My Favourite Colouring Books (So Far)

When life’s a silent stretch of night
In fading shades of grey -
I take a world of black and white,
And turn it into day.1

My foray into colouring began with some random books that I ordered online — I cheaped out, and ended up with books that were definitely more interesting than children’s books in terms of subject matter, but were not very detailed at all. I drooled over friends’ images of intricate designs that felt way more adult, and it wasn’t long before Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book arrived at my door.

SecretGardenColouringBook1

Secret Garden is a great book, with lots of variety between really detailed pages and larger expanses that are less challenging to colour. It was the first book I really tried out, and it definitely captivated me! I have since expanded my colouring abilities (I think) and can see how I would have done things differently, but it was a good way to start. I still have tons of this book left to finish, but…

Around Christmastime I saw Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book while I was grocery shopping and had to buy it for myself. At the time, it was Basford’s latest (she’s working on a jungle-themed book now) and I was drawn to the idea of getting to use some cooler colours — Secret Garden has a lot of green!

LostOceanColouringBook

I’ve read some complaints about the paper choice for Lost Ocean, as people don’t like it’s thinness compared to earlier Basford books. I can’t really complain, though — I haven’t encountered any problems so far, and I like the brighter, whiter stock. The challenging part for me is that this book is super detailed, so it’s hard to just sit down and complete a page in an hour or two. This is definitely more of a project book.

At the same time, Matt and M gave me two books for Christmas. Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book was one of them, and I finally flipped it open when I didn’t feel like tackling little tiny fish one day. Enchanted Forest seems to have the most manageable colouring pages for people who don’t feel like colouring in every tiny detail, of the three books. It’s the one I grab when I have a shorter time frame available but still want to do something.

EnchantedForestColouringBook

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I also have Daria Song’s The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book, from Matt and M, and I’ve flipped through it but have yet to put pencils to paper. It appears to be a nice mix between detail and ease, from what I can see, and I’m excited to open it up and colour a few things that aren’t nature or animal related.

That being said, I couldn’t resist Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom: Color Me, Draw Me when I saw it last week (grocery shopping again!) and there are some beautiful outlines in that book that are calling my name, too. I’m partway through a toucan drawing:

MillieMarottaAnimalKingdom

So, you can see that I spend a lot of time colouring! It is seriously stress-relieving, though. I kind of scoffed at people who jumped onto the adult colouring book bandwagon, when it started, but I’m a convert now and will totally evangelize about it to anyone who tells me they’re dealing with stress or anxiety. I sit, I colour, I have something to do with my hands, and my mind can go free, working through whatever it needs to work through, without getting that pent-up must-do-something-now feeling at the same time.

I’ll share a bit more about colouring in the next little while — I’ve become a collector of colouring supplies, and there are a few profanity-themed books I’m awaiting in the mail (seriously!), plus a different book that I really want to highlight on its own because it’s so awesome.

If you’re a colourer, what are your favourite books?


1. Reddit

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Life Lately: Winter 2016

I keep navigating to my blog, sitting idle for a few minutes, then x-ing out of the window because I’m not sure that I really have anything of note to say. But I do — it’s just nothing major, and nothing cohesive, and nothing really earth-shattering. We are in that lull-y part of winter, when it is cold and there’s not a whole lot going on and we’re just slogging through January, waiting for things to start blooming again. That’s how the rest of my life kinda feels right now — just sitting and waiting and watching the hours go by. In the name of actually filling this space with words, I’ll just tell you what’s on my mind:

My boss observed, a few days ago, that this winter has felt very gray and dark compared to others, and I had to agree. There hasn’t been a lot of sun, but today it’s positively beaming out there, which is nice to see from my window! We’ve had very unseasonably warm temperatures, and very extreme cold snaps, and yesterday, enough snow that it probably would have paralyzed a more southerly location.

I guess I’m a typical small town Canadian now… when I don’t know exactly what to talk about, here I am, talking about the weather.

Boots

My husband hooked me up with some high quality winter boots for my birthday. It’s such a practical, northern Ontario present, but I love them. They’re Baffins, ultralights, good to -50C and only one pound each. My feet have never been so warm in January.

