Art Detour

In the fall of 2020, I embarked upon a new decluttering venture, guided by Dana K. White’s book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life.

I made a lot of progress, completing a decent first pass through every room on the main floor of our house: living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bath, and the fearsome-and-much-dreaded study.

Daughter on the Scene

I had help with the study! When my daughter returned home for winter break after her first semester in college, she was so impressed and inspired by my progress that she offered to pitch in. What a sweetheart!

The study was only half-tackled when she arrived, but it was done a mere 10 days later, and it looks great!

However, one of the things I did in the study was go through the box of artwork done by my children. It held some of their earliest work (age 2 years), as well as most of what they’d created through age 9.

Time Yields Perspective

Since the artwork had been sitting unseen for almost a decade, I found a lot of clarity when I looked through it. I knew what I wanted to keep, and I knew what I didn’t. I also knew what I wanted to frame and display.

Now, I could simply have set the art aside to be framed later. But I knew that if I did that another 10 years might pass in the blink of an eye. I’d already allowed too much time to pass—I’d not been enjoying the art for the whole time it sat in that box.

Plus there were the three pieces on the dining room wall with the bedraggled construction-paper frames they’d received at school. My husband and I loved the art. They deserved to be properly framed.

So, yes, I paused my decluttering to focus on art. I took an art detour! I thought I’d take you along with me. 😀

Art for Dining

I tackled the dining room art first. Of the four pieces present, I wanted to frame three. The fourth was a crayon that had been faded by the sunlight so thoroughly that it was invisible (faded-to-white crayon on white paper).

I chose a replacement piece by my daughter from those I’d saved from the box, with the idea that I’d have two by my son and two by my daughter on the wall.

But when all four were framed, I discovered that mattes and frames together made the art MUCH LARGER. They wouldn’t all fit.

So, “Vulture Falls” by Miles Ney-Grimm and “Tropical Flight” by Rachel Ney-Grimm went up as a duo. They’re in the photo at the beginning of this post. I love that wall now—it looks so much better with the art framed.

Art for Sleeping

My next focus was a set of prints created by Rachel, “Heavenly Hands” done in four variations: blue, cream, aqua, and white.

When my now-18-year-old daughter saw them, she wasn’t sure they were hers. She said, “Are you certain they’re mine? I wish they were—such a cool metaphor for deity—but maybe Miles did them.” She was happy when I showed her her own signature on the backs.

Art for Phoning

I’d imagined all four over my bedside table, but once again I’d mis-estimated the size of the framed pieces. Too large. So I put the Cream Variation and the Blue Variation in the bedroom. The White Variation and the Aqua Variation went beside the phone table in the living room.

(Yes, we still have a land line. Such boomers, as my daughter calls us, her parents.) 😀

The holidays interrupted my art detour, just as the art detour interrupted the decluttering. And then getting both my children back to their respective colleges constituted yet another interruption. But I did get back to the art. (And I will get back to the decluttering.)

Art en Route

My son’s “Aqua Verticality” was next. It was tricky, because the yellow construction paper that served as the backing had faded, even away from light exposure in the box. I knew it would turn from yellow to a dull tan once up on the wall, just as had the old blue construction-paper frames on the dining room art.

So, at all the gaps between the painted strips of the collage made by Miles, I used an Xacto blade to cut out the fading backing. And then I re-mounted the entire assemblage on a sheet of fadeless yellow art paper. I think it turned out well.

I painted the frame. (Black frames and white frames are easy to acquire. But if you want another color…well, I suppose you could spend a boatload of money to get them. I chose to spray paint all except the two that I needed in black.)

Then I matted the piece, framed it, and hung it in our hall. I love it. I’d almost say that it is my favorite, except that I say the same thing of several of the others. 😀

Art to Work By

Next up were “Dragon” by Miles and “Houses,” also by Miles. They too had their tricky aspects. I’d been using fadeless art paper to create “floating” mattes, but the only fadeless paper in shades of gray came only in bulletin board sizes—4 feet by 8 feet! And the grays weren’t the right shade either.

