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  • gretchenrubin 12:00:28 on 2017/12/21 Permalink
    Tags: color, , Melissa Nicholson   

    Agree? “I Can’t Be the Only One Who Wants to Wear Color in Wintertime.” 

    Interview: Melissa Nicholson.

    The other day I posted about my color adventure in London: getting my colors analyzed. I'm doing everything I can think of to feed my obsession with color. I'm trying to follow that interest anywhere it leads, as a way to get myself to do the novel and challenging things that I know boost happiness.

    In the process, I had a such an interesting conversation with Melissa Nicholson that I asked her to do an interview. She's the founder of Kettlewell, a clothing company that makes clothes based on color analysis, and that reflects her own conviction that color can be a major driver of happiness, energy, and self-presentation.

    She had many fascinating observations and insights into the subject of color -- and also happiness, habits, and self-knowledge. For one thing, she has "perfect pitch" for color -- she can look at a color, and later in the day, exactly recall its hue. I can't imagine having that kind of memory for color.

    (She's British, as you will see from her spelling of color.)

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit or activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Melissa: Getting everyone together and dining with friends and family. It could be a Sunday roast at home or dinner out at a new restaurant. Nothing makes me happier.

    Gretchen: What’s something you know now about building healthy habits or happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

    Melissa: When I was younger I was quite sensitive and easily hurt. Nowadays I don’t worry so much about what people think. I try to find the strengths in people, accept them for who they are, and work with them rather than have expectations that just can’t be met. I find you get a better response from people that way.

    Gretchen: Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    Melissa: I tend to replay situations in my head – conversations I’ve had with people, things that have been said. I can be quite overenthusiastic and worry that, on reflection, I’ve shared too much.

    Gretchen: Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

    Melissa: I start each day with 15 minutes of Pilates. It started after a bout of pneumonia to help with my breathing, and it has now become a part of my daily routine, making me more focused and ready to face the day. I also make sure I drink a large glass of water as soon as I wake up. It’s one of the easiest, quickest things you can do for your health.

    Gretchen: Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    Melissa: When I was ill I discovered I had an intolerance to wheat, so I resolved to cut it out of my diet. Consequently, I have less bloating and far fewer colds and weight fluctuations.

    Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    Melissa: I’m an Obliger. I like collaboration; I feed off other people. I’m very much a team player.

    Gretchen: Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

    Melissa: One cold December day, 15 years ago, I was out clothes shopping in London, trying to find something to wear to a Christmas party, and all I could find was black. Having recently had my colours analysed, I suddenly thought, “I can’t be the only one who wants to wear colour in the wintertime,” and went back and told my husband John that I had an idea for a new business. A year later we had moved the family out of London and set up Kettlewell Colours in the West Country.

    Gretchen: Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”) Or a quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful? Or a particular book that has stayed with you?

    Melissa: Coco Chanel once said: “The best colour in the world is the colour that looks good on you.” I stand by that motto. It underpins everything we do at Kettlewell: we provide the colour choice to enable people to discover their true colours.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:38:24 on 2017/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: , color, , , ,   

    Beautiful Color! Coral and Apple-Green and Lavender and Faint Orange, and Indian Blue. 

    From F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby:

    Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.

    “I’ve got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall.”

    He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft rich heap mounted higher — shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange, and monograms of Indian blue. Suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily.

    “They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.”

    As soon as I started writing about color, I looked up this passage from The Great Gatsby. It's one of my favorite passages about color.

    The question, of course, is -- why is Daisy crying?

    If you know any other beautiful passages describing color, please let me know. Color obsession continues!

     
  • gretchenrubin 13:15:01 on 2017/12/10 Permalink
    Tags: , color, Edna St. Vincent Millay, ,   

    Ever Get the Feeling that You Just Can’t Contain the Beauty of the World? 

    O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
       Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
       Thy mists, that roll and rise!
    Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
    And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
    To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
    World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
    Long have I known a glory in it all,
             But never knew I this;
             Here such a passion is
    As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
    Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
    My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
    No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
    -- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "God's World"
     
  • gretchenrubin 11:00:01 on 2017/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , color, ,   

    My London Color Adventure, Part II — Getting My “Color Season” Analyzed. 

    The other day, I wrote about my decision to have color adventures while I was visiting London.

