Coloring Books are the big ‘thing’ these days.
I loved coloring as a child, and the Crayola box of 72 with the sharpener and the book of ideas was one of my favorite things… right along with my Spirograph. I used this set until there were nothing but little stubs left!
I was an only child and I had a lot of time by myself, so coloring was a common pastime. I would sit for hours and color away. A new coloring book was a huge treat for me and would keep me occupied for weeks.
In my teens I found Dover Publications and even back then they had coloring books that were more intricate than the normal ones you found at the five and dime stores. They also had paper crafting books that I loved…but that is a subject for another post!
These days Dover is just one of many that publish coloring books, but they still have an awesome selection of all sorts of books.
Coloring as a life-long hobby.
My fascination with coloring continued into my adult years. I would search out the few available selections in the bookstore ‘art’ sections (remember, there was no internet when I was young) and at one time I had every book I could find. For a while, I got away from coloring, but when I was pregnant with my first child at 23, I found myself drawn back to it – it calmed me and I would color for hours at a time. Of course at that point, (1983) I had given up crayons and began using colored pencils and markers. I loved geometric designs and flowers, but I also had books of real life animals and objects for variety.
Those few people who knew I enjoyed coloring thought me a bit odd, but that was somewhat normal for me. Being an only child, I had always been a bit ‘different’ than my peers, so it didn’t stop me. Although I didn’t tell a lot of people about it because they did look at me like I had two heads at times when I did.
So the baby came and I didn’t color much as I was much too busy raising children and working. However I never lost my love of it and would come back to it from time to time. The books and markers always remained part of my book collection through the years.
When I was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, I began coloring again. It again helped me stay calm and kept my mind and hands occupied through a difficult physical time when I couldn’t do other things that I loved. People were more accepting of it as I was using it as ‘therapy’, but it was still not looked at as ordinary.
Why do we love coloring? What is the fascination with something we learned to do as children?
So why has this hobby taken a tremendous leap in popularity? Why all of a sudden are coloring books the hottest trend out there?
Currently 5 of Amazon’s top sellers are coloring books. That is pretty amazing when you think about how many books you can find at Amazon.
I don’t need a psychology degree to understand what draws people to coloring. I can tell you from my own heart.
Something we all need these days is ways to decompress and coloring can do that for people who may not have other outlets. Coloring is a way of ‘creating’ even if you are not ‘artistic’. You don’t have to be able to draw, you don’t have to come up with ideas, you just have to fill in the blanks. The very act of coloring is calming as it is a repetitive act, and it takes some concentration to fill in those little tiny spots. Your brain, normally filled with stress and all sorts of worries, turns inward and focuses. It is much like meditation, or it can be if you allow yourself to just be in the moment of colors and lines and leave all your other thoughts behind. It is renewing and relaxing. We all know how bad stress can be for us, even if we don’t know the science behind it, and coloring reduces stress. I’m sure this is why during some of the most stressful parts of my life, I have returned over and over to coloring. I do many other creative things, but this is one I have always gone back to and will continue to keep in my creative arsenal.
While coloring you are also exercising the creative part of your brain – which doesn’t always get much use in the fact oriented society we live in. And you get to do it in a way that has no judgements. There is no right or wrong with coloring, you can do it however you want. You can use crayons, paints, pencils, markers, gel pens, or chalk. You can color a picture with 12 shades of blue or a rainbow of neon or glittery colors. You can color the same picture several times finding new expressions and patterns in each one. You can color the same picture as someone else and it will be a totally unique creation, because you are unique and your creations will reflect that. However you do it, you will have a beautiful finished product that is rewarding to look at, and that can bring feelings of pride and accomplishment.. again, things we don’t always get a lot of in the rest of our daily life.
Coloring can be a solitary pastime, keeping one company during alone time, or it can be communal. You can join with other coloring enthusiasts and color together in social situations, throw a coloring party, or just share finished pieces with each other. Seeing other people’s creations can inspire you to try new mediums, color combinations or styles. In reality, you are collaborating even when you color alone as you are completing the vision of the artist who did the design to color.
