Thank you to everyone who has participated in our on line survey that invites your input about connecting with Intuition and your experience of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book. If you would like to particiapte in the survey, here is the link: The Best Kept Secret's for Women's Personal Development and Well Being
Like many women, Gerri is very keen to establish her own home Coloring Circle which can also include a Coloring and Conversation Circle in nature and conversations on a particular theme.
I will address Gerri's questions via a Seven Point plan for creating a Coloring Circle.
'My primary use currently is for my own personal development and stress relief. I would like to invite friends to my home and begin a coloring circle - not sure how that would look.
Q. Do we just color and chat?
The first step in creating a Big Girls Coloring and Conversation Circle begins with setting your Intention.
There are no rules as to what your Intention may be - some people create their Coloring Circle solely for social reasons, to catch up with friends and family, to share food and conversation, creativity and Coloring.
Other Circles are created for a very specific reason that may range from Coloring whilst participating in spiritual or personal development related discussions or to gather in the creative space to support a friend who is going through a difficult time. We also gather to celebrate milestones, return from travels and the arrival of children and grandchildren!
You will find that once women are gathered in the Coloring space, conversation, stories and laughter will flow as easily as the creativity that is expressed in the Coloring pages.
Q. Do we color in silence, meditate and chat later? Food / drinks or not? I have no idea where / how to begin.
This is a fabulous question Gerri as it opens the doors to the infinite possibilities that emerge whenever women gather with a shared intention.
I have created a 7 step process for you to follow in order to discover the treasure chest of the Coloring Circle. As I mentioned before there are no 'rules' when it comes to creating a Big Girls Coloring and Conversation Circle but there are well travelled pathways that are easy to follow and will lead you and your guests into the magic of the mandala and the Coloring process.
1. Set your Intention.
Do you want to create a Coloring Circle for social reasons? Are you keen to have deeper conversations with your friends or are you happy to just color and socialise? Your intention will determine how you set up your Circle and who you invite.
Along with setting your Intention you will also need to make a decision about refreshments and food. In some of our Coloring Circles each member brings something to share for lunch or morning /afternoon tea or supper, depending on the time of the Circle.
At other times a hosting member will supply the food, especially if it is a short circle of two hours or so.
If you are initiating the Circle and plan on it growing over time, you may like to provide the initial lunch or afternoon tea and discuss with your invited members how they would like the Circle to develop.
2. Create your invitation list.
You may like to begin with a small group of 2 or 3 friends who either share your interest in Coloring or will be open to experiencing Coloring together in the Circle. This is a terrific way to bring new and old friends together, to connect with family members or simply invite your old and trusted friends into the creative space.
3. Purchase your equipment.
You may decide that you would like to supply guests with a copy of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book if your Circle is for a special occasion such as a friends birthday. If you decide to supply the Coloring tools, pencils, pens, crayons etc you will need to purchase them beforehand. Alternately your friends may have their own Coloring supplies that will be shared on the table.
You can direct people to Amazon for purchasing their copy of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book here: The Big Girls Little Coloring Book on Amazon:
4. MedARTate on your theme.
Creating a space where your friends and family will gather to Color together is a wonderful, inspiring project and it is important for you to have a very clear idea of what your theme will be.
If you are meeting purely for social purposes you will find the conversation rises and falls with a kind of magic that enriches the Coloring experience. If you decide to choose a specific theme, for example "The woman who inspires me most" there will be some beautiful stories emerge that are in alignment with your intention!
You may also like to choose a theme from The Big Girls little Coloring Book beginning with the first Mandala “My Thoughts Pollinate the Ether” Ask your Circle members “what does that statement mean to you?” and the conversation will amble down some very interesting paths indeed!
MedARTating on your theme can include using colored pencils and a blank page to draw in how you would like your Circle to develop or you may like to color the SiStars mandala in The Big Girls Little Coloring Book as you identify your Intention and set your theme.
5. Create your space.
When I host a Coloring and Conversation Circle I enjoy the setting up of the room as much as I enjoy the time we spend in the circle. If I am supplying the pencils for people to use on the day, I always sharpen them beforehand.
I dust and vacuum the room, place candles on the sideboard and prepare the food with a sense of love and gratitude. Meditation music and incence or lavendar oil also add to the ambience of the setting and create a peaceful, tranquil setting for when your friends arrive.
This image below is of the table in my “Big Room” all ready for the guests to arrive:
6. Welcome your guests and Launch your Circle.
It is a great idea to let your invited guests know from the out set what your intention for the gathering is. You may like to write about it in your email message or discuss it over the telephone when you invite them. When they arrive they will have a sense of anticipation and excitement over what the day /evening will hold and you may choose to Welcome them in a way that generates a sense that this new Coloring and Conversation Circle is a place where they can have fun, share stories, laugh and create together!