    Before I left New York City, I'd made a plan to visit the Lycurgus Cup in the British Museum.

    As reluctant as I usually am to have spontaneous adventures (Upholder), I did have an unplanned color adventure during my visit.

    I got the idea for this adventure from the brilliant journalist Hannah Betts. Talking to Hannah was a fantastic experience, because she's so funny and thought-provoking, and because she knows my work so well. She's a Rebel who has embraced her Tendency in a big way, with great results -- it was very fun (and gratifying) for me to hear about her experiences.

    It turns out that Hannah is also very interested in color, and she convinced me to get my colors analyzed, to discover my "season." You can read her piece about this kind of color analysis here, "What Clothes Season Are You? Are you spring or winter? The 1980s trend of getting your ‘colours’ done is proving a hit with a new generation."

    I'm not very good about making spontaneous plans, or adding new items to an already crowded to-do list, but I thought, "This is a color adventure! I should do it!" She made it easy by telling me exactly how to go about it.

    So I made an appointment with Red Leopard and consultant Ilka Dunn did the color analysis. Spoiler alert: I'm an "Autumn."

    While I was there, I also met Melissa Nicholson, who has a clothing line, Kettlewell, where she creates clothes featuring that reflect this color system.

    It was fascinating to think about color in a new way, and also talk to two people who are as passionate about color as I am. Since I started getting interested in color, I've been surprised to learn that there are many more fellow color-obsessives out there than I thought.

    Talking to these two also made something clear to me about myself: Ilka and Melissa were both highly visual, while I'm not visual at all. One reason I'm drawn to the study of color is that it helps me to key into the visual world, which is a practice that doesn't come naturally to me. But I have to approach color through words -- that's why I'm writing a little book about color! I can only see it by reading and writing about it.

    Are you good at having adventures when you travel?

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:00:06 on 2017/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: , color, ,   

    My London Color Adventure, Part I — the Lycurgus Cup in the British Museum. 

    I'm in London to promote my book The Four Tendencies, and to make my explorations of London even more fun, I decided to have some color-related adventures while I'm here.

    Now why color?

    I spend most of my time reflecting and writing on human nature -- happiness, habits, the Four Tendencies, and so on. But I've e also developed an obsession with the subject of color. My interest in color has become so strong that I'm even going to try to write a little book about color, My Color Pilgrimage.

    Yesterday, I went to the British Museum for the first time -- how had I never been before? And I was able to see for myself the astonishing Lycurgus Cup.

    Most likely, this Roman cup dates from 4th century A.D., and it shows King Lycurgus of Thrace entangled in grapevines, for crimes against Dionysus.

    The cup is extraordinary because it has very unusual color properties: it's the only complete example of "dichroic" glass, which changes color when held up to light.

    When the light is seen in normal light, it looks opaque green. But when light shines through it, it turns red.

    The cup is exhibited with a light that slowly turns on and off, so I could watch the cup turn from brownish-green to red and back again. It's breath-taking.

    Apparently, even though the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s, scientists couldn't figure out how the color change occurred until the 1990s.

    It made me very happy to see the cup itself, and it also made me happy to have a little mission to give shape to my visit. I wasn't just walking around the museum, I was in search of Gallery 41 and the cup. It was also fun to see with my own eyes an object that I'd read about.

    Have you found ways to make visiting a new city more fun?

     
  • gretchenrubin 16:33:13 on 2017/10/26 Permalink
    Tags: , color   

    Agree? “I Work Best in the Mornings…But Sometimes Getting Out of Bed Is Just Too Difficult.” 

    Interview: Kassia St. Clair.

    As I may have mentioned a few times, I've become obsessed with the subject of color. A gorgeous, brilliant, fascinating subject.

    Although I didn't know this until my obsession took root, there's a rich literature on the subject of color. I'm slowly working my way through any book I can find, and one of my favorite color books is one that's brand new: Kassia St. Clair's The Secret Lives of Color. In it, Kassia tells the story of seventy-five different colors -- and it's a beautiful book to look at and hold.

    I thought it would be fun to interview her here.

    Gretchen: What’s a simple habit or activity that consistently makes you happier?

    Kassia: Walking my dog in the park every morning. I'm lucky enough to live within ten minutes of two quite large ones, Brockwell and Dulwich Parks in London.