So I decided to spray paint some of the art paper that I wouldn’t be using (such as the violet and the pink sheets). That worked really well.

“Dragon” had been in the dining room, but it is one of my husband’s favorites (mine, too, actually), so I put it over his desk in our study.

“Houses” went on the other side of the window, over the desk that currently still holds my ancient desktop computer. My daughter helped me get the old photo files off it, so I will take it to an electronics recycling drop-off once the pandemic is over. Then that desk will become a craft/art table.

The last of the art was a print duo by Rachel. The orange variation of “House” had been in our dining room, while the gold variation lay in the box. I decided to frame the two together and put them over my main desk in our study.

First I had to take down the dozen pieces of art/reminders/affirmations that I’d generated back in 2007 while working my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’d been inspired and supported by them for several years, but they were seriously old news now.

I did keep (and frame) “Soul,” as well as the watercolor (“Cottage”) and the photo portrait of my parents. But everything else is in a folder destined (eventually) for a scrapbook.

The new arrangement has “Soul,” “Cottage,” and the photo portrait grouped around “House” by Rachel.

And that is the close of my art detour. It’s time to get back to writing—and decluttering.

I’ll admit that when I’m head-down in a novel, I usually neglect my house. But I am hoping to find a way to balance the two. We’ll see! And I’ll keep you posted. 😀

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For more about decluttering, see:
Whole House Purge
Getting Started with the KonMari Technique

 

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Whole House Purge

When my husband and I dropped our kids off at college in September, my first reaction was to miss them both dreadfully and feel sad.

My second response was to dive into decluttering and cleaning my home.

I’ll admit that I became that intrusive and annoying mom who invaded her kids’ rooms to tidy up. Just for the record, they both thanked me when they returned home at Thanksgiving.

My son settled comfortably into his space, glad to be able to simply throw his clothes into his drawers and wardrobe without having to clean them out first, and to be able to set his laptop on his desk without having to make space first.

My daughter had a similar reaction to her clear closet and tidy dresser drawers, although she was more effusively verbal with her thanks.

So, yeah, they would have had a right to be mad. Except they were not, in fact, mad. They were glad.

But I digress. My real point is that cleaning their rooms is what set me off on my latest decluttering quest. I was amazed at how effective I felt in the aftermath, and I felt empowered to tackle more. I decided that I would keep going until I’d done my entire house.

Am I done now?

Well, no. But I’ve made a lot of progress. The dining room was the space I tackled next, and in the course of my work there I discovered a new book on decluttering by Dana K. White.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life

I’m so glad I stumbled upon Dana’s book, because I suspect I’d have stalled out without it. With it, I’ve been powering forward: kitchen, living room, bedroom, and the ever-so-dreaded study.

Are these areas perfect? No. But they are ever so much better. And as Dana says, “Better is better.

You may remember that a few years ago I was excited about Marie Kondo’s method. I still love her method for clothes. It really worked for me, and my wardrobe and dresser drawers have remained tidy and clutter-free ever since I konmaried them.

But her method for books stopped me in my tracks. And every time I tried to detour around my books to the other three categories—paper, miscellaneous, and sentimental—I felt overwhelmed and ground to a halt quickly.

Dana K. White has gotten me past the previous road blocks. Yay! Because her approach has proven so helpful, I want to tell you about it (as well as recommending Decluttering at the Speed of Life).

Your House is a Container

She starts by introducing some general concepts. Two especially stood out for me. The first is that your house is a hard limit. It has the number of rooms that it has. It has space for a certain amount and no more. If you try to keep more in it than will fit, things will get unmanageable.

The container concept also goes for smaller containers within your home. A closet or a cupboard will contain only so much. Ditto a shelf. Ditto a drawer.

If you want to be able to move freely in your home and to easily access the physical tools of living, you need to also value open space. And you must honor the limits of your containers.

Go for the Visible Areas First

I remember once thinking that I should declutter my storage areas first, so that when I tidied the living areas I would have places to put things I wanted to store. It made logical sense, but it didn’t work. I ran out of steam quickly.

