Friday, December 2, 2016

Focus On You

December is here bringing thoughts of chilly days. That's what I immediately thought of when I saw this beautiful photo by Moira (Skylark23). If you checked out the monthly photo theme for December you know that the focus will be on bokeh. Even though this photo was submitted last month, it has such glorious bokeh I couldn't pass it by. Thank you, Moira for sharing your images with us. If you'd like to see more of her work visit her Flickrstream. She's an amazing nature photographer!

Hope you'll join in a bokeh-licious December.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Color The Holidays Beautiful

By Cathy

Here we are again. It’s the first of December and the holiday season is now officially in full swing. We’ve been bombarded with Christmas related advertising since October, but now it’s time to get serious. There is the gift list to make, shopping, buying, ordering, wrapping, decorating, card writing, cantatas, school programs, office parties, church parties, school parties, baking, cleaning, and trips to make. The list goes on and on and seems impossible to get done. I know we all have dreams of the perfect Christmas season. We want this to be the “hap – happiest time of the year.” When in reality so much is happening that our Christmas spirit can be stolen. If we’re not careful the season can become one of misery with tears, frazzled nerves, and frustration.

In all honesty, Christmas is what we make it. We can choose to be loving, generous, peaceful, and joyous. We just might need a little help to unwind each day. There are many suggestions on how to relax during the holidays  - listen to joyful music, drink a cup of hot chocolate, sit by the crackling fire, read holiday stories, take a nap, light candles, take a walk, or simply sit in the dark and gaze upon your beautiful Christmas tree. Keeping joy in the season means we must get rid of some of that stress and here's another idea that might help you relax.


Coloring allows us to switch off our brains from stressful times and focus only on the moment. MaryGrace Berberian, a certified art therapist and the Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU says, “coloring definitely has the therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus, or bring [about] more mindfulness.”

I have always loved to color. Some of my earliest memories involve coloring. I remember my mom coloring with me.  So, when coloring books came back into popularity, I had to have one. Well, honestly, I have more than one!

Here's what I like about coloring:
  • There are no rules. Color the sky green and the grass blue. Color outside the lines. Scribble if you want to. The season is stressful, your coloring shouldn’t be.
  • Coloring distracts and takes my mind off the busyness of this season. There is something so soothing about the rhythm of coloring.
  • Supplies are readily available and fairly cheap. I have bought coloring books for as little as $1 or even found pages free online. Crayons, colored pencils, gel pens, watercolor pencils, or markers are pretty cheap, too.
  • Small coloring books and pencils are portable. I can take them with me almost anywhere. I can color while I eat my lunch or while waiting for an appointment.
  • I don't have to color for long periods of time. Just a few moments when I'm feeling stressed or at the end of the day.

(The coloring book on the left is a reproduction of a coloring book I had as a child.)

Coloring is a wonderful family tradition. When my daughter-in-law’s family gathers during the holidays they all color a page in Christmas coloring books Then they sign and date them. I think this is such a special tradition. Imagine sitting down each Christmas and looking back through those coloring books. Reliving the memories of special times with family. Maybe this year would be a good year to start the tradition in your family.

I could go on, but I think you really don’t have time to read a longer post and you get the picture. Coloring can bring relaxation and now is the time we need it!

I’ll end with a few links of free coloring book pages. I’m not endorsing any of them. I just did a Google search and found a few links with pretty pages. You can start coloring today. Just print one out, find some colors, and have fun.

The next two sites offer Christmas themed pages.

If you become serious about your coloring, there are even magazines and web sites available with tutorials. My favorite coloring book artist is Johanna Basford. Check out here website, she has some good tutorials. Alisa Burke is another coloring book artist I like. She has an article with tips and tricks for using crayons.

Even if you don’t have any desire to color, I hope that you’ll find your own special way to make this the “happiest time of the year.”

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One more thing before you leave. Today starts a new monthly photo focus. We’d love to see some celebratory bokeh on our Flickr page and IG stream. We all have favorite decorations and traditions so let’s bathe them in bokeh. After all, the is just about the most bokeh-licious season of all!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

(Self) Love Notes

by Judy

Thanksgiving has come and gone and my hope is that you all had a wonderful day with family and friends, filled with love and joy, and lots of turkey.  The month of December starts tomorrow and we all know what that brings - lots of shopping, wrapping, decorating, get-together's, family, traveling, too much food, too much drink, well, in a nutshell, S.T.R.E.S.S.   But it doesn't have to be that way...

While researching some articles for work I came across a professional coaching/counseling blog by Angie Mattson Stegall.  In one of her posts she wrote about a trip her and her husband had taken where they rafted through the Grand Canyon for 16 days.  Being unplugged from electronics for those days allowed her to connect with nature, and by doing that she was able to center herself and recharge.  Since that life changing trip she designed a free course called "31 Notes From Nature."  

She describes it best this way, the 31 day 'course' gives you "permission to step outside the whirlwind of every day activities in order to get back into your body through breath and movement.  To allow yourself to take a pause, perhaps go outside, and see what messages Nature has for you."  

Now, before you say you don't have time for a course right now, please hear me out.  If you sign up for this free course you will receive a short daily prompt via email written by Angie, inspired by Mother Nature, each day for the month of December. These prompts will allow us to step away from all the madness and focus a little love on ourselves.  I've never done this course before, but it sure sounds easy enough.  Short. Easy. Free. Self-love. I'm in!   And if you'd like to give it a try too, here's the link:  31 Notes From Nature   

May your December be filled with peace and (self) love.

© Focusing On Life