Naturally I started pondering what would constitute pictures for adults to color. Instead of Disney characters and ponies and bunnies, perhaps images of sensible shoes or filing income tax returns or deciphering Explanation of Benefit statements from recent doctor visits?
I found the entire idea of grown up people coloring rather goofy and was perplexed what silliness might have spawned the fad. Insert foreshadowing music here.
Then Rob gave me one of the best birthday presents ever: an extensive variety pack of Sharpies. Score!
I have something of a passion (one might say addiction) for colored pens. If I have to do adulty things like pay bills and take notes at meetings, at least I can do them in a rainbow of pretty colors, right? Who’s with me?
At about the same time as I was admiring my new plastic case of new colorful markers, I was also on a quest to figure out how to relax (please note prior blog about crocheting). And I was starting to hear grown people I knew (mostly women) talking about how relaxing this adult coloring book thing was. So I unceremoniously caved.
Picking out a coloring book was a lot more personal and discerning than I imagined. I truly thought I’d just go to Michael’s and pick up The Coloring Book and maybe some impulse-buy Gummi Bears and continue on my Grown Up Woman errands. It never occurred to me I would have several dozen different design themes to choose from.
The books weren’t just the somewhat predictable themes of animals and plants. There were also themes of abstract designs. Some were more linear with sharp edges. Some were more swirly. Some were kaleidoscopey. Some were groovy paisley. It was so overwhelming – as Michael’s seems determined to be – that I almost abandoned my band-wagoning altogether in favor of two soothing impulsive bags of Gummies instead.
But then I spotted The One.
It was a weirdly instant, intuitive thing when I flipped through “In The Flow” and knew I had found my book. I immediately connected with the curves and softness of the designs. I liked that a number of them were busy without being so intricate as to require bifocals and Excedrin.
So I snapped up my book, headed home with much anticipation and visions of gleeful Sharpie-ing, and let my coloring book sit unused on my nightstand for a good two months.
Falling into the same category of reading a novel, I just couldn’t seem to allow myself the luxury to simply sit and color. I am hard-wired to “accomplish” stuff. I am learning the hard way that this is both a blessing and a curse. Hence my quest to learn better how to relax before I curse myself into utter and total exhaustion.
Finally, while on vacation in a warm beachy locale, I recently forced myself to flip through my optimistically packed coloring book to see if I could maybe get Into the Flow. Within about 30 seconds, I spotted a page as the words “blues and greens” popped into my head with command and directive. And so I obeyed.
|A work in progress|
It took me about three days to finish my Very Important Work. I found myself playing with my Sharpies while Rob did a little light reading about a Muslim Marco Polo named Ibn Battutah. Yes, we decompress a bit differently, he and I.
Just as promised, the coloring indeed proved very relaxing. I seemed to tap into a completely different and largely unexercised part of my brain as I was pushing the ink around and letting intuition guide me as to which color to use in each section.
This stunned me since my typical approach would have been to study the design and plan out all the colors, with organization and intent. I’m not spontaneous and I’m not artistic. Things involving color (home décor, wardrobe, flower pots, nail polish) always require much thought and consideration. The freedom to just let the colors flow and not fixate on any decisions was bizarre and unfamiliar.
As I colored, I felt myself relaxing, my breathing deepen, and my swirling brain chatter blessedly go silent.
Despite many attempts, I have yet to figure out how the heck to meditate (see, this quest is very intentional. I’m beginning to think that’s part of the problem…). But I’ve started to wonder if the Zen-y, zoned-out-yet-singularly-focused state my pens took me to while coloring might actually be in the neighborhood of meditating.
Although the only tangible thing I have to show for my time coloring is a mishmash of blues and greens splashed in between black lines, I utterly surprised myself by visiting a new place in my brain and loving the creative spontaneity and lack of judgment that exists there. I am grateful some silly trendy fad and my previously inexplicable fascination with colored pens can guide me to visit there again. Soon and often.
But first, I'm pretty sure I need some more Sharpies.