The Joy of Sight

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“Mr. Heagy, you’re glaucoma has worsened. The pressure in your left eye is over 40 and we don’t like to see it over 10. You need to see a surgeon.”

As most of you know, 35 years ago my head struck a sand bar that resulted in a spinal cord injury. A few years later I also developed glaucoma. Glaucoma can be explained as a drainage problem in my eye. Blockage creates pressure that tears the optic nerve from the back of the eye. Being paralyzed with no use of my hands, my eyesight has taken on a significant duty. I love gazing upon all God’s creations, from nature to people, and my eyesight is the key to my artwork. It’s something that I don’t take for granted and am truly grateful to have. Although I’m sure I could find the strength to endure the loss, it would affect my life greatly.

As the laser beam shot through my retina and into the back of my eye, I could feel the pops as she triggered the laser cuts, 80 of them in total. It’s hard to hold your head still for a prolonged period of time, particularly when a laser is pointed directly at your eye. The laser did lower my pressure, but not significantly. I am now at a pressure of about 25, still too high to be considered a success. I am scheduled to repeat the laser process in three weeks and ask for your prayers. I would like to avoid optical surgery which entails cutting into my eye and putting new “drain lines” in. That is a serious surgery with a lot of risks involved. To be honest with you, it is a bit scary for me.

What I’ve done to overcome the nerves is to wake up each day and thank God for the wonders of the working eye. I look at my daughters differently; appreciating the details of their beautiful faces. Spring flowers appear more bright and colorful. I appreciate seeing the wonderful people in my life: friends, family, and caregivers.

I realize I have taken my eyesight for granted in the past, but have vowed to remain thankful for what I’ve been afforded. Please remember me every time you see something naturally beautiful. When something makes you say, “Wow!” say a little prayer for me. I have many more pictures to paint, places to go, sunsets to see. I can see your smile as you think of me. Likewise, please let me know how I can pray for you.

A thought for the day: let’s not forget to be grateful for everything in life. It’s too easy to see the negative. Let’s take our eyes and look for something positive.

To your inspiration,

Ron

2009-12-31 23.00.00-8 Giving sight to my shark.

My 35th Anniversary

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

It’s hard to believe that 35 years ago God intervened in my life. As I floated lifeless in the surf, my brother pulled me to the surface and saved my life. I had been spared and ultimately had been given the opportunity to share my story with you today. I had been told, as a result of my high level of injury that my life expectancy was between 10 and 17 years. By the grace of God, the doctors were wrong and I have survived their life expectancy two-fold! My friend, Chris, asked me today if I remember that dramatic moment my life changed forever. I responded with, “It seems like yesterday, but another life ago.”

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I have been through a great deal, have endured serious challenges, accomplished amazing things, experienced highs and lows. Do I have any regrets? The only one that comes to mind is I wish I had loved others more. I would like to take this time to thank you, my friend, for being in my life, praying and supporting all those things I do. I hope you have enjoyed the passion I have for my art. I look forward to living another 15 years in my chair–I have a lot of work to do! Be strong, have faith, and fight the good fight.

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To your inspiration,

Ron

We’re Created to Create

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

I was suffering from a lack of confidence. You know, the situation when you commit to something and later ask “What was I thinking?”

A few years ago I took the girls to a concert at LaSells Stewart Center on the Oregon State Campus. It was held in their large amphitheater where we sat in the front row next to some very accommodating people. I was taken by the acoustics as the instruments’ tones blended with the voices creating an inspiring listening experience. Wow, what a great place this would be to present, I thought. Little did I know that my daydream of performing on that stage would come true.

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I slowly nudged my chin-controlled chair onto the large, magnificent stage with a few hundred teens waiting in eager anticipation. I had been granted the keynote address for the Teen Summit and boy, did I take advantage of the incredible setting. The sound effects that I could make were great; it was truly enjoyable.

As I shared, the kids laughed and cried. For an emotionless guy, it was a moving experience, to say the least. I imparted to them my thoughts on positive outlooks: your attitude determines your direction. Keep the faith and stay focused in spite of the negative that bombards us daily. We can change things to ignite the positive.

So what did I fear, you ask? It was what followed the speech: a workshop. Ron Heagy was scheduled to teach 25 teens how to paint a picture in one hour. This was way out of my comfort zone. Even though I had agreed to the workshop, I felt like maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

However, thanks to my team, Ashley and Ann, I was able to overcome my doubts and ultimately found the experience to be exhilarating, particularly after seeing the students’ finished product. Through art, there are things that can be revealed about a person that you would have not been able to see with your eyes. I saw an inner beauty expressed through their creations. It all just happened to reinforce my speech. Many of them had never painted before, but I did not hear any of them say, “I can’t paint.” Maybe because their instructor was using only his teeth?

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We now have 25 new artists in this world all because I overcame my fear. Why don’t you and I take on something new today? Life can get mundane and boring if we don’t put ourselves out there and try something new. Let’s get moving, we were created to create!

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To your inspiration,

Ron

How Much is that Kitty in the Window?

