Each month, we spotlight people in our community who have inspiring stories to tell. Today, we are happy to feature Christopher Lion from Georgetown, TX.
WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE SINCE YOUR PARKINSON’S DIAGNOSIS?
My life has changed a great deal since my diagnosis just over three years ago. Perhaps the most rewarding change has been the creation and launch of my website and blog called TheQuiver.org. While writing for another blog, I began to notice all the great art that has been produced by people with Parkinson's: memoirs, books of poetry, paintings, etc. It occurred to me that it might be fun and interesting to start a website and blog dedicated to these artists and their art. With the encouragement of friends and family, I started TheQuiver.org with the intention of providing hope and inspiration to people with Parkinson’s by featuring art by people with Parkinson’s.
It’s been particularly interesting to not only feature this art, but to go a step further and examine the relationship between the art and the diagnosis. For example, I met one German painter who had never before painted but after diagnosis quickly began producing remarkable pieces of art worthy of any gallery. Another career artist I met initially put down his brushes post-diagnosis, convinced that he would never paint again; he recently has begun experimenting to see how he might be able to adapt his techniques and his artistic vision to his Parkinson’s. He says that he is now much less concerned with realism and is instead much more exuberant in his art. Those are such interesting stories to me.
How do you live well each day?
After working out, I usually spend an hour or two working on TheQuiver.org. Working on the project has been an amazing and humbling experience. When I first conceived of the site, I thought mostly about what the project could do for me: channel my excess energy, stay relevant, and engage my brain with something I hoped might be useful and beneficial.
TheQuiver.org has become all those things and more. As I started reaching out to contributors, I began to see what a difference this project could make in people’s lives. In some cases, the contributors were touched to be invited to submit their art for online publication. For my part, I have been honored that each of these artists has allowed me to showcase their art and share a bit of their stories. It amazes me how having Parkinson’s in common has allowed us to be so open with each other, to be vulnerable in our conversations. I am not one to go on about “blessings in disguise,” but I am grateful for the wonderful friendships that Parkinson’s has brought into my life.
What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson’s?
It's important to embrace some form of creative expression, whether that be painting, essay writing, poetry, or another form. I began by writing a few essays but have since focused more on poetry. By immersing yourself in some form of artistic expression, you learn new ways to communicate and process the many thoughts and feelings you may be having. By learning some new form of expression, you also stretch yourself; you make yourself a little uncomfortable and make new friends.
Give it a shot! TheQuiver.org is a community platform, and we're always happy to receive submissions from all persons living with Parkinson's. You can contact us through the form here.
What do you wish for everyone living with Parkinson’s?
About a year ago, I wrote an essay called “PD Outliers.” For that piece, I interviewed four remarkable individuals who have thrived while living with Parkinson's over long periods of time. I learned a lot interviewing these four amazing athletes, and one thing that really struck me was how each of these four "outliers" had a really strong, vibrant social network. They each had a group of friends, people with Parkinson's and otherwise, who supported them, encouraged them, and held them accountable.
Here in Texas, I have met some people with young onset Parkinson's who have struggled, seemingly because they did not have such a network. So, I would say that it is critical to find and/or build a social group that can support you on your journey with Parkinson's. None of us should have to face it alone.
SHARE YOUR VICTORY
Each month, we spotlight people from our Parkinson’s community who embody living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®. Your story, like Christopher's, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.