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Learning to be stimulated

Last fall I signed myself up for a 12-week jewelry casting class. It was something I had been curious about for a long while, but after a couple of sessions of the class I realized what a gift to myself it actually was.

It is fascinating how linear we assume things are. For example, we plant a strawberry plant so that we will have fresh strawberries to eat. But when we tend the strawberry plant we are gaining so much more. Much more than just eating fresh strawberries, which is pretty wonderful on its own. Often when we do something, especially something that we do intentionally, we get more from it, or something different from it, than we expected.

With this casting class, I thought I was going to explore new ways to make jewelry, specifically thinking about translating some of my ceramic rings into metal. And I did explore that, and I still am. (More on that at another time.) But what I also did was to stimulate my brain! During the whole 12 weeks of the class my brain was electrified, it was buzzing. And not just on the subject of jewelry or metal or casting. I had new ideas with my drawings, ideas for printmaking, and entirely new concepts and projects that popped into my head. What a trip!

I don't remember this happening when ages ago I took a ceramics wheel throwing class, or when double ages ago I took pattern drafting and sewing essentials classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Did this energizing feeling happen this time because my mind frame was about 'exploration,' and not specifically to learn a new skill? Maybe because the materials, tools, techniques, and even the terminology were so foreign? Or maybe because I went into it not knowing fully what I was getting into? Halfway through the first class I felt I was in way over my head! But I kept on. Partly because I thought what have I got to loose; partly because I thought, at least I should get what I can from this class that I already paid for; and partly because I am just plain curious.

So am I encouraging everyone to plant strawberries or take a continuing education course? Not entirely, though both of those things are well worth encouraging! This is just a note to myself, and to you if you care to take note, that learning new things, especially things that require a new way of using your mind (and hands), and doing things outside of our comfort zones is important. Important for our brains, and also for our energy, stimulation, and mindset.

In the photo you can see me wielding a torch waaay bigger and more powerful than anything I remember handling. I was definitely overwhelmed and anxious in those heated (ha!) casting moments, but now I'm just completely thrilled that I wrapped my head around it-- and thrilled that I put myself in a situation that stimulated my brain to such a degree! (And by degree I mean HOT!)


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