I’m trying my best at this life thing. But lol it’s really hard! It’s so easy to forget the lessons I thought I learned, the values I aspire to practice, the activities and conditions that enable me to thrive.
I’ve spent years trying to build technology to help me live better. Tech has an important place. And I’ve been struck by the power of ancient technologies, like ritual. Namely the Torah - as a set of teaching stories, read in community, on a regular cycle - and the Jewish holidays - rituals in time that give us an embodied experience of something we don’t want to forget. Turns out we can play with the natural rhythms of life to create rituals in time (day, week, moon, season, sun) that keep us on track when we go astray, metabolize what we’ve learned, and clarify the path forward.
Stepping into entrepreneurship and lifestyle coaching has given me an opportunity to prototype new tools to support intentions. Learning Journey, Decelerator Retreat, Social Yoga, and now Life Map.
The Life Map is a physical and digital expression of what is most important to me. A pocket sized artifact to draw my attention back to what my higher self desires. Part vision board, prayer book, set of circular calendars, wheel of life.
There are many ways to think about the Life Map process, and my sense is there is more to be revealed through each participant’s unique engagement with it.
- Life art
- Portable altar
- Soul ID
- Motivational map to navigate life in the meta-crisis
- Accountability structure
- Practice of synthesizing most important knowings, reflected back throughout physical & digital worlds
- Creating an artifact that is relevant, beautiful, useful, shareable (for accountability)
To me, it’s about remembering why we’re here.
The medium is the message. This medium is a context for weaving the sacred into the mundane.
Philosopher Forrest Landry defines spirituality and religion as:
Spirituality is about how one perceives and experiences, how one accepts and integrates those perceptions and experiences into oneself. It is about how one integrates life's events, reflects upon them and learns from them. Spirituality is a philosophy about the role that a reality (a world) plays within oneself.
Religion is about how one expresses with others for the common good, the greater social and natural environment in which one lives. It is about one's expressions and connections, choices, and how one integrates their choices into the community in which one lives.
With these definitions, the Life Map might be considered both a spiritual and religious tool (or instrument). Let us relate to this act of integration and expression with the sacredness that we might approach any other spiritual or religious tradition 🙏🏼
Self-Service Steps To Create Your Own
My recommendation is to approach the process in three stages, though you may choose to move through it however feels best for you:
Set aside an hour or two in the coming days to drop into the process, connect to your body and vision without distractions.
Prepare the space - candle, favorite incense, music that moves you, journal.
Take some breaths to center yourself, and open to why you are here.
Reflect on the following questions, taking a couple of minutes to meditate on each, and then jot down what comes up in your notebook (guided audio recording coming soon!)
- What’s your Soul Essence like? How would you describe it to a beloved?
- Imagine you are embarking on a journey of consciousness, packing a bag of energies that matter most (memories, knowings, questions, inspirations). What’s in the bag?
- Bring to mind your Life Map you are about to create. What’s in there? What does it look like? What does it feel like to have with you?
After some initial visioning, the next step is to begin creating. You may choose to continue brainstorming, outlining, and designing in your notebook, or you may get inside Canva: free design software that makes it easy to design beautiful things, from brochures to social media posts.
Canva lets you collaboratively view and edit, share to other platforms, and cultivate best graphic design practices. You may want to try the free trial of the Pro version to access high quality stock photos and templates.
You are welcome to use other software, or none at all. The reason for designing in Canva is it makes it easy for us to give feedback on each other’s work, share with our relations and broader networks for accountability (if desired), and build our capacities to share our ideas in the digital world. The Life Map is a sacred process and artifact; please feel free to stick to pen and paper / paint and canvas if that feels best for you.
The format I’m playing with is 12 Canva Pages that can be printed on one double sided 8.5 x 11 page. As with everything else here, you are free to take the concept in whatever direction you feel inspired to! Fewer Canva pages, more printed pages, different layout, water colors, collage, etc.
Here’s my Life Map for the upcoming moon cycle
I’ve created a Life Map Template that you can build off of (you may be prompted here to create a free Canva account).
The template has 9 suggested sections, leaving 3 sections up for customization (the whole thing is up for customization in terms of content, order, format etc!)
- You - Values, ethics, aesthetics. Intentions from invocation. Photos from childhood, teenage years, current.
- Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I want to be? Why am I here?
- Supporters - Who are your close relations? Who/what is on your team?
- Vision Board - relevant images and words, mantra, altar. What do I often forget, that I want to draw my attention to more frequently? Learnings, awarenesses, practices, prayers. What quotes, questions, affirmations and words of wisdom feed you?
