A Labor of Love Reaches a Pinnacle, almost…


Or…playing baseball up a mountain, sort of…

 Four years ago, while working as a cardiac nurse and a botanical art teacher, I started to think about how the two fields worked together. What did they have in common and how could they benefit each other? Brainstorming with friends, co-workers and fellow artists led to some ideas. Realizing how art makes a difference in my life and hearing the same from those around me, an idea began to form. Eventually, some semblance of a plan came together.

First, the plan was thrown at the Assistant Manager, who instead of throwing it back, grabbed the ball and threw in more shape to the plan. From the Assistant Manager, the ball was thrown to the Manager, and again it was caught. The Manager wanted to take the project to a larger scale and suggested it be thrown to the Director of Nursing Research, where it hit a home run. Then, the climb began.

Over the next two years, steady climbing continued. The plan formed into a research project to determine if the work of artists, who also work in cardiac healthcare, could help cardiac patients. Many logistical issues arose. Trails were blazed. Battles were fought. Problems were solved. A team was formed to continue the climb. Some team members came and went but a few managed to stay the course from start to finish. One team member took on the role of leading the ground game. Through ups and downs, support for the project never wavered.

Eventually, we were able to measure how the staff-created art made a difference to the post-operative care of cardiac patients. It was a grand day when we were finally to the point of hanging the art. Once in place, we found the art made a difference to the staff, not just the art-makers, but to all the staff, as well as, the patients. Though a high point was reached, it was not the highest point. We still wanted to share our labor of love with others, in hopes that they, too, could do what we did. Thus began the next phase of the climb.

To share with others, the story had to be told. A new team came together from other players on the project and an account was written. Then rewritten. Then written some more. Finally, the project was thrown out into a bigger stadium. The first throw was a strike out. After a huddle produced some fresh rewriting, the project was thrown out again. This time it was caught at first base. More work got it to second base, then to third. Now it is slow walking to home plate having been accepted as a hit. The pinnacle is in sight. Publication will happen!


More on Phase Two of the Art to Heart Project can be found at: www.arttoheartproject.com

Phase One of the Art to Heart Project has been accepted and is now awaiting publication. (Yea!!) Can I breathe now?

Arts in Healthcare–Doodling for the Health of It

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“Drawing is a frame of mind, a loving embrace if you will.” Susan Avishal (from The Painter’s Keys)

How often do students get in trouble for doodling during class?  Doodling, new research is showing, may not be such a bad thing at all.  In fact doodling may be good for your health.  While supposedly zoning out with some prodigious doodling, the brain is actually busy at work solving some major problems.  Instead of treating doodlers as slackers, perhaps it would be better to treat them as the smarter students because they just may be.

Psychology Today has a regular feature on Arts and Health by art therapist Cathy Malchiodi.  In an article about the benefits of doodling, Malchiodi cites recent research on doodling and memory retention.  It seems that the act of doodling while performing a specific function helps retain the memory of the function.  Malchiodi also discusses in the same article, the current “Zentangle” craze as another example of the health benefits of doodling.  “Zentangle” is more structured than simple doodling and creates a meditative concentration in the process that is both soothing and calming for the heart.

Maybe all those people who scold doodlers are the same analytical types who don’t understand daydreaming either.  Now we know.  Daydreaming and doodling are techniques of the right -brained creative types allowing the brain to work out and solve complex problems.  As both activities are meditative in nature, these creative folks are soothing and relaxing the heart at the same time.  So go ahead, doodle and daydream to your heart’s content.  You just may be about to solve a great human dilemma or come up with the next greatest invention.  You could be the inventor of the soon-to-be latest hot must-have item.  Grab a pen and start doodling.  The world is waiting for your great creation!  At the very least, you’ll be healthier.

The day dreaming post is Meandering Toward Insight

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