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How Creativity Therapy Saved My Life

By Amy Oestreicher

My name is Amy Oestreicher, and according to doctors, I am a “surgical disaster.”  However, at 28, I feel truly blessed.  I may not have a stomach, but I sure am hungry for life.  It started in 2005 – a week before my senior prom.  It was our second night of Passover, and my stomach started hurting.  My dad said it might be gas, but he took me to the ER for an x-ray, just in case.  On the way there, my cheeks actually puffed up, soon after, I collapsed, and I woke up from my coma months later.  Apparently, there was a blood clot on the mesenteric artery that caused a thrombosis, and when they cut into me, my stomach actually burst to the top of the OR.  Both of my lungs collapsed, I went into sepsis shock, and I needed 122 units of blood to keep me alive.   At 18, I was read my last rites.

When I finally awoke from my coma months later, the doctors finally told me what was going on.  I had no stomach anymore, I couldn’t eat or drink, and it was not known when or if I would ever be able to again.  What do you say to that?  I was shocked – I had been too sleepy to be hungry, but now that I knew what the real circumstances were, I was devastated.  I was confused, like I had woken up in someone else’s life – where was I?  Who was I?  I remember I was once so desperate for answers that I googled “How do I find myself?”

Part of me wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear, part of me wanted to throw something.  I was frustrated – I had just gotten my college acceptance letters – was I the victim of some cruel joke?

One day, I picked up a paintbrush.  And my world changed.  I had found a way to express things that were too complicated, painful and overwhelming to put into words.  Suddenly, when the uncertainty around me seemed frighteningly unmanageable, the strokes of my paintbrush could soothe me as I created a peaceful world that my soul longed to rest in as a place of peaceful solace.  My passion could ignite instead of my anger and despair.  And slowly, the good feelings overwhelmed the bad because I could control the positive world portrayed on my canvases with what my subconscious chose to create.  And I still believe that attitude is everything.

You don’t need to be an “artist” to make art – all you need to do is start somewhere.  Art doesn’t have to be “good”, it just has to be “real.”  What draws me back again and again to my paintbrush is that when I hold it in my hands, no one can judge me – all that matters is what I’m feeling inside.  Through painting, I’ve discovered feelings I’ve suppressed that I had never even anticipated.  Every day I come to my painting, I may be feeling something diferent.  I could paint the most joyful expression in the world, or just a giant tear drop – but every time, I always walk away feeling better.  I’ve realized what I was feeling – and I’d rather feel everything than nothing at all.

Creativity became my lifeline.  What I wanted to keep my mind and heart numb to not deal with difficult circumstances, art could help me unlock those feelings and truly express myself.

Who knew that art would make my medical trauma become the most amazing adventure and lesson of my life?  Art helped me process what I was feeling.  But most importantly, art served to be the greatest reward, acting as a medium where I could still engage with my community, reach out to others, and make a difference in this world while utilizing my passion.  Arts were my way of connecting with the world, sharing my story, and spreading my message of hope, strength, and finding beauty in whatever life brings you.  My art may be self-taught, but it is personal, uniquely me, and a mosaic of what I have been through.

As a child, the arts were my passion and identity.  When my traumas occurred, they became my lifeline.  Now that I am out of my medical crisis and into a life of health and vitality once again, the arts are how I can reconnect with the world, make a difference, and raise awareness – awareness ofthe power of ones internal resources, awareness that there are many ways to heal externally and internally, and awareness of the human potential and spirit.  An awareness of gratitude – that every day and moment should be celebrated – that life is a canvas, an open score, a bare stage, waiting for us to join the dance!

I found art accidentally on my way to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually and have learned that it is one of the most rewarding, forgiving, beautiful ways to find my way through the darkness and into the light.  I may have found it accidentally, but because of art, I have found myself again.  Although left with a few scars, I am long past my bleak days in the hospital.  With, my wonderfully supportive family, my passion and a paintbrush, I was able to keep my soul alive for that uncertain time in my life.  Life may always be predictable, but art can always find the beauty in the detours.


