Thinking in Colors

As far back as I can remember, I have related words and concepts to colors. Not in any meaningful sense. I just see a word or concept in my head in a specific color. And the color is sort of random; i.e., it doesn’t relate to anything in particular, like its actual color in life, if there is a color associated with it.

People’s names (the word I see in my head when I think of the name) are very clear: Mary is red, Sally is yellow, Bridgette is burnt orange, Lyle is a sort of dreamy blue-grey. Every name has a color associated with it, and it is not something I even think about. It just is.

What made me think about this? I was laying in bed last night in that icky half-dream state one experiences  when you first get sick with the flu or a cold, and I had drainage down the back of my throat all night. Around 5:00 AM, realizing I was not going back to sleep, I was thinking I needed to get myself out of my warm bed and take something for this incessant…blue…drainage. Why blue? Who the heck knows?

This odd phenomenon called synesthesia ( apparently has to do with individual brain chemistry and patterns. Some people see numbers, some see spatial patterns, some vibrations. There are apparently thousands of ways that synesthetes ‘see’ words and numbers in their heads. This has no intrinsic value except to point out that everyone’s brain is unique. There are processes going on at lightning speed every nanosecond of our existence creating patterns and memories and foundations for future experiences.

The expectation that we all see things the same way is unrealistic just based on our individual brain function, much less on life experiences. Just as teachers (should) acknowledge that children each learn in different ways (by touch, by listening, by seeing, etc.), we should consider that as adults we approach new experiences in life with that same distinctive perception.

Our unique perspective should be taken into account when we decide to make a change, whether it is to break a bad habit, or bring creative endeavors into our life. Ask yourself what might reinforce positive change? Does your mind respond to music? Then use beautiful (or soulful or upbeat or rhythmic…) music to produce a constructive correlation to the behavior you want to change. Do you love colors? Then find pictures that touch your soul, or wear the colors that make you happy, or find a room where you can retreat/regroup/meditate, and paint it your favorite color. Are you a tactile person? Then relate your new behavior to something warm, soft, and fuzzy that you carry around with you and touch each time you need reinforcement.

This may all sound kind of superfluous. But discovering what clicks your brain into the comfort zone will help you begin the process of creative thinking, which leads to inspired action. If you use your natural mind map, change will be less like a grueling gauntlet and more like a fantastic adventure.

Why make it complicated when you have the means of creating (relatively) effortless transformation? Sort of like the butterfly. The caterpillar doesn’t think about how its body is radically transformed into something beautiful. It just trusts that it will happen.

Louise (which is sort of a steel-grey)


Changing the Paradigm

I was talking to someone the other day who questioned whether the US should help all those who don’t seem to be able to help themselves. “Why don’t they just change?!” – i.e., grow their own food, develop their own economy, build their own houses, find their own clean water,  _______(fill in the blank)?

I was struck as I often am by how people who have it all (like those who live in the US) have trouble understanding the difficulty of those who live where generations of people (sometimes representing hundreds of years) never learn HOW to do all those things. It is not a matter of intelligence, or apathy, or laziness. It is about how humans follow the path of least resistance, especially when it comes to “how things have always been done”. If you have never been taught how to change, then it is not likely you will do it, even if it would make your life easier, healthier, more meaningful.

The problem is not that these people don’t want those things that would make their lives better, it is that they have never felt empowered enough through example or education to even begin the process. In societies like ours, we are not born with knowledge, but it is offered to us freely from an early age so we can choose to act on that knowledge. If that information is never offered then how would change ever take place?

This is a debate that could go on perpetually. But I bring it up to reinforce something I have been trying to elucidate in previous posts. Change is not easy. But if we have the availability of tools, and examples of how it can be done, then we are empowered to do something that makes our lives better.

If you are lucky enough to live in a country like ours where all your basic needs are easily met, then climbing to the level of self-actualization in Maslow’s Hierarchy (’s_hierarchy_of_needs) is a no-brainer.

So if you decide you want to add creative activities to your life, (part of meeting a higher level of need), it is only a matter of exploring your options. For people who live in our society it truly is that simple. You just have to start the process, expand your periphery, open your mind to possibilities, and the answers will come. You have to change the paradigm. Instead of thinking, “I wish…”, it should be “I will…”.

`I think I can, I think I can….I THOUGHT I could!’ Do we not read this story to our children at an early age?

 It is time to reach your potential – now.


Rooting Out Creative Blocks

As I mentioned in a previous post, though I may have the same “artistic” genes as some of the more talented members of my family, creating art (per se) has always been a bit more work for me. Despite having the want/need to express my creative self, it has often been a concerted effort to do so. When I was a younger woman, it was the busy-ness of life – working, raising children, and the multitude of other pressing issues that seem (at that juncture) to curse our existence – that made it difficult to find the time to stretch those muscles of imagination. Now, it is chronic pain and fatigue that challenge me. (More on that another time.)

My mother, who unfortunately passed from this world a couple of years ago, was one of the greatest influences in helping me understand the significance of creative expression. She weaned the five of us (me and 4 brothers) on the gift of permission. We were allowed to be children. Back then it meant climbing trees, wandering the woods, pretending (remember pretending?), drawing, painting, coloring, cutting, pasting, running like the wind, riding miles on our bicycles, and just generally living in the world of daydreams and freedom – that special place where we get to try out all the ideas, win or lose, succeed or fail. It was all ok, …and fearless.

But after having lived over two thirds of a lifetime, I’ve come to realize that because not everyone had that kind of idealistic rearing there are many who are expressively crippled. When you are a child, you think whatever you are experiencing is the norm. Though it might seem naive, it has always been curious to me how difficult it is for so many people to convey the inventive part of their spirits freely and without fear. The need/want is there. Apparently the permission, real or implied, is not.

You have permission. Whether you are 28 or 80 give yourself the green light to grow your imagination. If more people allowed themselves to see their lives through the wonder and curiosity that are hallmarks of a child’s frame of mind, we might be having much more fun. The anger, resentment, ubiquitous fear, and general unhappiness that seems to pervade humanity these days might vanish as mist in the morning sun.

Root out the cause of your mistrust that being creative is not acceptable, or worse, not an integral part of who you are. Expand your idea of what behavior is permissible.

Embarrass your kids. Laugh, burp, or sing out loud. Dance if you can and wiggle if you can’t. Have fun with your food, walk barefoot in public, wear a fancy (or silly) hat, make gingerbread cookies, join a band, build an adult-sized swing, and use it. Play a game of gin rummy (using real cards) with your mate or kids or grandkids, instead of watching TV. When is the last time you cut out a paper snowflake? (check out these instructions – or one of those long chains of little paper people with joined hands ( When is the last time you let yourself just get dirty (I mean the dirt-type dirty, not the other kind…tsk.).

Cut loose and have fun. It truly is the other side, the important balance, the yin to the yang of the All Holy, Responsible Self.