Left-Handed Ravens and Other Happy Accidents

Back when I did the online dating thing, I would draft these quirky profiles:

Jen is a poet, an artist, a lawyer, a runner, a hiker, a mama, a pie baker, and a part-time adventurer.

I was the sum of so many parts. On any given day, I was writing a poem, baking brioche, or climbing a mountain. On February 6th, in typical Jen form, I went on a solo hiking trip and climbed up the side of a frozen waterfall. Then, on February 7th, I slipped on some black ice around the corner from my house and seriously injured my right hand. Being right-handed, this meant I suddenly couldn’t do much of anything.

I couldn’t drive or type.

Harder still, I couldn’t brush my hair, chop vegetables, or open jars. Even if I had wanted to go outside, I had no coats that would fit over my cast and, in truth, I was so completely afraid of falling again.

Harder still, I couldn’t do any of the things I used to do to feel better when I was anxious like run, do yoga, or draw. Heck, I couldn’t even hold a pencil.

For a few humbling months, I became just Jen. Not the explorer or the artist. Instead, the woman screaming at her laptop when her dictation software failed. Or sobbing when her daughter’s teacher called to check in. Jen without her extra bits. And with so much fracking pain and anxiety but no coping mechanisms. And no clue when she would regain the use of her hand or if she would need surgery. I was scared. I started to doubt if I was worth anything at all if I wasn’t making or accomplishing something. It was a dark ass time.

Then there was this great coming together. My nine year old, Rosie, learning how to cook and vacuum. Much snuggling, reading, and watching movies. A friend chopping every vegetable and loosening every jar. Another braiding my hair. Another, who worked for a food delivery service, sending me two weeks of food! One cleaning my refrigerator and breaking down piles of boxes. Another bringing a four course Valentine’s Day dinner. Another bringing a fleece that fit over my cast. There was chili, soup, Thai, pizza, tea, and an amazing David Bowie coffee-table book… Listening, belly laughs, tears… My neighbor taking me on walks so I wasn’t as afraid. Guess what? They didn’t care that I was just Jen. Without the extra bits.

A few months into healing, I really needed an outlet. One evening, I decided I would try to draw a raven with my left hand. It wasn’t as detailed as my right-handed drawings. It was messy, awkward, imperfect…but beautiful. Like my life at that moment. Now months later, I’m still drawing left-handed ravens even though I’ve started drawing again with my right hand. One happy accident from my accident.

Another accident, I’ve started to love just Jen. When she isn’t doing much of anything at all. Without her extra bits.

left handed raven 1

3 thoughts on “Left-Handed Ravens and Other Happy Accidents

  1. This is so beautiful. Not exactly the same as you, but I identified as a runner for a long time. Last year was my year of ultrarunning. This year, I cannot run 6 feet without intense knee pain. I am no longer a runner. I have no idea if I will ever be able to run again. Facing this reality has left me feeling on the edge of depression sometimes, but I’m finding now that maybe I don’t need running like I thought I did. Maybe I held too tightly to that as part of my identity that when I lost it, I felt like I lost part of myself. But running isn’t WHO I am. It’s something I did. I’m still feeling grief about it but I’m working through it.

    And for the record, you as “just Jen” are absolutely wonderful.


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