In Times of Trouble, Find Your Creativity

Robin Mitzcavitch, Director of Religious Exploration & Education

 Quilt by Judith Roderick

Sometimes the news is too hard to take. 

War and shootings, homelessness and inequality.  

What can I do besides feel helpless and useless? 

Meanwhile, things might also be stressful at home…..

Sickness and loss.  Everyone is touched by it.

How do humans make it through?

For me, I summon my creativity.

I know this sounds too simple, but it’s working for me. When we allow our brains to move into a creative space,  it impacts more than a budding work of art.  

When I create, I build additional neural pathways. This helps me not only make that awesome quilt I’ve been eyeing for a year, but boosts my problem solving abilities.  When I feel more confident with my problem solving abilities, my life takes a positive turn. Anxieties lessen. I feel more capable. I can actually imagine how to do something helpful for a situation that I’m concerned about.

Creativity allows us to practice being original and to be open to others’ original expressions.  Be it painting, computer science, music, sculpture, acting, writing, design, and even parenting…. there is always a place for an original idea. Being creative-minded allows us to be open-minded.  More open-mindedness on this planet would solve gigantic issues.

 Often, hardship pushes us to come up with a creative solution. That, I believe, is how humans make it through. And when things are clearly not going to change, or get any better quickly, there is a way to stay in the moment and not despair. To become aware and grateful for that creative spark in your brain, may allow you to better weather the situation. To sing brightly on a dreary afternoon, to draw a cartoon that summons a smile, to wire that electronic project so the lights begin to blink. Your mindset can change when infused with creativity.

I think of the stories I’ve read about enslaved women, who used the art of quilting not only for economical purposes such as reusing worn fabric and staying warm…but also as a way to ignite their creative brains. Quilting and storytelling through quilts brought some hope and purpose to their daily torment.  

As outlined in an article written by Imani Bashire, she writes:

“For generations, quilting has been passed down as both a survival skill and a medium for cultural and artistic expression. Quilting, of course, is not exclusive to Black American culture, but the conditions under which it developed have given it a unique quality within the genre. Instead of being hindered by the affront of having to use scraps to make basic bedtime necessities, it spurred innovation and creativity, along with a determination to make something beautiful that might restore a stripped sense of dignity. This led to Black American quilters developing new styles and techniques.”

So, I quilt and I think of the way that women used this creative art to showcase their artistry in a man’s world. This mode of creativity allowed them to make political statements and tell their stories- from the enslaved women of the 17th century to the pioneer women, to the women abolitionists and suffragettes.  

I am happy to say that the Social Threads Quilting and Sewing Community which Rachel Peckar and I started at this church almost 4 ½ years ago has turned into a lovely creative outlet to many. It has donated quilts to causes to raise awareness and money.  It has engaged us in ways beyond threading the needle. We are solving problems, maintaining community, and caring for others. To do this is a little easier with a creative umbrella over our heads. It’s more joyful and purposeful.  Who doesn’t need a little more of that in their lives?

So when I know I can’t do a lot about the troubles in the world, I do know that I have a creative brain that I can engage. We all do. Give yourself permission to do what fills you with more sunshine, more satisfaction. I think of the “Garden On” Team as I say this: Let creativity grow into a most beautiful and purposeful outlet.

The creative brain is the golden key when it comes to unlocking the next great solution. Solutions are critical to help our fellow humans make it through times of trouble. Where is your creative spark?