Sandy Brand is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. She is a tremendously gifted artist whose work hangs in homes and corporate offices from Paris to Dubai. Sandy not only paints, she skis, caves, treks, flies planes, and rappels down treacherous mountain cliffs. All this is enough to qualify as “inspiring” but it is made even more so by the fact that a severe case of childhood polio left Sandy severely impaired from the waist down on her right side and able to walk only with a full leg brace.To celebrate her 50th birthday 1997, this amazing woman rappelled down El Capitan and led an entire team – both the first Canadian and the first woman to do so! One of the most challenging cliff faces in North America with a 2,650” rappel that takes about seven hours.
The next year Sandy was headed for Nepal. Trekking in the Himalayas was as a physical challenge – like trekking to the 17,575” summit of Gokyo Ri – and a spiritual one as well. One morning at Gorekshep – the original Mt. Everest basecamp – Sandy sat in the rustic kitchen drinking tea, alone and despondent, her friends were headed to the crest of Kala Patthar – and she’d had to face the fact with only one fully functioning leg, she simply couldn’t make it. Suddenly, she became aware of an orange-robed Buddhist monk with a prayer book sitting cross-legged near her chanting. Certain she had been alone in the room until that very instant, Sandy was stunned. Overcoming her shock, she sat watching the monk and letting the sound of his chant wash over her. Quite suddenly she knew she could make it up the mountain. And when she did, she not only had the view of the Himalayas and Everest, she also was blessed the sight of a sundog – a rare solar phenomenon in which a rainbow encircles the sun. Since then Sandy has made two more trips to Nepal and taken up three-track skiing.
How Sandy Inspires Me
Sandy once said “Every painting is a spiritual experience for me.” She never lets the doubt and discouragement that afflict us on the creative path get her down for long. She has a lust for and a love of life that radiates from her. That love allows her to be in a state of oneness when she paints; it puts her in touch with the life force that radiates from her work. Just looking at her paintings triggers something in me that makes me want to “create” – and just knowing her reminds me of the limitless potential we all hold within. Look at some of Sandy’s paintings and let the living light that radiate out of them flow through and inspire you.