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One Magnet At A Time

I’ve rarely been to visit anyone who did not have something meaningful affixed to their home’s refrigerator. Whether it be memorabilia of places they’ve been or fantasy trips they want to take, pictures and accolades of and about loved ones, special events, important reminders, or affirmative quotes, it seems to be human nature to adorn one’s fridge door. I am no exception – I have a collection of magnets and images affixed to mine as well.

But… when was the last time you actually read that great saying or gazed at the picture you have that you so thoughtfully and intentionally hung there? If you’re like me, it might have been awhile. In fact, it might be that soon after you cut out and hung that quote, or purchased that pretty magnet, or put up that postcard, you stopped really seeing it. It blended into the background, creating an overall pleasing effect, but losing its real impact… the reason you put it there in the first place…. as a reminder of something or someone important to you.
This is what I noticed and started thinking about the other day as I was hanging out in my kitchen waiting for some toast to pop up, and glanced at the side of the fridge where my collection of pretty images, reminders, and pithy quotes are arranged. For the first time in a while I realized, I was really seeing them. They came alive for me again. I was reminded of ideas and concepts that have meaning and value for me, which is of course why I had put them there in the first place – to inspire and ground me, and to remind me of the possibilities.
The magnet that caught my eye first, while waiting for my toast, was an image of a mermaid-like figure with a big crayon drawing herself, with the words “color outside the lines”. It’s a colorful image and an obvious choice for an artist and art therapist like myself. The words do seem a bit basic and straightforward though, right? Just another way, an artistic way perhaps, of saying ‘think outside the box’, right? Maybe for some. But here’s why I love it and find it so useful: As a perfectionist it’s easy for me to judge my creativity rigidly – to call it “not good enough”, to measure it against unreasonable standards. “Color outside the lines” reminds me to play, to have fun, to break rules (who made those rules anyway?), to be inventive and daring, to take risks in my creativity and in my life; in short, to circumvent the perfectionist judge, resulting in more joy. And I sure don’t mind more joy in my life!

Just reading the quote all by itself, without having taken any action while remembering it, brings me a sense of joy. What’s really interesting about this is this quote and image, this little reminder that I chose to put where (I thought) I would notice it often, produces joy just by reading it. I think that’s because it resonates with something I already know deep within me – that my creativity happens away from the watchful eye of the perfectionist and outside of the manufactured constraints of limitations and ‘lines’, (unless of course, I choose to introduce them myself!), and this is simply my reminder; which I intentionally chose to put there so I would remember!

So how might I remember more often? How will I remember to really look at what, until recently I see without seeing? This morning when I woke up, after I put the kettle on for my morning tea, I gazed at my fridge. My eyes rested on another image and quote. The answer seems to be 1 magnet at a time. It felt like a great way to start the day…..


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Debra Vivi Steinfeld, MS, ATR, LMHC-QS, I am an artist, registered art psychotherapist, licensed mental health counselor, and qualified supervisor in the state of Florida. I specialize in navigating all the facets of life stage changes and both chosen and unexpected life transitions.

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