“Whimsy” is a perfectly respectable word meaning “fanciful” or “playful.” These days, it seems that whimsy is associated with grown women running around in tutus, wearing tiaras, and flinging glitter pell-mell at the rest of us.
It also seems that we’re supposed to think that is a Bad Thing. So much of Diva living is living to suit your own self and to also tap into a deep well of joy. Sadly, there will always be people who find that off-putting, if not downright scary, especially as we become les femmes d’un certain âge. It’s not usual, they say. What they mean is Do you have to be so . . . much? The answer is an enthusiastic yes, it’s not usual and yes, you need to be so much. TAKE UP ROOM, friends and sisters!
Now, I get it and no, I wouldn’t want a district attorney representing the People to appear in court in sparkly butterfly wings. However, on her (or his!) own time, if this person likes wearing sparkly butterfly wings, well, I daresay that’s none of my business and sparkle on, sister!
Allow me to explain my own path to whimsy and then I’ll suggest a few ways to start your own journey to explore this essential tool of Diva-dom.
As a youngster, I had what is now termed a “rich inner life” (meaning I had a super active imagination), but was often uncomfortable in my own skin. On the surface, there was no real reason for that; I had a stable home life and loving parents. But I preferred to not be noticed all that much and wearing what everyone else was wearing (painter’s pants? What were we thinking that fall?) was an easy way to do that. (Side note – it’s emotionally draining to stand out in high school – blessings on all those confident enough to do it.)
In college, I was a theatre major, but one of the backstage types. I designed, directed, ran lights, and stage-managed. All of these jobs are creative, yes, but are also intense, relying on crazy hours and maniacal attention to detail. Folks working backstage traditionally dress in dark clothing (“stage blacks”) to blend in with the shadows, so my wardrobe tended toward the somber. By wearing dark clothes exclusively, people tended to overlook me which was, at that stage of my life, fine by me. I was figuring out who I was and what I valued and I prized being left alone to sort through all of that.
Then I went to law school, which is a different kind of intense. Legal jobs and whimsy – well, let’s just say I had a closet of navy blue and bank-wall-gray for a while. I was highly educated yet scared to death that people would figure out that I didn’t have Clue One what I was doing. I now understand that no new lawyer knows all that much, but at the time, I felt sure it was just me. Dressing in a way calculated to not draw attention to myself was a sort of protective camouflage.
One thing that sets a true Diva apart from the crowd is an almost total lack of fear of color. Fuchsia, cobalt, emerald, purple – all that and more are prized by She Who Knows Her Own Style. Yes, you can play it safe and no one will say a word. And there’s nothing wrong with a navy blue suit worn with a tasteful brooch and a strand of pearls. And yes, people will talk when you go into public wearing a tiara with lime-green tennis shoes. Or when you race a 10K wearing a tulle tutu. Or when you and your college baseball playing buddies raise money for abused women by strutting your stuff in red high heels to truly “walk a mile in her shoes.” Or when you and your friends hold signs reading “FREE HUGS” on a downtown corner one sunny Saturday. (There’s an entire worldwide movement about that one, by the way.)
LISTEN TO ME, DIVA – You were not put on this earth to pass through it without making a ripple. We live in a broken world and we have a responsibility to do what we can to make it a happier, better place in any way we can – and that means being willing to make yourself vulnerable, which (let’s admit this) can be deeply scary at first.
So how do you start? How can you get in touch with your whimsical side?
Try this – take ten minutes (use a kitchen timer if you have to) and just make a list of the things you liked to do when you were eight years old. Really – just think about it. Most of us would sing, or dance, or draw, or tell a joke at the drop of a hat when we were little. As we get older, we are encouraged to “put away childish things,” but I’m not entirely convinced we replace them with anything particularly valuable. So think about this – did you love to dance? To draw? To make up elaborate stories with your toy horses? Did you climb trees? Did you catch fireflies in a clean mayonnaise jar? Spend an entire afternoon concentrating on making an intricately-patterned friendship bracelet for your best friend?
Armed with that list, pick three things from your list to do this week. Yes, I am advocating that you climb a tree, if that’s on your list. Put on your favorite kind of music and sing into a hairbrush. Grab some blank printer paper and start sketching. Don’t worry about the quality – this is for YOU. I don’t care if your rendering of the cat sleeping in the sunshine turns out lopsided. I think it’s great if you get breathless from trying to sing all the parts to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And if getting up in that tree isn’t going to happen, spread a quilt at the base of the trunk and spend a pleasant half-hour re-reading one of your favorite stories from your childhood.
Are you being silly? I hope so. It takes tremendous self-assurance to be silly in a world as hell-bent on destruction as this one often seems to be.
We could all use a little more whimsy, be it butterfly wings, mermaid blankets, or steampunk corsets. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with age and everything, everything, EVERYTHING to do with confidence and liking the person you know yourself to be!
And it’s essential.
By the way – for more on increasing your Whimsy Quotient (your “WQ”), please examine the “Diva Drills.” You can find those under the RESOURCES tab at the top of the screen.