MAPs and PATHs -
A Family Perspective
by Bryn and Clark Fortune
As often happens, unexpected blessings
occur when we step out and try new things. As a result of a professionally
motivated educational experience, our family wound up with a
fresh look at ourselves in an affirming, revealing process called
Bryn is the director of the Michigan based Parent Leadership
Program-Early On. In an attempt to understand the MAPS and PATHS
processes, she attended a facilitator's workshop put on by Jack
Pearpoint and Marsha Forest. A MAP is a process that a creative
facilitator can use to bring out the dreams and fears of individuals
(or groups), create an affirming focus on the strengths, gifts
and uniqueness of that individual to reach out for their dreams,
and take steps to avert their fears. In our experience, two points
seem critical to the accomplishment of a meaningful MAP. First,
a MAP can only change your life if the individual makes a personal
commitment to the action steps created in the MAPS process. Second,
the facilitators must be incredibly respectful of the power of
this process. Without this deep regard the possibility of 'MAP
abuse' exists. The only way to avoid this potential is for the
facilitators to experience the risk and discomfort of their own
individual MAP. We believe this is the only way one can create
the understanding needed to allow the discomfort to run its course,
the fear to be replaced by courage, and the nightmares to be
replaced by dreams.
After attending the facilitator's workshop,
Bryn was so impressed with the process that she signed up our
entire family to attend another MAP opportunity, the Toronto
Summer Institute. During that time, we completed a family and
The experience was powerful, risky, and
at times very uncomfortable. In the generation of our family's
MAP, our two daughters each gave their heartfelt dreams and nightmares.
Both of our children have significant challenges to their physical
health and the youngest daughter has "differing abilities".
Relative to other children their age, both have unique perceptions
of the world, life, and spirituality. As parents, it was very
sobering to hear the girls discuss their health fears, and exciting
to hear their dreams of college, boys, and future children.
Lindsay's (our youngest, at the time twelve)
nightmare was about losing her gift to communicate. Her dream
was of a huge white mansion with servants, a chef to cook her
special diets and make them palatable, an indoor pool, a lake
and ski boat in the rear, and a multiplicity of automobiles in
the garage. Kalli (our older daughter at fifteen) dreamt of her
own space, a loft in a high location. Later, as our daughter's
own MAPS were generated, we found that Lindsay's principle desire
for a white mansion was to house the homeless, and Kalli's desire
for a loft was to have a safe haven where she could rest, be
supported and worry-free.
Bryn's principle nightmare was the hell
of surviving the loss of her children to physical illness. Her
dream was to be connected to a vast circle of friends. Clark's
nightmare was one of isolation, without the support and love
of his family. His dream was to develop our family's shared sense
of faith and spirituality.
All of these feelings were powerful, very
uncomfortable, and risky to announce to a group of people, even
if those attending the MAPS session were family and friends.
The courage to articulate those things that you fear, the permission
to kick back and dream of what might be, and the acceptance of
support from those in your MAP circle, are all liberating and
stretching activities. As a personal development tool, the MAP
process had shown its strengths. As a family it allowed us to
think about and communicate some important feelings and information
we often neglect in everyday living. Each of us felt blessed
to have had this opportunity and experience.
As a family, we often pull our MAPS out
on the living room floor and speak to which action steps we have
accomplished and which ones we are still working towards. We
have moved closer to our dreams! The clarity and hopefulness
that the MAPS process brings forth is an incredible gift. We
would encourage any family given the opportunity to participate
in a MAP to seize the experience. It can truly change your life.