I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for quite some time. In fact, I have a little memo in my Blackberry where I keep ideas for future posts, and this topic has been sitting there since May. The idea came from an article I read in Body + Soul written by Cheryl Richardson (one of my favorite contributors). The article was called “Your Feel Good Plan” and talked about how we take suppliments for our health but we don’t take time to do things we enjoy and make us happy. She believes by carving out specific time for the things we enjoy, we will decrease our stress and improve our health. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking idea, but I liked the concept of making joy a ritual to honor daily.
Her suggestion in the article was to seek out at least one thing that makes you happy and do it everyday. She also recommended making a list of several things you enjoy and picking among them each week. We go out of our way to eat vitamins each morning, but somehow these small acts of joy can slip by in a busy schedule.
My New Happy Vitamin
I thought about the idea quite a bit. I contemplated what I would do as my “happy vitamin.” I wanted to choose things I don’t already do. Cooking came to mind, but I cook pretty regularly and it seemed a bit too utilitarian. I wanted to do something that had no “practical use” or social aspect, since those actions were already incorporated in my life.
What has become my new happy vitamin is the simple act of coloring. A few weeks ago my Prismacolor colored pencils resurfaced among a sea of boxes. They had only been used two times since high school, but for some reason I kept them tucked away. Recently I decided to sharpen them and put them in a vintage glass near the tv – hoping that I would one day begin sketching again.
They sat there for two weeks, untouched.
Then finally, after staring at them between episodes of Chopped and Greek, I decided to try to sketch some flowers in a vase on the counter. I found myself being pretty critical of my work and frustrated that I wasn’t automatically as good as my high school ability. And that wasn’t relieving stress. I was creating another pressure on myself. The thought “I must now improve at drawing” was not a recipe for fun and relaxation.
So I took a step back. I thought about why I still had these color pencils despite countless exfoliations.
Quietly, a memory of my first experience in middle school with Prismacolor pencils came to mind. I used to be fascinated with Prismacolor pencils in art class. I loved how smoothly they colored inside ink drawings and how awesomely the white pencil (my favorite) blended two different hues. That was what I found joy in.
With that realization, I decided to print out coloring pages found online and color them in. No pressure, no inner critic telling me my perspective is off or proportions are wrong. Just the simple act of making the colors as bold and blended as possible.
Sometimes I don’t get around to coloring, but more often than not I color for at least a few minutes (or petals). I’ve even noticed on my runs near flowerbeds, that I take a closer look at the shading and naturally occurring color combinations for future coloring pages.
So what about you? Any coloring fans out there? Any other Prismacolor addicts? Other “happy vitamin” suggestions?
UPDATE (10/3): I find the coloing pages by Google Image searching the term “flower coloring pages” – and I print the ones I like.