In this episode, Annette speaks with Christa Couture, an award-winning recording artist, author, and broadcaster from Toronto, Canada.  Christa, who is also disabled, wrote the book “How to Lose Everything” which is a story of the grief and loss she has suffered in her life.  Christa has also recorded a Walrus Talks (the Canadian Ted Talks) called “Living Better”  where she speaks about accepting your life as different rather than better.  

Christa has known her fair share of grief and loss.  At 11 she was diagnosed with bone cancer which was cured by the amputation of her left leg above the knee.  Christa had 2 infant sons who tragically passed away followed by divorce and then a thyroid cancer diagnosis which threatened her speaking and singing careers.  Christa finds that people don’t always want to speak about grief and loss, they are uncomfortable with sorrow.  Most seem to want to fix things quickly and just say, “Things will get better”.  Christa wrote the book “How to Lose Everything” to connect with those that are struggling with their grief, to hopefully allow them to feel less alone.  She also hopes the book will find those who may not be experiencing loss at this time but will allow them to understand and have compassion for someone they may know who is grieving.

Christa, who has been an amputee since the age of 13, wears a prosthetic leg.  For many years she kept her leg covered, not keeping it secret just not comfortable with it.  A few years ago, she received a new prosthesis and was feeling good about it and wanted to celebrate it.  Christa had seen a beautiful prosthesis that had been hand painted with flowers and was determined to create one for herself.  Her “flower leg” was then created laminating floral upholstery fabric to her prosthetic leg.  Her prosthesis became a “celebration of her loss”, as this now beautiful thing that she was proud of and wanted to show people.  The conversations about her leg also changed from what happened to you, to – wow that is beautiful, where did you get that, your leg is so cool – her leg became a huge confidence booster.

Christa also discusses her view of her disability.  As an amputee, Christa considers herself a disabled person due to the loss of a limb that she had been born with, whereas a person that was born without the limb may see themselves as limb different and not disabled.  There can be resistance for some to label themselves as disabled as the word “disabled” tends be thought of by most in a negative way.  Christa often does not feel her disability until she encounters things that affect it and show her she does have limitations. 

Christa is currently working on a second book which will be focused more on disability.  She also received a grant and is producing a series of short, animated films based on her “How to Lose Everything” book.  Each film will be a different story of loss.  If you would like to check out Christa’s music, click here.  Christa can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.     

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Listen to the full episode here!

Annette Hines has been practicing in the areas of Special Needs, Elder Law, and Estate Planning for more than 20 years. Ms. Hines brings personal experience with special needs to her practice and podcasts as the mother of two daughters, one of whom passed away from Mitochondrial disease in November 2013. This deep, personal understanding of special needs fuels her passion for quality special needs planning and drives her dedication to help others within the special needs community.