~ The 7 point plan for hosting a Big Girls Coloring and Conversation Circle ~

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.

Gerri wrote:

'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!

Coloring in is on the rise in France

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!


I was asked about the creation of The Big Girls Little Coloring Book...

I received a delightful letter from a friends daughter who had received The Big Girls Little Coloring Book for Christmas.  My friend had purchased the  book   for her mother, her daughter and her self and I was delighted when Kiani contacted me with the following message:

Hi Carol, I have a question about The Big Girls Little Coloring Book... More than one question actually!

How long did it take you to come up with the pictures that are in the book? How long did it take to create? Was it hard to do? How did you come up with the idea of having a Big Girls Little Coloring book? What got you interested in drawing?

Kiani’s questions were a welcome opportunity to reflect on the process of the book after months of developing the Mandalas and poster and I told her I would answer them as a blog post with an acknowledgement of appreciation to her. 

Thank you Kiani! I have enjoyed your questions and the opportunity to reflect on the Big Girls Little Coloring Book and where I began as a Mandala artist.

Here are the responses  to your well thought out questions:

How did you come up with the idea of having a Big Girls Little Coloring Book?

I had been creating Mandalas for women’s groups for many years. I was working in homeless shelters and women’s prisons and wanted to have personal development information available that didn’t need to be read as many women were not into reading or could not read because of low literacy, some  came from non-English speaking back grounds so I was looking for creative ways to share information and create a relaxed learning environment.

As my personal development art became known across women’s services networks in our town people began to ask me for copies of the Mandalas for their mum / sister / friend etc and it became apparent that the Mandalas were appealing to all women, not just those who were in shelters and prisons.

I had created a similar book of Mandalas with information a few years ago called The ART of Change but it stayed within the circles where I was working at the time. It was pre-facebook and social media era  so there was not the same on line  opportunities to share and market self published works like there is now.

How long did it take you to come up with the pictures that are in the book?

It was in March 2012 that I was offered a venue to launch The Big Girls Little Coloring book at my friend Megs Conscious Connections Centre a few months later in December,  12/12/2012

I had not even begun the book at the time, although I had many years experience of making Mandalas and women’s personal development art so I wrote out a schedule for the Mandalas of creating  one a week for 20 weeks and then a week or so for the posters that accompany them.
I also got married in that time so it was a busy few months and having a clear schedule for creating the Mandalas was very useful.

How long did it take to create?

From beginning the Mandalas to the launch it was 10 months & for the most part, I did stick to the schedule and found that having a plan was very useful. Although I think the book really began almost 20 years ago when I first read about Mandalas in Carl Jungs  book Memories, Dreams and Reflections.

Was it hard to do?

The biggest challenge was actually making the commitment to doing the book. 

Many people has asked me over the years if I would put my personal development art into a book and I usually said I will one day and will make sure to invite you  to the launch. The group of 4 women who encouraged me to actually DO the book and not just talk about it didn’t accept my standard reply, instead they came up with a date and a plan to support me through the creative process. I then became accountable to a group of women who really believe in my work and the importance of sharing it in the larger world.

If ever you want to achieve a creative goal Kiani, I really recommend you find one or two friends or family members who love and support you  and can be there during the challenges and celebrations!

What got you interested in drawing?

I was very lucky to grow up with a creative Mum so when most of us stopped drawing and making things as we went on past primary school, I continued drawing. I actually believe we are all creative but many of us stop doing the drawings that we loved to do in early child hood, and then we forget we ever used to do them in the first place.

In my later years I was always doodling during meetings, on the telephone, I discovered that I absorbed information better if my hands were occupied as I talked or listened. This is known as kinaesthetic learning, whereby we learn best by doing,  by having movement as we explore new concepts and information.

Even now I see interesting shapes in the clouds and landscapes and am always thinking “hmmm…that would make a good Mandala”.

Thanks so much for your interesting questions Kiani. 

You are very welcome to share photos of your coloured  Mandalas on The Big Girls Little Coloring Book facebook page and I hope the coming year is filled with fun and creativity for you!

Why do so many women say "I’m not Creative" ?

Yes you are!
I meet  many women who are interested in learning about  Mandalas and the medARTation of colouring them. 


