Paul might have told the Corinthians that he’d given up childish ways once he became an adult (1 Corinthians 13:11), but lucky for me, that adage doesn’t apply to coloring books. That’s right, I and a few hundred thousand other adults have reclaimed the childhood joy of coloring. The adult coloring craze is such a big trend that two of the most popular coloring books—Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest—by “ink evangelist” Johanna Bashford, were sold out and back-ordered on Amazon for months. Her incredibly popular coloring books have spawned post cards, note cards and mini journals to be colored.
What’s the appeal of coloring for adults? By coloring, people can relax, unwind, become less anxious, even practice mindfulness. One coloring enthusiast says it’s a “way to unplug and reset our brains.” You can liken coloring to comfort food, taking you back in time to simpler childhood days. Coloring is also a low cost hobby: a coloring book and some markers or pencils will do. And while coloring is a fairly portable hobby, smart phone apps like Colorfy make it possible to color on your phone, increasing its accessibility (maybe that’s what your colleague was doing in your last sales meeting!).
While many color alone, maybe with some calming music playing in the background and an adult beverage at their side, others see coloring as a group activity. A Ladies Coloring Club on Facebook grew out of an in-person coloring group that started meeting in a Minnesota coffee shop. Coloring can take on the nature of a spiritual discipline, especially if you combine it with prayer. Search Pinterest and you’ll come up with lots of ideas on how and when to color as well as downloadable PDFs and photos.
If truth be known, I colored well into high school. When teenage drama became too much for me, or when I needed a break from homework, I’d relax and calm down by coloring. I felt a certain affinity to Lucy, Charlie Brown’s placekicker (yes, the comparison of me to Lucy has been made, oh, a few hundred times), and I’d color picture after picture of Lucy. After high school I had to use my nieces and nephews as excuses to get my coloring fix. But now, I’m part of the adult coloring craze!
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.
Photos by Elizabeth McBride.