I have found a new form of therapy. Coloring. I love it. The logic part of the brain is occupied with keeping the color between the lines. But the rest of the mind is free to roam and make connections, presenting them to me in both words and images: pieces of conversation, thoughts I’d had on certain subjects, phrases that until now, were separate things, suddenly find themselves together making a new sort of sense of old things.
Laying down the colors is both soothing and meditative in some fashion. Each image is different, filled with possibilities, and it is wonderful to watch the images come alive and take shape beneath my hands. I have found numerous sites on the Internet where one can download and print a seemingly inexhaustible variety of coloring pages of diverse images and topics to ‘create’. I have visited many of them and downloaded a great many of the pictures which, for the most part, are free and take very little time to prepare. I usually scan them and then crop to the size I want, then print them on card stock. I use fine art pens because the color is far more vibrant, but that is my own personal choice. One could choose to use any number of coloring tools, ranging from crayons to water color pencils.
And these images are becoming a part of my journal pages. The colors are meaningful and can be used to explore ones own experience and psyche. Take my butterfly above. Green is the color of growth, while blue represents knowledge. The background of yellow symbolizes the sun and speaks to prosperity and well-being. These are my personal choices, as far as meaning goes, and I have used them for many years. More important is the symbol of the butterfly itself, which speaks to transformation and change.
The butterfly has four stages of development: the egg, or larva stage; the caterpillar; then the chrysalis or pupa stage; and finally the butterfly or reproductive stage. These, in turn, can be compared with our own stages of growth and the learning process. The metamorphosis of the butterfly from egg to full maturity is a continuing work in progress and so are we.
It can be of great value to track our own experience on certain levels in order to avoid frustration and a negative self-attitude. Why beat yourself up because you are at the caterpillar stage, which is also known as the feeding stage, taking in what will be necessary for the next stage of growth, realizing the necessity of being right where one should be instead of farther along in the process. It would be nice if we were all born knowing exactly what we need to know, but that just isn’t our reality. There is a purpose and focus to each stage of being and its good to remember that.
I also find that the soothing affect of coloring is a great stress reliever. Somehow, in the very act of creativity, I find myself releasing, letting go of those things that have been bothering me, especially on the emotional level. Creative energy is a built in healing process, and this is certainly an inexpensive means of accomplishing that. I have used it to create gifts for others, that have a far more personal meaning than anything I could have purchased.
We, my family, will be gathering for our Christmas exchange this morning. My older sister will be coming in with her daughter and three granddaughters. Because they live at a distance, they don’t usually attend this yearly festivity. When I found out they were coming, I wanted to have gifts for them as well. I had been downloading images of butterflies to use for another gift idea, but decided to use them instead for my sister’s family. I had purchased several different size frames, at rummage sales, this past summer. With little time and a bit of effort, I found several of the same size, reduced some of the prints to match those sizes, and wrapped them up.
As I was finishing this project, my sister called me to tell me she would be seeing me today. She asked me what I was doing. I laughingly told her that I was making a ‘butterfly day’ for herself and her girls. She is extremely curious about what I meant. I left the images uncolored, so they each will be able to choose whatever color scheme they prefer. I really like the idea and image of all of them gathered together, coloring their butterflies, making a gift for themselves, which will have special meaning to each one.
When I was finished wrapping and packing it all away, I sat down and colored the image above for myself. It will go into my journal entry for today. A delightful piece of decoration, packed with layers of meaning and things to write about, as I feed myself for the next stage of my own existence. Do you gift yourself with an occasional ‘butterfly day’?