Thursday, August 28, 2014

Look what's coming up in a few days

This is our new and improved Christmas Workshop Walkabout. I think you're gonna like it! I'm just sayin'.

We need to know by September 1 if you plan to come to the workshop on the 6th of September. It would be great if we knew who was coming to the one on the 12th by then, too. Call me at (931) 456-6648 if you have questions or concerns. There's a lot to prepare to make your day a fun day. And that's what we intend to do! Come join us!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why create, you ask? It's good for you!

… recent studies are finding that complex crafting is good for mental health. The repetitive mindfulness of knitting, for example, has been likened to meditation. When 3,545 knitters were surveyed online by Betsan Corkhill, a knitting therapist, more than half of those who responded said they felt “very happy” after knitting. Many of them did it specifically for relaxation and stress relief. Those who knitted more frequently reported more mental and emotional relief than those who did it less frequently.

Is it just working with needle and thread that has these effects? No. Neuroscientists are studying other forms of creativity and finding that activities like cooking, drawing, cake decorating, photography, art, music and even doing crossword puzzles are beneficial, according to Time magazine.

Why? One thought is that when we’re being creative, our brains release dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Creativity that takes concentration is a non-medicinal way of getting a feel-good high. Scientists are even beginning to study the link between engaging in creative activities and the ability to reduce the mild cognitive impairment associated with aging.

Crafting may even help to alleviate depression. One thought is that it calls on parts of the brain that are being used less and less often in our world of modern conveniences. MRI scans tracked by neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, also the author of “Lifting Depression,” suggest a strong connection between physical work and feeling good. Lambert's quote in Whole Living sums it up perfectly:

In our contemporary age, when it's possible to Tweet one's deepest thoughts while waiting two minutes for dinner to warm in the microwave, this circuitry — encompassing a vast amount of "brain real estate," as Lambert says — isn't often called on to function in coordination and communication, as it seems evolutionarily designed to do. But when we activate our own effort-driven reward circuitry, it squirts a cocktail of feel-good neurotransmitters, including dopamine (the "reward" chemical), endorphins (released with exercise), and serotonin (secreted during repetitive movement).
 The studies being done are all in the beginning stages, but the good news is that if you’re looking for a way to improve your mental health, trying a creative endeavor certainly can’t hurt.

I think back to different times in my life when my creative endeavors that weren't associated with school or work took a high priority in my life, and I realize those endeavors made me happy. Whether I was cross stitching, spending hours in the darkroom developing black and white photos, or wrapped up in the scrapbook craze of 10 years ago when I was making creative photo albums of my boys’ first years, those activities had a positive effect on my outlook.

Perhaps it’s time for me to make my creativity a priority in my life again. I’ll take some non-medicinal, feel-good highs as often as I can get them. How about you?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lorraine Revalee and I attended the CHA Paper Arts show in Atlanta last week and had a wonderful time. The show was much smaller that the Anaheim show if only for the fact that it was related to paper crafts and not all crafts. It was so nice to have time to spend at each of the vendor booths. The classes I attended were very well received, and the supplies we received were much appreciated.

We had free breakfast 2 days and enough snacks at the Welcome Reception and the Open Market to replace a dinner out. And that food was really good. I particularly enjoyed the Beef Wellingtons and the Bacon Wrapped Scallops, but we hated that the desserts were gone when we got to the table. Next time we'll eat dessert first, as they say.

We made some new friends when we arrived. There was a long walk from the parking garage to the hotel so we had to make extra trips for our luggage and crafty things. Zully, the owner of Printindo in Indonesia, and her helper, Chris, from South Carolina were nice enough to walk all over the garage to load our things on their baggage cart. Now you've heard of paying in back, well, wait for the rest for the story. This was Zully's first trip to a CHA Show so she didn't know quite what to expect. Her display missed a very important use of her great papers, cards. So Lorraine offered to make some cards for her display using whatever we had. Zully gave Lorraine papers, but we had nothing else except the few stamps and stencils we had received in classes. I happened to mention to Lisa at Ellison/Sizzix that Lorraine was doing this for a newcomer, and Lisa loaned us a Big Shot and flower die so the cards could have a little more dimension. Zully later thanked Lisa, and they have found a mutual interest in their products since Zully focuses on school products and Ellison/Sizzix supports school efforts. Then to finalize this give-back concept, Lorraine won one of the Big Shots that they had raffled off. Now doesn't that make you want to give back? Through the kindness of friends, many good things happen.

Lorraine has the pictures we took, so I will try to post them later. Below is the only picture of the 2 of us on the last day of the show.