MOTHER OF THREE, amputee, business owner…
BY SHARI HALL
How did Paula Gowland spring back?
Paula and John Gowland, owners of Sunshine Coast Art and Framing Gallery, are a beautiful couple who truly support each other.
John has been there every step of the way for his wife Paula, who on a lazy afternoon in June of 2014, took the day off to enjoy a little spring cleaning around the house. Paula was excited to re-hang her freshly washed curtains in her bedroom; she climbed up on to the end of her bed, reached for the rod, then slipped and fell to the floor. Crack! It was like no other sound she’d ever heard before, yet deep in her heart, she knew with certainty, she just broke her leg. Despite being immediately rushed to the hospital, the swelling progressed so rapidly, expanding the size of her leg to a point that surgeons were unable to operate on the four fractures in her tibia. Instead, they stabilised her shattered bone with external fixation; however, after a series of complications, her fate became a below-the-knee amputation three months later.
Far from her home on the Sunshine Coast, lying in a Sydney hospital bed, under the care of esteemed surgeon, Professor Munjed Al Muderis, Paula contemplated her life. A mother of three children, and devoted wife of nearly 20 years, she had some decisions to make. Having undergone a lifesaving, state-of-the-art procedure, osseo-integration, which involved inserting a titanium rod into her bone to allow placement of a prosthesis, an insidious infection now prevented healing. Twenty-four operations and eighteen months later, she made the difficult decision to completely remove her leg, allow a re-attempt of the osseo-integration, and pray. As the minutes progressed to hours, and the days went on into months, Paula searched deep inside for meaning and purpose to the recent events that had dramatically altered her life. For many, this could have been a time to give up and simply give in. But not for Paula. It was time to get out of her head and find her way back into living.
“I used essential oils to create anchors. I set little goals every day to be achieved and made it my mission to talk to one other patient in the hospital positively each day to make a difference to them and to make them smile. I read lots of inspiring books, studied aromatherapy and business strategies to give me something to focus on at all times.”
After 758 days in the hospital, with perseverance, steadfast conviction, and a never-ending belief in herself and her ability to recover, she arrived home to her family in 2016, surprising her children for Christmas. It was a “very special mummy moment.”
Springing back, with gratitude and an exuberance for life, two years later, she and her husband John, embarked on a new business venture, purchasing what is now known as the Sunshine Coast Art and Framing Gallery, based in Minyama. Gathering a team of professional framers with more than fifty years of experience, they provide multiple services to a wide variety of clients and artists, such as:
- Custom Framing – limited edition prints, artwork, embroidery, memorabilia
- Preservation and Conservation
- Canvas Stretching
- Large Format Printing on Canvas and Paper
Their retail shop has art supplies, wall art and décor, as well as unique handmade ceramics and giftware. Their team is passionate about what they do, striving to connect with people and genuinely understand what they desire to achieve with their personal items and artwork. Whether it be helping customers create stunning living and work spaces, or bringing a collage of travel photos to life, for John and Paula, it is not only about framing pictures; it’s about capturing the essence of what truly matters most to people – their memories, their experiences, their lives. With pride, the team at Sunshine Coast Art and Framing Gallery consistently provide the highest quality in workmanship, materials, and service.
As if it wasn't enough to become successful entrepreneurs, John and Paula continue to positively touch the lives of others, both at home and abroad. In September 2019, as part of a twenty-four-member volunteer team, they travelled with the non-profit organisation Mission Abundance to Uganda, Africa. Having raised over $200,000, they were able to fully fund a medical camp, a children’s fun day, and start the foundations for a new rehabilitation centre to educate, support, and care for sacrificed children. They directly impacted the lives of 100 children in their usual way, sharing their newfound appreciation for life, embracing each moment of the experience with love, strength, and grace. And here on the Coast, John and Paula previously hosted “Sip and Paint” workshops at the Gallery that encouraged aspiring artists to explore their gifts and talents in a friendly, welcoming social environment with others wishing to express themselves through art. Closer to home, they now treasure special times with their two beautiful grandchildren.
It’s not every day people face a catastrophic event that forever changes their lives. For Paula, learning to overcome obstacles, endure physical pain, cope with mental stress, and construct an optimistic vision for her life, in spite of the extraordinarily traumatic circumstances, has instilled a resilience in Paula many struggle an entire lifetime to acquire. And in today’s changing world environment, where many businesses have had to go digital or die, they continue to survive by being adaptable, flexible, and innovative in business. Soon, their website will be offering customers access to thousands of images which they can choose from to purchase, select a frame, and complete the entire order online, with delivery to their doorstep in just four weeks. Sunshine Coast Art and Framing Gallery will be the first on the coast to offer this individualised, affordable service to its clients.
If there’s one lesson they’d like to share with the world after all they’ve been through, it’s a message of courage, hope, and inspiration to persevere through the tough times:
“Whatever is happening in your life, be it good or bad, it will not last forever! Get up, show up, and live life to the fullest every day. Embrace change, as things always happen for a reason, and sometimes it can make your life better.”
Credit Source: Matters Magazine Sunshine Coast - https://issuu.com/mattersmagazinesunshinecoast/docs/mm96_issuuversion/30