Once upon a time, quite a while ago, when I was about two years out of nursing school, I got a new job. In surgery!
This wasn’t an entirely novel concept for me.
I’d worked for our vet when I was in high school. I started, as one would imagine, cleaning runs and scooping disgusting canned stuff into bowls.
By the time I was a senior, I was assisting in surgery. Among other things, I learned simple sutures and how to retrieve our feline patients from the top of the x-ray machine.
People surgery came complete with x-ray techs so the retrieving was less necessary.
Knots, however, were quite necessary. Years of Girl Scouts had not prepared me for tying square knots one-handed with my non-dominant (left) hand. It was one of the first things we learned.
I practiced incessantly. Knitted afghans with fringe were especially helpful.
I’ve been reminded of this learning experience lately, as I try to develop some muscle memory related to painting.
Thus far, I appear to be an almost totally right-handed painter!
I’ve been reminded of other learning experiences with the painting, as well.
One that shows up often is my recent trip down the mythical Rabbit Hole in Portland, Oregon.
The primary purpose for the trip was exploring some familiar perceptions and skills grouped under the new-ish label of Transformational Coaching.
The workshop was great!
The physical comfort factor, not so much.
This was not a huge surprise for me. Between long flights, the knees, and the back, spending hours a day in a rent-a-chair has been hard for me for a while. And it tends to get harder as one day rolls into the next.
I did my usual adapting things. Nesting in a corner with a spare chair to prop my feet on. A pillow or two. Qigong during coffee breaks. A bit of self-hypnosis.
And then, on the last day of our time together, when I could barely confront the rent-a-chair again, something different happened.
The amazing Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, who writes fabulous, colorful, important books and is known to many of you as SARK, fussed at me. “Get one of those upholstered chairs over there,” she said, “and get somebody to drag it into the circle!”
I demurred. “There are people sitting in them,” I explained.
Before I could take a breath, Susan had a couple of people toting a chair into the corner where I had camped, trying to stay out of the way.
I actually had tears in my eyes when I sat down, feeling conspicuous, but definitely more comfortable. And present.
The next thing I knew, dear Susan was in my face. I’m not exactly sure what she said but I can tell you what I heard:
This is bigger than a chair! Don’t endure what can be fixed, just to blend in!
It’s been a while since June but those wise words came back to me today, complete with a bit of Susan-esque glitter.
You see, I was trying to do a bit of editing on my painting. I needed a fairly smooth, thin line and I was having trouble getting there with my right hand. I tried the left. I leaned. I moved. Several times. I even tried to do it upside down.
And then, wonder of wonders, I moved the easel.
It worked! And, in the midst of my happy dance, I heard Susan applauding.
There are times, especially when I’m tense, that I still tie left-handed square knots in whatever fringe-y things are handy. I’m learning new options, though, and today I’m giving thanks for an amazing teacher.
There’s a lot to be said for not enduring what can be fixed. And moving the easel.