Which brings me to my next Life Lately point. I finally, finally restocked my wardrobe. My mom sent a bunch of gift cards for my birthday, and then I spent a bit of extra funds on my closet, because I held off on buying new clothes for pretty much a year save for a few things here and there. The good thing about the gift cards was that it let me spend, guilt-free, on myself, and it feels nice to have clothes that fit instead of slogging through with the limited wardrobe I was clinging to, thinking it’d be temporary and that I could crack open my box of maternity clothes. That sounds more depressing than it is — I am psyched about my wardrobe, especially because I found tall-length tunics that allow me to wear leggings as pants. #noshame

Book

I also invested in a few more colouring books, along with the ones I got for Christmas. I end up colouring almost every night, which I’m starting to be able to say without feeling ridiculous! I’m hoping to write another post or two about the specific books, for anyone else who is interested in colouring.

Other than that… yoga, sleep, cooking tasty food, watching too much TV with my kid, a failed attempt at snowshoeing (it was -30 something and M was not impressed), a beach vacation booked for March, and slowly getting to a point where we might have a functional upstairs bathroom soon. Like I said, nothing earth-shattering, but it’s life!

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Twenty-Eight

My twenty-ninth spin around the sun begins today. For someone who pays attention to dates and calendars, it’s quite nice to have a birthday that falls shortly after the New Year. We mark the start of a new year, with all of its promise and potential, and a few weeks later I mark the start of my own new year, twelve months with birthdays as bookends. I have to laugh, looking back at my 27th birthday… it’s a rueful laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. I thought it would be a year of pressing play, and I had it all mapped out in my mind. If I had to compare it to any type of buttons one could push I guess I’d say we hit play, and then rewind, and then play, and then rewind a few more times, and then the tape got all messed up and we couldn’t wind the ribbon back in so we chucked the whole thing out the window (is that a dated reference or what?).

Much like 2015, I see 27 as my Lost Year. As it comes to a close I am very aware of how I am so far off of that imagined trajectory that I’m not even on the same map anymore. But that’s okay. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Card

I know 2016 is only a few weeks old, at this point, and I know that I am just freshly 28. But I can tell you that 2016, in its infancy at least, has taken me up a steep, steep path of learning. I am learning to be present, to be mindful, to live in this moment and check in with myself — am I grounded? how can I become more grounded, if I am not? how do I feed my soul, in this very minute?

It’s been interesting. I always thought I was an introvert; I clung to that label like a barnacle on a ship, but upon closer inspection it turns out that a lot of the time, having people around is something that has actually been helping me instead of overwhelming me. Always thought I was a night owl but it turns out that I am a much happier person when I force myself to go to bed at the time my body desires instead of staying up to do more things. I like yoga. Not just out of an obligation to be healthy, or pseudo-healthy at least, but because more and more often I’m finding that full-body electric frequency that makes my entire being feel like it’s smiling, just from moving. I need to do it more often. I’m learning to stifle the voice in my head that says you are not enough.

I know enough now to tell you that I have no clue what 2016, or what 28 will hold for me, but I plan to squeeze as much joy and forgiveness and bliss in there as possible. Wherever I end up by this time next year, I hope I can come back and tell you that getting there was a year well spent. There is no path to happiness — happiness is the path.

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Growing Up: Cloth Diapers and Breastfeeding

I know my topics are all over the place, here. Part of my do what you’re gonna do and be yourself idea for 2016 includes blogging about whatever strikes my fancy on whatever schedule/non-schedule is feasible. So we’re jumping into some parenting stuff!

M seems to be growing up so very fast. She is definitely a little girl now, not a baby. Part of our transition into toddlerhood was also a transition to the town daycare, where disposable diapers are used for diaper-wearing kids. We provide our own, as well as wipes. We moved her there from a home daycare that accommodated our cloth diapering, so we entered into new-ish territory. We had always used disposables overnight and quite a bit during travel, but since the daycare switch we’ve had to buy disposables on a regular basis (so expensive!).

DITL-SixWeeks-16

For a while, we kept up with cloth on weekends and when M came home from daycare, but the infrequency with which she wore cloth (a handful on the weekend and maybe one a day on weekdays) meant that the diapers sat in the laundry bag for far too long, because we kept forgetting we needed to wash them. And more often than not, we were reaching for a disposable when she came home out of habit, so gradually we kind of accidentally phased out cloth.

