I went to my daughter's Curriculum Night last night. Her school hosts them every year, normally within the first week. It's a brief, informative event where parents squeeze into teeny little chairs and try to not act uncomfortable. The objective of the evening is to explore the learning goals for the year. We're introduced to lesson plans, given a snapshot of what a report card will look like, and told about the testing each kid will undergo at multiple points throughout the school year. It was nice and the teacher gave us some good info.
Have you ever seen the movie Matilda? Remember Miss Honey? That's my daughter's teacher. She's the sweetest, nicest, most beautiful teacher I've ever met...very easy to talk to, highly communicative, and my kid is crazy about her.
Before I left for Curriculum Night, my big girl had suggested I take some time to explore and "look for the owls." She said the whole classroom was decorated in owls because her teacher thought they were all so wise:
It was really sweet. They really did have owls everywhere ~ an owl alphabet, owl cubbies, owl locker stickers...so cute. My favorite part of the whole night, however, was when I went looking for my kid's artwork on the wall. You see, it took me all of about two seconds to find my daughter's contributions. In every assignment she colored a rainbow.
I stood there, staring at how bright and bold and beautiful her little ice cream cone was, imagining her coloring it and using all the crayons in the box...taking the extra time to dig out each individual color and then shove it back again. Such a pain in the ass, but so worth it. I was a rainbow colorist, too. All about it. I ate rainbows for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I remember thinking: Please don't ever let her stop coloring rainbows.
Big, radiant colors sometimes get lost in adulthood. I work in an office with gray cubicles, brown carpet, and taupe floors. Most of my work clothes are black, brown, or tan. I wore blue eyeshadow once (it was casual Friday, people....and I promise I can rock it like only a true 80's baby can). I was told it was against the dress code policy. My tattoos are also against the dress code policy...even the pretty blue one on my arm ;)
I make up for it by tacking my big girl's artwork all over my cubicle. I mean all. Freaking. Over. No rules against that yet, but I know I'm on borrowed time. The newer offices have rules against personal items at the cubicle. If my office ever moves, I'd be highly limited in what I could hang at my desk.
To spite the corporate thugs early, I go a little color crazy. I've got
twenty seven a few pictures up. Bought a couple pads of heart-shaped, hot-pink sticky notes. Use colorful Expo markers to decorate my own personal dry-erase board. I stuck little pink bows on the corners of my computer monitor and refer to it as a "she"...
Unprofessional, in the standard sense of the word? Absolutely.
Joyful, bright, and enjoyed by those who visit my desk? You're damn right.
We're taught in school to be creative, use our minds, decorate the world with color. Then, somewhere along the way to "professionalism," we sense the only way to be successful is to follow in the drab, standard footsteps of leaders before us. This can be especially true for women...I mean, let's face it, I don't think most of the guys in my office even know what color my hair is (dark -they would say dark).....on a serious note, though, women are still struggling to break into male-dominated roles throughout the workplace. Why would they want to reduce their chances with "girly" boldness and individuality?
The most memorable people in our lives are the most colorful. Consider the irony in that statement.
I went to an important leadership development meeting once. Oh yea, it was big time. I would be surrounded by people who owned many leather-bound books. I was a wreck the night before, pressing my business suits (and by "pressing," I mean shoving them in the dryer after dousing them with water from my showerhead), picking out the perfect shoes, practicing my severe hair bun, working on an appearance that really screamed potential!! I got there and was feeling good...my outfit was right on target. Everyone else wore similar garb...black, gray, a little white....We were business people. Power heels as far as the eye could see.
Then, this woman with an enormous, billowing, fringed shawl and a cloud of long, curly, white hair came floating into the room. She had loafers on her feet and bangles glittering up and down her arms. Oh gosh, I thought, she is doomed. These people are going to eat her alive with their eyes. Within minutes, she had captured the attention of everyone on my side of the room. Instead of glares, however, I saw only smiles. Everyone seemed to know who she was...and more importantly, they seemed very, very happy to see her. "Who is that?" I whispered to my neighbor. "Oh she's great!" was the response. "The best doctor ever and so, so funny. Here, I'll introduce you!"
She smelled like mint and cookies. I shook her hand and her blue eyes shone at me. Santa? She didn't look through me, the lowly secretary who was somehow invited to this thing....no. She looked right at me, asked my name, told me it was nice to meet me, asked if we could just skip to lunch. She was absolutely one of those people you wanted to talk to. She was full of life....full of color.
Without speaking more than a few sentences, that woman taught me the only lesson I learned that day: Be who you are and be loved.
I'm sure she encountered severe challenges prior to arriving to her current state...she was an older, female physician. Medical school is no joke, especially at a time when women really didn't go to medical school. She undoubtedly needed to cover her colors on more than one occasion.....but you know what? Colors won.
For all of you feeling suffocated by your circumstances, stop yourself every now and again and remember your passions. Be it a box of crayons, a walk in the woods, or a picture of a hot rod....everyone has something that fills them with joy and life and all the good things. Don't ever stop coloring your world with things that make you happy. Those rainbow prisms of light we call diamonds? They are dug from dirt. Hi-ho, hi-ho, everyone.... :)