By Marisol Rexach, Ph.D. in Education Student

Recently I did what many of us do.  I went to the Chapman website to access Blackboard or Leatherby Libraries- I can’t remember exactly.  The usual features popped up, urging me to click and learn more.  There it was again, the TEDx series.  I had seen a couple of these videos before, while attending workshops, and the videos featured were always inspirational. So, I clicked on the link.  An entire series of videos popped up, but one caught my eye, “Embrace the Shake.”  I have intimate knowledge of the restrictions caused by uncontrollable shaking of the hand.  It is a humbling reality for many and often causes great frustration.  So, not really knowing if this was the focus of the presentation, I took a chance and watched Phil Hansen tell his story.

The story of an artist whose hand shaking worsened to the point he abandoned his art.  His passion was pointillism- that amazing ability to transform small dots, thousands of them, into masterpieces.  Over time his dots began to resemble tadpoles.  His grip grew progressively tighter and caused him great pain which led him to seek medical help.  Permanent nerve damage was the diagnose, but along with that came an unexpected turn of events due to a simple phrase. It was not until his neurologist asked, “Why don’t you embrace the shake?” that Phil explored the possibilities of what he had perceived as nothing but a limitation. The results were astounding!

Phil Hansen, speaker of “Embrace the Shake,” featured on the TEDx series available on the Chapman web page, has a message to share.  He maintains that learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations allows us to challenge ourselves.  He had to re-envision art and his traditional perceptions.  In some ways, I think he discovered that his shaking allowed him to break free of traditional ways of doing things; it was his limitation that forced him to think outside the normative box.  I contemplate that in my own life.  How do I react to challenges that seem to set limits?  Can I look at these challenges as opportunities to be creative?   Like Phil, I think I will work to embrace those challenges that can often “shake” me.  I hope you will join me. To view Phil Hansen’s presentation, visit TEDxvideos