Issue link: http://www.magslate.com/i/683295
LakeCountryJournal.com | 17 • Your color pencil and marker collection gives any kindergarten classroom a run for their money. • You find yourself taking your kids' pictures off the fridge and replacing them with your own. • You've become a marker/color pencil/gel pen snob and you sample new ones like some people try new wines. • Selecting a new adult coloring book takes more of your time and consideration than the last washing machine you bought. • Your hidden "personal candy hoard" has been replaced by your secret "private coloring book stash" to keep your kids from swiping your goods. Recent studies have also shown that structured, rhythmic endeavors such as coloring, knitting or crocheting are beneficial because they ease people into a meditative state of mind. There was a time when the sight of an adult happily coloring in public may have caused a raised eyebrow. But now the act of coloring alone, or in a group, in a public place is socially acceptable and a common occurrence. Like other organized groups that pull together like-minded individuals, adult coloring groups are springing up on Facebook and even offline in our own community. Michelle Melenich, who lives in Crosby, created one such group in her community. "Our group meets every Wednesday evening from 6-7:30 p.m. at Mixed Company in Crosby," Michelle shared. "The majority of our time together is spent relaxing, unwinding and doing some quiet coloring time, but also supporting each other. I am a licensed social worker graduate, so the idea of a coloring group came from some of the studies I did while attending college. This hour-and-a-half is an amazing way to spend quality time with others who have the same interests as you while also indulging in "me-time." Adults who find their happy place with coloring will also attest to the fact that adult coloring books are like potato chips; you can't have just one. Aficionados of the coloring craze are flocking to stores like Book World and Jo-Ann Fabrics of Baxter to snatch up the latest-and-greatest in coloring books along with the necessary gear to bring their creations to life. From fancy double-ended markers to coloring pencils in bulk, even artwork organizers and portfolios, lovers of this mind-calming activity seem to be continually on the prowl for new designs to conquer. "Even kids seem to want the adult coloring books instead of the cartoon-like ones created specifically for them," Stacy Loftis, a Book World of Baxter staff member, noted. "Themed coloring books like Harry Potter and Star Wars are popular with kids and adults alike as well. It's exciting to see all the shoppers who seem drawn to this new activity." Fun and creativity aside, coloring is also therapeutic for many. "It is something I can do to escape from anxiety and chaos of the world," revealed Amber Haapajoki-Hahn. "I've started drawing my own creations as well. I flow with whatever music is in my earbuds and create what comes to mind." Many people are also turning to coloring to help them through a trying time as well. "It's a great outlet for me right now," shared newly diagnosed cancer patient, Myra Horner. "I figure I'll be using this while I go through chemo treatments; spend some time reflecting, meditating, and letting myself relax while those chemicals and medicines do their dirty work." At the end of the day, the reality is that this new coloring craze is a low-cost way to sit back, unwind and participate in something easy and wonderful. Even those of us who are not good at "coloring inside the lines," are reaping the benefits of enhanced personal wellbeing and relief from stress. Those reasons alone should be enough of an incentive to give this unique activity a try. How to tell if you are hooked on adult coloring books There are no right or wrong ways to color. Coloring can be a way of expressing your creativity and a form of relaxation.