Even if you never show the pictures to anyone, the time you spend coloring is not wasted time. In a world where everything we do is supposed to be productive and benefit everyone around you, isn’t it refreshing that there is something you can do that is just for you and there is no one who cares if, how or when you it? Even if you choose to be social with your coloring, in the end, it is just for you. Tape your pictures to the wall, frame them, or put them in a box and never look at them again.. it is totally up to you! Very freeing isn’t it?
In the past couple of years, I have branched out from coloring to an art form called Zentangle and Zentangle inspired art – This is a way of drawing and creating lines in somewhat repetitive fashion and is another form of creativity that has the same effects as coloring. It is even used for therapy by health professionals. Zentangle is normally done in black and white, but it can inspire you to further art and you can even color in some of your creations if you wish.
A few Zentangle patterns
Recently, I learned how to make some of my own designs to color – How cool is that. Most of the pages I color are from coloring books, or found on Pinterest, but now, I even make my own. Here are a few of my original designs for you to copy and color:
(right click and use ‘save image as’ or ‘save to desktop’)
Please enjoy these designs and if you have never tried coloring, I hope I have inspired you to give it a try!
September is National Yoga Month!
I knew very little about yoga, except that several years ago there were a bunch of ladies who showed up every week in stretch pants, with water bottles and mats and they all disappeared into a classroom in the facility I was working in for an hour or so and left smiling.
I had been told by my church that I shouldn’t even consider Yoga as it was against my religion and would pull me away from God. So I looked suspiciously on the whole things and ignored it, worried about the poor misguided ladies in the class.
Fast forward several years, much enlightenment on my part, a lot less judgmental attitude (definite growth there!). I learned that Yoga is not a religious pursuit, although it can be very spiritual. It does not take away from any established religion and you can actually integrate your own forms of prayer into the meditative portions of your yoga practice, making it even more personal and effective.
Yoga As A Powerful Healing Support
In 2011-2012 came a personal battle with cancer: during which time I found a ‘pink ribbon yoga’ class that was mostlybreathing and relaxation and a bit of movement to relieve stiffness and help us get in touch with our bodies. That helped me through the worst times of treatment and brought me peace.
I had to stop attending due to work schedules and I fell away from the practice at home. (I am happy to report that I have since returned occasionally and they are still going strong, providing a safe place for those who are in need of peace and a community of acceptance and healing.)
Returning to the Healing – Yoga as a Life Saving Medicine
In 2014 came the slide into the depths of deep depression, anxiety and OCD – brought on by job stress and the PTSD I suffered following my cancer treatment. Yoga surfaced again in my life as one option to DO something, anything to try to help myself cope at a time when I had been termed passively suicidal by several doctors and with the official diagnoses of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder, Severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Quite a bucket full of crap to carry around!
Well, I decided that Yoga was cheaper than taking painting classes, and I figured it would at least be some exercise. I took the plunge, was generously gifted with a yoga mat and off I went to try some yoga that wasn’t specifically focused on my cancer since I was now considered a ‘survivor’ – whatever that meant, and wanted to do something to challenge myself and needed to stop focusing on the fear and trauma left by the cancer treatments and the aftermath.
What I found in joining a yoga class was a community, akin to the one that I had found in my ‘Pink Ribbon Yoga’ classes, but now I was stronger and could actually attempt Asanas and flow. Being desperate to still my mind and find balance and stability, I threw myself into my practice with a vengeance.
Don’t just take my word for it!
Rajan Narayanan, Ph.D founded the nonprofit Life in Yoga Foundation and Institute says “Any physical exercise done with breath awareness becomes yoga: anything done without the breath is just a physical practice.”
Yoga increases the body’s ability to respond to stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows the heart and lowers blood pressure. That in turn suppresses sympathetic activity, reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body.
“Yoga may help prevent diseases across the board because the root cause of 70 to 90 percent of all disorders is stress”, says Narayanan.
This was exactly what I needed –
I was in the condition I was in mentally and physically due to stress.
What better way to address it than yoga.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Regular practice is essential, whether it is formal classes a couple of times a week or simply a few minutes a day, each day at home. The benefits can be felt within the first week or two and only continue to build. The beauty is, once you start feeling the benefits, you will WANT to keep practicing!
