Stressed? Go buy a coloring book and the biggest box of Crayolas you can find. Or sit down in that fancy landscaping you paid a bundle for and play with the rocks. Yes, it is that easy.

I’ve read two articles recently about adults finding calm by remembering what it was like to be a child.

Coloring Book Clubs

ist2_3570575_3d_pebbles_cropColoring book clubs are cropping up all over the country in  cafes, libraries, and private homes. People are seeking a few moments of uncomplication where they can shed all the tough decisions, the crazy people at work, and the problems awaiting them at home. Remember how relaxing it was to hunch over a picture and just color? The only questions we had to face were: 1) what color should I choose, and 2) can I stay in the lines (or not).

In fact, I have been counting the days when I can give my 16-month-old granddaughter a new red crayon without her eating it. I can’t wait to share those moments of peace with her, sitting at a table, the waxy smell of crayons wafting around our heads.

Rock Balancing

Another path to inner calm is stacking or balancing rocks. Minnesotan Peter Juhl, author of Center of Gravity: A Guide to the Practice of Rock Balancing, said in a recent article in the Star Tribune, “There is ease in tension.” He admits that pursuing the tension between stones and gravity is actually calming. This art form is called by many names including “equilibria.” By balancing other things, we find balance ourselves.

I have personal proof that it works. On a recent trip to the playground with my granddaughter, two older boys were roughhousing, throwing rocks and sand, until I suggested that they stack rocks instead of throwing them. Their focus became defying gravity instead of annihilating each other (and my granddaughter in the crossfire). Peace—or equilibria—reigned on the playground (much to my grandmotherly relief).

This idea of inner peace and how we find it is a big part of my Maya Skye mystery series. Maya, a yoga teacher who attracts mayhem like I attract mosquitoes in summer, still works to find inner peace—even when chasing a killer. Maya believes answers and peace are found in living “in the moment” and isn’t that what we are doing when we color pictures or balance rocks? When our focus is on the here and now, we not only create art but we reset to calm.


I write contemporary novels (Up There, Book of Mercy, Maud’s House) and cozy mysteries (Down Dog Diary, Warrior’s Revenge, Crow Calling).