When did we stop coloring? When was the last time you picked up a crayon and colored a page in a coloring book? Last night, my daughter asked me to color with her before bed. I enjoyed the simplicity of it all. I had no idea what colors I wanted to use when I started on my page. I just relaxed and let loose. I had fun. However, I realized some very important things about myself while doing so in the quiet time we shared sitting parallel to each other.
Coloring takes patience and attention to detail. In my life as of late I have needed a great deal of patience. That is an area of my life I truly struggle with lately. I am finding myself in that busy season again as I call it where I am inundated with going to constant weekly medical appointments for myself and a few for my daughter. It can be overwhelming at times for me and it zaps all my energy which leaves little leftover for the daily things I need to accomplish as a regular part of my life.
In coloring, you aim to stay in the lines. I have a certain degree of self discipline in my everyday where I like to know all the details of my day so I can “stay in the lines,” and feel that I am controlling the narrative of the day. If I get out of the lines like in coloring, I can’t erase it and it feels that I have permanently screwed up or I can’t redo it and take it back. We all have days that we think are going to go according to plan and then one small thing or one misstep out of bounds and the day takes a turn for the worse. I do not function on the, ‘grass is always greener on the other side,’ when I look at life. I am a bit of, ‘it is what it is.’ outlook on life. But still with a good degree of optimism. I always feel there is room for second chances and sometimes a much needed third and a fourth.
Living with MS there is a lot of second chances that I give myself in a given day. I realize that planning my days does not work for me anymore in my 40s. I have a calendar and a very loose agenda. I used to love to plan and cross things off my to do list, but I feel those days are behind me. My physical symptoms change day to day and get in the way of my best laid plans and now I just roll with it. For my family and close friends it can be a source of annoyance at times because I am uncommitted to an agenda and I change my mind a lot or I cancel my plans on a whim. I make no apologies about it now except that it is who I am and I realize trying to change that is just not going to happen. I do the best I can and I am glad for God’s grace through it all. However, this comes with much frustration because I still deep inside want to accomplish all I set out in a given day and I feel at times like a failure if things do not turn out as I see them in my mind. Have you ever been there?
Even as I colored with my daughter last night, I still tried hard not to let my picture get messy. I couldn’t let loose fully I realized and just color. But in the end, my daughter loved my picture and we enjoyed our time together which to me was the best part. It was the TIME I gave to her that she most enjoyed. Whether or not what I colored did not matter, nor did it matter if it was colored perfectly. I glanced over to her page and I thought she did a great job coloring. It was clear to see with her age that she had come a long way even since last year, but I also kind of envied her, ‘out of bounds,’ approach still. To approach her page as she should by just being a kid. I wanted that and I still do.
Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. You can try to control as much as you want of your day. You can put every plan in place and use every resource you have. You can rise out of bed and say this day will be different. You can look in the mirror and fill yourself with positive self talk. BUT be prepared for the day to not stay in the lines. Tell yourself it will be okay even if it’s not okay. Know that you do not have eraser and make sure you are prepared to start over or create a new page.
We are our own worse critics. We need to be our own best friend too. I will never live up to the image of myself that is in my head and I am okay with that now. The ME that I am today is far better than the me that I was yesterday. I have made mistakes and recovered. I am experienced and have learned to try again. I am stronger because my health struggles have created adversities that I have had to overcome. I am a fighter because I will not give in. I am brave because I am sharing my journey now and unafraid of being vulnerable. I am a wife, mom, daughter, niece and friend. And so, I leave you with this last thought…
Color your life with seeking out the beauty of each day and being ever ready for it to throw you out of line. Embrace the messiness as a sign that you are ALIVE and LIVING LIFE. It’s all about perspective in the end anyways.