Letter of Courage #7: True Healers

As I continue the wait for treatment, nine months after being injured, and being diagnosed with RSD, I have not sat idly by. No, that just would not be like me. I have continued to seek alternative ways to heal, turning back to older traditions, seeking out new, and in general, figuring out – what is life like if one is disabled?

I walk a fine line. I have my belief that I will be better, will walk just like before (hey, I am feeling some improvements) and dance (I listen every day to the songs that make my body remember the steps I have danced before), and having to deal with where I am right at the moment. The heartache of treatment in the health care system recedes as I no longer look towards it to heal me. So, I walk that line, trying to see a bright future ahead, and dealing with the challenges that I face today with the RSD.

I am looking out, in to the world. I notice more the people like me who use canes. Most are older than me, and often they look at me as if to say, or sometimes they just say, ‘you’re too young to use a cane.’ My sentiment exactly.

I began seeing artists I had never seen before either. Disability appears to be nothing for stopping the people I learned about in the last few months.

Artist Ketra Oberlander
Artist Ketra Oberlander

I stumbled across The Art of Possibilities Studio founded and run by artist Ketra Oberlander, an amazingly inspiring painter who lives by the credo that she doesn’t “have any business deciding what I can’t do, people cheat themselves out of all sorts of opportunities because they think they can’t do something. Well, what if they can?”

Aside from being a painter, Ketra was awarded the Micros to Millions grant, an incubator program for business development through the Count Me in for Women’s Economic Independence Initiative. Ketra’s business plan for The Art of Possibilities Studio outlines how APS can offer exclusive representation to physically disabled artists via licensing partnerships for all kinds of products.

Art of Possibilities Studio
Art of Possibilities Studio

ABC Local Station 7 in the Bay Area did a great report about Ketra’s work as a painter, and as founder of The Art of Possibilities Studio. You can see the program by clicking on the video on the left hand side of the blog.

I suppose when one goes looking, one finds.

Recently a good friend CB Dahl-Smith, who does amazing work with youth, and as a producer through her company Community Bridge Video, introduced me to her friend Leroy Moore, founder and hip hop artist with Krip Hop Nation. Leroy Moore is an advocate for disabled hip hop artists around the world, so when he sent out a call to Hip Hop artists around the world: send in a track that didn’t have swearing, didn’t put down women, and had positive lyrics that opened a window into disability, the response was wonderful. Leroy Moore gathered the artists’ work in a two-CD compilation available from his website. Mr. Moore also did a three-part series on KPFA radio about Hip Hop Artists with disabilities.

Inspiration comes from far away too. In China, the 7th Performing Art Festival for Disabled was held in May at the Art Performance Center in Lluzhou City of China’s Guangzi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the Southwest of the country.

A handicapped artist rehearses on the Performing Arts Center stage in preparation for the 7th Guangxi Joint Performing Art Festival for the Disabled.
A handicapped artist rehearses on the Performing Arts Center stage in preparation for the 7th Guangxi Joint Performing Art Festival for the Disabled.

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