birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I have worked in the medical field as a nurse for the last 20 something years and aging has been so interesting from that perspective. When I was in nursing school and learning about the different diseases of the body, I began to think I was a hypochondriac because I recognized something of each disorder in myself. Today I know that it was just an awareness of how that particular system works in the body. I do think that we have much more connection to the dysfunction of our body than we think we do. And connection with our own bodies in many ways is discouraged by society. 

I always took a lot of pride in my fingers. They were long- my hands were large. I took piano lessons once a week and I loved playing. The piano was in the basement with the spider crickets at home though so I rarely practiced. 

I learned how to type in high school because my father wanted me to be able to take care of myself in the work world and I was able to type quickly with my fingers racing over the keys with the F and J being the middle C on my typing keyboard.  

I grew my nails long for awhile because I thought that it looked elegant. 

And then in nursing school, I saw another reason for cutting them short. In one of my clinical rotations at the children’s hospital, I had a mother who wore acrylic nails. Her young son had a feeding tube and she was a devoted mother but the little fellow had lots of infections and problems. One day I saw her take one of those long fingernails and clean out the area on his stomach around the feeding tube. It was a great lesson for me to learn how to teach a young mother without breaking her spirit or shaming her because she didn’t understand the hygiene issues. 

I have had two injuries to my spine that have caused me to have decreased dexterity and proprioception in my hands. As I have lost abilities to do things with one hand, I have become increasingly aware of the power of hands. 

Years ago, I read a book called the Power of Your Other Hand by Lucia Capacchione. It encouraged me to write with my non dominant hand in order to use the other side of my brain. I have done it over the years in dialogue with myself. It is an interesting way to get to know yourself. 

I have taken up painting and drawing and writing every day. I type more in order to keep whatever dexterity that I still have in my hands. I figure I am racing them to the end of my life in a way. I still like my hands. I read somewhere that your hands are a symbol of your own power. I look back at the pictures that I drew as a child and I didn’t ever draw hands because it seemed to difficult back then with all those angles. I am sure that the connection may be apt for me. Today I draw hands often. Perhaps all that dialogue with myself through my non dominant hand allowed me to step into my own power and learn to be present. I think that is really the only power that I have is to be present to myself, my creator and others. To be where my hands and feet are.