Celia Rivenbark

From the Belle Tower | Stressing over the adult coloring fad

A friend hooked on those popular adult coloring books says she can relax for hours with her colored pencils and gel pens. “I just feel the stress pour out of my body,” she said dreamily.

I told her prescription cough syrup has that effect on me but, well, to each her own.

“You should try it!” she said. “It really takes your mind off your troubles; it’s like meditation.”

“That’s exactly the way I feel about that cough syrup,” I said.

But, after leaving me with a lovely picture she had colored just for me, I pondered the intricate shading variations, the attention to detail, the hours it must have taken her to produce something so vibrantly perfect.

She was not the first, or even the fifth person to give me a picture and not-so-subtle suggestion to try coloring. Which means that I must come across as someone greatly in need of a relaxing hobby.


Right now, my biggest source of stress is finding refrigerator space for all those mandalas. That’s adult coloring book-speak for mind-bogglingly intricate geometric patterns. A couple of friends gave me lovely, meticulously colored mandalas and now I have to make sure theirs is on the fridge when they visit. I’m terrified, and quite stressed, that I will guess wrong and there will be hurt feelings.

When the Princess was in elementary school, failure to quickly display her art on the fridge could be fouled off with a banana Popsicle, but I’m thinking adults won’t fall for that. It will take more than that to placate a huffy 55 year old who wonders why her snowflake didn’t make the cut.

To be honest, the first time I heard of adult coloring books, I thought it was naughty pictures. “Adult” just isn’t something I normally associate with coloring books. To me, it’s a jarring pairing of words, rather like “adult diaper” or “adult Donald Trump.”

“Time” magazine recently reported that sales of adult coloring books rose from 1 million in 2014 to 12 million in 2015. And to think, I’ve spent all these years writing books with words in them like a damn fool.

Now that the Princess is away at college, I can go in her room and paw through everything including her “crafts chest,” where I found a book of mandalas and a huge mug of colored pencils. Wow. Snooping around a teenager’s room isn’t the adventure it was in my day.

Anyway, I have now spent a few days now trying to color a fish. Actually catching, cleaning and cooking a fish is more my thing but I’M TRYING TO RELAX HERE.

It’s yoga class all over again when, during meditation time, I just made my grocery list in my head instead of Namaste-ing and what not.

The fish scales were shaped like lemon slices, which reminded me of lemon pie, which sent me to the fridge, which I could hardly open for all those fluttery mandalas, which reminded me to GET BACK TO RELAXING ADULT COLORING TIME!!!

Yeah, this isn’t working.

Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.