Adult Colouring in & Mindfulness

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As someone who struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, amongst other things, the dream of living fully is offset by the daily reality of having to manage the practicalities of these health conditions.

However, I have found a huge health benefit in the practice of adult colouring in. I realise that some people find the concept bizarre and even laughable, yet before you ‘turn the page’ if you are currently of that opinion, might I entice you to stick around for a while by telling you that I have found it immensely beneficial on a number of levels?

Anxiety and severe anxiety and depression are very difficult conditions to manage.  Sufferers find that their minds and bodies are on a constant ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. It is hard to calm the breathing, the nervous system, and at times this can even manifest as intense physical pain.

It has taken time, but I have found that the creative and ‘analogue’ outlet of colouring in has been beautifully therapeutic. When you colour you are more ‘present’ in the moment, your breathing slows and racing thoughts slowly settle on observing the image in front of you, thinking about colour choices, feeling the texture of the pen or pencil against the grain of the paper. Added to that, there is a satisfaction of having collaborated in creating something, adding life and colour to the artist’s beautiful illustrations.

The above images are pictures that I have coloured from the beautiful artwork of Johanna Basford’s ‘Secret Garden’, and Daria Song’s ‘The Time Garden’. Both of these illustrators are accomplished and bring their own sense of wonder to their pages. Johanna Basford is a great advocate of the idea of ‘collaboration’ between the illustrator and the ‘colourist’.

I personally find the world of adult colouring in a vibrant, enchanting and healing place to dwell.

Where you are right now…

may not be where you wish to be.  The daydreams of your youth seem to have faded now into obscurity.  You have already learned so much, and this is your journey.

So take a breath, take time, not to worry about the stretch of road ahead of you that seems so arduous, but take the time just to be.

And know that you are important, you are loved and you are enough, as you are. Right now. In this moment.

Take time to consider the blessings you already have. Know that you are not alone and that other travellers will meet with you along life’s often confusing or difficult way.

Take heart. Have courage. Have faith. Enjoy this moment. Just be.

 

Through arid flatlands of the heart

Detonate – Daily Prompt

Through arid flatlands of the heart, an innocent traverses.

She cradles a bud, fragile, explosive.

Unrelenting flames close in, anguished cries, and burning dreams

Explode around her.

Torn around her, faces of strangers, and those she held dear.

A city, a world explodes and crumbles with hate.

She holds in her palm, a bud, more powerful.

It is Love.

It is her time to detonate.  (c)rose

 

Random Acts of Kindness ~ an inspiring thought for the day…

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Picture courtesy of Google Images.

Kindness: noun: kindness

  1. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
    “he thanked them for their kindness and support”
    synonyms: kindliness, kind-heartedness, warm-heartedness, tender-heartedness, goodwill, affectionateness, affection, warmth, gentleness, tenderness, concern, care;

Source: Google.

The novelist, Henry James, once said: “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

The importance of kindness cannot be understated. Nor can it’s power to impact another’s life be underestimated.

You may be familiar with the film ‘Pay It Forward’, in which when a class was asked by their social studies teacher to come up with an idea that will have a positive impact on the world, one little boy, Trevor comes up with the idea of ‘paying it forward’. To pay it forward would mean that if someone does something good for you, instead of ‘paying them back’, you would ‘pay it forward’ to three more people and they in turn would do the same.  A central premise, however, is that the act of kindness would have to be something of significance that the recipient couldn’t do or achieve for themselves.

I think this is a wonderful idea. However, I think acts of kindness don’t have to be ‘big’ or of monumental significance to have a deep and lasting impact on others and ourselves.

In thinking of the idea of ‘RAKs’ or Random Acts of Kindness, I have come to the conclusion that ‘random’ doesn’t need to mean unplanned.

We can have it in our minds and hearts that we will do something for someone even if we don’t know for whom or at what time in the day or week that might be. For example, buying a sandwich or a bottle of water and keeping it ready to give to a homeless person that we might come across.

There are so many ways we can inspire each other to be kind, and to extend that kindness beyond ourselves and our own circle of friends and contacts.

Think about a kindness someone has shown to you. No matter how small. Think about how that made you feel, and don’t underestimate the power of the gift of kindness that you hold in your own hands to give to another.

I remember in school, I had been bullied and was very introverted, shy and had little self esteem. I felt in many ways, dehumanised. Years passed and in my final year of school someone showed me kindness. Not with any monumental act or deed, but in simply taking the time to show that they cared, that I was worth listening to, and getting to know.

It was a real shock to my system, for although I had by that time managed to make a few ‘friends’ I had never before felt that anyone in school actually *cared*. The kindness was quiet, yet palpable. I didn’t know how to accept that someone would want to be kind to me.

And yet, a small gesture ultimately set the wheels in motion for my heart to soften, learn to trust and for my life to change.

My heart is open to giving kindness to others. We may never realise the impact that even a small act of kindness may make not just in someone’s day, but on the trajectory of their whole life. Isn’t that in itself miraculous?

I’d like to encourage you to think about kindness today. How you can be kinder to yourself and to other people. What could you do to reach out or to reconnect?

Here are a few ideas to get you started. And don’t forget to ‘pay it forward’ 🙂 With love, x.

