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Aletta de Wal
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Art Heals: Highs, Lows, Twists and Turns for Artist With Health Challenges

I was in my mid-twenties the first time I rode a roller coaster.

The first time was also the last time.

A friend took me on a tour of his favorite theme park. The deal was if the ride looked safe and people seemed to be having fun, I'd join the queue.  After declining a dozen "thrill rides" we came upon a wooden structure about two stories high. This classic roller coaster seemed fairly benign from where we stood.

We handed over our tickets and climbed aboard. The first few minutes we were moving slowly and level. Feeling fine.

Then we started to climb. Still feeling okay.

And climb. And climb. And climb some more.

My heart began to pound before I saw that we were about to go hurtling down.

And down. And around an s-curve. And down some more.

Then up and repeat.  Terrified.

I closed my eyes, held my breath and gripped my friend's arm so tight I made a bruise.

When we were back at the starting point, my friend and the other riders disembarked, all laughing.

I couldn't move. My legs were jelly. My friend and the attendant had to lift me out. They couldn't understand my reaction.

I added "slow and easy" to my criteria for the next ride.

I chose the big Ferris wheel. Now this was more like it. Gentle rocking, slow descent and ascent and no twisting turns.

We got to the top; the Ferris wheel slowed, then we came to a full stop and were suspended there. I relaxed into the expansive view of the city lights and extra time to unwind from the roller coaster.

After about twenty minutes my friend was anxious. He preferred speed and unexpected turns and didn't like the height or the unexplained delay.

Artist Thom Reaves is familiar with ups and downs, highs and lows. Thom has bipolar illness. We talked about how this adds challenges to how he manages his life and his art business in Painter Thom Reaves Creates "Lighthearted imagery of joy." From Bipolar Disorder to Poster Style Paintings of Joy

A few years ago, Natasha Sherman interviewed Thom Reaves about his art and had a candid, compassionate discussion of bipolar illness in "Talk to Me with Natasha Sherman" TV program, 2005.

Making a living from making art takes faith, courage and dedication.

You show the rest of the world that being an artist is a 'real job.'

Tip of the hat to all of you.


Read more like this:

All Those Deals ... But Art Heals
Artist Joshua Coffy combats depression and creates community
Painter Thom Reaves: From Bipolar Disorder to Poster Style Paintings of Joy
Celebrate the Healing Power of Art (and win prizes)

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