Sketchbook page showing drawings of a croissant, donut and leaves. Laid ontop are watercolor pencils, a water brush, and an ink brush.
Drawing,  Life Musings,  Sketchbooks

Saturday sketching through aches and pains

And now for a sketchbook with mixed-media paper! I can layer markers and not have it bleed through the other side. I can even use fountain pens and then blend with a water brush! ::Happy dance:: Well, happy dance indeed, if I hadn’t been dealing with some muscle and nerve pain today. Grrr.

Sketchbook page filled with drawings of a donut, leaves, a teapot, a croissant, and a mug. Watercolor pencils and ink pens are laid next to the sketchbook

My right shoulder started hurting quite a bit yesterday – reading in bed before going to sleep, I couldn’t even lay on my stomach or right side without searing pain. I know it’s my desk setup. I’ve been spending more time at my desk digital painting as well as drawing in my sketchbook. Plus during the work week, sitting at the desk for eight hours adds up. My posture is so, so bad, with a tendency to lean forward and hunch over or cross my legs or perch forward, feet on tippy-toes, super tense. I only have myself to blame. >_< One thing I miss about the old apartment was using the kitchen bar as a standing desk.

Anyway, today, it’s less shoulder (perhaps heat plus Advil made a difference?), and more sharp pains in my right heel/arch, my left calf, and my right wrist. So I’m thinking a nerve got pinched. Or the yoga blocks I’m resting my feet on are not helping with the desk set up… My lower back in also kind of twinge-y.

I did some very minimal stretching a bit ago… but then promptly laid on the floor, stretched out on my stomach while coloring in my sketchbook. I wanted to make art! And I have a relatively new colorful rug on which to stretch out! But it didn’t do my back any favors.

Sitting at said desk while typing this blog post is also probably not doing myself any favors. UGH. I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow will be better? At this point I’m worried yoga tonight might make it worse. Maybe gentle slow yoga. Gah!

[TW: serious illness and chronic pain]

Muscle and nerve stuff gives me such anxiety, as I dealt with some serious issues way back in 2004 (wow…17 years ago?! Geeeze…). Anyway, I had syringomyelia in my spinal chord, from Chiari malformation, which caused permanent nerve damage to my left arm, since the cysts were crushing my spinal chord. Not fun times, let me tell you. Thankfully surgery saved me (though there were surgery complications a la my dura (the covering around the brain) having a tear in it and then a staff meningitis infection that I nearly died from…). Annnnyway, long story short, I still have daily nerve pain – from shoulder to finger tips, though it’s worst from elbow to wrist. It’s like a constant low-level burning or pins and needles feeling. Bonus: I don’t feel burns or paper cuts on that hand. Downside: it’s because it’s always burning in pain so I don’t really notice a difference when I get a paper cut or splinter. It’s not dire though, I’ve gotten used to it…I wish I could say through like mindfulness and modern pain management techniques, but honestly I mostly just live inside my mind and disconnect from my body. Avoidance pain management! 1/10, Highly not recommended! It makes practicing belly dancing a challenge, because – ground in my body? Who me? So when I practice, it’s like consciously putting the energy through my body – when it clicks though *chef’s kiss* that’s why I love to dance. We’re meant to live grounded in our bodies.

Tangent stories aside, the point is, it sucks to have a day where my muscles are bothering me. I know it’s not any further Chiari stuff, as I’ve had MRIs over the years to check on the situation, and the surgery did work and I’ve been reassured everything should be fine. Still, it’s creepy. If only I’d done more stretching and working out these last few months, or enforced better posture…meh. Adding stretching and good posture to the pile of “stuff I want to do more of everyday”.

But I’m still blogging and making art, so there is that!

[end of trigger warning]

How to adapt to a habit in a way that it doesn’t feel like a habit I have to do, or something “enforced”? I blog more often lately because I want to. I make art everyday because it makes me supremely happy. I’ve tried reminding myself that if I take a day or a couple days or a week off, I won’t be upset – there is no streak or chain I’m trying to create. I’m just doing what I want. And if I want to take a month off, than that’s what I’ll do, guilt free. So far I’ve been choosing art everyday. It’s interesting, certainly. So, how to encourage good posture? Think of myself as a person with poise? Hah. I guess we’ll see…!

‘Til next time <3

Listening to: A Spark in the Night, Gary Stadler and Singh Kaur
Current mood: pained

I'm an illustrator and web developer honing my skills and learning all I can about drawing, painting, and storytelling through visual art.