Coloring Outside the Lines

Image of coloring book and colored pencils.
Do you stay within the lines when you color?

How do you view your job description? Do you see it as a well-defined set of expectations to stay within? Or do you see it as a starting point?

Let me tell you a story…

There is an old trick that is done by many magicians, especially those who perform for kids, called, “The Magic Coloring Book”.

In this trick, the magician shows a children’s coloring book. The magician flips through the book, showing all pages are blank, with only the outline of the image yet to be colored in on each page. After some hand and wand waving, they then flip through the book showing that all of the pages have been magically colored in.

Cue applause.

An acquaintance of mine, who is a talented and highly regarded magician, released a new version of this trick. As with all good magic trick marketing, he posted a video demonstration of how this looks to the audience.

In his presentation, he brings a couple kids on stage with him to help with the trick. He has them wave large prop crayons at the book. After this initial waving, he flips through the book showing that the pages have been colored in wild scribbles.

Horrors! They’ve made a mess of the coloring book! How dare they scribble! Let’s all laugh about that.

He then has them wave the crayons again, and POOF!, the pages are now colored neatly, with all markings contained within the lines of the pictures.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Cue applause.


My reaction to this presentation was visceral. I was appalled that a fellow entertainer, especially one I hold in such high esteem, would criticize kids for coloring outside the lines. How can an artist criticize others for thinking beyond the confines of what society has dictated?

OK, so maybe I was overreacting just a bit.

Or, maybe not.

We are constantly being told to stay within the lines when we color, while at the same time being encouraged to, “think outside the box”.

And that brings us back to the job description.

How do you go about your job? Do you stay within the lines? Do you view the duties and expectations as outer limits?

What if we looked at our job description as a guideline, a starting point? What if we were willing to step outside the basic requirements that are listed on that HR document and do more?

Stop living a paint-by-numbers life.

Start making art.

Power of Positivity

Photo of a peaceful scene at a city park.
Photo copyright ©2020 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

How are you feeling lately?

As I write this, we are in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you desperate for the shelter-in-place restrictions to be lifted? Eager to see your friends and family in person? Or, maybe you are loving this opportunity to retrench, to stay home, to not have to interact with that person in the office down the hall from yours at work.

Or, perhaps you are like me, swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, like a hanging plant reacting to the gusty winds so typical this time of year in Ohio.

Wherever you are, know this: There is amazing power in positivity.

Some days are easier than others. When I wake to a day of sunshine and a clear blue sky, it is far easier to put on the smile and hope for better days to come.

Other days require effort. On those days I have to consciously seek the good. It’s there… Somewhere… Like that pair of reading glasses I can’t find. Where did I put them?

I admit that I favor rose colored glasses. I am much more prone to making jokes, looking for the humor in situations, than I am to wallowing in despair.

This is how I cope with life. I don’t do sad. I prefer happy. Some people find this annoying.

As a kid, one of the nicknames bestowed upon me was, “Grinner”. It wasn’t said lovingly. The other kids were annoyed that I was always smiling. Try as I might, I just couldn’t stop smiling. Instead, I chose to embrace the moniker. And I stopped apologizing for it.

For me, one of the ways I stay positive is to just keep going. Keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Do the next right thing. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be right. It just has to be something.

My friend Nita Sweeney wrote a book on this concept, called, “Depression Hates a Moving Target”. Spot on.

When this pandemic hit, it knocked every event off of my calendar. Every one. My calendar has been wiped clean.

So, why am I still smiling? Because I have to. It’s the only way I know how to exist.

I have to smile. And I have to share that smile. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

If you want to see how I’m sharing that smile, hop on over to my Facebook page and check out the short form videos I’ve been posting there for the last few weeks:

I have a choice to make every day. I can shut down, crawl into a hole, pull the blankets over my head, and hope this will blow over soon. Or, I can move. One step. Another step. Do something. Anything. Just keep moving.

I choose to keep moving. How about you?