As she was anticipating the birth of her first grandchild, a profound question began tugging at Judy Ranieri, a life coach. "What would I like my granddaughter to know about me," Judy wondered, "if I died before she was born?" She decided to create a box and fill it with things that would someday have special meaning for her granddaughter.
Using decoupage techniques to evoke an old feeling, she cut earth-toned pictures of Native American shamans from a calendar and covered a medium-sized box with them. She enclosed her granddaughter's sonogram and was struck by how much the picture resembled stardust in the night sky. Awed that a medical diagnostic tool could create such a poetic image, Judy considered what to enclose next.
She enclosed a copy of a blessing that had touched her deeply and hoped her granddaughter would have a similar experience. She also chose a small doll of Mickey Mouse, the magician, to acknowledge the importance of having imagination, creativity, and vision in one's life. Walt Disney was a genius who built an empire with a mouse and a vivid imagination. She then assigned herself the task of writing letters to her granddaughter to answer the following questions:
·What have I cherished most in my life?
·What has gotten me through the tough times?
·Who have I loved deeply?
She also enclosed a list of the e-mail addresses of people her granddaughter could look up, because they were her grandmother's companions on her spiritual journey.
Calling this first box, "Grandmother's Wisdom Box," Judy presented it to her spirituality class in conjunction with her master's thesis. The response from her classmates was immediate; several people wanted to make their own boxes, and not all of them were mothers or grandmothers. Two were nuns. One wanted to create a box for her niece; the other wanted to create a box for her godchild.
Judy realized that she had accidentally stumbled upon something special. She had created a structure that people could use to pull together the important pieces of their lives and combine them in a coherent whole like a patchwork quilt, and leave it as a legacy of love for someone they cared about.
As the full range of persons and purposes behind the creation of these intimate boxes became clear, Judy renamed her "Grandmother's Wisdom Box," the "Wisdom Box." She has begun teaching workshops on how to create a Wisdom Box, from the inside out.
When asked if she has ever encountered resistance to creating a Wisdom Box or fear that the box would be tossed out, Judy replied, "No, people understand the idea immediately. This box is a gift for two people," she added. "The box validates the life experiences of the person making it.
It's a way of saying my life mattered enough to pass on to somebody else. "A Wisdom Box also makes the person receiving it feel special. It's coming from the heart, from the soul, and from a very special relationship. It takes time to make one. It says that you were worth it."
Judy added that the purpose behind the creation of her first box, "Grandmother's Wisdom Box," was to show her granddaughter that her "birth was anticipated with great joy." When asked about the choice of Native American shamans for the outside of her box, Judy commented that it was not an expression of her own ancestry, but rather of a culture and set of values she embraced and wanted her granddaughter to become aware of. "I've always felt a deep connection to Native Americans," Judy said, "particularly the respect they have for Mother Earth. When I hear the drumbeat in Native American music, it speaks to my heart."
In April of 2004 Judy took the step to manifest her dream of creating a retail product. Two years earlier she had printed pages from a web site she found in her box research online, BOX-is.com. This Oregon-based company was making beautiful boxes Judy loved - althought she envisioned hers as a blank canvas. Judy took a chance and contacted the owner of the site. Nancy Cleary, creator of Box-is, who is also a graphic designer and publisher, assisted Judy in bringing her dream into reality - incorporating her "Wisdom Box" logo into a professionally branded product and web site.
In Fall of 2004 Judy's marketing research for The Wisdom Box led to an affiliation with a dynamic new company called Once Upon A Family. Both The Wisdom Box and Once Upon A Family believe in the importance of family celebrations, traditions, rituals and legacies, to be passed on to the next generation.
Once Upon a Family provides heirloom keepsake products that focus on family traditions. Every single product has a tradition idea behind it. We inspire families to achieve their dreams by providing heirloom quality products and inspirational
ideas that help create, celebrate, and preserve family ties. Visit Judy's Once Upon a Family Site!
Listen to an interview with Judy from Psychjourney Professional:
JUDY RANIERI, MA
Ms. Ranieri has over twenty-five years experience as an educator, corporate trainer and professional fundraiser. Six years ago she incorporated Personal and Professional Coaching skills, training at the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, CA. She has had a successful career working with Fortune 500 companies, as well as national, and international non-profit organizations. She recently completed a Master of Arts Degree in Culture and Spirituality, at Holy Names College. "The Wisdom Box" is the outcome of her thesis "Awakening Our Spirit to the Wisdom Within." Judy is co-author of "Coaching Skills, "Bringing Out the Best in Others"