Tag Archives: coloring

Fighting Dementia With Coloring Books

June 15, 2017 by
Illustration by Mady Besch

Remember getting an unopened box of crayons—for school, for a birthday, just for fun? Remember the smell of the wax? The new, sharp points? Choosing your favorite color?

Most people would answer “Yes.” Coloring, whether as a kindergarten assignment or a rainy-day project, brings about happy memories for most people. It is those pleasant memories that have triggered a surge of popularity in adult coloring books.

Coloring was often a way for kids to stay entertained for hours, focused on filling in the lines on a piece of paper. That is one reason why therapists are now turning to coloring books for people with dementia.

“In my experience, the most helpful reason is because it is a focusing tool,” says Maggie Hock, a licensed mental health practitioner and owner of Bellevue Psychological.

Actually, the concept of coloring as an exercise to focus and relax is not new. Psychologist Carl Jung had his patients color mandalas, or geometric patterns, used to express the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. In these traditions, the creation of a mandala helps with meditation.

Intricate circular patterns might be too complicated for dementia patients, depending on the stage of the dementia. Coloring books can be found online or at bookstores, and subjects range from World War II warships to classic movie posters and more. Those with historical subjects may be the best for dementia patients.

“Commonly in Alzheimer’s, older memories are intact,” says Dr. Daniel L. Murman, director of the behavioral and geriatric neurology program at UNMC. Merman says memories of doing things as a child often remain while memories of five to 10 years ago fade away.

“Memories from childhood are stored in a different part of the brain,” Murman says, noting that the act of coloring taps “into an area of strength, where people would potentially have fond memories of coloring and be able to participate in and enjoy the activity.”

Hock says people with dementia have difficulty focusing because the world around them is confusing and distracting. Handing a person with dementia a coloring book and coloring utensils gives them a purpose and takes them out of the confusion for a while.

Murman adds that even if they are not experiencing dementia, keeping active mentally and physically will help older people. And if someone does, in fact, have dementia, staying active can help preserve neural connections, which stimulates the brain and may help slow down the progression of the disorder.

While solving crossword or Sudoku puzzles may produce the same focus in people in less advanced stages, coloring has the added benefit of chromotherapy, or color therapy. Colors have different meanings for us as individuals. Someone who was forced to wear brown clothes as a child and hated them may still feel a strong dislike for the color brown. Someone who received a set of primary-colored blocks as a birthday gift might color only in primary colors.

Hock says letting someone with dementia color certainly won’t do harm, no matter how advanced the stage.

“It’s always worth a try,” Hock says, “to see what would engage them.”

This article appears in the May/June 2017 edition of Sixty-Plus, a periodical within Omaha Magazine.

Shave and a Haircut

October 6, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Erik Anderson was new to Omaha and needed a haircut.

A good one.

The guy had a sales job and needed to look sharp. But who to trust with his precious locks—some chain?

“You never know what kind of haircut you’re going to get,” Anderson says. “You could get a great haircut or walk out of there looking like a doofus. I’m not going to go that route.

“I started going to women’s salons. I knew I could trust them.”

That was two years ago. Now, Anderson gets his ’do done at his own place—Scissors & Scotch, which opened in March at 2835 South 170th Plaza.

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As its name suggests, there’s much more to Scissors & Scotch than just a great cut. The new shop offers an upscale grooming experience featuring traditional barbering services (in plush, old-school barber chairs) and modern spa treatments: steamed towels; hot lather neck shaves; scalp, neck, shoulder, and hand massages; paraffin hand dips; facial and skin services; colorings…even nose waxings. There’s a shoe shine station on Thursdays. And full body massages are on the way.

All for dudes.

Oh, yeah, and when customers are done, one of five complimentary hand-crafted whiskey cocktails await them in a private lounge.

“There’s nothing like this right now,” Anderson says. “I would put it up against any place in the country.

“It’s not just a haircut at Scissors & Scotch, it’s an experience. We haven’t had one person come back and say, ‘That was terrible.’ Most guys are like, ‘Wow, that was awesome.’”

Anderson didn’t do it all alone. He’s equal partners with longtime friend Sean Finley, whom he grew up with in Prairie Village, Kansas, and Tanner Wiles, a friend he met at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Anderson played baseball before earning his degree in 2011.

