Cows Can Be Purple

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    My grandmother was born in an ethnic neighborhood of Chicago in 1900 and had never seen a live cow growing up. In first grade her class was given cut-out farm animals and told to trace and color them. She had a cow to draw and painted it purple because she liked the color purple. The teacher ridiculed my grandmother for coloring a cow purple and exclaimed that ‘cows aren’t purple’. The teacher ripped up the cow in front of the class and told my grandmother to start over, this time painting the cow brown or black.

    Luckily for my grandmother, at age ten her best friend convinced my grandmother to take an art class with her. From there my grandmother found a deep life long passion for art. She went on to study in France and become a professional painter, and later in the 1960’s, she became a pioneer in the field of art therapy. My grandmother’s biography, written when she was in her 80’s, was called “Cows Can Be Purple”. My grandmother was able to move past the message quite clearly given to her that she should not be creative in what she drew.

    Were you ever given messages of what you can’t do? Are you still carrying around those messages? Perhaps when you were young, adults you trusted or respected squashed a dream or stifled your ideas. You may know people who have had their dreams stepped on or who put a box around their ambitions because it wasn’t accepted by others. Too many times we carry those messages of what we can’t do with us for years, never examining or questioning whether they are true for us or not. What a waste of potential talent, energy, and joy.

    I will write several blogs about the self-limiting beliefs we carry and how those hold us back from fully living and being true to our passions and purpose. For now I want to invite you to step into the potential that awaits you. What possibilities are there that you’ve been waiting to explore?

    Here are some suggestions for looking at the world through the lens of potential and possibility. First, challenge your mental framework by asking yourself – What If?

    * What if I didn’t buy into a self-limiting belief about myself –that I’m unmotivated, not smart enough, unloved etc.

    * What if I stopped seeking other people’s approval or stopped worrying about disappointing others?

    * What if I was infinitely supported by the Universe to follow my soul’s calling?

    * What if I believed I was talented, loved, lovable, creative? How would I live if that were so?

    Try these questions out for a while and see what bubbles up for you. Maybe you’ll hear that inner calling to try something that you’ve been thinking of doing for some time. Perhaps you’ll feel the nudge that’s been pushing you to step out a bit farther into the unknown. See if there are things rumbling in your soul that you feel you need to discover. Answer these questions and sit with what stirs for you.

    I leave you these words from the poet Rumi:

    Be melting snow, wash yourself of yourself.

    A white flower grows in the quietness,

    Let your tongue become that flower.


    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.