From a very early age I realized that creativity and adventure were vital attributes to my happiness. Added to this was my tenacity to pursue that which I believed was important even though it ruffled the feathers of family and friends. My first paying job was selling potato chips at a beach concession stand where I lied about my age to gain a sense of freedom. My dreams were always X-large trying to fit into an X-small budget. My modeling experience taught me how important it was for me to travel and to be behind the lens creating rather than posing for someone else’s vision. All of my job pursuits resulted in clarifying that art was my life and if I could not find a way to survive in the arts then I would make one! After winning numerous contests in Visual Presentations both regionally and nationally, running a marathon, and receiving two degrees “with distinction” I knew I was capable of pursuing my dreams in the arts.
Older adults fascinated me with their colourful stories from early childhood and nothing has changed. I still love to hear their richly woven tales that produce meaning and purpose to everyone’s lives. Hence began my search for work opportunities with older adults in creativity. Using arts and healing beginning in the early 80’s with HIV/AIDS and grief due to multiple losses was the gift I needed to realize that creativity was inextricably bound to my life and work and was critical to a life well lived for others. My palliative work, including the use of animal assisted therapy, allows me to reside deep in the Arts and Nature. Current research attests to the success of Art, Nature and Spirituality to effect health and wellness.
Now I must do my part by sharing my passion and research in these areas with those struggling with varying degrees of wellness in their diagnoses. My work with HIV/AIDS National Conference confirmed how emaciated our souls can become within the cold climate of the medical institutions where pathology still reigns over a wellness paradigm. Patients, professional caregivers and support staff and families all benefit from a direct experience of how art can heal and transform even in the darkest hours of our life’s journey. Whenever I begin to feel discouraged I reflect back to how creating art put light back into my being. When I ran my first marathon I knew that what I am really competing with is ‘self’.
My creative drive nurtures my well-being. While at art school I attended an art therapy seminar and I haven’t looked back. I know the process of self-expression is pertinent to working through difficult issues in order to maintain good health.
About the Author