I haven’t colored since I was a child. I remember long ago spending my days investing in this art. Back then I used waxed Crayola crayons. Man, those made it hard to stay in the lines. I remember coloring any which way - this way, that way and any old way. Then I learned to color in the same direction for a more cohesive look. My favorite technique of all was darkening the edges with the same color and then lighter in the middle, a cloud effect is the best way I can describe it.

Coloring came back into the mainstream a few years ago, as a kind of meditation or mindfulness practice. It seemed like a good tool but I never made the time. I usually spend a significant amount of time in the water but since our water access is a dock on a river rather than on a sandy beach ocean side, I have more time on my hands. Watching my daughter color gave me the desire to give it a go. With a whole week ahead I thought it would be the perfect time to give coloring a try and see how it feels. Will it calm me? Will is stress me? Will it make me more mindful? Will I feel restless? Let’s see what happens.

It brought me back to my childhood, doing something I loved doing. As a little girl I wasn’t talented at drawing and it was more comfortable doing something I felt adequate doing. I remember thinking only naturally talented children draw while the rest of us colored. That’s how I remember it. I was okay coloring. The texture of the books – a craft paper that felt fibrous, perfect for wax crayons. There were the regular sized coloring books and then the jumbos sized ones. I like the thin coloring books because they seemed easier to hold the page you were working on. When I was a tad older I graduated to coloring with pencil crayons. One of my favorite toys my “Fashion plate”. Do any of you ladies remember that one? Gosh – the hours spent designing outfits and adding color. So much fun!

Slowly and consciously, I choose the first color to work with and I go for it. I start in the center of the Mandala and work my way outwards. The further along I get in my coloring the more I want to ensure a cohesiveness in my color scheme. I try not to get too wrapped up in making it perfect. I am not concerned with the outcome I have to committed to the process. There are times I turn the Mandala to the left and sometimes to the right. One thing is for sure coloring a Mandala is an activity – the page never stops moving. Later, as I take the time to observe Manisha in her coloring I realize she never moves the page but rather contorts herself instead. I spent some time watching her and it reminded me how we are all different – even when we color.

Midway through I can no longer search for colors from inside a pencil case – I spread all of the colors on the table in front of me. Already I know I will repeat the same color several times and don’t want to mess up by accidentally identify a close cousin. There will be times where I want the exact same color. I am fascinated. Re-exploring something that brings me to visit the past but also grounds me in the present moment. It’s trippy. I hold the marker cap in one hand while I color because it doesn’t fit firmly onto itself. I am comforted that both my hands have something to hold.

The array of colors in the selection is quite nice. I love that there are lots of matted earth tones. It makes it feel more grown up then juvenile. Am what I am doing juvenile? No way – I am at play here. Indulging in play feels darn good and I am reminded that I should do it more often. I lose track of time. I don’t know how long it has taken me to complete the activity and it doesn’t matter because I am on vacation – purposely slowing down.

I am also getting used to the tip of the marker. It is not a fine point. In some spots I have to blot the page so that the marker doesn’t spill beyond the lines. It takes getting used. Back when I was a kid had I colored outside of the lines I might have given up and crumpled the page. An act of total frustration overcome with feelings on inadequacy. I get to a feather like shape while coloring the Mandala. The point of my marker is too thick. I think should I take the black and color block the section? My thought is to give it a go with the burgundy then if it doesn’t work I can black it out. Success, I go very slowly and sweep as though I am using a paint brush rather than a marker. I am reminded to try something before I deem it a failure – try then reassess. This lesson is applicable to other areas of my life. It’s better to try and fail then never to try at all. Believe it or not, as a middle aged mama bear who doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands I am super proud of myself for giving coloring a try. I am reminded of an important lesson that you are always going to get out of life what you put in.

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