On being a Lefty-in-Training

Just over three years ago I began training in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Nearly three months ago I began taking the Sword class at our dojo.

Now I’m learning to do things left-handed. Don’t worry — there is no injury based cause/effect relationship between starting sword class and beginning to need to use my left hand more! However the constant practice in learning new things has emboldened me to learn this new skill.

That, and my right hand really did need some time off due to chronic tendonitis from all these many years of creating small, yet highly and precisely detailed objects. The weekend after Thanksgiving made the situation worse. The IV needle that I had in my right arm for 36 hours (unpleasant episode in the hospital with a section of blocked bowel) was placed on top of the tendons to my right index finger, and then my entire right arm swelled up. My nursing friends use the term IV infiltration — my bodyworker said my elbow was dislocated and that I did the fascial system of my body no favors by essentially being frozen in a seated position for nearly two days (NG tube, no fun)

The relief of not needing surgery for the blocked bowel and being able to go home in a relatively short mite was rather balanced out by the fact that I could no longer bend my right thumb and index finger. I couldn’t hold a pencil, let alone write. I couldn’t pick things up with my right hand, especially small delicate objects. Frustrating. Inspired me to explore Plan B — left handedness.

What the heck, I’ve got two hands. Time for “Little Sister” left hand to get in the game  So while the tendonitis in my right arm subsides (and it is much, much better) I’ve been writing, drawing, and using utensils left handed. I’m convinced it’s a skill set that I can work to develop. It’s actually become kind of fun. I started a new journal to practice in, it will be part of the Sketchbook Project sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library (sketchbookproject.com)

The moral of my story — never underestimate your own ability to be flexible and resilient. Never underestimate the power of learning new skills. At any age.