To this day, I can still see my grandma bringing out the metal tin and remember the smell of crayons take over the room.  Most of the crayons were missing their paper and half the size they once were.  I have always admired my grandmothers coloring skills, but this was especially so in my elementary school years.  She would always outline in a deepest form of the color she was using, shading as she went inward.  To a second grader, shading was such a new concept and one hard to get my head around.  I wanted to use all the colors, to mix the colors, and to have the feeling of creativity.  But there was a definite order; a process, if you will, to coloring with her.  It was calming, relaxing and created a sense of patience and purpose.

Fast forward to my adult life.  My grandmother’s lessons of always coloring in the lines has served me well, but also left me a bit misguided about life having perfect lines to color within.  My failed attempts over the years to give life a solid outline to contain the colors led to me having to learn how to balance knowing when to stray off the path – and feel confident while doing so – and when to stay on it and feel safe. 

People are paradoxical by nature. We are messy and from time to time will not fit inside lines.  It was hard at first, and the pressure at times was unbearable.  As it turns out life isn’t ever as easy as coloring inside or outside the lines.  You can be both strong and empathic.  Vocal and silent.  Assertive and kind.  Your own kind of artwork with no premade images or lines (rules) to follow.

Today when faced with questions of “what do I do now” or “who the heck am I” I take a look back, remember the smell of crayon and remind myself that I have permission to color inside or outside the lines….or maybe in a different coloring book all together.

Color inside the lines.  On the lines.  Outside the lines. Draw your own lines, if you have to.

*Think of the wonder we both experienced when adult coloring took off a couple years ago as a way to “relieve stress”!  My grandma decided to refresh her skills and even start a coloring book club at her senior living facility