A couple weeks ago, the color assignment at apples for poppy anne was for lots and lots of colors. The week before that, we were sent forth to find contrast. I've been thinking a lot in the past couple of weeks about both these tasks, together.
Each week, I've been looking at both home and work for images that fit these assignments. Sometimes I find things that fit from both settings, sometimes not. Over the past week, this assignment has been opening my eyes to colors, in an intense plural.
I've found that my home abounds with color; I see it everywhere. Much of it is new since we became parents. We were rather muted in our decorating pre-kids, but since they've joined our home, we've been changed, and the colors drastically intensified. From books, to clothing, to art supplies, to bath toys, to hats...everything is in technicolor here! In my own pursuits, too, I'm finding loads of color. I'm knitting and sewing again, and colors are everywhere in the fabrics, yarns, even my pins and scissors. Also, the foods we make, especially now in the wonderful, bountiful summer, shout out the rainbow.
I'm loving the vibrancy of my home life. Sometimes I'm shocked by it, being a woman who has worn mostly earth tones and black since about age 12. But I feel so alive and happy (although sometimes overwhelmed by all the tasks, tantrums, and lack of sleep), and it feels like it fits.
However, this search for color has brought out the contrast between my work and my home lives. When I looked for lots of intense color at work, I came up mostly empty. Certainly, that's not earth-shattering; offices are often muted and mild for some good reasons, but it got me to thinking further. Therapy can be a practice of many colors and much artistic creativity and expression. I work with some gifted and vibrant therapists who create works of art in sessions with clients as a part of the healing work. But that's not me.
My office is a nice place, with photos of some beautiful places and pastels by my husband and mother-in-law, but it does not sing with color. Nor do my sessions, exactly. I don't routinely work with creative expression as a central part of my therapeutic practice. I am a heady, cerebral therapist. I lean much more towards existential and psychodynamic models. And the main form of expression in my office is talk.
Sometimes I'm quite critical of this part of my professional self. I am envious of others who so easily integrate the expressive and colorful into their work. I try from time to time and have had some positive experiences (and some duds), but I come back to the talking over and over.
Truth be told, I love talking. I love figuring things out with my clients. I find that I am able to help people find real healing with this wordy practice. However, I often have trouble thinking of talk therapy as creative. But, sometimes, maybe when I've just had a client tell me that something major clicked and that she's able to look at the world differently and see that her wounds were not her fault or when someone has gotten herself out of dangerous relationship because she remembers the words we've practiced, I realize that, indeed, what I do is creative. And profoundly so. It is, in essence, the creation of narrative and the finding of meanings around experiences and events. I still don't think that I'd describe it as "colorful," exactly, and there is a striking contrast between the creativity of my home and work selves, but certainly my work can not be described as dull.
***Thanks to Linnea at Peppermint Alley for the inspiration for the fortune cookie image and thanks to J. for getting this lovely fortune the other day in her *first* fortune cookie!