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Anderson later worked for Federated Insurance, which moved him from Minneapolis to Omaha in April 2013. That’s when he first went looking for a haircut. While researching his options, Anderson saw that men’s grooming had become the fastest growing part of the beauty industry.

“That really intrigued me and I got really excited about it.”

Why not open his own place? Anderson brought that idea to Finley and Wiles one night at a bar in early 2014. Not one of them had any experience in the grooming industry but the trio soon discussed the idea by group text message. Then they met regularly, working on documents and video conferencing via Google Hangouts. Wiles worked in sales at Ambulatory Care in Kansas City; Finley completed his law degree in Columbia, Missouri (he’s now a corporate attorney at Husch Blackwell in Kansas City).

They hammered out the concept of Scissors & Scotch, leveraged whatever assets they possessed at such tender ages (Finley and Wiles are 27, Anderson 26), and got an SBA loan. In August 2014 they signed a lease at Shops of Legacy. This March, they opened with nine employees, not counting themselves.

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Response exceeded expectations. Six weeks after opening, Scissors & Scotch averaged 80 new clients per week and about 30 haircuts a day. More than 60 percent of the customers opted for the $52, “15-year service” (as in the age of fine Scotch). Its membership program—the Scotch-inspired 10-, 15- and 25-year packages with escalating benefits at each level—was expected to generate 100 sales the first year. Scissors & Scotch sold 90 the first month.

“It’s really encouraging,” Anderson says. “Each week we’ve done more haircuts than the previous week since we opened.”

And all of it by word-of-mouth advertising (though Scissors & Scotch recently started advertising on AM 590).

“I’ve had a lot of guys say, ‘This is Omaha, Nebraska, right? This is something I expect to see in a Chicago or a New York or a Dallas.’”

Thanks to Anderson, Omaha it is.

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Christopher McLucas thinks laughter 
is the best 
medicine.

December 20, 2013 by
Photography by Keith Binder
Illustration by Bob Donlan

Way down on the Giggle Farm, the Guffaw family grows grinning laughing stalks and chuckleberries by the bushel full. Farmer Guffaw and his wife proudly watch as their children spend days playing outdoors, inventing clever contraptions, daydreaming, and getting lost in reading. Soon, though—as is the case in all families—their children grow up and move away to lead their own lives. The Guffaws become sad and lonely while the laughing stalks wither and the chuckleberries shrivel.

Spoiler alert: The story does have a happy ending. The Giggle Farm, by 25-year-old Christopher McLucas, is a rare kind of children’s book, one that is funny and profound by turns. That’s because the young author didn’t want to write a typical children’s book. Instead, he set out to create the kind of story that would take both parents and children alike on a thoughtful and interactive journey.

Laughter: Something kids and adults love

Focusing on laughter as the book’s theme was a logical choice for McLucas, whose previous book Feint Peace & Other Stories, a collection of science fiction stories, was published in 2012. “I didn’t want the message to be just for children. I wanted it to be for adults, too,” he explains. “I wanted to communicate that laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter is what gets us through a lot. I thought it important to reference what both children and adults would know.”

A laughing stalk shown as a positive rather than a derisive term provided McLucas with his starting point. “I thought, ‘What if laughing stalk was something you could grow?’” he remembers. “The whole story started rolling from there and didn’t stop. I could see the entire idea in my head.”

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That idea involves witty puns, crisp story telling, and an imaginative interpretation of traditional family life. As a child, McLucas was particularly fascinated with how artist Norman Rockwell encapsulated entire narratives in his paintings. “There were stories locked inside them,” he says. “I wanted The Giggle Farm to be like that and to be an ode to Norman Rockwell. I wanted New Age Americana. We can all associate with this family.”

This is what gives the book a charming retro feel. For example, the small town of Gale (as in gales of laughter) has old-fashioned storefronts featuring a barber, a dry goods shop, and a laugh ware store. In place of a traditional county fair, there is instead a more playful Funny Festival. There are no video games, mp3 players, or cell phones. They use their imaginations, which McLucas sees as deeply important to 
childhood development.

It’s another reason why he wanted to make The Giggle Farm interactive and developed it as a coloring book. “I want parents and children to be able to work on it together,” he says. “It changes the dynamic of family reading. It makes reading time a family activity.”

