When Connie finally made the decision to have foot surgery, she knew it came with the heavy requirement that she stay off of her foot for a full three months. Absolutely no weight-bearing activity. As a fit, active, person who enjoys hiking, kayaking, working out at her local health club and gardening she wondered how she would get through it without losing her mind.
She needed the surgery, so she scheduled it for early January, knowing the weather would still be mostly cold and rainy; and she wouldn’t feel like she was missing too much outside. Inside, she needed to find a variety of things she could do lying down or sitting. She decided to shift her mindset away from dreading an impending forced convalescence. Instead, she viewed it as an opportunity to slow down and engage in creative activities for her mind. Connie, like many of us, had never had the opportunity or given herself permission, to slow down. This forced hiatus was the perfect time to explore other sides of herself and other interests.
Music, podcasts and books were readily available. Connie started listening to all different kinds of music, including classical. She listened to a variety of podcasts. She read. And she looked out the window and watched winter go by, for the first time noticing things she hadn’t appreciated before. The world began to look a little different, a little richer. The more she looked out the window, the more she decided she’d like to try to paint what she saw. Although she had never considered herself an artist, she already had some art supplies and enlisted the help of a friend, a portrait artist, to get started.
The friend came over and showed Connie some exercises in color mixing and creating repeating patterns. After that, Connie painted every day, from her perch by the window. It became part of her routine. “I was never encouraged to just explore with paint and make marks. The art classes I had been exposed to were all too scripted,” she explained. Now that she is back on her feet and even out of her boot, Connie continues to paint. She credits her surgery as a gift that enabled her to use painting to see and respond to the world in new and exciting ways.
Connie’s story reminds me of Frida Kahlo, who is known for her self-portraits. When she was bedridden for several months, her parents encouraged her to paint. They had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and put a mirror above her so she could see herself. Funny how something as constricting and routine-disrupting as surgery can actually expand our world in ways we never predicted.
If you know someone who is having surgery and will have to lay low for a while, consider introducing her to art. Our Art With Friends boxes are an easy way to give this gift since they come with absolutely everything necessary, except water, and contain enough supplies for two or four people. If she already enjoys art, you could introduce her to a new medium. She can do the projects alone, like Connie, or with family or friends, like Rene.
Rene, had 2 full knee replacements in 2018 and found that the recovery time was difficult mentally. Rene, like Connie, is super active. She is very involved in her community, her family, and her work. She said, “I couldn’t focus well enough to actually read a book and watching television became mind numbing! Luckily, I had Outside the Box Creation’s Art With Friends boxes to turn to. Spending time creating art, in a playful way, was soothing and fun. It helped pass the time and working on the projects with my family gave me something else to focus on and talk about! Another thing to put into your recovery tool box!”