It is rare that I become mesmerized, but recently right at my desk, I did. Secrets revealed!
I am well aware my humility strength is taking a back seat in this blog, You are going to get a detailed glimpse inside my strengths psyche. Welcome in! We coaches love to share our strengths stories, right?
How many times have you sat down to your computer, your brain on full alert to accomplish good work, only you find a tech snafu? Maybe a Microsoft update screwed things up. Or a dreaded empty blue screen menaced your moment. Grumble time for me, as if that does fixes anything.
The “computer won’t open” mess greeted me today as I was gungho to hit the keyboard. OK, time to practice what I preach. To stretch my patience/perseverance strength. I always joke, humor strength in tow, that when God handed out patience, I was out of the my office eating a hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge!
“Take a deep breathe, Judy,” I reminded myself. “What else can you do while waiting for the computer to drink her green juice and bless you with a ready-for-action screen?”
I began to look around at my desk. That was stressful. Too much stuff. Too many demand characteristics. So I looked up. Aha! An angel came to sit on my shoulder. Maybe Mom came down from Heaven for a visit. Yellow was one of her favorite colors. Turquoise is mine.
And that is what first caught my eye. I adored yellow lady painting. “Ms. Yellow”, I call her.
I began to muse as I gazed upon her stoic stance. Yes, I loved my small, and greatly treasured, 12″ by 14″ painting by artist Morelos. Curious at myself, I admitted I had never really studied her. Never been truly awake and aware of her many specific lovely features. I just knew in general every moment I gazed upon her, she warmed my heart. Perched just above my computer, I looked at her every day. But did I appreciate her enough? Honestly, had I meaningfully appreciated her fascinating brush strokes? Nope!
I began to give her my 100% attention. “WHY DO I LOVE YOU?” I mused.
Aha! My “go to positive psychology coaching gifts” bubbled up into my joyfully receptive brain. I would see what STRENGTHS she portrayed. And how did her strengths relate to me? A Strengths Rorschach. How fun! My mood was uplifted as soon as I began my interesting adventure. I noticed my impatience was gone, and I was smiling. I stood up to get up close and personal with her.
But I need to tell you her backstory. You know me and backstories. I love knowing the why’s. Maybe it is the psychologist and coach in me. And “Aha experiences are smile-makers.
I love art. Appreciation of beauty and excellence is my #1 strength. I tease myself and exclaim , “Art done right!” like there is such a thing. Humbly, I would have loved to have been an artist. Trouble was, I was too compulsive, insecure, and I also lacked that necessary element, talent.
At age sixteen, I was blessed to understand God had another plan for me. In all honesty, at age sixteen, I had an epiphany. While taking a course at the University of Delaware. I knew after visiting an experimental psychology lab, I was going to be a psychologist! Later on I realized the artistry in my careers as psychologist and coach, and I am eternally grateful.
But back to Ms. Yellow and our condo capers. We unexpectedly bought our totally empty condo in Puerto Vallarta, MX,13 years ago. We had planned to use it as an investment re- sell it, but life morphed. We happily decided we needed and wanted to keep it. Yes we were kind to ourselves.
Most people might think first of the furniture they needed to buy to make this condo livable. I did think of that, but simultaneously, I wondered about the art I would discover to fill up these gorgeous, welcoming sun-lit spaces. We open the door to our condo and immediately gaze upon our sparkling bay and the shiny aqua blue Pacific off in the horizon. So many beautiful blue hues blasting me to joy. I still remember my jaw-dropping reaction the first time I walked through our condo’s huge, dark, Brazilian wood door. I still cherish that moment. It kindly brings out all my positive emotions singing in a positivity chorus!
It took several years to accomplish my joyful feat to “art-up” our place.
But, oh, was it was worth the patience! Art is worth patience. And the perseverance to scout out and buy the art you love… art that makes your creative heart sing. That said, sometimes I let my zest run the show. But not with art! Self-regulation was important and surely not my strong suit! Knowing Ken and I would enjoy this art for the rest of our days helped my judgement, prudence, and critical thinking strengths take precedent over my glee.
