Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Palette

A good friend just gave me an exercise his therapist had given him as an instant tool to draw upon during anxiety attacks.

Think of three colors you really like.

Got them?

Now think of a word that you associate with each color. For example, you might think of a deep chocolate brown and think "comforting." Or a sage green and say "soothing."

Got your words? Good.

When you are feeling stressed or anxious, pull the colors out of your mind's pocket, think of them one by one, and think of the word you associate with each color.

Simple, no?

My friend related this technique during a brief phone call, and I had just enough time to ask if I could pick different colors for different scenarios. The answer came back, "well, I guess so," which I took to mean "why not?"

"Why not?" indeed.

I got to test the workability of this technique this evening. It is Friday night of Concert Week, which means dress rehearsal. I ended up volunteering to run an errand for the Symphony before many musicians arrived and my mood was, well, let's just say it was less than positive. So as I sat at an impossibly long stoplight, I thought of the colors I had named to my friend an hour ago and pulled up the words that went with them.

Darn if it didn't work. At least enough that my irritability level dropped several notches.

It worked enough that when I got back to the rehearsal, I turned it over in my mind, thought through my color choices, and came up with two palettes.

One is my de-stressing palette: blue, deep purple, silver gray.

          Blue (a nice, solid but not too dark blue): calming
          Deep purple: restoring
          Silver gray: tranquil

The other is my pick-me-palette: primary yellow, turquoise blue, and brilliant white.

          Primary yellow: upbeat
          Turquoise blue: strong
          Brilliant white: uplifted

I am writing these words as the musicians come on stage and start to warm up. My mood has flattened out from earlier but not yet risen. I have another errand to run yet this evening so we don't have to run it at 10:45 after rehearsal. There is a letter I want to write. I am just beginning the newly published final volume of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's diaries and letters, and it is just heartbreaking. (Yes, I will be writing about it when I finish.)

I am not sure as I sit here that I need my de-stressing palette.  I needed that earlier when my irritation level was high and threatening to hit flashpoint. Those embers are cold now. Maybe I need my pick-me-up palette. I could use feeling strong and uplifted right now. I need to feel upbeat.

Primary yellow: upbeat
Turquoise blue: strong
Brilliant white: uplifted

Turquoise blue.

I wrote the above post before running the errand, dodging raindrops, and getting back to rehearsal to find the orchestra deep into the Debussy. While I drove, I though of turquoise for strength, primary yellow for being upbeat, and brilliant white for feeling uplifted.

As I sit here, watching Jaime and the musicians do what they do so well, and feel the music swell to the ceiling, i open my hands and let the colors seep through my fingers.

Primary yellow.

Turquoise blue.

Brilliant white.


Jenny Woolf said...

This is interesting. I will try it myself, April.

Terri said...

What an interestsing exercise. I'm sure I'll have opportunity to try it this coming week as I grade and grade and grade. Completed 1 stack of 5 today.

see you there! said...

This really interests me, I'm going to pick my colors and give it a try.