Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Making A Difference Makes All The Difference

Thank you to Mary for the lovely bouquet of flowers with my favorite color!
This month I have felt as though I’ve been trying to find my way through clouds of fatigue, melancholy and discontent in search of a brighter vista.  Although I am very uncomfortable being stalled under a “gray sky” for too long, it’s inevitably a reality at times, and this month has been one of those times.  In the past few days, however, some events have had such a profoundly powerful impact that I feel as though I’m emerging from this month’s fog and have arrived at a point where, even though my body hasn’t quite caught up yet, my soul feels energized and truly alive!

Last weekend we participated in a memorial service for our loved one who passed away on February 10th.  Our unavoidable sadness was balanced by the beauty of loving remembrance and the comforting fellowship of family and friends.  We have had opportunities to strengthen existing connections and to form new bonds with relatives we hadn’t known well or at all in the past.  I am grateful for recently meeting a cousin who has become a new (yet already feels like an old!) treasured friend.  She exudes a bright, caring spirit that uplifts my own spirit.

On Monday, I stepped into my role as “Picture of the Month” art docent (this month’s focus was Post-Impressionism and Cezanne) for the third grade level.  As I entered the first classroom, I was warmly welcomed by excited students, and as I wrapped up our session, they begged me to stay longer!  I was very happy the children were so engaged in the art presented.  In the second classroom (admittedly, my toughest audience), I received a sweet hug from one of the students upon my arrival, and some of the quieter students finally spoke up and voiced their observations about the painting.  In the third classroom, every student, if I'm not mistaken, eagerly raised their hand to share their observations.  As always, my spirit was buoyed by the children’s enthusiasm for the rest of the day.

Last night I felt honored to be invited as a guest speaker in one of the nursing classes at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB.)  Mary, who I’ve mentioned on several occasions as the phenomenal RN/MFT running Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s healing art retreats, co-teaches the CSUMB class and kindly asked if I would share my personal healing art experiences and examples of my work, providing the nursing students with a real life perspective on art therapy.  I spoke about experiences that paved the way to my journey, how I embarked on my healing art journey and what discoveries I’ve made along this journey and then shared some of my work.  Wow, what an amazing experience!  I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all of the students for the comfortable and empathetic atmosphere they created in last night’s class and for their openness in hearing my story.  I realize mine is only one of numerous stories, but my hope is that by sharing my exploration and experiences I have helped encourage the students’ receptiveness to their own exploration as they are introduced to different aspects of the healing art process during this semester.  I think it is so admirable and vital that CSUMB is offering this type of curriculum to make a positive, compassionate impact on the future of nursing and health care.  I was thrilled to be able to contribute to this positive “ripple,” the possibility of benefitting not only future patients, but benefitting these future nurses as well.  I also express my heartfelt thanks to Tom, the director of CSUMB’s nursing program and to Mary, who has been an invaluable mentor in my healing journey.

When I returned home last night, I commented to my husband that I felt such a tremendous sense of fulfillment.  He reminded me of the many occasions in the past when I expressed my unhappiness because I wasn’t following a path which enabled me to contribute meaningfully to this world of ours.  Now I’m on this still fairly new path, progressing with baby steps and slow strides, not knowing exactly where it will lead me, but finally, small differences as they may be, making a difference is making all the difference in creating newfound happiness and meaning in my life…and as a result, my soul is beginning to feel so passionately alive!
How does making a difference in others’ lives make a difference in your own life?  I would love to be inspired by your stories!