08 Feb Connecting Through Creativity: To Whomever, with Love
By Barbara K. Stump, MA
Ah, February….the month of love! We are all seeing love this year, as it is even playing out in the Superbowl, with the all-American pairing of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. It’s giving non-football fans another reason to tune into this year’s game, in addition to the delicious food and entertaining commercials. Does the month of love have to be all about coupling up? Absolutely not—we are all worthy of feeling loved! How can you shower your friends, parents, children, and yourself with love? And why should you? If you are not familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, please see the two charts below which explain it. The original—on the left, and the expanded version—on the right. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who is credited for the development of the theory that basic human needs, including love, must be met to move up the hierarchy to reach more social, emotional, and self-actualization needs. In essence, our mental well-being benefits from our sense of belonging and love.
I realize there are days when all we can do is focus on our basic needs—I get it! To go from just surviving to thriving is not easy, and to be able to grow and flourish, despite adversity, takes work and determination. The realization that there is more to life than just work is an “aha” moment. So, how, or why, should we power through to higher psychological needs, especially those of belonging & love? Dr. Helen Riess, director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of The Empathy Effect asserts that love eases stress and anxiety. She states,“When people feel securely attached, their stress levels go down.” Or perhaps more simply put by the Beatles, “All we need is love.” This blog is going to be straight to the point, or like an arrow—straight to the heart. Here are 3 creative activities for sharing and feeling love this month through mindfulness, kindness and, last but not least, sugary sweetness. All of these activities will use the universal—and emoji symbol—of love, a heart!
Activity #1- Making a Traditional Valentine’s Day Card.
In today’s fast-paced life of texting, making a personal card for someone is priceless and nostalgic. It allows you a moment to relax and reflect on the sentiment you would like to share with a friend, family member, yourself, or a love interest. This is also a great opportunity for a group activity with friends. You will need the following supplies:
- Watercolor paper, cut into various sizes (4”x 6”, 5”x 7”, 8” x 8”, etc.)
- Heart shaped cookie cutters in various sizes (small, medium, and large)
- Scissors, pencil, measuring tape
- Watercolor paint (a 48-color non-toxic set with 3 brushes is $8.99 on Amazon) and a cup of water for rinsing brushes
- Paper towels as needed
- Painters tape
- Markers, pens, stencils, or transfer letters
Activity #2 – Snow Hearts.
“Get outside,” she said. Haha—thoughts of my mom telling us as kids to get outside and stop watching T.V. Perhaps by today’s standards, it would be, “Get off your phone, get some fresh air, and then you can use your phone to share pictures of what you made.” Just a thought! Anyhow, this activity would also be fun to do with teens, with your children, or by yourself. I live in Traverse City, so currently we do have a little snow left. Some of you might not have any right now, but this can be done anytime, as an alternative to building a snowman. You will need the following supplies:
- Spray bottles (2 or 3, depending on how many colors you would like to use)
- Food coloring
- Heart-shaped cookie cutters in various sizes (medium and large)
- Snow on the ground
Activity #3 – Heart-Shaped Tarts.
I promised you we would end with something sweet, and how sweet is it to be loved by you!? Now, that was sugary sweet. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anyhow, these tarts are easy and pretty tasty with coffee, tea, or a cold glass of milk. You will need the following supplies:
- Refrigerator pie crust (I like to use Pillsbury because it comes with two crusts)
- Strawberry or raspberry jam (I have not tried Nutella, but that might be a nice filling to try)
- Heart shaped cookie cutters (medium)
- A fork
- Milk and a pastry brush
- Vanilla frosting (I prefer homemade, but totally up to you and your time restraints)
- Food coloring
You could add sprinkles to the tarts, and get creative with other ways to sprinkle love around you, besides these ideas.
During her lifetime, Mother Teresa is quoted as saying. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Love is a constant decision of sacrifice. No matter what your age, or your circumstance may be, you can find ways to show and share your love. Obviously investing the time to create something for others, or for yourself, can be challenging, and oh, so rewarding. Thinking about the Beatles again, in my opinion, their song lyrics,“The love you take is equal to the love you make,” is timeless and true. I hope one of these 3 ideas piques your interest. February may be the month of love, but there is no timetable on when, where, or with whom you choose to share your love. Who isn’t delighted with a gesture of love when it’s least expected? Just love…everybody…including yourself!
Barb Stump is an art education consultant and a G3 contributing writer.