The power of small changes
I woke that Monday with a sinking feeling. Sometimes it’s like that. For no particular reason. Just a creeping misery that could spoil the day.
I made my morning tea and sat in bed, looked around the room.
Taking time to look, I notice that there is not much colour other than greys - grey walls, grey carpet, grey blind - and white sheet and duvet cover on my bed.
What’s missing, I see, are ‘my’ colours: light green, pink, orangey-red. I wonder why, in this room where I sleep, I don’t have any of those colours that bring energy into my paintings. This wondering opens up the possibility of change, of allowing energy in to chase away the edging misery.
I reached for an old and powerful tool, based on ideas in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way *:
“Name three small changes you could make” … in this room
You have to come up with three, only three. They have to be small and very specific. And then you have to do them.
… I could, I thought:
pick some wild flowers from outside and put them next to my bed
tidy that mess on the top of the chest of drawers and dust it – stuff from travelling, the necklace I’d worn last week, two boxes of tissues, tubes of hand cream. It wouldn’t take a moment.
bring in some colour - a painting or a different bedcover.
And I did that. As I was clearing the things away and dusting the surface, I remembered a cloth, embroidered by my mother more than 50 years ago. And remembered how she taught me to do embroidery. I found it, folded it to hide the stains and spread it out.
I also picked up a print of a van Gogh painting that was propped up and took time to look at the swirling colour in it. I could hang that on the wall I thought, and did it – it took all of three minutes! I remembered my son had bought it for me one Christmas and took a moment to feel the love.
I went outside to pick a few flowers from the edge of the road. Breathed the fresh air. Put them into in a little glass vase, remembered it was my grandmother’s, enjoyed the shapes cut into the glass, felt how thin the glass is and how fragile it is, we are.
Such small actions. Yet with such power - to take me back to what matters in my life and my past, to make my present more ‘me’ and more colourful, to involve my senses and body in something fresh. Small changes that brought back positive energy and chased away the creeping misery, and made the rest of the day more positive. Small shifts that opened up possibilities and later spread to thinking about bigger changes I want to bring into my life.
Don’t wait. Start making your life more ‘you’ now, with 3 small things you could change about the room you’re in … I’d love to hear what you do - tell us in the Comments box below.
* Note: I was sure that “Three small changes” was a task in the AW book, but on searching I only found “Ten Tiny Changes” (p.58). Now I think it’s my version that has emerged from working with this wonderful book many times over the years. Julia Cameron (no relation!) highlights, in many different ways throughout the book, the power of small actions to shift our lives. It works!