Art Knows No Barriers: The Incredible Story of Leanne Beetham

If you don’t know by now the incredible story of Leanne Beetham, then pause for a moment and read carefully, as her story proves once again, if it was necessary, that human potential goes beyond physical disability and where nature’s cruelty strikes, the human spirit rises, giving its possessor chances and opportunities never imagined before. Leanne Beethan is yet another example of a person fighting against its own boundaries and winning at a game many non-disabled people tend to ignore and overestimate: achieving the impossible, overcoming limitations, breaking through barriers others don’t have to live with.

But let’s start the incredible story of Leanne Beetham the proper way: with the beginning. Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita is a congenital condition that affects almost all joints in a person’s body, making them eventually incapable to move. Although quite rare, it is a major disabling condition and Leanne was unfortunate enough to be born with it. She has the spine curved and she cannot move either her arms or her legs. Her mother, apparently unable to take care of a severely disabled child, left her in the care Leanne’s grandparents who didn’t have much hope either, as the doctors’ prognostics weren’t so bright.

But the British young girl did not only survived, she became a great contemporary artist, as well. By the age of two years old, she started drawing and painting by holding a pencil in her mouth.

Years have passed and now Leanne Beethan is a true painter and a talented one by all possible standards. According to an interview she gave to Daily Mail not so long ago,

her talent was recognized at 13 when she designed a Christmas card for her school which was featured in the local newspaper and seen by a member of MFPA

MFPA, which stands for Mouth and Foot Painting Artists welcomed Leanne and thus, her career as a painter began. She started painting and drawing nature and animal inspired artworks for charity purposes. She became widely popular in the last years, not only because she turned her talent into a personal success, but because she turned her personal success into a life’s goal to educate the public and to advocate for the abilities and talents of disabled people.

Leanne’s terrible fate was completely changed when she was discovered as a young artistic talent and she received a scholarship and an award for Triumph Over Adversity from the British National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

But the incredible story of Leanne Beetham doesn’t stop here: her lucky star shone bright above her and turned her into a national celebrity, since famous crime writer Frederick Forsyth became one of her fans, together with a wildlife artist known in artistic circles by the name of Shepherd.

Leanne’s own love for animals carried her steps towards the Bishop Burton Higher Education College where she attends applied animal behavior and training classes, but her dedication to art is more powerful.

Can she make a living out of her mouth charcoal drawings and watercolor paintings? She believes so and from the looks of it, she started really well: one of her works made it to Christie’s Auction House in London, marking thus a major landmark in her artistic career. Not only that she was the youngest artist to take part at the auction (organized for charity and fundraising purposes in the benefit of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation for endangered wild animals), but her artwork was registered at a reserve price of £800 (apprx. $1,304).

What is absolutely great about the incredible story of Leanne Beetham is that despite her incapacity to move, she has a larger than life attitude and the ambition to prove anybody wrong if they dare say to her that she can’t do certain things.

Why Do People Do That? Human Placenta and Breast Milk Art

You may believe it is a very gross thing to do, women eating their own placenta, there is, but the practice wasn’t invented yesterday. Moreover, women in China also have a recipe for cooking their placenta, and if this didn’t make you run outside, then you’re good to go, because on a less gross note, modern medicine and technology found a lot of important uses for this particular part of a woman’s body. Stem cell harvest, placenta freezing, placenta – based processed supplements, they all belong to this modern world where we are still fighting terminal diseases and don’t know how to handle transplant rejections or organ donor incompatibility. But, on the bright side, we have now the power to 3D print organs and save lives and, who knows, we may be the witnesses of curing cancer and AIDS during our lifetimes and put an end to misery and suffering. And all these may be intimately linked to the newborns’ placenta.

…And then, there comes the art, ladies and gentlemen. Women around the world took a step forward and instead of eating their placentas, like any other responsible mother would, or donate it to science, they started creating works of art. And for things to get even weirder, some smart people figured out that breast milk is a solid ingredient for creating art too. You may think breast milk is liquid, but wait for it… So today we will talk about human placenta and breast milk art. Just so you know what to do as fresh mothers. By the looks of it, fathers have nothing to do with this, but it’s best to be updated.

