One of the most inspirational stories you’ll read about, right here, by Ken Picard in Seven Days. Jocelyn Woods, 27, of Vermont has not only battled a perplexing neuromuscular disease since childhood which leaves her mostly bedridden, she is also a cutting-edge artist with powerful creative visions which are defying stereotypes about disabled people and sexuality. Woods does so without resorting to politically correct message-driven art (which she detests), but by calling up the power of her True Self, the “vast eternity” which she came to identify with.
Woods was born in Florida but moved to Vermont at age 10. An only child, she was homeschooled by her mom through high school, which she completed at 16. Woods traces her spiritual awakening to an existential crisis she had at age 4, when she brought her mother into the bathroom and stood there crying because she didn’t believe the little girl in the mirror reflected her true, infinite nature.
“I felt like I was sitting on the edge of this vast eternity,” she recalls, “and didn’t know how to process that as a child.”
Woods’ creativity also blossomed early. At 3, she asked her mother for piano lessons, and was playing by age 5. At 15 she was composing and performing her own classical pieces, and at age 16 Woods recorded a solo album titled A River’s Journey at Charles Eller’s studio in Charlotte. She expected to pursue a career as a concert pianist until her poor health intervened.
A severe bout of influenza when she was 18 robbed Woods of mobility and dexterity, including her ability to play the piano. She was left semi-bedridden and took years to recover. Today, her health has stabilized, but she undergoes daily physical therapy and Pilates sessions to maintain her strength and muscle tone. She also experiments with alternative therapies and takes singing lessons to strengthen her diaphragm.
In June 2012, Woods contracted a severe respiratory illness that nearly claimed her life. This time, it triggered what she calls a “shamanic experience” that inspired much of her recent work.
“It was quite frightening, and I wasn’t quite sure how I would emerge from that,” she recalls, “because I felt as though I were suspended between the two worlds of life and death, the soul realm and the physical realm.”
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