Color Yourself Calm

“Wanna color?” 

A common question among children of all ages and one to which my answer was always a resounding, “Yes!”

I’ve always had an artistic flair, but coloring was a real favorite activity of mine. Maybe it’s because it’s the due to the quiet solitude that comes with it, or the fact that it was an activity I enjoyed with my big sister. She taught how to stay inside the lines and how to outline the shape in a bolder color and then use the same shade with a lighter hand to fill in the rest. Although we often colored together, we did not, however, share a coloring book.  

Because she was four years my senior, her skills were much more advanced than mine. I guess you could say I was, in the early days at least, a bit of a scribbler. Thus, she wanted no part of my scribbling in her precious coloring books. One said book, if I remember correctly, was a shiny green jungle themed Crayola coloring book. It was full of perfectly colored complete pictures (I emphasize this because most of my books were only half colored; since I would begin a page and get bored halfway through or, not being happy with the color choices I made, give up and move on) of toucans, palm fronds, and intricately drawn wildlife. I was warned by penalty of death to never touch the jungle book. Bah! Pun intended! If I remember correctly, I think I may have actually abided by that particular command, but my sister may disagree…

To this day, any time I get the girls all set up for a coloring session, I can’t help but join them!  

 

Apparently, adult coloring is actually a thing now. “Color yourself Calm” is the slogan of one such book I found by Anastasia Catris called, Color Me Mindful.  As someone who is artistically inclined and suffers from stress, anxiety, and depression, I had to give it a try!

   
The website, psychologies, has this to say about the subject; 

Coloring in may well be something you remember fondly from your childhood – or something your own children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren enjoy now.

But this simple activity has been making headlines lately, especially in France, where colouring books for grown-ups are selling faster than cook books.

With mindfulness the buzz word of the moment, colouring in is an easy way to calm the mind and occupy the hands. Speaking at a mental health workshop in 2009, author, speaker and communication expert Mark Robert Waldman explained that active meditation focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion. Concentrating this way replaces negative thoughts and creates a state of peace, and many people who have a difficult time with concentrative meditation can find this easier. This gentle activity where you choose the colours to create your picture and the repetitive action of colouring it in focuses the brain on the present, blocking out any intrusive thoughts.

Meanwhile, a recent study from San Francisco State University has shown that people who partake in creative activities outside of work not only deal with stress better but their performance at work improves, too. You need only look at the massive explosion of interest in crafts such as knitting and dressmaking in recent years to see how many people are choosing to occupy themselves in such creative activities.

Artist Wendy Piersall gives some helpful tips as well as supplies suggestions, I’ve shared some below but for even more, check out her website.

When I first published Coloring Animal Mandalas, I just assumed that this would be a zero-instructions-needed kind of book. It’s coloring! Who hasn’t colored before?! To my utter surprise, how to color in coloring books has been THE most asked question I have gotten as a coloring book artist. I realized that most adults haven’t colored in 20+ years (or sometimes 60-70+ years!). Also, when you’re coloring as an adult, crayons just don’t cut it anymore. We want a great experience, and want to use great, grown up materials. So since I’ve been asked about this a zillion times, here’s my overview of how to color coloring books.

How Do You Choose Which Colors to Use?

I’ve been asked this question a lot. The question I hear when I read between the lines is that people don’t feel particularly artistic and are fearful that they don’t have what it takes to color something beautiful. To which I say: IT’S COLORING. 2 year olds can handle this. There is no wrong way to do it. And almost any color combination will look good. But in the interest of actually answering this question, there’s several ways to tackle color choices:

Go with a rainbow spectrum. Who doesn’t love rainbows?

Go in blindfolded. Meaning: just pick up a color and go. Let the spirit of spontaneity take over.

Go hip. Pantone releases it’s trend forecast twice a year. Admittedly, they are pretty good at it.

Go overboard. Find an image with colors you love (I have a Pinterest board full of them here) and upload it to this free online color palette generator. I take no responsibility for the hours you will lose once you start playing with this tool.

How Do You Maximize Relaxation While Coloring?

One of the main reason adult coloring books are getting so popular lately is because they are a major stress-buster and tension reliever. You know how artists create art to stay sane and get into The Zone? That’s what coloring does for non-artists. Personally, I don’t think that there is any wrong way to color for relaxation. I’ve heard of people coloring on planes, in front of the TV, in coffee shops, and even in therapy sessions. It’s all good. For me personally, I like to color in my studio, which is an enclosed porch and has tons of natural light. I try to do it when I know I won’t be interrupted for at least 30 minutes. I also like to color with my favorite music playing in the background. 

