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How Limitations Can Increase Your Creativity

Inspiration found in the most wonderful place

 

I talk a lot about inspiration and creative motivation. I’m fascinated by the things that help us or prompt us to take ideas out of our heads and act on them. I have been paying particular attention to what inspires me lately. Even the days that seem to evaporate between school drop off, vet appointments, grocery pick-ups, and homework, I’ve been asking myself, “What inspired me today.” 

Today, I took advantage of a cold Sunday afternoon to read and rest a bit. My daughter buzzed through and asked if I had any embroidery floss. Silly question, kid. Of course. But before I could respond and pull out the box, she said, “Nope. I forgot. Dad bought me some the other day. I’m good.” With the “I’m good” fading as she flew down the stairs. It was clear that an idea had struck my mini creative genius, and she was on a mission. About an hour later, she showed up at my side with a beautiful salmon-colored tassel. I thought she had purchased it for sure, but no, she had made this beauty herself. She explained the steps to me and told me they came very easily to her. Her tassel was so darn good for a ten-year-old’s first try. She ran downstairs to show my husband, and within minutes, her door shut, and she was on another mission—bigger ideas. 

It’s about now that I need to admit that I love tassels. I have a Pinterest board called “Put a Tassel On It.” So many things are better with a tassel. About a year or two ago, I decided that I would make my own tassels. Of course, I watched a few videos and read some blog posts that pointed out the tassel maker things that you had to have to make a decent tassel. I let myself be so influenced by these people (probably with Amazon affiliate links that I stupidly clicked) that I didn’t even attempt to make my own tassel without the supposed “world's best tassel maker.” 

You can imagine my surprise when my first tassel took forever and awkwardly came out a dud. This is not what the tassel maker promised. I felt defeated and thought I was using the wrong material or had set it up incorrectly. Nope. And nope. It turns out making a tassel takes practice and finesse. You have to tie it correctly and trim it too. Full tassels take a lot of material, by the way. My tassel makers got shoved in the sewing kit, and I haven’t pulled them out again since. 

image of two handmade bookmarks with text, layers, patterns, and tassels

 

Instead of telling Maddy about my failed tassel-making experiment and fancy tools, I kept quiet. I knew she had found a method she liked. I think she used a piece of cardboard in place of my $20-30 gadget. Low and behold, another 45 minutes pass, and she’s back. Only this time, she hands me a bookmark—a lovely, layered bookmark with a matching blue tassel on the end. “Did you make this?” I asked. I give her credit, but this thing looked store-bought. See photo. She did an excellent job and had mastered the art of tassel making pretty quickly with cardboard and embroidery floss. Not only that, she made her own little product to put it on and enjoy. 

I was inspired by my daughter, Maddy, today. Comparing her earnest, no-frills approach to my over-thinking makes me laugh. My kid was 100% more resourceful, and her result was far superior to mine. Resourcefulness plays a big part in creativity. Improvising and using what you have force you to think even more creatively. So, think twice before assuming you need special tools or extra things to create your burning vision. Get resourceful and dig in. You’ll expect less and be more diligent about getting the results you want. Maddy did, and it shows!

Image of bookmarks on a white ground. Below is white text on a blue background and the words "Creative Inspiration. Do More With Less"

 

handwritten jenny sign-off
See Jenny's January 2023 color palette and mood board for a gorgeous red color story.
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