This post was written by Kathy Curtis, healing artist, Fort Wayne Dance Collective. The Healing Arts program is made possible in part by generosity through the Parkview Foundations and integrates literary, movement, music visual arts into patient care. Read more about Kathy’s word art initiative here.
She was sitting by herself in the lounge, feet up on a chair, earbuds in her ears, fingers swiping across her cell phone. She looked up and smiled when I entered, and instantly offered the word, “energy!” when I asked if there was anything she might be lacking.
Oh boy, who can’t relate to that?
She’s a single mom working fulltime, dealing with a child with multiple health problems. (Need I say more?) As I drew, it was like the faucet of her inner well opened up and out came all the details of her life that had nowhere else to go. There wasn’t a shred of self-pity in her, and the longer I listened, the more intentionally I poured myself into her word.
When I finished and held it up, she smiled again. I asked her how looking at it made her feel, and she said she felt like a weight had been lifted off of her. After gazing at it for a while, she carefully placed the word in the back of her work portfolio, patting it down gently as if putting it to bed.
I love the act of creating these words for the people I encounter at Parkview, but I know that above all I am creating an invitation to show up for a moment with what’s real for them. To honor their truth with a piece of art gives them the feeling that they matter; that someone cares; that things can shift.
What I walked away with after this encounter, was the realization that it wasn’t a nap she needed. Or coffee. What she needed was to release the weight of her life for a moment. To be renewed by connecting with someone about what’s hard for her. And to be able to take a visual reminder of that exchange is what I hope will bring her a sense of renewal, again and again.
Energy is such an important thing to manage in our lives, but I think we all make it harder than it has to be. The next time you feel exhausted, reach out to someone who will just listen. Or if you notice a coworker who seems tired, pull them aside and invite them to take a 5-minute break from all that is weighing them down.
If we can remember to seek it as often as we give it, the energy we need will always be flowing.
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