Monday, November 25, 2013

How Grief Turned Me Orange

As I soak in epsom salt and lavender in my bathtub and feel the warm water blanket me with love, I stare at the navy blue wallpaper with white and salmon-colored butterflies, which has been on these bathroom walls for at least 35 years. I remember when Mom picked out the wallpaper. I've loved this wallpaper for a long time. When my son and I moved into my childhood home three years ago, I brought the navy blue-with-suns-and-moons shower curtain, along with a small box and bowl that I'd painted a long time ago, navy blue with spirals. It all goes together so well.

Except now, I'm feeling orange. Bright orange! The navy blue feels like the old me. Orange feels like the new me. Which is funny, because I went through many years where I despised the color orange. And yellow. Perhaps because for a good 20 years, all four walls of my childhood bedroom were covered with bright orange and yellow butterflies! I think I OD'd on those orange and yellow butterflies.

I found myself liking the color orange again this past spring. I did a lot of work on balancing my chakras, so maybe that had something to do with it. :-) According to "My Holistic Healing" website  the orange, or sacral, chakra, corresponds to 
  • Equality - the balance of independence and dependence
  • The power of choice
  • Creativity
  • Intimate connection with others & sense of unity
  • Sensuality
That's pretty much on target for me these days ...

This past summer, I honored my orange feelings by purchasing an orange bath mat, orange wash cloth, and orange placemat to cover the small table between the toilet and sink. More orange began to seep into my consciousness.

One time this summer when Kendryek (my son) and I were visiting our local Taubman Art Museum in downtown Roanoke, I went into the women's bathroom on the second floor for the first time. OH MYYYY!!!! I was bathed in orange! Orange tile, from top to bottom. Floor even. How delightful! I ran to the men's bathroom to see what color IT was ... RED! All red tile. WOW! I've never seen anything like it and was delighted with the creativity of whomever came up with the idea of swathing a bathroom in one color.

That was JUST the confirmation I needed to cover my own bathroom fully in orange!

I wish I could show you a before and after picture. But, there's no "after" picture just yet. My orange bathroom is in progress, mainly in my mind! Something like this:

Which brings me to the reason for this blog ....FLOW. The grief of losing my mom, dad, and sister in a short period of time has allowed me to learn to go with the flow. Take this upstairs bathroom for instance. When my dad was still alive, and my son and I had moved in with him during his last year, I couldn't WAIT to redo this bathroom. After he died, however, I couldn't bare the thought of moving his electric razor, electric toothbrush, etc. I needed to look at those items every day. They helped me feel connected to my dad; helped me feel loved. They brought back sweet memories of my dad and I brushing our teeth, side by side, when I was a little girl. My dad would get into a ZONE when brushing his teeth. It seemed to be a spiritual experience for him!

And so, for the past two years, I've looked at my dad's toiletry items every day. Sometimes seeing them made me feel happy; other times, I felt sadness. Grief triggered that my dad is no longer physically present. Which triggers that my mom is no longer physically present. And my sister is no longer physically present. Yes, I do connect with each of them in spirit. I feel their presence daily. I am comforted by their spiritual energy. But you know, sometimes I just miss them. And I'll cry a little bit.

A couple of months ago, it felt OKAY to move Dad's razor and electric toothbrush to the plastic container of his special items in the basement. And the ugly old, plastic, dirty white wall shelf above the toilet? Still looking at it and just about ready to replace it with a wicker shelf. And this morning, I decided I'd like to hang bamboo blinds in the window. And I'd like to find a bamboo shower curtain. Bamboo and orange ,,,, yea, that's it!

Grief allows me time to honor my feelings and look at or hold that which brings me comfort. Grief allows the delicate process of hanging on with moving forward - on my own timetable and no one else's. Grief has really brought me down some days. But it has also propelled me forward in my spiritual growth, inspiring me to surround myself with colors and things that lift me up.

I'll keep a scrap of that navy blue-with-butterflies-wallpaper that my mom and I lovingly put up on the walls. And soon, I'll buy the orange paint. And I'll wait for that perfect moment when it's time to paint. And I'll either do it myself or have Maria, an expert painter with a steady hand, do it. Or I'll have her do the edges and corners, and then I'll roll paint. Any of those combinations is OKAY, I've learned. 

Just going with the flow...