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What if you lost all mobility? Iranian Samane Ehsaninia went from total hopelessness to becoming an author, painter and motivational speaker. Here's the story in her own words.

Samane Ehsaninia, 39, is a quadriplegic voice and visual artist who holds the brush with nothing but her mouth.

Nearly 20 years after the road accident that severed her spinal cord, she lives independently in her own apartment in Mashhad in northeast Iran. Her paintings have been shown all over the world.

Her book Samane: My Inner Orchid (the English portion is here) contains QR links to recordings of her poetry in her own voice, which I find absolutely riveting – even though my Persian isn’t good enough to understand everything.

Here’s a bit of her poetry that I recorded at her apartment, with my friend Ali “Bidel” Pourataei playing the setar:

Samane Ehsaninia reciting her Persian poetry. Camera by Ali Torkzadeh. Editing and subtitles by Sanaz Kavyani.

In her own words:

When I say I live independently, I don’t just mean to live physically independent. I mean actively choose the direction of my life. To live with purpose.

“Until the age of 20, my mission was to study hard and work on my art and try to be a good daughter. Then I got married and a few months later, during a trip, a car accident completely changed the direction of my life.

A terrible accident in the desert

“Our car rolled over on a desert road. My spinal cord was severed, and I became paralyzed from the neck down. Everyone, including the doctors, felt hopeless. They gave me only a couple of years to live.

“This was followed by various hospital stays, severe skin infections, and then depression and ceaseless pain. Much of the time, I was trying to find cyanide to end my life.

“I developed a severe addiction to morphine. I know exactly the affliction of the addict. Even after you stop using, it takes many more years for the spirit to heal.

“Things got so bad that my family couldn’t care for me anymore. I moved into a care facility for the disabled in Mashhad for the next six years. That’s when I began using a wheelchair, which allowed me to leave my room and meet the others disabled like myself. I saw how many were living productive lives, even getting married and holding careers.

Decision to “wake up”

“This is when I decided to wake up, to set aside my resentments and look inside. It was the act of forgiving myself and others that allowed me to come face to face with my inner child and be born again.

“Forgiveness is a strange process. You have to really think about your motives, your resentments, toward yourself, toward the world. Finally, I put down the heavy molten rocks that I had been carrying for so many years.

“Most people just live to take care of daily chores because they don’t know why they are alive. I wanted to live, but really live, live for a purpose.

The love of the orchid

“Also, the orchid flower helped me tremendously. I think my spirit connects with orchids because it is shaped like a fetus and also a bird in flight. The orchid took me to my childhood, gave me the inspiration to put pen to paper with poetry and painting.

I learned to love every cell of my body. My cells became intelligent and would no longer tolerate putting anything destructive in my body.

Living independently in Mashhad, Iran

“When I decided to live independently, my family was concerned. How is she going to provide for herself? But God would give me the strength. In Karbala, I asked Imam Hussein to help me live a liberated life. I’ve been independent for eight years now. I’ve had all kinds of jobs, even marketing skin products. Sold many paintings.

But when I say I live independently, I don’t just mean to live physically independent. I mean actively choose the direction of my life. To live with purpose.

From endurance to confidence

“I have endured a lot. I thought I could not survive my husband leaving me for another woman. But I learned to be thankful for everything. Thankfulness keeps me alive.
“Now I believe nothing can keep me from reaching my goals. I even believe someday I will stand on my own two feet again. The body can heal itself.

“Life is a gift that comes wrapped. We have to open it up and understand what it’s about. It truly takes a conscious effort.

About the book “Samane: My Inner Orchid

“The book I’ve published – it’s both visual and an audio book when you scan the QR codes inside – I made it to bring hope to others, especially during this difficult time the people of my country are struggling so much.

Click on image to view book 'Samane: My Inner Orchid' by Samane Ehsaninia on issue com
Click to see the English portion of Samane: My Inner Orchid

The book Samane: My Inner Orchid is available for purchase from her Instagram site @samane.ehsaninia63

Here Persian-language website is at www.samaane.com.

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