Stanley Bronstein Interviews Peggy Chun

Peggy_ChunPEGGY CHUN – Conducted in Late 2007

Peggy Chun was known in Hawaii for her beautiful and often whimsical artwork. Her work can be found in both private and corporate collections across the globe. This watercolor artist, who lived the last years of her life paralyzed by ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, captured the “spirit of aloha” in her paintings and thrived on sharing her love of the islands (and life!) with the world. Even through her six-year battle with ALS, Peggy continued to live a full and creative life, inspiring those around her with her courage, passion, and sense of humor in the face of adversity.

This debilitating motor neuron disease never slowed Peggy down, nor did it slow her creativity. In 2003, Peggy’s lungs weakened and she was placed on a ventilator. That same year, she lost use of her right hand. Peggy simply painted with her left. In 2004, a weakened left hand sent the paintbrush to her teeth. And when Peggy lost the use of her jaw muscles in 2005, she used a computer system called ERICA to digitally paint images using her eye movement.

Peggy spent the last three years of her life fully paralyzed, using a spell board to spell words out with her eye movement, letter-by-letter. She passed away peacefully in her home in November 2008, surrounded by her beloved friends, family, and famed group of caregivers, the “Peg’s Legs”.


There is no audio or video of this interview, as by this time, Peggy could not speak, nor could she even move. Despite that, she gave me the most fantastic interview I’ve ever conducted and it’s one that definitely changed my life, for the better.

Below, in it’s entirety, is the chapter from my third book, Achievement IQ Moments where I told Peggy’s story and told of my discussion with Peggy.

Stanley F. Bronstein

Peggy_Chun2

Chapter 1 – Time to Think

Now is no time to think of what you do not have.

Think of what you can do with what there is.

(Author Unknown)

Have you ever asked yourself what you’d think about if you had unlimited time to think? Peggy Chun of Honolulu, Hawaii knows the answer to that question.

Peggy is an artist – an artist who paints with her nose and her heart. Why? Because she can no longer paint with her hands, her teeth, her eyes, or any other body part.

Peggy Chun has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. ALS is a motor neuron disease that, over time, takes away a person’s ability to control the body. Over the last five years, Peggy has lost all ability to move any part of her body, except for her eyes.

Peggy’s grandfather, mother and twin sister all died from ALS. So, when Peggy first felt weakness in her legs in 2002, she immediately knew what was in store for her.

Did she give up? No way! She made up her mind to work harder than ever before. When she lost the use of her right hand, she painted with her left. When her left hand gave out, she painted with her teeth. When that gave out, she painted digitally, using a machine called Erica that could detect her eye movements. When that no longer worked, she started instructing her helpers to put the proper colors of paint on her nose, and on how to move the canvas around on her nose to create a picture. Incredible!

Peggy wasn’t always an artist. When I asked her what got her started, she explained, one letter at a time through eye movements only, using a rectangular board where she looks at the letter she wants to use and her trained assistants write down her words:

“I woke up one morning about six months after she (her twin sister Bobbie) died, with a strong feeling I had to paint. It was the last day of registration at an academy and I had to do something.

“I’m amazed at how we’re led in the right direction. There were no openings, except for a collage class. I didn’t want to take a silly collage class. Yet, despite my resistance, I was led into taking the class, because I thought I just wanted to paint. Little did I know I was going to meet my mentor, Gloria Foss, in that class.”

That urge to paint and her willingness to act upon it was her first Achievement IQ Moment. Continuing to paint once ALS began to ravage her body was another.

I also asked Peggy what makes her so strong. She said (again – using only her eyes):

“Our strengths come from being open to our guides. I believe all of us have a guide, but we have to be able to accept that help, and accept that we’re all part of a great plan. I can’t imagine thinking about it in any other way. I’m not talking about religion, but how we accept that we all came from the same creator. I’ve studied every major religion, and agnostic beliefs too. I find that no matter what you believe in, there’s always that lingering question: Who created the creator?”

Wow!

Peggy Chun’s physical ailments have obviously not affected her mind or her spirit. Peggy Chun knows HOW to think.

Learn More About Peggy’s Work and Life At PeggyChun.com