Yoga is not a one size fits all therapy, and there are a myriad of types and styles available. Whether , you are ill or physically limited in some way – like me when I first found it, or whether you are athletic and are looking for something to really challenge your body. There are yoga classes to be found that you can do quietly in a chair if you can’t even get to the floor, or some that will challenge even the most athletic and leave you drained, sweating and panting for breath. There are also many forms in between these two extremes.
The first professional-level medical textbook on yoga therapy is due to be published in 2016. One of the authors states:
“I believe these studies (referring to current studies) are systematically underestimating how powerful yoga can be. Science may tell us that it decreases systolic blood pressure and cortisol secretion and increases lung capacity and serotonin levels, but that doesn’t begin to capture the totality of what yoga is.”
It is not a magic bullet, but the lessons learned in class: focus, forgiveness, patience, silence, acceptance, perseverance – all in an atmosphere of peace, will follow you off the mat and into your daily living. For me, positive affirmations and intentions from the class and the community sustained me and reminded me that I was not worthless, that while I might not look like many of the yoga selfies out there while I practiced, it didn’t matter.
REMINDER: You DO NOT have to be THIN to practice yoga. You can do yoga, no matter what your body size or current level of fitness !!!!
Granted, you might not do a ‘crow pose’ right away, but you can certainly start and not being rail skinny doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do this or any other pose if you patiently allow your body to guide you into it.
YOUR practice is YOUR practice and whatever YOU are capable of is beautiful, and as the weeks and months go on, you will see the growth, physically, mentally and emotionally. I certainly did as I continued my practice and I came from a place of very deep darkness and my yoga practice pulled me back into the light.
Yoga connects your body with your mind in a way that really cannot be explained until you experience it.
What I found was that my body grew stronger, my mind slowed down, my anxiety and OCD lessened, my depression lifted, and I was more able to deal with every day stresses. I no longer carry the weight of those diagnoses with me. Yoga freed my mind and emotions, while my body grew strong and supple.
I also got curvy! I didn’t lose weight, but I gained ‘shape’. For the first time in over 20 years, I had a waist.
As my body became stronger, I became able to do physical things that I was unable to do 30 years earlier as a young woman.
Best of all, I found myself remembering to breathe through stressful things instead of diving into self-loathing and criticism.
YOU can experience the joy and strength that comes from yoga.
Celebrate National Yoga Month!
During September if you go to www.YogaMonth.org you can get a free coupon for a week of free yoga at many local participating studios.
GIVE IT A TRY.. hey, it’s FREE! I have my coupon and will be trying out another studio with it! Each one is as unique.
Translated roughly: “I bow to you”, or “I honor the spirit in you that is also in me”
The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet one another with namaste, it means, ‘may our minds meet’, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect and humility.
Yoga has been know to help – Addiction, Anxiety Spectrum Disorders, back pain, cancer, depression, diabetes, endocrine issues, heart disease, hypertension, various mental health issues, Metabolic Syndrome, muscoloskeletal and neuromuscular complaints, neurological and immune disorders, pregnancy issues, Premenstrual Syndrome, perimenopausal and postmenopausal symptoms, respiratory issues, digestive issues, weight management, fatigue, self image, low-energy.
Picture Credit: http://bleepitsoftly.blogspot.com/2012/03/yoga-for-curvy-people.html#!
We are constantly dealing with it. And that’s not all bad. Some stress is good for us, if we had none we would be bored. But at times we let stress get the best of us.
Often it’s not our fault. Work, the demands of family, friends, agendas, social media and even plans for projects we enjoy, they all add up to being constantly on the go, constantly ‘plugged in’ with our minds whirling and our stress levels high.
This takes a toll on us, physically, mentally, emotionally. There is an excellent article HERE at Healthline that goes into 20 ways that stress affects us. I’m not going to re-hash it here, I want to focus on other aspects, but I recommend checking out the article after you are done reading here.
Sometimes we think we operate best under stress, and for many people this is, in fact, true…for a while. But we ALL eventually reach a point where our bodies, minds and emotions hit that breaking point and we need to take that time out.
That’s what I did this weekend. I have a ton of things on my ‘To-do’ list, but instead, my husband and I decided that instead of working the whole holiday weekend in the garden, on the website, on household chores, that we would set it aside, turn our backs on it and just do something completely different.
We went to the Botanical Garden in Naples Florida, and spent a few hours surrounded by the natural (and sometimes contrived) beauty of growing things. It was just under 100 degrees out, and I turned a bit red.. lol, but it was worth it. We stopped at the cafe on premises and had some wonderful fresh squeezed ginger limeade and a cooling snack of ceviche for lunch. Afterward, we stopped at a garden center and bought a small tree and some little plants to add to our own collection and today I ordered a ‘Silver Thorn Euphorbia’ from a garden center in Texas… apparently they are fairly rare, it took quite a while this morning to even find someone who sells them. But as you will see from the picture, it is a totally cool plant.
I want to share some of my pictures with you here so that you too can enjoy some of what we saw. My photography doesn’t do the gardens justice, but perhaps you will get a sense of the grandeur, beauty and diversity of the incredible world that surrounds us.
Sometimes we need to just kick back and leave the world behind and enjoy the beauty.
So without any further chatter, I will be silent and share our day in pictures:
I took pictures of several of the waterlilies in the pond. So many variations!
This one was interesting, everything grew out of a central point.
The lily pads were like trays at least 3 feet apart and you can see how big the flower bud is in the middle of the picture!…HUGE
A burgundy trumpet vine entwined with a powder puff tree.. stunning
This is called a Trailing Chenille plant. the blooms are exactly what the description says.
Croton plants are another that have endless variations
Coral plant bloom
Philodendrons come in EVERY shape and size.
A Burle Marx philodendron-from Brazil
Even the plainer butterflies are beautiful
Bananas – I was at the gardens in December – This stalk was hanging, but there was no fruit at that time.
Pretty pineapples all in a row
Orchids Garden beauty
Orchids are amazing in their variety
A riot of color, shape, size – all orchids
Peaceful reflection pool
Up close and personal
This one reminds me of a little man wearing a hat…lol
Seeming to hang magically in mid-air, the sun shining through it’s petals
Who says brown flowers aren’t pretty? Just study this for a minute or two.
Silver Thorn Euphorbia – Rare – originally from Madagascar – truly awesome and unusual
Silver Thorn Euphorbia
More incredible succulents
Ponytail palm – one of the more unusual little palms
Years ago the only people who used to need to detox were people with alcohol and drug problems.
But we live in a world where we are surrounded by toxins, constantly. Not only are we surrounded by them, we ingest them, and our modern lifestyle only adds to the problem.
So where are these Toxins?
1. In the FOOD you eat!
Unless youare eating a purposely GMO Free, Organic diet, there are a lot more toxins in your food than you might think. Even the best diets can’t be 100% certain to eliminate all toxins.
The biggest source is PROCESSED FOODS!
They are full of chemical additives and do everything from make you crave more of them to cause rashes and poor digestion, digestive issues, food allergies and health issues that modern science hasn’t even begun to understand yet.
Another source is CONVENTIONAL PRODUCE, which is full of pesticides.
Over a billion lbs of Pesticides have been used on food in just the U.S. Pesticides are poison and most do not wash off.
You can reduce your exposure to toxins in your food by choosing to eat less processed foods and choosing organic produce. Whole, real, clean food will limit the pesticides and chemicals that your body has to deal with, and give it less to have to fight to eliminate.
2. In the WATER you drink! (and bathe in)
Where does your water come from? Your body is between 70% and 90% water, so the water you drink to hydrate your cells is critcal.
TAP WATER, unfortunately, is full of toxins, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found over 300 chemicals in tap water based on analysis of 20 million records from state water officials.
This doesn’t include the pharmaceuticals that are now being found in tap water (prescription and over the counter drugs) – some of the most common: antibiotics, anti-dipressants, birth control, seizure medication, cancer treatment drugs, pain killers, tranquilizers and statin drugs.
BOTTLED WATER may be just as bad… or worse.
