So, forty (OK, more like 50) years later, some maintenance is required.
First I made a commitment to lose weight a few years ago. I accomplished that and continually re-visit that commitment and commit to maintaining it.
Second, I made a commitment to exercise regularly, 4-6 days per week. I have stuck to that, but as my fitness level improved, I had to re consider what constituted a sufficient work out. Maintenance of heart health mean increasing intensity and duration of my workouts...and more movies from Netflix to keep me on the treadmill.
Third, I made a commitment to my aging bones and slowing metabolism. I needed to add on upper body strength training. This is NEW, but goes pretty well with weighted boxing gloves while on the treadmill.
Fourth- and maybe, really, primarily- I am committed to continuing to work in the field of visual arts and crafts. My recent sabbatical was spent honing my skills in the fiber arts, investigating my interests and limits. In December,2010, I met a limit. My hands began to swell and my right index finger hurt all the time. Can you imagine calling the doctor to say, "My finger hurts?" Well I did, after some delay, call. That call led to some more major maintenance efforts. I went to physical therapy for 5 or 6 weeks, learned stretching and strengthening exercises and was fitted for braces to utterly rest the now arthritic joints. My hands are happy now. I only have to wear the braces at night, currently.
Some things I learned are common sense, some not so much:
Spinning for 8 hours might hurt me, especially if the fiber or style is difficult.
Stretching before work is a good thing that I rarely remember to do
As a woman, building up strength in your hands is just as important as other upper body work for your general health as an art worker!
Tennis balls are great for stretching and massage
Oxo Bag Clips can be used for pressure point therapy on your hands...really.
And gravity can be your friend for simple hand maintenance...really.
Now, if I can just maintain my commitment to doing what I need to do to maintain my hands, like I do the rest of my body. Old artists never retire, we just might change media...or eventually, close the gallery.