A couple years ago I went through a very stressful breakup. For the first time in my adult life, I was living by myself - no one else's schedule to worry about. And I realized I didn't know what to do with myself.
It got worse when I noticed that my entrepreneurial self, who was striving to make it on her own, only knew how to work from sunup to sundown.
In an attempt to do non-work activities, I started reading a memoir called Monkey Brain about anxiety. That made me more anxious (shocking) and that's when it hit me, "I have no idea how to relax."
I tried to think back to my childhood and what activities I had loved to do. After thinking of a few that wouldn't really work. (Barbies, for example) I remembered coloring. Even as a babysitter in college, I loved it when my kids chose to color, and would race them to see who finished first.
I went to the art supply store for a nice big box of Crayola's, then in search of a coloring book. I was a little disappointed with the options but settled on a kids book of a pig family at the beach and another full of different doodles and shapes.
I sat down and decided to start with the pig book because the doodle one seemed a little overwhelming. I opened my box of perfectly pointed crayons and smiled. This was much nicer than the bin of bits I'd used with the kids.
At first it was simple and I was playing by the rules - pigs are pink, sand is yellow... But then I got to some cars. They could be whatever color I wanted. It became a little more stressful as I wanted the colors of the cars to be realistic, but I also wanted the hues to beautifully match the rest of my masterpiece.
I let myself color and be calmed by the rhythmic back and forth motion of the crayon against the paper until I became fidgety and decided it was time to be done.
Over the next few sessions, I delved into the doodles and played going completely wild with color realizing I could do no wrong. Basically, I remembered how to color like a child.
I began talking to people I met about my coloring hobby and surprisingly found that they had one too and those who didn't often enviously said, "I want to color!" So, we began setting up coloring dates. I discovered that more serious colorer's prefer the colored pencil, as it allows for more shading and precision and I admit I felt a little bit like a novice having chosen pigs and crayons.
Suddenly, I began noticing upscale looking coloring books in the fancy paper stores. One in particular, Splendid Cities caught my eye. I could color NYC! My curiosity grew about this underground hobby so I Googled adult coloring books. Turns out there is a UK Illustrator who created a beautifully intricate book called Secret Garden. Even more shocking? It's on the Amazon best-sellers list and has done so well that she created a second book! Apparently the books are wildly popular in artsy cities like Florence and Paris.
As I contemplate the endless possibilities now before me to delve deeper down the rabbit hole of my not-so-unique hobby I know one thing: I do not want to let the adults of the world ruin the magic of coloring that my inner child relished and that feeds the soul of my still growing self.
Interested in joining Coloring Club? Email Allison for upcoming dates.
-- Allison Richard is a self-care coach, yoga instructor, and meditation teacher. Visit her website or follow her on Instagram.