Ah, Sweet Memories – Part Two
by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Thank you for staying with me.  In part one I shared some colorful autumn stories of my childhood that were truly enchanted moments.  This week I hope you will enjoy part two as Emily shares her beautiful story about color and enchantment with us.  Enjoy!

Featuring the story Prism by guest writer, Emily Doherty

"Right brain ... left brain ..." droned the speaker.  I doodled idly in my already embellished notebook margins and mumbled "No brain!" under my breath.  Surely a crayon or two might still lurk in a forgotten corner of this escapee mother's pocketbook.  I nudged my friend for assistance, but all she could find was an old lipstick stub, too neutral for my purposes.  Not even a smudgy red pen or a faded highlighter.  I grinned conspiratorially in her direction as we recalled yesterday's 'there-goes-another-flower-child" glances of other tourists when they spied the bunches of scarlet poppies waving comfortably from a free corner of my backpack.

"Right brain...left brain..." One for words, one for images, and I, ever easily aroused and enraptured by both. Which brain was mine, I mused?  Yet another hole too round for my perennially square peg.  Images.  Color.  Why choose?

I cannot remember a time when I was not seduced by color.  Was it the petunias, perhaps, the firm grip of my father's aging hand as we climbed the short hill beside our house to browse briefly in the palette of fuschias and magentas, violets and lavenders blue?  Was it the haphazard piles of velvet upholstery samples tossed invitingly on the play yard floor of my grandmother's linen closet, beckoning me to cavort with kings and queens?  Or the bright balls of wool stored in the shiny brass potato chip can awaiting her dedicated fingers to transform them into rainbow squares for afghans?  Perhaps it was the color words themselves, the tantalizing tongue twirls of fairy tales and Crayola wrappers: heliotrope, delphinium, vermilion, celadon, burnt sienna, Endless as imagination, they lured me to delight.

I am drawn to the mesmer of color as the musician is to melody.  Song colors my ears; image colors my soul.  I cannot choose a favorite, like chocolate or vanilla ice cream; life remains incomplete without all 64 in one box.  From the earliest remembrances of childhood, my favorite few possessions were books with "colored plates", a rare find among my mother's vintage novels, and crayons.  I amassed color everywhere: postage stamps, ribbons, fabric switches, buttons, flower petals, butterflies, marbles, in endless and varied collections.  While my mother shopped, I crawled invisibly under the tables in the millinery department, risking spots on my shopping-white gloves and hoping that an elegant bloom or two, a feather or a bright sequin, had somehow hidden in the pale, plush carpeting.  I traced the paisleys in oriental rugs, and retraced them as I rubbed my eyes and journeyed through my very own Arabian Nights to sleep.

Dresses, many ill-fitting and old, hide in the depths of my closet, appearing as briefly as butterflies in Spring cleaning, and then carefully return to their hooks and hangers because the loss of their colors would somehow diminish my being.  Like my relationships, they stay safely in the shadows, each waiting for the vibrant moment to emerge from its Plastic bag chrysalis when the light changes seasons.  My mother's coral wool dressing gown, my father's tasteful maroon ties, my daughter's first velvet gown, an unmistakable Evening-In-Paris blue, a length of bright Marimekko left from my son's window curtain -- each has a spot in my Technicolor memory.  Bred on the still enticing black and white films, a secret part of me breathes a quick sigh of relief when the movie is in color!

Like my mother, I find myself chasing Tiffany windows in obscure towns and places, their brilliant tones enveloping me in awed silence as they did on Sunday mornings long ago.  Unable, to rationalize a splurge on the real thing, I have carefully arranged a pauper's ransom of colored glasses and bottles on the eastern sill to greet the early morning light. Drawers burgeon with sheets of wrapping paper too beautiful to be sacrificed yet to packages; silk scarves spanning the generations lie in neatly folded piles looking for a more swan-like neck than mine.

Yes, it is I, screeching to a stop in front of summer's roadside stands—surely there is a friend who will delight in the medley of marigold yellows and cosmos magentas as much as I. Only a woman committed to keeping all 64 colors in a single, dog-eared yellow box would buy flowers instead of cucumbers for dinner, would count Provencal sunflowers instead of sheep on a sleepless night.  There is not a jelly glass (see how that one looks blue in the afternoon light!) too dusty for the optimistic crimson of the last November rosebud, nor a moment too full to wonder at the purpling miracle of sunset, where, at last, one might search between the gilded folds of cloud and finally capture the elusive sky-blue pink.

"Color", continued this morning's speaker, "frolicked like the child at the edge of the sand” in the chosen artist's works.  In color lies the kaleidoscope of my life, the fire opal of my imagination, and the palette of my memories and dreams. It is the prism of my soul, illuminating the depths and the dark.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, a positive psychologist, teaches people how to enhance their lives--and consequently live lives of meaning and joy--by reclaiming what is positive about themselves. This is different from the traditional psychotherapeutic model because it is a paradigm shift designed to help us focus on our strengths rather than our disabilities and our weaknesses. The treatment model teaches both the clinician and the client how to look for purpose and a sense of well-being in daily living. She calls this process The Enchanted Self, A State of Well Being, Joy, and Happiness. Visit her website at http://www.enchantedself.com. To join The Enchanted Self E-group, click here. To subscribe to The Enchanted Self Monthly E-newsletter, click here.

THE ENCHANTED SELF® is a registered trademark of Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein.

Copyright (c) 2002 Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein