Weeks after moving into my home, I still live with prison-gray walls. Some people enjoy the coolness of gray in their homes and offices, but I don’t. I know this color helped sell the house. At first glance, it seemed clear, crisp, and tidy. The neutral, cool walls, the wood floors, and all the natural light flowing in through the windows inspired me. I felt welcomed by this home, which our elderly neighbor used to live in and fill with red cardinal sun-catchers and figurines. But on an everyday basis, I experience the gray walls quite differently.
It has been an early summer of rain and darkness, and the gray walls exacerbate the gloominess. I wonder if it’s possible to get seasonal affective disorder in June. I book a time for the owner of a paint company to come to the house and put together an estimate. He arrives, walks through, and emails an estimate to me. It’s my job to find colors I love and purchase the paint.
There’s a lot of actual wood in my home. Earth colors on the walls will create elemental balance. While thinking of the main areas of the home, I find my paint color fan and immediately go to the Interactive Cream, the Biscuit, the Totally Tan, and even Ibis White. Then I ponder the possibilities for my bedroom. Inspired by the idea of painting one or two walls of my bedroom a vibrant color, I find the purples. A gorgeous shade of purple called Free Spirit jumps out at me. I write down the names of all these colors I love.
The next morning I wake up singing “Climb Every Mountain” in my mind—especially the “a dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life, for as long as you live” line. I imagine myself as the Maria Von Trapp of feng shui, until discovering the poo and pee on the floor from my sweet old dog. She’s blind and incontinent. I sigh and clean it up, with tears welling up. My love for my dogs can take me to my knees with gratitude. I tell myself Breathe. This is what love does, Laura. Love cleans up the poo. Then I feed the dogs, bike, meditate, and take time to feel grateful.
With my inner world calm again, I sit at my computer writing, editing, and working on my LinkedIn profile. I pause to let out the dogs and return to the computer on sleep mode. I hit a button; it’s supposed to refresh when a key is pressed. The screen remains black. Seriously? I press another button in agitation. Blackness stares back at me. Oh, my God, I’ve busted my computer. It’s black-screened on me. I’ve lost everything! I try to breathe deeply. I realize that after all I’ve navigated this past year, inside the vortex of these types of daily snafus and much larger challenges, I’ve been held together by my ability to respond and redirect. Close the computer, Laura. The universe must need you to step away from this domain of your life. I look in my kitchen and see the dark gray paint on the wall. I look outside the window and see the dark gray sky. Go to the paint store! You need color in your life! My mood shifts from anxiety to enthusiasm.
At the paint store, a tall dark-haired young man walks over to help me. I share my list of colors and he happily begins to fill my order. He says, “I’m going to a wedding this weekend. I’m so glad there’s an open bar because that’s where I’ll be.” I reply, “Oh, if I were at that wedding, I’d be on the dance floor! I love to dance.” He then shares that he dances at a studio and if he takes me as his guest, I’d get two free dance lessons. “Really? That sounds great! I would love that!” We exchange information. I pay for the paint, and he carries the paint to my van. He shakes my hand and assures me he’ll text me. I thank him. Something inside me knows I will indeed be hearing from him. In the meantime, I have wall colors to play with.
Free Spirit looks like pink bubblegum at nighttime on my bedroom wall, so I decide on Lavish Lavender. The gray begins to disappear behind all the swatches of lovely earth tones in the other rooms. I definitely need the grounding and stabilizing energy of the earth element. I look forward to the painters coming in August and now know what colors they’ll be filling my rooms with. Having some sense of accomplishment because I moved a project forward, I face my computer’s black screen with calm confidence.
All the diagnostics run clean at the computer store. They talk to me about a backup system. I return home and my daughter asks me, “What button did you actually push, Mom? Show me exactly what you did, because I think you may have accidentally done a hard shutdown of your computer.” As soon as she says this, I know that this is exactly what I did! I start belly-laughing with relief. “Yes! This is exactly what I did!” She rolls her eyes at me, her crazy, laughing, tech-challenged mom.
The rest of my week is filled with networking, writing, editing, replying to emails, and taking care of my home, kids, and dogs. On Friday evening I’m cooking a chicken stir-fry when I hear my phone, which I’d had plugged in recharging. I notice several texts, including one from the man at the paint store. He had texted me in the early afternoon inviting me to the ballroom group lesson and dance party. I realize I need to regroup in a hurry, but I’m propelled forward by excitement. I text him back that I will be there. I finish cooking that meal quickly and then put on a cute skirt and flowing cream top with my black wedges. I can’t remember the last time I felt so happy—I’m going dancing! I say goodbye to my almost-adult children and note the role reversal.
I have an amazing time. It’s a fun, safe, and welcoming atmosphere. People of all ages, body types, and skill levels step cautiously or flow gracefully on the dance floor. My new friend introduces me to several people and guides me through two different dances. “The Hustle” comes back to me pretty quickly, and I pick up on two of the line dances fairly easily. Mostly, I’m so happy to be there surrounded by kind people and skilled instructors, who smile and continue to invite me to dance even when I don’t know the steps. I’m uplifted in a way I can’t even remember. It’s a blast! I sign up for my two free dance lessons.
Sweaty and smiling, I drive back home with joy, pleasure, and enthusiasm glowing inside me, grateful for the serendipity of that trip to the paint store. Being seen through the eyes of kind strangers has shifted something deep inside me. I’m single, happy, and free to shine and dance! As I move away from the gray in my outer and inner world, my crazy, beautiful life takes off in a whole new direction, with purpose and laughter along with the snafus.
Here are some ideas to consider to add color, literally and figuratively, to your crazy, beautiful life:
- Choose paint colors you love, and strive for balance in the room you want to paint. Avoid using just one color for walls, window treatments, bedding, carpeting, and furniture, because over time the lack of balance can affect how you feel in this room and the dynamics of relationships. Too much of any one color or element can feel uncomfortable over time. For an optimal experience of harmony, invite all of nature’s representatives into your rooms and life: wood, water, metal, fire, and earth. If you have a fireplace, this represents the fire element. Candles are another great way to bring in a touch of fire, too.
- Engage with an activity that you forgot and now remember you love to do. Maybe it’s painting, sewing, rock climbing, or playing board games. Give yourself permission to do this activity alone or with friends. Trust that it will infuse color and joy into your life.
- If the current paint on the wall of any room of your home agitates you or depresses you, prioritize painting this very soon, even if your to-do list is already a mile long. Sometimes shifting the larger context of a physical space (and color on a lot of wall space can be a game-changer) can also begin to resolve issues such as lack of energy, romance, or feelings of serenity. Outer changes can support and affirm the insights and awakenings of one’s inner world. Feng shui invites a beautiful dance to take place between inner desires and belongings and experiences that affirm our wishes.
- Reboot when life trips you with snafus and tangles: Move on to something else and look for the path of least resistance. Being productive and creative with your time and stepping gracefully into the flow of life allows for interesting synchronicities to take place. Rather than resisting and struggling, stop, let go, and turn your attention to another project. This makes it easier to return to the tangle with clarity, calm, and relaxed presence.
- Trust life to bring you exactly what you need to learn and grow, to laugh at yourself, and to evolve. Listen closely and watch with your whole being. It’s quite entertaining to stand back and be a witness to your crazy, beautiful life.
- Know that “this too will pass.” On any given day, know that you will find a mix of experiences. There will be things that don’t go smoothly, and there will be experiences that take your breath away and touch your heart profoundly. Stay open to all of it without becoming too attached to any of it. Watch it like a movie. Sometimes it will make you laugh out loud.