Category Archives: Creativity and Parkinsons

Blossoming of Incredible Creativity Thanks to Parkinson’s

My name is Andrea and I live in Florida with my Mom. She was diagnosed with PD about 17 years ago. She’s still in a pretty good shape because she takes as little medication as possible and we tried different type of alternative therapies like stem cell injection in Mexico, electromagnetic brain stimulation in Hungary, taking Kapikacchu powder and vitamins. She boosts her immune system with fermented papaya powder (Osato USA) and she received glutathione injections for a while (Dr. Perlmutter).

The medication side effects caused us lots of trouble and cost lots of money.She’s definitely in better shape than 2 years ago.Thank you for you the next thing what we want to try the sound therapy by Sharry Edwards. [Sharry Edwards from Sound Health Options was featured as a guest on your radio show last week].

The reason I’m writing to you that you probably know where we can find electromagnetic brain stimulation in the US. It helped for about 3 months. I know the FDA approved it only for stress management, not for PD. But I heard that we still can find this treatment in the US. It’s probably not legal but we don’t really care. Do you have any information about it?

It must be true that people with PD are getting more artistic. My mom started doing shell crafts, mostly animals. Everybody’s saying around us that she’s really creative and talented. I put together a web site for her and an e-book (photo album). The website which displays her creative art work with shells is: http://www.shelladybug.com

I think this type of activity is really therapeutic and helps fighting against the PD. (Of course when she’s burning her fingers it’s not so much:)

I just signed up as a member on your web site [http://www.parkinsonsrecovery.org]. I think it’s great and I really hope my mom will take advantage of it.

Andrea

Response:

Thanks so much for sending in the story about your Mom. You are certainly trying out some fascinating therapies. Sounds like her situation is improving every month. Hooray!

As for what you call electromagnetic stimulation, visit the following website for more information:

http://www.theconnectedself.com

I am not sure this is what you are asking about but Dr. Jaclyn Gisburne, Ph.D. has been using neuro-feedback with wonderful results. Her approach is noninvasive and natural. She uses a cutting edge form of neural feedback to challenge the brain to create new neural pathways. She also reports that early trauma has a profound impact on the symptoms.

The exciting positive side effect of Parkinson’s symptoms is a blossoming of incredible creativity. It is as if under used parts of the brain are suddenly activated. Thanks for sending us all the link to the website which displays your Mom’s art work. I loved seeing the shell work and reading your story.

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease
http://www.parkinsonsdisease.me

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Hidden Gift of Tremors

Many people who happen to currently experience the symptoms of Parkinson’s think of tremors as a problem and a nuisance. Recovery from Parkinson’s disease means that you have successfully eradicated the tremor or, at a minimum, numbed your neurological system so that the tremor does not exist.

There is an alternative mindset that some people have adopted to their great advantage. Professional photographer Alan Babbitt finds his tremor is a huge advantage. Instead of trying to still his hand when he takes pictures, Allan allow his camera to jiggle in whatever position his hands move. He has produced a remarkable series of pictures that he aptly describes as “”tremor enhanced” work that are incredible in every respect. I was so taken by his images that I contracted with Alan to use one of his images as the featured cover of my book Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease.

A second person with Parkinson’s who has used his tremor to great advantage is Whit Deschner.  Whit is the founder of the Salt Lick contest in Baker City, Oregon which raises money for Parkinsons research every year.  Whit was my featured guest on my radio show this week.  How does author and humorist Whit Deschner uses his tremor to great advantage?

I have no doubt there are many answers to this question, given Whit’s off the chart creativity and innovativeness.  Like Alan Babbitt, Whit has found his tremor to be of immense advantage in his own photography.  Whit has always loved to take pictures, especially pictures of children as they are jumping. After experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s beginning 10 years ago, Whit found that when he began taking a picture of a child jumping his finger continued to snap the shot. Instead of one shot, he would invariably wind up with a long series of single shots taken with his still camera.

What do you do with a long series of single shots of the same scene? Choose the “best”?  Or, use them all in a sequence of slide show like images. When you string together all of  the pictures in sequence, it looks much like a movie of the scene such as a child jumping. ‘Talk about being creative!

There is a Youtube link below to a 9 minute video that tells the history of horses on Whit’s ranch.  It is well worth taking 9 minutes of time in your busy day to watch this video. When you watch, pay particular attention to the many segments where you see evidence of Whit using all of the images from a still camera. Instead of seeing a still picture, you see a horse gracefully moving through a pasture or smiling back at you with a sweet grin on his face.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB2HlLhRZjU

There is no mention of how Whit Deschner has used to advantage his tremor in this video, but I wanted you to know because I just learned how he did it today.

Some people think of tremors of a liability. Other people – like Whit and Alan – think of tremors as an asset which has led to remarkable  discoveries and innovations. It is a choice for everyone.

