Understanding Life by the Colors we Choose

Photo by Felix Dubois-Robert on Unsplash

I asked students to tell me what color “Travel” is for them.

Answers varied from shades of green to bright red. One girl said red described the word travel because as she started to think about this weekend’s trip to Washington DC with our school; it had been quite some time since she had flown which created a sense of nervousness and fear. A colleague of mine said red when I asked her, but her reasons were quite different.

She explained that the word evoked feelings of optimism, excitement and new experiences and therefore red was the color that came to mind.

When I thought of the word travel, the color green immediately came to mind. In my mind, the color green is unlimited, and vast. I visualize land that stretches for miles; kind of like the green hills in Ireland. It is funny that the color of money is also my color of travel.

Interestingly, that I would use green to paint the word travel and money for different reasons. Travel feels comfortable and unlimited as I have visited several places in the world. However, the word money is green because I see the dollar bill in my mind and that is the color of our currency. When I think of the word budget or debt I see red, and the shade is bright. This is because both of these topics evoke passion, frustration, limit, and fear.

When money is by itself it feels non-threatening, expansive and simple.

I now realize that it is not until I change my perspective and place my own emotions on a color that I feel uneasy. Money itself is not what bothers me, it is what I associate with money that creates the problem.

Since I had looked at travel, money, debt, and budgeting I thought about something that I do every day: running. The first color that came to mind was yellow. To me, yellow feels familiar and ordinary. I am a disciplined runner and don’t miss very many days. When I think about the long-run for the week it feels blue with hints of turquoise. It is a blue that is the shade of the bottom of the ocean. The long run feels endless and peaceful. It is the part of running that allows me to relax and want to soak in over two hours of blisters and bliss. When I think about racing I see red. Racing is challenging. The red that illustrates races is bold, excited and full of power that is ready to be unleashed. The red is daring and a little nervous. Some moments feel exhausting and I wonder how I will manage to finish. Red is the color of fire. Red feels like the color of persistence. Red can be overwhelming but red is never overlooked and not noticed. It makes a statement and is powerful.

I hold the same color in my mind for my job. Thinking about it, I have the same reasons for seeing red when I come to work as a middle school teacher that I do when I toe the line in a marathon.

The marathon could be used as a metaphor for so many parts of life. I could argue that every part of my life includes hints of red. However, when I think about my life as a writer purple jumps out. Purple has shades of red, but it feels like something more, something special. Purple feels rich and full of untapped potential. It is full of opportunity. Purple is my favorite.

Purple reminds me of passion and purpose. These are reasons why I write.

When I think about each area of my life, I ask myself what color it is. Not just what color, but which shade and why. I am realizing this is a way to tap into my subconscious thoughts on so many areas and learn about which emotions I associate with parts of my life. Colors are one of the first things we learn to organize and label. What if something so incredibly simple has the power to unlock our deepest thoughts?

I am a wife, mother, educator, writer, reader and marathon runner. I blog at EnjoyingEveryMile.com and chase my impossible. Follow me on Twitter at @lmcdonell14

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