Disease doesn’t stop Sherills Ford resident Patti Meese from her art: Her work is featured in national calendar
Friday, Mar. 28, 2014

Disease doesn’t stop Sherills Ford resident Patti Meese from her art: Her work is featured in national calendar

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/25/14/51/P9fay.Em.138.jpeg|237
    Quilling is “a lost art form which involves creating miniature objects by curling very thin, colorful strips of paper,” said Patti Meese, a sample of whose work is shown here.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/03/25/14/51/KMfzw.Em.138.jpeg|421
    Sherrills Ford resident Patti Meese is proud of her quilling project, “The Healing Garden,” which is featured as the illustration for March in the 2014 PDF Creativity and Parkinson’s Calendar.
  • Want the calendar?

    To order the free Creativity and Parkinson’s Calendar, call the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation at 800-457-6676, email info@pdf.org or visit www.pdf.org/creativity.

Sherrills Ford resident Patti Meese will have her quilling handicrafts featured in the 2014 Parkinson’s Disease Foundation calendar, “Creativity & Parkinson’s.”

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008 while living in Scottsdale, Ariz., she is a retired educator, as well as a former human resources director for a cosmetics firm.

According to the foundation website, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the United States. “Although promising research is being conducted, there is no cure.”

It took her a while after symptoms began to appear before she decided to see a doctor. “I had been downplaying some suspicious symptoms, such as leg tremors and cognitive decline,” Meese, 62, said “but I attributed them to my age.”

“When I was first diagnosed, I sat in my car and cried because I felt so alone, not knowing where to go for help and support. I went downhill physically and emotionally, even losing my voice.”

“I became a hermit, losing myself in the process,” she continued. “I guess I had to hit rock bottom before I began to find a way back to my joyful self.”

She eventually realized that there are organizations dedicated to helping individuals with Parkinson’s to become more knowlegable about their diagnosis. Her turnaround began with physical therapy.

“I was in a program designed to help me regain my balance, have a better gait and posture and resume normal activities,” she said.

Several months into her therapy program, her outlook was considerably improved.

“I was able to ride my bike again and wear high heels. At that point, I began to feel that life was right for me,” she recalled. “I even joined a group called The Tremble Clefs, which was dedicated to helping folks with PD regain effective use of their singing voice.

“That group enabled me to recover my singing voice, which had always been a source of joy in my life.”

About that time, a friend in her water aerobics class who had been trained as a Parkinson’s disease advocate suggested Meese would be an ideal candidate to take the three-day training for that position as well.

“Being trained as a PDF advocate became my purpose in life,” she said. “I became actively involved in promoting awareness of Parkinson’s and the research being conducted.

“We also want to empower individuals with Parkinson’s to have a better quality of life, to know that there is a lot of help available and they shouldn’t feel alone.”

Feeling much better about herself and actively pursuing the role of advocate, Meese revived an interest in a hobby she had enjoyed, the art of quilling.

“It’s a lost art form which involves creating miniature objects by curling very thin, colorful strips of paper,” she said.

“I wondered if I would be able to manage the fine motor skills that quilling requires, but I discovered that it was actually very therapeutic for me.

“I get so immersed in the craft that I completely forget that I have PD,” Meese said. “I began creating all kinds of projects using the quilling technique.”

Knowing that the foundation published a calendar every year featuring the creative talents of individuals living with Parkinson’s, she decided to submit several photos illustrating her quilling and painting efforts.

“I was delighted to learn that I would have a photo of my quilling, which I titled ‘The Healing Garden,’ selected as the March illustration for the 2014 calendar.”

Her work as a PDF advocate keeps Meese busy, but she always finds time to continue her creative pursuits.

“Creative healing is amazing,” she said. “Whatever makes a person’s heart soar is something they should be doing. And for individuals with Parkinson’s, the therapeutic benefits are incalculable in helping to overcome the effects of the disease, as well as promoting a sense of well being.”

“It combats depression and nurtures a feeling of pride and accomplishment,” she said.

Bruce Dunbridge is a freelance writer. . Have a story idea for Bruce? Email him at brucedunbridge@yahoo.com.

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