Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Importance of Creativity

I have written previously about the importance of having a pastime to help you deal with the problems you may encounter in your life. For me, my pastime, my passion, has always been creating art, specifically painting on canvas. Pictured above is a my latest painting called, "Cape Cod Beach."

Having a hobby or pastime is especially important if you are disabled because we have already suffered some type of loss and there is a need to cling to the things we are still able to do. Fortunately for me the loss of my legs did not affect my ability to paint, something I have enjoyed doing for many years.

Having a creative outlet can give our lives meaning, occupy our minds, help us utilize our time productively and generally contribute to our mental well being.  Some may say they do not have any creativity but it is my belief that creativity is an innate quality we all possess. Sometimes it is just a matter of discovering what that particular creativity is and developing skill in that area.

For me personally painting has always been a means of escaping a world that can be wrought with disappointments and worries. When I paint I forget about my problems and I can immerse myself in a world where anything is possible; I can create whatever I want. One of the reasons I enjoy painting landscapes is that I can paint for myself almost a fantasy world where I am surrounded by beauty.

Not only has my artistic ability brought me great joy and self satisfaction, it has been a spiritual experience for me also; I feel closer to God when I paint. Through the loss of my legs there have been many uncertain moments and my art has sustained me throughout all of the uncertainty and helped me remain grounded and focused.

Seeking out and ultimately finding an outlet to help give your life direction is paramount to maintaining happiness and fulfillment. If you have suffered loss, and we all have to a greater or lesser extent, pouring your energy into something constructive will always benefit you in the long run.

Creativity can take many forms, mine happens to be painting, however, it can be writing, cooking, dancing, singing, volunteering, anything that takes the pressure off of your life at least temporarily. Having an outlet to release pressure allows you the mental space to think clearly and proceed to the next step in your life, which will bring you closer to the contentment we are all seeking.

Recently I was given the opportunity to send some of my artwork to be viewed by persons attending a charity event and hopefully be purchased. So now not only have I indulged myself in my passion of painting but have the additional benefit of potentially making money from having done so. It doesn't get much better than that.

If you are an amputee, like myself, I urge you to find your own personal method of expressing your creativity. You will be amazed at how much it will uplift your life.

Another outlet that has greatly benefited  my life is to focus on physical exercise. Physical exercise is  immeasurably advantageous to promote not only your physiological well being but your mental state as well.

 Not surprisingly the writing of this blog is yet another method I have utilized to express my feelings and as a result been a cathartic release for me.

I have never really looked at it this way before this very moment, but I guess you could say the very process of finding creative outlets is and of itself creative. How about that?

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I had another great workout at the RIC gym, thanks in part to yet another volunteer named Ashley. She like a couple of other volunteers are actually fitness instructors, needless to say I utilized her expertise to my best advantage. She worked me really hard and my muscles were sore as a result.

I am trying to figure out a way to go to the gym more often, I can only go two days a week; and those are the two weekdays, my assistant, Frank, works. There is a para transit bus/van system here that is designed to transport people with special needs. I have filled out an application and still need to schedule and appointment to be officially qualified to use this para transit system.

By utilizing para transit, I will be able to go to RIC gym four to five days a week. Para transit costs $3 each direction, so if I go two days using the system it will be $12 a week, three days would be $18 a week. That may not seem like much but when you multiply it times four weeks, it becomes an additional expense.

Nonetheless, at this stage using  the para transit bus/van and having my assistant take me two days a week, seems like the most viable and most economical plan. I could drive myself but then I have the hassle of loading and unloading my wheelchair, the cost of gas, and it is $10 per day to park, even with the parking validation from the gym, out of the question.

I guess having to figure out all of the logistics of this gym thing is and of itself a good thing, at least I am now going out into the public more and working out at an actual gym, something I have not done in over two years.

It is great to be doing exercises again that I have unable replicate at home like the smith machine. Now I realize that some of my readers may disagree with using the smith machine at all, and I can't say I blame them, however, given my circumstances, I am at least going to start out on the smith machine and within the next couple of weeks I will switch to using the barbell for bench presses.

The point is I have not been able to bench press using any type of barbell be it on the smith machine or a free weight, I was relegated to dumb bell presses because I was working out at home. Now my world has opened back up again, thanks to my eventual decision to join the RIC gym.

As I have been discussing off an on over the past two years, learning to live life as a bilateral amputee takes time. Unlike my buddy, Bruce, I have not been surrounded by like minded amputees who know the importance of staying strong both physically and mentally.

Fortunately for myself, I never gave up on working out and have kept a work out routine going at home, by myself, with relatively good results, of course it is never good enough. Now, however, after going back to a gym I am demonstrating to myself, that even though I have lost both legs, I am not going to let the rest of my body go as well.

Can you feel the revitalized vigor in my writing? I hope my words convey as powerfully as my actual conviction is about being back at the gym again. Another heartfelt thank you to my friend, Bruce for his words of encouragement and his belief in me, which means so much considering he is also a bilateral AK amputee. He understands fully the amount of energy and dedication it takes to accomplish these tasks without the benefit of either leg or either knee.

It is true that you may not feel like working as much on some days as you do on others, but always be mindful of the fact that you are able to work out at all and what a great void not being able to work out would be in your life, at least for people like us.

I realize not everyone is like me but if you are a fellow amputee; and love to work out, I am telling you there is always a way to do most things that we used to take for granted and do so easily.

The biggest hurdle is finally making the commitment to yourself  to venture out beyond your comfort zone and follow through on your conviction.

There is much to be gained and little to nothing to be lost, be brave, be strong and be happy.

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