I say it every year: "Last year flew by!" But this new year is different. Life is not the same through the lens of recovery from a massive recession and pandemic. These last years have dished up a host of challenges (if not downright tragedy) for everyone and by no means has the time flown by. That is why I took extra time at the end of 2022 to slow down more than usual and assess the landscape of 2023.
It's hard to tell what will really become of 2023. As we have all experienced, we can plan all we like, but life will throw at us whatever it pleases. My plans for the new year are to stretch myself in new areas of discipline, design bigger workshops, and pick up that research I put down in 2020. Personally, my elderly parents are slowing down, and I expect much of my free time will be dedicated to caring for them.
This year, I am inspired by my new hobby of making stained glass art. This is an opportunity to practice what I preach with new tools and techniques. Back in November, I was frustrated with all-work-no-play. I was tired of my usual go-tos of paper sculpture and painting, and I was itching to get my hands active in some crafty way. I took a stained glass class that magically landed on the few days I didn't have work scheduled, and I was hooked!
What I am learning about myself in this craft is that I like to move fast and get things done in short order. Crafting with glass forces me to slow down (otherwise, I shred my fingers bloody) and focus on what is at hand. The time spent crafting with glass is my time to unplug from my usual motion and rewire my brain and body to think at a different speed.
This concept is the basis for my theory on using our hands to solve problems that might otherwise be considered brain work. Engaging our bodies (especially our hands with new tools) broadens synaptic transmissions across the brain, leading to new thoughts and insights. When I get stuck, and productivity is low, I turn to handicrafts to revive my thoughts and inspiration. Stained glass gives me a new speed at which to work, and the outcomes make beautiful gifts! Taking a craft break has always led to better work in the long run.
Do you have a craft or hobby you turn to that revives your spirit? How does it feel to use your hands to make something interesting? I'd love to hear what lights your fire. And in the meantime, I send heartfelt wishes for an abundant 2023.