Change and fear

Mal | Art Journal | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Change [FEAR] (© turning*turning.com)

So much has happened, friends.

So much of miracles and sadness. So much change. So much opportunity and growth and risk and reward.

And it’s possible that I have resolved one of my major ethical dilemmas regarding this blog — the question of personal and professional space, of balancing anonymity and confidentiality, of client privilege vs. self expression.

I hope this new plan works because I miss this space. A lot. And I’d like to start visiting here again.

Purpose, re-purpose

Mal | Simplicity | Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

fortune

A few days ago, I found myself shopping for domain names. Within the next week or so, I will be embarking on a new chapter in my life and I am feeling the itch to document it. I brainstormed, trying to find a site name that could grow with me and reflect my values and priorities. Naturally, I spent quite a bit of time journaling about it, making lists, and creating vision statements. At some point, I stopped and wondered — is turning*turning a place worth returning to?

After all, my original intention for this website was to muse about all kinds of things that were important to me — not only art/craft stuff, but also simplicity, mindfulness, practical philosophies, and organic living. The phrase “turning, turning” comes from a Shaker hymn that talks about being simple, free, and accepting of life’s ups and downs. It is a song about insight and introspection. Shoot, it’s a song about being flexible and open to all good and simple things. What I’m saying is that this blog was always intended to be about living a good and rich life, not about one craft niche or another. In fact, very early on, there were some posts which addressed these broader ideas.

But, what seemed to happen is this: when I would post something about quilting, I found a community of quilters who wanted to chat about quilting things. Cross-stitch? Here come the cross-stitchers. A blurb about ceramics would bring in a slew of questions about clay. My post about folding fabric seems to have achieved a cult following and to this day I still get emails about my ladder-stitch tutorial. The reality is that my interests are varied, and my loyalty to one medium or another is very fickle. I am a re-inventor by nature and I sometimes felt myself being pigeon-holed into a niche knowing that the allure would wear off in a month or two.

I am also continually learning about my professional life; every day I must balance public and private realms when it comes to making a living, serving my clients, and advancing my field.

So, I’m really not sure if I’ll be returning to this spot or not. There is much to catch up on, and the idea of a clean slate is certainly enticing. But, so is the idea of using this domain for the things I originally intended — to document my attempts at living a meaningful, connected, and purposeful life.

To turn, turn ’til I come ’round right.

Hi

Mal | Universal | Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Just thought I would check in.

thinredthread

I’ve been missing this place.

The a-ha moment

Pie Chart, Integrated

A good friend (and amazing art therapist) came over last night for dinner and was tooling around in my workspace. She illuminated the fatal flaw from the pie charts. Several of you also pointed it out. (Leslie, Victoria, I’m looking at you.)

Integration is the key. Combining. Overlapping. Interlocking. I am better focused now after speaking with her. I have clarity again. I remember my bigger-picture goals and I feel like i’m back on track.

  • Taking a walk with a friend and bringing the dogs along, rather than always just going out to dinner = fun + chores + health.
  • Photographing a project I do for work, or bleeding the project out into one of my own journal quilts or blog entries = work + creativity + fun.
  • Taking the stairs, avoiding the cookie counter at work, and planning ahead for snacks = work + health.

At least I made sure not to overlap the dating stripe into the work wedge. Some things just aren’t made for integrating.

Fitting it all in

Mal | Universal | Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Pie chart before

I know I posted something very similar a few months ago (I guess feelings of overwhelm are common around here), but it is really hard to fit everything in right now.

Pie chart after

I’m trying to evaluate the everything’s place in the grand scheme of things — including blogging.

I highly recommend subscribing to this blog so that you don’t miss it when I do post.

Stop planning, start doing

Mal | Simplicity | Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Stop planning.

There comes a time when you have to stop planning

(fretting, wondering, worrying, thinking, debating, obsessing)

and just start doing

(moving, acting, deciding, changing, growing, progressing).

PS: I passed

Mal | Art Journal,Collage,Here and Now,Media,Paper | Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

PS: I passed

Against all odds, I passed my exam yesterday. Thank you for all the well-wishes, public and private.

I’ve got one more exam to take for my license, and will likely attempt that one in a few weeks.

