In the search of finding more joy, hope and fun this week I have surrounded myself with colour. From painting my nails, to choosing brighter foods in my diet, to spending more time looking out the window, I have sought out colour in every way I could. The results have been surprising and have changed my outlook on how I use colour.
I started out the challenge by looking at my wardrobe and making clothing choices that would bring colour into my day. On the first day I paired a bright egg yolk yellow t-shirt (which so happens to say 'Spark Joy' on the front!) and paint box blue jeans with red lipstick - was it full on? Yes. Did I feel like a clown? No. A children's TV presenter? A little bit. But this first day led to me choosing a pop of colour every day - reds and pinks, green and mustard, orange and navy. Even my usual workwear of 'take me seriously' black was changed to a bright red ensemble. I even wore bright pink to sleep in. And a surprising thing happened - not only was it more fun choosing what I would wear each day but it gave me more energy throughout the day - I only had to look down or in a mirror to see a bright joyful colour, which acted as a little pick me up.
Next on the challenge was diet - choosing foods of various colours other than beige, brown or white. The recommendation by many health practitioners specialising in nutrition is to 'eat the rainbow' as the more colours you eat, the more nutrients and antioxidants you take in and provide your body with. Plus, a colourful plate is more appetising and appealing to eat. So, I looked at the fruits and vegetables we ate and worked on increasing the variety at each meal. Breakfast was tough at first as I eat porridge or eggs most days, but with the addition of berries to my porridge and mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes to my omelette it was a welcome and tasty change. Pink salmon was served with greens and orange sweet potatoes. Our Sunday roast was joined by bright carrots from the garden and dark green kale. Even packed lunches had tomatoes, grapes and apricots thrown into the mix. Overall, planning food choices takes time, but adding the colours of the rainbow into each meal made it healthier and taste better for us all.
Whilst I haven't made any decorating changes to our house in the past week, I did look around our home and consider how I have used colour. All of our walls are white or cream and our floors are beige or wood, but every room has a colour theme to it - navy and white in the bedroom, seashell pinks and blue in the bathroom, coral pink and baby blue in the living room, dusky pink and grey in the snug with a bolder turquoise and bright pink/red in the kitchen. There is a definite theme of contrasting colours, and it dawned on me that contrast brings me joy. I used to think it was being indecisive, or contradictory, of not being stylish or put together enough, but I realised this week I have a clear love of opposites, the mismatched and complimentary colours -this is a positive, not a negative style trait and one I will embrace from now on.
From our windows at home I can see rolling Welsh hills that, at this time of year, are ever changing shades of green, yellow, orange, purple and grey. The scene is in constant ebb and flow with the weather and time of day, the light highlighting golds and greens or the mist shrouding and dampening the autumnal colours. Looking out of my windows has made me more aware of these changes and I am more accepting of the shift in seasons. In previous years autumn would come and go, and I would be surprised that the trees had shed their leaves so suddenly, whereas, in fact, it is a long process of subtle shifts, I just didn't take the time to notice it happening each day. By looking for colour I am embracing the changes it naturally brings more readily. In the garden I may have dug out the bright pink Cosmos flowers from the borders, and removed the vivid green lettuces that had gone to seed, but this has made space for other colours to come into their own. The nights are drawing in and getting darker, but this means I see our outdoor fairy lights that much earlier and for longer. A candle indoors now has a full-bodied glow, and was a welcome light when we had a power cut in the week.
When I started this challenge, as short as it has been, I thought I would get some enjoyment out of having more colour around me. I didn't realise how much deeper being consciously aware of colour would affect me and how including colour in my decisions would result in more fun, bigger smiles and a lightness in what I do day to day. Mundane choices have become purposeful and enjoyable, my decision making clearer and I have become more accepting of change. From a simple seven day experiment I have experienced how including small but consistent colourful choices makes a noticeable difference and brings joy in unexpected ways.
These are the ways in which I plan to continue choosing colour and bringing joy into my life:
Fashion & Beauty
Clothes & Accessories - choosing something colourful to wear each day, whether head to toe or simply an accessory such as a bright scarf.
Nail or lip colour - after having my nails done for the challenge, I'm going to go even bolder and brighter next time!
Hair - I keep my hair colour natural in shades of brown and blonde, but a bright headband or even hair tie will work to bring colour into my day.
Pamper - I'm not a fan of synthetic colours or glitter for bath products, but I'll certainly give a green avocado face mask a go!
Eat the rainbow - a wider variety of colour with each meal, including snacks and when eating out.
Colourful cakes & treats - even sweet treats can be more fun with colourful icing or fresh fruit added.
Smoothies & Drinks - I plan to drink turmeric tea each day, but the one thing I really want to try is a beetroot hot chocolate!
Fruit bowl - more colour and more options other than green, yellow and orange.
Throws & cushions - an easy way to change up the colours in each room and to match the seasons.
Flowers & plants - I'm going to bring even more green plants and brightly coloured flowers indoors as the weather turns colder.
Lighting & Decor - candles, lamps and fairy lights, the more the merrier!
Cups, bowls & plates - all ours are white, but I do have a colourful mug and tea pot which make me smile and brightens up my desk when working from home.
Stationary - the brighter, sparkly and bolder, the better.
Lights - fire, fairy lights and lanterns for the colder, darker months.
Rainbows - an emblem of hope and promise, they always brighten my day and make me look up.
Sunrise & sunsets - I plan to take the time to watch them unfold.
Leaves & trees - watching closely for changes to the landscape on my doorstep and get outside as often as I can to be surrounded by these changes.
Films & photos - by looking at colourful memories and pictures of natural beauty I can transport myself back to feelings of joy and fun.
Colourful crafts - bringing these into each room, especially seasonal crafts and getting the children involved in making them.
Magazines & books - leafing through favourite picture books and magazines to lift my spirits and find colour inspiration.
Share with me your uses of colour and how they make a difference to you in the comments below or on my Instagram page @iamsarahalexcarter. Also, let's spread the word and the joy - colour is something that can really make a difference, it is usually free and easy to include - share this post with someone you know who would benefit from choosing colour and joy in their lives.