New Stress Release: Coloring Books

“I feel like a kid again,” says anyone doing something they haven’t done in years. Eating cotton candy, riding a skateboard, watching the movie Cinderella. There is something about doing “kid” things that brings back fond memories of a worry-free life. Playing games with your kids or watching a Disney movie gives you permission to do things you would not ever do on your own. We are happy in those moments.


As the kids grow, the kid activities fade and we are back to traditional outlets to make us happy. In our super stressed-out world, we look for an escape if we know what’s good for us. Exercise helps a lot, my go-to release. Swimming is my all-time favorite. Mindfulness, the mainstream take on meditation is slowly permeating schools, corporations, military and prisons. We are to be fully present, completely aware of our surroundings and our breathing and feelings.


Any of these solutions might be too expensive like a gym. Or maybe the mindfulness seems too “science-y” or “out there” for some. Or heck, maybe sweating or sitting quietly just isn’t going to work.


My favorite new solution for de-stressing: Adult coloring books.


There is nothing to figure out with a coloring book. We GREW up coloring and so we have skill! Back then it was all about staying in the lines, picking colors and if you are super picky, coloring in the same direction to give a smooth, unified look. I first learned about coloring books when we delivered boxes and boxes of games, books, cards, nail polish, socks and puzzles to Stanford Children’s Hospital. My friend told me how much coloring helps even the parents who are at the hospital, waiting and hoping their child will be ok.


The pile of goodwill left at Stanford’s Children’s Art Room never left me. All of it was for teens and parents to pass the time and forget about the bigger problems weighing them down. That coloring book, the one with the kaleidoscope cover with triangles and squares in a star-like pattern sitting in a neat pile at the hospital, never left me. I kind of wanted to try it, buy one for myself, but I was hesitant.


This one is a truly guilty pleasure, more than taking time to read a book. It’s not very grown-up to see an adult coloring in public, say an airplane ride to kill the time. At home, maybe when nobody is looking would be doable, kind of like eating chocolate; nobody needs to know. That’s the only hang-up with adult coloring books. It’s a secret thing even though they are sold everywhere.


I got close to getting a coloring book for me. I bought one for my older sister who had a big birthday. I ran across an adult coloring book at the Stanford Bookstore when my Swedish friend was visiting. Eco-friendly colored pencils were right next to the book of what looked like stained glass pictures to color. I thought, “What the heck? I’m going to get that for her.”


I bought the gift a month in advance. I kept looking at that book and those beautiful brand new pencils with longing. I wanted to color every time I saw them. Maybe she will let us tear out a page over the weekend and we can color together? I really wanted to break out my grade-school art skills.


At the start of the trip, when we dropped our bags in the room, she told my younger sister and I she had a gift for us. What do you know? She had an adult coloring book and pretty oil pastels for each of us. We didn’t have to share books or colors! I quickly hid in the closet to wrap my version of a coloring book and pencils in tissue and a pink sparkle bag. We all howled when she opened it. WE ARE RELATED!

collection of coloring books

Adult Coloring Books are a THING! All the sisters set them aside to go to dinner. The next day, as we walked along the beach in the morning, we talked about what we wanted to do. All my younger sister and I could think about was going back to our room to color! So we did. We colored for about an hour, right up to the time for a massage. We were super relaxed before we even got to the massage. Ha! The massage erased the creakiness in my bones that coloring book cannot.

Not Kidding!

Not Kidding!

Between the coloring books’ power of mental release and a massage, we were living in a dream, practically floating as we walked. I can’t get a massage every weekend, but I can color a picture and feel like I’m back with my sisters, like we were kids again.

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Girlfriends Are The Best!

Our first night in SF

You know those moments when you think, “Wow! I have the best girlfriends!” Sometimes I’m driving in my car thinking about how a friend who solved a problem for me. Or I might think about an acquaintance who gave me the low-down for writing a book and becomes my friend.  Girlfriends are the best in so many…

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I Wanna Be A Millennial

Hipster ideas form here.

Millennials are cool. I want to be one, based on the two I met. I can also say I had a parenting epiphany at the same time. We can learn a lot from these hipsters.   I connected with two very bright ladies through my high school friend, an exchange student from Sweden from way…

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The Easter Bunny Lives

small easter picture

    And that’s the way it was fourteen years ago. A two-year-old was in a face-off with the Easter Bunny, unsure of this tall furry creature in the park. Dozens of chubby-legged preschoolers dragged their brimming baskets from egg to egg, delighting in every pastel find. Candy-filled eggs with melting chocolate and jelly beans…

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2016 Election: Vote for the Hair!

Which one is your favorite?

Regardless of your choice of candidates, most people would agree the 2016 Presidential Election is unprecedented. The frontrunners defied all odds. The lack of political experience improved a candidate’s chances. Usually, discriminatory or inflammatory remarks would sink a candidate, but not this race. Young people are making a huge difference. As long as we are…

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PSA: Don’t Buy Cheap Mascara.

Don't be a Courtney.  Pat Benatar is on Trend.  80s are so NOW!

Don’t buy cheap mascara. If you do, you could look like Courtney Love from her 1993 album cover Live Through This, as pictured above. I was Courtney for Halloween one year. I did it up with an empty pill bottle in my pocket, tiarra,  smeared red lipstick and black eyes.  I bought some SUPER LASH mascara in a…

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“Moms ARE the GREATEST!”

My Corner Office.

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Olympic Dip: Toxic Waters Could Hurt Athletes


  I am not really the science-y type. So, I was a little caught off guard when my Masters Swim buddy suggested I write about the dirty waters of Brazil, the host country to the next summer Olympics. Wow! The topic alone is kind of an Olympic challenge for me. But I chewed on it…

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Journey to Super Bowl City


The Super Bowl is over but we made the most of it in the last 24 hours, starting with a visit to Super Bowl City, right in our own backyard.  The only time we could go was Saturday night, the day before the big game. We risked sharing the moment with 200 thousand of our…

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Top Books To Read in 2016

Looking for a good book? My book club read a pretty crazy-good list in 2015.  Rankings were highly sophisticated, a paper vote and handwritten tally based on 6 of 8 members attending.  We all confessed our votes after the secret query, hence the “almost top three” category.  It was kind of like an Iowa caucus,…

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