Thursday, March 20, 2008

A matter of balance

Been doing a lot of thinking about who I am and what I need; I made a long livejournal post about it. I've copied it on the bottom of this post because it's germane to my journey as an artist.

In the meantime, this is my latest bag, the perfect size to hold a cell phone and keys, or to hold a digital camera. I had to lighten the pic up with my photo program to make the color more realistic and the stitches visible. Dunno how long it takes to get really good at this craft; I see major improvement already but dang! so far to go yet!

Gryph is almost finished with the sixth bag and then they will be in the mail and my sewing machine will come back out. *grin* I have MISSED it! We won't stop on the leather bags, but I will add sewing fabric back into my life, cuz yano... I have scrap bunnies and drawstring bags and PIECING to do! Woooohooooo!!!!

A matter of balance

People with fibromyalgia discover pretty quickly that their sense of balance has changed. Sometimes just walking without tripping over anything is a challenge, and walking without walking into anything is impossible. Sometimes standing in one place is even harder than walking. When one's sense of balance is off, one becomes grateful for walls, furniture, anything one can touch to regain equilibrium. The wall in a narrow hallway or kitchen can become an intimate friend; the edges of sofas, tables, chairs can become the recipients and safeguards of one's vulnerabilities.

Finding balance can be tricky in other ways when one has fibromyalgia. Treasured activities become limited and sometimes impossible; things which others take for granted now take major effort. Fibromyalgia leads one to be wary of making promises or even casual agreements, for the possibility is not only ever-present but strong that one will be waylaid with pain or exhaustion on the way. One comes to prioritize activities, "how much pain am I willing to endure not only today but also tomorrow and the rest of next week in order to do this? How much will I get back from this; will it be worth losing the rest of my activities for a week or so?"

People who have not dealt with fibromyalgia (or other chronic conditions) don't tend to understand that every action has to be weighed against guaranteed consequences. They often feel rejected and do not understand that it is not a rejection, just a physical limit that cannot be gotten past.

I have not only fibromyalgia but also carpal tunnel syndrome. I've noticed the kitchen wall is becoming ever more my friend this past week, and sleep is ever more elusive. Things in alarming quantities are dropping out of my hands. My balance is off and must be regained. There are things I must do, things I want to do... and things I love which I must not do.

Moving in with Gryph gave me my life back in many ways. The artist, the craftsperson in me are both awake and feeling a need for expression. I can do today what I have not been able to do for years--and I want to--but it takes time. I move slowly; I am constantly picking back up all the things which somehow magically tumble to the floor when my unbalanced self comes near them; my stamina is reduced. These facts mean that doing what I want to do is not going to be easy. I will have choices to make about which activities are worth it, yanno?

In looking for balance in my life, I have seen that making my dreams means I have to give up things which don't move me forward, things which cause me distress, things which take too much time for little return, things I might want to do but which cause me intense pain. In order to return to the person I was, I have to let go the things which filled my time when I was unable to be a "maker." The person who crocheted fine doilies and table runners, the person who painted wildlife, the person who made holiday ornaments, the person who did fine beadwork---this person did not spend much time online. When I look for balance, I see that there are communities which sustain me as an artist, and communities which, however much they may have sustained me in the past, today cost me a great deal of effort.

It's time for me to admit this and do something about it. It's time for me to regain my balance. Last night I recognized that giving up sleep and housework for these activities is not an acceptable compromise. I must sleep, and I must give sleep the time it needs to work for me. I must also keep up with the housework, for I have discovered the bare minimum standards that make it possible to live my life the way I wish to and lately I have not met those minimums. The quality of all our lives is diminished when I put off the work which needs to be done; even the cats are distressed.

In my tiredness, I am also putting off the "making" I need to do, those activities which make me feel like myself again. I have lived my life for years feeling "not real" because I was not able to be the person I am inside, and now at last I feel real again. I want to LIVE, now; I want to experience fully this rebirth of myself--I want to MAKE.

This means I must choose. I must spend less time online and more time sleeping, keeping up with the household, and making my dreams. It is time to let go of that which costs me too much, time to make more room for that which sustains and rebuilds me. It is time to say goodbye to the past, and to move confidently into the future... kitchen wall at the ready, of course. *wry smile*

This means I won't checking [my other websites] for a while. My wrists are not able to cope with the typing and scrolling I have been doing and they must rest; I must find the balance and withdraw for healing. You can find me here or you can email me (b-bit AT earthlink DOT net). If you would like to talk on the phone, drop me a note with your number. I have free long distance. *smile*

Thank you for your friendship over the years. Please understand, I am not rejecting you--I have come up against a physical limit and must deal with it. This is why I posted about not knowing whether to renew my [website] membership or not; I was weighing the good that I get from being active on the forum against the costs. Computer time is extraordinarily costly to my hands right now, and I need these hands for other things. To find my balance, I must reduce computer time. I cannot forego my email, of course, and you are most welcome to write! But I must give up the majority of my websites.

Blessings to us all,Cath

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cath,

    Enjoying your blog very much. I feel for you and the pain you are experiencing. It just makes perfect sense to conserve your energy and time for the activities that don't worsen your condition. I have arthritis in my knees and tendinitis in my wrists/hands and have to make those same decisions every day. Since I am the primary housekeeper in my abode, I choose to do my crafts and fun things more often than the day to day, mundane chores;probably too often. The way I calculate it is...there is nobody going to challenge me for the privelege of vaacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms and will all still be there when I get ready to do it,LOL...

    I do love your leather bags. Where do you ship them to and how did you figure out how to market them? I am inspired by your and Gryph's ingenuity about starting a home buisness. I am in the same ball park, looking for something I can do at home.

    I will certainly miss hearing from you every day on the forum, but I DO understand your choices. I'm behind you, sister!!

    Blessings to you both,


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