Here we are in April with the hope and promise that Spring brings. Part of that is the magnificence of the multitude of colors that pop up all around us. I saw in my mind’s eye the daffodil yellow, the cerulean sky, the grassy green, cherry blossom pink, fuzzy wuzzy brown tree bark. Then my thoughts totally went to Crayola crayons, the amazing dream sticks. They come in a kaleidoscope of 120 awesome colors.
These 120 colors include 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, 8 yellows, 2 grays, 2 coppers, 2 blacks, 1 white, 1 gold and 1 silver. Who knew?
Here are a couple of other interesting bits of Crayola trivia. For instance, the first box of Crayola crayons was sold in 1903 for a nickel and included the same colors available in the eight-count box today: red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black and brown.
The use of wax as an artist's material goes back to the golden age of Greek art.... Sometime during the fifteenth century, artists began to mold pigments and binders into colored sticks or "crayons." The name Crayola was coined by Alice Binney, wife of company founder Edwin, and a former school teacher. She combined the words craie, which is French for chalk, and ola, for oleaginous, because crayons are made from petroleum based paraffin.
What caught my fancy thinking about crayons this time is the names of the colors. Some of the more pizzazzy names are Atomic orange, battery charged blue, glitzy gold, banana mania, jazzberry jam, laser lemon, scream green, purple pizzazz, razzle dazzle rose, blast off bronze, wild watermelon. I then thought it would be fun to come up with my own names for colors. Here are a few: Flirtacious Fuchsia, Capricious Pink, Garrolous Green, Rapscallion Red, Silvery White Willow, Chocolate Mousse, Bibbity Bobbity Blue, Blase Gray, Sunburst, Intrepid Orange, Ebony. Have some fun and come up with some new color names of your own.
Crayons can be quite magical. How else can you have a magenta sky with rainbow colored daisies growing among gold and silver blades of grass? There is even an art to coloring outside of the lines. (Doesn’t that fly in the face of what we were told as kids!) We are never too old for crayons. With some paper, a box of crayons and no rules we can create anything. Finally, a message to humanity from Robert Fulghum: We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”
Comments are welcomed.
Let’s first look at the science of the necessity to connect with others. The Social Baseline Theory, developed by James Coan, posits that social contact and relatedness-rather than isolation and aloneness -are the natural or "baseline" conditions of the human brain, and that individuals' proximity to and interaction with others serves to regulate important aspects of the neural response.
SBT suggests the human brain expects access to social relationships that mitigate risk and diminish the level of effort needed to meet a variety of goals. This is accomplished in part by incorporating relational partners. By contrast, decreased access to relational partners increases cognitive and physiological effort.
These relational partners can be a spouse, a friend, some kind of significant other. When we have someone or someones we are close to, it has a positive effect on our physical health, emotional health, ability to regulate stress. When we are isolated, our immune systems weaken, it takes more effort for the brain to regulate stress. People can and do adapt to times when a partner of some kind is unavailable. It does take more effort and the development of strategies for coping.
Because our brains are hard wired for social connections and relationships, it is essential to find creative ways to connect while we are sequestered. Here’s where the up side of social media comes in. We are fortunate to have this technology which can help mitigate the isolation. Besides texting, e-mailing, phoning , video chats (the latter 2 being the more important), we have access to some of the amazing things people are posting or uploading. There are music lessons, cooking lessons, a variety of art projects, musical performances. The list goes on and on.
Checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 300 times a day, passes the time away, but we need to have a more purposeful day. There are 2 things that make a difference. They are structure and imagination. Structure refers to maintaining some sort of routine every day. For instance, arise the same time every morning, make the bed, do your hygiene rituals, have breakfast, meditate. Do whatever works for you as a general routine that gives structure to your day. Then use your imagination to fill in the blanks.
It is important to set goals for each day. This might be the opportunity to Marie Kondo one of your rooms. You might experiment in the kitchen. Confiscate a child’s water color set and try your hand at painting. There are a gazillion possibilities. The goal needn’t be anything monumental. Start very small if that is more comfortable. Play with it. Have fun. Let your imagination run amuck.