Dana explains why.

If you put in three days decluttering a storage room, you’ve just worked very hard, but you don’t see any immediate benefit in your day-to-day life. In fact, you don’t even see that beautifully clean and organized storage room, because most of your time is spent elsewhere in still-chaotic spaces that sap your energy.

When you start with the most visible areas—the most visible surfaces of the most visible room—seeing the progress energizes you to do more.

5 Steps

Okay, those are two of the handful of concepts Dana introduces right up front: 1) the container principle, and 2) prioritize the visible.

From there, she presents the 5-step process that you will follow again and again in each space you tackle, whether it is a shelf, a surface, a cabinet, a drawer, a corner, or a room.

In the body of her book, she discusses some of the specific challenges posed by the different kinds of spaces. I found those specifics very helpful, but I am not going to try to summarize them here. Instead I’ll describe the process that is the core of Dana’s method.

1—Trash

At the start of a decluttering session, start with the easiest of the easy stuff: trash.

You may think that there isn’t any, but you will be wrong.

In a pile of paper, there will be expired sales offers or scraps. In the pantry, there will be empty or almost-empty bags or boxes of stale food. In the coat closet, there will be mittens missing a mate. In the living room, there will be packaging from the bird feeder you ordered and set up in the yard.

Throw the trash in the trash bin or the recycle bin. The space will feel better immediately, and you will get a little burst of energy from it.

2—Easy

Look for items that belong somewhere else and that have a home. Take them there straight away.

Yes, you can glance around to see if there is something else that belongs in the same place. No, don’t hunt. Just grab anything obvious and go. Yes, you will be getting a lot of exercise this way. But there is a reason to do the putting-away-of-easy-stuff in this less efficient way.

When you get interrupted, you don’t leave a mess behind. The trash has gone directly into the trash/recycle. These easy items have been put away. You leave the space better no matter what.

3—Donate

Next look for items that are obvious donatables.

These are the things that make you think, “Why on earth do I have that?” or “Why in the world did she give me that?” or “Yikes! I don’t want that in my home!”

Put them into a donatable box or bag.

If you fill up the box/bag, take it out to your car straight away and get a fresh container as you continue to declutter.

These first three steps will reduce the mass quite a bit. Sometimes that spot—shelf, surface, corner—will be done. All that remains there will be things that you want to live there. But if some problem items remain…

4—Ask the 2 Decluttering Questions

• If I needed this item, where would I look for it first?

Not: where would I or should I stash it? Not: where would this logically go. No.

Where would you actually look for it?

If you have an answer to this question, take it there straight away. If you have no automatic answer, ask the second decluttering question.

• If I needed this item, would I even remember I had one?

If you wouldn’t remember, if you’d assume you would have to buy or borrow one, put it in the donate box. It’s clutter if you wouldn’t pull it out to use it, and it does you no good at all to hang onto it.

5—Make It Fit

This is where the container principle comes to the fore. The shelf is the size that it is. The drawer is the size that it is. After steps 1 — 4, the items you have left all belong here. Do they fit?

If they do, you’re done with this space.

But if they don’t, you’ll need to decide which ones to keep and which ones to discard.

To help you decide, put like with like.

Put all the sauce pans together. Which ones are your favorites? Donate the one that is always too big for making the stir-fry sauce, but too small making tomato soup. Or, if you use and love all four, look for a frying pan or a stock pot that you never use to discard. Something has to go, because the space you have for pots is the space you have for pots.

One In, One Out

And there you have it.

I have found that going after trash breaks my log jam of overwhelm. Once I’m moving, it’s pretty easy to identify things to donate.

I have a little more difficulty with easy things that have a home, because I tend to be good at putting things away. If I encounter something that is not put away, it’s usually because the place it goes is too full.

Dana says that when this happens, identify something in the home-spot that is less worthy of keeping than the item you are trying to put away. This is logical, and clearly works for her.

