Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

After a full, fun day, I was grateful for the hygge activity I selected this morning. I drew this slip of paper:

Spend an hour coloring.

Coloring, especially for adults, was a hot trend a couple of years ago. I don’t hear as much about it currently, however, it is a meditative art form that I still enjoy. I brewed a cup of hibiscus tea, sliced up an apple and gathered supplies.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

A Coloring Book and Page Chooses Me

In keeping with the game I am playing, I picked up the first coloring book that I saw as I walked into my studio. Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Bradford, snagged my attention. Perfect. My word for 2019 is Enchanted.

Holding the book in both hands I opened to a page, randomly, and laughed. A variety of feathers filled the space. The feather quill is my symbol for this year.

What an accurate portrayal of where I am at this very moment…poised between two worlds. I inhabit that shifting space of overlapping energy as this year ticks down and the next year invites me in.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Spend an Hour Coloring

Tonight I took my task very literally. With my hot tea, apples and Crayola colored pencils arranged nearby, I glanced at the clock and began a countdown. I didn’t feel hurried. I knew I would not complete the coloring page in 60 minutes. That wasn’t the point of the activity.

The point was to lose myself in the gentle art of coloring. I enjoy selecting color combos and laying the color down on the page. Shading is something I’ve always done, even when I was a child with a box of waxy crayons. I build color up, and smooth it out, highlighting a section here, shading a bit there.

As I color, my heart rate slows, as does my breathing. My soul expands, my mind quiets and then ponders deeper mysteries.

Da 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Exchanging Time

My mind focused in on my choice of words, written on the slip of paper. Spend an hour coloring. Spend… Why did I choose that particular word, spend? Why not Color for an Hour? I almost changed the title of the post to the simplified version.

But my mind kept turning over the word spend. The word comes from the Latin expendere, which literally means pay out. I paid out an hour of my time this evening, an hour out of the 24 I was allotted today, in exchange for the simple and satisfying pleasure of coloring.

That realization gave me a fresh perspective. I’ll exchange more of my time, to explore and develop this line of thought. Tonight as I closed my coloring book, and took a deep breath, I declared this:

May I wisely spend the hours and days and months that I have, creating the life I most want to experience. My currency is precious. And it is limited in this life although my soul is boundless. Coloring was worth an hour of my time, in part because of the truths uncovered. May all that I pursue be counted as worthy.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

National Coloring Book Day

When I realized today was National Coloring Book Day, I knew what I would be doing this evening. The idea behind this quirky holiday, established in 2015 by Dover Publications, is to relax…and color. Although people of all ages are encouraged to grab a coloring book, this celebratory day is especially geared toward adults, who need the reminder more than children do that it’s ok to slow down and be creative.

National Coloring Book Day

Although coloring for adults became a craze fairly recently, Dover Publications marketed the first coloring book geared toward adults in 1970. They now have a full line of coloring books for grownups under the Creative Haven label.

I own a couple of Creative Haven books, and a variety of other coloring books. In between receiving offers on a house and talking to agents and clients, I set up my coloring materials, and decided to be playful in my choice of books. I numbered off the books…14 of them…and then used an online random number generator to make my selection. I got the number 6, which was assigned to Art for Mindfulness – Landscapes. I was ready to color.

National Coloring Book Day

In keeping with my game playing, I also randomly opened the book to a page. This book, which happens to be the first adult coloring book that I ever bought, has a quote that accompanies each coloring page. This is the page I opened the book to.

I love that quote: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandi

The words are so true! I desire to deepen my life rather than speeding it up. What a perfect quote to set the tone for an evening of coloring.

Coloring slows me down. Applying color to paper is soothing and there is a meditative quality to the art and the act of coloring. I enjoy the creative challenge too, of selecting colors and trying out new combinations of hues. I never just color. I shade. I create highlights. I vary techniques. It’s all fun for me.

I didn’t complete my page yet. Real estate work continued throughout the evening. But that’s okay. Elements of my life blend together, as smoothly as the browns and grays and greens of the sandy hillside with the lighthouse perched on top.

I enjoyed the coloring that I did. And I’ll leave this book nearby, as an invitation to pick it up and continue…and celebrate the marvelous colors of my pencils, the world, and my life.

National Coloring Book Day

Surrender 61: Coloring My Year

After Christmas, I purchased a Secret Garden Coloring Calender, by Johanna Basford, for half price. Each month has a new picture to color, and I not only get to enjoy coloring it, I get to look at the completed design every day in my studio. 

