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Creative Outlets for Lupus Patients, Part 2

Last updated: March 2022

When you have lupus, it can sometimes feel like you are just surviving instead of living. Making time for creativity can help relieve stress and add some joy to your life. Here are some creative projects anyone can do:

Scrapbooking

Lupus energy level: low
I’ve always thought the best part of scrapbooking is the paper – even more so than the photos, concert ticket stubs, or letters you might fill a scrapbook with. For my best friend’s wedding, I created a scrapbook full of pictures of her and her fiancé, photos of her friends, and letters from friends and family.

But it was the paper that truly made the book beautiful. Glossy pastel flowers framed the letters. Gold paper shimmered from around the photos. Having my best friend’s family and friends write letters in secret wasn’t the hard part – it was choosing between adorable pink paper with gold leafing or the paper with pretty coral flowers. I must have stood in the scrapbooking aisle at Michael's for 20 minutes. Scrapbooking is a great way to keep track of memories, and it’s a great creative project for beginners. You can find scrapbooking supplies at Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnn Fabrics.

Journaling

Lupus energy level: low
Writing my thoughts and feelings in a journal carried me through some of my darkest days with lupus. Even when I couldn’t sit up and could barely walk to the bathroom, I could balance my laptop on my stomach and write. You can journal privately in Microsoft Word or in Google Docs (which is free!), or you can be like me and collect more fancy paper journals and cute pens than you can ever use in a lifetime.

Papercutting

Lupus energy level: moderate
When I moved into a house earlier this year, I wanted to decorate it in a way that was both unique and stylish. There was just one problem: after the down payment and closing costs of buying the house, I was flat broke. Fortunately, while at Half Price Books one day (because even being broke can’t keep me from buying books), I discovered artist Georgia Low’s excellent book Nature Cuts. With just an Exacto knife and a template, you can create beautiful art to spruce up your walls. I bought some colorful frames on sale at Michael’s and now my dining room wall is considerably less boring. A packet of cardstock in various colors costs about $6 at Michael’s, and you can get a cutting mat and an Exacto knife for under $15. You can even buy paper-cutting templates for a few dollars off of Etsy.

While paper cutting isn’t physically tiring, it can be difficult to do for long periods if you have arthritis in your hands.

Learning an instrument

Lupus energy level: moderate
As a violin and viola teacher, I’ve had many students come into my studio bright-eyed and excited about learning an instrument. But one student I’ll always remember is the elderly man who called me about learning the violin after his wife died. At 84-years-old, Richard had never played an instrument in his life and had dropped out of school to go to work in the 6th grade. Despite choosing one of the most difficult instruments to learn, Richard came to lessons religiously each week and practiced every day at home. He’s now approaching his 94th birthday. He still practices almost daily so that he can play his favorite church hymns.

When new people I meet find out that I teach music for a living, they sometimes say that they wished they had learned an instrument when they were younger, but that they’re too old now. I tell them about my student Richard. As a violin teacher, I can tell you that you’re never too old to learn an instrument as long as you practice.

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