you never know what your gonna get. Like, maybe life is being a dick that day and covered some poop in chocolate and put it in a box and gave it to you! 'Cause life is really weird, man.
- Forrest Gump's Mama + Me
Sometimes I push myself really hard. I should rephrase that: I always push myself really hard. That's not a judgement or a bad thing; it's actually an awesome quality to have! That's how I started to learn the craft of woodworking, and that's how I decided to start a business. But along with the awesomeness of that quality comes a less constructive side, as well. There are often times when what I want to do and what I can physically do don't match up. And not listening to what I need and following what I want, sadly puts me into situations that aren't necessarily the best for my physical or mental health.
I often say that I have an Ant Complex. I assume that no matter the size or how heavy an object is, "Don't worry, I got this," (much to my husband's chagrin, especially if I tell him I lifted my incredibly heavy band saw/drill press/bin of logs [all true stories] while by myself in my shop). My mental want vs. my physical capabilities don't always align and in my 20's I got away with it all the time. But the sense of invincibility my 20's afforded me has finally caught up with me (give it up for 32, y'all!). Early this summer when I lifted several extremely heavy logs up the stairs to my third floor apartment, I herniated not one, but two cervical discs in my neck. Gentle forehead slap.
What has followed since has been a summer of constant pain, sleeping issues, meeting with several doctors, two ER visits, and the (hopefully) final step of Spinal Fusion surgery in a few weeks and a six week to six month recovery period to follow. If all goes well, I will most likely feel 100% myself just two months shy of one year since this whole thing started. Welcome to Ugh Town, Population: me.
I have never been in a situation like this and the silver lining's playbook is that I'm learning I can handle this kind of heavy duty life stuff. But that also means I've had to learn the hard way about not being prepared for something like this. Because this situation means not only dealing with chronic pain, but also dealing intense stress about pretty much everything. And on top of all of that stress, is the stress I feel because I can't create. And the not creating part has been quite honestly the hardest thing of all. As a result of this injury, I have had to cancel my participation in two shows (Renegade and the upcoming and amazing Show of Hands - go if you can; so many amazing makers and goods!), and I've had to put my business pretty much on hold. And... it's agonizing (but the good news is: it's agonizing! Which must mean I must really love what I'm creating).
I am sharing my story with you all because I think it's an important discussion to open up to makers and small business owners alike. My hope is that in the future I will always be prepared for an eventuality like this, both mentally and financially. So I ask: Are you prepared for something like this? Many of us start with an idea, and we work on that idea and fall in love with it more and more and think " Maybe I'll try to sell this?" And so you pick out a business name, get an Instagram started, set up a website, and life starts to make sense and you feel purposeful and driven and you're doing this full time and it's all really magical. It truly is! But what would happen if (knock on wood..sorry, couldn't help it) you were injured working on the craft you love so much, or simply walking down the street? I am beyond fortunate and so very grateful to have a really amazing support system in place, and this has still been on my top five "Hardest Things I've Had to Deal with in My Life," list. Do you have the support you would need? Are you prepared to be out of work and laid up for six months? I raise these questions because it's not a fun thing to think about, but it's an important thing to think about. Comment and let me know your thoughts and feelings on the matter.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'll post updates now and again, if anything because I go through many bouts of boredom throughout the day. I should be back at making early next year, and I have so many wonderful things on the horizon! So keep staying plugged in, and thanks for the likes, comments, etc. They truly are a bright spot during a tough time.