Posted in after the diagnosis, art and healing, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Having a Voice, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Open Yourself to New Opportunities

I’m amazed at the transformation we’re all capable of achieving.  We all have talents that are often hidden at it takes some dynamic force to unearth those talents and let the light shine on them.  I recently experienced this from a dynamic individual I met at my most recent educational endeavor.  My retreat roommate, Jake McArthur (, is a poet extraordinaire.  One evening he read a number of his poems and then began to tell about how his love of poetry influenced and I hope enriched the lives of others.

Jake is a hospice volunteer.  He was asked to visit a hospice patient who is living with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  Jake would go and visit this woman reading to her countless books.  One day he asked if she would like to hear some poetry.  He would read poetry from some of our great poets, occasionally slipping in some of his own work.  One day he asked her if she had ever written poetry or would consider writing poetry.  (Sidenote: This woman’s ALS is greatly advanced.  She has no motor skills.  Communication is made through technology that follows a beam to a keyboard and slowly words are created).

Despite the challenges of writing, the client began writing poetry.  At first the poetry was generic.  Eventually Jake asked if she would like to write about something more personal…her ALS.  I had the privlege to witness the reading of this woman’s poetry.  The work is strong, emotional, genuine, inspiring and moving–an irony since no part of her body moves physically.

Through Jake’s example, she has reignited her voice.  The words bring a strength that many facing any life-threatening illness would believe had been long gone.  She is an example of how the creative forces can provide the path to perseverance.  She’s willing to grab any micron of joyful experience through her poetry.

I’m honored to have been witness to her story.  I’m in awe of Jake’s commitment to volunteerism and to sharing his passion with us.  His example of creative passion is contagious.  Creativity is a healing force, don’t let it slip past you.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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