crafting happiness

I’ve mentioned my friend, Tiffany, a million times on this blog. She inspires and challenges me. It would be too easy to say, “I like her” because really, that’s what we say about people who are very, very much LIKE us. We get their humor. Their perspectives. Their ideas. We get them because they most align with our own.

And that is T to me.

She recently posted pictures of her newly reorganized scrapbook spot in her home. Like me, she is limited on space. She used to have this perfectly wonderful room until she dared have the most adorable child in the world, and thereby lost her scrapbooking room! (can I get a witness?!)

Anyway, yesterday morning we were on the phone, solving the world’s problems (or at least the scrapbook world’s issues) and as always, as soon as I hung up the phone with her, I wanted to create. It is a need within me that is greater than just about anything. It refocuses me and allows me to escape.

To be completely honest and transparent, I needed to escape. These past couple of weeks I have had some repeated (although unrelated) comments and implications made to me that amounted to me “not being good enough”. It has seemed like a bombardment lately; and keeping my head up has become more and more difficult.

So I stopped working around 5pm yesterday and went straight to my “scrapbook cubby” for some release. Scott called and encouraged the process all the more.

When I scrapbook, there is one important step I seem to always take: I re-arrange. Just like a dog getting his pillow bed ready to lie down upon, I do the same thing with my supplies. I pull and tug on them until I think they’re ready, then…I scrapbook.

Minimizing is always the key for me. The less I have, the more I will use what I have. But also, I need to see it. If it’s put away, I won’t use it.

So with some clever storage tips from Tiffany, I took all my embellishments out of their cardboard and plastic and condensed them all into a few see-through containers.

Then I worked on just a few things. Some birthday cards, anniversary cards, and two layouts. I would have loved to have spent more time on things, but my To Do list was starting to eek back into the front of my mind so I knew it was time to wrap things up and be happy for what time I did take to reconnect with my true soul.

I loved the strip quote: “The very first moment I beheld him, my heart was irrevocably gone. – Jane Austen”

Before going to bed I read some from my current favorite magazine, Whole Living. Ironically (and let me say that I am a fanatic about magazine readage. I do NOT flip through the magazine to see what’s in it. I methodically read from beginning to end, never knowing what’s coming up next, but ready for the surprise of it.) – the next article for me to read was called, ‘Crafting Happiness’. I actually searched around for a pen and underlined things in the article!

It started out with this paragraph about the writer’s passion: making pottery.

“Pottery has kept me clicking along, even during the Midwestern winters, which normally make me feel dull and down. And, as it happens, research suggests that when we immerse ourselves in activities involving planning, anticipation, and self-forgetting movement – such as gardening, crafting, or even engine tinkering (a pastime of the Dalai Lama) – we not only come back into the moment but also reduce stress and combat anxiety and depression.”

At this point I was yelling, “Amen!”

“Multigenerational surveys have shown that people born later in the 20th century, after the dawn of modern conveniences, suffer more bouts of depression than those born before WWII. Studies have also found low rates of depression among members of Old Order Amish communities – 1/5 to 1/10th those of the general population.”

“In one study, worker rats trained to claw through cage bedding to find food showed greater boldness and persistence – hallmarks of mental health – than “trust fund” rats, which received food freely.”

“When we knit a scarf, for instance, the brain’s executive-thinking centers get busy planning, then the happy-anticipation zone begins to zing with activity as our hands dive into action.”

“Neuroscientists have found that unchecked mental stress shrinks brain tissue, causing emotional and cognitive decline. Yet physical activity – particularly the kind that promotes cross-brain talking between executive-planning centers and those governing motion – helps combat stress not just in the moment but also down the line by producing new, heartier brain cells. Just plonking away at a keyboard, a rote motion that doesn’t promote that kind of neurogenesis (aka new learning) that comes with trial and error – we start to lose a sense of control, which creates anxiety.”

“Movement also helps “break the cycle of rumination” that often characterizes female depression, according to Yale University psychologist, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, author of ‘The Power of Women’. When you go back to your concerns, they seem less overwhelming and you’re better able to see some action you could take to overcome them.”

“Handcrafting promotes a fine-grained, joyful observing that is hard to come by when life flies by at its usual breakneck clip.”

How often have I heard creators say that the planning and execution is the best part of the project. The final result is rarely as intensely stimulating as it is in the middle of it all. Therefore, my pulling and tugging at supplies, is also a part of the creating process. My mind is engaged in the planning and my hands are creating the outcome and excitement that comes with it.

What I need to learn is that whether or not I feel I ‘have the time for creativity’ – I must find time for it in order to be more productive in the other hours of my week.


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