A few years ago, my doctor told me, “You need a lifestyle change”. She knew I was going through a divorce and had gained too much weight. She suggested that stress was a major factor.
Still, I had to keep living. Bills still needed to be paid, kids still needed to be fed and the world kept spinning. But I needed to hold a space for myself. I decided to turn back to my first love – ART. Creativity let me express myself freely – even when it looked like crap. It didn’t matter because it belonged to me and my job was to create what I saw in my mind.
This year I presented an art exhibit and decide to base it on a graphic novel I created about illegal child immigration. To lighten the mood on this heavy topic and make it interactive, there were coloring pages and pencils, tables and chairs set up for people to connect through coloring. Little did I know that there was a major craze going on with coloring books. But that art exhibit and the feedback I received inspired me to host a Coloring for Adults “Coffee, Coloring & Conversation” Meetup here in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Meetup experience has been interesting. People come from all parts of the metropolitan area to participate. They are individuals of all creative abilities, socioeconomic standings, races, genders and backgrounds. We are a diverse group. We meet for the love of coloring.
There have been days that I have rushed to the group, stressed out from my own life. Surprisingly, after twenty minutes of munching of food and drinks, small talk and deeper conversations, the table hits a silence that is surprisingly NOT awkward. We are in the midst of the moment. We are absorbed in what is happening right in front of us, right on the page. It is one of the simplest forms of mindful meditation.
Connecting people through creativity has been a theme in the presentations and workshops I have given in the past year. Creative play and social activities helped me get out of a mid-life funk. I think the popularity of my group and others across the world is a sign that we all are creative and we need to connect with people without a computer screen.