When you’re downCollage closeup
And troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, oh nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten, even your darkest hour…

Familiar tune?  Yeah, its a good one, and nothing beats the new-ish James Taylor and Carol King duet version.  But do not, I repeat DO NOT listen to it when you are making an “I’m Awesome Collage.” Tears interfere with the sticking-power of Elmer’s Glue, and the crappy photocopies of already yellowed pictures look even worse when they start to ripple from the moisture.

I also don’t recommend playing the “Team Mix” from freshman year or you will discover that your collage is completely dominated by pictures of college with old boyfriends in the background when you are now 29 years old and married.

An “I’m Awesome Collage,” when made properly, will help pull you out of a dark, insecure time and remember how great you are.  I embarked on one today for that very purpose.  After six weeks of time off from my stubborn foot injury, my fighting spirit is starting to feel a bit drafty.  Selective memory will clearly recall all the pain and disappointment of my career, while blacking out the joys. If you’ve been down and out, you know what I mean.  Without intervention, the case for negativity takes over and the only logical decision is to quit…to put your energy into something more rewarding.

A collage is something I’d heard of many people doing, but had never tried myself.  It always seemed a bit over-the-top-I-love-myself.  I mean, what do you do if someone sees it?  “Hey, yeah, that’s just a big ass poster with pictures of myself all over it. Uh huh, that does say “I am King of the Universe and Deserve my Own International Holiday.”  If I made one, I figured I’d have to hide it in a closet somewhere, so what would be the point?

Well, after three hours of photo selecting, copying, magazine cutting, and gluing, I see firsthand the benefits are in the making, not in creating appreciable art.  After finally dialing in the right tear-free music on Pandora, I was in a groove, working away with a subtle smile on my face.  

Picking the photos was the best part, each one begging the question: “Does this image make me feel good about myself somehow?”  The resulting pile of individually clipped and cropped images included many racing shots, but also pictures with teammates, loved ones, adventures, and other candid moments of me being 100% myself.

Rather than spend a ton of time deciding what goes where on the board, I implemented the hectic and exciting spray-glue method, (which I highly recommend). I placed all my cutouts next to the poster board and sprayed the entire board in one shot.  That gave me one hot minute to stick everything on before the glue dried.  Florence and the Machine played “Cosmic Love” in the background.  My positive, love-filled life flashed before my eyes.