Anyone else out there with a story they would like to share?

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease
http://www.parkinsonsdisease.me

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Inspiration from Dancer Pamela Quinn and Actor Lucy Roucis

Below is a link to a 6 minute video on You Tube about dancer Pamela Quinn and actor Lucy Roucis that dazzles and inspires anyone who currently experiences the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IK3Q7VKi1c

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease
http://www.parkinsonsdisease.me

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Creativity and Parkinson’s

Question :

Somewhere I remember reading that PD people sometimes become more artistic.  Can you point me towards any information about PD and the arts? I have to write a short bio of myself for a small, local gallery where they are showing some of my paintings, and I wanted to include a blurb about PD.

Susan

Response:

Yes indeed – the gift of symptoms associated with a diagnosis of  Parkinson’s Disease is that many people shift gears in their life as they become incredibly creative. In some cases this translates into artistic endeavors. Sounds like this has been your experience too!

Why does this happen? I suspect the body demands that mental (as well as physical) activity slow down several notches. The body demands that standard routines of the past are interrupted.

The question then turns on – what now? What do I do with my life now? With a little reflection, many people realize that they have not been pursuing their life’s passion. A creativity switch gets turned on. Off they go into the world of art or some creative endeavor of one type of another.

If you have art work – I would be delighted to post it on the blog if you would like! If you have a story you have written about yourself – I would be delighted to post that as well if you would like – with links to your work.

Finally – I am convening a Parkinson Recovery Summit Monday, March 7th, to be held in Vancouver Washington (15 minutes from Portland, Oregon airport).  It is a one day free event where everyone on the road to recovery will convene together as a group, connect and network. It would be the perfect place to display (and sell) your work perhaps? Jump Start to Wellness follows on March 8th and 9th for those interested.

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Parkinsons Recovery

Books
Road to Recovery from Parkinsons Disease
Pioneers of Recovery
Five Steps to Recovery

Resources
Vibration Therapy
Dehydration Therapy: Aquas
Parkinsons Recovery Membership
Parkinsons Recovery Chat Room
Eye Drops for Cataracts
Symptom Tracker
Parkinson’s Disease News


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Tai Chi and Parkinson’s Disease

The inspirational e-mail posted below was sent by Danny Loney who will be offering free Tai Chi workshops on the Parkinsons Recovery Cruise to Alaska which departs from Seattle on May 3, 2010. For further information about the 7 day cruise to Alaska, visit: http://www.parkinsonsdisease.me/alaska.

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Parkinsons Recovery

Hi Robert,

This past week concluded the conference of the Israel Parkinson’s  Association held at the Dead Sea.  I spent most of the last night of the conference laying in my bed with tears in my eyes as I thought  about the experiences that I had encountered over the previous four days.  For me personally, it was emotionally overwhelming as I did not expect to experience such an outpouring of warmth, acceptance, and love.  Most of the participants I had known from past conferences and other Parkinson’s events, but this time I was able to connect to others and get to know them in a very personal way.  I felt like a lost puppy that had found a warm and accepting home.

I was amazed at the many compliments that I received from my tai chi workshops and felt a bit uncomfortable with all of the attention.  There is a tremendous amount of creative talent in our Parkinson’s Association, whether it be paintings, woodwork, organizational skills, poems, music, counseling, or just a word of encouragement and a warm smile.  And I am only one of many who want to make a contribution; a guy with Parkinson’s trying to help a few other people with Parkinson’s  improve the quality of their lives.

Danny

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Inspired to Create

I have been a songwriter for about 12 years.  My Parkinson’s was diagnosed in Feb of 2009, however, my first symptoms were in Sept/Oct 2006.  At that time, my songwriting kicked into a very high gear.  Incredible hooks were just there.  I began pursuing the craft like I have never done before.  Going to Nashville every quarter to pitch my songs, attending every possible local songwriting event in AZ, networking like never before and writing some pretty cool music.

My husband was diagnosed with 4th stage small cell prostate cancer in Jan 2006. I was his 24/7 caregiver along with holding down a full time project manager job.  I believe it was the stress I was experiencing at that time in my life that kicked off the Parkinsons.  In October 2006, we moved to Columbia, SC to give my husband relief from the heat in AZ. He passed in Feb 2007.  Now, here it is, almost Oct 2009.  I am in the process of obtaining disability as my speech is very rapid and slurred, and impairs my ability to hold meetings via the phone or in person.  There is also some seizures of the hands and there are days when the walking is a shuffle.  Anyway, I am going to move back to Nashville, TN and write music full time.

