Holiday Tips in My Newsletters

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Hope your holiday is stress free and full of all the people and events that make you happy and healthy.Ritter Ames logo

Many of you already subscribe to my newsletter, but for the ones who don’t I not only give news of my books and events, but I let my fictional characters pop by to offer tips to keep the holidays–and just life in general–moving more smoothly. So, if you like organizational, efficiency, and/or entertainment tips to help keep things humming during seasonal occasions, you might want to read my two November newsletters. I’ll have more tips in my December newsletter, and plan to post a few here as well. Seasons greetings everyone, and enjoy every moment 🙂

Early-November 2014 newsletter

Late-November 2014 newsletter


I Think I Want to Be a Case Study

I’ve been loaded down with never ending deadlines for the past year. I’m not griping, mind you, because part of the reason I’ve had so many is because good things have been happening, which makes people want me to do more of the writing stuff I love to do. BUT…Even good stress is stress. So when I see a new study or link to an idea that helps bring some welcome relaxation to life, I read it, listen to the facts about it, and often try it.

The latest study I read was on how adults can use the act of coloring as a way to reduce stress. I read the information on a website that requires a login and all that security stuff, but then the facts of the study were covered by Huffington Post, and then the Huffington Post article was covered by an All You Magazine article on new stress study using crayons.  You can click this All You link above and not only find a first-person author’s ideas about the study, but also a link to the semi-original HuffPost article, and links to something on PTSD stress and another on breast cancer. And even links to coloring pages you can download and print to see if the practice offers stress relief for you, too.

Now, here’s the thing. Very early on I seemed to have the Crayola Gestapo around any time I whipped out the crayons and color books and went to town. I was never a neat coloring artist, but I was creative. Unfortunately that very creativity (what? trees can’t be purple with a bunch of little green monopoly houses drawn in them?) or the fact that I always took the dark black lines as a suggestion, rather than a boundary when my crayons wandered happily across the page, made me the kid everyone pointed to as the one who really didn’t know how to color. Then in elementary school, I had a teacher who always made us trace every black line after we finished “our work” (I thought it was fun, right?_. She said it was to make the colors pop, and it did give that kind of stained glass extra to our pages. But it also made abundantly clear that I still colored to my own distinctive road map, and that road map required I make a few detours each time. Let’s just say my efforts never made it to the Star Wall. My teacher despised detours, and I couldn’t color without them.

Basically, I never quite figured out why there were so many strict rules for coloring with crayons. Frankly, I still don’t.

I use colors all the time, marking novel ideas on my write boards, slapping different shades of Post-it Notes to remind me what I need to add at different parts of the project. And I colors to coordinate my research in notebooks keyed to which of the rainbow hue I’ve chosen to denote each project.

So, it looks like I understand color. It even looks like I understand and appreciate organization and form.

I just don’t understand always having to color in the lines. Never have, never will.

I think that very talent for stepping across boundaries and exploring alternate routes to completion of whatever project I’ve worked on has served me well to this point. And I think that early resistance to my crayon choices has actually been a confidence builder for me. Everyone had “constructive criticism” to lead me in the proper procedure for coloring, I simply didn’t agree with it. Instead, I put my crayons away for good.

Or so I thought.

Now, though, I think I may take them back out again. See if I can use this method to reduce stress when I feel the deadlines closing in. After all, I’ve always used folding laundry or scrubbing the kitchen floor to discover breakthrough ways of overcoming plot problems–there’s nothing like shutting your mind off from the To-Do list, and just let your hands mindlessly fold or swipe to free up ideas the subconscious could not push through while under stress.

So, I’m thinking a fresh box of Crayola Crayons is just about the best new idea for an addition to my desk. Besides, I already know where to download some coloring sheets 🙂