Hopefully I can get back to normal for 10 days or so before the freakout starts again and release some of those ideas that are bursting at the seams.

PS: I passed.

Please hold

Mal | Here and Now,Prosaic | Friday, July 31st, 2009

LA Skyline

I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.

(Andrew Wyeth)

I hate this. I have scheduled my first license exam for 8/10. I don’t really think I will pass it this first time, but at least it gives me a deadline to cram towards.

Unfortunately, it means that I have to put a stop to all creative/artistic work for the next 2 weeks. I can’t sew the beads on the ice cream. I can’t cut out shapes for my next 3 journal quilts (already planned and sketched out). I really shouldn’t even be photographing or blogging.

I guess I’ll just have to reframe this time as an incubation — a preparation for the deluge of work that is certain to come after I finish these stupid exams.

What about you? Are you incubating anything right now? Or are you actively harvesting?

On bodies, fragility, and journaling

Mal | Art Journal,Media,Paper | Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Bodies are Fragile

It’s been a bit of a rough patch at work. I know that this kind of thing is to be expected when you work at a hospital or hospice. (PS: “This kind of thing” is death and, whether we like to talk about it or not, death is to be expected for all of us.)

Mort

One of the things I like best about my job is that it keeps me constantly aware of the brevity of life, the preciousness of every day, and the power of human connection. I process these big emotions in my art journal, as always. The image above was done in the subway on my way home from work one evening last week.

Am I hungry?

Bodies and health have been much on my mind recently, and not just because of work. I’m trying to return to better eating habits and nutrition (you may recall), so naturally these themes are showing up in my journals, too.

The plateau

It is my life’s struggle to explore my relationship to food and its effects (positive and negative) on my body. This image was made as I contemplated last year’s dramatic and successful loss of 80 pounds, and post-medical-crisis plateau in weight. There I stand, a little figure on the precipice of the plateau, wondering how to jump off into the next phase of health.

Just begin

Thankfully, my journal often reveals answers when I ask it questions.

What about you? Do you journal?

Band sampler: Chain stitch

Mal | Band Sampler,Handmade,Media,Sewing,Stitching,Works in Progress | Friday, July 24th, 2009

Band Sampler: Chain Stitch

I picked up my band sampler again last week, and scanned the list of embroidery stitches I intend to learn and/or practice. Not to be all emo-14-year-old, but the chain stitch jumped out at me as a nice way to reflect the experience of the past month.

Band sampler: Chain stitch (closeup)

I free-handed the text and stitched it on the subway to and from work for a few days using Sharon B‘s hand-dyed mulberry silk. The variagation is so vivid! I really enjoyed the process.

Band sampler: Chain stitch close-up

I was surprised at how well the chain stitch handled curves, but a little disappointed in starts-and-stops. Still, I got good practice with it.

If you’re interested in giving chain stitch a try, here are some good tutorials:

What to do: Get into the Flow

Mal | Art Process and Creativity | Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Colored wall

I recently reviewed Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book, Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience. In it, Dr. Csikszentmihalyi describes what he calls “optimal experience” — being so involved in an activity that you lose sense of time, place, and self. Others call it the Zone. For most of us creative types, I think this flow experience is what keeps us coming back and back and back to our projects.

But, flow as described in the book is not just “having a nice time.” It is a powerful force, and can contribute to better mental health, greater individual complexity, and growth.

Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. Complexity is the result of two broad psychological processes: differentiation and integration. Differentiation implies a movement toward uniqueness, toward separating oneself from others. Integration refers to its opposite: a union with other people, with ideas and entities beyond the self. A complex self is one that succeeds in combining these opposite tendencies. (page 41)

Csikszentmihalyi outlines the elements of a flow experience — the requirements or steps that must be taken in order to achieve it. Based on his research, flow is broken down into 8 components:

  1. A challenging activity that requires skill but is achievable.
  2. The merging of action and awareness.
  3. Clear goals.
  4. Immediate feedback.
  5. Concentration on the task at hand (which “removes from awareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life).
  6. A sense of control over your actions.
  7. Loss of self-consciousness.
  8. Transformation of time.

The combination of all these elements causes a sense of deep enjoyment that is so rewarding people feel that expending a great deal of energy is worthwhile simply to be able to feel it. (page 49)

It seems to me that items 1-6 are at least somewhat in our control, and are elements that we can manipulate and employ in the service of achieving flow, while items 7-8 are really measures of the flow experience. They are indicators that we have achieved flow.

