February 12, 2021

Posture Matters! by Katie Gerke

Keep your attitude in a place that births art.

A “GET TO” attitude not a “HAVE TO” attitude.

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10

I have had 30 years of creatively adapting my life skills. My life with progressive MS has presented me with some harsh realities and permanent life challenges. I needed to live in the light of the opportunities and not the restrictions. Once realized, it is impossible to be given over to pride and anger.

My writing began when I was asked, by the MS Society, to give a speech to the Alberta Legislature regarding young adults living in seniors’ facilities. I was living in such a facility at the time. Now, I needed to write a speech! I was able to articulate to the Members of the Legislature, the difference between living in the facility and having the choice to live in the community. Afterward, the MS Society and I produced a CD called, “These 4 Walls”, where I sat in my tiny room reciting my speech. It became a teaching tool for the Society and other advocate groups. The speech and CD were my first pieces of art.

Aristotle said, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but the inward significance."

Advocating came too easily to me. I was getting involved with too many organizations, and I soon felt I was no longer making a difference. I emailed everyone and told them I could no longer participate in their organizations’ endeavors. This freed up an enormous amount of time and I was able to start advocating for clients in the facility where I lived. I adapted creatively. 

The first tool I got for writing was Dragon Naturally Speaking software. I am still training my Dragon and creatively adapting my writing. 

When I lost the use of my right hand and was unable to use a regular mouse, I got a head mouse camera and tracker dot. The tracker dot, which is stuck to the bridge of my glasses, communicates with the camera of my computer.

Along with the head mouse came the on-screen keyboard, which helps me with my mouse clicks.

I started a journal to corral my boisterous thoughts. That helped me articulate daily trends in my emotional and spiritual growth or lack thereof. Also, I would include prayers and relevant Scripture that would hearten me while I dictated some of my most painful reflections.

In later years, my writing morphed into fantastical short stories, parodies, and ruminations of the human condition.

I am still adapting to my habit of editing while I write. My compulsive behaviour will write something and after all the nitpicking is done there is nothing left on the page. 

My creativity extended beyond thoughts and emotions typed in letters of various fonts and sizes, to painting. 

Children’s art inspired me to start mouth painting. After I read to the children at a local elementary school, I would traipse the halls and become increasingly intrigued and inspired by the fantastic art the children produced. Twelve years ago I put the paintbrush in my mouth when I discovered a painting class at the facility where I live.

My creativity was stoked by experimenting with famous works of art. I found it to be a good tool in cutting my creative “teeth”. 

I started using Styrofoam, masking tape, and my wooden coffee holder to support my palate and paints. A rickety easel, which I creatively acquired from the class, precariously held my canvases. (There’s no guarantee on stolen goods.)

During each painting session, everything would slowly disintegrate and I would have to reinvent my setup while I painted. This was extremely time-consuming and frustrating. 

Eventually, after extensive research and development, I learned that these are the tools I need for a successful painting session:

Sturdy wood easel that would hold my piece of art.

Beanbags to hold the base of the easel so it wouldn’t fall forward and crack me in the head.

My yellow box contained my painting supplies and gave my easel extra height.

A heavy, black stand was engineered to hold my palate and paints, brushes, and water jar.  

Short, wooden paintbrushes, with close-cropped bristles.

As a result of my artistic endeavors, I became more well-known in the disability community and was presented with new opportunities to continue my advocacy with renewed vigor and optimism.

My advocacy, writing, and painting complemented each other throughout the years. These forms of expression have helped me to adapt and focus my energies on such things that God has laid on my heart.

God's purposes for me will come to fruition after all is said, painted, and written.

by Katie Gerke


  1. You're a fascinating lady, Katie. You also show how persistance pays off. May the Lord inspire your art and use it to encourage others. I also hope nobody browbeats their children and uses you as an example. I was chided by my mom because a totally blind boy at my school could type and play the piano with both hands. I resented that and her comments stung. Matthew 9:3 is my life verse. May the Lord use all disabilities for his glory and to shape people into the gems he means them to be.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful piece, Katie. Inspirational on many levels. It seems everyone is faced with limitations in life, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually. But you have shown these limitations are only as big as our creative ways to overcome them. Love the beginning - ‘I get to not I have to’ attitude.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.