What Being Injured Has Taught Me

A week and a half ago I injured my arm. It's hurt in such a way that limits my day-to-day activities including my time in the studio. The doctors aren’t sure what the issue is, so they sent me to physical therapy in the hopes that it will help target the problem and heal me up.

Being hurt is frustrating and not knowing why even more so, but in trying to be hopeful, I’ve found some positive notes despite the pain:

Slowing down

My "normal" life isn’t jam-packed busy to begin with, so it wasn’t like I was stressed out, running on all cylinders at all hours. I’ve done that before and it isn’t a sustainable lifestyle for me. I’m happier and more productive focusing on a couple projects at a time with time to enjoy a full life and rest and I’m lucky that I can determine my life’s pace.

Even so, this injury has forced me to slow down even more in both my physical movements and daily activities. I’ve been able to do small things that often get overlooked at a faster pace, such as savoring my entire cup of coffee in the morning, taking time to fully explore ideas I have for my studio, getting a new work chair, and listening to new albums from artists I’ve never listened to from start to finish.

Prioritizing my days

If my body can only physically handle doing a few things today (including getting ready in the morning), what will they be? What is absolutely essential that I do?

There is no, ‘pushing through it’ here. I can do what I can do and then that’s it. In this I’ve learned how much of what I view as "Must-Do’s" are just fluff.

Focusing on one thing at a time

Since it is my dominant arm that is hurt, I need to do tasks gingerly or use my other hand entirely. This requires a new sense of focus on simple things that usually get done on autopilot, like writing with pen and paper, binding journals, even brushing my teeth. I must say, not getting distracted by Instagram, texts or the little pop-ups I get in my mind while I work has been a relief.

Prioritizing my health

I’m fortunate that I’m healthy and this is the worst ailment I’ve experienced in a long time. I not only have a new sense of gratitude for all my body can do, but I’m reminded to take care of it!

It can’t be a coincidence that being hunched over a smartphone or slouching in a chair brings a lot of pain right now. It’s motivated me to address the areas that will best promote an agile life after recovery, such as incorporating more exercises that will strengthen posture and mobility and finally making my studio an ergonomic workspace.

I will find ways to create

My initial visit to the doctor ended with orders not to engage in activity or work on my art until I saw the specialist. I was surprised at my reaction- tearing up in the exam room and crying in the car as I was leaving. The tears then and the few days I was in a sling and unable to work on art reaffirmed my calling as not only an artist, but also as a creative person. My mind was still imagining ways I could create without working in my typical ways.

So that’s why I think this is the first time I felt motivated to write a post like this… I’m limited in my time I can spend in the studio, but I will find ways to create and express my ideas. I'd prefer not to go through an injury to learn this, but it is certainly uplifting to know.

Here’s to healing!

Cat