Wow. It's not often that a book can make me emotional, but the story behind this one certainly did. The Big Mindful Colourful Book is the culmination of a long and difficult road for Gareth Stubbs, beginning with the sudden and devastating loss of his mother near Christmas 2014. After dabbling with drugs and suffering from mental health issues in the past, he had got his life back on track and was happily working at his health retreat, D-Toxd in Spain, when his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer and died less than a week later. Needless to say, this turned his life upside down again.
His doodles, something that his Mum was always supportive of, became a way of expressing the feelings he couldn't talk about out loud and healing himself in some way. Slowly, Gareth started sharing his drawings with other people, despite having qualms about the imperfections and mistakes, and found the response to be overwhelmingly positive. He started a crowdfunding campaign and managed to raise over 6,500 euros, in support of turning his own method of dealing with problems into a book that I think will help countless others. If you have some time, take a look at this video from Gareth to explain further about the background behind this project.
Having mental health problems of my own, and having also lost one of the closest people in my life last year, I can empathise so much with Gareth and his motivations behind creating this book. I started colouring to alleviate some of the dreadful feelings I was experiencing on a daily basis, so I know how much it can help and be a way to try and mend yourself.
This is not just a colouring book. Most of the colouring pages are accompanied by a journal-slash-therapy page in which Gareth explains the ideas behind the illustration he designed, and gives you room to add your own personal thoughts and feelings. He has a very informal, easy-going style of writing which seems so conversational that you really feel as if you are sharing this journey with him as opposed to being analysed on a psych's couch. As for the illustrations themselves, they are so beautiful and worthy of spending time and effort on that I really think this book is a gem of a find. Take a look through the book below.
Physically, the book is very well made with thick, white pages (98 in total). It feels very substantial in the hand and has a soft cover which can be also coloured (on the back). It's A4 in size and just from flipping through you can see a LOT of work has gone into it- it hasn't just been thrown together as a money-spinner like a few books that are being churned out now the colouring phenomenon has taken off.
There are a few ways you can use this book depending on what you want to get out of it: If you want to focus inwards and practice the mindfulness this book promotes, fill in the journal boxes and use it as a tool to help you figure things out. If you just want to zone out, there are plenty of interesting colouring pages that can be completed without having to think too much about it.
Overall, I would really, REALLY recommend buying this book- it's a labour of love for the creators and could be really helpful to you, especially if you're suffering from bereavement, mental health issues, or just feeling despondent about life in general. It can help you get your head straight, gain some inspiration from the wonderful quotes sprinkled throughout, and be something to look back on in years to come.
I dedicate this candle to my Nanna, the woman I looked up to my whole life, who nurtured and cared for me, and was my soulmate from the start. Miss you every single day, wonderful lady xx
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. The first batch has only just been printed so it's not readily available quite yet- but stay updated by checking back with Gareth on his Facebook page, and please support & share the Indiegogo campaign so the next phases can move forward.