Stretch Your Brain Today!

Over the weekend I spent a couple of hours sewing padded covers for my kids Nook Tablets.  Sewing isn’t exactly my gift–I don’t excel at spatial reasoning and it did take a couple of tries to get everything in its proper spot, but I managed not to sew through my fingers, or anyone elses, so I’m calling it a win.

A sewing project is quite a stretch for my brain.  There’s the pattern, the shopping for fabrics (how many inches do I need total? fusible what?), and then the piecing things together and trying to stay patient enough to follow all the iron, baste, pin parts that seem silly to me… can’t I just stick it all together and sew?!

But that’s exactly WHY it’s a good thing for me to do now and then.  I’m exercising different parts of my brain and taking on a different challenge than usual.

It’s great to know your core competencies (what you really rock at).  And it’s smart to outsource other things.  But once in a while it’s good to study things outside your main focus and practice new skills.

These types of projects help me to remember what it feels like to not “get” something.  By looking at sewing patterns and realizing how important those little definitions noted on the page and the color photos showing each step are, I’m reminded to be sure that when I teach things I do excel at, I take time to explain and illustrate for those who are learning.

No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.  ~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

Other benefits of working on something that’s not a strength for me include:

  • exercising a different type of creativity
  • giving the parts of my brain that usually get a workout a nice break (can’t put together Nook covers with code or marketing skills!)
  • the chance to “celebrate little victories” when I achieve something different

Do you stretch your brain?

How about you?  Have you taken a time out to “stretch your brain” recently?  I’d love to hear what’s a stretch for you!  Or, what you’re planning to do next as a stretch…

Side Note: If you’re looking to sew your own iPad, Kindle or Nook cover, I used this easy, simple pattern (just modified the size a bit for our Nooks) from Every Day Patterns and a friend linked me to these pattern from Birdiful Stitches you might like for something fancier.

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  1. thanks for sharing this great post, i appreciate.
    bloggingtips recently posted… 4 Reasons Why You Should Comment on High Page Rank BlogsMy Profile

  2. Sewing really is a great work out for your brain.. Keep it :)
    Vanessa recently posted… Why Can t I Get PregnantMy Profile

  3. Hi Michelle –

    I stretch my brain everyday – whether I want to or not :-)

    By helping folks with their WordPress sites on a daily basis, I am always seeing something new. Granted “seeing” does not always mean, “learning,” but it starts the process!

    On a non website side, I still try to learn something new in the area of exercise (with a personal trainer), reading non-fiction, and being involved in volunteer activities.

    One final word on this – I do emphasize the learning aspects so much that I have it as a permanent weekly item on my task sheet – Learn something new!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Be Well.
    Paul B. Taubman, II recently posted… An Autoresponder Is Your FriendMy Profile

  4. sewing is my second hobby, just next to photoshop!
    i so love the patterns and the imagination before hand, how my ready made pant or shirt will look like … reminds me i want to sew a purse for my money and credit cards.

    i am better in shopping fabrics than in shopping clothes.

    and in the evening: knitting.

    but my biggest brain stretch is to explain computer stuff on the phone to my sister.
    she usually doesn.t follow my description exactly and lacks in telling me what. s happening … so what a hurrah when we finally hit the point we want to hit :)
    helen bogun recently posted… Font of the Week (9) – DingbatsMy Profile

  5. My sewing machine is my friend! LOL We are working towards getting an embroidery machine for me later this year, too — the one I want is about $4000 — I know … crazy!!! but it’s a Husqvarna / Viking ;) Well worth the monies!!! I enjoy candle making, blending my own teas, and crocheting! Here’s a link to a pic of crocheted Beanie I made for my daughter Jo last year. She loves zebras.

    And to really numb the brain?? I read Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse books) and Karen Moning (Highlander /Faery immortal series) …

  6. Great post Michelle!
    Currently I’m feeling like I need a break from my usual work. Don’t get my wrong – I love it but sometimes our brains just need a rest or a new challenge. At the moment I have a number of deadlines I need to meet but once I finish that work I think I’ll work on a “different challenge.” I might even be able to squeeze something very little in now.
    Keep up your amazing posts!
    Caylie Price, Better Business Better Life recently posted… Top Tool: Polyvore –> Design For Non-CreativesMy Profile

  7. Thanks, Michelle, and I love Paul Taubman’s ( comment about scheduling to learn something new every week. I enthusiastically agree with you, that exercising seldom-used “mental muscles” pays off big-time. One benefit you didn’t mention: putting yourself into the place of a novice gives you insight for being a more effective student, as well as being a more effective teacher.

    Looking forward to your next post!
    Robbie Schlosser recently posted… I Practice Music for Weddings and PartiesMy Profile

  8. Hi Michelle
    I don’t sew much myself but sounds like a great way to relax and stretch the brain! One of the things I have started doing is to learn something new every day, no matter how small or what it is, can be in my personal life or business, I carry a pad and pen and jot things down.
    I have just discovered your blog and enjoyed reading this post so I will be back for another visit soon :)
    Have a great day
    Pauline recently posted… HURRY – The Ultimate Social Media Giveaway Has Opened It’s Doors!My Profile

  9. Hi Michelle.
    before I say anything, that little monkey cover is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
    The last time I sewed anything was in high school. It’s definitely been a while.
    I have been stretching my brain lately though. I’m trying to make my own banners and logos. (About 4 months ago I couldn’t sit still in front of a computer for more than 10 minutes per session so this is a huge step for me) I’ve also started editing my own videos, luckily iMovie makes this really easy. The hardest part is sitting still :)
    rene recently posted… African Mango – Are you a sucker too?My Profile

  10. One of the reasons I don’t use “bleep” language is because my mind creates images when I hear words. Visualizing my stretched brain was not a pretty sight. On a serious note … I think it’s especially important to stretch our brains as we get older. Children do it by default; they enjoy trying new things, until a well intentioned adult suppresses their curiosity. I did some brain stretching today, I fixed my vacuum cleaner. I will not be doing it again, once was enough
    Adalia John recently posted… 10 Movies Featuring Successful WomenMy Profile

  11. Hey Michelle,

    I actually did crotchet once to stretch my brain and then once again I did it well and I felt I was using my brain to a newer angle and yes, I did learn how to do it! But somehow I never followed it up again!

    I just try to learn a new piece of information every now and then to keep the brain moving; I keep reminding myself that I need to learn a new language!
    Hajra recently posted… Will they call you over for a Bloggers Party?My Profile

  12. Great post Michelle!

    I stretch my brain daily- between homeschooling, owning 3 businesses and networking locally in person. When I need to relax my brain, I turn to my hobby which is hand- stitching.

    BTW- your website design is lovely! Did you do it yourself?

  13. Beautiful post Michelle, appreciate that you share with us.

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