so not that anyone is paying me to publish this, but it's worth a shot.
“I Wonder If You Use Them?”
By Stephanie Alaine Tabb
I pulled out my watercolors last week because I needed some inspiration. I needed to add some color to these drab winter ways. They are on the way out, I frequently remind myself, but I want to infuse my life with color this year from the inside out. Habitually I am focused on making it look good on the surface, when I know for certain that what you see is often what matters the least. We forget that plants and trees brave winter’s harsh weather and come effortlessly into full bloom when spring arrives. I am reminded that winter is the season of preparation, a season that should provide the time to rest and rejuvenate. This is time we will need as we embark upon new adventures in the spring.
The watercolors and I were set up as a team to combat the rigid, gray day. It was early morning, as it often is when we find time for sacred self-discovery. As I splashed and played with the paint, my creation took the shape of wings on the page before me. I had no intention of drawing wings; my only intention was to give myself something I knew I could count on to lift me up during these last weeks of winter. Though I admit I have recently become obsessed with hearts with wings, what became of those colors on that paper was changing for my cold winter heart.
It was in doing this watercolor project that I realized that we are no less whole because we experience both the peaks and the valleys of existence. We learn about ourselves and those we love by going to the heights and the depths. The straight and the meandering places of our lives make up our whole selves. Embrace them, we must, or live a rigorous life of trying to smooth them out. It is only natural to feel the way you do, the way I do. Adventure awaits you, right where you are. It is perfectly good to crave meaning in the unconventional forms in which we desire it.
I grew, with each stroke of the paintbrush, magenta colored wings, with solid brown barbs and purple flight feathers. I added bright gold accents, and made an effort to add some glitter to enhance the page that lay before me. The finished product, a pair of bright wings, hangs before me now, on my board of inspiration. They serve as a reminder of the adventures I long for. The caption I added to the paper just before I set it aside to dry is this:
“I wonder if you use them?”
I wonder: when did your last adventure take place? When was the most recent time you sat down and visited a dream of yours? When was the last time you conjured up the courage for a feat that you could only imagine? I know, hypothetical questions, but they all come from a place of discovery. This is true: challenges grow us, from the inside out. We call to arms the true colors of our being, the ones that have come to blossom within us despite the harsh seasons of life. My adventure took the shape of wings supporting this flesh heart beneath my breast.
My most recent adventure involves the inevitable: love. I fell in love just before I was planning to move. I had quit both my jobs, packed my boxes, said my goodbyes, and was headed home for the holidays. Then, out of nowhere enters into my life a bearded man with a soft glow, sweet character, a wrecking smile, and a plaid soul. His heart softened and embraced my own, which is often referred to as being “made of stone.” I felt, for the first time in my life, loved, and I couldn’t go. But I still tried.
Despite my best efforts to summon myself on towards yet another independent adventure, I found myself feeling like my heart had weakened from within. I felt no strength while I attempted to flee these feelings of love. My independent “adventure” only lasted for about ten days, and they were some of the most emotionally challenging days I’ve experienced. So I did the craziest thing I could’ve imagined: I stayed. And though I never imagined I could say it: Staying became my adventure. We celebrated my “staying” week by drinking grower’s champagne and talking about the inevitable, my heart with wings.
Now, it is certain, the color is springing forth. Spring is almost here, and I believe you can see it in my cheeks, mostly because within I am fully in bloom. I desire to spend my time being made more alive in great company. I love that moment in life when you look over your shoulder & see a face that is changing your life. I love knowing I am using my wings, and the full rainbow of their potential, even if they are simply resting at the sides of my beating heart.