Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teaching My Left Foot To Sew

It is the strangest thing! I sew a lot and, like many people who sit for long periods, have developed a kink in my back: a twist in the muscles to be exact. My talented and kind physical therapist taught me better ways to sit and some very effective exercises to strengthen my core. (They work when I do them!).

So, I thought, as a way to give my kinked up back a break, I would teach myself to sew left-footed. Easy? Yes? No!

I positioned myself in front of the sewing machine, got the fabric and thread ready and stepped on the pedal with my non-dominant foot. It was not shy. In fact, Lefty stepped so hard on the pedal, the fabric went flying—needle pumping, feed dogs racing—and Righty, reflexively tried to get the pedal to slow down, pace itself and stop (to no avail).

I found myself having to say the words “Left foot, stop” in my head and then wait a few seconds for the signal to make itself down, through all the electrical wiring in my body, to my foot. Something was definitely lost in translation. And, so it went until my left foot built an experiential, electrical and physical memory of what it was like to sew. "Left foot, step on the pedal." "Left foot, press slowly--slowly--downward." "Left foot lift up slightly" "Left foot prepare to stop."

Teaching my left foot to sew is and was a great reminder at the awesome complexity of seemingly simple tasks. How amazing our bodies can learn to do what they do!

Thanks for the lesson, Lefty!



Tara said...

hi there,

i feel your pain. after the holiday rush, i had a kink in my neck that created all kinds of pain, numbness, and general weird tingling.

after trying everything else, i finally tried some yoga. i'm horribly out of shape, and at first could only muster the fortitude for 15 minutes/day - but even that little belt made the pain go away after one time! hope that info helps you - so you can get right back to Righty ; )

Liz Grandmaison said...

This reminds me so much of being taught to drive by both my parents: my father, a traditional one-footed driver, and my mother, a two-footed driver. Learning to drive an automatic, I should note. I found myself using my feet according to who was in the passenger seat!

I wished for ambidexterity of my feet after I had surgery on my right foot several years ago. I couldn't drive for 8 weeks! Driving practice up and down my dead end street felt like riding a bike with one leg. Needless to say, i bummed rides for my prescribed 8 weeks.