Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Celebrating Our Unique Powers: "Discovering My Hidden Power" by Mark Pakaluk

I am not sure which of his posts brought me into the world of Mark Pakaluk (aka The Idiot) on his now defunct blog "The Idiot Speaketh" but however I got there, it introduced me to a wonderful person. You might credit Mark with my continued presence in the blogosphere. When I first started out, I didn't understand that blogging is about building community: reading, commenting, reacting, responding. Mark showed me how as he interacted with humor and kindness to every comment made on his blog. He and I became friends, often having conversations on Facebook. With Mark I  met, battled, and ultimately ignored my first internet troll. I wrote my first guest post for him. He became friends with my brother as well, another blogger and creative soul, and they planned to conquer the world by taking on the Appalachian Trail. Unfortunately, Mark's disability (all of which he discusses below) didn't enable him to make the trip. Steve started anyway, and although he didn't make it as a through-hiker, he has been on a journey ever since. Mark no longer blogs much (as he explains below) but creates incredible paintings, one of which I own. I am honored to count him among my friends, and look forward to the day we can meet in person. Perhaps on one of his baseball adventures with his son--after all a tour of baseball across America wouldn't be complete without a visit to Boston. Mark is a man with many talents and abilities. I hope you learn from, and are inspired by, his explanation of how he discovered his own "secret power."


[caption id="attachment_8596" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mark's painting of Steve's first sunset on the trail. Mark's painting of Steve's first sunset on the trail.[/caption]

Discovering my Hidden Power

I was a Nurse by trade. Despite having worked a number of jobs and careers in my early adult years, I figured Nursing was my one true calling in Life. I had an outgoing extroverted personality, was filled with compassion and empathy, was skilled in all the various procedures I performed, and the blood, guts, and bodily excretions that come with the job did not bother me in the least. Then, one day in early 1999, 16 years ago, I went in for a supposedly “routine” back surgery after having endured years of chronic back pain.

My life would never be the same.

I woke up to discover that I had suffered permanent damage to my spinal cord as a result of various Medical Malpractice errors at the hands of my incompetent surgeon. In the blink of an eye, my career and life that I had known had been snatched from me. What would follow would be years of physical therapy, surgical procedures, tons of medication, and an eight year legal nightmare at the end of which, the surgeon and others involved all ended up settling the Malpractice Lawsuit I had brought against those that had disabled me.

In those early years, I was not able to work any kind of actual employed position but did my best to fill my spare time with various types of volunteer work when my physical issues would allow it. I announced High School football and basketball games, volunteered in the television ministry of our Church, served as a judge in academic competitions at the local school, and even was elected to serve on the City Council of the small town in which we lived. As the years passed, the issues related to my disability slowly worsened to where I pretty much became a prisoner in my home.

In the big picture of things, I had no idea where my life was headed. In the smaller picture, I had no idea of what I was going to do to occupy my time during the day. Purely by accident, I discovered a hidden talent that I was unaware I even had.

Most years, I am responsible for sending out the family Christmas cards over the holidays. Most years, I would type up a little letter explaining the highlights and lowlights of the previous year here in our household. I always did this with a humorous and sarcastic edge in describing the years events. These letters were always a hit with the family members and friends that would get them. One year, my Aunt suggested that I translate this talent for writing humor into something else……. A blog.

I had no idea what a blog even was. But, at the urging of my family, I started blogging, unleashing my weird sense of humor onto the Internet.  I guess we can say that my hidden power is writing, (though I have no formal training in writing, as evidenced by the many errors in this post) because within 5 years of starting my blog writings, I was the author of a humor blog that had amassed over 3 million views with over 5,000 daily subscribers. Things were good. Although my physical health was a total train wreck, my days were filled with hours of writing and with communicating with the tons of new online friends from throughout the world that I had made in recent years.

One day, I woke up and logged onto my blog to start the newest goofy post, only to discover that my blog……. was gone.

You know all those wonderful images, funny pics, videos, memes, cartoons, etc. that you see on Facebook and blogs ever day? Well, in the legal world, you are not allowed to use any of that stuff unless you have the permission of the original author or creator. Copyright laws they call them. Well, like 99% of the people in the blogging community and like 99% of the people on Facebook, I used images, cartoons, memes, videos, etc. in my humor blog. If I had a funny blog post about Sarah Palin, I would download an image off of Google Images and would use it in the blog. If I saw a funny cartoon, or funny animal picture, I would do the same. I was fully in the camp of “Well….EVERYONE does it” when it comes to using these items.

Well, it turns out that my blog host had to show that they are complying with “enforcing” these Copyright laws. Apparently, in five years and over 10,000 blog posts, with probably 20,000- 30,000 photos, cartoons, memes, etc, I had used one too many of those “illegal” items. The wonderful folks at my blog provider just simply deleted my humor blog. For the 5,000 subscribers, it just vanished overnight with no explanation as to what had happened. Years of hard work and original humor material was gone.

Now what?

I was back to being disabled enough that I could not work, and had enough issues that I ended up staying home on most days. What would occupy my time now?

For years, one of the items on my “bucket list” had been the desire to learn to paint. If you throw out a few small paintings in the mandatory art class in High School over 30 years ago, I had never painted anything in my life. I had always had an interest in art, paintings in particular, so in January of 2014, I decided to purchase myself some supplies and proceeded to try painting with acrylics. I watched videos online, watched some DVD’s, bought a few books, and read tons of online articles, but for the most part, I dove right in and learned through my own trials and errors.

I ended up absolutely loving it. The few hours a day of complete distraction from my physical issues became a total blessing. I painted every day, with pieces ranging from landscapes, to animals, to seascapes, abstracts, and my personal favorite…. lots of colorful lone trees. I started out painting at one end of the dining room table, having to set-up and remove my supplies before and after each meal, and eventually I ended up being relocated into a back room in the house which is now my “studio”. After a few sales of pieces to friends and family, it was suggested I open an online store on the craft site “Etsy”, which I did in March of 2014.  I still paint nearly every day and have now done nearly 300 paintings in the year since I started. I have sold to family and friends via Facebook, Etsy, and have sold pieces at my wife’s office due to her liking to display some of my pieces on her walls while they await possible sale. In 2014, my first year of painting, I sold 84 paintings total, far surpassing my wildest dreams of what others might think of my work.

The painting truly has been a blessing. Truth be told, I probably would have not discovered the joy of painting had the joy of writing and blogging not been ripped from me. I only discovered the joy of writing and blogging when my health was taken away from me to where I could no longer volunteer outside the home like I had in the early years after I first became disabled.

To sum everything up, I think my “hidden power”, as some would call it, is simply never giving up and always trying to persevere when faced with what seems like insurmountable roadblocks that end up in my way. I had never really had to deal with these type roadblocks before I became disabled, so I had no clue that I would have the powers to keep plugging along as these obstacles would crop up. Who knows what the future will bring? Maybe something will happen to where I can no longer paint. With my newfound confidence, I can at least rest assured that if that day ever does occur, I’m sure I will find something else to get me through the day.

I hear yodeling is fun. Maybe I could be a successful yodeler.

Mark G. Pakulak

{Special, breaking news! The day before this post went live, Mark announced that he had sold 5 paintings to CBS for use on HAWAII FIVE-O, if that isn't proof of his super power, I don't know what is.}


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For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.