May bottled water companies are simply bottling tap water and selling it to you. PLUS, now you are adding the toxins that are leaching from the bottles.
Try to choose well sourced spring water, get a really good water filter, and (remember you absorb water through your skin) get a filter for your shower.
3. In your PERSONAL CARE and GROOMING PRODUCTS
Paradoxically, we use these things to maintain our bodies and look good, and these could be the very things that are aging our skin and making us sick
Toxic chemicals lurk in almost all health and beauty products!
Toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, anti-wrinkle cream, body lotion, perfume, hand-sanitizer, hair spray, mouthwash: Anything that comes in contact with your skin, (or gets inside your mouth) is absorbed into your system. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and if you are covering it in toxins, it will absorb them all.
Some things to avoid: Parabens (anything with the word paraben at the end), Flouride (no it is NOT good for you), sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, triclosan, mineral oil, petroleum products, anything with DEA, alpha and beta hydroxy acid, talc (horrible for the lungs!), lanolin and phthalates.
You can make many of your own cosmetics, and health care products. I make my own toothpaste, perfumes, and I use coconut oil as a moisturizer. A google search will bring up hundreds of natural DIY recipes.
4. In your ENVIRONMENT
We all know about air pollution from car exhaust, manufacturing, pesticides in the air and even second hand smoke in some environments.
But indoors there are sources of pollution you may not think about.
Things like the chemicals you clean with, containing bleach and ammonia can be very harmful. Always wear gloves if you must use these.
Better yet, find natural alternatives. There are hundreds of sites online where you can find recipes for home made cleaners that are non-toxic and work as well as many of their toxic cousins.
Carpets, paint, and sometimes furniture can have toxins in them that leech into the air in your home. Homes now are so air-tight that these remain in the home and recirculate over and over through the air systems, both heating and cooling.
All of these can cause a range of health problems the least of which are respiratory infections, nausea ans skin irritation.
Long term exposure can bring on chronic disease.
For the environmental toxins you do what you can. Avoid toxic chemicals whenever you can, air out your house whenever possible, and make sure that your heating and cooling systems are properly maintained and cleaned. Consider becoming active in an environmental group to try to clean up some of the outside pollution in your area.
5. In STRESS
There have been numerous studies (and confirmed by the CDC) that up to 90% of all illness and disease is due to stress or is made worse by stress. Stress alone can kill good bacteria living in your gut that help keep your digestive system strong. Did you ever notice how stress affects your own digestion? Your stomach may get upset, you may have appetite issues. You, or someone you know who is under a lot of stress may develop things like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or Ulcers, or Crohns Disease.
The newest revelations in medical science show that our digestive system and our digestive health is CRITICAL to our immune systems.
AGAIN: Gut health is an indicator of overall health! Stress can seriously disrupt your digestive health!
Strengthen your inner biological system with probiotics and fermented foods and work on finding ways to de-stress. Exercise, Yoga, Meditation, Gardening, Get a Pet, Talk to a Friend.. whatever it takes…. Getting yourself thinking more positively and lessening your stress will boost your immune system and help you be healthier
So do you need to detox????
While it never hurts anyone to minimize exposure to toxins, Here are some signs that indicate it might be a good idea to intentionally focus on detoxing!
- Exhaustion/Trouble Sleeping
- Difficulty losing weight – even though you are doing everything right (really, with no cheating)
- Finding it hard to focus – brain fog
- Sexual issues
- Digestive problems
- Food Allergies
- Cravings – yes, we probably ALL crave chocolate, but if your cravings are out of control for several things, this could be an indicator
- Eating disorders
- High Cholesterol/Heart disease
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Mental/Emotional Instability
There are good detox programs out there and there are bad detox programs out there. Beware of anything that is radical. A healthy balanced approach, with medical supervision if you have any health conditions, is the best plan.
You don’t have to, and probably cannot, (no matter what some people claim) detox in a few days or a week. You can start there, but a slow steady plan that removes toxins and adds nutrient dense foods and foods that build your immune system and help remove toxins naturally will get you started on a lifetime of better health, no matter what your condition is when you begin.
Coming This Fall:
— a sensible start to eating better for life.