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January....Observations on taking a forced pause in life

The New Year is here….2023, what will it bring?

I am now 3 months out from ankle replacement surgery and getting more mobile every week. The first 6 weeks were very hard, mostly elevating my leg to promote healing. But during that time, I had decided prior to the surgery that I would use my brain and learn, observing what worked and was enjoyable, and what didn’t work.

It was an interesting experiment. The first 3 weeks, I was “toes above the nose”, meaning, except for being wheeled to the restroom, I was in a recliner, with my foot propped up with 3 large pillows – basically immobile and on painkillers and antibiotics. I couldn’t play my beloved piano, and I found it hard to listen to music at first, it was so much stimulation. What I did find I could do to take my mind off the pain, especially as the nerves started to connect - with their popping, tingling, sharp pains and pinging, was learning French and Spanish on Duolingo. I found because it is a fun way to learn, I could do it for an hour at a time have learned both languages so much better than ever before. I’ve now completed 160 straight days of using it and continue to understand better all the time.

I started back to teaching my studio in week 2, just a few online students, and then adding more in week 3 and 4 of my in person students, keeping my leg propped up. I was so delighted to see my students and come out of my cocoon for a few hours a day.

As I look back now on that time, it was like being in Covid isolation, no one to talk to, and being in pain, I didn’t feel like having long conversations. I couldn’t go anywhere, and I only ate what my caregiver could bring me. Being in a wheelchair and the graduating to a walker means it is very hard to carry soup, a plate of food, a cup of coffee, really anything. I have such a respect now for people who need to rely on these assistive devices all the time to be mobile.

When I was able to play piano with less pain, and with both feet on the ground, I found that my creativeness started up again, after a very long dry spell of 7 years. I hear music, the beginnings of a song, a phrase, a low tone, and I must play it on the piano. Then I invite the next note to reveal itself. Then the next note, following my fingers water coloring on the piano keys, creating light, darkness, joy, sadness, whatever comes out is good. I am not inviting my left-brain critic to the Watercolor Party. There are no rules, no correct timing, only sacred notes played with reverence moving through the atmosphere.

I see the benefits of a forced rest when a person approaches it with a determination to make every day great, find the appreciation in the little things, and open the mind to new ideas, sounds, art, language and just be in that moment.

Now, I’m ready to make this a great year with new projects, more performing, training teachers for the Piano Keys to Autism Program, recitals, and more.

All the best, Connie

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