So there you have it, adult coloring is all the rage and good for your brain! Right now I’m using colored pencils, but the tools I really have my eyes on are these Copic sketch markers, they are a pretty penny though!  

 
Until then I’ll stick with Crayola and my Carolina Beach playlist on Pandora.  Happy coloring! 

   

For a little video of me coloring, check out my Instagram, @beauty_and_the_butcher

have no fear, freckles.

First of all, I know, I know, I said I wasn’t blogging this week while I’m on vacation but it’s just so beautiful and calming here that I’m feeling inspired. Plus, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. So here goes…
 
This is my niece Mahal. Isn’t she beautiful? Look at all her adorable freckles. Yesterday I looked at her sun kissed nose and exclaimed, “Hey! You got two new freckles!”  

“I did? How can you tell?!”, she asked. It tickles me beyond belief, because of what she’s been through in her short life and the speed in which she has had to mature, that she still has enough innocence to think I am actually able to keep an accurate record of her freckles.

“Because I count them”, I said. “That’s just how much I love you.”

As she contemplated this I continued, “You know, the bible says that God has every single star numbered and named? Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered by our Heavenly Father, so there’s nothing to fear because he knows our needs, struggles, and worries. That means there is not one single detail about us that He doesn’t care about, understand, and love. Think about how much I love you and multiply it by a million and then some, that’s how much He loves you.” 

When I was little, my dad took every possible opportunity to teach us something. Even if we weren’t in a “learning mood” he did it anyway, knowing that we’d thank him someday. So here it is, thanks dad. Thanks for forcing us to learn, talking to us like adults, and never underestimating our intelligence or capacity for gaining knowledge. And thanks for, as much as I despised you at the time, forcing us to get the giant dictionary off the shelf every time we encountered a word we didn’t know. 

I hope that every time Mahal looks at her freckles in the mirror she thinks of me and that someday, when she looks back on her forced learning experiences, she feels about me the way I feel about my dad. 

Sticks and stones…

“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

That saying was probably chanted by children on every playground across the country when I was a kid. But honestly, I couldn’t disagree more. Wait..is that a double negative? Is it “I could disagree more”? Dad? Anybody? Ugh, anyway, moving on…

I feel that words can actually hurt more than physical wounds. I mean, unless we’re talking about stoning on a biblical level, your body would heal if a stick and/or stone was thrown at you. Words, however, can stay with you forever. To this day, certain unpleasant conversations I’ve had with people or means things people have said to me randomly play on a reel in my head, making me relive the hurt, discomfort, anger, what have you, all over again. Harmful words at a young age though, I feel, are even more dangerous. 

Let me backtrack and explain my inspiration for this post. Two events actually last week spurred me to write this post but I’m just now getting around to it. Incident number one occurred at “the happiest place on earth.” As you know, we spend a lot of time at Disney World. Much of the time you’re in pretty close quarters with people (which is quite unfortunate especially in the hot summer months-it’s called deodorant people!) and you hear a lot of conversations. Among those conversations I have heard some of the nastiest, most outrageously abusive and just downright mean things said to small children by their own parents. Now I will say, maybe these parents are extremely stressed and at their limit both emotionally and financially on what is supposed to be a “vacation”. Also, I grew up in a house without cursing and screaming, where I was treated with love and respect, so perhaps I’m somewhat naive in this area. However, those things being said, it’s still no excuse. 

As a parent you are responsible for the good health of your child, mental health included. And as a grown up, you just don’t get to fly off the handle at a child. You just don’t, it’s unacceptable, no if’s and’s, or but’s about it. Recently I have seen a little boy, chatting excitedly as he waits to meet his favorite character, smacked across the mouth and inundated with expletives that no one should have to hear, let alone a child. I’ve also seen a little girl, one whom I love very much, sweet and innocent as can be, spoken to and treated like an animal by her father in a gymnasium full of people when she’d done absolutely nothing wrong. (That was the second incident.) What lesson is this teaching that child? What a vicious cycle to perpetuate as they may treat others the way they feel it is normal to be treated. 

The bottom line is this- speak kindly to others, because words can be extremely hurtful. If you are a parent, or have any contact with children for that matter, choose your words carefully and keep your cool. You are shaping a little life, and no child deserves to be cursed or screamed at and should never be taught that it is acceptable for them to act that way. 

And to conclude my rant on a positive note, shout out to my parents for setting such a great example and thus enabling me to be a beloved aunt who (although a firm disciplinarian) can proudly say has never uttered an unkind word to the children in my life and never plan to. 