Amy Oestreicher is a 28 year old actress, musician, teacher, composer, dancer, writer, artist, yogi, foodie, and general lover of life.  Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.  Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons.  Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings.

More information on her unique story, as well as her creative ventures can be found at, and visit her blog for her newest art, music and inspirational musings.  You can also visit her Etsy shop at


The story of the multi-talented Amy Oestreicher and her beautiful music

Music has always been a powerful resource for me.  As a kid, I was always writing songs in my head, daydreaming about producing my own musical with original songs.  But songwriting proved to be instrumental in helping me discover my own voice again after my life took a dramatic turn.

As a child, the arts were my passion and identity.  When my traumas occurred, they became my lifeline.    I grew up all my life in theatre.  I was singing, dancing, acting and creating since the time I could talk.  I lived my life believing I would carve a beautiful career out for myself in the world of musical theatre, be on Broadway, and conquer the world.  However, at 18, and a week before my senior prom, I found myself in intense pain – very suddenly and randomly.  I was rushed to the ER, and to summarize very briefly, my stomach exploded, I was in a coma for six months, and I was unable to eat or drink a drop of water for over three years.  After 27 surgeries, I was miraculously reconnected with whatever I had left.  However, to persevere through those tumultuous years took great inner and outer strength.  I relied on my creativity to get through.  My therapy was purely based in the world of theatre, art, writing, dance, music, and whatever else I felt was an area that I could express myself appropriately.  The arts were a way for me to express whatever felt too painful and overwhelming to put into words.  They also helped me process what I was feeling.  But most importantly, they served to be the greatest reward acting as a medium where I could still engage with my community, reach out to others, and make a difference in this world while utilizing my passion.  Arts were my way of connecting with the world, sharing my story, and spreading my message of hope, strength, and finding beauty in whatever life brings you.

To find myself again after so many medical interventions, I painted, I danced, I wrote, I sang – but it was the act of writing and putting those words to music – to sing them from my gut – this was what allowed me to accept my body again – a body vastly different from the one I grew up in.

Songwriting was my therapy, and within a month, I had written over thirty songs.  This song was based on some journal writings I had done when reflecting on life in the hospital.   I wanted the world to know what I had been through – to give the outside world a glimpse of my story, to explain why I came to be who I am, to “justify” why I may seem a “madwoman” after so many years of trauma…this song was my way of letting people in.

Read and learn more about Amy on her official website today or by checking out her blog.

Songs I’ve recently taken a liking to

From time to time we all get caught up in a particular song or two that for some reason or another seems to stand out a bit from the rest. It might not be the best piece of music but it has something about it that just makes your day or causes it to become an “earworm” if you will.

Here are a few that have had that impact on me recently that I would like to share.

Beautifully artistic sessions from Dancing With The Stars

As readers of this blog will likely realize, I have long been a fan of the show Dancing With The Stars on the television network ABC.

Being an artist, I can of course appreciate the artistry and creativity involved in the choreography and the dance itself as well as the music that inspires the motion.

That being the case, I want to share a few videos of some truly wonderful performances featured on the current edition of this highly entertaining show.

Major talent on American Idol

There is no doubt that the long-running series American Idol has launched the careers of many aspiring musical artists.

Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s competition.

Nick Fradiani 

Joey Cook


A quick glance at the American Idol Top 24

For a complete look at this season’t Top 24 contestants, check out this Hollywood Reporter Article. But for this post, I just wanted to go over the ones I consider a few of my favorites.

Top Girls:



Alexis Gomez


Joey Cook


Tyanna Jones


Top Guys:

Adam Ezegelian


Nick Fradiani


Qaasim Middleton


Trevor Douglas


Welcome Back Garth Brooks

The man who could arguably be called the king of Country Music as that he is only the highest selling male soloist of all time, is back with his first album in more than a decade.

While the album “Man Against Machine” is pretty good, there is one song that really stands out. In a world of hurt and suffering, indifference and intolerance, the song “People Loving People” is a welcome message in typical Garth fashion.

Please check out the video of the live performance from the most recent AMA Awards.


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