I confess. I am an addict. I love crayons. I’ve loved crayons since I was a young child. Christmas morning, 1974, it wasn’t the Barbie Dream House or the baby doll that pooped that got my heart racing. It was the box of 64 Crayola crayons with the built-in sharpener. Do you remember? Oh, it had so many colors to pick; magenta, sky blue, blue-green, and even gold and silver! Ah, be still my heart…crayons. And I tend to be a bit of a crayon snob; I like a crayon with more pigment and less wax which tends to be a gateway to oil pastels.
During out period of stay-at-home, it’s the perfect time to pull out a box of crayons and exercise some constructivism with remote learning. While coloring books are great, it is a wonderful practice to have plain paper and just randomly draw from the brain. In younger children it promotes fine motor skills and exercises the fingers; in fact, it helps develop muscles used for writing and pre-literacy. In older children it jump starts creativity by having them visualize what they are drawing or by telling a story in picture form. Use the crayons to promote language and storytelling. Ask your youngster how each color makes them feel and let them make up scenarios about what the crayons might be doing.
Here’s a fun activity for the whole family: put out a box of crayons. Watch the process as children and adults choose their crayon. There’s emotional decision making that goes on. Why? Because colors make us “feel”. Color is attached to adjectives such as warm, cool, cozy, peaceful and powerful. There is a whole psychology to color and what it does for us. Make a game of it and ask each person to put colors together that feel the same to them. If you have older adolescents, let them evaluate the groupings of crayons and discuss why they think the colors go together.
Ok, more confessions. When my children were young and we would go to restaurants if they had crayons on the table, I usually took them to have in my purse (for the kids, of course!) Well, maybe that’s not true. I’ve been known to be sitting at the courthouse awaiting jury duty coloring scraps of paper and gum wrappers from my purse. The truth is, coloring can be therapeutic. It can help dispel anxiety. Exploring textures and value is working creative muscles and allowing logic to relax. Learning to calm ourselves is a valuable skill, especially right now with so much uncertainty.
Today, I feel a little canary yellow with an outline of aqua blue. Translation: my outlook is hopeful and bright. What color do you feel? Keep coloring and keep calm!
Cliché as it is, I know time flies. Last night, just as I had tucked myself in bed, lights out, eyes closed, it happened. There was a loud BANG! Then CLANG, and finally the sound of breaking glass. What! Lights on via the remote control from my techie son, slipped into my slippers and crept into the living room. There it was: the injured remains of an attempt at time flying. Apparently, the 29” farm-style clock with a white distressed finish had enough of “stay-at-home” orders. It decided to leap from the wall and fly off into the moon glow of the night. Unfortunately, it tripped over two bottles of wine: one, my favorite, a 2017 Siduri Pinot Noir, and the other a lesser red wine, but wine none the less. I confess, I was a bit angry with the clock. Though it lay there crippled with its hands clutching its bashed face and broken glass scattered, I was more concerned at the fatality of the wine. THE WINE! We are in a monumental, historic time of global crisis with limited trips to the stores and the clock took out not one, but two soldiers of contemplation. Time I’m not concerned about; as of late it seems to drone on, but the wine, oh the wine, it is a commodity not to be wasted!
Plugging in the vacuum, I cried, and then it began to wail. “This sucks,” it moaned. And it did. And it does. But here we are with the hands of time going in circles, the shards glass glistening and the red tears of Pinot Noir puddled around us. Ironic that we all have needed time. We needed rest. We needed things to slow down. And it has. Now so many of us is saying, “hurry up; let’s get this over.” And it will be over. In the meanwhile, my advice is to watch your time…it’s taking flight.
It’s mid-afternoon and my husband just handed me a large green cup filled with a warm latte. I steadied the cup gripping it with two hands and brought it to my lips. Thick foam rested on my upper lip as I slurped the coffee. Hazelnut filled my nostrils, and all was right with the world. For much of the past 12 years I have worked from home while my husband has been a remote worker since 2001. This little coffee ritual has become one of our favorite parts of the day. We both settle down at our desks and perch over our keyboards tapping out email responses or other work-related materials. We sit less than three feet apart and each vanish into our respective work worlds, while enjoying a coffee “together”. In the background, I can hear laundry being tossed around the dryer and the Roomba makes her way around the kitchen.
Does working from home allow for more productivity? In an article from Business News Daily (2019) remote workers average more than 1.4 days more per month than an office worker, accounting for more than three additional weeks of work annually. The study conducted by Airtasker, found employees who work from home lost 27 minutes daily on distractions, while office workers averaged 10 minutes longer with 37 minutes of distractions per day (Martins, 2019).
Given the advantage of cutting out a commute, a remote worker has ample time to amp up exercise and live a healthier lifestyle. However, the Airtasker study showed 29% of the remote workers to have challenges with work-life balance. For me and my husband that has not been an issue. We set work parameters, stick to schedules and establish daily goals. By focusing on tasks to be completed, we maintain a productive work-life balance.
How comfortable are you being awkward? When we begin anything new, we’re probably a bit awkward and for some people, it’s just too much to even start. But really, it’s ok. We must start somewhere and most of us are not immediately proficient. We need time to experience, experiment and fail forward. We must move from the comfort zone to grow and achieve. Many times we just have to get out of our own way and start doing. It’s the doing that is important. It builds momentum. One action leads us to another and before you know it, we’ve developed a habit. If we chose wisely, we’ve developed a good habit that builds on our success in life. So, jump in. Be awkward; it’s the path to awesomeness.