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Sunday, January 31, 2016

January is Done? What?

I thought I should at least try to post SOMETHING for January!  Holy moly - the month has flown and here we are, ready to get on with February.  I have done plenty, but haven't blogged about anything, so here's a summary:

* Still working the body AND the mind at the YMCA after work;

* Doing a little adult coloring; 


* Got through another 30th birthday celebration and quilt (did I mention I'm feeling OLD?)


* Took a Zentangle class and have been practicing (a lot!) ;


* And I'm keeping up on my 52-week photography challenge so far. This week's challenge was to find a landscape with good contrast for a black & white photo. I love this challenge, as it forces me to think about what I want to photograph rather than just randomly taking pictures. This is strictly a personal goal and challenge - I plan to make a Shutterfly book of my 52 photos with the challenge descriptions at the end. Hopefully I can stay on course for another 47 weeks!


I made it to our Twin Cities Tatters gathering last Saturday too, but have not accomplished enough tatting to take any photos of THAT :)

On with February!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Creativity + Psychology


While playing around with designing a “Save the Date” card for my daughter, I came across some good reading on Creativity and Psychology.  [Sidetracked again!]   With the New Year and thoughts of re-focusing my energies, this information was incredibly interesting to me, and aligns with my current goals.

Over the past several months, I’ve been sort of experimenting with different ways to improve my overall body and mind health.  I’m investing an hour or so most days with group exercise at the YMCA, and I find it actually benefits my mind with both clarity and stress relief.  Any muscle gain or weight loss is really a side-benefit, but I feel better overall anyway.   One of the group exercise classes I go to regularly is PiYo, a combination of Pilates and Yoga.  I’m not a huge fan of Yoga by itself at the moment, but the concentration and balance elements of PiYo are the “mind” benefit for me.  Seeking more of the mind and stress-relief activities has led me to thinking about more creative outlets as well.  I love photography-and-tatting-and-sewing-and-reading-and-writing-and-doodling-and . . . you get the idea.  Sometimes I just don’t know what I want to do next. Which leads to thinking about the New Year and new focus.

I don’t make “resolutions” so to speak, and I’ve said this before, but I do like to re-think about my life and purpose.  I would say the New Year holiday is one of my favorites, and I really do see it as an opportunity for newness in all areas of my life.  This year, I want to continue to focus on healthy body-healthy mind. Which involves plenty of creativity, as well.

Did you know that some of the key elements of being creative include meditation or mindfulness? It makes perfect sense clearing one’s mind and letting your mind be open to whatever flows in would increase creativity.  Did you also know that exercise stimulates creativity as well?  I knew that exercise was good stress-relief, but I never associated it with stimulating creativity.  This makes me confident that I am on the right track in more ways than I realized. 

People who know me well know that I am a “routine” and “analytical” kind of person.  I’ve sort of always seen that as an UN-desirable quality at certain times, but on my sidetracked journey I learned that these are also qualities of creativity. [Think structure/self-discipline/focus.] Every routine is unique to the individual, but routines take unimportant decisions out of thoughts, leaving room for more important decisions.  Is this why I prefer to decide what I’m going to wear the night before? [I really just hate making that decision when I get up – I thought it was just morning laziness on my part.] It also makes sense that I do routine tasks the same way every time – I don’t have to really think about it once it becomes habit.  Did you also know that being left-brained or right-brained is really a MYTH?  Creative people are not right-brained, nor are logical thinkers left-brained.  Everyone has creative ability.  Scientists and their diagnoses are analytical yet creative, right?  Creativity takes some intelligence, but not genius.  In fact, think about Van Gogh and the gift of his ear.  There is a link between mental illness and creativity.  [Ha!  So that’s my story.]

And the brainstorming.  I’ve always been taught that brainstorming is the way to generate creative ideas.  It doesn’t work for me - I always just thought I was the exception.  But more recent studies show that brainstorming can be limiting. [Now, I’ve done plenty of reading on being an introvert so this definitely hits home for me.]  In a brainstorming meeting, extroverts assert the ideas and those who are less confident will agree - and be reluctant to share equally good ideas.  I know this is true, because my best ideas usually hit when I’m alone, or after more thinking time than allowed during quick outbursts of brainstorming.  I think of great things AFTER the meeting or AFTER something has been decided.  Creativity under pressure is not necessarily the best way to go.  It does take some time, and individual effort, or small group effort at the very least.

So, I’m back to placing some focus on the New Year, and how to continue with healthy body and mind activities.  Adult coloring and Zentangle art are added to my repertoire for mind relaxation and personal creativity.  I think I have the WHAT, but I still need to work on the HOW and the FOCUS parts of the goal-setting.

And, I should probably get back to designing that “Save the Date”. 


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IT has begun!


I can't believe we're 8 days into December already!  We have had above average temps and NO snow to speak of here in Minnesota.  A crazy, warm, wonderful fall and a very mild beginning to winter is making Christmas sneak up on me. (As good an excuse as any, no?)

I stitched Jon Yusoff's 'Minaret' snowflake to a star of that beautiful red wool I had, and then stitched the 2 stars together to make it stable enough to use as an ornament.  This was a first try at the blanket stitch, so that stitching isn't pretty!  I used invisible thread to stitch the snowflake to the wool - which was a feat in itself as well. Kind of a tangly mess, and I got it stitched down a bit crooked.  Oh well - it looks nice on the tree!  I decided I probably won't do a star shape again, but maybe a round ball ornament - it's difficult to center anything on a star, much less stitch around the edge nicely.  Plus, I think there's too much 'extra' fabric with the star shape - and that takes away from the tatted snowflake.  Why do I always experiment at the last minute?  Ha!


I've got my decorating done at work - just thought I'd share where I spend my days.  Now to get the decorating done at home.  And some baking.  And some lefse-making.  And get the cards mailed.  And did I mention my daughter and fiancĂ© are closing on their first home this Friday?  We'll squeeze helping with that in, too.  I don't know if I can handle much more ;) Ha!  So exciting to see things falling into place for my kiddos.


Enjoy the season!  Enjoy your families and friends, and sing loudly.  I'm gonna!