What I learned from a box of broken crayons

It was one of those days-- ya know, the kind where you just can't seem to wrap your mind around anything significant? The rain pattered on the windows and my fingers were restless on the keyboard, searching for a purpose but falling short. It was a full day of working-from-home with no outside obligations or appointments so there was plenty of time and potential for magical things to unfold-- but I was just...blah.

Later that night when my husband asked about my day, I told him how unmotivated and unaccomplished I had felt.  He responded with something along the lines of:

Well did you have a plan for the day, or a stock list of tasks aligned to your goals?

I became irrationally offended. Here I was just telling him I had an off day and he was criticizing how I manage my time, my organizational structure of business, and making me feel worse about the lack of forward momentum from the day.

Only he really wasn't, he was just asking a question and trying to be helpful. Because he's awesome and a guy who doesn't really get blah days. But I do. 

And the thing was, I did have a plan for the day and a list of goals and tasks to help me reach them. And I knew there was tons I could be doing to further my marketing or organize my workflow or (insert a million other options here) . But sometimes, the guilt of not doing, not producing, not feeling creative, is a downward spiral into more of the same. Sometimes you're just not... sharp. 

The next day, I started out swinging like a heavyweight champ, but by mid-morning, I'd again found myself slumping into that distracted, procrastinating state.

I could feel both my mood and my self-worth going down the toilet, but this time, instead of succumbing to that degradation, I thought to myself --

Self: you are better than this. You have a mind that is capable, a heart that is full, and skills worth sharing. Just get up and DO SOMETHING. 

At that point, it didn't matter what that something was, I just knew that I needed to be creative-- I needed to see the world from a fresh perspective to jog myself back to speed. I glanced around my shelves and started just pulling things off to arrange and photograph. Because photographing always makes me happy. 

First, I shot some product photography of my packaging and new thank you cards. I started to feel that buzz again, that wonderful warmth I get from color and design and seeing something from a different angle, no matter its simplicity.

Then I pulled an old wooden case of art supplies, one I had used as a child. I had kept all these years out of sentiment, but also because I just always loved how that case made something as ordinary as colored pencils and crayons feel special.

As I removed it from its place on the shelf and carefully opened its leather latch, I recalled the same motion from my much smaller hands and how when I opened that case, I somehow felt more important, even more talented and more inspired. Looking at it in the present day, the pencils were staggered and many were broken; my favorite colors were short and unsharpened. The crayons were halfway unwrapped and blunt, revealing their past pictures in every stray fleck.

art supplies case

And with each click of my shutter, a new picture emerged, one of encouragement through brokenness.

I felt revived with a message seeping through those colors that even when we're broken, when we're blunt and unwrapped, when we feel like hiding in the case, there is still something beautiful waiting on the inside.

There's always potential, always a way to create and contribute to the world. It's not going to be every day. Some days we might try our hardest to scribble something only to break or crumpled and tossed.

But that doesn't mean we're done.

Tomorrow or the next day or the next week or even month or year or whenever, we will shine in a new way. We can be beautiful without even trying. We can be used in new and exciting ways. We can see things differently.

We are all multi-colored.

We have endless shades and hues and infinite possibilities, no matter how frayed our wrappings or firm our cases. 

Forest Gump said life is like a box of chocolates. And I say we are like a box of broken crayons. We are imperfect, sometimes broken or hidden away.

But we are also all created with ultimate potential and beauty and when we tap into our true colors, we are capable of creating a masterpiece.