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Published in Everyday Windshield

One day, I was sitting in a high school classroom on a humid April afternoon. The next day, it’s six months later. I can only see the ceiling, and I can’t even move my own body. I never thought that almost ten years later, I would describe my journal as a beautiful detour. Yet, it’s been the most beautiful and thrilling adventure of my life – an adventure in gratitude.

When Art Took My Hand and Walked Me Through

I grew up all my life in theatre. I was singing, dancing, acting and creating since the time I could talk. I lived my life believing I would carve a beautiful career out for myself in the world of musicaltheatre, be on Broadway, and conquer the world. However, at 18, and a week before my senior prom, I found myself in intense pain – very suddenly and randomly. I was rushed to the ER, and to summarize very briefly, my stomach exploded, I was in a coma for six months, and I was unable to eat or drink a drop of water for over three years. After 27 surgeries, I was miraculously reconnected with whatever I had left.  However, to persevere through those tumultuous years took great inner and outer strength. I relied on my creativity to get through. My therapy was purely based in the world of theatre, art, writing, dance, music, and whatever else I felt was an area that I could express myself appropriately.

One day, I picked up a paintbrush. And my world changed. I had found a way to express things that were too complicated, painful and overwhelming to put into words. Suddenly, when the uncertainty around me seemed frighteningly unmanageable, the strokes of my paintbrush could soothe me as I created a peaceful world that my soul longed to rest in as a place of peaceful solace. My passion could ignite instead of my anger and despair. And slowly, the good feelings overwhelmed the bad because I could control the positive world portrayed on my canvases with what my subconscious chose to create. And I still believe that attitude is everything.

Who knew that art would make my medical trauma become the most amazing adventure and lesson of my life? Art helped me process what I was feeling. But most importantly, art served to be the greatest reward, acting as a medium where I could still engage with my community, reach out to others, and make a difference in this world while utilizing my passion. Arts were my way of connecting with the world, sharing my story, and spreading my
message of hope, strength, and finding beauty in whatever life brings you. My art may be self-taught, but it is personal, uniquely me, and a mosaic of what I have been through.

As a child, the arts were my passion and identity. When my traumas occurred, they became my lifeline. Now that I am out of my medical crisis and into a life of health and vitality once again, the arts are how I can reconnect with the world, make a difference, and raise awareness – awareness of the power of ones internal resources, awareness that there are many ways to heal externally and internally, and awareness of the human potential and spirit. An awareness of gratitude – that every day and moment should be celebrated – that life is a canvas, an open score, a bare stage, waiting for us to join the dance!

Why Not Me?

They say that everything happens for a reason. But that’s not always true. Sometimes, you have to make it happen. I think about my old life, and I miss it. I miss the simplicity. I look at old pictures and I see the joy and innocence in my eyes. I can’t be 13 again but I can be the best 27 I can. But sometimes I do wonder what life would be like if this never had happened.

I wonder, so tempted to ask “why me,” and then I look around at all the beautiful blessings in my life – the people who I never would have met, the ideas I never would have encountered, the things I never would have tried, and the strength I never knew I possessed within me – and the “why me” is magically transformed into a “well, why not?” And then it turns into a profuse “Thank You!”

This is not the path that I planned for myself – but does anyone’s life ever work out exactly how they plan it? I was led astray, and hurt, and betrayed by my own body, and dehumanized, taken apart and put back together, but differently. But my passion never went away. I kept my hunger alive. Now I know that my role in life is still to be that same performer I always wanted to be when I was 13. But now with an even greater gift to give. A story to tell.

I have truly lived one of my favorite quotes: Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. This is most certainly not the end, and I don’t think it ever will be, because every day seems to bring a new miracle. My first bite of food in years, getting the lead role of Nancy in Oliver a month after being discharged from the hospital, leaping across the stage in CATS, teaching nursery school, learning karate, starting a chocolate business, a food blog, getting engaged…and the biggest one: that I’m here right now to tell you about these miracles.

I found art accidentally on my way to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually and have learned that it is one of the most rewarding, forgiving, beautiful ways to find my way through the darkness and into the light. I may have found it accidentally, but because of art, I have found myself again. Although left with a few scars, I am long past my bleak days in the hospital. With, my wonderfully supportive family, my passion and a paintbrush, I was able to keep my soul alive for that uncertain time in my life. Life may not always be predictable, but art can always find the beauty in the detours.

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