The tremendous ‘push’ I gave to the music back in 2006 has paid off.  I have my first cut of a song I co wrote with a Nashville writer.  This is a major event for any songwriter.  The CD is scheduled to be released in October of this year.  I have also continued to slowly climb my way up this very high and steep mountain and am writing with writers that have major cuts.  And let me tell you, talk about a fine line between genius and insanity.. these incredibly talented people are there..and damn, I fit in amazingly well..kind of scary really.

I feel so at peace with this decision.  The finances will be tight, but hey, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are pretty tasty!  I am driving to Nashville next weekend to pick out a rental home.  As I pack up from my rental home here in Columbia, SC, I find myself purging so much stuff…the local Goodwill people wave as I drive up and the shredder is working OT.  It’s almost like a cleansing of the soul.  You know what I mean?

It was meant to be.  My influence is my mother (who lives with me and is excited to be going back to Nashville).  She was a songwriter, although she did not have a cut, she always made sure we had music in our lives. I learned accordion, self taught myself guitar and piano.   In fact, your most recent article on drumming hit home as well.  I was a professional drummer for many years!  I found myself tapping out the paradiddles after I read your article the other night.  It was soothing to the brain.

I find your articles most refreshing in that they hit home.  I believe I was always ‘wired internally’ for Parkinson’s.  Always needed less sleep than others, always about ’12 degrees off center’, always the ‘weird kid’, always not just thinking outside the box, but on some days ‘destroying the box’!   It just found its way to the surface this year.

I continue with my challenges, but hey, it sure as heck beats the alternative.

Thank you for ALL that you do.  You are truly an inspiration!!

A Parkie and proud of it!

Rose

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Are Writing Cramps your Excuse for no longer Writing Creatively?

Question:

My creative writing has come
to a standstill because my
hands and fingers are currently
not flexible enough to type. 
I am trying to find other creative
outlets, but I really love to write.
Any suggestions? 

Response 

The symptoms of Parkinsons
can include cramping. tightness
and weakness in the hands and
fingers, making typing much
more challenging.  It certainly
sounds like you are worried 
your creative writing career
is dead because you are having
such a tough time typing on
a keyboard.  

I have a great suggestion for
you. Actually, it is an awesome
suggestion.

There is another way to write
without having to punch the
keys on a typewriter or computer 
keyboard. You can talk into a
microphone and your e-mails,
letters, articles and books will be
produced automatically using 
speech recognition software.

It is simple. You talk into a
microphone that is connected
to your computer. The words
you speak are automatically
translated into written words
and sentences that magically
appear on your computer
screen. 

Really! If you can talk, you can
write anything to anyone. And I
do mean anything. 

I should be using speech recognition 
software right now to write this blog,
but I am not. Why? I am stuck
in my old habits of using my
fingers to think. My writing would
probably improve if I started
using my mouth to write. I have
always had a big mouth.

There is a big advantage if
I start talking out my blog
entries and newsletters rather
than typing them. Why? I can talk
much faster than I can type. 
My Parkinsons Recovery book
would be written in a few days if
I talked it rather than typed it.  

I need to disclose a little truth
and advertising here. I have not
personally used this software 
but a friend of  mine has. 
He tells me it works beautifully.

My friend does give me one
warning: Do not look at the
computer screen as you talk.
It is totally weird to read what
you have just said as you are
thinking about what to say
next. 

A little work on your part
is required before the software
will work. You have to train
the software program to recognize
the connection between your voice
and the words. The creators of this
software accomplish this by having
you read several pages of a story 
so the software can identify how
you say words. The program can
then correctly connect the dots
between what you say and the
written words you are speaking. 
Once you are set up, you are good
to go. 

The software is called Dragon
Naturally Speaking 9 at
www.nuance.com/talk.
I just watched a video that
demos the software which is
very informative. Apparently
it costs $100.

The other good news is that
the more you exercise your
voice the better your ability
to speak forcefully and clearly
will become.  

Sorry. No more excuses for not
writing to your friends and family.
The world needs to hear from you
so start talking. 

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Parkinsons Recovery

© 2008 Parkinsons Recovery

   

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After being Diagnosed with Parkinsons, I have become Very Creative. Why?

Question 

I have experienced the same enhanced creativity
as others. After being diagnosed 10 years ago I
was laid off from my job after 9/11. It was during
this time I began to use my father’s tools he left
me and started building things out of wood.

So far I’ve built two blanket chests, one for
my daughter, another for my wife, a toy chest
for my niece, an outdoor barbecue table and
a kitchen center island. In addition, I completely
tore down our old deck and rebuilt it with 
composite boards, added all new vinyl railings
and topped it off with deck lights.

These things never entered my mind before being
diagnosed. It seems my mind is always dreaming up
things to build. Why is that?

Response 

What a fascinating and very exciting story.
Here is what I suspect might be happening.

I believe everyone has an inherent passion 
to create whether it is a new idea, furniture,
art, comedy – the list is endless.  