    Gretchen: You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you – or your readers -- most?

    Kassia: I think the story of mummy brown is one of the most fascinating and repelling. It seems so barbaric that for centuries mummified human remains were being dug up, traded to wealthy Europeans, and then ground down to a powder to be used either as medicine or a dark, bituminous pigment. What makes this story even more surprising is just how recently this was still considered perfectly normal. A paint manufacturer complained to Time magazine in the 1960s that while they "might have a few odd limbs lying about," they had finally run out of body parts large enough to make pigment from, and couldn't get any more. In 'The Secret Lives of Color', the hero of the piece is the Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones, who for a long time was completely unaware that mummy brown was, in fact, made of mummies. He learned the secret at a Sunday lunch one day, and was horrified. He immediate pushed back his chair, ran up to get his mummy brown paint tubes, and insisted on giving them a decent burial in his garden.

    Gretchen: Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

    Kassia:  Hitting the snooze button. I work best in the mornings and revel in the feeling of those productive hours, but sometimes getting out of bed is just too difficult.

    Gretchen: Which habits are most important to you? (for health, for creativity, for productivity, for leisure, etc.)

    Kassia:  Sharing my troubles with my husband and seeking his advice. No matter how large or small the problem, talking it through with him puts things into perspective: issues that had seemed so knotty and forbidding melt away like butter in a pan.

    Reading is also hugely important to me and always has been. It's a problem I'm working on at the moment, actually. I've always been a voracious reader, but ever since going freelance, writing full time and reading for work for large portions of each day, I've found taking the time to read for pleasure incredibly difficult. What I need to do is carve out a quotidian half hour, perhaps before bed or while eating my lunch, and have a strict friend hold me to account.

    Gretchen: Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

    Kassia: Because of the way the publishing schedule worked when I first got my book deal, I had to write The Secret Lives of Color very quickly, in under six months. I'm pretty good with deadlines, but I was working full time at The Economist during this period, so in order to meet the deadline I was getting up at five in the morning, writing until seven thirty, then having a shower and going to work for a full day before coming home and writing for a few more hours each evening. This certainly wasn't very healthy: once the book was handed in I vowed to make a lot more time for friends, family and fun. This was, in part, my motivation for going freelance.

    Gretchen: Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

    Kassia: I think I'm an Obliger. Although I'd create my own sub-category (if that's allowed) and say I'm a cyclical Obliger-Upholder. I find personal goals relatively easy to keep up without external obligations for months at a time, but sooner or later something will give way or the routine will break, and then I'll find it difficult to get back on track. [Note Kassia's comment above that she needs "a strict friend to hold me to account" for reading. Yes! Obliger!]

    Gretchen: Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits? (e.g. travel, parties)

    Kassia: Anything that breaks my routine: holidays, illness, moving house.

    Gretchen: Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

    Kassia: Not a permanent change, no.

    Gretchen: Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”) Or a quotation that has struck you as particularly insightful? Or a particular book that has stayed with you?

    Kassia: A few years ago, when I was having problems with a boss who seemed to delight in making my life a misery, a very good friend told me that there's only one rule that everyone in this world should live by. She too was navigating around some tricky personalities in her office, and was by turns furious with them for being so difficult and grimly determined to lead by example. That rule, she said, could be summed up in four words: Don't be a dick. Her advice has definitely stayed with me!

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:20:19 on 2017/07/23 Permalink
    Tags: color, , , , , William Hazlitt   

    “The Colour of the Leaves in Autumn Would Be Nothing Without the Feeling that Accompanies It.” 

    “The colour of the leaves in autumn would be nothing without the feeling that accompanies it.”

    –William Hazlitt, “The Indian Jugglers” in Selected Writings

    My color obsession continues. I see colors — and references to colors — everywhere. What a beautiful preoccupation!

    Is there a place in your life where seeing a certain set of colors inspires certain emotions? For instance, the colors of the ocean, or the color scheme of your childhood kitchen?

     

     

    The post “The Colour of the Leaves in Autumn Would Be Nothing Without the Feeling that Accompanies It.” appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 19:08:38 on 2017/05/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , color, , , , ,   

    A Little Happier: We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time. 

    As a parent, it’s very tempting to try to prod our children into useful or enriching activities: play chess, practice piano, play tennis.