Stay optimistic. Phone or video chat with someone every day. Stay in the present, taking one day at a time. Include gratitude. Humans are naturally resilient. We will all get through this together.
Comments are welcomed.
Letting go is not about having strength. It’s about understanding. Often when we come to believe we need to let go of something, whatever that something is, has gotten inside of us. It may be rumbling around in our thoughts, emotions, how we relate to others, how we live our lives. That letting go process may be a difficult one. One option we might strongly consider is heading such a situation off at the pass. What I mean by that is when things come our way that cause anger, irritation, frustration, ill will, we can take action of letting it pass by or letting it be.
A few years ago I read a book by David J. Pollay entitled The Law of the Garbage Truck. Following is his experience that inspired his book and is about today’s topic.
“Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened.
I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.
I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And he even threw in a one finger salute! I couldn’t believe it!
But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck®.” He said:
“Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier”
Sometimes it is just plain hard to let things go. At least having the awareness of what is happening when “garbage” comes at us can make a difference. To paraphrase Jon Kabat-Zinn, It’s not always a matter of letting go. We would if we could. Instead of saying ‘let it go,’ we can say ‘let it be,’ and move on.
Comments are welcomed.
I finished writing this blog early last week. As the days went by and our lives were changing at warp speed, I felt strongly that I needed to speak about it.
We all are going through very worrisome, fearful, difficult times in our planet’s history. Covid-19 is a world wide crisis. Due to the uncertainty and unknown, many of us may be feeling anxiety, panic, fear. We are experiencing a concentrated version of the uncertainty and change that has always been a part of life. Anxiety is usually about the future, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. A better question is, how are we right now? Do we have enough right now. We can prepare for what might be, yet focus on the now. These “interesting times” are also creatives times. Perhaps putting our energy into our resources, community, helping others; perhaps, how we adapt (which might be the key) to the ongoing change and uncertainty; perhaps, as we can stay in the now, see opportunity, find a little levity, we will feel more of a sense of calm, stability and even a modicum of happiness.
Moving on. March has a myriad of noteworthy days and events. I would like to focus on Friday March 20. March 20 presents us with 3 awesome events. Actually, one of these events occurs just before and the other just after the 20th. Last year they were all on the 20th so I am taking literary license to lump them together again.
The first is the one most of us have been looking forward to. It is the Vernal Equinox which is also the first day of Spring 2020. To be precise, the first day of Spring begins on the 19th at 11:50 pm. It’s so close to midnight we can say the 20th is the first day. An interesting fact is this year is the earliest Spring Equinox in 124 years. How this happens can easily be found in the Farmers Almanac or elsewhere on Google. My preference is to consider what else this is about. Spring is hope, opportunity, rebirth on so many levels. The sun has come out of it’s winter retreat and is with us on a more regular basis. The air is fresher, especially after a spring rain. Gardens are being tilled. It seems like everyone and everything has come out of the woodwork into the light. There is a feeling of infinite possibility.
The second is International Earth Day on March 22. This is becoming more important with each passing year considering the existential threat of climate change. The web site earthday.org has excellent information on all the contributors to the devastation of our planet and what we can do. An example: “Food waste is an enormous ‘hidden’ contributor to climate change. In fact, if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the U.S. The carbon footprint of this wasted food is about 3.3 billion tons of CO2. Luckily, there has never been a better time to join efforts to reduce our carbon footprint through food choices. Enjoy more plant-based meals, reduce your food waste altogether, and compost your food scraps.”
The third event may be my favorite. It is the United Nations International Day of Happiness which is on March 20. It is all about spreading happiness. Spreading happiness comes in many forms and takes such little effort. Some examples: smiles, random acts of kindness, lend a helping hand, offer compliments, give thanks and show appreciation, let those you care about know how much they mean to you, phone someone you haven’t connected with in awhile and let them know you are thinking about them. The list is endless. That said, stay safe, optimistic and calm.