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Uplift!

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Artfully yours

There are few times in life when a moment of self-care becomes a gift for others as well as for the individual. Even fewer when the gift is tangible. But when that happens it is a thing of beauty, sometimes even creating things of beauty.

 

Although both educated, licensed, and working in a highly scientific field, our downtime activities tend to be more artistic. Diem’s self-care space is her craft table where among other things, she creates and assembles greeting cards. Michael turns his home office to a home studio when he switches from work to relaxation mode where he paints, usually acrylics on canvas. Both rather normal hobbies enjoyed by millions of arts and crafts dabblers. What makes our creative self-care pursuits a little different is how we’ve integrated them into expressing our care for others.

 

It is no secret that hobbies improve brain health. Neurologist Breyanna Grays told the e-zine Health, “Hobbies can help with socialization and protect against loneliness, which has been associated with a higher risk of dementia, Along with socialization, hobbies can improve one’s mental health and provide various cognitive benefits.” When you do something you enjoy doing, your brain releases dopamine which among other things, motivates you to continue with pleasurable activities, and creates new neural connections in the brain.

 

The not-so-secret secret is that hobbies also improve our emotional health. Perhaps after years of working in the often emotionally draining field of hospital-based health care, we found ourselves searching for ways to relax while we try to uplift other people’s moods and improve their emotional health when we take time off from working to improve other people’s physical health. Diem explains it best when she says, “It’s about doing the things we enjoy and how we can use that talent to bring joy to others. Create something as a gift to another. That is our gift, to our self and others.” The gift to which she referred is not simply to interact with others but to create and offer tangible gifts for them.

 

Living on opposite sides of the country, we find nearly all our daily communication with each other is by text messaging. But for special occasions, hand-written cards and letters are our go to means of saying, “Hello!” And both of us often find ourselves writing cards, notes, and long letters to friends and relatives throughout the year. Michael does not recall ever receiving a mailed greeting from Diem that was not one of her hand-made cards. That the greeting came from both hand and heart makes the greeting more than doubly appreciated. Certainly, the same feeling is felt by all those who are fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a card of her own creation.

 

It might be hard to put a stamp on a 20x40 inch canvas painting but not so difficult to include a smaller piece of art in a package mailed in honor of a birthday, holiday, or special occasion. Something Michael has done often is include a painting with or as a gift marking that occasion, trying to tailor the subject to the recipient’s personality or some memorable moment or event, and has done so for Diem and for other friends and family members.  

 

Everybody can physically and mentally benefit by beginning or continuing a hobby or some creative pursuit, those benefits well documented means of self-care. We know from our own experience that you multiply those benefits when you share the results of those pursuits with others.

 

Perhaps the same can be said of these weekly narratives and our Moments of Motivation. For us these our thoughts and feelings, moments from our lives. These pieces of ourselves are not work but things we enjoy doing and they are another way we perform self-care through expression and sharing. Diem words are still true. “It’s about doing the things we enjoy and how we can bring joy to others.” Our gift to ourselves is our gift to you. One we hope you enjoy as much as we enjoy offering it.




 

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You two have made such wise insights in this space of needing hobbies and creative outlets. To do something that brings us joy and can offer joy to others is a gift beyond thoughtful. Creative self-care is something we need to encourage more frequently for those who are hurting. Focusing on something other than personal pain or discouragement or disruption can not only help our mental health but our interactions with others. Thanks, you two, for continuing to bring truth, grace, and mercy to the rest of us.

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Thank you for such kind words Dayle. Sometimes all we need to reset our internal machinery - mentally, physically, and emotionally. We’re fortunate we found fun and creative outlets that let us use different parts of our minds, different muscles, and have fun doing it.  Seeing other people enjoy the fruits of our creative labors multiplies the good incalculably.

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