Tapping into My Creative Brain a Different Way


In early fall of 2018, I decided to use the sewing machine I received as a Christmas gift in 2017 to make a wedding quilt for my daughter and her husband.

It would be my first attempt at a quilt, and of course I picked a complicated pattern. It took me almost two months to complete. I worked on it in the evenings, when working with words is rarely something I can focus on. It did open up my creative mind as I pieced together strips to create log-cabin-style blocks.

As I worked, I thought of the parallels of putting together a quilt and how the final product represented marriage in so many ways. The various patterns were like the history and personalities of my daughter and her fiance — coming together to form something beautiful, even if there were imperfections.

The process itself as my first attempt is also like marriage — that ideally is only achieved once in a lifetime. When a couple starts out, they hopefully have a plan. It might even seem easy until they start trying to fit the pieces together. When the seams didn’t line up right, I had to take them apart and resew. When the blocks didn’t come together evenly, I had to add another strip of fabric and modify the original pattern.

But in the end, I made it work. In the end the many imperfections, once combined, were harder to notice.

I think the metaphor is obvious now. And despite the many things in my life that are moredifficult to piece together and control than strips of fabric, the process of quilting has become almost as cathartic as writing. And I think if I can learn to balance the two, my writing will become better as well.

Since then, I made a birthday quilt for my other daughter, Elora’s 25th, and each of my boys and grandson, basic block quilts as Christmas presents. And last, for now, I finished a quilt for my granddaughter (due to arrive any day now). It will be my last major sewing project until I get back on track with writing!

Screen time drains me — especially when the majority of my day it’s about our family business or finances. It’s not about creativity like it once was years ago when a computer was my playground and rarely a tool for surviving.

So awakening the creative part of me that stems from childhood and a time when screentime was rare and tools like sewing machines were more accessible, is also awakening the memories and imagination that spark the storyteller in me!

I don’t see this new hobby as just another distraction to keep me from writing, but as a way to open my artistic brain — dividing me from my daily obligations and demonstrating how I not only have time to be creative, but that I must allow that part of me to thrive to fully enjoy life and all its possibilities.

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