This week we get to hear life stories from a wonderful human and artist called Henry Fraser.
Talking to Henry reminded me of the transformative power of mindset and will. Two parts of us that we don’t need a working body to use.
A devastating accident in the shallows of a Portuguese beach left Henry, at age 17, paralysed from the shoulders down. He’d just finished his exams and was a promising rugby player for a premiership winning club. Now, in a flash, he was in hospital and unable to move. He spent six months there, enduring the worst day of his life, a day where he felt powerless and so desperately consumed with grief for the incomprehensible new direction he must take. He couldn’t sit up straight and had a tracheotomy and an oxygen tank and couldn’t even hug his mother. He caught sight of himself in the mirror – four stone lighter – for the first time in months. He broke down and couldn’t stop.
Then a moment came where he realised there was no one to blame, he’d felt everything he needed to grieve and he felt the cool calm of acceptance within himself. Anger and bitterness were fruitless. He developed a game plan and focused on individual goals.
Now, in his late 20s, Henry has seized the wild animal of life by the horns. He began to explore the art that he loved as a child, gaining a stunning skill as a mouth artist. He talks publicly in various events around the country, has written an acclaimed book – with foreword by JK Rowling no less – and been on the Jonathan Ross Show.
Henry does not dwell on the sliding doors of possibility that will stay forever in the past. He lives mindfully with what is, what he has now, his incredible community and the joys he can harvest in the every day. And I tell you, he’s an example to all of us with both able bodies and disabilities to focus on putting the life into living. Doing what we can and being grateful for the everyday peace and beauty. He’s lost his physicality and has moved his strength to his mind, from a life of seeing his physical body as his strength. He’s also an inspiring of example of the importance of letting go and grieving. As he says in our conversation, he did not hold back every time he felt the need to release emotions.
We talked about Henry’s life and state of mind before the accident in Portugal where his spinal chord was severed and crushed; what his time in hospital felt like mentally and physically; his approach to staying mentally healthy; the joys and challenges in his day-to-day; how his work as a mouth artist has evolved; what constitutes therapy; and the progress needed in the treatment and therapy of those with disabilities.
Go see Henry’s art for yourself through the show notes below. It’s quite something. Please show him a huge dose of love on social and why not share it along with the link for the episode in a quick tweet or story. Also check out Patreon to support the show and access new bonus content going up next week.
Check out the episode from Friday at 8am UK in the usual places: