“Mom, I feel overwhelmed.” My son came to me the other day. Truly he has a lot on his plate. Our conversation led to a topic I’m really passionate about: creativity. It’s not just that I spend my life in la-la land. I live in the same world you do. I have the same ups and downs. Same concerns about the present and the future. I have the same time limitations as you (I don’t have endless time to sit and sew, believe it or not. I have to find the time) …and through it all I’ve discovered a secret to thriving in the midst of life’s craziness.
Creativity is that key. It helps us problem solve, lowers our stress level, gives us the mental space to process through areas that are in need of peace, allowing us the opportunity to think through strategies for growth and change, without actually spending time thinking about the challenges. (The technical lingo is developing new neural pathways, or thought highways) It helps us think through the other areas of our lives that are struggling. Creativity also refreshes the deepest parts of our soul. Creativity is like food for every part of our body. It would be ludicrous to fast endlessly – we couldn’t do it! When we don’t take the time to feed ourselves with creative time, it’s the same as fasting, and expecting to hike a mountain…it’s really hard!!!
Some may say “you have to Maslow before you can bloom” but I would say that they work together to enrich the whole person. Creativity is often identified as a final step after all the other things get done but I have seen so many studies and conversations with quilt customers that would suggest it is REALLY foundational to our quality of life! Just as our bodies need food and water, our brains also require daily sustenance that creativity fosters. There are many studies that have demonstrated how creativity can provide mental nourishment that is the boost your body needs.
You don’t have to be a world famous artist to benefit from having a creative outlet. What if you added in 15 minutes a day to be creative? I propose the National Park patterns because chances are, you love the National Parks, and probably love sewing (or are intrigued by it). From learning a new skill, for many, to selecting fabrics, and sewing the blocks…all of these parts as aspects of creativity.
I’d like to share a story of one of my customers. There are so many wonderful stories I can share, but this one touched me. She decided to sew 1 National Park block every day for a month. On one particular day, she shared a picture of this block.
This block really spoke to my heart because Tiffany normally makes stunning ‘realistic’ blocks. For Craters of the Moon, we’d probably select black fabrics for the landscape. HOWEVER, trying something new, and thinking out of the box grows your creativity.
When you are starting, choosing realistic colors fulfills this, because you are starting, and those creative ways of thinking haven’t been connected yet, or might be rusty. As you continue on your creative journey, it’s important to exercise the creative muscle in new ways.
If you’ve been making National Park blocks for a while, I highly encourage you to try making a few blocks that are not in your norm. Not necessarily to make blocks for your finished quilt, but thinking outside the box creates new neural pathways (the highway that thoughts travel on) that grow creativity, which creates new ideas and influences new positive creative thoughts. Dr. Caroline Leaf has written many books on the brain and thoughts (neural pathways). Basically, creative thoughts and fresh ideas create neural pathways that are like a tree in the summer – they really look like that. But uncreative thoughts and lousy self talk creates neural pathways that are like a tree in the winter – the connect points are fewer and farther between…but but just having one positive, creative thought, it can regrow all of that. Creativity begets creativity. ❤ (And did you know that the more positive, creative thoughts you have, the healthier it makes your body, reduces stress, increases your immune system, on and on and on!). Creative thoughts fuel hope. There is a great proverb that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” We could all use some extra hope. The first step in growing hope is really creative time. I have found time and time again, when I am discouraged, it’s probably because I haven’t had some time with my sewing needle or machine to create something. There is something wonderfully magical about selecting the fabrics (you don’t need a huge stash – trust me), or even a plan for how to use it, and sewing a block together that encourages me…refreshes my soul…brings hope. It’s a reset for my heart and mind.
If you haven’t started making a National Park quilt, I hope this encourages you to get started! Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk!