Many people face challenges in their lives they not only overcome, but are able to use for enhancing their creative work.
Mixed-media and glass artist Ginny Ruffner recovered from a near fatal car accident and a coma for five weeks and was confined to a hospital for five months.
A description on her site ginnyruffner.com about the documentary about her: “A Not So Still Life” says, “Doctors were convinced that she would never walk or talk again, but true to her indomitable spirit, she transformed a potentially tragic accident into a career of even more imaginative creations.
“From pop-up books, to room-sized installation pieces, to public works, Ruffner’s art has blossomed and continues to expand.”
[Photo from post (with video): Glass Artist Ginny Ruffner, Evening Magazine.]
Here is a clip from the movie.
Video: Artist Ginny Ruffner: a not so still life
In her review – ‘A Not So Still Life’: Ginny Ruffner documentary draws you in – Moira Macdonald says it is “an inspiring tale of rehabilitation and recovery. About 20 years ago, Ruffner suffered a severe head injury in a car accident; family members, in the documentary, tearfully recall that she was near death, and that the idea of her walking and talking again seemed an impossible dream.
“‘My mind was like a big empty house that you know you used to live in,’ reminisces Ruffner in the film, in a slurred but quite intelligible voice, of the weeks and months following her accident, as she struggled to remember what and who she was. Characteristically, she transformed her struggle into art: As she slowly learned to walk again with the help of a cane, she created a series of playful animal sculptures with ‘balance’ as their theme.”
In her article Ginny Ruffner’s art blooms at Bellevue Arts Museum and on film, Gayle Clemans notes “Ruffner’s determination and her humorous, philosophical approach to life served her well during her lowest point. She is reluctant to dwell on ‘the big, bad time’ of the early 1990s, when she was in a nearly fatal car accident that left her in a coma for five weeks and then unable to walk or talk.
“Now, almost 20 years after her remarkable recovery, Ruffner is mobile, vocal and very active despite some lingering limitations. She says that the experience ‘has made me more creative. There are some things that I can’t do physically, so I have to find ways to find solutions, to be more creative.’
“Her work has gotten increasingly large and complex. Like many contemporary artists, she hires specialists to help her realize her artistic goals, saying, ‘When I can’t make something, I find people who can. It’s the smart thing to do.'”
Book: The Imagination Cycle, by Ginny Ruffner.
The documentary “A Not So Still Life” and many other inspirational movies for personal growth are available to members of the Spiritual Cinema Circle.
This image of Ruffner at work in her studio is from The GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet post: 3 Questions For … Ginny Ruffner.
Beliefs and thinking and our creative lives
The parts of her story I particularly appreciate are Ruffner’s “philosophical approach to life” and her willful rejection of opinions that she would never walk or talk again.
How many people in vulnerable physical or mental conditions get authoritative opinions from medical experts that are incomplete or downright wrong about the person’s capacity to deal with the condition? How many people just accept what “the doctor” says as the most valid truth?
People like Ruffner don’t just accept, they stay actively in charge of their own lives and health as much as possible, demonstrating how much impact thoughts and beliefs can have on our physical being.
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a growing field that looks at how that works. It is “the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body. PNI takes an interdisciplinary approach, incorporating psychology, neuroscience, immunology, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, psychiatry, behavioral medicine, infectious diseases, endocrinology, and rheumatology.” [Wikipedia]
The placebo effect is not to be dismissed as “only mental” – it is another experience in which beliefs and emotions can have profound impacts on our body and health.
Here are a couple of related books:
The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions, by Esther M. Sternberg, MD.
Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, by Candace B. Pert, PhD.
The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton, MD.
Also see articles by Morty Lefkoe. A profile by the Institute of Noetic Sciences notes that he “made a series of discoveries that allowed him to help people make permanent changes in their emotions and behavior” through his Lefkoe Belief Process.
You can try his belief change process FREE at ReCreate Your Life.
Trauma takes many forms, and has different sources and levels of impact for each of us.
See quotes by and about many well-known artists such as Sarah Polley, Halle Berry, Lady Gaga, will.i.am, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonathan Safran Foer and many others, in my article “Creative People, Trauma and Mental Health” – which includes a number of videos, book quotes, programs and other resources.