  1. Reach out to a friend that you haven’t connected with for a while.
  2. Write a letter to tell someone that you care.
  3. Give a homeless person a drink or some food.
  4. Write a random note or a postcard to encourage someone and leave it in a library book, in a coffee shop, or somewhere that someone you don’t know will find it.
  5. Tell someone they are wonderful, today.
  6. Be aware of the people around you and whether they need help – the old adage about helping ‘grannies’ across the street, isn’t such a bad one 🙂
  7. Inspire yourself by making your own list of ‘random acts of kindness’ that you can plan to do in the coming month.

Where your feet may tread…and the fine art of ‘Staycationing’

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Good Morning lovely people,

At least it is the morning on my side of the world! 🙂  It is a beautiful bank holiday Monday, which means I can have a relaxed start to the day, a welcome novelty from the usual ‘Manic Monday morning rush’!

Recently I decided to try something that I hadn’t done before. I realised that if I wanted to really pursue my dreams, then I would have to make a thoughtful and concerted effort to make time to do so.

Like many people, I work full time, and although I enjoy my job and make time in the evenings to relax and be creative, over time stress and the issues of other people can build up and creativity becomes a leisure activity that we indulge in ‘when we have the time’, and therefore that deep focussed immersion of ourselves into a creative ‘headspace’ as it were doesn’t truly happen amid the interruptions and myriad voices and commitments vying and calling for our attention.

So, I did it. I took a few days off work and rather than go on holiday (or ‘vacation’), I decided to create my very own ‘Staycation’ and creative retreat at home.

I can write more about the process of this and what it looked like and how it took shape and what I did, if there is interest. However, initially I had set aside the time for the purpose of a creative ‘Writing Retreat’.

Writing is a passion of mine, and I am working on a couple of novels – my first. One of which I have been working on for a good few  years now, and is dear to my heart, and is an expression of my life and faith journey in an allegorical form – if you like adventure, interesting characters, deep thinking, and profound expression of life’s deepest experiences, then this is a tale that I am perhaps telling for you, as well as for myself 🙂

My second work is more lighthearted, but I’ll save that for another post.

What I found happening, for this particular time set aside at least, was that the scope of the purpose of my creative retreat both broadened and deepened.

It became a time for me to be still, to commune with God, my Creator (I am a person of faith), and to hear my own thoughts.

The solitude and freedom from the usual demands of a ‘9-5’ routine gave me a beautiful opportunity to slow down, to take time, to walk at nature’s own pace, and to dwell deeply in a creative space.

The focus was not so much on ‘producing’, but on being. Even if the creative endeavour was the feeling or thought itself and the expression of the heart in just one line, that in itself was profound – a deepening connection, and a being present and unhurried.

I found a joy in the simplicity of taking time to be, to pray, to find droplets of healing and understanding through this time. I enjoyed unhurried walks by the riverside, knowing that I did not have to ‘clock watch’ or fit myself into the boxes of the world’s schedules – at least, not for this set aside time.

I wrote, I cooked, I sang, I took photographs, I drew and coloured, and enjoyed the time, in a childlike way, simply to be. I also limited my time and engagement with technology, and I found that this was a balm and a barrier against the modern syndrome that is ‘FOMO’ (the Fear Of Missing Out), and at last I could hear myself think, and that was enough in itself.

I feel that it is an important thing to take time to listen and to be, if and when we get the chance. We live in such a fast paced and hurried world that we are often drained of the vitality to be our best selves and to truly enjoy the gift of the life we’ve been given.

Going back to work I did feel refreshed, but just as soon as I got back, I was immersed in the noise of other people’s ‘stuff’, for want of a better word. And yet, I believe that taking time to take care of ourselves helps us ultimately to be more patient and kind and compassionate to other people.

I wandered through and out of my retreat with the thread of thought that on ‘re-entry’ into the world 😉 I would continue to make small and consistent life changes to ensure that although I generally do not have vast amounts of time to take to ‘retreat’ from the daily busy-ness of the world, I can make my daily life calmer, more peaceful, more creative and meaningful.

It is definitely a step worth taking.

 

Survive ~ Daily Prompt

Survive

One seven letter word. Survive.  A sharp intake of breath. The word is potent. Tears silently fill my eyes. Breathe out slowly. Count to three. Remember what you have learned. What have I learned? I try to remind myself and my cheeks grow warm. My lip trembles.

Aren’t we all survivors, in one way or another? Don’t the jagged rocks of life cut and bruise us all? Perhaps some are more agile climbers, while others have gentler meadows to traverse, and sometimes our challenges come and go with the changing terrain of different seasons.

I close my eyes. Blink back the tears. And I remember how strong I am. One small potent seven letter word cannot shake me. Can it?

I am a survivor. More than a survivor. You want me to label my pain, my mountainous challenges, my conquered fears? I can but try, but they speak so little of the lived experience and the experienced Grace.

Daily, I survive. I survive the ongoing scars of childhood bullying, of verbal abuse, hitting, spitting, racial hate against my fragile little person. I survive nightmares, and flashbacks and traumatic memories. I survive anxiety and panic attacks and depression and fear. I survive loneliness and complex trauma, post traumatic stress – yes, like soldiers have.  I survive exploding pain and breaking down and starting again. And again.

But I do not survive alone. Yes, I am a survivor, a blossoming thriver, one among many, in a world full of woe. Yet, I do not mean this.

What I mean is there is One Who holds me. Whose love carries and heals me. Who restores and gives life and makes all things new.  I find His unfathomable love at the Cross, where His sufferings met with mine, and He took them all, and He took and embraced and saved me.  His Name is Jesus.

I do not need to survive. I am loved, and I am held, and I am renewed, and one day by His love, I will be free.