    But sometimes children want to do things that might look like a big waste of time—and when my children are doing that, I remind myself of the many examples I’ve heard of, where what looked like “wasted time” to an adult ended up being very useful to that child, later in life.

    Because of my current obsession with color, I was reading a book called How to Decorate put out by Farrow & Ball, a well-known maker of paints and wallpapers.

    This passage I read is from Joa Studholme, who is part of Farrow & Ball’s creative team.

    “I had no formal training. I am Farrow & Ball homegrown, nurtured by an astonishing group of people. However, as a child, I did spend an inordinate amount of time rearranging my set of Caran d’Ache crayons to see how different colour combinations worked. My dolls’ house was constantly redecorated and I was always experimenting with colour, painting my ceiling bright yellow to try to fill the room with sunlight or creating cosy spaces in cupboards by painting them dark.”

    As a child, did you do something that adults dismissed as “a waste of time” that proved to be no waste? Or have you seen that phenomenon in children you know?

     

    Check out Smith and Noble, the solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and free in-home or on-phone design consultations and free professional measuring.

    Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

     

     Happier listening!

    The post A Little Happier: We Don’t Always Know When Children Are Wasting Their Time. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 11:19:49 on 2017/04/16 Permalink
    Tags: color, , , , , , , Simone de Beauvoir   

    Without You, There is No Copper-Red of the Beech to Set Against the Blue of the Cedar. 

    “I became unique and I felt I was needed: my own eyes were needed in order that the copper-red of the beech could be set against the blue of the cedar and the silver of the poplars. When I went away, the landscape fell to pieces, and no longer existed for anyone; it no longer existed at all.”

    –Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

    Does color exist when no one is there to see it? No. A beautiful realization.

    The post Without You, There is No Copper-Red of the Beech to Set Against the Blue of the Cedar. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • gretchenrubin 17:55:57 on 2017/03/28 Permalink
    Tags: , color, , coloring book, , , , , , ,   

    Announcing My New Happiness Project Coloring Book! Do You Love to Color? 

    Coloring book by Gretchen Rubin

    As I may have mentioned once or twice, I’ve become obsessed with the subject of color — and I’m also a big fan of coloring.

    So I was thrilled to get the chance to design my own coloring book, which goes on sale today: The Happiness Project Mini Posters: A Coloring Book of 20 Hand-Lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame.

    Click here to get a peek inside the pages and learn about a special giveaway from my publisher. (Winner will be chosen April 4.)

    I had so much fun working with the artist on the design for the pages, and choosing the quotations to include.

    I’m not the only grown-up who still enjoys coloring — more and more adults are returning to the coloring books they loved as children. Great idea! Coloring boosts happiness for many reasons.

    Coloring is calming, even meditative. The activity of coloring helps to focus the mind and rest the body in a constructive, creative way. In my coloring book, I hope that the quotations, too, will inspire quiet reflection.

    Coloring is very satisfying, because there’s a special pleasure in doing things with our hands. Very often these days, we’re sitting behind screens and living in our heads. Like activities such as knitting or tying flies or walking, coloring allows us to connect with the physical world, in the present moment. And there’s something about the repetitive, wordless nature of the work that boosts creativity and energy.

    Coloring is a great activity to do with other people. Research shows that a secret—probably the secret—to happiness is strong connections with other people. Coloring is fun to do with other people. It’s companionable, and allows for conversation, and at the same time, gives a sense of shared purpose.

    With my sister Elizabeth Craft, I host a podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Many people have written to tell me that they like to color as they listen to the latest episode—the two activities are highly compatible.

    On a less lofty note, coloring helps to curb snacking! Coloring keeps hands busy, which diminishes the urge to snack; plus, after carefully working on a beautiful design, who wants to risk getting a grease stain or smudge on the page?

    Finally, one of my own favorite things about coloring is that It gives me a reason to buy and use beautiful supplies—gorgeous colored markers and pens, as well as lovely books of designs and paper. Well-made tools make work a joy. And I love to feast my eyes on beautiful, brilliant colors.

    Do you love to color? If so, I hope the The Happiness Project Mini Posters makes you happier.

    The post Announcing My New Happiness Project Coloring Book! Do You Love to Color? appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
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