Utilizing these principles, I’ve been able to make deeper and more powerful connections to everything from my artwork and writing to watching sports with friends and enjoying a concert from a performer whose music I didn’t know.

I’ll spend some time over the next few weeks talking about some of these elements in more detail, but for now maybe we can take some time to consider the importance of goals, feedback, and internal locus of control can be on our enjoyment of activities. These elements are fairly inherent in art-making of all kinds. In some ways, we are lucky to have such a powerful tool for growth and change at our fingertips.

What about you? Please share with us — when did you last experience flow? What were you doing? How did it feel?

iPhone “Brushes”

Mal | Art Process and Creativity | Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I don’t own an iPhone. Like most outsiders, I occasionally have envy, but perhaps never so much as I do after hearing about  an iPhone application called Brushes —software for digital paintings that can be made at any moment on your tiny screen.

There is a flickr group dedicated to the images, and the application has received a lot of attention lately because the latest cover of New Yorker magazine was painted on it — using nothing more than an expensive gadget and a fingertip.

Predictably, “fine artists” are balking. The age-old question, “But, is it art? is being ponged around the globe. I used to have an art therapy professor who insisted that if you didn’t get messy making it, it wasn’t art.

But I disagree.

What do I like about the idea of Brushes? A few things, all of which are in the service of (hopefully) getting more people to do more art:

  1. It’s portable. You can always have it with you, unlike your fancy easel, your sewing machine, or your favorite buzzsaw.
  2. It’s small, which means that you are more likely to finish what you start.
  3. It has an undo function, which creates an illusion of safety in risk-taking and may encourage experimentation.
  4. A special viewer allows you to replay your painting, stroke by stroke, which is a neat way to honor, reflect on, and celebrate artistic process.

Weekly Roundup

Mal | Resources,Roundup | Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Stats Spike

This was the look of my stats counter a few weeks ago after someone on StumbledUpon and rated one of my posts. It’s quite incredible to go from a few hundred hits a day to a few thousand. Beyond that, though, every time I would see this spike — the visual representation of a sudden and dramatic increase in activity — it felt like a metaphor for my emotional life. Between visiting my parents’ house, relationship stuff, and work politics drama, you may remember that I was pretty maxed out.

Fortunately, I’ve come back down to earth. My psychic energy has been freed up and I am back to working on creative projects and relationship-building in my free time.

News

I was honored to be featured on WhipUp.net for my fabric folding tutorial. Hope people get mileage out of it! It definitely saved us at my mom’s house, and now I’ve folded all of the fabric that I “inherited” from her stash and put it into my own system. I guess it’s time for photos of my new studio work corner. Stay tuned.

I also had a photo highlighted over on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog. Thanks, ladies! I’m a long-time fan of the Mamas.

Comments You Should Read

Its been a while since we featured comments, but there have certainly been some great ones!

Great reader contributions on my review of Mihaly Csziksentmihalyi’s book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

Mal, Interesting commentary. I find that for me, being in the “zone” makes me a more relaxed and happier person. And that the creativity seems to unintensionally spill over into other areas of my life. And I absolutely agree that while sometimes creativity is spilling over (I call it having itchy fingers that just want to sew), other times I have to sit down and make myself sew and the next thing I know I’m there, (or in a place that leads me “there”).

Shelly of Shelly’s Quilts

I’ve always found that the first step to “getting into the flow” is just DOING something. For me, it translates to a natural progression of ideas and work and then i DO forget all else. This also happens on the rare occasion that Greyman and i take off for a weekend—-when we are in the moment in the wild of the mountains, our separate ” lives” disappear except for the exact minutes we are there—we have even forgotten about our “babies” for awhile (the cats :}). I have done that at work also while arranging flowers!

There is a very refreshing feeling to this when it happens and it happens often enough that i am taking great joy in my/our life for the first time in years.

Arlee of Albedo Design Journal

On the entry about organizing things in rainbow order, lots of fellow color-organization “freaks” came out to comment!