  
I take the calendar off of the wall toward the end of each month, with the intention of having it back in place, picture colored, by the first day of the new month. 

 

It’s been fun to experiment with new color combinations, different types of pencils and  various techniques. 

Coloring has become my evening activity, my gradual wind down to the day. As I color, my mind opens, and my breathing and heart rates slow down, much as they do in meditation. In fact, studies have shown that coloring is the best alternative to meditation. 

“I recommend it as a relaxation technique,” says Antoni Martinez, a psychologist. “We can use it to enter a more creative, freer state. I recommend it in a quiet environment, even with chill music. Let the color and lines flow.”

Coloring has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and fear, lower blood pressure, and may prove to delay the onset of dementia. 

  
Coloring does free and inspire creativity. And it engages the whole brain, requiring the two hemispheres to communicate, improving fine motor skills and vision. The act of coloring involves logic – staying within the lines and coloring in forms – and creativity – choosing colors and mixing them on the page. 

I’ve found that coloring inspires me to be creative in other areas of my life, such as writing, drawing, and photography. I notice color more, appreciating the play of light and shadow across a field or how many browns are present in a stone wall.  I often snap a picture of something with interesting color patterns, for later inspiration as I study a fresh page, colored pencils in hand. 

  
I had a conversation with a friend last week, who recently began coloring. She is a survivor of the May 2011 Joplin tornado. Her husband was one of the 161 victims who perished that day. She carries physical and emotional scars from that horrifying experience. Coloring has had a host of benefits for her, bringing her quiet joy, improving her health and calming her mind. Her doctor even commented on her lowered blood pressure and her increased balance, and encouraged her to keep the coloring up.

My friend frowned slightly then, and confessed that a family member told her she was wasting time, coloring in the evenings, when she could be doing something more productive. I asked her, more productive than bringing her peace and happiness, improved clarity and memory, and enhanced health, both physically and emotionally? 

We looked at each other a moment…and laughed. No, coloring is most definitely not a waste of time. It’s art. It’s therapy. It’s meditation. It’s medication. It’s pretty darn cool. And it’s her thing…and mine…and enjoyed by countless others. A waste of time? Creativity never is. 

  

Surrender 20: Somos en el Flujo

Wednesday afternoons. My work day ends early and I pick up my grandson Dayan from school. For the last year and a half we have grabbed Chinese food and watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who together, discussing the show, and life, afterward. However, we are caught up on Doctor Who. And we haven’t selected another series yet to watch. I picked Dayan up from school, as usual, and our routine unraveled from there. 

We ate Chinese food at the restaurant rather than eating our take out dinners in front of the tv. And because Dayan ultimately needed to be in Joplin this evening, we decided to go to my house and hang out for a while. That’s when Dayan came up with the brilliant idea of coloring together. My whole family is artistic. I gifted each adult and child with a coloring book and colored pencils for Christmas. We stopped by Dayan’s house so he could pick up his pencils and select a page from his Van Gogh coloring book, and off to Joplin we went. 

 

We were definitely out of our usual Wednesday afternoon habit. Coloring together would be a fun first though. And I love that this grandson of mine, who knows me so well and follows my journeys, often participating in my adventures, quipped, “We are in the flow, aren’t we Yaya?” We were! We were surrendered to doing something different today. 

As Dayan drove, we chatted and our conversation turned to the recent death of film and theater star, Alan Rickman. I have found myself missing the bright presence of a man I only “met” by way of his wonderful movie characterizations. Dayan, who at 16 years old is mature beyond his years, shared an observation from his high school Spanish class. Both ser and estar are verbs meaning “to be”. Ser is used to describe a more permanent state, such as nationality, dates and time, and physical characteristics. Estar is used in describing temporary states of being, such as moods or location. 

Dayan pointed out that in the Spanish culture, death is estar, a temporary state of being, while relationships are ser, permanent. We discussed those amazing concepts and I found great wisdom and comfort in Dayan’s words. Life and death are temporary states, that flow into each other. Relationships, connections, are eternal and not limited by temporary changes, not even death. 

 Dayan’s work in progress, from the Van Gogh coloring book by  The Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

 My work in progress, from The Time Chamber by Daria Song. 

We had fun coloring together this afternoon, chatting as we worked. And while I always enjoy our tv watching sessions, this was a great change of pace. I appreciate Dayan’s flexibility and his willingness to try something different. And his profound insights. Somos en el flujo…we are in the flow. Impermanence again, temporary, ever changing…the journey, the flow, the river of life. And our lives as well, ever changing, shifting, growing. Thank you, Dayan, for the amazing life lesson today. 

