Inside My Head: Focus

I am often carrying a bag of markers and a drawing pad with me. It is for one of my coping strategies, the one I probably use most. I color.

I began to develop the habit a year or two ago, using colored pencils to color the newly popular coloring books for adults. The quiet process of this simple artwork proved calming, and I found it better than other things I may do with my resting time. I might usually play a game, for instance, but I loved how coloring a page was creating something solid. At first I didn't think much of the creations. I was, after all, only coloring in someone else's picture; the kids do that all the time. Soon, though, I started carrying folded scraps of paper and a pen around with me for doodling. Eventually, I combined the two, and using a leather-wrapped watercolor journal my husband gave me as a gift, I played around with lines and curves and colored in the doodles I made.

Now, I have a nice and ever-growing collection of Sharpies, and I think much more of my artwork -- no more folded up scraps of old workbook pages. I've got a beautiful bag to carry everything. And I go with it.

I am often carrying a bag of markers and a drawing pad with me. It is for one of my coping strategies, the one I probably use most.

It has occurred to me, quite often, that it looks weird -- at the very least -- to be sitting around coloring for part of the day. How much I use drawing depends on several factors, but if you're around me for any length of time, you'll probably see me pull them out. I've relied on this coping mech particularly while others are visiting us -- especially for extended visits with family. It has proven to be a good way to stay physically and mentally present while still being protected from becoming too overwhelmed to function.

For now, I do the dishes and closely monitor my sense of desperation. No matter what is or isn't done, once the set threshold is crossed, I take out my Sharpies, and I rest.

In a previous post I mentioned "taking out my Sharpies" whenever I needed -- even if it was at a time I'd rather do other things. Or more accurately, I draw even when I'm worried I'll look like I'm not doing what I should be doing.

More recently, I've found having my Sharpies on hand while I'm trying to remain focused for an extended period is incredibly helpful. I color while I'm at lectures, Bible study, during the sermon on Sundays. Times when I feel bouncy and used to use all my attention to remain in my seat -- and look basically normal -- I can actually think. Making something, something beautiful, with my hands, apparently, clears my mind. It's been wonderful.

I've written about this before here. So, if you happen to see me coloring instead of baking a well-balanced dinner, just pay no mind. I'm still not as unselfconscious as the woman at the end of that post, but I am closer than I've ever been. And that clarity of mind is certainly something to smile about.

I'll just get a pizza.