On my journey through Chile, I visited the fascinating houses of poet and national hero Pablo Neruda. Stepping into his houses was almost like entering a dream. Pablo loved ships, and many elements of his homes were crafted to resemble the interior of a yacht: porthole windows, low and rounded ceilings, narrow hallways and staircases, and always a view of the ocean.
One of the pictures on his wall caught my attention; it was a collage he created, filled with the faces of people who inspired him. Some were deceased, some alive, some fictional, some real, some he knew intimately, some he had never met… and there was a photograph of him in the center.
Neruda certainly had a vivid imagination, but it served as a support system for him. I imagine he called on these people for advice and insight when he felt stuck in a writing project, faced an important decision, or simply felt alone.
When I returned home from my journey, I dedicated myself to finishing my book on Mini-Retreats (to be published this fall). There are certainly days when I feel alone while writing. One day, drawing inspiration from Pablo Neruda, I thought about inviting my support team into my office.
I started thinking of all the people who have inspired and supported me throughout my life. Then I thought about the powerful places in nature that give me strength. Once I had a list of names and places, I sorted through my personal photos and went online to track down some images of my heroes. The Dalai Lama, Georgia O’Keefe and Maude from my favorite movie, “Harold and Maude,” were easy to find. After lots of searching, I was also able to find images of my childhood trombone teacher and my high school choir leader. Along with images of valued colleagues, friends and relatives, my collage gradually took shape. Now, I have my support team with me in the office every day!
When I feel alone or stuck, I often throw a question to my team. My imagination springs to life and I get the most amazing answers. I can’t tell you how many times this technique brought me new ideas and insights.
So many people have touched your life – and they never really left. Their presence can still be felt in your heart, and you can still access their wisdom whenever you wish to, especially when you feel alone or in need of inspiration.
How to Assemble Your Personal Support Team
- Think of people who have made a positive impact on your life. Just like in Pablo’s collage, these people can be real or fictional, people you have met and people that you have read or heard about, people who have touched your life in childhood, adolescence or as an adult. Consider inspiring historical figures. You can even include plants and animals that generate good feelings for you. Select the supporters who give you the most positive reinforcement, inspiration and stimulation.
- Write down these names and find images online or in your photo albums. (If you can’t find a picture, you can also simply draw their image or write their name.)
- Select a favorite image of yourself.
- With scissors and glue, assemble these images with your picture in the middle.
- When it feels complete, post your collage in a place where you will get the most support from it. This could be your workplace, or the space where you work on creative projects. I even carry a miniature image of my collage in my wallet so my support team is literally with me wherever I go.
By the way, your imaginary support team is not a substitute for your real-life support team: your life coach, friends, family, colleagues and mentors. However, an imaginary team can be a great supplement to your real-life supporters, providing an emotional boost and fresh ideas whenever you feel alone.
Once you’ve built your collage and worked with your imaginary support team a bit, I invite you to share your comments and insights on my blog so we can learn and draw inspiration from each other.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.