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Monday, July 18, 2016

Let's Chat About Coloring

The only valid excuse for this election cycle.
It's all the rage. From Barnes and Noble to Michael's, the end caps are overflowing with Zen Coloring, Mandala Madness, or Paisley Birds with Law Degrees. So, the big question is- are they worth it? Why would a fully grown adult- someone with bills and mortgages and car payments- sit down and start doing something they were forced to do in 1st grade art class?

It's BECAUSE you have bills and mortgages and car payments. Those are all the reasons you should, as a reasonable adult, be sitting down and coloring on a regular basis. Not only is coloring fun (otherwise how would it keep young kids entertained), but it gives you something to focus on, something other than your stresses in life. At the end of it, you get a pretty piece of artwork to put on your fridge (I'm not old enough to not do that); but you have gotten more than that- you have a chunk of time where you couldn't worry about what stuff you could buy as a store brand to save a few cents here and there in order to make the car payment.

Consider the Mandala, noted on Wikipedia that it "is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. In common use, "mandala" has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe." The use of Mandalas for relaxation has been seen not only in these new fad coloring books, but also in therapy and spiritual meditation. Focusing on the image, which is meant to mimic the symmetrical and interconnected nature of the universe. A lot of people I know who color find them very soothing and help with their overwhelming feelings.

THIS motherfucker.
For me, Mandalas freak the living shit out of me. Everything is interconnected and what if I think that I like the color I started this line with, but after a little while I see how much more visible it is than I thought it would be and now I'm stuck with this color I didn't want so much of. Maybe I'm just not calm enough yet to deal with a miniature universe that I'm responsible for, I might have to work up to it. Probably speaks to my coping abilities in day to day life.

I prefer the scapes. Lake shores; images of Disney princesses; I have a bunch of books that are from the "Color the Classics" series, letting me bring to life my favorite classic books. Those make sense to me, they have rhyme and reason, a pattern that I can clearly see and follow through with. I love those.

I think there's also a physically therapeutic aspect to coloring for those with chronic pain in the hands and arms. Just like knitting or other activities that require fine motor skills, this helps to strengthen the muscles in your fingers and wrists to keep you more dexterous.

The flip side of that coin is that, there may be lots of days where you're in pain and those tiny Mandalas or intricate pictures are just too much to ask. There's nothing wrong with a more basic book, although a lot of books have a good variety of skill levels in them so you can skip around from one to another. And if you have some issues with OCD like I do, it can be a good exercise in ignoring compulsions to do every page in order.

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