Sunday, March 1, 2015

The hammer fell, so I picked up the brush


It's been a few weeks. So much for my goal of writing in my blog at least once a week. Bah! Humbug.

I did have good intentions. But as it happens, chance or fate played a card that I wasn't expecting. The card I was dealt, looked a lot like a hammer coming down on my index finger.

Before it happened, I was fixing the fence in my back yard. Our is quite old, but I thought I'd try and make the most out of the wood, and patch things together. I was fixing part of the fence, hammering some wood, but every nail I hammered into the wood bent. I was tired, and impatient, and sick of the nails bending every time I hammered them. So, growing more irritated by the second, I grabbed a nail that was thick and long, and sturdy, about half the length of a pencil. I had to steady the nail in order for it to stay put, so using my left hand I steadied, the nail and hammered down hard.

But the nail wasn't behaving. It wasn't going into the wood like it should. So I hammered harder, growing more clumsy. Still the nail stubbornly sat in its old position, neither going up nor down. Just stuck.

Determined to get the nail in, I steadied the nail with my left index finger and hammered as hard as I could.


The hammer went down, but not on the nail. But on my finger with all the force I had in me. In that single instant, I felt first shock and then terrible pain shooting through my fingers, and strange ghost pains in my other little fingers. Can I just say at that moment, I thought I'd killed myself, chopped my own finger off, mashed it off in one blow, squishing it against the wood.

In a flurry, I threw the hammer onto the ground, and started waling. My mom who was in the garden at that time, came to my rescue.

But there's little help you can offer to someone who has mashed their finger, except sympathy. I don't think I've ever felt that much pain in my life. I know what you're thinking---lucky you.
I iced my finger, took a couple pain killers, and it still throbbed.

And I cried.

Yep. Moaned, and sniffled like a baby.

They say all your nerve endings are in your finger, and I believe it.

It didn't stop hurting and throbbing for a long time. My mom turned on a stupid movie to distract me. And that helped a bit.

I iced it the rest of the day, and into the night, freezing my other fingers in the process. It swelled up nice and purple, and went tingly numb. I wasn't sure if I broke it, sprained it, or just damaged the nerves. My sister made some comfrey, plantain salve, and I've been wrapping it up in a bandage and letting it rest. I figured there wasn't much point in going to the doctors, because they can't do much for broken fingers anyway.

That green stuff is my sisters awesome bone healing salve. 
So from that time until now, I haven't been typing for many moons. First I went through the feel sorry for myself stage. The stage where I discover all the things I can't do without my index finger.

How little we appreciate things until we can no longer use them.

I found out that it's very difficult to floss your teeth without the aid of your index finger, but with a little practice, you can do it with your other fingers.

Pulling up your britches is another trick.

Feeding hay to the goats, is very difficult, especially when you're trying to pull out hay from a ton bale.



Opening Jars.

Chopping veggies.

Lifting various objects.

Oh, and milking goats. Oh....your one hand gets very very tired. I usually switch hands when one gets tired.

Oh, and then I had been doing a heavy workout routine, but my finger was so tender, I didn't feel like swinging around that much. But gradually I figured out how to maneuver my hands so as not to jostle my finger too much.

After the feel sorry for myself stage, I went through, okay what can I do. It's my left finger, you're lucky stage. So I decided that I've neglected painting for quite a long time, so I've been painting, painting, painting. Painting wood, painting butterflies, painting on a moose horn, painting skies, painting tiles with inks. And it's been refreshing.

Enlightening. I've been so caught up in writing, an illustrating my books, that I've let my inner painter shrivel. I was kind of afraid of what my shriveled painter self might produce. That I might make something very ugly.  But I pushed through that fear and now I'm on my way to being a recovering oil painter.

It's nice. And weird how sometimes I can get so caught up doing one thing, I neglect the other. So here's a pledge to myself, to try and be more balanced.

Today is the first day in weeks I've really typed since I tried to hammer off the end of my finger. I'm still very clumsy. I can't bent it all the way. And it's still very tender and numb-ish feeling. This morning when I was feeding the chickens I caught my poor finger on an end of a wire, and tore the tip of my fingernail off.

Renewed pain.

But I'm here. And I'm writing, even if it's just a little. Giving my finger some physical therapy.

The fence I was fixing is still waiting for me to finish fixing it.

The nails are still where I left them. Soon, I'll be back hammering where I left off, but with a little renewed perspective and appreciation, thankful for my index finger and what it can do. Thankful for the nudge to use my inner artist to "paint fences," instead of just fix them. Or something like that.

You get what I'm trying to say? Right?

I still think I have a bit of hammer aversion though. Every time I see my sister pick one up, I close my eyes, and cringe and think of....well me smashing my finger.

Weird, huh?

Whoever thought of having post traumatic stress from hammering one's own finger.

I can't imagine having a real accident to recover from.

Maybe I should go to therapy. :)

Anyway, here's to all the under appreciated index fingers throughout the world. Sometimes that "index finger" gets neglected. And the sad thing is, only when you lose something do you begin to appreciate what you lost. I don't know why, but it's true. And we humans are pretty stupid. But that's the sad truth. 
Below are some of my creations I've been working on since my finger smash. Some are finished, some are still being worked on.  I've made the image sizes a bit small so people don't pirate them. I'm doing an etsy shop with prints of my artwork, along with my sister, and as soon as I get prints made I'll put a link on here if you'd like to buy copies of my work.

This guy isn't finished yet---there's still a lot of work to do on this one before I'm done.

My moose horn piece

These are done with  alcohol inks.

So. Here's to artists of all kinds picking up the paintbrush after a long sabbatical. Here's to anyone who's had a smashed finger and lived.

Here's to all artist writers, and creative everywhere who are forced to stop and do some introspection.

I'm not sure the point of this blog post, except maybe as a reminder that you won't have to smash you finger to remember to "paint" whatever its you like to paint. And perhaps give a shout out of encouragement to any blocked artists, who are afraid of starting where they left off, block writers, blocked creators, who may be afraid to "paint" whatever it is that they want to paint.

For some, it has been years, months, or decades since, they "painted" last.

Pick up the brush.

Set out the canvas.

Use the colors you have.

And paint.

Don't wait for your finger to be smashed to do so.

Don't wait for the perfect someday when...

Buck up, face your fears, and paint. Once you get over the initial fear, you remember how much fun it is.
You're probably a lot better at it than you give yourself credit.
My finger says enough typing. So I'll say cheerio for now.
Until my next post.
Take care.

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