Mr. BIV lives at my house, too, esp. in Fabric Land. I have warm colors (ROY) each in their own containers but all next to one another. I have cool colors (G. BIV) same situation. Then a container each for White/Cream, Beige/Tan, Gray/Black. A zipper bag of fabrics which can represent soil (White Sand to Black Clay).

My “theme” fabrics are in their own containers: Food, Quilts of Valor (lots of donated fabric here; I don’t want to mingle it with my own), Reproduction (19th c. vs. 1930s), Holidays, Cats, Dogs, Bounty (harvest related), Tea/Coffee, Critters (mostly fish and birds, but some juvie lizard prints, too), Batiks, Hand Dyed, and Bright Multi-Colored What Color Is It Really? (one container). Probably missed a couple, but you get the idea….

I like the fruit color sorted, though I haven’t done it yet–it looks very cheerful!

Cynthia, no blog (but great reader/commenter!)

Interesting comments, too, when I shared about The Intervention —sorting through and purging my mom’s hoarded fabric stash.

That’s inspiring- seeing all the pretty organized colors, purging, admitting there is a problem, but I can also imagine the daunting feeling hanging over something like that to even get started.

I have the fabric I have because my aunt has brown boxes filling her garage. Luckily though, when I said I was taking a class and needed some- all my aunts opened their doors. I’m working really hard on making things with what I have before accumulating anything more. I only buy something if I cannot in any way substitute something I already have.

Thank you so much for the organization inspiration, congratulations on all the hard work you’ve accomplished so far and definitely sending positivity to you for the future goals.

Liz of Chunk of Cheddar

There were some fun declarations of independence on the giveaway contest a few weeks ago. I encourage you to read them all! Here’s a sample:

I declare my independence today from worrying about the future, it’s a waste of time.

Deborah (no blog)

I declare my independence from procrastination! I’m taking care of some pesky details instead of letting them cause me to fret.

Courtney of Woodland School

I am declaring my independence from thinking I have to do everything without asking for any help.

Patty (no blog)

Finally, some good thoughts arose from my post about video games and creativity (constructive vs. destructive freetime pursuits).

I absolutely believe there is something healing in using our creativity. About a year ago, I went through a bout of depression after losing my job (and the circumstances surrounding it). I did nothing but read, losing myself in imaginary worlds. I read 23 books in two weeks. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t sew, couldn’t make decisions. I finally realized that I had to make myself do something to break the cycle. I chose to design and sew a complicated quilt block. I wanted to do something that required focus and attention to detail, but had no consequences if I failed. I credit that quilt block with starting me back to health. I named it Anxiety. Shortly after that I designed an entire quilt, followed by a couple more. I found a new job, and while things could be better, I also know they could be a LOT worse. I feel my best when I’m working – being creative in some form, even if it’s just figure out a software program at work. It’s when I stop sewing at home that I feel myself sinking again. So… gotta get sewing!

Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts

Good Reads Around Blogland

I’m really behind on my blog rounds, but here are a few things I’ve been reading lately.

Fashion Origami

Mal | Art Therapy,Paper | Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Origami date

One of the benefits of my job as an art therapist is that even when my personal life is crazy and I don’t carve out time for creativity in my off-hours, I’m required to be creative from day-to-day in my professional life.

When I found a “Fashion Origami” kit on sale for $1.50 at Urban Outfitters, I snapped it up. Origami is a project which, although there may be low potential for emotional expression, is a good rapport-builder and ice-breaker. Particularly in the hospital, where patients don’t have a lot of energy, they can do a little folding project on their lap and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Origami bra

Naturally, the first project I folded from the book was a paper bra. I had to learn this one first. Do you have any idea how many teen boys are on my caseload?

Mr Herman. Paging Mr. Herman

After I folded the grey suit, I couldn’t help but fold a red tie to go with it.Mr. Herman. Paging Mr. Herman! Mr. Herman, you have a telephone call at the front desk.” It should be a bow tie, but still.

Origami Stiletto

I (and all my staff) have had a hard time deciphering the instructions for the stiletto shoe, but here we have found a reasonable alternative. It still stands on its own and opens up where the foot should go. That’s good enough for me! Creative problem solving at its finest.

