I have often enjoyed the fantasy - in my dreams, of course - that I could float through the air and maybe even fly, but the truth is that last time I looked in the mirror, I didn't see any wings. I am not a bat; nor for sure an angel. When it comes to flying I am limited by my anatomy. I fly anyway. I've been to Australia and China and Europe and lots of other places I would only have gone to if I could fly.

I have flying limitations, but I fly. I fly because we humans like to find ways to solve problems. It's one of the great gifts of our nature. If we can't fly, we invent airplanes. If we want to water our gardens, we invent hoses. It's what we do. We determine what we want to accomplish and we come up with creative solutions - notwithstanding and sometimes even in joyous defiance of whatever limitations our bodies present.

Artists make art by responding to limitations. Sound like a contradiction? It isn't. If artists didn't have limitations to respond to they might never make art. This week I watched a sculptor making a sculpture of a full moon designed to sit outside in a garden. Since all the sculptors I know are still working with the limits of imposed by gravity, the moon rests on a frame in order to be held in the air. This sculptor has taken the gravitational limits that impose the need for a frame and made the frame a graceful expression of the tension between floating and being held. It is a beautiful and deeply stirring response to the limitations imposed by gravity and steel.

But we don't have to be artists to do this. We all live around our limitations. Everybody does it. We just don't often think about it. Every cup of coffee we drink is living around the limitation that we can't hold steaming hot coffee using our bare hands as a cup. Every snowstorm we walk through wearing clothes and staying warm is living around the limitation that we don't grow fur.

It's easier to see this ability to live around limitations when we have most of the abilities we were born with. When we think our limitations are "normal" we assume we can find ways around them. If we suddenly lose the ability to do something we may feel resentful, different and stuck and not remember this creative gift our human nature brings us. But none of us has wings, and if we can remember our innate ability to find ways to live around our limitations and put our creativity to work, we can find ways to continue to have a rich and rewarding life.

My friend Rita Martin had two strokes thirteen years ago. Her right hand - her dominant hand - was paralyzed for a long time. She is just now beginning to be able to open it and continues to work on regaining functional use of her hand. There are many wonderful things to know about Rita, but a particularly delicious one is that Rita is a fantastic cook and she loves doing it. Sometimes when I am very lucky, Rita makes me dinner. Yum.

When she was injured, Rita was faced with a choice, she could give up cooking since she had only had her non-dominant hand to work with or she could find a way to live around her new limitation. Which do imagine she chose? Unfair question - we already know she makes me dinner. But don't for a minute think that Rita is satisfied just cooking for herself and occasionally for her friends like me. Rita likes parties. She likes workshops. Using specially designed one-handed cooking equipment she prepared the food for a party of 50 people that we gave and she often cooks for workshops of 25 people for 10 days. Rita does what she loves.

Comparing ourselves to what we think we should be, won't help us live around our limitations. Seeing whatever limitation we are experiencing as an invitation to spark our creativity will. You don't have to have a stroke to learn this lesson. We all have the same choice moment to moment. We can focus on our limitations, real or imagined, and stay stuck, or we can focus on creatively finding a way to get done what we want to do. That creative power is in all of us.

Author's Bio: 

Alison Bonds Shapiro, MBA, works with stroke survivors and their families, and is the author of Healing into Possibility: the Transformational Lessons of a Stroke.

Alison’s Website