  

Journey 311: Being a Colorist

I had a productive and interesting day, helping Greg at his dad’s house. We sorted through more stuff, emptying out drawers and carting out bags of discarded items. I think of Greg’s parents a lot while I’m there, holding mementos of their lives in my hands. As we finished up in Arkansas, I couldn’t wait to get back home…to a couple of coloring pages and my mason jar full of colored pencils. 

 I have shared how much I enjoy coloring. It is relaxing and an excellent outlet for expressing creativity. And coloring for adults is the hottest trend in the US right now, according to Books A Million. Perhaps even, in the world. I know Joplin has embraced the activity. Some coloring books are selling out before I can find them. And stores are having a difficult time keeping colored pencils in stock. 

This past week, I did an exercise in The Artist’s Way in which I created five imaginary lives. All for fun. One of the lives I wrote about was being a colorist and a coloring book designer. I wrote out a list of 24 actions that I could do to play in those imaginary lives. Number 24 is to color cover pages for other artists. I’ll be able to check that action off the list, as that’s what I’ve been working on the last two evenings.   

  

This is a contest that a coloring book artist, who is a member of one of my Facebook coloring groups, is holding. She posted six blank coloring pages from her soon to be released book. I am allowed to color and submit two of those completed pages. Winners will have their work used as the front and back covers for the book. I appreciate such an opportunity and whether one of my pages wins or not, it was fun and it allowed me to experience living as a colorist. How cool is that? 

I brought home an oak leaf from the yard of Greg’s dad. I felt inspired by the fall colors, the browns, reds, oranges and greens, all captured on one perfect leaf. I kept it by me tonight as I colored, using the colors in my own art and thinking of Dad Moore. What a joyful evening, doing something I love. And how exciting to reside in one of my other lives, for a few hours. I’ll let you know how the contest goes! 

  

Journey 270: Super Sunday

Sunday is my favorite day for caring for myself, body, mind and soul. It’s been a wonderfully restful day, spent mostly at home except for an excursion to greet my daughter Elissa at a welcome home celebration. She attended a women’s retreat over the weekend and the tradition is to have family present when the ladies return, to cheer and hug and give tokens of love. I rejoiced over Elissa’s bright and beautiful face as she climbed off the bus. She was tired…who sleeps on retreats…but happy. Perhaps she will do a guest blog post for me someday, and share her soulful experiences, because it is her story to tell. 

 

I arrived back home, just as the sun was sinking. And I knew precisely how I wanted to conclude this gorgeous day. Tonight another Supermoon will grace the sky. And not only is this a full moon that appears larger than normal, it is a full lunar eclipse as well. I wanted to be outside to watch for it. It was the perfect evening for another activity that I’ve been wanting to do as well, out in the garden…color. 

 I started a cozy little fire, that soon blazed into a cheerful roaring fire, and brought out an unsweet tea from Sonic, my colored pencils,  and a new coloring book that I have enjoyed this weekend. The book is The Time Garden, by Daria Song. The pictures are detailed, which I love, and each page tells the story of a little girl who journeys, via her father’s antique cuckoo clock from Germany, to magical places. It’s a whimsical collection of pages to color. I completed the first page today, after beginning last night. I started on a fresh page, in my own enchanted garden. 
 

I am totally captivated by coloring in these books for adults. The colored pencils give me a lot of freedom to mix colors as I add layers and create subtle shading for interest and depth. I love how being creative awakens an artistic side deep within my soul. My senses are more acute. As I was driving this afternoon I noticed colors and textures and the play of light on the old buildings in downtown Webb City. I observed more keenly, noting how shadows form there beneath the eaves of a tall brick storefront, so I could duplicate the effect later with my pencils. 

  
I stood to peer over the fence as the sun slipped below the horizon. It was beautiful. And I studied the sky, awash with colors, thinking about how to best capture such a stunning sight. I like how an act as simple as coloring has a profound effect on me, shifts me, opens me to more possibilities, more beauty in the world. 

 

 
In the darkness, relieved only by the glow through the neighbor’s windows and the flickering firelight, I sit at peace, with myself and with my world, and watch the eastern sky. The moon has appeared and the earth’s shadow is crossing her shining face. My cat Shy Boy has claimed my lap and enjoys the night with me, staring into the fire. What a magical evening. 

