Leaning in and Making Color


It was in the colors. The bluebird sky. The perfectly selected balloons- a gorgeous variety that went beyond the primary colors that make me yawn. The stunning, classic yet playful, tailored clothing. It was bold and bright and felt like a Boden catalog on steroids.

It was in the flying. The magic of being in the sky and floating and flipping around and meeting the gaze of all the people you love, also floating in the sky.

It was in the return to Cherry Tree Lane. There were the blossoms, light and delicate and radiant.

It was in that last moment, with the bicycle riding off with a blue balloon attached, waving goodbye in the breeze- the perfect shade of blue to contrast with the pink cherry blossoms.

We took our family to see Mary Poppins Returns. It was a cold, gray night, the end of December. Once Christmas is over, my heart sinks at least several inches in my chest and the melancholy lodges in my whole aura. I know this sounds dramatic. It FEELS dramatic. And it is truly uncanny how it just happens like this. Every year, without fail.

We loved the whole movie, loved it. Emily Blunt is brilliant and Lin-Manuel Miranda– I mean, for heaven’s sake, he’s an absolute genius. The songs were lovely, the dancing crew of leeries was completely fabulous, the story was tender, the cameos were a hoot, the children were darling (Georgie Banks! Oh my heart.).

But it was that last scene that was transcendent for me.

When we came home I began unloading the dishwasher and declared/asked: “I want my world to look and feel like that. How can I make my world be filled with flying around and balloons?” I was basically serious. I literally wanted to live in that nonsensical magic forever.

“I think you missed the point, Anne,” Taylor lovingly (and slightly incredulously) replied. “They created that color in their minds. Didn’t you notice how the Cherry blossoms suddenly appeared despite the fact that the setting had been dark and dreary for most of the movie? They did that. It wasn’t just suddenly Spring. They made their life magical and colorful.”

It’s like sometimes I’m shocked that I can be so stupid. I have a college degree. I consider myself a smart person. But I basically just missed the point of Mary Poppins.

OK. OK. I get it now and I love it. It’s brilliant! We create the color and the sunshine and the renewal and the imagination and the joy. Yes. YES! But how do I do it? I mean, down to the brass tacks. How do I make my world feel like that in the actual dreary Winter?

I’m on a real mission this January. I have always rather accepted the Winter blues and been so grateful when Spring came and brought me back to life. And, I predict, that no matter what I do, Spring will always be my favorite and will always feel like a life-breathing miracle. But this year I am leaning in to Winter. Way in. I’m filling every week with favorite things. I’m planning a trip to the desert to get some sun on my face. I’m digging into my creative self and demanding it to stretch and perform. I’m letting all sorts of former paradigms shift and move and it feels amazing.

It has to be said: although I understand that the color and flying and magic are symbolic– I need some of that in my life in actual, literal forms. Though nature’s colors are dormant, I feel anxious to hang more art in my dining room and paint a visual representation of my New Year’s Goals. Though it is, for many, a time and season for quiet reflection and coziness, I am blasting Freddie Mercury while I wash the dishes and planning a ladies’ dance party. And this morning I flew down my mountain at a seven minute pace– the closest I can get to flying.

Much of life is mundane. It is temporal, repetitive tasks. It is worrying about the budget, trying to decide what to make for dinner, and wondering how in the hell children get so much damn toothpaste all over the bathroom counter. (I used two swears in that sentence for a reason. This toothpaste situation makes steam come out my ears.) But I think life can feel magical if we want it to. I can find the delight in early morning snuggles with my own Georgie. I can find the magic in the taste of the curry we ate last night. In fact, I felt like I was floating when my son came home from school yesterday and announced “I’m learning to manage my time better. I finished my book report at school so I don’t have to do it at home.” (I mean, what?! That was worth at least two of Angela Lansbury’s magical balloons.) Sometimes it will be more literal. My color-obsessed self will demand it. But it really all lies in choice. Do I see the dull or see the bright? Do I settle into apathy or shoot for excitement and change? What do I want my life to look like and how do I make it look that way?

I’m on to you, Winter.

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