But I have found that the home-spot usually is a decluttering project all on its own. And I know that abandoning the spot where I’m decluttering to tackle this new spot is a recipe for disaster. Luckily I haven’t encountered this situation too often.

Sometimes I can do the one-in-one-out dance. Otherwise I place the loose item on top of the shelf unit or cabinet where it goes. Obviously, if this happened a lot, I’d be making a bigger mess or else just shifting the mess.

But, so far, I’m generating huge piles of bags containing donations and recycling, and getting them out of the house.

Using Things Versus Useableness

Using Dana’s process has generated an attitude shift in me.

I’m no longer asking myself, “Is this a useful item?”

As she points out, creative people can always come up with a good way to use most things. So anything can look useful to me.

The better consideration for me is: Do I have a specific plan to use this? Or a specific occasion or a specific time?

So when I encountered a “tapestry” art project in my study, I considered. Was I really going to finish it? Did I still love it or was I over it? When would I finish it?

Well, I did still love it. I couldn’t bear the idea of throwing it out. But I didn’t want to let it sit on top of the project shelves gathering dust. So I scrutinized it with an eye to making a definite plan to finishing it.

I was astonished to discover that I needed only to fasten three remaining horizontal stands and attach the bronze piece I intended to place at the top of the fringe. So little! How had I let it sit unfinished for 13 years?!

I put the task on my immediate to-do list, and had it done within the week. Now it is hanging on my wall and I feel happy every time I set eyes upon it.

I used the same mindset when I tackled the box of kids’ art that I’d saved with the intention of framing some of it and hanging it. With each piece, I considered whether I really intended to frame and hang that one. Most of the art went into the recycle bin. But I did save a dozen. And I ordered framing materials for four of them immediately.

Not everyone will have art as the category of things that will acquire greater clarity through action. But I suspect many of us have something.

If it is clothes, make yourself wear the items your usually don’t wear. If it is cooking gear, make some meals using the unused stuff. If it is coffee mugs, drink from them. If it is books, start reading your way through the books you haven’t read in years.

It will soon become clear which items you really do want to keep and which items you really don’t want to keep.

There’s More

Dana has lots of tips regarding specific spaces in your home. The kitchen has some challenges unique to it. Ditto hobby rooms. Ditto closets. If you want new energy and inspiration to do some decluttering, I highly recommend you get her book, Decluttering at the Speed of Life.

In the meantime, I’ll report in with my own progress in decluttering from time to time. I’d love to hear about yours, if you feel inclined to share. 😀

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For more on decluttering, see:
Getting Started with the KonMari Technique

 

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Container Gardening at Casa Ney-Grimm

In the middle of May, I became convinced I should be growing some vegetables. Whether this conviction were truly wise…I remain uncertain. Regardless of the wisdom of the plan, I set about gathering supplies.

The middle of May is certainly leaving it late. And supplies were thin on the ground. Furthermore, finding a suitable spot in our yard was problematic.

Twenty years ago, there was plenty of sun in the front yard. Since then, our cherry blossom tree has grown considerably and the only sunny area is on our front deck.

The back yard has a similar problem. Once sunny, now the maple trees are so tall that it is shady. Even if there were a sunny patch, the herd of deer that regularly roam through would munch any vegetables grown there.

Despite these difficulties, I persevered. We obtained three box planters and set them up on the front deck!

Getting seeds was a challenge as well, and I think I ordered the very last packets that Park Seed had in stock!

But it has all come together and I wanted to show you what I have growing.

Here is my plan for the planter next to my front door.

As is often the case, my plan had to adjust once reality hit. When the bare root strawberries arrived, there were 26, six more than the 20 I’d ordered. There was no way I’d toss the extras. I mean, strawberries! I had to find a place for them. So I popped them into the okra bed.

Also, the spinach never germinated. Zip. Bare soil. So I sowed more lettuce there. (Those small green dots all represent lettuce.) It would be too late for lettuce (which bolts in the heat), if I were growing full heads. But I’m doing cut-and-come-again. So I think I’ll get to harvest some before the heat gets it.

