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When you just have to be creative

February 8, 2021

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but enduring this pandemic has been challenging, but not always devastatingly so. My life pre-pandemic always seemed to fly by at lightning speed, filled with busyness.  Some necessary. Some of my own doing. The colossal pause created vacillating emotions: relief because I have so strongly desired a way to slow down and rest and sadness because I am a naturally a doer.  The former, in many ways, has been short-lived, but I have enjoyed the moments of intentional quiet and a less harried rushing around. The latter has been fulfilled by being an educator teaching in a pandemic. Every day is an adventure as I try to find ways to engage to connect and build relationships with students in order to support their academic dreams. These efforts rely on my education, my practical experience, and every ounce of creativity I can muster.

Creative thinking is something that many (including me) would argue is not limited to only certain facets of life.   Yet, I think many of us fail to recognize how much creativity enriches our lives and brings a peace we often desire. After spending a month in lockdown, I realized how desperately I needed activities outside of work where I could use my creativity.  Pinning more things to Pinterest boards worked for a bit, but that effort didn’t sustain me. 

When stores opened again in Minnesota in the Spring, my mini-me and I embarked on a walk across town backpacks, masks, and a spirit of adventure in tow to the hobby store to indulge our need to create something.  My fingers longed to do something more than type keystrokes on a computer, and crocheting sounded like the perfect solution. Being in the fresh air and moving with purpose brought joy in every step.  Inside the store, we lingered a bit longer, not because we really wanted more than the couple items we sought, but because looking at something other than the walls in our house was refreshing.  After selecting a few skeins of yarn, we were on our way to the checkout, when an endcap with woodland themed jelly roll quilt strips caught my eye. 

I know.  I went for skeins of yarn and here I was tempted by the oldest marketing trick in the book – the endcap display. I’d always wanted to try one of these quilts, but I came for yarn, not more fabric. My thoughts raced on practicality and necessity, but settled on the knowledge of recent news of a new baby due later in the year who would need a quilt.  But woodland animals.  Who could resist?  Turns out, not me. 

Also, turns out that my longing to be creative is not surpassed by my belief in my ability to multi-task with superhuman strength.  I didn’t dig out the quilt until several months later.  In my defense, I also completed my doctoral research, defended my dissertation, allowed students second and third chances to wrap up spring semester and taught summer school.  Sewing the quilt top was a fun as the tutorial I found.

By the time, I circled back to the quilt, I quickly realized that 1 jelly roll was not enough, but sadly the store was sold out. And now, the baby was due soon; so, off to the store for coordinating fabric to make an outside border and backing.  Thankfully, the cutest little fox fabric was available that coordinated well with the adorable fox in the original fabric. 

Since the original jelly roll creation was too thin and long, I had a bit of extra that could be used to make a taggy blanket.  But then it hit me that I didn’t have a big sister gift for the new baby, and stumbled across a cute tutorial. (Okay, that really happened after spending hours on both Pinterest and YouTube, because I cannot read patterns and needed something simple to follow.) I decided to really go out on a limb to create a coordinating stuffed fox and used some of the fabric for the fox’s belly.  The creativity just kept pouring out. Thank heavens!

The final products reminded me how much I love creating things and how essential the process is to me. Whatever brings you joy, my hope and prayer is you make time to enjoy doing it. I have learned in this worldwide pause that creating something with my hands for someone I love is giving the very best of me. 

Wherever you are today, how might your creativity be used to love someone else?

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