Origami Bra

Therapy theories accordian book

Mal | Art Therapy | Monday, July 13th, 2009

Old homework assignment

I’m now deep into studying for my state psychotherapy licensure exams. Last week, I came across a homework assignment I had done while in grad school to compare/contrast two different psychotherapeutic theories. I had chosen Solution-Focused Therapy and Object Relations Therapy. I guess I’m always interested in exploring the farthest ends of any spectrum…

Homework book

At the time, I was doing a lot of professional bookbinding work (including teaching classes and taking commissions) so a lot of my homework assignments in my art therapy program ended up taking the form of books.

Homework book

This is a double accordian book, like the one you see here. The red strip in the center can be easily removed and displayed on its own, which is one of the advantages of this type of binding. Opening the book from one end shows the first collage, and opening from the other end shows the second. It’s neat the way the concepts interplay with each other with this type of book.

Homework book

It was really fun to dig through my collage boxes for images to represent different psychological and psychotherapeutic constructs. The one on the right (the baby with the receding hairline and moustache) is to represent introjection. Don’t think I’ll miss that question on the exam!

Book review: Flow (4.5/5)

Mal | Art Process and Creativity,Resources,Reviews | Saturday, July 11th, 2009

flow

 ★★★★½ 

Introduction

In addition to having the most unpronounce-able name in all of western psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is also one of the most prominent “positive psychology” theorists and researchers around. It’s no surprise that his book, Flow: The psychology of optimal experience, describes the “state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption in the activity.” What might surprise you is Csikszentmihalyi’s claim that flow (optimal experience) is not elusive or mysterious, that it doesn’t just come and go at random. Rather, he asserts that flow can be cultivated, courted, and put to use in our self-development.

I’ve chosen to re-read and review this book because I think that so many of us art-makers have experienced flow, and could benefit from Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas about how to create it and experience it more often.

I’ll cover some of the book’s content below, but you can skip directly to my opinion if you prefer.

(Read on for more…)

Tutorial: Folding Fabric

Mal | Home,Media,Organizing,Sewing | Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Fabric progress

Several people have asked about the techniques we used when cleaning out my mom’s fabric stash last week. There are of course many ways to purge, sort, and organize fabric, which I’ll write about later. But first, I wanted to address questions about the folding station and the folding method we used.

Studio Corner Sneak Peek

It’s the same method I’ve been using as I’ve been sorting and organizing fabric in my own apartment. Here you see an in-progress picture of my new studio corner with stacks of uniformly-folded fabric. This is a method I first read about from Monica, the Happy Zombie and later from Marilyn Bohn’s video.

Tutorial: fabric folding

Of course there are other ways, but this is the cheap, easy, quick one that works for me. The goal is to end up with a stack of fabric that is uniformly folded — the same length and width.

Tutorial: fabric folding

The height of each folded piece varies according to how much yardage you have to begin with.

(Read on for more…)

Mr. Roy G. Biv

Mal | Art Process and Creativity,Color study | Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Rainbow fruit

Maybe it’s odd, but I love to organize things in rainbow order. Actually, I’d consider it a kind of coping mechanism. When I get really stressed, something about that old ROYGBIV just soothes me.

When I was little, I would sort everything from t-shirts to pencils to food in this color order. I would line up candies in a spectrum row before I would eat them. M&M’s and Skittles frustrated me because they didn’t have all the right colors. Now that I’m older, I don’t have time to be quite so obsessive about it, but most of my art supplies and clothes are still sorted this way.

Am I the only one?

Independence Day Giveaway

Mal | Give-aways | Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

 Patriotic Fabrics

I have just returned from my parents’ house where we touched, folded, sorted, and discarded thousands of pieces of fabric. Maybe tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? I don’t know. It was a lot. We are slowly working through my mother’s hoarded stash and trying to create a functional sewing room for her. I think we removed around 800 pounds of fabric from the house and we still have more to go.

There are several patriotic-themed quilt stores near my mom’s house, and having easy access to cute red, white, and blue fabrics has driven her into the belief that she needs to be making patriotic quilts. I guess were all guilty of being influenced by marketing. I am a sucker for new drawing pens, myself. But, I don’t relate to the need for projects that are designed to be used only a few days a year. My apartment is too darn small to be storing Christmas quilts, Halloween wreaths, or any of a number of other holiday-related items. I only have room for things that I’ll be using year-round.