I was hopeful every time I walked into an art gallery. I had to use humor in a new way. Sometimes I harnessed it to help me reign myself in before making a big decision. Like imagining myself a starving waif begging, if I spent too much money. Or the vision of Ken having a heart attack when he spied the price tag and keeled over! Black humor, but it worked. To be totally honest twice I let loose. These are my two favorite large paintings. But the tiny wonder of the Ms. Yellow painting that is a different kind of important to me. Wait till you hear her mind-expanding story!
After two years visiting every major art gallery in Vallarta, and there are terrific galleries here, I realized I had gone back several times to gander at a huge delightful daisy painting from Mexico’s premier artist, Bella Rish. I had no idea at the time who she was, but I fell in love with her work. I caught myself feeling happiness and other positive emotions whenever I savored those daisies, my favorite flower. Kicker was not the painting, but the price tag. I think the gallery curator got tired of seeing me walk in and stand staring. Smart man. He brought in another one of her masterpieces, also daisies. Talk about a decision fatigue dilemma. But at least now I knew I wanted one of them.
Life is decisions.
If I bought this daisy darling painting, I would need to wait to get more art later when my coffers were refilled. I was willing to delay gratification. Yup. I negotiated the price down a tad. I felt elation when I knew they were going to deliver this gem and hang it for me. I was also grateful Ken was accepting, not excited as I was, but he was happy because I was happy. A win win! What a guy I appreciate so much!
As I was blissfully walking on rarefied artist air leaving the gallery, joyful as I pig in slop, I spied another wonder. The little mini yellow lady painting had been there all along, but I had not noticed her. I still remember she was $90. You never know unless you ask. I wanted her. REALLY wanted her. I went back to the curator. I gushed over this gem. I marveled at the unique strokes of her. My courage strength erupted. I kindly but brazenly asked the curator if he would “throw this painting in” with my pricey Bella Rish deal, He paused and smiled. Then he replied, “I will wrap it up for you as my gift!”.Again, you never know unless you ask. And he knew I would be back to his gallery! Lucky me!
You see my petite yellow lady in the photo here. She is noteworthy for another reason other than her understated beauty. Almost none of my paintings have people as the star. I am a landscape and flower gal. Maybe it is because I see/hear people all day long. I love the serenity of nature, especially the beach. That no doubt hearkens back to my upbringing a few miles from the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It was safe and on many beaches back then, no one to be seen for miles. I would collect seashells in total flow for hours at a crack. Perfection for me then and still is.
Back to the back story….yes again. My ADD ramblings are getting the best of me today, but I hope you are following me…My story about “Ms Yellow Lady Freebie Painting” is a smile-maker if I do say so myself. You have seen how it applies to MY strengths. Let’s see now how it applies to YOURS.
While I was waiting for my computer to re-boot and to get with the program (pun intended), I decided to do some strengths spotting in addition to some peaceful self-analysis. This is not a positive psychology interventions, as it is not scientific. I chose this fun strength spotting exercise because my curiosity strength held court that day my computer jinxed my work efforts. What did I do?
I stood up and really studied Ms Yellow’s enchanting essence. Relaxed and mesmerized by her details, I queried myself and her visage.
I asked myself these questions to help me unlock her sweet secrets:
- Why do I love you and how do you speak to me?
- What do you represent within me?
- What strengths do I notice in you?
- What strengths do we share?
- How do you energize my strengths and positive emotions, especially gratitude, joy, and curiosity?
This pondering was a labor of love. It was a mindful “using strengths in a new way” strengths savoring soiree. At least for me, a very unique way to open-mindedly explore my strengths with awe. Yes, another positive emotion.
Time flew by. Later I realized I’d been in free-falling fun flow. My breathing was slow as I was surrounded by appreciative art awareness. And I caught myself smiling.
What strengths and insights did I savor?
(In italics for your ease in spotting strengths)
Here’s where the cool stuff opened the curtains of my personal awareness and powerful identification with her presence. My projections. Yours may be very different. Cool!:
~ She needs and enjoys her solitude.
Her precious alone time. She loves her tribe, but the wilderness adventure engendering soulful mindfulness is her nirvana.
~ Her face is hidden. She is at peace. She is her own person.
She listens to her heart, head and soul and loves what she learns. She is spiritually connected in her vast welcoming world. She is grateful to be on the top of the hill surveying all that is beautiful, especially the yellow daisies she spots interspersed in the green grasses waving at her from the grazing grounds below. I know you can’t see the daisies…but they are there.
