Monday, September 21, 2015

Color my world

When I was in college, back in the Stone Age, I (re)discovered the calming effect of coloring. I bought some crayons and a coloring book and when feeling stressed or overwhelmed, retreated to my dorm room to color. I don't recall sharing this activity with anyone, and my roommate was not often present, especially on weekends, so it was my private little vice.

Once again, I was ahead of my time. If you flash forward to now, you will find that "adult" coloring books and apps are all the rage. I tried one app, Colorfy, and while pretty good, it doesn't allow for shading or enhancements. However, you will never color outside the lines, as each space is filled with the color of your selection - no actual coloring required. I didn't find that as satisfying as the coloring apps targeting kids my granddaughter's age, although the subject matter was generally more interesting than fairies and Hello Kitty.

Barnes and Noble had some adult coloring books on sale, so I picked up one with a garden motif and one of Norse designs. (I'm clinging tenaciously to my Danish ancestry.) I also purchased some pens there, which I both love and hate. Each pen has two points, one short and stubby and one long and pointed like a paint brush. That's the love part. The hate part is there is no way to identify the true color of the ink without yanking off the rather tight caps and scribbling a bit. And some pens seems to have a different shade at each end. And if you don't get the cap back on completely, they dry out rather rapidly.

Naturally, my granddaughter wants to use MY pens and color in MY books. (Boundaries, child!) Yesterday I purchased an "advanced" coloring book for her at United Arts and Education (paisley prints) and some new pens for moi. I have more colors now, but the tips leave a lot to be desired.

I still find the act of coloring to be soothing, sort of like knitting but without the counting and the frustration. Sometimes I am in the mood for the tiny details in some pictures, other times I need to make broad strokes. While coloring, my mind wanders hither and yon, and I get some real thinking done without pulling a muscle in my brain. It easily becomes a time suck.

This pastime continues to be a secret, mostly, as I imagine some people just would not understand and/or approve. I figure it is no worse than watching TV. And maybe someday I will learn to share.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Up to a point

If one's fifties is the decade of regret, the sixties seem to be the age of reflection. At least, that is what I have been doing lately when not involved in this, that, or the other thing.

One thread of musing has gone along like this: How come I never became really good at something? I recall reading articles as a teenager where the author insisted that everyone is good at something, you just have to find out what that is. I don't remember being particularly encouraged by anyone, so blamed "them" for that. Then I wondered if maybe no one saw anything in me worth encouraging. Hmmm.

After I brief respite from that topic, I returned to it from another angle: what was I good at, and what happened along the way? In high school, I was very good at math, loved plane and solid geometry and trig. But then something happened in college when I hit calculus. I never quite understood calc, nor the higher math classes I took while pursuing my computer science degree. So maybe I was good at math, but only up to a point.

Speaking of computer science, I loved designing and writing software and believed I was good at that. But then along came a paradigm shift, from procedural programming to object oriented and event driven software. I understood both at an abstract level, but my OO efforts still looked like procedural code. My brain just did not want to make the shift. So I was good at software development, but only up to a point.

What else? I was good at sports when we lived in Illinois, but the competition was sparse because back in the dark ages, there were no interscholastic team sports for girls in that state. We moved to Massachusetts my senior year, where they were more enlightened and I was less good compared with the others. Not to be deterred, in college I tried out for volleyball and sprained both my thumbs the first day of practice. After that, I stuck to intramural sports. As an adult, I did continue to play tennis, teaching my son until he surpassed me. I also played in a parks and rec league, until I got tired of losing all the time. Now I play golf, and even though my form is good, the results are inconsistent. Again, I'm good, but only up to a point.

I'm a good gardener, up to a point. I'm a good knitter, up to a point. I'm a good cook, up to a point.

What is this point I reach where my talents don't develop further? Maybe I get bored easily and don't stick with something long enough to become better. Maybe I am lazy, just don't want to put the work into becoming better. Or it could be I am simply average (HORRORS!)

That is when it is helpful to remember, We don't all have to shine.