  

  

 

Journey 268: Mom’s Birthday

Today is my mom’s birthday. Neither of my sisters could be in Joplin to celebrate, so we have plans for gathering together next weekend to take Mom to dinner and get much laughter and visiting in. However, after completing my day, I was free to stop by for a chat and to deliver a fun little gift. 

  
I’ve fallen in love with the art of coloring. With my colored pencils and a coloring book for adults open before me, I can lose myself for a few minutes…or many minutes…in this simple activity. My mom is so very creative. She has modeled living out of her artistic side all of my life. I used to anticipate coming home from school in the afternoons, and discovering what project my mom had been working on that day. From reupholstering furniture, to painting silhouettes on the bathroom walls, to sewing tiny wardrobes for my Barbie dolls, my mom was always finding outlets for expressing her creativity. 

Mom always enjoyed coloring with my sisters and me when we were young. She continued that practice with her grandchildren and now keeps a stack of coloring books and a box of crayons in the living for her great grandchildren. A couple of days ago I enjoyed perusing coloring books for adults at the craft store, Michael’s, in search of a book for Mom. I find a delightful one…it has to be good, it has the word whimsical in the title…and picked up a box of 50 Crayola Colored Pencils. 

It’s not an expensive gift. But what fun to surprise Mom with her own pencils and coloring book. She seemed genuinely pleased! There’s no right or wrong way to color, no time constraints, no judgment. There is just the joy of laying color onto the page, whatever color or combination of colors draws you, and your own spark of creativity. I trust Mom will enjoy. 

I so appreciate my mom and her birthday is a good day to make sure she knows that. No other person has shaped and guided me as much as she has. Her strength and high energy continue to inspire me. Her sense of humor still gives me the giggles….and gives her the giggles too. My mom can rarely complete the telling of a joke because she gets so tickled, which makes her family laugh even harder. She has, and will ever be, my greatest champion, my encourager, my person to bounce ideas off of. And she is ever growing, trying out new experiences, finding fun ways to do something routine. She has a great, shining soul, and a heart that loves her family and supports them, surrounds them, with prayers, light and good thoughts. 

Happy birthday Mom. I am grateful for you. Thank you for believing in me and for walking with me in this journey called life. You are my traveling companion, my friend, my mother. I love you! 

  

Journey 246: The Art of Coloring

I’ve always enjoyed coloring in color books. As a child I spent hours with my stack of books and the biggest box of crayons I could buy. Just seeing those rows of sharpened crayons sparked my imagination and fueled my creativity. 

 

I never outgrew my love of coloring. As a young adult, before my children were born, I still had a stack of favorite books, the more detailed the better, and a box of Crayola Crayons. Once the kids arrived I had plenty of opportunities to join in their coloring marathons and we spent hours creating together. Now I color with the grandchildren. 

Recently my older daughter Elissa shared that coloring has become a creative exercise in her office. She works for a very innovative company and I was intrigued. Elissa took the coloring pages home and she and Dayan have been enjoying this soothing yet fun activity in the evenings.  
  
My awareness, therefore, was raised as I walked into a Barnes & Noble Bookstore Monday, in Rogers, AR. It didn’t have to be raised very high, as there were tables and tables of coloring books, for adults. (Not to be confused with adult coloring books!) I was enchanted. And left with a book  titled Art for Mindfulness – Landscapes. I picked up a new box of Crayola Colored Pencils and I was set. 

Tonight I had the opportunity to color. I did research first, to discover when this phenomenon started, and found that the coloring craze for adults began in 2013. Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford produced “Secret Garden”, a coloring book for adults, with an initial run of 16,000 copies. To date, this book has sold more than 6 million copies, with 4 million sold just in the last five months. 

 

According to psychologists, the simple act of coloring reduces stress, enhances creativity and improves focus. There is a meditative quality in coloring, a sense of unplugging and opening to the artistic side. In some big cities, enthusiasts are hosting coloring parties. And people fighting serious illnesses such as cancer find coloring to be soothing, and the experience of creating something beautiful, freeing. 

 
Tonight, I loved using colored pencils to free my creativity and unleash my inner artist. The page I selected to color caught my attention because the structure in the middle of the page reminds me of a Hobbit House. It’s probably supposed to be a bridge but that’s the fun in coloring…it is what I say it is. I left the little stream as flowing water, which now gurgles past the Hobbit House, rather than changing it into a pathway. I enjoyed the coloring process, without feeling hurried. I’ll complete this page over the weekend. On the opposite page is a wonderful quote from Kahlil Gibran: “Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. ” What a great time of mindful silence this evening, which did indeed free my soul to sing.