Some women will say,  I’m not creative but I’d like to colour one of those Mandalas

I am  interested in the process that leads to  someone deciding I am not Creative

*Click image to enlarge

Every day in kindergartens and pre schools across the country little children are creating stories, making art, dancing, singing songs and painting all day, as one spark of an imaginative idea fires up another in the rich wonderland of the children’s inner world.
We were all that child once.

Many years ago I read of an experiment whereby a group of researchers went into a kindergarten asked the children questions related to their creativity.

Who can draw? All hands went up in the room and children began pointing to their master pieces on the wall. 

Who can dance? The same excited, uninhibited revelry erupted and some began a spontaneous display of their favourite move.

The children’s responses were an affirmation that creativity and imagination are very active and easily stimulated in the early childhood setting.

The team then went into a high school and posed the same questions to a group of 15 year olds. 

Who can draw? Amidst embarrassed laughter several students pointed to a girl in the front row, Melissa is a good drawer, she’s great, she’s the best drawer in the class.

The difference between the 5 and 15 year old was remarkable. Similar responses were met by the other questions Who can dance? Who likes to tell stories?

The exuberance of children who revelled in their creativity has dissipated over the 10 years. Words like good, better, best defined whether or not someone was considered creative or not.

As the experiment was repeated it became very apparent that somewhere between 5 and 15, children lose their free flowing creativity & will often adopt beliefs that are counter to the innovation, art,  song, dance and imagination that marked the richness of their pre-school years.

An early child hood worker was in one of my ART of Change  groups recently and she told me that it is always difficult to see her children leave to go into the ‘big school’ on the other side of the oval. She said  she knew they would have  to sit still for long periods, play less, tell fewer stories and have to reign in the impetus to jump, dance, shout and play in order to conform the expectations of a ‘well behaved’ class. 

She said she often comes across one of her little story tellers or artists a couple of years later and can see how their  flame of creative energy has begun to dwindle.

Perhaps those of us who have adopted a belief of I am not creative  have simply forgotten the free flowing imagination and world of possibility that we were immersed in as magical children?

It occurred to me that, as adults,  many people are  Magical Children in Exile, holding beliefs like my sister is the creative one in our family  or  I have no imagination  when in fact there is a huge well of unexplored creativity and imagination inside all of us, the very same unlimited creativity that we were immersed in when we were little children.

*Click image to enlarge

The good news is that there are many ways to reclaim  lost creativity!  

Sitting and colouring a Mandala can warm up the imagination and inspire new thoughts and ideas as we tap into the peaceful silence of the medARTative state. 

The rhythmic hand motions as we colour is like a mantra and our breathing slows down as we move into a restful, creative state.

It is in this state that we tap into  the imagination and deeper aspects of our mind that are accessed in silence, beyond the noise of the external world and our internal chatter.

Says these three magical words out loud & feel the difference!

*Click image to enlarge

Big Girls Colouring Circles ~ Crafternoon Delights!

I was delighted to receive an inbox message from someone who has downloaded The Big Girls Little Colouring Book to let me know that she is hosting a Big Girls Colouring Circle  this weekend.  Her home is in Canada, I live in Australia and thanks to the amazing power of social media, we are sharing a common passion & inspiring one another with the fantastic connections that occur when women come together and create.

The heArt and soul of The Big Girls Little Colouring Book is  to connect, create, inspire and invoke new possibilities. 

I am blessed to be a member of a group of 5 women who meet every three months for the soul purpose of spending a day creating, sharing food, laughing, offering feedback and new perspectives and simply taking a day out of often busy schedules to nourish and nurture together.

The last time we gathered I put theI Am The Gardener of My Life Mandala on the table and we also brought along interesting books and photographs to share in our talking circle.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the tips and tools for hosting a Big Girls Colouring Circle as several people have expressed an interest in getting together with their women friends and spending a day or an evening colouring together.
There is of course no "right" way or "wrong" way to host a get together but there are some things that can really contribute to making it an enjoyable, fruitful gathering.

This is what the space looks like before everyone arrives when I am hosting a home group:

This is what the table becomes once everyone has settled in. For this particular circle I provided the Mandala Energy Woman as a A3 small poster template.

