The Coloring Book Cancer Connection

As a long-term cancer survivor who’s been living with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) since 1992, I’ve been looking for ways to manage stress and anxiety for a long time. Fortunately, a myriad of techniques and approaches are available.  Over time I’ve been drawn to yoga, meditation, music, walking, photography, writing—the list goes on and on.

This summer after reading an article about coloring books for adults, and then coming across them in my visits to bookstores and art supplies stores, I became fascinated with them. I wanted to buy coloring books as a gift for this person and that one, and stopped myself many times thinking maybe they won’t be as excited about these as I am.

But when my preoccupation with coloring books reached a tipping point, I finally realized that is was ME who wanted one of these newfangled books, and colorful sets of markers and pencils.  I went back to my favorite independent bookstore, Brookline Booksmith, to survey the choices again, and well, was a bit overwhelmed by the choices.

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Another customer who was busily oogling and ogling the merchandise at the same time recommended the Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Coloring Book by Johanna Basford and being very impressionable, I took her advice! (Johanna Basford and Millie Marotta have become two of my favorites, along with a host of many other fine artists.)

That night I began my foray into the deep magical world of coloring, spending nearly five hours on a two-page spread when I realized that I was having one of the best experiences with mindfulness yet.

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I was in-the-moment, enjoying each and every color and squiggly line. I felt alive. Jazzed-up and headed back into the world the next day seeing opportunities to color wherever I went. The fall Starbucks cup was a no-brainer, they were quickly flying off the shelves.

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One idea led to another and I started thinking what if I offered coloring workshops for people living with cancer?  Facing Cancer Together, a cancer support organization in Newton, MA, where I’ve been connected for many years was excited about the idea. This past Sunday we had our third “Coloring for Wellness” group and I think it’s fair to say that many participants got the coloring bug, too.

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I was at the hospital today for my six-month follow-up appointment and I’m pleased to report everything is stable.  Looking around the waiting rooms at people staring into space, nervously checking their mobile phones, and reading yesterday’s crumbled newspapers, I saw loads and loads of coloring potential.

Discovering this funny video from Ellen DeGeneres today, is like the icing on the cake. And provided an impetus to write this post.

If you know someone going through cancer treatment, buy them a coloring book. Don’t wait for the holidays. Do it now.

They’ll be glad you did. And, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve had some interest, too.  Buy two.

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26 Things I Learned From My Editor, Cindy King

IMG_6292Several weeks ago while I was working on a story, I took a break and checked Facebook. Sitting in the quiet of the public library I let out a big gasp when I read about Cindy King’s death via an update on her own Facebook profile.

Cindy, the Editorial Director at Social Media Examiner, offered many personal and editorial teachings to me over the years. Several times a month we’d exchange emails, and go back and forth about topics for the online magazine. Pitches she accepted or flat-out rejected. Agreed upon due dates. Twenty-six ways to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs—you name it.

In the last several years, Cindy and I also talked about cancer.  As a long-time cancer survivor, Cindy asked questions of me as she headed into treatment.  And as is often the case, the student ultimately teaches the teacher.  Cindy taught me about places where she found hope and inspiration.

Cindy’s death coincided with my return to Facing Cancer Together, a cancer support organization, where I’m currently facilitating  “Coloring for Wellness,” an experience that is providing me with great joy as I see participants embrace color and a meditative activity.

I wrote many 26 tips articles for Social Media Examiner over the years and I couldn’t think of a better way to express some of the editorial lessons she imparted to me.  26 Things I learned from my editor, Cindy King.  An A-Z Guide.

#1: Address Readers’ Needs

#2: Best Foot Forward

#3: Create Worthwhile Posts

#4: Do Your Homework

#5 :Edit, Edit, Edit

#6: Fiddle With The Title

#7: Go Back to Evergreeen Content

#8: Humor Has a Place

#9: Invite Readers to Comment

#10: Join in the Conversation

#11: Keep Up with the Industry

#12: Love What You Do

#13: Make the Most of Your Word Count

#14: Never Give Up

#15: Open Minded to New Concepts

#16: Pitch a Few Topics at a Time

#17: Quality Matters

#18: Read Everything You Can On A Topic

#19: Share Valuable Content

#20: Teach Others

#21: Utilize Talent

#22: Value Resources

#23: Weigh In

#24: Xcellence Matters

#25: You’re Only As Good as Your Next Article

#26: Zero-In On What Works

In memory of Cindy King.

26 Tips: My Latest A-Z Social Media Guide & Other News

I’m pleased to have my 14th article on Social Media Examiner (SME) today!  If you’ve found your way here as a result of seeing the post on SME, welcome and thank you for visiting.

By Way of Background:
My first post was published on SME back on October 27, 2010 and since that time I’ve written a series of 26 tips, A-Z guides about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,blogs, lead generation, video, customer service, images, mobile apps, google+, pinterest, gamification, and now, location-based marketing.

I’ve been writing about social media for the past five years and have seen tremendous advances in that time. It’s always a challenge to keep up, but there’s something incredibly gratifying about continuing to learn something that feels very much like a moving target.

I also write regularly for GigCoin and you can check-out my latest post, How To: Extend Your Blogging Reach.

Other News:
This past week, I’ve also had the honor of being selected as a finalist in a short memoir contest on Biographile for my essay, Who Among Us. The contest is still going on and if you’re so inclined you can read the piece and vote for me by selecting the Facebook “like” widget on the page.

Non-fiction writing and memoir in particular has had a special place in my heart the past number of years, and I’m thrilled to have received recognition for this piece which is in memory of and a tribute to the ten women of the Tuesday, Writing for Wellness Group at Facing Cancer Together, who I had the distinct pleasure to know and write with.

I remember them.

“Who Among Us”: A Finalist in Biographile’s Short Memoir Contest

A little over a year ago, after yet another friend in my writing for wellness group at Facing Cancer Together passed away, I wrote this short essay. I shared the piece with many friends at the time and a few months later, I put it away. That is until last week, when I came across the short memoir contest about “Overcoming Loss’ on Biographile’s website and on a whim, I decided to enter my piece.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be a finalist in the contest, to share my memories of the many friends I’ve lost along the way, and the challenges that come with overcoming loss.

Please feel free to check out my essay, “Who Among Us,” and read all the superb finalist’s essays. And if you’re so inclined, you can even vote for me by clicking on the Facebook like widget on the left-hand side of my story’s page.