Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finding your creative strengths

The "newish" field of positive psychology says that instead of focusing on our neuroses and weaknesses, we should focuses on our strengths—what we’re good at.

An aside: If you want to measure you character strengths, go to and take the VIA Survey of Character, developed by esteemed positive psychology experts. It takes close to half an hour to finish the test--but besides getting immediate, free feedback on your five most notable personality strengths, you'll be contributing to research on the topic. (You can also opt for a briefer test called the VIA Survey of Strengths, which has only 24 questions.)

But back to creativity: If you’re feeling frustrated about your creative work, focusing on your strengths may help turn your attitude around.

My creative strength is color. My sister says that I often take the loudest and even most clashing colors and designs and make them work together in a quilt. I do this mostly by intuition or “feel.” All I know is what I am attracted to…

I also do best with simple recently I boosted my confidence by making a back-to-basics quilt composed of squares and circles, buttons and embellishments.

What’s your creative strength? Find it and build on it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Volunteer for my stress study and earn $25!


Do you want to participate in a crafts and wellness study—and earn $25 AT HOME!?

It requires a 1-hour commitment per day for 1 week. You must be 18 or older to participate.

Please contact Nancy Monson, study leader, via email at or by calling 203-556-8698 for more information and to apply.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Creativity and the perimenopausal brain

I don’t know how Hillary Clinton does it—how she keeps her energy up to travel the world and her intellect sharp enough to shape international policy.

Half the time I can’t even remember what I’m supposed to be doing.

My brain is awash (or not, as the case may be) in perimenopausal hormones. I hear new moms have a similar dilemma—their brains turn to mush!

I have trouble concentrating. I get irritable and jittery out of the blue. I feel sad. It’s a hormone party for one.

The only positive is that I’m told by experts that midlife is a creative high point for many people, so I’m hoping the brain fog leads to a clearer picture as I move through menopause. One can only hope!

Any of you out there experiencing this?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Creative Intelligence

I was talking to quilter Barb Olson ( about my book Craft to Heal and she mentioned that she believes in the concept of creative intelligence. You know, just like we have intrinsic or booksmart intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence, we also have creative intelligence (CI). Likewise, you can refine and hone your creative intelligence with practice and perseverance just like you can your other intelligence quotients.

Some of us are born with more CI than others, just like we have higher IQs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to be more creative. Part of it is attitude, I think—you have to be open to it, let yourself relax so your mind can surf to new possibilities.

As fabric artist Diane Ericson ( told me, ““Creativity isn’t what you do once or twice a week—it’s the way you approach your life. Everyone is creative, but some people have been nurtured and some haven’t. You have to own your creativity, develop it, grow it, like a garden.”

Here are some ways to hone that creative intelligence:
--Consider yourself a creative person in every day and every way.
--Write down, draw, or audiotape stray thoughts and dreams. These are the seeds of great ideas—and they are often lost just before or after sleep, after the shower, or in the rush of the day.
--Keep a journal of your inspirations, advises creativity coach Gail McMeekin ( Carry the journal with you to write down ideas as they come to you…while you’re out shopping, at a museum or talking with a friend. Or carry a small sketchbook to draw things you see or to carry swatches of fabric you like or are using in a current project.
--Make an excitement list, says Gail, so you can follow your fascinations. What are you attracted to and what turns your creative fire on? That is where you begin. Creativity is about experimentation, and you have to be willing to try things and then reroute them until you get the right formula.
--Relax yourself, encourages Sue Bender, author of the book Stretching Lessons: The Daring That Starts from Within. “At the beginning of any new challenge we encounter obstacles, confusion and doubts,” she writes. “That’s natural. But when we allow the rigidity within us to begin to melt, we allow our soul to grow…we’re inviting our soul to grow wings.”
--Make “artist dates” with yourself, advises creativity guru Julia Cameron, author of the must-have book in this area The Artist’s Way ( She suggests setting aside time on a weekly basis—something like 2 hours a week—to nurture your inner artist. The date, which is only with yourself and should be solitary in nature—might consist of going to a museum or gallery, to the beach at sunrise or sunset or out to listen to music at a local club.
--Have faith in your abilities. Persevere in your craft because you love it, and whether you ever become a master crafter or not, it will bring joy back to you ten-fold.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Craft For Health, a new website

I’ve just started blogging for a new website called CraftForHealth ( It’s a joint venture between a designer and crafter, Kathy Peterson, and a nurse, Barb Dehn. Together, they’ll be showcasing inspiring stories, health tips, videos, etc., about the therapeutic benefits of crafting. Their vision is to "spread the good word about craft therapy in these uncertain times," as Kathy told me.

I’m excited to participate in this venture not only because it complements my Craft to Heal approach, but because I believe so much that crafts and hobbies can benefit us all—if we approach them with the right frame of mind (namely by not demanding too much of ourselves and being too perfectionistic).

Truthfully, this is something I struggle with every day as I'm making my quilts and collages and jewelry, etc. I’m rarely completely happy with my creative efforts, but I keep trying, and I keep getting rewarded.

Whatever the outcome, though, I find the process of creating an end unto itself. It's the best de-stressor I know!