Empowered to Embrace Life

The wall was supposed to be beige, an off white neutral, unremarkable, and predictable. Greg and I were excited as we picked out the new kitchen cabinets. We had fun as we made plans to hang some black and white photos on the wall. We wanted the kitchen to be sophisticated, stylish and modern.

Before the cabinets were even installed, life went sour. Before the paintbrush dipped into the boring off white paint, I felt bitterness rising in my soul. I could feel the fingers of anguish gripping my throat, she wanted to kill me.

Four days after Greg’s horrific betrayal, the new kitchen was installed and the painters applied the almost white colour. I watched in disinterested silence. I could not speak because tears balanced precariously on the edge of my lower eyelids, waiting to fall, ready to give away my secret pain. I could not let these strangers see me fall apart.

They hammered and banged the cabinets into place. They painted and finally the men carted away the remnants of their work. They left me standing alone. Greg was gone and I faced the blank wall. I felt the abandonment, it hurt my heart and pierced my soul.  I hated the wall. I hated what it stood for and I hated how it made me feel. The wall, in its stark emptiness, screamed “prison” to me.  This paint colour was the last decision Greg forced upon me. I usually got my way but I gave in to his wishes. “No more yellow kitchens”, he insisted.  Now I resented it.  I was angry at Greg, I was angry at the colour, and I was angry at myself for falling for his lies. I felt ashamed.

I sank to the floor and cried. I let my tears fall without trying to mop them up with a tissue. They ran down my face and onto the floor in tiny puddles. I cried until it hurt. I cried until there were no more tears. I stared at the hardwood floor with blank eyes. I sat there a long time. A light caught the edge of the pool of tears and I could see a tiny rainbow. Somewhere deep within I could feel a resolve taking shape.  My scattered thoughts gathered into an awareness that I would survive. I could feel a need arising from the depths of my broken heart. I heard myself whisper “I need colour in my life”. I could sense freedom pushing sadness aside. I smiled for the first time in days. I knew what I had to do. I decided to throw caution to the wind. I decided, sitting right there on the floor, to go to the store and buy more paint.

Grabbing my purse and the car keys, I bounced out of the house and into the sunshine.

I have always been drawn to the earth colours. I have always considered yellow my favorite colour but I like all the autumn colours: the golden yellows, the rusts and browns. They are the colours of a fall day, the colour of a Black-Eyed Susan. That day I stretched my normal tendency to conform. I did not care if I fit into the mold that I felt pressured to squeeze into. I wanted to please myself. I wanted to be selfish. I was tired of being conventional. I needed to break out of my safe zone. I did something rebellious, something Greg would hate. I chose my secret favorite. I picked orange:  bright, deliciously rich, orange. I chose the colour of warm summer nights just when the sun sinks below the horizon and sky screams in delight. I chose the colour of flames, of a roaring campfire that beckons a crowd to gather and share its heat. I chose the shade that made my heart smile. I chose the comfort colour of Kraft Dinner.

I wonder what the sales clerk thought when he saw me giggling and hugging the paint chips. Inside I was twirling and dancing. My heart was singing and I could barely suppress the desire to do a back-flip  I think, if I was able, I may have. Imagine the stares and comments then. “Is that old lady crazy?” Maybe I was feeling a little crazy. Maybe I still am.

My favorite photos from across North America.

My favorite photos from across North America.

The orange wall perfectly expresses my joy. I am energized and I smile every day now. I love it.  If walls could talk, mine would tell stories about rising from the ashes, they would tell stories of hearts being healed. They would be singing songs of gladness. The colour orange has become symbolic of my new beginning. It has become my statement of freedom. Orange has empowered me to embrace life. I cannot change the past but the future is up to me and I want to live my life in glorious colour. I gathered some of my favorite photos and had them enlarged. They are photos from a different time, a happy time. They are photos from across the country, photos of flowers and scenery, all yellow and orange and green and blue. Happy photos. I smile when I look at the display against the orange wall. To me this display is a reminder that life is once again worth living. It is a reminder that I have a choice. I can live in the pit or I can rise above my circumstances. I choose life.


14 thoughts on “Empowered to Embrace Life

  1. Yes, orange!
    Defiant, but in a good way. The color of the sun at sunrise, at sundown. Red has force and power also, but orange is CHEERFUL. It sings rather than shouts.
    Excellent choice, Lily. (Day lilies are orange, too!)

  2. Warm, vitamined, energetic, inspiring orange. Good on you. I had the same reaction in my kitchen, but it was when my husband uttered the word “white” that I blew a gasket, but nodded sagely. He returned home to find grey… and a wall full of luscious, cheerful red. I think I’m going to follow you now (in a blogging, non-stalking kind of way).

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