Tag Archives: creativity

Re-Purpose

I spent a couple of days last week repurposing some sheets.  My-daughter-in-law had given me a queen set when they’d upgraded to a king. It’s soft bamboo fabric, but the bottom sheet wouldn’t stretch enough to go over my mattress. So I lopped off the elastic and turned it into three pillowcases. I also had cut up a sheet of silky, white cotton and I turned that into two more pillowcases.

I like the idea of repurposing. It’s what I did when my fingers were making me suffer so. When my thumbs, index fingers,and middle fingers were taking turns developing fissures, and were consistently in different stages of breakdown and healing, I called on my ring fingers and pinkies to pick up the slack.

I repurposed them. And they, like troopers, jumped to the task. They became my go-to fingers, to work my cell phone, my tablet, even my keyboard. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and the same fate thankfully did not befall them. Though I lived in constant worry that it would.

I was advised by my doctors not to wrap my fingertips with adhesive bandages, which I had been doing every single night in order to keep the prescribed ointment from rubbing off on the sheets while I slept. Too much stress on your skin, they said. Use white cotton gloves, I was told, so I ordered some.

But alas, once I put them on, I could not use my gadgets. Their screen needed to feel my warm, live fingers, apparently, and I cannot go to sleep without reading myself to sleep. So I said, I don’t need all my fingers covered and chopped off the parts of the gloves I didn’t need. I digitally altered them. Problem solved.

They look funny, but it works. And it’s easier to work my gadgets with my own digits than to use a stylus pen. Don’t have to worry about where I last left them. And it looks like I am making my way out of the woods. My fingers are on the mend. (Knock on same woods.)

Just one of the many twists and turns life makes you navigate. But with purpose we go forward, and when that purpose is thwarted, re-purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In So Many Ways

I’ve settled into a Tuesday and Friday Tai Chi class routine. Granted it’s only been one week. But it feels good. I’m renewing friendships and meeting new people. I met the lady who won my Native American Culture themed quilt at the raffle. (See my post, Done!) She was ecstatic and stopped the class to verify I was the quilter. “I love it!” she said. Talk about a shot in the arm, gave me renewed vigor to finish the class.

I’d wondered if my legs would hold up. It’s all a matter of shifting your weight from one leg to the other as you dance your way through the 108 moves. All this weight-bearing helps build bone, something mighty useful to me now. But I needn’t have worried, my legs remembered. They held up admirably, while the rest of me had a harder time remembering some of the hand moves.

Though they started the same week, these classes are independent of each other. That means that on Friday I get to repeat what I learned on Tuesday. This works well as I am a perpetual beginner, having yet to complete all 108 moves. Monday and Wednesday classes start in two weeks and I plan to take those too.  There’s nothing like reinforcement. And camaraderie.

And I have another reason for taking all these 10:00 AM classes. They will help me to structure my day so I can fit the most into it. Freelance editing is occupying more and more of my time, and that’s a good thing. But working from home, I’ve let myself maintain a non-schedule schedule, working all hours of the day or night. There’s been no clock to punch, and no boss but my lenient self. As long as the deadline is met, your client doesn’t care when you work.

But now, I need to adopt a daily discipline so that I can accomplish all I want to do. Such as my own writing (my WIPs won’t write themselves, sigh), and then there’s my quilting. I do want to keep up with it, and I plan to make a bunch of children’s quilts for the homeless shelter our Tai Chi Branch supports. For Christmas.

So you see, Tai Chi to the rescue. In so many ways.

Simulacrum of a Thing

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I am reading Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, and she has a chapter about index cards and their usefulness. Until I came to that chapter, I hadn’t realized what an addiction I have to those little 4 x 6 cards. Like a certain credit card, I never leave home without at least one. Usually, I keep a bunch in my purse to capture any stray thoughts I might have as I travel around town. But never fear, I don’t write and drive; I wait for the traffic light to turn red.

We all know that if we don’t jot something down as soon as possible after it hits our brain, most likely it will be gone forever. Only the thought doesn’t go away completely. Part of it stays in the back of your mind, on the tip of your tongue, a simulacrum of a thing that will neither fade away nor come back in full force. It remains there to torture you while you berate yourself. Why didn’t I write that brilliant thought down?