When I welcome my guests to a Coloring Circle, I pay my respects to the traditional Aboriginal people of the land we are meeting on as a way to acknowledge we are gathering on sacred land.
7. Share your story.
Now that your Coloring and Conversation circle has begun you have joined a growing, global movement of women who are experiencing the joy and the magic of meeting in the Coloring Circle and sharing in the spirit of fun, sisterhood and creativity!
I would love for you to share your experience and stories on The Women’s Coloring and Conversation facebook page facebook page and in doing so you will inspire other women who are interested in creating a home Coloring Circle by participating in a community of like minded women from all over the world!
On June 30th we launched The Big Girls Little Coloring Book with my terrific publishers Beyond Words
There have been some fabulous comments and feedback on The Big Girls Facebook Page and I warmly invite you to call by, join in the conversations and share in the fun and relaxation of coloring the Mandalas, either in peaceful solitude or with a few friends to create your own Big Girls Little Coloring Circle!
Have you noticed how many articles and news segments, facebook posts and blogs have appeared in the last few months about the phenomenal rise in coloring books for adults? I have and I'm thrilled that the best kept secret in women's personal development is now reaching audiences far and wide!
Many women experience coloring as a meditation that generates well being and a connection to the spiritual self beyond the every day chatter of the every day life.
I have been creating Mandalas and coloring sheets for women for over 20 years and have seen the tremendously positive impact of coloring first hand!
In shelters and prisons I meet many women who give feedback that coloring is one of the best ways to relax because they experience a reconnection to their creativity. The reconnection often opens up old doors on talents and interests that have long been forgotten. As a staff training and development tool colouring pages offer an experience of mindfulness and creativity in the areas of staff training and development and I have been creating and developing them in these settings for many years.
There is debate amongst art therapists over the value of coloring books as "therapy" but what the women who have been making the connection to coloring have told me over many years is that they find it therapeutic, restful and often a catalyst for exploring their creativity and the role that their hands and imagination can play in moving forward from past difficulties.
As Carl Jung said:
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
In celebration of the launch of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book I thought I would share a few of the things that I have learnt about the why part of the Coloring Revolution and some of the reasons we are seeing such a meteoric rise in coloring books for adults.
1.Coloring is therapeutic. In the words of one of the women in our prison group "I've met a lot of psychiatrists and therapists and
counsellors who want me to talk about the things that happened in the past but for me, sitting with the coloring book is one of the most peaceful places I go to".
Coloring a pattern or template is similar to walking a labyrinth. The lines that are followed create a meditative state and within the conformity of those lines, like the labyrinth, the mind and body enter into a soothing meditation that is not confined to or bound by the pattern that is being followed.
2. As children we were very connected to our coloring pencils and often received a coloring book as a gift. In kindergarten we were coloring all the time and then, sometime around junior primary, our colored pencils began to take a back seat to learning processes that were not so much concerned with creativity as academic performance. Many women never found their colored pencils again...until now!
Women are now reclaiming their colored pencils and returning to the fun, relaxing enjoyment of coloring.
3. Many women are tired and exhausted from participating in you can have it all and are now holding down full time jobs as well as running a family full time, pursuing studies and in amongst it "all" are tired, restless and feeling disconnected from their creativity.
Coloring creates a peaceful, personal space that is a form of open eyed meditation. Breathing slows down and the rhythmic movement of the pencils is akin to a mantra that slows the mind and stops its restless chatter.
4. Women experience a great sense of connection and community when they come together to color in circles. This is especially relevant for women who say they are tired of socialising in public spaces and are looking for a return to the Village and the sense of community and belonging that is at the heart of conversation about when the world was a much more simple place.
Gathering in small circles creates a trusting, innovative space where young women and older women can gather. Where we can meet up with friends, make new ones and share food, stories, creativity and laughter together.
The Big Girls Little Coloring Book has 21 Mandalas, each accompanied by an Affirmation poster with a thought provoking message.
It has been a pleasure and a great honour to create a coloring book for women that covers topics such as the power of the mind, the nature of patterns in our life and how to tap into that deep well of creativity that we knew so freely and easily as children and, for many women, are re-discovering again through the pages of coloring books for grown ups!
I worked in women's shelters and human services for many years. The training that was on offer for staff was mostly issue related -dealing with challenging behaviours, anger management and loss and grief.
Most workshops had power points, butchers paper and a predictable format . Creativity as a medium for training and relationship building was foreign to the concept of professional development. The absence of multi sensory engagement sat within a larger empty field where information in human services is delivered as participants sit still, hands motionless in the traditional class room format.
What happened to all that movement and activity, fun and music in the kindergarten space where rapid learning was accompanied to the soundtracks of rhythm, paint brushes, fresh air, movement and a sense of magic and possibility?
Did we out grow the enjoyment of play or was it taken away and replaced with the sit still, stop fidgeting, eyes to the front rigours of the western education system?
