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When the summer heat is a thing of the past, Alabama comes alive to celebrate together. Whether you want to enjoy great food, ride a train, or take your dog for a run, you can find a great event to attend in Alabama.


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By Cokie Thompson


School has started, and elementary school students across the state are all stocked up on fresh paper, unbroken crayons, and if their parents were feeling generous while back-to-school shopping, a new coloring book. This year, those parents might even get in on the fun.


Last fall, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book made its way to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. It might be interesting for any coloring book to reach that status, but this one is especially notable: it’s for adults.


Articles from Slate and Huffington Post have highlighted the stress-relieving benefits of coloring for all ages, especially adults with lives that don’t seem to allow them to slow down and breathe.


Allison Adams, an Alabama artist, drew Southern Scribblings after years of journaling and following Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. She believes in the power of setting aside time to relax and get in touch with her creative side. Her book incorporates exercises beyond filling in the lines to help people sort out things going on in their heads they may not be paying attention to.


“This one I was trying to also get people thinking about getting creative but also balancing their life,” Adams said.


She said her goal is to help people open up to their creativity, and she hopes this will help them connect with their hopes and dreams from before they cared if they were coloring inside the lines.


“When people get to the point in life where they are asking, ‘What am I doing? Why am I on this treadmill?’ almost always they go back to that thing that they loved when they were five or six,” Adams said.


At Caring Days Adult Day Care in Tuscaloosa, adults with Alzheimer’s disease get creative with coloring books too. Artwork from current and former patients covers the walls and keeps the facility warm and feeling like home.


Executive Director Vicki Kerr said while it can be tricky defining what is or isn’t within a patient’s skill set, coloring has had a positive impact on Caring Days.


“I don’t ever want to do anything that seems to be demeaning,” Kerr said. “When it’s your kids, you’re proud, but of course with Alzheimer’s patients it goes the other way.”


Whether it’s through Wild West themed-coloring books or watercolors on paper, Kerr said Caring Days patrons are able to express some of their deepest feelings.


“What you see come out is from their heart,” Kerr said.


Arts ‘n Autism in Tuscaloosa works with children on the autism spectrum through after-school programs and summer camps. Amy Grimes, the art teacher for the program, said she could see how adult coloring books would help people relax.


She uses Zentangles, a drawing method, to help calm her students who have difficulty with transitions. The task is focused, but not fraught with potential error, and helps them work through anything that is frustrating them.


“Particularly if you have kids who are used to doing things in an order,” Grimes said. “It does center them and make them feel quite comfortable.”


Like Allison Adams, Grimes said helping people engage their creative side can be difficult at first.


“When you try to get them to revisit it, they’re frightened by that, but it’s amazing if you give them step one or step two, they aren’t as overwhelmed,” Grimes said.


Whether you’re stressed about bosses and clients or learning how to read, a coloring book might help you unwind.


Article sponsored by Belle Chambre.

Find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/BelleChambreTuscaloosa




When scouting for a good place to run, there’s always that checklist that comes to mind. Everyone wants something that appeals to them while their nose is to the grindstone. Check out why these spots are the ideal running trails for some exercise.




With an organized running community, Birmingham boasts many different routes and trails to explore. Here just two of many to choose from. Visit birminghamtrackclub.com to get involved with other runners in the community.


Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park provides great trail run material for any runner. Stretching for 12 miles, the trails at Red Mountain Park offer a special variety singular to the park. It has more than 10 interconnecting trails that provide hills, rocky terrain and more. The park is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and has many stops along the trails for rest or short breaks. To get a more detailed look, visit redmountainpark.org.


Oak Mountain State Park

Providing yet another range of scenery for runners, Oak Mountain State Park has a collective of more than 50 miles of trails to explore. Though some trails are specific to horseback riding and biking, there’s still room enough for everyone. Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., the park’s five hiking trails are labeled by color and marked accordingly. To find out more information about the trails and running opportunities within the park, visit alaprk.com/oak-mountain-state-park-hiking-trails.




Sokol Park

While the University and downtown Tuscaloosa offer scenic routes all their own, a change of venue can be found in Sokol Park. Designed with runners in mind, Sokol Park has many well kept trails that are perfect for setting your own pace. The park’s main trail is around 4 miles, with trail loops that can provide an extension to a run. Tuscaloosa business Wagner’s Run Walk hosts a group run Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. with free water and merchandise.


UA Arboretum and Veteran’s Affairs Hospital Areas

This rarely mentioned area offers three scenic and different options for runners. The VA itself has paved a trail around its grounds for an estimated 2 miles of track. Arrows serve as guides and hills are short and sweet. Neighboring the VA is the UA Arboretum, home to the UA Cross Country Course and a dirt road that can also serve as a running track. The cross country course has a marked loop as well as a grass fairway with yellow arrows as guides. The dirt road serves as rocky mile-long stretch that runs from one end of the arboretum to the other.

Information taken from wagnersrunwalk.com.




Rosemary Beach

The appeal here is obvious – who wouldn’t want the beach by their side for a run? The sand is another bonus, lowering the impact the run has on a runner’s joints. Opposite from the ocean are architectural feats connected by pedestrian boardwalks, such as shops and residences. With the ocean wind as motivation, Rosemary Beach offers a breathtaking 107 acre view.


Deer Lake State Park

Offering a quieter backdrop for a runner’s escape, South Walton’s “best kept secret” provides all of the scenery with less than half of the noise.  The beach in Deer Lake State Park is undisturbed and gives an alternate to the sandy paths throughout the area. The half-mile Blue Trail borders Deer Lake and is perfect for a short run with plenty of wildlife to see. To see what else Deer Lake State Park has to offer, visit floridastateparks.org/park/Deer-Lake.


Azalea City Living is Mobile, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

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