Some groups decide that everyone coming along will bring something to share & sometimes the host likes to provide the meal /snacks, it really depends on the individual and the occasion.

If it is in the evening people may bring  something to share for supper but if we are having an all day get together (my favourite) we discuss before hand what we will have for lunch and what each person  would like to contribute.

Usually the host provides the tea and coffee and perhaps a few nibbles on the tables. Some groups rotate the hosting and others meet at the same place  and other groups I am  a part of through my ART of Change program may meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Here are a few common questions I am asked regarding Big Girls Colouring Circles and if you have any other questions, drop me a line and I will respond in the comment section here:

Should I supply the colouring pencils and the Mandalas?

Ideally for a regular gathering it would be great if everyone had their own copy of The Big Girls Little Colouring Book although  someone recently told me she wanted to offer her downloaded book to her group members to chose their own Mandala.  This is a very generous gesture & the download format enables that kind of sharing. 

The copyright agreement in the download doesn't allow for multiple photocopying but we have made the book available at  a very affordable price knowing that women often want to share the experience with their friends and family. If members have their own copy they can experience the full 20 Mandala journey of the book both in the group and in their own time so it really depends on how you would like to share the process.

I always encourage people to have their own coloured pencils and pens as they become the tools by which we create with and bring the Mandalas to life in our own unique way. Sometimes the host will have her own supplies for sharing so again, it is up to the host and the group to decide.

What kind of colouring tools  should we use?

Thats a great question regarding what to use.
Theres a number of types of pencils. At the very sort of entry level for a good quality, inexpensive brand i recommend Faber Castel. I also use their texta colours but am not sure if they are specific to Australia or not.
After that the Derwent brand is great for variety and quality of lead and colour. 

InkTensives are also popular with many Big Girls colour'ers and I have used FaberCastel water coloured pencils on many of my Mandalas and the Mandala posters I create also.

The Rolls Royce of the colouring world are Prisma pencils, they are expensive but can often be found much cheaper on ebay sites. 
Many of my Mandalas are coloured with Prismas after asking for a group present from my family last year of the big box of them. :-)
Faber Castels are equally as good in so far as they are a very reliable brand. I always avoid pencils from the bargain type stores, especially in my workshops, as they are often cheap but have very soft leads and break and crumble very easily.

Some people have been talking about Copic Markers as a terrific colouring wand and I am planning on getting some for my Christmas present this year! Colouring in things for presents are a great way to build up the creative tool box.

A space where women come together to create, colour, share, laugh and cry is by nature a healing space because it is generated from Love. Sometimes our Big Girls group gathers in nature, we have Big Girls picnics & we also meet around the camp fire.

If your group shares a common Spiritual path you may like to think about opening with a healing prayer or inviting the oldest group member to share her Wisdom with the younger ones. The divine feminine energies are amplified when women gather & often the simple act of sitting and colouring together will generate its own Magic and story telling so we don't need to try too hard to "structure" the gathering.

In our womens circles we sometimes share a poem or a story or we bring a question or quandary to the circle, knowing our siStars will have answers and new ideas. We have laughed and cried and meditated and prayed together and celebrated our blessings with gratitude.

What do you think about the idea of a theme for the day? I thought I might read one of the big Girls affirmations and the story of the Mandala?

I think thats a terrific idea! You are creating the space for women to gather, women who you know and care about and so you are well qualified to choose the theme for the day and if you become an on going group, perhaps others might like to also introduce the theme in a rotating format.

For more information about the colouring in process check out my previous blog entry: "Its more than just colouring in "

I hope this has been useful for you and I will leave you with one last photo. It is of my beloved Mother, Maureen, as we sat and painted the air drying clay beads I had rolled for us earlier in the week.

When we sit in the creative space together, Mum tells me some of her stories. She shares the memories of her early childhood in war torn England, she tell me about books she has read, fond memories of when we were a little and what it was like to travel across the world to live in a new country when she was a young mother of three daughters.

Sitting in the creative space together is a beautiful, peaceful way to connect, to reconnect and to  enjoy the simple blessings and pleasures of creating with our hands, hearts and imaginations.

I hope you too  may feel inspired to share the Big Girls Colouring Circle with the women you love ...


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