We have a winner when we combine Play, Creativity, and Spirit! With my passion for creativity and my calling to coach creative women through transformational breakthroughs, I’m thrilled to share a playful quilt that reframed its creator’s thinking in a very positive way—a benefit that play, whimsy, and storytelling can provide for all of us! I love this art quilt’s cheerful look as well as the story of how Spirit led to its unfolding and to the joy it brings to Nancy Carter, who created it, and to others who’ve seen it. Whether or not you’re at complete peace or have some misgivings about how much time, energy, or money you put into your creative pastimes, isn’t it uplifting and affirming to know that enjoyment of our creativity serves many valuable purposes for ourselves and others?

Looking at the Winning Quilt and Letting it Speak to Your Heart

As you take a look at Nancy Carter’s Born to Soar, the winner of Reap As You Sew’s 2016 Playful Quilts contest, and before reading the rest of this post, I invite you to play along with a creativity exercise, in which you complete sentence prompts quickly with the first words that come to you.

Nancy Carter's Born to Soar quilt

To really experiment with this, let your inner child respond to the exercise by writing her answers with your non-dominant hand!

I look at this quilt and the first playful thing I’m drawn to is . . .

That calls to me because . . .

I notice the little . . .

It intrigues me because . . .

I see smiley faces on the tree and I immediately realize that the smiles suggest  . . .

I see the pool with orange water and feel that the color choice symbolizes . . .

The curvy edges talk to me, saying, ” . . . ”

In the sky, I’m drawn to . . .

This makes me remember . . .

And then I focus on the title, Born to Soar, lettered above the treetop, and I know that I, too, am born to soar, and that my next step is to . . .


How was that exercise for you?

Did you receive any surprises? Did anything spark a desire for further exploration? Please feel free to email me to tell me about your experience and, if you’re a newsletter subscriber, we can set up a time to have a quick call to play with the exercise a little more. I’ve just completed all the coursework and my peer practices on the way to certification as an ARTbundance™ coach and practitioner (to add more tools to my Spiritivity coaching toolbox), so I’m offering conversations like this free in May because they’ll be as fun for me as for you while I’m complete the practicum for that new certification. This exercise is one of hundreds we might use to help uncover ideas, thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, or patterns related to an important principle or habit. We can then explore options, clarify issues, or examine strengths, challenges, areas for gratitude, and identify topics to bring to prayer or creative exploration.

I digressed because I think this quilt offers great images to spark useful inquiries, and they’re better identified before you know “the rest of the story.”

Now Let’s Return to Nancy’s Quilt

born-to-soarBorn to Soar was made in response to a quilt guild’s challenge to use an irregular border and three specific fabrics—the orange of the pool, the pink of the tree, and the print of the ground where the tree is planted. Art quilter Nancy Carter had just finished counseling to get over some childhood problems, and she made this quilt to intentionally re-frame how childhood could be more cheerful, colorful, and healthy for a young female. She made the quilt strictly for herself, but she’s happy when others find joy in it also. “God has been good to me to heal my childhood memories,” Nancy says.  As her label explains, this quilt is dedicated to you, if you ever wished for a happy, carefree and whimsical childhood.

On her website, jimandnancy.net/home/, Nancy shares her Women of the Bible Quilts and her Cross Quilts. The cross quilts emerged from her experience of God giving her pictures of these quilts while she I was receiving communion. She has more sketched cross quilts in her notebook, so the series isn’t finished. Bookmark Nancy’s website to stay abreast of her new quilts in these series. She certainly embodies my tagline and subtitle: Sowing Holy Boldness into the Art of Life, and Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking!

Congratulations to Nancy for her fun winning quilt, for the part it played in her healing, for sharing her quilt and story with us, and on winning a copy of Reap As You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking. Nancy, I invite all our readers to join me in a prayer of gratitude for you, and for God’s love and grace to surround you in your quiltmaking and in the transitions to the next part of your life! May you be abundantly blessed!

Playful and Serious Can Go Hand in Hand!

Born to Soar’s delightful playground reminds me of what Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching founder Jill Badonsky says: “A light mind creates an inner playground for ideas.”  She also quotes Linda Naiman, who says, “Delight yourself and you delight the world.  . . . Through play we open our receptivity to imagination,  intuition, and daydreams. Play is the root of genius.” ~ Jill Badonsky, The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard), quoting Linda Naiman in her “Creativity at Work” newsletter.

Sometimes we start out playful, but in the creative process, we learn something that brings a serious emotional, artistic, or spiritual breakthrough! Indeed, this may fit with Christ’s saying that we must all become like little children. (See Mt. 18:3.

And Nancy’s story corresponds with how I see that quilting and faith go so well together! In fact, the healing of childhood memories is one of the major focuses of my Unbound ministry—done through compassionate listening to the person’s story in and then leading her in heart work, so that forgiveness, freedom, and blessing flow using the model Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer. I feel blessed that we have at our disposal various approaches to ushering in breakthroughs, and they all combine appreciation for our stories, the Spirit, and creative principles including silliness, fun, and childlike energy.

The Importance of Storytelling and Art

By the way, I wasn’t looking for a story quilt when I chose to sponsor a playful quilts contest, but thanks to Nancy, this quilt and story will now be shared as part of my presentation at my Story Quilts lecture, subtitled “Making Quilts to Tell Stories, Heal, Express Powerful Feelings, or Raise Awareness.”

The importance of storytelling and art has been proven over and over and celebrated in many creativity books as well as scientific writings. Recently, I heard Arianna Huffington speak on the tour to promote her new book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time (2016). Arianna also talks about our stories, including the false ideals we tend to buy into, and the importance of our dreams, while she hammers in the need for more sleep and more balanced lives. Our creativity can promote better sleep habits and more balance very effectively—both as a way to unwind before bedtime and as a spiritual or healing practice, reducing stress as we grow closer to the best version of our authentic selves. Less stressed, we do everything better, including creating and sleeping!

Thanks for exploring this idea with me. I invite your comments below, on a call as mentioned above, or via email!

Chris Boersma Smith encourages and inspires creative women to envision options and embrace healing, empowering, and freeing choices.