Most innovations arrive in public in dress clothes. They are bangles and baubles that don’t reflect the often-perilous road it takes to success.
You also don’t hear the words innovation and courage used together.
If so, you probably haven’t met Jeffrey Sparr. Jeffrey enthralled the audience at BIF8 because he turned a mental disorder into art and in turn is helping hundreds of people living with similar disorders to thrive.
Back in 2009, Sparr wrote haltingly of his struggles in a short-lived blog,
“Peace of Mind - how can one possibly put a price on that? Believe me you can't. Just ask someone like myself who suffers from a crazy mental illness like OCD that takes you out of the moment with unwanted and ridiculous thoughts. And to make matters worse it seems to always take on its greatest momentum when you least want it as the disease tries to play the role of the thief and robber. At the end of the day trying to take from you those "moments" which are often so simple in nature but what in facts makes our lives so special and meaning.”
More than two decades ago, Sparr was the captain of the Ohio State University tennis team when he began to manifest symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He gave the BIF crowd a glimpse in the reality of OCD by saying, “Imagine that you are in an airport or a park and you lose your child for just a moment. Suddenly you are filled with fear and panic. That’s what I feel like nearly everyday – and it’s the little things in life that fill me with those feelings.”
Sixteen years ago, he discovered painting as a creative “artlet” that provided him a temporary sanctuary from OCD. “The artist part of me came out of nowhere,” he told BIF. “It’s taken me into a whole new world. One of things about the creation of art is that you get lost in it.”
So where’s the innovation?
Sparr wanted to do something positive with his art by sharing and teaching the benefits of art therapy to others with mental illness. He created PeaceLove as a dual entity; a non-profit arm that provides free services for a diverse demographic and a for-profit segment that builds the brand.
On stage he painted a self-portrait and the audience could feel his body and mind relax. He was at home in front of the easel.
The name and unique logo, which is dominant in many of Jeff’s paintings, represent a commitment to helping people find these two basic, but often elusive feelings: Peace and Love. Create A Better Day.™
It took courage for Jeffrey to face a debilitating disease and it took an act of generosity to turn his gift into art into the gift of giving.
For more information or to connect with PeaceLove, click http://www.peacelovestudios.com