Some of my happiest memories as a child were the times that Uncle Hugh came to visit. He always brought gifts, and my favorite was a new coloring book and box of Crayolas.

I loved to color.

Years later, when I had my own children, I gave them coloring books as soon as I knew they wouldn’t eat the crayons. Of course, I had to get on the floor with them and color my own Barney or Sponge Bob page.

As recently as last December, I was coloring a chubby Santa in my 8-year-old neighbor’s new Christmas coloring book while she colored a cute reindeer on the opposite page.

But now – oh joy! – NOW, I have my own coloring book again! Mind you, this is no ordinary cartoon or holiday book. This adult coloring book is printed on bright white paper with intricate designs. I also have a nifty set of fine-line markers that fill in the tiny spaces with great precision.

I have only recently re-discovered this favorite pastime, but apparently other grown-ups have been doing this for a while – some for many years.

I see all kinds of themed coloring books available online and in stores. I recently got a press release about a local artist, Candace Lovely, and her co-author Jodie Randisi who published a coloring book of Lovely’s paintings. The two will host a free coloring workshop at 11 a.m. July 30 at the Hilton Head Library.

I first heard of adult coloring books just a few months ago when my friend Cher updated her Facebook status with something like “Got new markers and stayed inside coloring all day. Didn’t make it to dinner.” Excuse me?

Now, understand that Cher is one of those women who isn’t afraid to buck the system, go out on a limb and follow her heart instead of conforming to any “norm.” So I thought this must be some sort of hip, new-age therapy. And guess what? It is!

Recalling those fond coloring book memories of childhood, I had to try it. I had already seen a book of mandala designs at the art store, and Cher advised me about the markers. “Don’t get the cheap ones,” she cautioned. “They bleed through the paper.”

When I posted a photo of my new purchase on Facebook, she replied with a smiley face and commented “Oh goody … Have fun, and don’t make any plans!”

Of course, I had to ask Facebook friends to comment on this “new” hobby. Turns out most “borrow” from their children and grandchildren, and they all color with the kids.

Some are very particular about their coloring tools – several were adamant: “Always Crayola”! Other tools include twist crayons (because she didn’t have them as a kid), various kinds of markers, colored pencils and watercolor pencils.

Almost to a person, the comments included “It’s so relaxing (or therapeutic or calming). I absolutely agree.

Since I started coloring about a month ago, I have found it to be quite a soothing, calming exercise. It’s sort of like yoga without all the bending. My biggest challenge with coloring is trying to decide which color to use.

If you find yourself overly stressed and need a simple, fun, happy way to chill, try it. Grab a coloring book and some crayons. Add a beverage of your choice, and settle into a comfy chair in a well-lit location.

Have fun … and don’t make any plans!