I originally wrote The Magical Child in Exile when I was working in homeless and domestic violence shelters and recognised that many of the young people who came to live at the shelter had lost their sense of wonder and creativity but when creative processes were offered to them, becoming hands on and imaginative seemed to ignite an old spark and reawaken a playful, risk taking aspect to their nature that we had not seen before.
The Magical Child in Exile
Once upon a time there was a Magical Child who loved to draw and dance and sing and paint and laugh and play. Some days the Magical Child just twirled and swirled in circles for the sheer pleasure of it all.
The Magical Child even had an invisible friend and all the grown ups thought that was very cute, just as cute as when the Magical Child played ‘make believe’ and “I can do and be any thing”.
When the Magical Child was sad, tears flowed.
When the Magical Child was happy, laughter cascaded.
When the Magical Child was angry there were big yells and sometimes a full-body splat onto the ground but as soon as the moment was processed the discordant energy left their body leaving the cells free to breathe and grow and remain in their healthy natural state.
But by and bye-bye something happened one day.
The Magical Child was in the midst of telling one of the grown up’s (the groan ups as she later called them) about a funny little make believe story when the grown up said, stop being silly! You can’t keep pretending like that! You are a big girl now! They had said the same thing to her brother not so long ago. You are a big boy now. Stop crying. You’re not a baby! STOP IT.”
The Magical Child was shocked and her shock was accompanied by an unpleasant feeling inside of her tummy that took a long time to go away. It was a shaming, a conforming, con-forming moment. A matter of fact moment that began to alter the course of the Magical Childs life forever.
A shaming moment that would seep into the recesses of the subconscious mind and like a noxious weed, eventually choke the fertile magic-making soil as surely as if a nuclear land scape had been dropped in the new’clear landscape of the Childs mind.
And so it began. The artist, the story teller, the dancer , the prophet , the mystic all living and breathing through the imagination - the I~ magi~nation- of the Magical Child was told to stop! Be quiet! Don’t dance on there you’ll fall! Sit down!! Don’t be silly!! Stop asking so many questions! STOP!
On and on the toxic commands continued. All the way through school where the Magical Child was now only permitted to create only between 10 am and 11 am (art lesson), to tell stories between 2 and 3 on Tuesdays..(English lesson). Creating whilst remaining as motionless as humanly impossible. Stop fidgeting! Stop day dreaming! Pay attention!
Facing the front board, bored inside of a square box they called a room, a box where whirling, twirling, playfulness no longer came through the door, banned from ever mentioning invisible friends lest you invite the horrors of medication and mislabeling before you have even learnt how to tie your shoes up properly, the Magical Children sought to become what was expected of them and learn about things beyond their Magical, creative realm.
The Magical Child quickly learnt not to show sadness, anger or confusion and to repress inappropriate eruptions of joy, fear or insecurity in the class room. Making sure instead to h~o~l~d~It~In!! Sit Still! Eyes to the front…STOP whispering, laughing, talking. Stop. Stop. Stop.
Of course eventually the Magical Child stopped completely.
A kind of who-I-Am-amnesia set in.
Forgetting about the art, the magic, the songs, the dances and the stories and instead replaced those Magical currents with learning the things that the teacher insisted was important to their current learning, competing with the other lost Magical Children in the sports yard, in the academic arena and eventually in the work place.
If they were able to still function that is.
Magical Children are resilient and they are able to forget if it means freedom from the shaming, the naming, the labeling and the ire of the grown ups.
But some succumbed to their true self in spite of them self and sometimes became known as disruptive, troubled learner, withdrawn or uncooperative and other such names that reveal an inability to conform to the lost-Magic around them.
So was born the latest generation of leaders, many of them Magical Children in Exile, who will perpetuate the disappearance of magic and creativity in the system rewards conformity and compliance. Some even called it the evil empire.
A system saturated with lost Magical Children, living unreal lives, not even realising – real~eyesing – that who they have become is not who they were meant to be.
Many of the Magical Children, now groan-ups themselves are still h-o-l-d-i-n-g—i-t—-i-n-
After all the word evil is just to live backwardly….
It is not surprising many of the once-magical-minds of the inhabitants of the evil empire became choked with the weeds of mental illness, alcoholism, drug dependency, neurosis, psychosis, anger, depression, boredom and frustration, competition and back biting and preoccupation with celebrity lives and drama!
Magical Children are full of pure, free flowing creative energy and energy can not be destroyed, it simply transforms, turning toxic, creating tragic from the magic.
Millions of grown up’s are lost Magical Children in varying degrees of exile though a few do escape and return to their natural state I hear.
This must be why a nation can be preoccupied reality television and obsessed with the lives of the stars, the gods and goddesses of magic and creativity. A preoccupation with intrigue and adoration, seeing the world of possibility in the magic-mirror of television.
