You know what you probably shouldn’t do when you have a repetitive stress injury in your hand? Cut up all these peppers:

You know what I did when I had a repetitive stress injury in my hand? You guessed it. Cut up all those peppers (and a bunch more that were in a large bag and about to go bad). I also made apple muffins, swept the house multiple times, edited photos on my phone…the list goes on.

And for SOME annoying reason, my hand has yet to heal from this injury.

The other day I was doing my workout at the gym and nearly started crying because my hand was hurting so much. When I recounted the story to Bobby later that night I was like, “I just don’t get it! Here I am, resting my hand, and it’s throbbing at the gym when I pick up a weight or grab on to a bench to do a leg raise!” (P.S. Aren’t you so impressed with all my gym talk?)

And Bobby observed “Well, it sounds like you aren’t actually resting it then. Right?” That husband of mine. So astute.

I think I was secretly hoping that my hand would be able to understand that I was laying off the painting, writing, and obviously intense stuff but would turn a blind eye to the other normal-day activities. It’s as if I were a 10 year-old who gave up sweets for Lent but then proceeded to have hot chocolate and soda and frozen yogurt because liquid sweet things and YOGURT can hardly count, right?!?!

This is day 14 of this whole saga and finding out I had an RSI. By day 14, things were supposed to be feeling back to normal. I’m realizing that I’ve stunted that a bit.

So where does this leave me? As much as it makes me cringe, I realize that I need to get far more strict about this whole concept of rest. I’m figuring out healthy freezer-type meals that I can literally plop in a skillet and stir with my left hand. I’m asking Bobby to do the more intense meals and chopping. I’m laying off of sweeping and any activities at the gym that directly involve my hands. I’m even realizing that typing very much, however gingerly I go about it, can’t be great for my hand.

That last point, about the typing, brings me right back to this blog. I’m all about consistency and follow-through. I know how important it is. And yet, I think I need to lay low right now and put a halt to creating new blog content until my hand is out of the woods. I can only draw so many Folk-Art Friday creatures with my left hand, so that’s going to be on a hiatus, too.

I’m fully confident that my body will work to heal itself if I actually allow it to do so. Last night, I had a dream about writing a letter with no pain. This has literally become the stuff I dream and fantasize about, ha! To bring this into my reality, I’m not sure exactly how long this true rest will need to be, but I’m ready to do it right.

Please send up prayers and good vibes for my poor little hand so I can get back to this space sooner rather than later! In the meantime, I’ll still be popping in on Instagram (I can’t abandon creativity completely) so I hope you’ll come see me over there. And once I’m back on the blog train, I’ll send out the alert via a newsletter, so please subscribe if you haven’t already (subscription bar on the right sidebar).

Have the happiest of weeks, friends!

I bet you didn’t even know that unicorns could be left handed, did you?! Well, to clarify, I’m actually pretty sure that unicorns are ambidextrous. It’s one of their magical powers. As for someone who’s (sadly) NOT so ambidextrous? This girl.

Since I’ve had to lay off painting due to my repetitive stress injury, I figured I’d try my luck at completing today’s folk-art Friday creature with my left hand. This took me 4 times as long as it normally would and it still is painfully evident that this guy was completed with my non-dominant hand.

I went to one of my favorite open air cafes the other day to read and placed lefty unicorn on the wicker table.

I hope the next customer was inspired to try something new and fun – whether that involved ordering a different item on the menu or painting a mural with their left hand. (I would be positively gleeful if that latter option actually happened.)

Here’s hoping the same for you and yours this weekend – that you step outside your normal routine in some delightful way. It’s good for you!

A  few years ago, I majorly screwed up my wrist by doing a massive Project Life catch-up. I wore a wrist brace for awhile, had to completely lay off of crafting/writing/using my right hand AND ended up going to physical therapy for awhile. There, I had to tell the physical therapist that I’d developed the pain via Extreme Crafting. I don’t think she’d ever heard that one before.

Since then, I’ve been more careful about doing massive amounts of repetitive activity with my wrist. I never wanted to return to that place again. Buttttt as time has passed and that sad, grey time in my creative life started to fade from memory, I’ve started to creep into the more extreme zones of crafting again. Now that I have my Etsy shop, it’s not unusual for me to sit down and hand paint 10 cards in one sitting. That’s a lot of fine motor movement happening in a concentrated amount of time.

Well, it all caught up to me again. Blast! I started to feel acute pain in my hand last week. Holding a pen or a paintbrush was torture. Even trying to put on pants hurt. It turns out that I’ve given myself a repetitive stress injury. The main cure is rest. Rest as in: no painting, no writing letters, no project life, no other crafting. These things bring me so much joy AND are a big part of my business. I was not pleased to get this diagnosis.

After lamenting this fact for a day or two though, I’ve started to see the silver lining of this injury…it’s definitely slowed me down in some areas, but allowed me to crank things up in others. Here’s a rundown:

1) Researching healthy habits for moving forward.

As an artist, writer, and creative, my hands are my primary tools. I’ve realized that I have to take better care of them, just like a chef would consistently sharpen their knives or a truck driver would get regular oil changes. And just taking small breaks, while better than nothing, is not going to cut it. I need to do some serious self-care.

During my desperate research, I stumbled across this article that sets forth some concrete suggestions for treating tendonitis and repetitive stress injuries. I watched the video about self-massage techniques for your arms and hands and have been trying to do that daily for myself. I also ordered the book that was recommended, titled Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Stress Injuries: A Self-Care Program. It hasn’t arrived yet, but when it does, I’ll be taking it seriously.

I’ve decided this isn’t just an “oh that would be a nice thing to do for myself,” it’s a “this is a non-negotiable if I want to keep producing art for years to come.”

2) Time to finally GO PAPERLESS!

Since my regular activities have been put majorly on hold, I’ve been channeling some of that freed up time into (finally) going paperless. It’s been a long time coming and Bobby’s been very patient with me as I was SO excited about this over a year and a half ago, bought the scanner, paid for Evernote, bought TWO separate eBooks telling me exactly how to go about things, and then got lured into other projects before I ever truly got everything organized digitally. We’ve been carting file folders filled with documents back and forth with us during each move.

Every couple months, Bobby will gently mention it and try to see where I’m at with things – to which I respond something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m DEFINITELY going to get on that! I just have so many other things that are on the go right now! But NO we mustn’t cancel Evernote or sell our scanner! I’m totally on board with the paperless thing!” (Let me be clear, we both decided long ago that I was the Nixon Peterson CFO of the family, so it’s not as if Bobby is abdicating any responsibilities here. We both acknowledge that the paperless project is much more in my wheel house.)

With this prescription of rest for my hand, the universe has basically forced me into staring the whole Paperless Project in the face. So far I’ve sorted through a ton of our papers and documents, gotten rid of a BUNCH of them, and am ready to start scanning the important documents that should be kept. This is far overdue, and I’m grateful that so many other activities have been put on hold so that I could finally start tackling it.

3) Reading and I are finally becoming good friends again.

Reading is such a faithful friend but I have a tendency to ditch it for other activities. With this injury, though, I’ve started to dive into books again. Every time I get back with the reading program I think, “How did I ever veer away from this? I love reading!” And reading just sits there and shakes her head at me and says, “Welcome back you slow learner, you.” She’s very forgiving like that.

So there we have it. Multiple reasons why this pain-in-the-butt repetitive stress injury actually has multiple silver linings.

If you’re someone who uses your hands a lot – whether it’s for typing, drawing, painting, surgery – I’m curious whether you’ve developed any routines to keep your hands and wrists in tip-top shape. Please share in the comments if you have any wisdom!