I finally decided, last month, that we were done — it wasn’t worth the effort for so few diapers, and she is making progress towards potty training anyway. It’s expensive to use disposables, and we aren’t really set up as a disposable using family — we just have a regular garbage can in her room — so I’m hoping we’ll be totally done with diapers sometime soon.

Our transition away from breastfeeding happened in a similar manner. I didn’t really mean to wean M, but we had a lot going on in the latter half of 2015. Matt did a lot of bedtimes while I dealt with other things, and frankly, with all the fluctuating hormones happening for me, even the sporadic bedtime nursing sessions became a bit physically uncomfortable. The few times she asked, I gently deflected. When I felt like I was maybe ready to accommodate it again, she had mostly lost interest — she’d ask, but then lay her head down on me immediately after asking and nestle into sleep, with no attempt to convince me. And I wasn’t going to offer, so we just skipped over it. She was just asking out of routine, I think. Now I can’t remember the last time she asked.

It’s kind of bittersweet to me how that particular relationship ended, because it had a lot to do with the sadness and trauma of loss last year. I’m trying to remind myself that it likely would have happened anyway, and to let go of the cloud of bad feelings around it, because there have already been enough bad feelings surrounding that time. She is happy and healthy, and not scarred for life — and I managed to breastfeed for two years, which is about a year and six months longer than I thought I would have been able to, in the beginning.

I can’t remember the last time I nursed her, but that’s okay. It’s all a part of growing up, and I am so grateful for all that we have accomplished together.

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2016 Intentions

I think I’ve touched on this a few times, but I am not setting resolutions this year. Not big ones, not small ones — nothing. I’m coming around to the realization that resolutions seem to work in two ways. Either they’re things that end up failing at some point during the year, leading to a public proclamation of failure or a quiet discontent with oneself, or they’re things that are really just wishes. Nobody can resolve to achieve things that are entirely out of their control, but I have read far too many resolutions this year that are, in truth, hopes. And hopes are good, but you can’t force them to happen.

So how, then, to mark the year and start it on the right path? I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what this next year might hold. There are things I desire, things I wish to avoid, and most importantly, things I need to keep present in my mind. I mentioned a bit of it here, but my intention for this year is to accept and open myself to the unknown. I am doing the opposite of setting resolutions and making plans — I am finally admitting that, in many ways, all one can do is stack the odds as best as possible, then let what happens, happen.

I know, I know… you make your own luck. And that’s true, to a point. But you are also subject to whatever luck the universe decides to throw at you beyond what you have prepared for, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that. I am ready for the ride, wherever it may take me, because in 2015 I learned that you can find yourself turned around completely from what you imagined life would be, 12 months prior.

I worked through the Unraveling the Year Ahead planner last night, on paper (and I skipped some of the stuff at the end, full disclosure). The part that inspired me the most was coming up with a word for the year. I wanted a word that inspired motion — upward motion. Thriving. Lifting. Healing and changing and keeping myself elevated above the challenges, large and small. I was going to go with rise but I decided to really commit:

design

I don’t think that birds are afraid to fly — they just do. They don’t worry about whether that initial jump will make them fall or crash, or soar — they just trust that what is supposed to happen, will happen. That’s something I need. I need to embrace the fear and the risk and even the fall, if it means I can soar. And I do need to soar, to keep myself up, to keep reaching.

What does that mean in real life? More self-care (as usual). Yoga. Eating well. Allowing myself wine and cookies, too. Time with friends. Time alone. Time with my family. Allowing my home to have signs of life (i.e. mess) if it means there is life in my home. Embracing the moments, acknowledging the impermanence of both good and bad. Slowing down. Checking in. Mindfulness. Pushing myself for bigger and better while letting myself take breaks and be boring and lazy.

Mostly? I don’t want this year to slip away from me like the last one did. I don’t want to get lost in the what-ifs and the countdowns and the expectations and the wishes. I want to be present, and live fully, whether living fully means a fresh air hike or an afternoon on the couch. I am not shoving myself into someone else’s mold, and I am not putting today on hold for a tomorrow that is nebulous.

Maybe that’s more complicated than just making a resolution. I’m still not sure how all of these thoughts can turn into something tangible. But I have a whole year to figure it out.

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