A couple days ago, Rick and I spoke online to a Zentangle gathering in Wales. Just before the end, one of the facilitators asked if anyone wanted to tell us how practicing the Zentangle Method had changed their life. One woman raised her hand and she told her story. She described how, after a serious accident and an extended coma, a friend gave her one of our Zentangle books and encouraged her to try it. She did. And she proceeded to tell us how tangling helped her to recover, to move through her pain, and to regain her passion for life.
I was moved to tears. I thought, if she could tell us her story, surely I should be willing to tell mine. Though my story is much different than hers, I want her to know how much she inspired me to share my story.
A few weeks ago, I was shopping for dinner guests. Just an ordinary day, nothing special. As I rounded the bend of the last aisle in the grocery store, I felt a bit fuzzy. I have never passed out in my 70+ years, so I soldiered on. Next thing I know, I am speaking to a very nice EMT, doing what seemed like 90 mph in an ambulance with questionable shock absorbers. One thing led to another, and within a few hours I had a pacemaker implanted in my chest.
I know this may sound scary and all, but getting the pacemaker didn’t bother me in the least. What really bothered me was that in the crazy kerfuffle at the super market, I injured my right arm and hand. I kept telling the EMTs and nurses and doctors that my arm was broken. It was really painful. And you know how important that arm and hand are to me!
It turned out that I did not break my arm. But in the fall, I whacked it hard enough to cause some nerve damage. When I first returned home, I couldn’t fully use either hand . . . I was told not to move my left hand much and my right (and dominant) hand hardly worked at all. Hmmmm. I sat around for a few weeks, reading and polishing up my left-handed writing and tangling. All the doctors told me that nerves heal slowly and I would eventually get my hand back . . . not to worry.
I like to think I’m a patient patient, but I gotta say, those days were long! Then, one bright sunny morning (and there weren’t many of those during that time), I awoke with a glowing attitude of gratitude. I went immediately to my studio and there, perched on my desk was a tan Opus tile. I secretly felt that Rick (with all love and inspiration) strategically placed it there, thinking it would get me to try something, anything.
So, I grabbed a few 05 and 08 Microns and “attached” a pen to my hand with my “handy” Zentangle blue-green elastic bands I always (God knows why) keep on my desk. I now believe it was part of His grand plan.
It wasn’t the perfect solution, but it was a start. The tangling was quite shaky, but consistently shaky, like I had WAY too much of Rick’s amaZing coffee. The elastic bands were uncomfortable, like using crutches when you break a leg. It was a slow process.
I worked big, which I have done in the past, and slow (something I haven’t done in the past!) in 10-15 minute intervals. I was unable to use the small graphite and chalk pencils, but I figured, one stroke at a time, right?
We have a virtual seminar coming up soon. I will decide closer to that day whether or not to draw on camera. But, my dear tanglers, I can talk. So I will accompany Rick, Martha, Molly, Julie and others in a commentary position, adding my 2 cents when inspired.
So . . . thank you all for your patience and good thoughts to keep me on the straight and narrow, or should I say, the curvy and exuberantly creative?
Yup. No mistakes.
When I got to the hospital and Maria said she couldn’t move her right arm, perhaps you can imagine the thoughts and emotions that flooded through me at that time.
But, fast forward a few weeks to now and I can say that we have been granted a focused opportunity to put our Zentangle philosophy into real life practice . . . particularly “gratitude” and “Anything is possible one stroke at a time.”
Maria’s response during this saga is an inspiration. Throughout it all, I never heard her complain or give voice to any worries about the future. Perhaps she did that for the benefit of all of us around her, but then, all the more respect and admiration! She took to enthusiastically imagining all the things she could do without the full function of fine motor skills . . . like painting on big canvases which she so enjoyed when she painted the clouds for our photo booth at seminars.
And I can report that every day continues to show improvement. Maria’s response and spirit is an inspiration to us all. No matter what happens, we each always have choices of what to do next. And some of those choices are to choose to be grateful (or not) and to create something beautiful (or not).
Maria and I are so grateful for each other, for our family, for our friends in our amazing and wonderful Zentangle community . . . and for our angels.