for sharing your dream board. I think it is good to dream and then pick and chose those dreams which help make life happier and most satisfying. I think my dreams are simple. I get up each day planning to be happy and productive and healthy – somehow it works for me. Generally my days are good. If they are not, I move on and hope for a better tomorrow. I may manipulate it as well so it will be better.
    Love you.

    • Carla Brown on

      Dad – There are so many days I wish I had your approach to life but I just can’t seem to settle in that space. For example, you like garbage day because it means clearing stuff out and I can barely walk around my street because I want to pull stuff out of people’s garbage to make things. Bob says he needs to get me “garbage day blinders” like the kind that horses wear so I can safely drive up the street. Just by being you, you remind me to be more peaceful – so thank you for that. I wonder if you learned anything from the dream board since you know me so well already?

  2. jeff hanlon on

    A compass to help you realize how to spend your energy? A way to visualize what you love.
    It occurs to me that my messy house is another type of dream board. Small piles of projects, all in various phases of completion, scattered about the house that represent my varied interests; music, dance, health, building things, taking other apart, travel, reading, etc. Instead of pictures on a board, my dreams are represented by small uncompleted tasks in physical form!
    This gives me an idea…. I can make a sign for my house that reads: My house isn’t messy it’s a Dream Board Incarnate!

    Now where did I put that paint??……….

    🙂 Enjoyed this post. Keep ’em coming!

    • Carla Brown on

      Interesting Jeff. My house is filled with projects as well and I agree that it is like a 3-D Dream Board. What I was aiming for with this project was to find patterns or “rules” that would help me choose or prioritize. Some day I hope to get a tour of your projects – I bet I would learn a lot and get ideas for my own projects!

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