- Calendar(s) - Special dates, goals, lunar rituals. What does an ideal day look like? Week? Month? Year? What are some special things you’d like to make sure you do during those cycles? What activities can you incorporate into natural contexts for ritual e.g. new and full moon? Are there any special dates in your life that can be elevated to personal holidays? How can you honor those dates in a good way? What season is it where you are? What is that season traditionally a good time for?
- Agreements & Accountabilities - agreements & accountabilities
- Learnings What have you learned
- Notes Page for taking notes
- Custom - what else matters to you on this journey?
- Custom - near term goals?
- Start Small Supporters Page (#3) above is a fun and easy one to start with!
- Pace Yourself You may complete the whole process in one evening, but more than likely you will come back and massage it over the coming days and weeks, in a dance of creation and rest.
- Formatting - Be mindful of font size - > 15 is easy to read <12 gets a little difficult. Try correlating font size with importance of message.
- Keep It Simple
- Get Creative. Consider ratio of words to imagery. Let your personality shine e.g. integral 4 Quadrant model.
If you DO have your own printer:
- In Canva, save as PDF
- Print with the following settings:
- Fold the below half under the top half
- Fold the left square above the right, and then the middle above the right
If you DON’T have a printer, and need to go to a print shop, my two data points say that the store will not change the print settings, and I couldn’t figure out how to save print settings on a document, so my work around is:
- Download your pages as PNG files
- Create a new Canva file (select Brochure)
- Upload the individual PNG files
- Paste 6 on each of 2 pages
- Leave <1” of space in between screengrabs
- Lay out in 2 rows of 3 columns
- Save PDF
- Note: Canva might ask you to pay a couple dollars in order to download, if you are using certain graphics without license. I’m still getting clear on how t his works.
- Send file to print shop
- Optional: Print on glossy paper (glossy looks and feels good, seems to be more durable)
- Optional: print multiple copies (you may want an extra copy or two for different spaces in your flow, or to give to somebody, or as a backup)
- Encourage: Consider how you can make the person at the print shop’s day!
How to Use
Your Life Map will be refined through using it. You are stepping into a new relationship. The more you deepen, the more becomes possible.
- Leave on your bedside, keep with your notebook, tape to fridge
- Make a practice of going for a walk or having a meal without your phone, with your Map. What information would you really need to have on you?
- Choose a day(s) of the week to spend time reviewing
- Open to a random page
- Read aloud
- Focus attention on each word/image, like a meditation
- Choose a day(s) of the week/month to spend time editing/expanding
- Try new and full moon
- Play with changing color, size, font, arrangement, page/print orientation
- What's coming up for you in the next cycle that requires more of your intentional. attention? What's less important? Over time, you may create many new pages, which you can modulate in/out as needed, and over time compile a beautiful custom book!
- Show to your relations, especially those who might be able to hold you accountable
- Note: If you wish to share on Instagram, you will have to do some re-formatting in Canva
- Consider updating IG post as you update your Map
- Mark it up with notes and edits!
- Share progress and highlights with me! How is it working for you?
- Desktop - download Momentum and upgrade to Pro version ($3.99/mo) to see a page or section of a page of your Life Map each time you open a new browser tab or window (Chrome and Firefox)
- Landscape / 4:3 / 2048px wide aspect ratio is ideal size, which may require some photo editing
- Android - download Auto Change Wallpaper to rotate your Life Map (and any other imagery that feeds you) on homescreen and lockscreen.
- I’ve found it more helpful to fill the album with individual images vs. each page of images
- iOS - see instructions
I’m available for asynchronous 1:1 DM support (I do well with short WhatsApp voice notes! 914.924.1995). I will also happily make myself available for 1:1 video chats if you feel inspired to share feedback and ideas :)
- Any time is a great time to create your Life Map. This doesn’t have to be done around New Year’s or your birthday, though those are great times for self-reflection. New moon, equinox/solstice are great too.
- You are unlikely to complete the whole process in one evening, let alone a week. More than likely this will take weeks or months massaging. It may never end...
- Feel free to do it solo, with a partner, team or friend group. If with others, take breaks to discuss what comes up during the process.
- Life Map is a great follow up activity to Circular Time or YearCompass
- Shoutout to those who inspired this: Hebrew prophets, Sara Jolena Wolcott (Circular Time), Jordan Siegel (Vision Groundworks Rootcamp), Jamie Wheal (Hedonic Calendar) Christopher and Sophia Life, Pamela Goldberg
- Burning Man Version here
- See here for more information on the state of the project