Interaction: Something kids and adults need

McLucas also envisioned using coloring as a way to reinforce reading. The letters are in a plain, white, bubble font so that children can sound out the words as they color them in. Participating in how each page looks makes the experience personal and creates a sense of ownership in the book. “That way,” McLucas says with a smile, “it’s more yours than mine.”

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Illustrator Bob Donlan perfectly captures the Rockwellian mood that McLucas’ words convey. His illustrations have a gentleness to them and are filled with the kinds of details children can get lost in for hours. Donlan says he was impressed with the author’s vision for the book. “Chris wanted an interactive book for children to read and color. He liked the idea of a coloring book that would have sophisticated art,” he says. “He wanted it to have an imaginative quality. It is completely original.”

The element of The Giggle Farm with the most impact, McLucas thinks, is the dialogue that will occur between parents and children. “I really want them to talk about the story and for children to come back to it over and over.”

A book signing and launch party for The Giggle Farm (CreateSpace; $15.00) takes place on Jan. 23, 2014, at 6 p.m. at Legend Comics at 52nd and Leavenworth. You can also find the book at Chapter Two Books in Bellevue and on Amazon.com.

Throwing Shade

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Everybody reads the same magazines and watches the same shows,” says Lindsay Duer-Robertson, a stylist at Matt Wayne Salon off of 49th and Dodge streets. “That ends ups with people looking a lot alike. Someone who sees that and wants to make a statement will try something different.”

That “statement” for you could be anything from a few blonde highlights to neon pink. But it’s perfectly okay if you don’t know yet where you land on that spectrum. Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8, says that’s what consultation visits are for. And make sure to bring pictures of anything that’s caught your eye.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos,” Forsyth says. “A Pinterest board on a phone is super helpful.” Both Duer-Robertson and Forsyth agree with the oft-quoted hairstylists’ phrase: “My caramel is probably different than your caramel.”

Let’s say you’ve decided to go from brunette to hot pink. “You can do it in one visit, but that visit’s going to be six to eight hours long,” Duer-Robertson says. Best to have a goal in mind and break it up over a period of time. That’ll give your hair time to recover from the processing, which is pretty intense. The bleaching process has to break the melanin molecules in the hair and expose different pigments through several stages: brunette, red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and finally a pale yellow. Only then is your hair ready to accept an unreal shade like ocean blue or pastel purple.

“I think there’s this myth that hairstylists don’t like photos.” – Rebecca Forsyth, stylist at Bungalow/8

“Be mindful, your hair will be really dry,” Duer-Robertson warns. She recommends a protein-based conditioner. “In that first week, put in a leave-in conditioner after every wash.” She personally touts the Damage Remedy and Dry Remedy lines from Aveda, especially the Color Conserve™ Daily Color Protect conditioner. “That’ll keep your color strong up to 30 days,” she says, though pastel shades still may not keep as long as a month.

Such conditioners are valuable, Duer-Robertson says, because the product seals hair cuticles down after being a little roughed up by a cleansing shampoo. Leave a conditioner on for at least 15 minutes (unless it’s a leave-in, of course), and then rinse it out with cool water to ensure the cuticle doesn’t reopen. Consider using a wide-tooth comb to lessen stress on your hair when it’s wet; once your hair is about 80 percent dry, feel free to take a brush to it for a blowout.

Forsyth says it’s the flatiron that’s the huge culprit for further damaging processed hair. The heat is higher and touches the hair for a longer period of time than a simple blow dryer. “If you can achieve a great look with a blow dryer and a brush, you’re in a great situation as far as damage,” Forsyth points out. “I love that more people are wearing their natural styles and textures.”

If you just can’t leave the hot tools alone, remember that the general rule is the less styling, the less shampooing, the better. “Try to find ways that you don’t have to mess with your hair as much,” Forsyth says. “For example, last night I curled my hair, so today I have the base for a really cool updo.” She personally shampoos only twice a week.

For high-maintenance color like neons, pastels, or reds, Forsyth agrees with Duer-Robertson that it’s essential to invest in good product. Some of her favorite products for maintaining perfect color are in Karasoft’s color protection line. “And anything with UV protection,” Forsyth adds. “We blame the shampoo and forget that we’re in the sun all the time. Bring back hats, not just for protecting our faces but also our hair.”