Here’s a photo of the “okra bed.” Isn’t it pretty!

The planter next to the “okra bed” is the “pepper bed.” Originally I thought of it as the “basil bed.” It does have basil in it, but we added a pepper plant when we discovered a local source with curbside pick-up. That pepper plant is so beautiful that it rather overshadows the basil, which is still quite small.

Here is my plan for the “pepper bed.”

Reality also forced some changes to this bed. Not only did the pepper replace some of the chard, but the lettuce and parsley never came up. So when I thinned the basil, I moved the seedlings to fill those spaces.

Here’s a photo of the “pepper bed.” That tall plant at the left is the pepper! 😀

At the far end of the deck, past the “pepper bed,” is the “beet bed.” The “beet bed” has remained closest to its plan, but not identical. Here’s the plan.

The radishes all moved to the right side of the middle space, while the left side became home to more lettuce, and the green onions were dotted here and there. Here’s a photo of the lettuce side.

My daughter has been helping me with this mini vegetable garden, and it’s been a lot of fun. Plus it sparked the whole family to renewed fervor for yard work. I’ve enjoyed our time with the four of us all working together. And I really like the beauty emerging from the jungle that our yard had become.

We just harvested our first radish this morning!

As a family project, it’s been a total success.

As a significant addition to our food supplies…not so sure. It’s early days yet, of course. I expect the okra will be the biggest producer, and that will reach harvest much later in the summer. It will be nice to have fresh basil. And the strawberries, fresh from the garden, will be lovely.

But so far, we’ve had enough lettuce for a few salads, and that’s it.

And yet, I don’t regret having put my energy into this. I’m learning new things, which I always love. And the family fun is priceless!

 

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500 Blog Posts!

I started blogging February 2012.

I can still remember my uncertainty at the time. Would I be able to dream up interesting topics week after week? Would any readers find my blog? Would I make it past the 3-year mark that is the end point for so many bloggers?

I really didn’t know how blogging would go for me.

But I discovered that I loved it.

So here we are…this is my 500th post! Celebrate with me and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from some of you, especially if you’ve been following along for a while. Or if you’re new. Give me a shout and say hello! 😀

 

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TP in the Time of COVID-19

The last time anyone from Casa Ney-Grimm set foot in a grocery store was sometime during the second week of March. It’s been delivery or curbside contact-free pick-up ever since.

Food supplies have been good. TP? Not so much. In fact, not at all.

At first I wasn’t too worried. But as we watched our stash of toilet paper go down and down and down over the weeks, I wondered where the end of it would be.

Would we have to venture into the store to get any? I really didn’t want to do that, given that my husband occupies three of the high risk categories.

I searched on Amazon and discovered a bale of 12 rolls that would arrive sometime between April 23 and May 15.

The reviews were poor. The rolls were scant and the paper itself thin, harsh, and prone to ripping.

But I figured it would be better than nothing at all, so I ordered it.

Then I watched our existing stock of TP go down some more. Even if the Amazon order arrived on April 23, it was going to be close. If it arrived in mid-May…we weren’t going to make it.

So I decided to search for the commercial rolls that are massive in size and don’t fit on home dispensers. We might have to prop a drum on the side of the tub, but at least we’d have something!

I found a bale of the commercial TP that was reasonably priced, had good reviews, and possessed a delivery date range of April 23 to May 1.

My husband eventually broke out the 3 rolls of camping TP stashed in a backpack. And we made it! Just barely. (One roll of camping TP left.)

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the commercial TP. It’s soft, cushiony, and strong—much better than everything I’ve encountered in public restrooms.

As you can see in the photos above, we decided to roll the TP from one gigantic commercial roll onto the multiple cardboard tubes we’d been saving for that purpose. The first attempted transfer (roll on the far right) was…messy! But we got more skillful with practice.

Ironically, a mere 3 days after the colossal bale arrived from Amazon, our grocery store had TP available for delivery. Just one package per order, but still. We ordered it, and it arrived. After coming so close to having none, I’d rather have a little extra now!

