Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning to Fly Again

The watchword for me right now is “perseverance”.  I’ve been wrestling with abscesses in three of Siete’s hooves for the last three weeks. I’m making very slow progress in bending my right elbow, even though I’m spending three hours a day in my splints and doing exercises to stretch and strengthen my arm.  Everything for too long has felt like it’s hanging on and on with no signs that things are on the road back to “okay”.
The vet and farrier have both been out again and again to try to drain Siete’s abscesses. We are down to one very tenacious trouble spot in her front left hoof.  She is so patient as I struggle awkwardly with cleaning her feet and squirting Banamine in her mouth. The farrier told me to leave off the hoof boot and Animalintex, but that made things worse. Following my instincts, I soaked her foot in warm water and Epsom salts and then used a stinky poultice called Hawthorn’s Sole Pack. We’re not out of the woods yet but she’s standing on all four feet with equal weight and walking without limping today.
I went to the doctor this week, expecting that he would praise me for the improvement in my arm, but he was most discouraging. He keeps talking about doing a “manipulation”, where he would knock me out and bend the elbow for me. It’s risky because it would break up the scar tissue but might also do other damage. He doesn’t know if I will be able to get the mobility back on my own, he says. There was a young woman resident observing as he examined me, and while he left the room briefly, she complimented me on my positive attitude. Then, she pointed to my right arm, which was resting on my leg as I sat on the examining table. “Why do you hold it like it’s a wounded bird?” she asked. I left the doctor’s office annoyed and depressed.
Yesterday, at my physical therapy session, my new therapist gave me good advice. She wants me to stay focused on what I’m doing and not have any kind of “manipulation”. Since she’s been doing this work for about 30 years and tells me that the elbow takes the longest to heal, I’m going to trust her. She thinks six months to a year is a realistic estimate for my recovery, and we’re at three months now. So she wants me to keep working on it and have faith.
I was driving home and as I stopped at a stoplight in an area of strip mall shopping centers, a red tailed hawk suddenly flew very close over the hood of my car and landed on the small patch of grass next to me. It really startled me, and I wondered if the bird was injured. Then, I recalled the young resident’s remark and thought that yes, I am like a wounded bird. Of course I’m protective of my arm! One of my wings is damaged and I can’t fly.
           When this accident happened and I had my surgery, I bought myself a present. It’s a necklace that I wear every day. On one side of the square pendent is an old illustration of a robin flying. On the other side are these words from the pages of an old book: ”She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her, and realized she could fly.” So, I guess I just have to learn to fly again.
When I got home,I looked up what it means when a hawk comes into your life. They are symbols of protection. The Pueblo Indians use red hawk energy and feathers in healing ceremonies. “The red tail can spread its wings to a great width, and it can teach you to use your creative energies the same way. It can extend your vision of life”, Ted Andrews explains in Animal Speak.
           As I sat in my splint this morning, with my sore arm encumbered by this contraption that forces my elbow to bend further, I imagined doing what I once could do, and what I plan to be able to do again. I saw myself stretching my arms out and waving them up and down gracefully like wings as Siete runs in big circles around me in the pasture.

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.


P.S.  I saw this quote that my friend, Mary Muncil, posted on her blog, "White Feather Farm", and it spoke to what I have been feeling:  "Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly." Richard Bach

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Proud to be an Artsy Girl

My friend, Liz, and I are hosting a dinner Monday night for a group of women friends who are artists. It will be the one and only social event that I’ve attempted since I broke my arm last June.  It marks a milestone for me in my recovery, and I am glad to feel capable of entertaining again.

This is a really great group, founded over a decade ago by Jane Pollak, and we continue to meet every three or four months. I’m going on my 7th year with the “Artsy Girls”, a name that makes me smile. There are painters, writers. childrens’ book illustrators, rug makers, quilters, film-makers, jewelry designers and even a toy inventor in our circle. It makes for really stimulating conversations, and the food will be great because my friend, Liz, is a fabulous cook. I’m just doing appetizers, salad and bringing ice cream from our favorite creamery at the dairy farm down the road.

We’re going to screen the video that I recently shot and edited about Liz and her amazing work and talk about our experience collaborating together. Two strong, opinionated women, but it was a pleasure to put her vision on the screen. It reminded me of what I enjoy about shooting moving images and telling a story.   I thought I’d post it here for you to look at too.