Crossing Paths

Things can change in a minute as life teaches us each and every day.  I took some fabric that I was going to use as a backing for a mini-quilt.  I proceeded to cut up scraps of fabric and when I put the quilt sandwich together, I flipped the fabric and what was the back became the front.  It’s this type of extemporaneous creating that adds to the creative experience.

The piece I created was originally titled vectors.  I like to name my pieces, but sometimes the work yells that it’s got the wrong name and I need to reconsider both the intention and design.  I went from calling the piece vectors to crossing paths.  The piece was a visual representation of what is coming up in my meditations.



We just finished a year and it’s usually a good time to reflect on what transpired in our lives.  I thought back to when I had traveled for work and was away from home four to six months at a time.  I lived in various parts of the country, urban and rural areas, highly affluent and socioeconomically challenged communities.  I learned something from each person I had the pleasure of meeting at these diverse locations.

What did I learn?  I learned that small town living is intimate while at the same time being a bit enmeshed.  I learned that economically challenged communities are always looking for new ways of reinvigorating their communities while trying to provide opportunities for those who live locally.  I learned that the foods in western Texas are very different from the foods in northwest Pennsylvania.  What I learned first and foremost is that people are people.  All we want is to be included, heard, and seen.

I wanted to show that we never know who will cross our paths and we definitely don’t know the impact they will have on our lives.  Who has crossed your path that had an impact on your life?  How are you expressing that creatively?  Perhaps you’re writing a story. Maybe you remember a song that played on the radio while you visited a particular location and every time you hear the song memories of that place rise to the surface.

Working in oncology services I met many people who commemorated their last chemo with a celebration, a work of art, and written words.  People and experiences will continually cross our path trying to get our attention and teach us something that will propel our lives forward.

What has crossed your path?  How did you mark that experience?


The Greatest Contagion of All…Creativity

Creativity is contagious. It gets you to stop, look, and think. It provokes a reaction stimulating the emotional and spiritual parts of your being. When we’re in the presence of creativity we feel lighter, motivated, and excited.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that so many healthcare settings are using the arts in the healing process. Visual artists, musicians, clowns, actors, dancers are showing up to give patients the opportunity to create or be part of a creative process. We invoke the creative aspects of our soul to tell our stories and live fully in the moment.

When I went back to graduate school to study Art and Healing, I had the privilege of studying with noted anthropologist Angeles Arrien. Unfortunately Arrien died on April 24, but her legacy continues. The class she taught was The Nine Muses (also the title of her book) and it focused on the nine muses from Greek mythology. Each of the muses represented a different form of the arts. We can each invoke the muses to inspire our inner artist.

You don’t have to be an artist to catch the creativity bug. I just finished reading the April issue of Fast Company magazine. The cover story was “How to Unleash Creativity”. The article features Ed Catmull, head of Pixar studios. He shared from his book Creativity, Inc. how to create creative teams. He shared the creation of a BrainTrust, a group that shares their creative exuberance allowing for greater success of their movie projects. When we’re around creative people, our, often unspoken creative selves emerge. We stop being mute and begin the journey of ultimate self-expression.

Catching creativity is life affirming. It is the best thing we catch from another person or group. Fortunately when you catch creativity you’re not quarantined, in fact it’s better if you mingle and infect others with the creativity bug.

Catch Creativity, Spread Creativity, Use Creativity, and you’ll feel better.

Looking for inspiration, support, and education when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness visit

The Traveling Bead Brings Hope and Encouragement to Kids!!!

Last week I attended the annual conference of the Global Alliance for Arts and Health. It was an amazing experience to be among so many providers, artists, and researchers all championing arts and health.

So how do we make it through tough times? Did you ever have a rabbit’s foot as a kid for good luck? Have you or family members hung a horseshoe for good luck? Do you wear that one particular shirt, shoes, and earrings when going to an interview or some other event where you’re hoping for good luck? I remember having a rabbit’s foot; they came in lots of colors (please don’t send PETA to my doorstep). So how do we honor the journey that children take when diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and provide them with a visual representation of the hurdles they’ve jumped? Well you give them a bead of course!!!!

“Beads of Courage helps children and families coping with serious illness RECORD, TELL and OWN their story of COURAGE”. Can you think of anything more beautiful than honoring every step along the child’s path in treatment. It’s interesting because if you were ever in scouting one of the key things was the “merit badge”. Beads of Courage are more than a merit badge. It’s a visual story. It’s like an archeological of treatment.

Jean Baruch, Executive Director, and Ashley Ethridge, Director of Communications and Encouragement, vivaciously shared how the program works and how widespread the program is in the United States and now heading globally. Beads are interesting because they are easy to carry and we can attribute significance and meaning to each and every bead. Beads are a great metaphor for storytelling because they are the oldest art form known to man. Beads have survived and evolved and Beads of Courage plays to that strength.

The kids are given a bead, a magnificent hand blown glass lamp bead, for each procedure or treatment they receive. An example given was that child would be given a red bead for a blood transfusion and a white bead for a chemotherapy treatment.

The community’s involvement, aside from financial support, is the ability to carry a bead. Carrying a bead allows you and I to carry a bead to an event, a destination, or anything else you can imagine infusing the bead with that experience. The bead is sent in to Beads of Courage with a story card and the child receives the bead and the story. Your story and the child’s story can come together creating a bonding experience.

During Ashley’s presentation she was wearing multiple strands of beads. She shared that this magnificent collection of beads belonged to a sixteen year old girl going through treatment. It wasn’t until a reception later in the day that Ashley explained that each of the nine strands had approximately 100 beads. You do the math; this young lady had acquired 900+ beads, what I learned in that moment is that these beads/stories had been acquired since this past December. I was in shock, awe, and relieved that she had an organization like Beads of Courage by her side.

You may be thinking that this sounds like Flat Stanley. It may have some similarities, but the notion that each and every bead has a story is amazing and scary. It’s life affirming and encouraging. The organization provides children and families a way to connect around story instead of sickness. Our stories are our legacy. These beads are a visual legacy of the journey these children and family take in the hopes of health and healing.

Let’s all grab a bead, infuse it with our own story and partner with this amazing organization.  Go to