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.