Updated: May 8
Here are 3 ways to harness color, nature, and wisdom as you emerge into Spring!
Tip 1. TURN YOUR RED TO RASPBERRY!
Did you know more than half of consumers’ first impressions are based on color alone?
And that one in 12 men is color-blind?
Colorblind: My husband Don is red/green colorblind. When he looks at something purple, the red disappears, and all he sees is blue. If you put muted red letters on sage background, he may see… nothing at all! If you’re trying to reach a male audience, like Big Brothers, think of Don. Better yet, run it by a colorblind colleague. He’ll appreciate your consideration and your piece will have more impact.
Use colorful language: No, I don’t mean swearing. Make your story vivid by replacing generic words with more sensory ones. ‘Raspberry’ is juicier than red, ‘mahogany’ glossier than brown, and ‘azure’ more celestial than blue!
The color of culture: Trying to reach a more diverse audience? Colors evoke meaning, emotion and memory. Be aware that they mean different things in different cultures. In India, brides traditionally wear red, so it represents purity and joy. In China, red means good luck, but in South Africa it’s the color of mourning. In Western countries, red may say Warning! Attention! or I Love You!
Fun Fact: Warm and hot colors may improve fundraising results!
Tip 2. HARNESS NATURE’S ENERGY
You may be sick of people telling you to go for a walk. That it will help you think more clearly, reduce stress, and improve your health. I get it. This article by Emily Delaney on the subject made me laugh out loud: I’m a Short Afternoon Walk and You’re Putting Way Too Much Pressure on Me.
You can harness the energy of spring, without becoming a nature freak.
Outside In: Get some houseplants. You’ll clean your air and it’s nice to be surrounded by living beings if you’re still in isolation. Or start an indoor herb garden to inspire your inner chef.
Pocket Parks: Discover a nearby pocket park, grab sandwiches and take a colleague to lunch. Some of my favorites in center city Philadelphia are:
St. Marks’s Episcopal Church Garden
The Mutter Museum Garden
John F. Collins Park
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (just reopened!)
Anger Management: Are you really pissed-off? Let nature be your outlet. Hacking at hedges, attacking weeds, and chopping wood are great ways to release frustration. You can feel virtuously productive while imagining your revenge on a really annoying competitor. If you’re an apartment-dweller, volunteer for your local arboretum or garden.
Tip 3. HONOR YOUR WINTERING
Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
I’d pushed myself to the breaking point, working more and more, sleeping less and less, feeling like a failure, and getting sick. I cried, I wailed, I abused the universe in general and myself in particular.
Alex, my dear, wise friend from college, listened. Quietly. Sympathetically. Until I was spent.
“You know, Val,” she said. “When it’s winter, you can’t make it be spring, no matter how hard you try. But when it’s time for spring to come, nothing you can do will stop it.”
She meant there was a time to slow down, even close down. To turn in, rest and rejuvenate until the sap within me rose again.
We’ve been wintering in more than seasonal terms. The pandemic has battered us, physically, emotionally and politically. It’s been a long dark winter for America, and we’re just emerging.
Katherine May’s book, Wintering, reminds us that the winters of our soul are barren only if we fail to learn from them.
“It often seems easier to stay in winter, burrowed down into our hibernation nests, away from the glare of the sun. But we are brave, and the new world awaits us, gleaming and green, alive with the beat of wings. And besides, we have a kind of gospel to tell now, and a duty to share it. We, who have wintered, have learned some things. We sing it out like birds. We let our voices fill the air.”
As a result of my winter of burnout, I rebalanced my life and started my consulting firm. Each client sparked my creativity in different ways. I had more time with my children and healed enough to help others. I’ve mentored dozens of young fundraisers, to guide them to fulfilling and productive careers.
Shawn Achor, one of Harvard’s most popular lecturers and author of The Happiness Advantage, has studied happiness. Surprisingly, he found that getting a better job, slimmer body, new love or fancier car does not make you happy. It’s the other way around. You get happy first to achieve a better life.
It’s time to wake-up. Cherish the wisdom you earned in winter as you come alive to the glorious color of nature in spring.
“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you… Don’t go back to sleep!
P.S. Emerge with delicacy and resilience, like these dainty snowdrops, deserving of award for gallantry.