Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Energy of Creativity

Creativity can be hard work.

Moving is hard. Packing up 25 years of your life (and your children's lives) is difficult. Deciding what to keep, what to sell or give away, and what to throw away is really challenging. It all takes energy—physical, mental, and emotional. Sometimes, it feels like there is just no energy left to be creative. 

My husband and I (Teri) have just moved into a furnished rental home while we await the completion our new home's construction. Our last few weeks have been fraught with sorting and filling boxes, including the overwhelming task of determining what of my studio can go into storage for three months, and what I might need. A daunting assignment! 

After packing nine huge bins, it looks like nothing had been accomplished in my studio.
How did I determine what of my stash to store and what to keep? My first thought was to keep it all with me,
but common sense prevailed, (for which my husband is grateful!) and ultimately,
I pulled what I thought I'd need for my Academy project and stored the rest.

The added fact that Kara is moving to Germany in a month fills us with an urgency to plan, design, and gather materials for future classes, such as the Academy of Appliqué, where we will again be teaching in 2018. We are cherishing our face-to-face work time while we have it! And of course, there are the emotions we feel each time we are together, thinking about the future with a mixture of excitement and melancholy; as we plan and chat and laugh, the sense that tears are brimming just beneath the surface is felt by us both. Venturing toward an unknown adventure can be downright exhausting, even if it is exciting!

Choosing furniture, granite, cabinets, flooring, and paint colors
 consume my creativity energy.

Not always a neat, tidy area, but this chair logged
many words and stitches over the years.

It would seem logical that my passion, needlework, would be a respite from the frenzy of moving activity. Alas, I often find myself thinking about the flowers I want to stitch and how I want to create them, but I've found it an effort to go beyond the thoughts. I miss my writing and stitching chair, that place where I am most comfortable creating. I feel an enormous sense of inertia, wanting desperately to get my mind and fingers moving, (not just our household goods!) but struggling to start actively creating. Why is it so hard?!


This smaller version of my great-grandparents' home
fills me with nostalgia.
We've been in our charming 1920 temporary home for about a week now, and I finally am feeling settled enough to realize that all the thinking I've been doing is a critical part of the creative process. Creativity is not just the act of cranking out work; the reflection and planning that goes on long before the activity of creating is just as important. Sometimes more. So as I walk through our garden—the flowers above were the first blooms—or the park, I'm looking for inspiration everywhere, using the energy I have left to THINK creatively. I know that eventually, creation will follow.

Even the backyard garden is reminiscent of my great-grandparents' garden,
except that I miss the portulaca lining the walk.  (See A Walk in the Garden.)

A walk through Baker Park in Frederick, Maryland: creative inspiration abounds!


This past week, I finally had a chance to sit down and read my new issue of Quiltfolk, the quarterly publication that I wrote about in December. (Click here to read that post.) I eagerly anticipated its arrival for weeks, but when it was finally delivered, packing duties took precedence. At last, I had time to relax and peruse this issue, sitting in our lovely backyard garden. It did not disappoint. But more about that tomorrow, when I'll tell you about about my "trip" to Iowa. For now, I will just say that perhaps my garden reading chair might become my new temporary writing and stitching chair!

What about you? Have you ever faced a slump or period of creative inertia? How did you recover?

A possible candidate for my new writing and stitching chair 😀


  1. As water entered my quilt studio 5 weeks ago I scrambled to pack. Got everything out but my stuff is a packing mess. We had to completely gut the studio and family room. I didn't have time to sort and mark boxes. I am overwhelmed by my stuff and am seriously sorting it now. I don't feel like stitching either..not at all. The basement is mostly dry now but there was some excavation work and it's going to be expensive and we may not be able to refinish till next Spring. In the meantime I will sort and plan.

    1. That sounds dreadful! The sorting and planning could lead to some great projects, though. I found some things I bought years ago that I'd totally forgotten about, and I was looking at them with new eyes and new ideas. Hope your renovations go well!