A Blank Canvas

A new year, a new you…of that’s what you desire.  The one thing I know about creativity is its incredible ability to transform our lives.  It allows us to tell our story creating the pieces to the human quilt.  Creative energy provides us with the momentum we need to create a life that evolves and can be crafted with deeper understanding and meaning.

I’ve been fortunate to enroll in a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Bioethics.  The class is a mix of health and allied health professionals all focused on one goal; how to incorporate the humanities in medicine.  I’ve been a huge proponent of art and medicine for years.  I’ve utilized my own artistic practices to reflect my own health challenges and the stories of those I’ve interviewed.

The professor for the class I just finished allowed us to do something creative for our final project.  I created four new art pieces and combined that with eight pieces in my personal collection and paired those twelve pieces with poetry reflecting the sentiments of the art.  I curated the show in a round room so classmates could stand in the center of the work and absorb the gravity of the subjects I tackled in the art.


The experience was overwhelming.  The work had an even greater impact than I expected.  As health professionals, each class member related stories from their own professional lives punctuating the exhibition.  If that weren’t enough, one of my classmates wrote a song for her final project.  The song debuted while everyone was standing in the middle of my art.  The synergy of our two projects was spectacular.

When we combine our creative energies, we can build upon each other’s stories.  The songwriter approached me after the presentation about doing a collaboration in the future.  The idea of combining visual art, poetry, and music speaks to the impact art can have in healthcare.

My hope this year is to take you on a journey giving you the opportunity to explore your creative side and meaning making.  Our creative storytelling can deepen our connection to one another easing tensions inter-personally and in society.  Let’s take this journey together and see how we can transform the world.

It’s Not the Weight You Carry, But How You Carry It!

I gave a eulogy this past weekend at a memorial service and read the poem Heavy, by noted poet Mary Oliver. Oliver’s poem shares how we experience grief, and how we survive grief. The poem was written after her long-time partner died. She shared her grief with each and every one of us who reads the poem. Oliver gives us the unspoken secrets of the grief journey and shows us that we can emerge triumphant.



That time

I thought I could not

go any close to death without dying

I went closer,

and I did not die.

Surely God

had his hand in this,

as well as friends.

Still I was bent,and my laughter,

as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.

Then, said my friend Daniel

(brave even among lions),

“It is not the weight you carry

but how you carry it

books, bricks, grief-

It’s all in the way

you embrace it, balance it carry it.

When you could not, and would not,

put it down”

So I went practicing

Have you noticed?

Have you heard the laughter

that comes, now and again,

out of my startled mouth?

How I linger to admire, admire

the things of this world

that are kind and maybe

also troubled-

roses in the wind.

The sea geese on the steep waves,

A love

to which there is no reply

I read this poem and just sat with her clarity about the grief journey. I thought about how poetry allows us to share our deepest vulnerabilities in a way that others will comprehend. It gives us the tools to express the depths of our emotions when facing adversity. It doesn’t matter how you express yourself, the act of ultimate self-expression is what counts. It’s one thing that will release you from the ties that bind. It will release you to explore all your emotions and share those experiences with the Universe.

How do you creatively express your vulnerabilities? Let’s start a conversation in the comment section below.

Looking for inspiration, education, and support when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness? Visit www.survivingstrong.com