Saturday, June 29, 2013

25 Days of Yclept Living: Bye-Bye Bowtie

Limitations are a part of life.

In my creative work, I have found that limits open new directions, new ways of looking at things.

Since life is the ultimate creative project, why shouldn't it function the same way?

Sometimes we intentionally impose limits on ourselves, as when I do my best to limit the amount of plastic that comes into my life. Sometimes we choose to limit our creative work to only certain kinds of projects, subject matter, or materials for the purpose of artistic expression and exploration.

Other times, limits are forced upon us by circumstances beyond our control.

That's the situation I find myself in right now. In 16 days I'll be having surgery on my neck. Until then, and for at least a week afterward, there is a growing list of things I love to do that I shouldn't, things I haven't been able to do for several weeks already.

I'm reminded of something I read this past week in the beautiful book, "Seeing Trees", written by Nancy Ross Hugo, with gorgeously detailed photographs of tree bits-and-pieces by Robert Llewellyn. Writing about a particular kind of tree Ross says, "I love these things . . . not because they are inherently lovable but because I know them. 'What we can't identify doesn't exist for us,' Bernd Heinrich points out in The Trees in My Forest, and by extension, what we can identify, we own."

The archaic, poetic word yclept means "named" or "called". In poetry, vocabularyclept, writing uses the words from a pre-existing poem, and only those words, to create a new poem. The yclept limitation is "named", identified, then put to creative use.

Right now, my outer limits are much closer in than I would like them to be. I've spent considerable energy naming my limits or, more accurately, complaining and worrying about them. Until the surgery and for a short time afterward, most normal activities make my neck, shoulder, and right arm ache deeply. Each new day has brought a new activity that's off limits. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm doing my best to do almost nothing. That's just depressing.

Unless I want to continue making myself and those around me miserable every day for the next month, I've realized that I have to find another way of being and seeing.

I don't want to whine.  I have several friends and family members who are living with permanent challenges far more serious than my own temporary woes. My situation is far from life threatening, just inconvenient.

A few days ago, during a moment of clarity I got to thinking, if I can identify my limitations, perhaps I can own them. If I can name them, maybe I can live more creatively within them.

So I took the liberty of extending the definition of the word yclept to include calling out or naming life's limitations, either chosen or outwardly imposed, with the intention of working creatively within them, thus the phrase yclept living.

For these 25 Days of Yclept Living, I shall name my outer limits only this once:

~ No turning my head side-to-side or up and down
~ Which means no driving
~ No lifting, pushing, or straining in any way
~ Which means no kneading bread, gardening, working with clay larger than my fist, housework, or opening and closing window sashes, etc
~ My voice (and the rest of me) is tiring easily right now. Sometimes it even hurts to sing or speak, so guess what else this little singer has had to give up for a few weeks, just to be on the safe side.

Even within these limitations, the way I choose to think about them--if I can find the strength--will make all the difference in how I experience them.

It's one thing to know this. It's another to put it into practice.

Day before yesterday, on DAY 18, I made this countdown calendar.

That was 18 days until the surgery, 7 days after that until I can lift, turn, and drive again. 25 days in all.

"Bye-Bye Bowtie" is for the bit of stuff that's causing so much inconvenience. My thyroid gland is being evicted for having become lumpy and oversized, though I'm extremely thankful to report that it's benign.

To keep myself accountable as I attempt to live more positively within these fate-selected limits--and perhaps to offer ideas of use to others--I've decided to blog about my daily work to make this time more meaningful, when so many of my usual meaning making activities are beyond my reach.

Since sitting at my computer and working with the mouse can only happen for short periods of time without pain, yesterday--DAY 17--I downloaded an app for blogging from my iPad.

Today is DAY 16, and I have begun.

Though my temporary list of "can't"s is long and the journey toward surgery has been months in the making, having begun this new way to look at the countdown, now I'm actually looking forward using this experience to create another kind of list.

It will be a list of the rewarding activities I find to pass the time within these limitations, the work-arounds I come up with, and the discoveries I make in relationships and within myself.

As I'm able, this is what I hope share with you here. I hope you will find something created within these limits, that is useful in your own life.

It's just past midnight now, the beginning of DAY 15. 

Even knowing that it will be a limited day, with the probability of pain and pills that dull it and my mind, I feel hopeful to see what DAY 15 will bring. And hopeful about the days that follow.

Yes, limitations are a part of life.

But they can also open up new directions and new ways of looking at things.

(C)Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing


  1. Hope your surgery goes well and isn't too discomforting. Best wishes from sunny Liverpool, Maggie

    1. Thank you for your good wishes, Maggie. I'm happy to report that the time is going much more quickly and comfortably than I'd expected.

  2. Anonymous12:01 AM

    What we find when we lose certain capacities are others.... or the same, only different. Your voice, for instance: articulate, sensible, revealing a profound inner awareness. Maybe a song is lurking and in a matter of weeks you'll be back to singing! (I hope!) Sending you blessings and good thoughts. Pat Daddona