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

How much is that kitty in the window? The one with mouth-painted fur.

I must admit that I am an animal lover. Growing up, my mom nearly had a zoo at times: llamas, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, roosters, ducks, turkeys, you name it. My favorite animal has always been a dog. I’ve owned a number of pets, but my most cherished one was a dog named Prissy. When I was a squeaky-voiced 13 year old, she was my best friend. I had rescued her from a friend’s house. I rode home with Prissy in a paper bag swinging from my handlebars. Just me and my new pet. Of course I hadn’t bothered to ask permission; it was one of those “don’t ask, apologize later” situation.

Prissy and I bonded the very first day. She followed me everywhere. We had adventures on the river, bicycle trips through the country, hikes in the forest. We were always together and whenever I wasn’t in sight she was a nervous wreck.

There came a day when I had been feeling down and was anxious to see her. As I jumped off the bus, I knew my dog would be there to pick up my spirits, but she was nowhere to be found. My heart dropped into my stomach. I frantically searched everywhere for her and for the next two days I felt my world had collapsed. I couldn’t eat or sleep—my best friend was gone. On the third day I found her lying in the grass, soaking wet and too weak to move. Something was very wrong. I scooped her up and screamed at the top of my lungs for help. When my mother came outside she could see the desperation on my face and drove me to the veterinarian hospital. Prissy had been poisoned by raw salmon a neighbor used to fertilize their garden.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I stared into Prissy’s eyes. “Don’t die. You can’t die. You’ll be okay.” As she looked back into my eyes, it was as if she was thanking me for all the memories. I squeezed her against me and told her for the last time that I loved her. Her breathing became rapid and I felt her body go limp. I began to sob uncontrollably; I had never felt such pain. I truly felt as though I was going to die.

I removed the collar that I had made for her from around her neck. For the next few days I carried it around in mourning. Prissy had taught me so much in her short time on this earth. Through her I learned responsibility, selflessness, love, and consideration for another life. I came to understand that life is much more fun if we share it with another living being.

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I have cared for many animals since her, but she will always be my favorite. That being said, why am I painting a cat?

The answer is that I am not the only one who loves animals. My little girl, much like her grandmother and father, has a tender heart with much love to give. She also has a favorite animal and you guessed it—it’s a cat. Her name is Dash. I see myself with Prissy every time I see Gracie with Dash. However, all of the love I have for pets cannot be compared to the love I have for my two girls. It is a bond greater than any.

A thought for the day: there’s more than just you to love out there. So what is your excuse?

To your inspiration,

Ron

If you cannot see the video, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy0voWz1-FA

Sticks and Stones

This is Ron with your Motivational Message:

“My son took a gun and put it to his head and pulled the trigger…” I felt my heart nearly jump out of my chest when I heard those words. I could see the raw emotion on her face as she told me her story.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone shared a story that left you speechless, your eyes welling up?

We are truly living in a society where shocking and horrific things have little impact on our emotional wellbeing. We are exposed to violence on a regular basis, whether through movies and television or the news. The media seems to be bent on filling our heads with negativity whenever possible, desensitizing us to the human struggle. However, when you’re faced with a real human it’s difficult to remain numb.

I recently had the opportunity to present to a group of nearly 1100 middle schoolers. The gymnasium was packed to my left, to my right, and with even more kids the floor in front of me. It was loud and busy, but as I rolled to the microphone, the crowd became deafeningly silent. I shared my challenges, my perspective, and my attitude which helped me overcome the odds. I told them how belief in God, myself, and others allowed me to change how I saw the world. I like to call it the ABC’s in Overcoming Limitations. The students laughed, cried and celebrated the victory as I dramatically narrated my life. Hundreds of students passed by my table following the speech, many of them stopping to thank me and share their own struggles.

As I was finishing up a mother approached me. “I wanted to let you know, Mr. Heagy, that your speech empowered me.” I could sense something was on her mind. “My son recently put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He spent months in intensive care and rehabilitation. Even though he has some challenges he now loves life and speaks to kids about bullying and depression. I wish he would have asked for help, at the same time, it changed my son’s life and now he is changing others.” It’s funny how God can turn things around.

I must admit five years ago I faced the demons of depression. Like this young man, I felt helpless and hopeless, particularly because I’m supposed to be the “positive attitude dude.” If you’re struggling with depression or know someone who is, encourage conversation and get help. It’s like traveling into a deep cave; the further you go in the harder it is to find your way out.

As I wrote this, unbeknownst to me, my 10 year old daughter had her first bullying experience. After typing this blog I left to pick her up from school. When I arrived, her sensitive little heart opened up and she tearfully told me that she had been bullied by an older girl. I let her talk and shared in her pain. I asked her what she thought we should do and surprisingly she had the answer. It was not the time for me to be a tough dad, thank God I wasn’t. Her mother and I dealt with the issue right away so that Gracie felt 100% loved, supported, and cherished. Isn’t that what we all need?

You can’t do anything about the past, but we can actively take responsibility for the future.

If you cannot see the video, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m56opBjGfRU

To your inspiration,

Ron

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Remember to love!