For more on how we’re coping during the pandemic, see:
Exercise in the Time of Coronavirus
Conquering Back Pain
Tackling Hip Pain

 

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Moderation in All Things

I’ve had a setback. Gotta say that I’m not happy about it.

My qigong practice was going so well. The weight lifting with my son was fun. And the myofascial release on my hips looked to be heading me toward the ability to take long walks. I was thrilled!

And then it all fell apart.

My middle back seized up. Badly.

The pain was severe enough to keep me in bed for two days. Now it has eased some, but not much more than will allow me to move around the house very carefully.

The day after my back seized, my right foot also went wrong. I’m limping painfully when I walk from room to room.

I think I know what happened.

Everything in the body is connected. When you change the alignment of one section, the parts upstram and downstream from that section have to adjust.

My hips have been misaligned for a very long time—years, probably decades. Which means that my middle back, directly upstream from the hips, was adjusted and acclimated to those misaligned hips.

When I started doing myofascial release on my hips, it began to change their internal alignment. That change really eased the pain in my hips. Which meant I chased the pain relief aggressively. I spent longer intervals on the Miracle Balls. One day I did two sessions (one morning, one afternoon) of myofascial release.

And the next day, my middle back seized up. It just was not ready to make the changes that it would need in order to work smoothly with my realigned hips.

(I think it is the latissimus dorsi—right and left—and the erector spinae that are the source of the trouble. You can see the latissimus dorsi in red in the first image of this post. The erector spinae are displayed in the second image at right.)

I’m less clear on why my foot deteriorated so suddenly, but I figure it has to be related. Perhaps the leg muscles downstream of the hips adjusted to the changes in a way that stressed my foot. Perhaps the way I’m walking with the seized-up back muscles puts undue stress on the foot.

Certainly I’ve had foot trouble for decades. It’s just that it had been greatly improved during the last 3 years.

So…what next?

Well, I’m finding that standing in the qigong stance (just standing) helps those seized middle back muscles release a little. So I’m doing that, and also trying to move gently around the house some.

I’ve also returned to doing some myofascial release, especially on my foot directly.

When my back recovers—when the pain finally ebbs—I will return to weight lifting and perhaps three reps on the qigong Eight Brocades. And then I will move forward much more gently.

Never more than one session of myofascial release in a day. Stay at 3 reps on the qigong. (I had reached 5 reps when my back and body failed.) And if I am able to start taking walks, I will keep them very short for many weeks.

I know the osteopath I’ve seen for my joint problems was always very conservative in the adjustments he did on my foot and back—never too much at one time. Clearly I need to follow that guideline!

Send healing thoughts my way, if you feel so inclined. My aching body could use some help!

For more about my experiences with chronic pain, see:
Conquering Back Pain
Tackling Hip Pain

 

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Tackling Hip Pain

Last Friday, I talked about back pain and using myofascial release for relief. I also promised to share this week what I was doing to relieve the hip pain that had flared up anew in response to my at-home exercise program.

This post is the promised hip-pain post.

It builds on last week’s post, so if you missed that one, go read it first. I’ll wait! 😀

Here’s the link.

So…hip pain. It can occur in a lot of different spots around the hip joint. When I was 16 or so, I pulled something in the front of my left hip joint when straightening up from sitting in the car. For nearly two decades after that incident, if I straightened incautiously, I pulled it again. Each time I pulled it, it grew more susceptible to pulling the next time. The problem spread to the right hip. And both sides began to hurt more and more.

I eventually solved the problem by doing leg lifts religiously. Three times a week, without fail, I would lie on my back and lift the left leg 10 times. Then I did the right leg. Three sets of 10 repetitions for each leg.

It worked! My pain diminished, and re-pulling the muscle happened less and less often.

But it is not front-of-the-hip pain that is bothering me now. Nope. The pain is at the back and deep in the joint.

Let’s take a look at the muscles on the back of the hip, since that’s important both to understanding what is happening, and how to fix it.

