I've Started Colouring to Help Me Breathe and Not Die of a Heart Attack

Jen and I took a trip to Michael's — on this, the last day of my stay in Edmonton (sniffle) — and I saw this fabulous collection of colouring books by Valentina Harper. I have been wanting a decent colouring book for a while, so I splurged and bought both Creative Coloring Mandalas and Creative Coloring Animals, along with a set of markers. After not having coloured with any regularity for almost thirty years, I think I'm not doing too badly.

I found that I picked up where I left off at about eleven: my tongue stuck out, I held my marker with an iron grip, and I plotted and planned my colour usage, testing the marker colours on another sheet for each section and then laying them out in order from light to dark.

Colouring goes against the stronger part of my nature which tries to dictate that all things must be practical and purposeful. If an action is not committed to a particular goal of demonstrable value, it is thought of as frivolous and, therefore, unnecessary. I recognize that this style of thinking is not healthy for me, because having the mantra WORK HARD & BE CORRECT floating over my head all the time is about as much fun as sucking on rocks.

Colouring, which is something I always loved to do as a kid, seemed like a good step away from my forced march and toward the practice of a little more stillness and simple being. After tonight, I am already sure I was right. This first mandala took me a long time to colour, at least a couple of hours, and by the time I was halfway through, my shoulders weren't hunched up to my earlobes anymore and my breathing was deeper and slower rather than its now usual shallow pant.

It's like I want to have more fun and not die of a heart attack or something.

What I really want to do, because I of course cannot be satisfied with just colouring these mandalas, is eventually move into drawing my own designs, but I am going to take baby steps. My brain hates me right now, because it doesn't believe in baby steps, but sometimes my gut knows that what my brain believes is stupid, and this is one of those times. I have to like just colouring for a while and not worry about its usefulness beyond its teaching me to sit still and breath for once.

Even now, my brain is trying to tell me this is a horrible idea, like just sitting still for fifteen minutes a day will stop me from changing the world.

Me: Brain? WORK HARD & BE CORRECT will kill us if we don't stop. It will whittle us down to unfun, thin-lipped bean counters who cannot account for joy because it is not sufficiently quantifiable against the solidity of mortgages and retirement funds.

Brain: But what about the mortgage and eating when we're old? What about being vigilant in the face of Very Bad Things?

Me: We are going to colour pretty pictures and let some of the rigidity shake out of us, because breathing is good, and unhealthy and/or dead people can't be here to ward off Very Bad Things.

Brain: Fine, then. Harumph.

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