I’m a little superstitious about the colour red.
Perhaps it’s my Welsh roots. Or the rebel in me.
My birthstone is Ruby, which was also my mum’s birthstone.
It’s the colour of Wrexham and Liverpool football clubs, both of which I was raised to support.
For me, red symbolises taking action, empowerment, pride, passion, energy.
Love, of course. (What the world needs, now).
Lady in Red
Years ago, I moved from Wales to Leeds to begin my solicitor training contract. If you know me already, you’ll know that I was digging deep for all my bravery and courage and resilience to make a success of this new life in the law.
With my first pay cheque, I bought a beautiful red dress suit. It was a fitted shift dress with a coat jacket which buttoned once at the waist. I loved it. It symbolised my arrival as a grown up woman in the world of work.
I wore it with pride. I strutted around and it gave me so much confidence, I felt like I could take on the world.
One day, a partner in the law firm called me in for a private meeting.
I went into his big glass office and he shut the door. I stood there quietly whilst he sat behind his desk and he told me to stop wearing the suit. I remember he didn’t really look me in the eye. He carried on writing notes and signing documents whilst he spoke.
Out of Place
He said Red is an aggressive and angry colour and it sends the wrong message to clients. It’s not what we wear here.
He said that it wasn’t appropriate.
I felt shamed. Hurt. Belittled. Embarrassed. Frustrated. Out of place. I’d got it wrong. I thought I looked THE PART and instead I looked OUT OF PLACE.
(I don’t remember feeling angry. I just assumed he was right, and I’d made a huge faux pas).
What to do? Follow the instructions of course.
I quietly placed the suit in the back of my wardrobe where it stayed for the next 18 months.
I wore black or grey or pin stripes. I conformed. I tried to blend and fit in. I joined a sea of grey.
It makes me shudder now just to think about it.
It didn’t last that long to be fair. I slowly began wearing colours again as a small act of rebellion. I started to wear red every day somewhere on my body as an act of quiet defiance against the corporate world. Even if it was just my underwear. I carried a red bag and a red purse. I drank red cocktails and red wine in the formal dinners and asked leading questions about Why This and What That.
At some point I got the red suit out of the cupboard again and just started wearing it again.
As time passed I grew in confidence and maturity and saw all the changes that needed to happen within the traditional world of law, and knew that being a woman who agreed to hide herself in grey clothes in order to (apparently) please clients was not one of them. I bought another red suit.
I grew up. I made Red one of my constant reminders about who I am and what I want to be in the world.
❤ I splashed it into my Serenwood logo and and across our fresh look brand.
❤ I always wear red when I give training or speak or make core-message videos about what I do.
❤ The first 4 cars I bought and drove were red.
❤ I wore a red sash on my wedding dress and Louboutin heels
❤ We called our first daughter Ruby
❤ We painted our front door red.
❤ We had a red pram and a red buggy for our girls and now they’re at a school with a red uniform (that last bit was accidental, but you know….)
It is always a reminder to ME, not a bold statement to anyone else.
I set my intention that I would not easily let anyone else dictate the rules of what I do with myself, my uniqueness, the direction of my life and who I am.
This isn’t always an easy promise to keep. I still, like anyone else, get swayed by other people’s opinions, judgments, requests, throw away comments or outright nastiness.
I still hide my colour and my light sometimes.
But I tune back into my red passion and my fire and turn myself around.
So, today’s questions.
- Where have You let someone else dictate what You do and how You show up in the world?
- Are You still letting someone else dictate the rules of your life right now?
- Maybe you’re seeing other people being dictated to or suppressed or ridiculed and you’re standing by….?
If so, it might be quietly (or loudly?) time to say Enough.
Thank you for that lesson, Mr Law Man, it was a fabulous one. I’m sometimes a slow learner, but once the message sinks in I hear it loud and clear. In technicolour.
There’s only one rule. Be You.
Because – as Dr Seuss would say – “there is no-one alive who is Youer than You.”
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