If I have been unable to create something
new for even a day, I begin to have an empty
feeling deep inside. It is a familiar feeling, a
sense of sorts that  I am wasting my life. 

When I can write as I am now, my juices 
flow. My energy expands. My steam for
living bursts at the seams.

For many of us, there is too little opportunity for
creativity to have a place in our lives. Jobs,
family or other commitments have a way of
commanding our energy. 

The body will find a way to insist on finding ways
and time to be creative. If we do not allocate the
time and space for our own creativity to surface,
our body will give us a reason to make it so. 

What does our body do? It sends us a 
clear signal to slow down, change our
habits and do things differently out 
of necessity. If the choice were up to
us we would not change but our bodies
demand to be heard.    

The symptoms of Parkinson’s slow 
down the time spent on effort that does not
feed our creative addiction, making it possible
for the creative juices to ferment.  

This in no way implies that we were uncreative
previously, but the focus of the creative activity 
shifts. Let me explain.

Innovation versus Creativity

One form of creativity is to be innovative which
involves generating creative ideas and applying
them to a specific context. With innovation the  
problem is clearly defined and the solution set is
clearly bounded.  

This form of creativity takes a given problem
or challenge and solves it. For example, how
do I invent a car that runs on water? Or,
how do I motivate my secretary to come to
work on time? Or, how do I fix my clothes
washing machine that is so old the part I
need is out of stock? 

When lives are busy and demanding, a 
second form of creativity lies dormant just below
the surface of our consciousness. It waits
for a chance – any chance – to pop out and
claim its birth right to be heard.   

This is the form of raw creativity where something
entirely new pops out of our brains for no
reason whatsoever. There is no pre-defined
problem to solve. There is no deadline to
meet. 

Instead there resides a massive body
of creative urges and ideas deep inside
each of us that are patiently waiting
their time to be acknowledged.   

The Process of Creativity 

What is the process that makes this
happen? Control does not work.  If you try
to order the creative ideas to reveal
themselves they will drill a hole even
deeper into your sub conscious and
cuddle up for the long haul. 

Using brute force to unlodge creative
thoughts does not work. You will have
just as much luck trying to break
through the walls of Fort Knox with a
jack hammer.  Setting a schedule
for creative ideas to be revealed
does not work. Creativity does not
obey a time schedule. 

Enough. How do thoughts that seemingly
have no origin or history find their way
out of our own consciousness?  How will
we know them when we see them?

They are revealed in their own time and
place as we quiet down the mind babble
that controls our lives. They pop out in the
most unexpected ways during the moments
of living when we are at peace with ourselves.  

We become creative when we quiet the chatter
of our minds and allow the part of us we
have stuffed for too many years to emerge.
It is the ultimate calling to become whole again. 

For many people this opportunity comes because
our bodies make us slow down the quick pace of
activity and force us to take in the mysteries
of the world. We appreciate our friends and 
spouses in new ways. We see life differently.

Once the feverish activity of our minds 
slows to a snail’s pace the creative juices
begin to percolate. At long last we recognize 
a good idea when it pops out of our minds 
because we can feel the surge of energy
that bubbles up from inside. 

The same creative ideas may have peeked
around the corner to be noticed by us before,
but we were too busy to notice. The faucet
of adrenaline was wide open and all of the
associated hormones were being manufactured
by our body 24-7. No rest for the restless. 

To summarize, the symptoms of Parkinsons 
slow down the pace of life. An opening is
created for the creative juices to flow and the
fresh ideas to be noticed. We begin to do
things we have always wanted to do in
our lives, but did not know it until now. 
We stuffed the creative urges before because
there was no time. But now, with a little
more space for new things to happen,
we become whole again. 

I am Like My Father  

There is a second part of your story that I also
want to acknowledge. Whether your father is 
still living or not, his presence and energy is 
embodied in the tools you are using. They
were his tools. Now they are your tools. 

As his son, you are connecting with him in the
most profound way. His hands guide your work
and keep you safe. After all, you are his son.
He gave you life. All of his wisdom lives through
you. You carry on the tradition of all the
fathers in the family.  

As men we all need to feel the support of
our fathers. When we genuinely receive 
and accept that support, we come into
our full creative power. We are able to 
manifest our dreams. 

When we take in the support of our father,
we are also receiving the support of all the
fathers who came before him – all our  
grandfathers, great grandfathers, great
great grandfathers that go back in time
generation after generation.    

I have personally noticed a profound
shift in my own energy and attitude
toward life after I fully took in the
support from my own father. I had
resisted his support for years, having
convinced myself I could do everything
on my own. I distanced myself from
him. It is much easier and more truthful
to acknowledge and honor the truth
that I am just like him. 

Anyone else have stories of how their own
creativity has shifted since Parkinson’s? 

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Parkinsons Recovery

© 2008 Parkinsons Recovery
     

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