I’m reminded of how, for several days, I turned the house upside down looking for the left over index cards from my youngest daughter’s high school years. I knew I had them somewhere. I could literally visualize them, all that neat white space waiting to be filled. But they eluded me. It was like looking for that last bottle of liquor in the movie The Lost Weekend. Only I didn’t have to steal my cleaning lady’s money to go out and buy a fix. Mainly because I don’t have a cleaning lady.

This incident occurred a couple of years ago when I finally started writing seriously or seriously writing. After I bought a new packet of index cards, I found the lost ones lying neatly on a bookshelf. Now, I am never without those trusty little cards. Like reading glasses, I have some in practically every room of the house. Besides my purse, they live in my bedside drawer. As sometimes happens, I’ll come to in the middle of the night with passages going through my head. Quickly, I snap on the light, grab a pen and lash the thought down before it floats away. Or at the very least, the essence of it.

Index cards make my favorite bookmarks. Not only do they hold the place in the books I’m reading, but they afford me the space to write down any thoughts or ideas my reading conjures up. And when I come across something profound or motivational, or both, I copy it onto a card and tape it to my desk, so that it’s right in front of me as I work.

They serve me in my other work as well, as quilting aids. Once I decide what a quilt will look like, I record on separate cards how many pieces of each fabric I need to cut and in what dimensions. I then tape the cards to the wall alongside my sewing table, a ready reference as I construct a quilt puzzle comprised of hundreds of pieces.

Once while in the lab chair waiting for the vampire to strike, I noticed they had new wall art. It was a piece constructed of luminous metal squares in browns and greens. As my blood flowed into the lab tubes, the image of it as a quilt flowed into my brain. Holding my left arm bent at the elbow, I rushed out of the lab to my car where I sat sketching it out. It will make a great quilt. Someday.

One fun thing I use the cards for is to write my granddaughter’s name in great big letters. “I want paper,” she says to me when she sees me at my desk, “I want to make an A.” At three, she is ready to learn how to write her name and I pronounce each letter slowly as I write it all in caps across the top of a card, A-L-Y-S-S-A. Her face lights up as pen in hand she sits down to her task, forming the A with care.  When she goes home she leaves me the gift of her scribbles. Maybe one day she’ll be a writer, too.

The cards are also handy to make myself notes about foods to try, their benefits and nutritional value, especially those with anti-inflammatory aspects. I am always on the lookout for foods that will help me combat RA and keep my weight at tolerable levels. I figure if I write them down, I might remember to buy these foods when I go grocery shopping. Because of course, making a grocery list is the one thing I don’t ever use my cards for!

I have RA, but RA doesn’t have me

Fingers

Image via Wikipedia

I woke up this morning, thinking. I do that a lot. Both wake up  and think! I consider myself lucky; I have the ability to do both. My hands are the first things that enter my consciousness. Can I move them without pain, can I flex my fingers normally? I hold hands with myself. I exercise and manipulate my fingers, get them to loosen up. It takes a few minutes, sometimes more than a few minutes.

This is a daily ritual for me and I’m sure for many RA sufferers, but this morning my hands took second place. I had something more compelling on my mind. Writing. Words. Lots of words. 15, 000 glorious words.

Tapping on my keyboard is a good workout for my fingers, but more importantly it is a good workout for my brain. Writing is therapy for me. It is a creative outlet. Writing about my illness helps. I find that if I personify it, it is easier to deal with. I can face my enemy and laugh in its face. I am the Black Knight who, though armless, refuses to give up the fight, “It’s just a flesh wound!” (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975)

Yes, RA, you are just a flesh wound to me. You may stalk me while I sleep, but you cannot hold me captive for long. I slither from your insidious grasp with morning’s first light. And I hold you at bay all through the day. You cannot keep me from doing what I want to do.

And what I want to do is write those 15,000 words, complete my work in progress. I will concentrate on exercising my vocabulary as well as my fingers. I will throw myself into my work and let it suffuse my mind and spirit. I will go where you can’t reach me, RA, for my novella is not about you.

I may have you, but you don’t have me!