The biggest muscle, and the one that gives the derriere a lot of its shape, is the gluteus maximus. This is the muscle that should be doing most of the work when you straighten from sitting to standing. I suspect that mine has been shuffling off some of its work to other muscles that are not meant for it, and that is where my pain is coming from.

(We’re looking at the hips from the back in the images at right.)

Beneath the gluteus maximus is the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius controls rotation of the hip, allowing you to turn your leg inward (pigeon toes) and outward (ballet first position), as well as allowing you to lift your leg to the back and side. It also holds the hips stable when you stand on one leg.
 
 
Beneath the gluteus medius is the gluteus minimus. The gluteus minimus helps the gluteus medius do its jobs of hip rotation and keeping the hips stable when you are standing on one leg. Now that I’m a week into working on the pain in my hips, I suspect that some of my discomfort is coming from the gluteus minimus.

But the majority of my pain seems to stem from a cluster of much smaller muscles underneath the gluteal muscles.

The prime villain is the piriformis muscle.

The piriformis muscle attaches at the front of the sacrum (the base of the spine), and runs sideways at a slant to wrap around the outside of the greater trochanter, the knob at the top of the femur (thigh bone).

At the start of the week, the path of pain mapped quite perfectly along both my right and left piriformis muscles.

So that is where I placed my Miracle Ball. One side at a time, starting at the spot where the piriformis emerges from the sacrum, I lay on the ball, letting it rest at each aching spot along the piriformis for 2 or 3 minutes until I reached the spot where the muscle wrapped around the trochanter.

The relief was amazing. It had that “hurt good” sensation while I lay on the ball. And afterward, my hips felt both less tense and stronger.

I found that changing the angle and rotation of my body as I lay upon the Miracle Ball was helpful for digging into different spots where the fascia was restricted. Sometimes it was quite a balancing act! I let my intuition guide me.

Now that I’ve been doing this process for a week (as I type this), I’m finding that the piriformis muscles are calming down. The right piriformis is still tight right at its center, in the “belly” of the muscle and at the end where it attaches to the trochanter. So that is where I focus my efforts.

The left piriformis is problematic largely where it attaches to its trochanter.

But I can now feel that the three muscles beneath the piriformis are painful (on both sides), both in the belly of each muscle and where they attach to the trochanter.

These three muscles are: the superior gemellus, the obturator internus, and the inferior gemellus.

Additionally, the spot at the end of the gluteus minimus where it attaches to the trochanter is painful.

So when my Miracle Ball reaches the outer end of the piriformis, I walk the ball in a semi-circle around the top of the trochanter.

Here’s a video that gave me some ideas for how to position myself on the ball. Notice how the gentleman is balanced on one hip with the opposite hip angled into the air. Once the ball moves away from the spine, the other hip has to rise so that you stay balanced.

Here’s another that gave me ideas for where the hotspots are located, and how to move the legs while on the ball.

The patient is passive and lying on her front. But seeing how the therapist performed the various releases helped me figure out variants for myself. (The release work starts at minute 10.)

The relief is incredible. I can feel the inflammation going down, and I have great hope that not only will the pain resolve completely, but that I’ll eventually be able to walk for exercise again.

I love walking. But every time in the last few years that I’ve tried taking the long walks I adore, this deep hip pain has flared up. Now that I’m using myofascial release on the area, I think I may arrive at a long-term resolution of the problem. Fingers crossed!

I suspect there may be two more pieces of the puzzle, however.

1) Myofascial release of the quadriceps.

2) Mobilizing the gluteus maximus to do its job.

But first things first. Right now I’m focusing on myofascial release of the hips. Wish me luck!

I’ll continue to blog about this particular adventure as it unfolds, but it may be a while before I get to the experiences beyond the piriformis and company.

Important Disclaimer: I am not a medical person in any way. I’m just sharing my journey with the idea that it may point you toward some good questions, if you too suffer from hip pain. Good questions can lead to good answers; coming up with the right question is often the hardest part of solving a problem, in my experience. Just remember that what worked for me may not work for you. Seek out the right experts for help, if you need treatment!