In that light, I am giving away some of my mom’s patriotic fabric stash. The giveaway may or may not include the fabrics shown above — I honestly can’t remember at what point in the process that photo was taken. We may have kept all of these, or discarded them all. Rest assured, the winner(s) of this giveaway will receive very cute American-patriotic themed fabrics. I just haven’t pulled them out of my car to snap a photo, yet.

To enter, you must declare your independence from something today. Earn points in the giveaway by:

  1. Leaving a comment on this entry telling us what you are declaring your independence from. This is the easiest way to win a point, so do it right now!
  2. Posting about this giveaway (and your declaration of independence) on your blog. Please post a comment on this post with a link to your blog entry.
  3. Declare your independence on twitter. Be sure to link back to this entry and include @turningturning so I can find you.
  4. Subscribing to receive turning*turning updates in your reader or by email. I’ll secretly declare my own independence in the feed for the next few days. Email me my declaration with the subject “Giveaway secret phrase” for another point. You don’t need to be a new subscriber — current subscribers can also earn this point in the same way.
  5. Once again, doing all 4 of the above steps will earn you a bonus point. Send me an email with the subject: “Giveaway bonus point” and you’ll receive your 5th point.

Entries will close on Sunday, July 5th, when I go to bed. I’m very tired, so you better enter soon! Winners will be announced on Monday morning. Thanks for playing, and I hope you win.

Tetris vs. Pong: A question of creativity?

Mal | Art Process and Creativity | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

 Tetris
 photo credit: mat.teo 

While listening to NPR radio the other day, I learned that the ubiquitous video game Tetris turns 25 this year.

The game’s original programmer, Alexey Pajitnov, was interviewed and mostly ended up talking about the experience of trying to own the rights to his creative work, which was conceived during the 1980’s in communist Russia (and which probably explains that awesome theme music). Well, while that raises all kinds of interesting questions about who owns creative output, what really caught my attention was a throw-away question toward the end of the interview.

BOB GARFIELD: Now, I have to go back to the ’70s, actually, and I remember playing one of the early video games called Pong, which was developed by Atari. And when I think back to how ridiculous I was, to be putting quarters into machines in video arcades, to play that game, you know, I feel like an idiot. But I don’t feel like an idiot, going back to my first experience, more than two decades ago, with Tetris. Why does this game have such legs?

ALEXEY PAJITNOV: Well, many people have different opinion about that. But I still like Pong, and I wouldn’t mind to put couple of quarters to enjoy it. I don’t see anything wrong with it, by the way. But as far as Tetris is concerned, the game is very simple and it has very natural user interface. It has some kind of creative style. In most of the game you just shoot and destroy. In Tetris you try to build something, to put the order in the scales of random pieces. And probably that’s what make you feel a little bit better about what you’re doing with your quarters.

(You can hear the entire interview or read a transcript at the On the Media website. I recommend you do so, because Alexey’s Russian accent really adds to the experience.)

Tetris is a simple video game, yes. It can be addictive and a tremendous waste of time. It does, however, require some creative problem solving. There are a multitude of ways to solve the problem of tetris. It is, as Pajitnov notes, more about building something stable than tearing something down.

Pong is not about destruction, but is a game requiring some skill and minimal creative problem solving. Playing it  can quickly turn into a boring, repetitive tasks. It has had very little staying power in terms of popularity and perpetuation — and why would it? Who needs more boring repetitive tasks in their world?

As an interesting note, if you search for “tetris” on flickr, you’ll find all kinds of crazy creations — tetris halloween costumes, cupcakes, even jewelry! Searching for “pong,” on the other hand, returns mostly images of the original game, its packaging, and other retro-philic stuff. Does tetris itself encourage more creativity? More building and making? There is a recent study that suggests tetris may help to ameliorate the effects and memories of trauma. Is it the videogame that does it? Or is there something inherently healing about using that creative part of our brains? We may never know, but I think you know where my bias lies.

To me, this building something — this making order of my world through creativity — pays great dividends. Like Pajitnov, I do feel better when I spend my “quarters” on pursuits that build rather than destroy. It’s a privilege to spend these coins of time, effort, energy, and other resources which are in short supply on building a creative life.

What about you? Where do you spend your “quarters?”

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