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Finding rainbows in the storms of life
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A rainbow captured near Carmen Herbert's home. - photo by Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Yellow is the swatch of time I have to myself right now as I stand in front of our kitchen sink. Yellow like the sun shining in through the dirty, fingerprint stained windows. Yellow like the soft light in my kitchen as I wash a single vintage mug wrapped with butterflies and wildflowers. Yellow like the broken egg yolk and leftover French toast half-eaten by my two boys still at home with me. Yellow is happy. Yellow means Im in a good mood.

Ive always pictured time and emotions in color. Hours, days and months each have a specific pigment, a mood, all saturated in different hues. January is slate. March is chartreuse and watermelon. July is blood orange. Morning is honey, coral and tangerine. Six oclock in the evening is eggplant.

I live my life in these colorful snips of time and sometimes the shades can overwhelm me. If I feel blue, I see blue. If I feel burned out, I see ash and black and blaring white. It never stays the same for long. Colors change and sometimes, they fade or seem to disappear altogether.

Three years ago, I was hospitalized for a neurological/hemiplegic migraine which is basically a fancy way of saying mothers exhaustion. My system went through a reboot and shut down momentarily. I lost control of my limbs and speech and vision. It was terrifying. I thought that maybe Im not cut out for this. Maybe I cant do this. My body wont even let me keep trying.

Lying in an emergency room hospital bed with monitors attached to sticky discs on my skin, watching my husband rock our newborn baby and look at me with a creased forehead and dark, worried eyes awoke something in me.

Cobalt. Determination.

I called my dad, a psychiatrist, and talked about my options. I realized that the extremity of how I was living my life was not sustainable. Pitch dark. Blinding light.

I want to write to those who have stopped seeing color.

A few weeks ago we had a downpour. Rain pelted our windows and ran down my cheeks in tears. I was stuck in my own storm, and as I silently pleaded for an answer to my prayers, I heard a shout from one of my boys bedroom.

Look, Mom!

I hurried upstairs and saw my boys crowded in front of their bedroom window. The most stunning rainbow arched across the sky, right outside our home. It was so bright, the colors so vivid, it seemed like it was created just for me. A gift of hope to outshine my clouds.

You are needed! Believe that first and foremost. You have a specific light and radiance about you that no one in this world has. How are you polishing that shine? What do you need to do to get your brilliance back? Talk to someone who loves you a family member, a friend, a therapist, a doctor or your Father in Heaven. Just start talking. Open your heart to new possibilities and healing.

My life has been enhanced through making the difficult decision to take control of my mental health. Though my emotions have leveled out and the loud colors have shifted into softer neutrals, I dont feel I am missing out on any vibrant part of life. For me, this is the palate Ive been given at this point in time as I learn to paint beautiful days with placated pastels.

What side of the spectrum are you on? Decide to get up every day with a purpose. Brave, bold, red and gold.

What is your reason? Start with a prayer. I always notice a difference between days when I immediately try to stand with wobbly legs versus days when I bend them to the ground, beginning my day with a connection to heaven.

Get yourself ready for the day. Choose to be present and presentable. Put something on your to-do list, and do it. Walk outside and breathe in the air. Flowers and trees remind me that even in the dormancies of life, stunning color is still a sure part of the future. It is a sure part of your future.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come (Song of Solomon 2:11-12).

Lavender and navy and pearl close my day. Nighttime is iridescent and always makes me think of dreams and new beginnings and how fast time goes that no matter what happened today tomorrow I will wake to my citrus sun and the possibility of spring.
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