The men and women who did not stop playing and imagining became some of the richest people on earth. What a reward for staying connected to the world of pretend and play!
No longer creating and producing their own stories and art and dance, the need for fantasy and magic nevertheless remains ever strong.
Indeed when Magical Children in exile see others leading a magical life, something within their own self may yearn to return to that place of Magic, creativity and infinite potential for love and connection.
How many people are sighing their day away, feeling that something is missing not realising that ‘Something’ is their free flowing creative Self…
Sadly though the lost story teller may now be churning out reams of tragic-magic, gossip, chaos and unhappy relation
ships, forever telling their wounded story teller tales to friends and family, occasionally plummeting into the deepest chasms of depression and despair, overwhelmed by the tragedy of an uninspired life.
Alas the lost artist may be obsessively cleaning a clean house or weeding a weed less garden seeking to create something of note in their world, processing those ever-flowing creative energies towards their small boxed in life. At its most insidious, the Magical-Child will succumb to the hyper-high, outrageously creative manic energies , ill-fated to become an uninitiated mystic or master creator of chaos and mayhem.
If it is true that in order to experience heaven one must become like a little child then it might well be that the Magical Children no-longer-in-exile, those who have recovered from the amnesia and remembered who I Am will be the ones to remind us all how to begin the wonderful journey back to our true self and to reclaim what was always within.
After all the word reclaim is simply the word Miracle in anagram disguise...
I was delighted to read a couple of articles this week about how French women have taken to colouring in like never before and have embraced it as an "anti-stress" activity
In her article Why felt tip pens are colouring French women happy Olivia Goldhill writes that colouring books are out selling cook books in France and how sales of a low selling colouring book were boosted after the words "stress buster" were added to the front cover.
In one facebook group there are over 1000 French women sharing their beautiful interpretations of colouring black and white pictures that we knew so well as children.
I have been creating Mandalas for women to colour in for many years and Olivia's article and another on the BBC World Service facebook page are a sign that the big secret is out!
Colouring in is a relaxing form of medARTation at a time when many women are yearning to reconnect with their creativity and return to simple pleasures in this highly complex world we are living in.
I began to create colouring sheets for women after I read Carl Jung's writings on how powerful the Mandala form is as a tool for self reflection and personal transformation.
I was working in a women's homeless and domestic violence shelters at the time and it was apparent that whilst many women were not reading books and were too uncomfortable to take on training and education at this stage, most had a yearning for new information that would enable them to break out of the limiting and often self defeating patterns in their life. So I created art work that carried the theme of that days discussion.
If we were discussing how to recognise patterns in relationships, the art work reflected the information that once was given in the form of written handouts and power point presentations.
When the conversation was about overcoming stress and anxiety or healing past issues, I created a colouring sheet that brought Nature into the concrete confines of the shelter walls and opened doors into a world many women had not considered before.A couple of years ago, after almost 20 years of creating colouring sheets for women, I was encouraged by a small group of women to create a colouring book that had both the Mandalas (Circular patterns) and life coaching information so that women outside of the shelters and prisons where I was working could also enjoy colouring Mandalas.
It seemed like a good idea and with their love and encouragement I created The Big Girls Little Colouring Book as a download & self published it as a hard copy.
If you haven't come across the benefits of colouring in before, here are just a few of the things I have discovered over many years and if you work in women's services in any
capacity, I can not recommend highly enough how powerful the process is for women to relax, unwind and connect with their intuition and creative imagination.
It is also a terrific tool for staff development and team bonding and a Vision Statement workshops.
*Colouring in is an open eyed meditation. As the hands rhythmically colour the page, the movement is akin to a mantra that focuses the mind, relaxes the breathing and centres the consciousness into the Present moment. This form of medARTation is especially good for women who find that their thoughts are racing and are easily distracted.
*The colouring in process is a wonderful tool for creating Women's Circles. When women come together to share food, conversation, creativity and laughter, there are enormous benefits for health and well being.
*Colouring in is not restricted to an indoor activity. My Mandalas have travelled in aeroplanes on long flights, gone to the beach for summer holidays and are at the centre of Big Girls Picnics where we head out to Nautre for a day of creativity, fresh air and delicious food and cups of tea.
I am truly delighted to see the growing interest and reclaiming of colouring in as a wonderfully simple tool for relaxation and fun. Although many women hold the belief "I am not Creative" they soon discover that once they put the coloured pencils back in ther hand, like we did so often when we were young, a certain kind of Magic awakens and we are transported into the world of imagination and possibilities we knew so well as children.
If you would like to download The Big Girls Little Colouring Book and experience the fun of colouring the 20 Mandalas with their accompanying Affirmation postsrs, click here The Big Girls Little Colouring Book Store and enjoy what many French women already know...Colouring in is magnifique!