As an expectant parent, you were probably conscious of not being drawn towards pink or blue and avoiding shoehorning your prospective newby into any bespoken stereotype in order to allow its gender to blossom into a full technicolour rainbow of experience.
You may have looked at the little piles of tiny white knitted booties, blankets, towelling baby grows, nappies and been basked in the white light of potential life, purity, innocence, vulnerability – a white canvas for a lifetime of images. As the baby births it slithers out in a white slick of home-made lubricant and then you hear the blood red howl of this tiny soul, screaming the white polystyrene tiles off the ceiling. Hell hath no fury like the screech of a purple-faced baby making its primal mark on the planet!
In that first ear piercing cry, you know your life has changed forever. The pure white prism has burst into the full spectrum of colour. This is unadulterated love.
And love indeed is the full pantone range and its colours take on a visceral and kaleidoscopic landscape for your body, mind and soul. There is nothing so challenging as unconditional love thrown back at you like a Holi Festival of coloured powder bombs. This multi-faceted jewel of humanity, exploded into the life you’d so meticulously designed, is now “shittin’ ‘yeller” all over your dressing gown at the midnight blue changing hour. Or vomiting porridge-coloured sludge down the back of your pristine work shirt. And before you know it, a tsunami of primary coloured plastic crashes through your household like all the oceans’ waste in one humongous tidal wave. But colour is your saviour too.
While you’re whizzing up their baby food, double up for yourself and down that green smoothie (adult baby food); chlorophyll goodness on the run. Entertain the Little Green Eyed Monster who sucks all your attention, by learning to throw blueberries in the air and catch them in your mouth. Make mini-humans who know only rainbow goodness coursing through their veins.
When the colouring-in craze came in the books of complex black and white drawings and packs of felt tips went flying out the doors of bookshops that couldn’t believe their luck at a trend that seemed to have no end. One or two books turned into whole Colour-Me-Mindful bookshelves, tables and displays. You could suddenly get Colouring In jigsaws, serviettes, plates, tablecloths, apps etc. What was it about this seemingly simple activity that had caught the world by storm? A grown man, in a pub after a stressful day, nursing a pint and his colouring book? Groups of you in coffee shops with babes in arms and table festooned in colouring options: Colour Me New York, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Jungle Book, Zoo Life, Harry Potter, Tropical Birds, Wild Critters. Honing your colouring skills so that by the time the apple of your eye is old enough, you can thrust a crayon upon it along as you pass on your waxy passion.
Choosing the ‘right’ colour for the right bit, and then carefully colouring right up to the line and not beyond.
It seems to be the opposite of self-expression and creativity. Instead it appears mechanical and mindless. But that is the point.
It requires focus and concentration. It simplifies the world to a colour and a small blank space to fill, up to the edge and not beyond. With your front brain occupied, your creative brain can get on with the more interesting stuff: solving world poverty, designing a supercharged toboggan, imagineering what colourful culinary treat you’re going to create for tea. Your stress levels lower and when you put down your crayon and surface from the zone, you are ready for more merry mayhem.
You can lose yourself to the wonders of raising kids. They are fascinating and funny, they give back a hundred fold the energy you put in. But parenthood can also sap you. Sometimes you wonder where you left your sense of self (probably under the plastic rubble you call your living room).
At that point the restorative nature of using the right colour at the right time in the right place will buoy you through the times you feel depleted.
Lou Hamilton is a Creative Well-Being Coach and Creator & Author of Brave New Girl – How to be Fearless published by Orion Spring. Brave New Guy is waiting in the wings.