Brisbane Color Project: Finding My Vibrant

Exploring new cities makes me feel vibrant.

The thrill of navigating public transportation, the dizzying splendor of sky-scraped landscapes and the epiphanies of the unfamiliar. Discovering holes-in-the-wall on beaten paths new to me.

In the midst of any adventure, my eyes and heart are wide open, eager for delight, and I’m swept up in splendor. I always have been. Ever since the family vacations we’d take every year to a new destination, I’ve loved the adventure of an expedition.

These last two months, Brisbane has been the city capturing my fancy. Nestled in Australia’s Sunshine State, it’s like Florida (except with a better personality). Or like Portland (but less pretentious). And it kind of reminds me of Vancouver (only with more sunshine.)

How ever you slice it, it’s been the best place to end my year of wandering. 

A traveler’s mindset seeks to be delighted by novelty and trying to soak up the beauty any way I can. So without realizing it, I’d been cultivating an openness towards others, the world, and myself. 

Like a true tourist, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures on my iPhone. When I shared this cacophony of color collecting in my photo album with my friend, it reminded her of a blogger she follows who photographed Paris by color. She pulled out a coffee table book, filled with pages of Parisian streets, both close up details and wider shots, categorized by various hues.

Nichole Robertson had collected these photos during her year of living in Paris. In the forward to her book, Paris in Color she noted “Nothing sharpens your senses like a new address. The streets were no longer an obstacle course to run. We walked for pleasure, with no agenda and with no particular destination in mind. We noticed details, and took time to take them in.”

Her observations struck a chord. This woman’s pursuit of a creative life sparked an idea. As we went to the farmers market later that morning, the hues seemed heightened. The piles of carrots and riotously pink beets were calling out to me. 

“Each colorful detail popped against the natural textures of the beautiful, worn buildings as if waiting to be noticed. Some were out in the open. Others were well concealed from casual passers by. Those were the best discoveries.”

I was hooked. For the rest of my time in Brisbane, my eyes were peeled for color, seeking the vibrancy in the (extra)ordinary world. When my perspective shifted, the world became technicolor.

You find what you’re looking for.

It’s an epiphany I keep having throughout my life. (Just like when I started seeing Chevy Cavaliers everywhere just after I got my first car. What I pay attention to gets bigger.) This project was a beautiful reminder that joy “is a gift the created world is perpetually offering.” (Fae Malania)

Without realizing it, this color project helped me show up to the present moment. So easily, I can stand at a distance from my life, stuck in my head with patterns of anxiety and fear. Hypersensitive to how others are perceiving me, or fretting over an imagined scarcity.

But in focusing on the vibrant details of my environment, I unwittingly entered into the fullness of my life. Attending to shades of red or purple ushers me into jubilance, even if it’s just for moments at a time.

That was my hope for this whole journey. The catalyst for traveling around the country and around the world was a longing for vibrancy. Choosing to boldly declare my deep joy as a worthy pursuit. “Finding my vibrant” has become a mantra phrase for me. A playful invitation to live life to the fullest.

I’ve found vibrancy while wandering around the streets of Brisbane. But the paradox discovery is how shifting my perspective can cultivate this vibrancy anywhere. Sometimes “finding my vibrant” might mean going on an international adventure. But more often, “finding my vibrant” means reframing what might seem mundane into ordinary splendor.

I’m so curious what vibrant color schemes will fill my next season!