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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ariana and the purple crayon

About two years ago I attended a conference on poetics on Prince Edward Island. The conference was attended by incredibly talented people from all over the world. One of them was a great woman by the name of Daniela. I cannot recall her last name right now. Daniela was from Bulgaria, but her parents had moved to Africa to work as agriculturalists when she was a child. She was living in British Columbia, and finishing her PhD. There were many things about Daniela that intrigued me, but the thing that has stayed with me is a creative exercise that she encouraged all the participants to do during their free time between sessions.

Apparently there is a cartoon called Harold and the purple crayon. Harold has a purple crayon, and with this crayon he can draw anything he likes, and whatever he draws will come to life, and he can step into the reality of his drawing. Pretty cool, eh? I thought so, anyway. I had never heard of Harold before Daniela handed out her pile of purple crayons (can you imagine the crazy kind of creativity that must exist in the mind of a woman who carries boxes of purple crayons around with her?) and challenged everyone in the room to take a few minutes to draw the reality that we wanted to be living, as a means of bringing our dream to fruition. I have to admit that I did not take the time to do the drawing at the time. I was too preoccupied with talking to someone about something that I do not remember now at all. But the purple crayon made an impression on me. So much so that when I packed up and drove across the continent last spring, I brought the purple crayon with me.

I was cleaning my room last week, and I came across the purple crayon. I have been immersed in job application after job application lately, and am starting to feel rather discouraged about the whole process, and even wishing on and off that I had never left Canada, so finding the crayon when I did made me smile. I was in the middle of doing something at the time, but I set it on my writing desk where I would see it every day. Over the past week I have been working very hard at my job applications, but I look up every now and then, and catch a glimpse of the purple crayon out of the corner of my eye, beckoning me. So last night, feeling exhausted and tired of staring at my computer screen, I decided it was time to unplug and spend some time with my journal and the purple crayon.

I drew my dream house -- a renovated old stone house in the Mediterranean. I drew the amazing vegetable garden that I am going to have, and the balcony with a grapevine over it, and the roses that will climb up to my veranda from the garden below. I drew the cat that I want to have some day, lounging in the garden, my fruit, nut, olive and carob orchard, and my gigantic trampoline that I have wanted ever since I was a child and never had a yard large enough to get, and a glass greenhouse that I intend to sit in and read books in the sunshine. I drew the sun streaming down on me, the beach just down from my home, and the Mediterranean Sea. I drew two chairs sitting right where the waves break on the beach: one for me, and one for the partner that I hope to have some day. I even added some birds overhead for good measure. When I finished I felt.....happy. Lighthearted and happy. I know I may well be years away from this dream, but the exercise helped me to visualize what I think I want at this point in my life. They say that visualizing what you want helps move you towards achieving it, so I figure I am on my way. I enjoyed the process so much that I wondered why I had waited so long to pick that crayon up.

When was the last time you took some time for yourself, away from all the crazy electronic devices that seem to rule our lives nowadays, sat down, and drew your dream? If you give this a try and feel like sharing your image, or a story about your image, I would really love to hear from you (either by email or in the comments section below). 

Happy drawing, people. And have a great Thursday!


  1. Hi Ariana,

    What a wonderful post!!! I can picture you in your lovely mediteranean home, and look forward to spending some quality creative time with you there!!

    By the way, the woman's full name is Daniela Elza, and she recently finished her PHD. She also self-published a book called The Book of It, that you can get on Amazon.com. I have yet to read it, but am hoping to.Knowing Daniela, who is also a published poet, it will be a creative thrill to savour.

    I'm sure she would also love to read about your experience with the crayon.

    I will send this post to her, if you don't mind.

    And one more thing...over the past few weeks, inspired by a client who I am currently mentoring, I have started a collage journal.

    So when I come into my studio, and before I turn on the computer, I open to a fresh page and cut out some new images and words from magazines (or use old ones that I have gathered in a folder)and create a collage about how am I feeling, or what I am dreaming into in that moment. I too feel happy when I do it.

    Thanks for sharing your happiness,



  2. Thank you for posting her last name. I could not find the slip of paper that she wrote it down on! The collage journal sounds like great fun! Great for processing and growing, and also great to look back at and track the ideas and images that you moved through over the past year. Thank you for sharing your "purple crayon" experience. xox

  3. Thanks for your post, Ariana. I am very touched with the story you told.
    If we do not take time to outline and draw where we are headed, how can we make this life our own?

    Your dream could very well be my own. Just when I was thinking of growing a vine on my roof top. Imagining sitting under its green shade and remembering home. Just when a neighbour out of the blue gave me a fig sapling. The house I was born in was surrounded by figs.

    So far so good.
    Now it is my turn to draw...