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Colouring With Every Shade in Your Heart

I want to ask you a quick question.

Are you forcing yourself (or loved one) to colour with the same, tired old crayon?

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately . . .

Because we’re not meant to stay the same, forever and ever.

And healthy boundaries include giving yourself (and others) lots of room to grow.

Just ask my good friend Debbie.

She and I have been friends for over twenty years.

And the Deb I know now is remarkably different from the Deb I met in the early nineties.

Back then, she was in a nice, stable marriage.

She went to the right school and got her degree.

She ran marathons, rarely drank more than a glass of wine, and was usually in bed by nine-thirty or ten.

All in all, she was a very good girl.

But as wholesome as Debbie was, none of us knew the bare-bones truth.

Her enormous heart was cramped up into a very small space.

And it hurt.

All her life she had used polite pastels, when deep inside she had a craving for bright, bold colours.

The kind of colours most people don’t usually approve of.

So she did what most of us do when faced with a secret desire . . .

She tried to make the wanting go away.

(Believe me, she tried!)

She ignored her feelings, distracting herself with busyness.

She changed her job . . . again and again.

She meditated.

Sought counselling.

But the yearning only louder.

It didn’t make sense.

She had a good life, damn-it! She was in a good marriage with a good, decent man. And it was all GOOD! GOOD! GOOD!

But here's the truth.

Sometimes, GOOD simply isn’t good enough and the heart knows it.

So one day, my friend broke a very strict rule.

She picked up a bright violet crayon and wrote her name outside the careful perimeters of her life.

Everyone was shocked.


Outside the lines?

This wasn’t the Deb we knew!

Even I felt resistance to her sudden, unusual behaviour.

When I looked at my objections, I saw a big problem.

My perception of her had replaced the reality of who she actually was.

Inside my mind was a box officially labeled “Debbie” and that box had certain dimensions.

It didn’t allow for expansion.

Or new shapes.

Certainly not colour!

It was a very sobering moment.

Because I know what it's like to be kept in a box. To be labeled one thing for the rest of my life.

In my past, relationships usually meant compromise.

There was always a sneaky, unspoken rule.

This is who you are—stick to the script, play your role and you'll be accepted.

I played that horrible game for a very long time.

Until I made a decision to be myself no matter what.

How could I deny my friend that same kind of freedom?

Deb needed to explore her WHOLE self in order to actually become whole and it wasn’t my place to direct that process.

A pastel life may be beautiful to some but it can be a wasteland to others.

She didn’t just want to change the colours. She wanted to draw an entirely different picture.

And that meant leaving her marriage.

And quitting her corporate job.

And singing in public.

And drinking beer.

And playing saxophone.

And falling in love with a drummer almost 20 years older than her.

The Deb I know now is quite different from the woman I first met.

Is her new life perfect?


But it's HER life this time—not someone else's idea of what her life should be.

And isn't this what we want for the ones we love?

Including ourselves?

It should be!

In fact, I think it's time to start colouring with every shade in our hearts.

Sending you so much love,


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