The Art of Mirriam Neal

//keep moving forward

Eight years ago, I went on my first water-slide and eight years ago, my jaw popped uncomfortably for the first time. Since then I’ve dealt with on-again, off-again jaw/head/neck pain. It was so infrequent that it didn’t really bother me, up until about six months ago when it became constant. My jaw wouldn’t sit straight, I couldn’t open it without feeling it crunch and pop, and pressure headaches would get so bad sometimes that I couldn’t focus on anything, and I would need to lie down and sleep it off. (If you know me, this is a fairly big deal as I’ve never been a ‘napper.’ Everyone else in my family can nap like a pro and enjoy it, but I’m very averse to naps. I never like sleeping when I could be doing something else, and I simply can’t relax enough to nap unless I’m thoroughly exhausted.)

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I’ve been to a chiropractor twice now, for x-rays and diagnosing, but today I actually got my atlas put in. Afterwards, I went into the back room to lie down and listen to Hamilton for half an hour, and when Georgia (she makes the chiropractor visits all the better) came to wake me, I stood up and nearly fell over. I then proceeded to bump into two walls. I was then ‘measured’ by the chiropractor, who announced that for the first time in eight years, my legs were the same length – hence my balance issues. (I was cheerfully informed that said issues will go away, once I grow accustomed to standing like a normal person.)

I have chronically shaky hands, although I’ve learned to be a good shot, and I don’t let it interfere with my drawing (although on some days it’s so bad I really can’t draw anything. And it’s not hypoglycemia – just something I’ve had since…well, forever). My right forearm was dislocated last year, but I kept drawing with it since I had commissions to complete, and whenever it starts to ache I have to wear a brace to keep it from dislocating again.

My dyslexia has worsened recently, rendering a large portion of the words I write backwards or jumbled (and it gives a lot of hilarious typos).

Why am I telling you all this? I suppose because I turn twenty-two this year, and I don’t think any of you know these things about me. I don’t really talk about physical discomfort and I don’t usually even let myself think about it too much – everyone has something, after all, and dwelling on discomfort can be a great waste of time. But I’m also telling you this because I don’t want you to stop or quit. I know many of you deal with far worse inconveniences and issues than I do. But pushing through these bumps has increased my productivity and confidence in ways that feeling great all the time wouldn’t have. When I feel like throwing in the towel, I think hey, if I could draw for a week with a dislocated arm, I can do this. Or yo, if I can shoot a perfect cluster with shaky hands, I can totally do this.

So, in the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf, just do it! (DON’T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS.) Because I’ve learned that giving in and not doing things on a particular irksome day makes me feel worse than if I had, every time and without fail. Here’s to forty weeks of chiropractor visits, legs that are the same length, and sketches with shaky lines; and here’s to taking life’s lemons and making lemon tarts with whipped cream.

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