COLORING BLUE

A FRIEND BROUGHT ME TWO COLORING BOOKS  when I was hugely pregnant at age 39 and suffering with tree-trunk ankles.  My particular (read “peculiar”) emotional state could have been described, I guess, as “touchy, stressed, and a little crazy.”

My relationship with my husband was, at the time, very strained.  I was filled with fear about how to have a baby and what to do with it when it arrived.  Oh, yeah, and my father had died just months before the baby was due.

So, I guess I had a lot to be stressed about.  Ya think?

The coloring books my friend brought were nothing like I’d seen before.  They were printed on translucent, plasticky stuff, and the drawings were beautiful, one book of angel pictures, and one of butterflies.  Along with the books, my friend gave me a brand new set of colored pencils.  She gently told me I could color and relax while I put my swollen feet up.  It was a small act of great love, and I did as she suggested.

And it helped me through.

Self care is a litany I recite often and practice slightly less-often.  I always come back to it, though, as I do in my posts.  Coloring is in my Self-Care Toolbox, along with doodling with pencils, good pens, or Sharpie® markers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it.  I pride myself on coloring outside the lines, actually.

Go ahead and find something to do with your hands that frees your mind from worry and fear for a little while.  While you’re at it, you may find yourself praying or meditating or even hearing from God. (It happens to me!)  Washing dishes does it for me.  So does showering or driving or cutting up vegetables for dinner.  But coloring doesn’t ever feel like a chore.  And it’s COLORFUL.  I need more of that in my life, don’t you?

Oh, FYI:  colored pencils didn’t work well on the translucent pages, so I switched to my trusty Sharpie®s.  Crayons worked, too.  I suggest you check out what kind of material the book is made of and use what works.

Here’s one of the books my friend gave me. You can click on it to buy from Amazon, if you’d like.  They have loads of other ones, too.

And here are a couple I’m putting on my wish list for Christmas:

Click On Images To Purchase

Art-Starved

A friend once told me that she doesn’t watch TV, except for football games, because the shows are mindless, crass junk.

This irked me.

At first I thought my irritation came from a sense that I was somehow wrong and maybe uncool to want to watch TV.  It took me a minute, and then I realized something else was bugging me.  I agreed with my friend about the alarming abundance of television awfulness. “But you know,” I said, “Movies and shows can be seriously moving and entertaining, creative and magical.  That’s Art!  We need Art!”   She thought about it a minute and, inspired, said she’d never thought of it that way.

I remembered that conversation because I watched two movies on TV the other week, Unbroken and Wild.  Both of them triggered deep feelings. I winced, I cried and I shouted right out loud in my living room, “Yes!”  I identified with the themes of loss and bravery and triumph.  Those movies made me think and feel when I needed something to move me, when something had to be done with the walls I’d erected around my heart. Those movies, with all the brilliant writing, acting, directing, and all the other creative movie magic within, helped me feel human again.

A million years ago, I worked at a mind-numbing job in a corporate office and felt like I was slowly dying.  Twelve years into it–I’m no quitter!–I left on a lunch break, headed to a bookstore, and returned with a stack of books about career change, which I placed in a prominent place on my desk for all to see.  On the top of the stack was “Kiss Off Corporate America.”  That one made me feel really good. 😏  But the best one in the stack turned out to be this:

Creating a Life Worth Living

Carol Lloyd, the author, wrote it for creative types who are trying to find a way to do their Art and afford food and shelter.  She writes in a way that artists think.  Amazed, I remember reading this book slack-jawed, with absolute wonder.  And joy.  Eureka! It was as if I now had permission to accept my artist self and actually pursue a life that might not look “normal” to others, but would make perfect sense to me. Relevatory!  Life-changing! Important!

I’ve been pursuing a life worth living ever since.  In July, I left my job leading a worship band.  I’d been doing it for 14 years.  The job itself and the leaving were Revelatory! Life-Changing!  Important!

This fall, I saw a friend in an amateur production of Memphis: The Original Broadway Production and watched Kinky Boots on Broadway.  Revelatory! Life-Changing! Important!

And I started this blog, which I hope is, say it with me: Revelatory! Life-changing! Important! in some way for not just me, but also to you.  I’ve come through a rough few years, and now feel an undeniable craving for all things creative. For beauty, devastation, joy, bewilderment–whatever Art has for me to see, hear, taste, experience.  I need to feel.  I need to marvel at the technique, the talent, the expression of emotion.  I need Art!

Support the Arts, Enjoy the Arts, Make Art!

(It helps in so many ways to know your thoughts and experiences.  Please take a few moments, if you can, to comment and “like” and maybe even follow this blog.  Thanks for reading!)

 

“The Tao Of Pooh” By Benjamin Hoff

I’m so cranky right now I can’t even stand myself.  Life went from this:

IMG_4022  toes in the sand

to this:

Leaf On Carthe audacity of falling leaves.

I know, I know. This happens every year where I live.  Yeah, I know it’s natural and good.  Each season has its gifts.

Sweater weather.  Low humidity.  Candy corn.  (gift! gift! gift!)

Every year, though, I get older and watch my teen  grow up and slightly more away.  My dear mom needs more help. My knees ache and my shoulder is weird.

People I know die.
ME NO LIKEY.

Thank goodness I’ve been learning for a while what life’s true gifts are. Lots of books walk me through acceptance of life’s passages (AKA “going with the flow”) and appreciation of its gifts. One of them is The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.

Get it here, if you wish:I’d LOVE to get your comments!

“Homecoming: Reclaiming And Championing Your Inner Child” by John Bradshaw

There’s so much snarky talk about self-help books. I hesitate to write this post because it involves “inner child work,” which has a bad rap. Such a cliché.  Truth is, the attention I paid to my own “inner child” (or whatever you want to call it) paid off in a big way:  no more burying what I was really thinking and feeling. The delicious power as I  began to value my own opinions as least as much as I did others’.  The lifting of the heaviness that had dragged me down into a lonely, lightless pit.

I was depressed and didn’t know why, and my therapist suggested a book, “Homecoming: Reclaiming And Championing Your Inner Child” by John Bradshaw. The work I did within its pages hurt like hell, but guided me like a roadmap to the land of miracles and freedom.

All this from one book?

No.  But along with therapy,  plus my dogged commitment to get to the bottom of things, this book turned on the headlights and started me on my way to what has become another self-help cliché:  Finding Myself.

Click here to get the original:

Click here to get an updated (and renamed) version:

“The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, M.D

Photo on 8-21-15 at 10.06 AMLIFE IS DIFFICULT.”

I sat at the top of the beach–my happy place–in tears. I was miserable and didn’t know quite why.  A couple had given me a copy of The Road Less Traveled as a gift for singing at their wedding, and I’d packed it with my beach stuff.  It came at the right time in my life, because I was in pain, and in those first few words, Dr. Peck made it ok for me to feel bad.

Because Life Is Difficult.

At least some of the time.

When I opened to the first page of The Road Less Traveled, I’d been working with a counselor on what turned out to be my depression for several months.  He’d recommended a book at the start of my healing journey (more on that in another post), and went on to recommend many more, all of which turned out to be just what I needed.  A lot of other books presented themselves to me along the way, the right book at the right time.  In this blog, I’ll tell my stories of healing and hope through the words of the books that helped me so much.  Maybe you will find healing and hope through my stories.  Thanks for reading!

You can buy the version I read of “The Road Less Traveled” on Amazon here:

For an updated version, go here: