The art of working within one’s limitations

Hi. Did I tell you I haven’t made my art in months? This from the girl that was doing her work every day? I got some tendonitis in my wrist and one of the instructions was: no weight-bearing poses in yoga, no embroidery, no scrubbing or chopping. Three things I loved: yoga, my art work, and cleaning (making things shiny) and cooking were off the table. What the hell was I supposed to do?

Luckily buying a house distracted me, but I am still left with a question. How will this change my art? How will I get back to yoga? Doing downward dog can cause my wrist to hurt for days, sewing tightens my fingers within minutes. Doing the things I enjoy brings terrible frustration. Not doing them brings disconnection and sadness. Ironically for choosing a form of art that demands patience, I am not incredibly patient with myself or my limitations. I opted for doing nothing rather than to work within those limitations and find a way out of the problem. Why? Because doing that is hard. And frustrating. And you encounter MANY failed starts. My expectation of doing things without trouble has consistently left me feeling dejected. (I can’t help but feel further guilty because this “limitation” is nothing compared to true disabilities people face in their lives. But that guilt won’t necessarily move me forward the way I would like, so I let that go.)

I am spending my days thinking how I will finish the two embroidery pieces I have going. How will my art practice transform? Answer: I have no idea. But this morning, I feel encouraged. My step-dad sent me a great Ted Talk about embracing your limitations. This man, Phil Hansen, has found satisfaction in making art that works around his limitations, and it is inspiring. Check it out. Just ten minutes of your life – well worth it.


2 thoughts on “The art of working within one’s limitations

  1. Hey, congrats on your house! How exciting. Houses are teaming with projects which is usually fun. It’s funny that I read this article today because Anya and i are getting ready to move to a much smaller apartment and I’m making decisions about what I get to keep and what has to go and although I haven’t done any knitting or embroidery since my accident (2005) I still have the supplies thinking I’d recover enough to get back to it. But, now I’m ready to accept that those supplies need to be sent to my friend Grace. I’m not going to do those activities anymore. I have found other things to do: more time spent painting and writing, though painting does cause pain.

    There is something to be said for embracing and accepting. I mean once you get to that point, all these other doors open. Doors that you couldn’t clearly see because you were hanging on to the thing that was limited. I had that with exercise, no more swimming laps, no more long bike rides, no yoga or any mat work that includes weight on my wrists, no weightlifting, no softball…no…a lot of things. But, I’m so into walking now and I’m surprised by that and I can still do short trips on my bike and swimming is more meditative floating now. It is in many ways acceptance of loss; but, I have found that the sadness has really diminished and now i kind of feel: damn I can’t do that…okay…what can I do. And that works.

    I wish you well in your recovery and figuring out what works!

    • Oh, Ann, thank you! It’s nice to know there is an other side. It seems to take longer than it should to adjust. For me, I have little limiting me if I behave. The trouble is changing *how* I do most things. That is the challenge. But hearing how you have adjusted is so very encouraging. You are lovely. Thank you.

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