The grown ups waited for Irma. She was slow and it tried our patience. We were stressed and worried. Concerned for friends and family in places that had already been hit hard. Between Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Katia, the Weather Channel ratings must be through the roof.
When the big day arrived and the grown ups anxiously peered out the window at the trees every time a gust of wind blew, the kids worked together to make what they aptly titled, a Heart Chart.
Ayla drew hearts inside of hearts. Like concentric circles. Jude was doing his own tracing and coloring, but a dialogue was happening. They were right next to me as I stared hard at the tall pines swaying back and forth on our street.
A: Jude, I have an idea. Let’s make you a Heart Chart.
J: What’s a Heart Chart?
A: It’s when you make a whole bunch of hearts, one inside the other, so they always get bigger, like this. Points to paper sporting concentric hearts. Then, you write the names of the people you love on the lines of the heart.
A: You tell me the people you love and I’ll write their names down.
J: My friends Gabe and Henry. Mom and Dad and Ayla.
A: Mom, does Henry have two n’s?
And so it went. The result is a piece of art with so much love wrapped up in it, you can’t help but admire it.
The best part of this activity was listening to the kids talk about all the people in their life they loved. Once or twice I offered a gentle reminder helping them recall aunts, uncles, cousins, and other friends we don’t see all the time, but who we love just the same.
The spaces between the concentric hearts filled with names, and as it did, I noticed the mood in the room took a complete shift.
Yes, we were waiting on a storm to come that might be scary and dangerous. (it turned out to be neither of those things, but on Monday morning after breakfast, we didn’t know that yet.)
There was a sense of anticipation in the air that bad things could happen that day. I have no idea if Ayla picked up on that sense and thought of an activity to help clear the air. I don’t know if her angels guided her to that thought.
I like to think she’s just one awesome, totally in-tune, intuitive human, but we all like to think out kids are amazing, right?
The exercise of focusing on loved ones as their names are added to the Heart Chart serves to extract a string of memories, each pearl a moment or experience shared with that person. Each memory a grateful twinge for having that person in our live. AKA warm fuzzy feelings.
I suggested Jude write his own name in the middle, but he felt that Ayla had already written it at the top and that was good enough. Then we busted out the water colors and added some color. The end result is in the photo above.
This simple, yet meaningful piece of art was created with paper, pen, and a set of Crayola water colors. I bet I know some artsy grown-ups out there who could make jaw-dropping versions of their own Heart Chart. It is truly a piece of art that anyone can create, and that we all need.
Anyone feeling inspired? I’d love to see some Heart Charts pop up online! You can find my links @joyfulbydesign.
Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.