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It Started with a Red Kitchen

Red PaintMany years ago, I was feeling stuck in my career and my life. I had lost my mother only months earlier and the combination of my grief and my overall dissatisfaction made me feel incredibly sad. Then one day, as I was preparing my breakfast, I noticed how beige my kitchen was. The walls were almost the same shade of beige as the countertops, appliances, table top, and vinyl flooring. Even my toaster and coffeemaker were beige. The beige engulfed and surrounded me and stood for me as a symbol of my beige, bland life.

That’s when I decided that I had to paint my kitchen. But I didn’t know what color to choose. I spent weeks looking at paint chips of tasteful colors that most people would like – light greens, blues, and tans for the most part. I asked my friends for their suggestions. But nothing was right. Then, as I was looking at the paint chip display in a big box hardware store, I saw a man walk by who was wearing a windbreaker in the most delicious shade of red. It was a clear, strong, and definite red, and it immediately caught my eye. I followed the man and asked him if he could please come with me for a moment so I could match my paint to his windbreaker. He must have thought me mad. But he was a kind man. He humored me and together, we were able to match his jacket perfectly.

The moment the red paint went on the wall, I started to feel better. With every stroke of the brush and every pass of the roller, I felt that I was covering my beige sadness and preparing for a happier time in my life – a red time. When the room was completely red, I felt for the first time in a long time that I could finally breathe again. I felt exhilarated. My red kitchen was the harbinger of so many great new things in my life. After that, I returned to graduate school, took better care of my physical self, created a more orderly home, started playing the piano every week at an assisted living facility, and even, composed music for the first time ever. My creativity and energy soared, and with it, my happiness.

Are you feeling stuck, sad, down, or at a loss for what to do? Choose one room in your home where you spend a lot of time and paint it a spectacular new color. Don’t pull your punch. Give yourself permission to live in a color you love. If you don’t know what color that is, keep your eyes peeled and notice what pops. A color will come to you. Then live in that color, wrap yourself in it, and let it heal you. You’ll draw energy from the color but also from your own power for having changed something so dramatically in your environment. Then see what happens next. My guess is that good things will follow. — Dr. Laura Hills, President, Blue Pencil Institute, www.bluepencilinstitute.com