by Tori McElwain
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"We could be stationed anywhere on this list," my husband says as he hands me a list of locations with open positions. The Army does its best to honor your top 10 locations, but you get to go where the Army needs you to go. So, we made plans A, B, C, and D. Planning for the best case (we get our number one choice of location!) to the worst (Louisiana - yeah I said it. Ever been to Fort Polk? Me and humidity don't mix well). As it turns out, we had to change the plan to E and H and eventually, the Army decided they needed him at Fort Hood, Texas.
Time to pack up and move out of our small on-base house in Fort Benning, Georgia. Moves are never easy, but a 90 day move when your belongings are in several places, your destination is halfway across the southern half of the United States and your husband talks you into doing ALL of it yourselves....well, that takes a lot of patience, resilience, memory, flexibility, and most of all creativity.
Luckily, I'd been leaning into my creativity (by quilting!) and without realizing I had been gearing up my brain for this experience!
As quilting and crafting instructors, we are leaning heavily on creativity. We use creativity for ourselves and we teach creativity to others. Creativity is a vital component of the human experience. It has so many wonderful benefits for you and those you reach with your workshops. I had fun compiling a list. Let's check it out!
I could have used this while packing! Engaging in creative activities can serve as a powerful stress reliever. When you're immersed in a creative process, your focus shifts away from everyday concerns, promoting relaxation and a sense of calm.
Creativity provides a means to express yourself authentically and uniquely. Whether through sewing, quilting, art, writing, music, or other mediums, you can convey your thoughts, emotions, and experiences in ways that words alone might not capture.
Successfully completing creative projects can boost your self-esteem and confidence. Overcoming creative challenges and witnessing your own growth can give you a sense of accomplishment. Remember, confidence comes from doing the thing. If you are challenging yourself creatively, you are trying new things and that allows your self-confidence to grow.
Creative thinking often involves finding innovative solutions to problems. Engaging your creative mind can enhance your ability to approach challenges from various angles and devise unique solutions. If you're a quilter, you may have heard or use foundation paper piecing in a quilt project. It forces you to think upside down and backward - talk about working with various angles!
Enhanced Cognitive Function
Participating in creative endeavors can stimulate cognitive processes like critical thinking, pattern recognition, and imagination, which in turn can help maintain and improve cognitive function. I had a customer who used quilting as a way to stimulate her memory while going through a particularly rough medical treatment. She would light up talking about her thought process and how to piece all her scraps together to create these fun and colorful quilt tops. It gave her such confidence and control over her own brain. In addition, her treatment also made it hard to sleep, so quilting was something fun and creative to do when she was up at 3am!
Creativity encourages emotional exploration and processing. Engaging with your emotions through creative outlets can facilitate emotional understanding, resilience, and coping mechanisms. One of my favorite things in the quilting world are the realistic tags! For example: "Made with abundant love and curse words."
Connection and Social Interaction
Where are your creative friends at? Many quilters have Quilt Guilds or Sewing Groups that meet regularly. Participating in creative communities or sharing your creative work can foster connections with others who share similar interests. This social interaction can lead to a sense of belonging and increased social well-being. Humans are made to be social creatures, use your creative endeavors to find creative friends!
With increased confidence, less stress, and emotional resilience this is a no-brainer! However, there are studies that show that engaging in creative pursuits can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This can contribute to a more positive outlook on life and a sense of happiness.
Creativity encourages exploration and growth by pushing you outside your comfort zone. It invites you to experiment, learn new skills, and embrace change. This tends to follow you to other areas of your life, helping you grow in more ways than just creatively.
Mindfulness and Presence
I tend to fall into a meditative state with piecing, pressing, and free-motion quilting. Theres something about the hum of the sewing machine that really helps he focus to the point where I am no longer aware of the world around me. Creative activities often encourage this type of hyper-focus or focused attention and presence in the moment. This mindfulness can provide a break from worries about the past or future, promoting a sense of mindfulness and well-being.
Creativity transcends boundaries, encouraging connections between different fields and perspectives. This cross-disciplinary thinking can lead to innovative ideas and solutions. I loved this suggestion! As a pattern designer, I really feel this when designing a new quilt pattern. First it's very creative, playing with shapes, and colors, putting different combinations together, and pulling inspiration from the world around me then - screeeeech - it's time to start the quilt math! It feels like an abrupt u-turn in the middle of the freeway!
Creativity can provide an outlet for emotions that might be difficult to express otherwise. It offers a safe space to process and release emotions through a creative medium. This can be such a powerful tool to utilize for ourselves as creatives and to pass along to our students. Creativity can have to power of helping process trauma or express their powerful emotions when they are unable to do so in other ways. As an instructor, you can give them the skills to express this creativity with in them.
Legacy and Impact
Engaging in creative pursuits allows you to leave a lasting impact on the world. Whether it's through textile art, writing, or other creative endeavors, your work can be a part of your legacy. It can be a family tradition, memorabilia, and/or a historical representation of our times. Outside of the physical creative outcomes (like a comfy cozy, beautiful quilt!) also comes the skills that you can share and pass on to your community. Imagine teaching 3 people how to do the creative thing you love to do and inspiring them to live a fuller more positive life. Then they in turn could pass it on to more people and create this beautiful ripple effect that reaches more and more people.
Incorporating creativity into your life can do wonderful things for your brain, enhance your overall well-being and confidence, and bring a sense of fulfillment. Passing creativity along can have a huge impact on your community. Whether you're a quilter, a crafter, or pursuing any other creative endeavor, embracing your creative side can enrich your life in numerous ways (like preparing for a move across the country in 90 days with a 4-year-old and a 3-month-old! But that's a story for another day.)
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For time management, check out my blog post: Making Time For What You Want to Do.
Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.