Fire season is in full swing here in Northern California. No matter where you live, you have likely heard about the painful drought we’ve been suffering for four years. This drought has made California particularly susceptible to destructive, dangerous and fast-moving fires. There are numerous fires burning in California right now, particularly north of San Francisco.
Just a few days after returning from a fire in the Grass Valley area in early August, where he was for six days, my husband turned around and left for yet another wild land fire.
I worry about Bill often – too often – and feel his absence every morning when I wake up and have coffee alone and every evening when it’s time to eat dinner and talk about the day. Knowing he’s sore and exhausted and constantly putting himself in dangerous situations is unsettling but I know he’s a professional, he’s strong and smart and he can handle it. Me worrying about him doesn’t help anyone.
That being said, it’s hard for me to remain calm and worry-free at all times. I needed distractions – pleasant distractions!
A few weeks ago, I saw a beautiful image on my Instagram feed. Someone I follow posted a photo of her finished madala diagram she’d colored during a long flight. It was so vibrant and beautiful!
I immediately remembered how much I used to love coloring books. I had few of them in my early 20s when I lived in San Francisco and used to color when I was bored or while watching tv (well before social media and smart phones!).
In fact, that was exactly what I was doing on October 18th, 1989 when the big earthquake struck. You know how you recall with details moments like that? I can even remember the pattern of the diagram and the colors of the pens I was using.
Once I decided I would take up coloring for calmness, I headed over to Amazon and shopped for some colored pencils. I bought this set for about $25. They aren’t bad and they do the trick but I would soon learn there are even better pencils!
Of course I needed a coloring book or two! And since I was seeking calmness and stress relief, the first book I chose is Balance by Angie Grace.
And at our local art supply store, Village Art Supply, I found Secret Garden by Johanna Basford, which is a very detailed coloring book full of flowers, gardens, insects and birds.
I received my pencils and the Balance book in the mail a couple of weeks ago. That evening, in front of the tv, I got to work on my first mandala. I colored a little bit every night until it was done. I love the way it turned out!
I was immediately hooked on coloring, once again. Soon after Bill left for another fire, I would finish them in one sitting rather than taking three or four days to work on them. Often I stay up well past midnight coloring away!
I soon upgraded my pencils to Prismacolor. A few friends told me about them so I bought some singles and fell in love. What a difference! They’re not waxy at all and have deep pigments. They are well worth the extra cost.
Coloring books have officially become my new hobby and my new favorite stress-reliever. It keeps my mind focused on the present and my hands busy, away from the comfort snacks. Although I don’t fancy myself an artist, I can still feel like one while I am in the coloring zone. Coloring books allow me to make beauty with color, choose hues that I think best work for my image and get creative!
This is one of the diagrams I am currently working on. I love the hearts and vines!
And this is a mandala from the Balance book, in progress. I started using gel pens (Gelly Roll) on some of my diagrams. You can be more precise with their fine points. I love the day-glo and metallic colors. They are so much fun!
While I color, I like to turn on my new toy. I call it my “calmness generator” and I love it! This SpaRoom Aromamist Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser not only diffuses essential oils (that I add to water) but it changes color.
I can’t color around the clock – nor do I want to – and I only let myself color at night. If I start working on a diagram during the day, I get nothing else done!
One of my other projects is also a result of Bill being gone. I am creating a home photo studio in our barely-used living room.
Bill takes all my fashion photos for the blog. With him away so much this summer, I decided I wanted a back-up. Hopefully having a studio will give me more freedom and flexibility where photos are concerned.
Malia of Style by Malia told me about this Limo Studio light kit. For about $130, I now have four standing lights, three muslin backdrops, umbrellas, deflectors and a stand for the backdrops. I added a lace panel for texture and to break up the white backdrop.
I am almost ready to start taking photos and doing videos here. I am so excited!
I am very much looking forward to being arm-in-arm with this special man again – hopefully before the week is over!
Many, many thanks to all the fire personnel – especially here California – for putting themselves at risk to protect the lives and properties of strangers. Their bravery and strength is awe-inspiring.
Are you into coloring books for grown-ups?
If so, what are your favorite books? Pens? Pencils?
What do you do to keep yourself calm during worrisome moments?
Make it a rich – and calm – day!