“remember who you are”

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“don’t stay out too late”. “wear your seatbelt.” “be good!” all things parents yell out the door as their children are leaving the house. but my dad said something else, something that stuck with me, even if I didn’t totally appreciate at the time. “remember who you are.” it was so many things wrapped into one expression. it was an admonition to always make them proud, represent the family well, understand that I was accountable for my actions and that God saw everything even if they didn’t, to not give into peer pressure, a reminder to do my best, because our best is all we can do, to be kind, loving, and give to others, putting their needs ahead of my own, and most of all to literally remember who I was and stay true to that. and now, as an adult, I sometimes repeat the expression to myself. isn’t it funny how as children we are so sure of ourselves and as we age it seems to get less and less so. sometimes its easy to forget who we are or doubt ourselves when someone attacks our character, calls into question our motives and true intentions, especially when its someone who is supposed to know us. when this happens I find it best to self examine and pray, there’s always room for improvement. and to go to the people who truly know you best, your best friend, your parents, your spouse, and ask them to be honest with you. and most likely, because they love you and may even know you better than you know yourself, they’ll tell you that those people are crazy, wrong, misinformed, and must not REALLY know who you are. but your loved ones do, and so do you. so instead of playing those negative words over and over in your head, put your chin up, take a cue from my wise old dad, and remember who you are.

“Y” is for…You-er than You

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“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
~ Dr. Seuss

This is one of my absolute most favorite literary quotes. Although he was mainly known for his children books, Dr. Seuss really was a great writer and there is quite a bit of soul and meaning behind each anapaestic rhyme. Here’s a few more of my favorites…

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

“And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

Ever wonder where the name Seuss came from since his real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel? Geisel attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1925. At Dartmouth, he joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the humor magazine Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, eventually rising to the rank of editor-in-chief.
While at Dartmouth, Geisel was caught drinking gin with friends in his room. As a result, the Dean insisted that he resign from all extracurricular activities, including the magazine. To continue work on the Jack-O-Lantern without the administration’s knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name “Seuss”. Thought that was an interesting little tidbit! What Dr.Seuss quote stands out to YOU?

“F” is for father…

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Aaaaand fashionably late since this was technically yesterday’s letter…but hey, it was Sunday, gimme a break! (Autocorrect didn’t zing me on “gimme” guess they’re cool with that word, whoever “they” are…) Ok back to the letter “f”.

I shall try to make this only a little bit sappy but don’t expect much, I’m a daddy’s girl. Even though as a child it seemed normal to have a father you completely adored, who explored and played with you, commanded a healthy respect with the strength of his hand, and cuddled with you every single night reading bedtime stories and praying with you as you hung on his every word…I now know that not all little girls had this and that my experience was actually, quite unique. Although as a kid I still knew he wasn’t like other dads. I mean, did your dad come to your school every year to make hand painted kites with your class and then fly them all afternoon? Did he go on your 4th grade camping trip and earn (rightfully so as he is the master of the wilderness and was REI clad from head to toe) the nickname “Mr.Commando” earning the adoration of every child and as head ornithologist made fake footprints of dodo birds, pterodactyls, and other extinct or fictitious birds then made each camper hand drawn certificates for each discovery? Did your dad read to you every night no matter how many gross toilets he fixed that day or monkeys cages he cleaned, (he worked at a pharmaceutical company and sometimes had to clean up after the poor monkeys they tested drugs on-not condoning this people so don’t get all bent) classics like Tom Sawyer and Aesop’s Fables (of course all the while making us look up in the dictionary each word we didn’t know) I should note, some parents never read to their kids at all, like ever…(hehe inside joke with my in-laws). And did your dad (scarred from living within miles of the newly opened Disney World as a child and never getting to go) save up every penny possible for several years to take you on a week long, fun filled, and action packed dream trip to that magical place despite the fact that he and mom were simultaneously buying their first home and scraping together money and selling all their antiques to pay for closing costs when they could have easily used the “Disney fund”? Well, DID HE? Didn’t think so. So like I said, I knew he was great then but as I’ve grown into an adult, seen the world differently, and heard my friend’s experiences I realize even more how special it was to be “daddy’s girl”. That being said, it gets even better. Not everybody gets to be a daddy’s girl but even more rare, is to have two dads wrapped around your little finger. But I’m so happy and grateful to say I do. When I married my husband I didn’t just become a daughter in law, I became a daughter. A daughter to a man with only sons, whose tough exterior is easily melted with a sweet smile and gentle touch. A man who loves me as his own, is ALWAYS there when you need him, and asks only that I regularly quote lines from Moonstruck for his amusement. Not only that but the two of them are friends! Together they let me dress them, rave over and enjoy whatever I feed them, and inexplicably do what I tell them (listening to me sometimes even more than they do their own wives)! I promised not to make this too sappy and now it has (as well as becoming quite long). So in conclusion I’ll just say that “F” is for father and I’m so glad to have two.