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3 reasons why all the adults you know have started coloring again.

Have you seen adults coloring on the subway or in coffee shops? They might be on to something.

There's never been a better time to feel like a kid again.

For as long as there have been mortgages, taxes, jobs, and speeding tickets, there have been adults who wish they could turn back the clock to simpler times. That's nothing new.

But nostalgia has recently gone next-level.


If you want, you can now go away to adult summer camp, where you'll leave all technology at the entrance and enjoy four days of archery, tie-dye, and hiking. You can also spend a day at adult preschool, where you'll do arts and crafts, play games, and reconnect with your favorite childhood buddy: nap time.

Who's up for a trust fall? Photo by Ville Miettinen/Flickr.

Coloring books, though, are by far the most popular kids' activity for grown-ups. And it's not hard to see why.

Just imagine your favorite coloring book as a kid, only updated to reflect your much-improved motor skills and worldliness. Wouldn't it be nice to take an hour with a cup of coffee and get lost in a sea of possibility and imagination?

If you did, it might look something like this.

Trust us, you haven't seen a coloring book like this before. Photo and coloring skills by Jenni Whalen/Upworthy.

Beautiful, isn't it? So beautiful, in fact, that crotchety, jaded adults all over the world are dusting off their crayons and giving it a try.

These books are selling at breakneck pace. Publishers are even having trouble keeping them in stock.

The book that started the craze, "Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book," has sold over 2 million copies worldwide since its release in 2013.

Some credit illustrator Johanna Basford with launching the adult coloring trend in 2013. Photo by Jenni Whalen/Upworthy.

And there are many more like it burning up the bestseller lists.

"We've never seen a phenomenon like it in our thirty years of publishing. ... We just can't keep them in print fast enough," Lesley O'Mara, managing director of Michael O'Mara Books, told The New Yorker.

It doesn't look like this coloring book train is slowing down any time soon, so here are three reasons you need to get on board.

1. A good coloring session can relieve stress and anxiety.

Many coloring books use geometrically soothing patterns to relieve anxiety. Photo by Jenni Whalen/Upworthy

There might be more to this whole coloring thing than just feeling like a kid.

Marti Faist, an art therapist, told the Baltimore Sun, "When someone is coloring, their mind and body are operating in a more integrated way. It's almost a meditative process."

"I've watched people under acute stress, almost panic-attack levels, color and have their blood pressure go down very quickly. It's cathartic for them."

And Marti's not the only one. Maybe you've heard of a guy named Carl Jung?

Jung was a big fan of art therapy, and he used coloring as a relaxation technique back in the early 1900s. He even believed that the colors his patients chose reflected an expression of deeper parts of their psyche. Jung himself actually used to draw and color mandalas, or spiritual geometric shapes, every morning. These same mandalas are the foundation of a lot of the most popular stress-relieving coloring books today.

2. No paper? No problem. Now, you can color on the go.

Now there's a brand new way to kill time on your smartphone. Photo and digital coloring skills by Heather Kumar/Twitter.

You know the rule: It's not an official craze unless it's integrated into social media. So, as appealing as drawing at your kitchen table for hours on end sounds, you can now color on your smartphone or tablet with just a few swipes of your finger, and you can easily tweet or Instagram your creations, too.

Colorfy, the most popular coloring app on the market, has been a huge hit with the mobile crowd, pulling in over 23,000 reviews on iTunes (it's also on Android).

A recent reviewer wrote: "This is a really great app. It lets me pass the time in a calming yet creative way."

But maybe the best thing about a coloring app is that it's easy to erase your design, start over, and create something completely different.

3) These coloring books are also hilarious.

What a handsome drawing. Photo and coloring skills by Clare Emily/Twitter.

Coloring isn't just about the beautifully elaborate sketches like those found in "Secret Garden" and its follow-up, " Enchanted Forest."

If you're more into some mindless fun, you might also enjoy coloring pictures of Ryan Gosling or iconic images from '90s pop culture!

And, if you're a real free spirit, you might enjoy a, um, truly "adult" coloring book.

Just a suggestion: might not want to pull this one out in public.

Whether you're coloring to relax or just to have some fun, there's a coloring book out there for you.

Coloring might become your favorite hobby ... again.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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