Here are the links to the videos on YouTube:
Activ Chropractic on the Piriformis
iBody Academy on Myofascial Release

Here’s more about my own experiences with myofascial release:
Conquering Back Pain

 

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Conquering Back Pain

For most of my life I’ve dealt with back pain—upper and lower.

Over the years, I’ve discovered ways to lessen the pain: yoga, strengthening specific core muscles, putting a latex topper on my mattress, etc. All of these, especially in concert, helped a great deal. But when my sister-in-law shared her positive experience with The Miracle Ball Method by Elaine Petrone, I listened.

And I put the Miracle Ball Deluxe Kit on my wish list for Christmas 2017.

My dear father choose to give me the kit as one of his gifts, and I’ve been using it ever since.

I’ve been delighted with the results. I rarely experience low back pain these days. And the doctor who I see for my joint issues said that the scoliosis of my lower spine (sideways curvature) was entirely gone!

My upper back continues to challenge me, but it is much better than it used to be. And some extra time on my Miracle Balls always resolves the worst of the pain.

I learned recently that the Miracle Ball Method is really a form of myofascial release. I’d been using the method because it worked, without really worrying about why it worked. But my new qigong practice began creating pain in my hips. In pursuit of a solution for that, I encountered…a bunch of new information.

What is myofascial release?

John F. Barnes (at myofascialrelease.com) describes it as “a hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the fascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.”

And what is the fascia?

Wikipedia’s definition…

A band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.

A video from the Life 360 Summit gives an excellent view of what the fascia looks like and how fascia can cause serious pain and range-of-motion problems when the fascia is tight or restricted.

Minute 6 is when Fascia-man first arrives. And 15 seconds later we get a good close-up of him, if you want to skip ahead.

The way the Miracle Balls work is that you lie on them, and your own body weight applies the sustained pressure that releases the fascial restrictions. The more you are able to relax, the better they work.

In the diagram at right, you can see how I “walk” a single ball up my spine from the tail bone. At each location, I pause the ball for 2 or 3 minutes, until I feel the restriction release.

Across the shoulders, I use the balls in a pair, one placed on each side of the spine.

The whole process does take roughly 40 minutes, but it is so worth it to be pain-free. 😀

The kit I received included the Miracle Balls themselves, a how-to book, a how-to CD (which I haven’t used), a hand pump, and a plastic nozzle for the hand pump. The plastic nozzle did not work for filling the balls, but we had a steel needle for a bicycle pump that fit the hand pump perfectly.

My son tried my Miracle Balls this week after his weight workout and liked them so well that he requested some of his own. I purchased him a smaller kit that included only the balls and the how-to book. (We don’t need 2 hand pumps in the house—he can use mine.)

I meant to tell you all about my adventure with Miracle Balls after I’d used them for a few months. I figured I’d test them well before reporting back. The problem with that plan is that I tend to be most excited when something is new. That’s when I shout about it from the rooftops. Once several months pass…it’s old hat.

I kept saying, “Next week I’ll blog about it.”

But now that I’m using my Miracle Balls on hip pain, they are new and fresh again, so here I am shouting. 😉

So what about my hip pain, which set off this new learning odyssey? I’ll tell you about it—and how I’m fixing it—next week!

For your convenience, here are some of the links from all of the above:
Miracle Ball Deluxe Kit on Amazon
Pump Needles on Amazon
Miracle Ball Basic Kit on Amazon
Fascia-man Video on YouTube

Here’s more about my own experiences with myofascial release:
Tackling Hip Pain

Important Disclaimer: I am not a medical person in any way. I’m just sharing my journey with the idea that it may point you toward some good questions, if you too suffer from back pain. Good questions can lead to good answers; coming up with the right question is often the hardest part of solving a problem, in my experience. Just remember that what worked for me may not work for you. Seek out the right experts for help, if you need treatment!

 

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