Starting Out on the Wrong Foot

Starting Out on the Wrong Foot

I can assure you this is a subject I know something about ... whether it is tripping over my own two feet, shoelaces, or curb, putting both feet in my mouth, or just getting up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed, I often set out on the wrong foot. But this year my perspective on this subject is changing.

After a bike accident that left me in horrible back pain, I finally went to a doctor last fall who prescribed physical therapy. The PT discovered that my pelvis was out of place, and after re-aligning it, one of the recommendations was to lead off on stairs with the non-dominant foot (since the injury was on the dominant right side). Easy for her to say! For several weeks I literally had to stop and look at the step in front of me and concentrate. It has become more natural, but certainly by no means rote, even now.

But come the new year, I have discovered something amazing ... not only does my back feel better, but my creative mind is bursting forth with new ideas, new ways to say things, new creative projects to try! Studies show that exercising your brain by doing a task differently is good for us. Gary Small M.D. says “focusing on different techniques … provides a challenge that a repeated exercise may not provide”. I had heard this before and tried it out on some mundane activities like my morning stretches (starting with the non typical side) and using my computer mouse with my left hand post major surgery on my dominant right hand. (I am now ambidextrous with a mouse!) But does it really jumpstart creativity?

My mind naturally turns to music and songwriting as experiments. For years I wrote with a guitar in hand, often starting with a chord progression and humming a melody, finally adding words as they came to me. My songs all started sounding the same. I tried writing on a piano to mix it up. Finally writing with a co-writer found me working with lyrical ideas first and we often totally completed the words to a song without ever picking up an instrument. Then we worked with the melody. A totally unique style evolved.

WikiHow suggests, “Try using your opposite hand to do everyday things, especially writing and printing. Sit down and start writing on a piece of paper using your off hand. It will probably start out like scrawl, but you will gain better control, become more aware of your tense shoulders and body, and able to use both sides of your brain.” What do you think? Are you ready to mix things up a bit?

In my experience it's an experiment worth trying. Choose one thing to attempt differently. In the worst case scenario you may rediscover why you prefer the way you usually do an activity in the first place. Or best case scenario you may discover that you have a clearer mind, a fresh approach to your work, or an unexpected new method of doing something that infuses the activity with new energy and sharpness!

Could be that once in awhile starting out on the wrong foot … will turn out to be right!

Feel free to share your creative “other-foot-ly” experiences in the comment section!

3 comments

  • AllenN

    AllenN

    Great thoughts.. I will have to try this to see if some new song ideas emerge.

    Great thoughts.. I will have to try this to see if some new song ideas emerge.

  • Cindy Kesler

    Cindy Kesler

    A very interesting article, I can relate myself, but with kati. If you remember, she had broken her collar bone at school. Not only was she in pain, but she as well had to learn to use her left side for awhile, not easy for a 5 year old but she managed. Thanks for writing this mom.

    A very interesting article, I can relate myself, but with kati. If you remember, she had broken her collar bone at school. Not only was she in pain, but she as well had to learn to use her left side for awhile, not easy for a 5 year old but she managed. Thanks for writing this mom.

  • Madalyn Sklar

    Madalyn Sklar

    Great blog post! I will definitely try one thing different and see what happens. You have inspired me Marianne!

    Great blog post! I will definitely try one thing different and see what happens. You have inspired me Marianne!

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