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Going Further

In the last two units you drew your first Atlas CareMap, used that to reflect on your situation, had conversations about care with some of the people on your map, and perhaps you drew another map to fit your new perspective. In the process, you may have already begun to do the two Atlas CareMap topics in this unit: tailoring your map to better suit your individual needs, and thinking about your future care ecosystem.

Finally, you’ll discover how what you’ve learned is part of a richer program we call Mapping Ourselves, which enables you to examine any aspect of your life in a disciplined way and strengthens social bonds.

Personalizing Your Map

It’s your map! Make it yours! In Unit 3 you learned how to draw an Atlas CareMap following our instructions in the video, which are also found on the “How to Draw it” page of the worksheet you downloaded. Those instructions provide a great place to start, a great starting point. But once you are comfortable with the basic idea, feel free to—in fact we encourage you to—modify it as you think best. Add more people/places/things, use different symbols, use colors, add more information. Be creative; not every idea will turn out to be great, but you can always re-draw.

You may end up with something that looks very different from other people’s maps. That does not matter. What matters is that it makes sense to you, that you understand what it displays, that it helps you understand your world, that it helps you speak with others about your situation.

Watch this video to see examples of such personalized Atlas CareMaps.

Envisioning Care Futures

You can use your Atlas CareMap, which shows your current situation, to envision possible futures. Having gone through the various exercises to this point, you have a clear idea of what is good in the current situation and what you wish was better — whether that has to do with people, relationships, settings, services, feelings, activities or objects.

Follow these steps to think about your situation five years from now. (Feel free to choose a shorter or longer time span if that’s best for you.)

Best plausible future: Write down what your situation would be like if things went really well over the next five years. How have things gotten better? Be bold, but not far-fetched. (It’s highly unlikely you’re going to win that billion-dollar lottery!) Then, write down what you did that helped that future come to be: What actions did you take today that caused that future to be? What was outside of your control?

Worst plausible future: Next, write down what your situation would be like if things went really badly over the next five years. How have things gotten worse? Use your judgment on how bad a situation you want to consider; it’s not helpful to get too extreme. Then, write down what you did or didn’t do that contributed to that dire future, and what was outside of your control.

A probable future: Having considered the best and worst plausible futures, write down what your situation is likely to be in five years, and what actions you will start taking now to help achieve that. Then, draw that future Atlas CareMap.

Looking backwards: If you find it hard to think forward following the instructions above, start by looking back five years. Draw the map of your situation five years ago. Note what has and has not changed from then to now. Some things may be very similar, while others may be dramatically different. Consider how your actions impacted these changes, and what big changes happened in the larger environment of your life. These observations may help spark ideas of what and how things could change in the next five years.

Mindfulness Prompt

Wave lapping a beach at dusk

You have now spent a good deal of time exploring the caring relationships in your life using the Atlas CareMap. The process included observing and recording your life, drawing a diagram to create a picture of these observations, which helped you reflect on your situation and share it with others. Before moving to the final topic, take a moment to consider, What other aspects of your day-to-day life might be worth exploring in a similar way? What would you like to understand better?

Going Further With Mapping Ourselves

The Atlas CareMap is part of a larger idea called Mapping Ourselves.

Mapping Ourselves builds upon the age-old wisdom of “know yourself” with modern innovations in tools and practices to examine one’s life, community, and day-to-day wellbeing.

In addition to the Atlas CareMap, Mapping Ourselves includes several other tools. Together these allow you to observe and analyze other characteristics of your life, including your key relationships (at work, in the community, and at home), your conversations, your daily activities, and the environments you live in, and the impact of these on your physical, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing.

As you learn these tools in a Mapping Ourselves program, you discover that the taught tools are simply a starting point. You’re learning a process called Personal Science, a disciplined way of examining anything in your life you consider worth exploring. You learn to modify the starter tools to suit your own interests, and to create your own.

Mapping Ourselves programs emphasize learning with others in a process of collective self-reflection, which leads to much deeper understanding of yourself and others (compared to learning just by yourself) and to stronger social bonds. As such, Mapping Ourselves programs are almost always conducted with a group of people who are already a community of some sort, rather than a collection of strangers.

If you are interested in organizing Mapping Ourselves programs for your community or organization, please contact Atlas of Care.

Discuss with Other Weavers

Questions for Further Reflection

  • Have you personalized your Atlas CareMap? What have you drawn that is different from the basic instructions, and why?
  • How might you share your new knowledge and skills with others (family, friends, others)?