Human Placenta Art

French branch of Slate Magazine start their debate on the subject of “what women do with their placenta” with a very objective heading: Some peoples’ imagination has no limits. Indeed it doesn’t. So these guys found out that American mothers harvest their fresh placentas and use them to make posters, given the fact that it can look like some sort of a tree, together with the umbilical cord. It’s not the actual placenta, mind you, but the traces of the placenta imprinted on paper after pressed carefully against it. The painting can be of course put on the wall to celebrate the birth of the newborn and remind the parents how lucky they are.

But in the world of human placenta and breast milk art, things don’t stop at DIY projects, although there are video tutorials available for women to make their own placenta posters. There are companies who will do it for you. Slate contributor describes Portland as a neo – hippie city by excellence before presenting us with Tree of Life Placenta Services, a company that turns your placenta into a post – modern painting. Isn’t that sweet?

Breast milk art

breast milk jewelry

If you’re thinking something like ice sculptures (as milk seems to be liquid compared to the placenta which is solid), we are talking about breast milk jewelry. And this is old news people. This looks like an old good fashioned British – French cooperation, as somewhere in 2008 some French scientists discovered the recipe which allows mothers with too much breast milk and too much free time imagination  to solidify their breast milk and turn it into jewelry, while The Telegraph described the whole process in detail. You can buy breast milk jewelry, you can make your own earrings and bracelets and necklaces, just to keep close (and forever) the fresh mommy memories.

While some people create all sort of artistic works out of the strangest of materials, and don’t get us wrong, we love art, human placenta and breast milk art seem to be only for the connoisseurs and people willing to make some serious statements.  Best of luck with that!

Photo credits: Slate.fr, Telegraph.co.uk

5 Less Known Books Inspired by Their Authors’ Dreams

One of the most interesting questions you can ask a writer is where did he get his or her inspiration to write a certain book, and given the fact that the history of literature registered so many great works, the answers are infinite and fascinating. And when it comes to world – famous writers and novels, things get even more interesting, as imagination seemed to travel to territories us readers don’t even begin to comprehend. But was it only imagination, creativity, a blend of personal experiences and fictional reinterpretations of reality that made some writers deliver outstanding creations, or was it more than this?

Today we will see five less known books inspired by their author’s dreams, and even you already are aware of titles such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – which came from Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson’s dream of a man with multiple personality disorder, or Mary Shelley’s dream about what humanity will later meet as Frankenstein, there are other just as famous titles which can be traced back to their authors’ dreams.

5. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

jane eyre

Jane Eyre’s story arc comes from a blend of lucid dreams, night dreams and even lucid visions Charlotte Bronte had and detailed. One of the biggest classic novels of all times, Jane Eyre may not have come directly and perfectly from her author’s hallucinations, prophecies, visions and dreams, but it is a product of them all, skillfully put by Bronte on paper, together with a touch of genius.

4. Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot

salem's lot

Mr. King never neglected the dreams function and inspiring role into the life of a writer. While it is well known that terror / horror masterpiece Misery was inspired by a dream he had on the board of an airplane. The nightmare about a psychotic fan kidnapping a writer was so powerful, King soon translated the images into words, and this is how bestselling novel Misery was born. But King had other dreams, even as a child, and Salem’s Lot is the product of adult and established writer King going back to child Stephen and putting that old nightmare on paper.

3. H.P. Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter and all his other works

statement of randolf carter

H.P. Lovecraft is the incontestable father of all things horror and all his works deserve a place in this list of less known books inspired by their author’s dreams, especially if we talk about The Statement of Randolph Carter, a dream the author just transcribed into words, adding some preface to make things clear. But Lovecraft is known for suffering from nightmares since his childhood years and critics safely assume that almost all his terrorizing stories about the Great Old Ones and the monsters he created can be traced back to his troubled dreams.

2. E. B. White’s Stuart Little

Stuart Little

Maybe this one isn’t all unknown to you, but it is still fascinating how one of children’s most favorite characters came directly from the author’s dream. He actually “saw” a young boy acting and looking quite well like a mouse, and here is where it all began. E.B. White confessed to this, but it took him nearly two decades to turn the dream into a story.

1. Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire

interview with a vampire

If Stephenie Meyer did indeed dream about a sparkly old beautiful vampire falling in love with the girl next door, thus becoming one of the most successful Young Adult book (and movie) series in our modern times, back in the day, the mother of the most fascinating vampires that ever blessed literature and cinema was dreaming of blood, death and her very sick daughter, who eventually died of a severe form of leukemia, sending her mother to the edges of darkness and despair. Anne Rice maybe never dreamed about Lestat and Louis, but she did dream something so powerful, so unnatural, that it turned into one of the best and most appraised vampire sagas in all history. 

Surprising or not (and mostly not), in this list of less known books inspired by their author’s dreams, you can fit in almost all Edgar Allan Poe’s works, as he, just as Lovecraft, was a troubled man with vivid nightmares that are plausible to have turned later on in mind-blowing masterpieces, but literature knows many other works that came directly from their creators’ vivid dreams and visions.

3 Less Known Book Openings You Should Know

In the world of literature and creative writing, one of the things that matter the most, according to some specialists, is the opening paragraph. It should be catchy, engaging, interesting, addictive and powerful enough to keep you hooked to the book and start your journey through the story. There is not one list of famous literary openings, but dozens, and while many agree that some lines are the best in history, others come up with even more and more examples, from classic literature to contemporary one.

However, there are some less known book openings you should know about and be able to say to whom they belong. This doesn’t have to do with you playing cool and educated and throwing a book quote randomly in a conversation, just to show how smart, educated and superior you are, but has everything to do with you being able to have a conversation about famous book openings and go beyond the classic “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” These classics made history, indeed, but let’s take a look at others too. Here are 3 less known book openings you should know to whom they belong and how really famous they are for certain people.

1. The Favorite Game by Leonard Cohen

Of course you know famous musician Leonard Cohen wrote a bunch of novels and some poetry collections, right? And that The Favorite Game is a masterpiece easily comparable with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, right? Well, this is how The Favorite Game begins and it is a beautiful introduction in the universe of innocence that Cohen has created.

“Breavman knows a girl named Shell whose ears were pierced so she could wear the long filigree earrings. The punctures festered and now she has a tiny scar in each earlobe. He discovered them behind her hair.

A bullet broke into the flesh of his father’s arm as he rose out of a trench. It comforts a man with coronary thrombosis to bear a wound taken in combat.

On the right temple Breavman has a scar which Krantz bestowed with a shovel. Trouble over a snowman. Krantz wanted to use clinkers as eyes. Breavman was and still is against the use of foreign materials in the decoration of snowmen. No woolen mufflers, hats, spectacles. In the same vein he does not approve of inserting carrots in the mouths of carved pumpkins or pinning on cucumber ears.

Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh. It is easy to display a wound, the proud scars of combat. It is hard to show a pimple.”

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

This should be not be among the less known book openings you should know, because it is quite famous. Perhaps mostly among those who study literature and the mystery niche in detail, but this opening still stands the test of time when analyzed and is still given as example when teaching students and debutant authors on how they should start. It inspired other crime novelists after Chandler to carry on his legacy and it is still considered perfect as literary technique. It was Chandler’s debut novel, so imagine the skills the man had, if his opening paragraph is still one of the most powerful in mystery / thriller literature.

It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

We sure hoped you heard about her and read this book, and if you didn’t, you should give it a try. A book reviewer on Goodreads commented once that even if he read this book ten years ago, the opening paragraph is still fresh and powerful in his mind. The book is amazing and was described as such not only by the critics but the readers as well. You can almost taste, feel, see, hear and smell the universe Roy is creating from the first lines, and this is just the beginning.

“May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.

The nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation.”

Do you have your favorite book opening paragraphs that are considered less known and you believe they deserve to become famous? Share them with us!

The Absolute Worst Calendars for 2014

As a new year begins we are full of hope and expectation for the coming 365 days. Whatever you do, don’t go and spoil the positive vibes by buying one of the worst calendars for 2014.

The Welsh Phone Boxes Calendar

Worst Calendars for 2014

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