Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day Centenary 1911 - 2011



On the Centenary of International Women’s Day, I’ll share this story of a very special woman in my life.  Wendy Steel is an artist and art teacher, a uniquely talented woman.  Wendy is also my sister.

After suffering a debilitating stroke in 2003 and losing use of her right hand, Wendy relearned to paint with her left.  She has become a magnificent role model for anyone struggling with disability following a stroke.

It wasn’t an easy transition.  When Wendy had her stroke, at age 51, all the specialists warned that she would never again be anything more than bed-ridden and severely disabled, unable to speak nor to communicate nor to look after herself. 

They didn’t know Wendy! 

She spent the first three months in hospital … fiercely, stubbornly working at regaining physical and mental skills, forcing her mind and body into remembering and re-learning abilities and capacities necessary to care for her self. 

The dire predictions of the neurologist and other specialists were wrong!  

During an additional year and a half of out-patient Occupational and Speech Therapy, supplemented by Physical Therapy in her own home, she succeeded in regaining much of what she had lost.  In spite of her persistent language problems and the permanent loss of the use of her right arm, she lives a healthy contented life with the support of her love, her life partner Brian. 

She jokes that, before her stroke, she was “brilliant” and now though part of her brain died in the stroke, she still feels smart and capable.  She is indeed!

During the 2003 - 2004 years, Wendy relearned to paint with her left hand.  She now works in India inks, occasionally acrylics but primarily in her favourite medium, watercolours.  She produces paintings of extraordinary depth and whimsical delight, cherishing the self worth that being able to continue as a prolific artist offers to her.  Wendy’s art work can be found all over the eastern regions of Canada and United States. 

She cherishes life in all its varied manifestations and is grateful each day to be able to get “into the painting zone” and to forget her aches and pains and challenges as she creates.   Wendy again enjoys a flourishing career.   Her work is vibrant, full of the joy of life in all of its forms and possibilities.

She is grateful to be alive and in turn ensures that each person who crosses her threshold knows that she is grateful for them in her life.   She values and cares for them deeply. 

Life is precious.

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