~ She is thoughtfully pondering the grace that blesses her life.
Perhaps she is also humbly stopping to sort through an issue. Why? The wind is at her back. Her top and skirt are dancing in the warm breezes, yet she stands tall, erect, and sure of herself. She is wisely brave. Rather than fight the wind, she savors it’s nuance and lets herself be moved when she chooses to. She takes the opportunity to delight in the wind’s challenge as well as its warmth. With even greater awareness, she notices more smaller wild flowers. Pink posies and reddish-orange paintbrush blossoms bend with the wind in the far many-hued blue-skied distance. She thoughtfully perseveres to notice her stunning world. Think she’s in flow?
~ The yellow in her dress reminds her of sunshine joyfully shining on her face.
Of her abundance and having enough. Sunny days to share and savor. And yellow flowers to reflect the sunniness in her composure. She notices her social and emotional intelligence, despite her solitary stance. She loves her tribe and their teamwork. She appreciates her fearless leaders, those who mirror forgiveness, prudence, good judgment, fairness, and perspective. She knows their next move upward to the snow-covered mountain will be arduous, but she smiles at another new beginning. She joyfully visions the long-needled and Scotch pines ready to greet her and her tribe.
~ She is focused.
Her serenity energizes her. She happily gazes into her future, and she also savors her past. She muses in the now of her present moment, too. The love of her family, her bountiful harvests, and her gritty ability to take on the opportunity to flourish, especially when the winds of life and the tides of her times challenge her pluck. She is woman! Proud yet humble. Motivated yet subdued by her own volition when she chooses peace. Self-care leads her to resilience and wellness. She is quietly aware of this and gratefully thanks her universe.
~ Studying her closely, it came to me that she may be standing on water, not terra firma.
Hmmm…interesting thought. Maybe there are days she needs to pray to have the strengths and gritty resistance to do the impossible. To use her self-regulation strength and courage. And she does. Wow!
OK, how about you? Did you enjoy this positive psychology “Strengths Rorschach”? Did you spot other strengths? And other positive emotions? What did you notice about YOURSELF when you study Ms Yellow’s persona?
Now you know maybe more about me that you need or want to know about WHY I love this tiny painting with the very big meaning. At least for me.
Challenge: My Coaching Exercise in Positive Psychology Strengths Spotting:
- Pick a very meaningful peace of art. A sculpture, mosaic, charcoal, ceramic, flowering plant, painting, or any art you cherish.
- Study it in calmness, curiosity, flexibility, and open-mindedness.
- Let yourself sink into the art. Be absorbed. If you are lucky, flow will guide you along as you let yourself go.
- No critical judgment on what bubbles up. Yes, judgment is a strength, but not always. You cannot get this wrong. Even if negative emotions surface, let me arise. Observe them with peaceful interest and fascination. Negative emotions can be very valuable learning tools if you accept their input.
- See which ones of YOUR strengths are at work or play or action. How are they serving you? Or might serve you even more?
- This is not a race to get all 24 strengths. No big deal how many strengths you notice. However, it may be fun for you to list your strengths as they arise or after you connect with your art. No need to count them unless you want to.
- Did your top five strengths light your fires first? Or perhaps some lesser used strengths may have surprised you. How fun and curious to notice.
Hope this exercise was as fun for you as it was for me. I loved the surprises like thinking Ms. Yellow might be walking on water. Creativity is one remarkable, powerful strength, huh? And art is never right or wrong nor concrete, as least in my book!
If you are a coach, perhaps ask your clients if they are interested in this eye-opening strength spotting exercise. An easy and enjoyable love of learning treat for them to power up their spiral of positivity!
Also, did you notice I italicized the 24 strengths? Did you spot them all? I had no plan to use all 24 VIA strengths, they all just morphed! How kind of them and what a loving gift.
Do you remember I wrote a fun photo book on traveling with your strengths, Photo Adventures in Cuba ~ Unlock Your Power of Positivity? Grab a copy for yourself or a friend if you want to see 126 colorful strengths photos and 24 strengths stories on how the Cubans use their strengths despite their adversity and challenges.Yes they have hope, persevering grit, and big gratitude.Thanks!