Posted in Caregiving

Worried and Waiting

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

I’ve been spending a lot of time at Parker Adventist Hospital over the past few weeks.  I’ve hung an art show, moved an art show from one floor to another, and sat with staff planning the multiple art spaces in the hospital.  I’ve had a lot of opportunities to observe those sitting in the many waiting areas of the hospital and without fail the experience is very similar.  Everyone waiting in a hospital is worried.  It doesn’t matter why the person you’re love is there; the natural tendency is to worry.

Worry is an amazing emotion because it saps us of our energy, makes us feel worse, and doesn’t change the outcome for the patient.  Waiting makes us believe that we can stop the hands of time and as long as we don’t move nothing bad will happen.  Ever notice how people are glued to their seats in waiting rooms and it takes a persuasive family member or hospital staff member to encourage the “waiter” to get up, move, and breathe.

Waiting and worrying seem to go hand-in-hand, and yet when we engage in this practice the only person experiencing the anxiety is you.  The patient has their own worries and they aren’t necessarily concerned about the freeze frame of your life in tha moment.  If it’s at all possible, I hope the patient is thinking about the time when they reunite with you and get the hell out of the hospital.

Maybe I should film a documentary called “Waiting and Worrying” because if people actually saw themselves; I wonder if they’d still wait and worry.  The conversations are forced and meaningless.  They often have nothing to do with the truth of the situation which is fear, as if talking about it would make it worse.  If you talked about it someone might be able to help you with it.  Those who are sitting waiting and worrying with you are great for getting coffee and a magazine, but I bet they’d be even better holding your hand and allowing you to be vulnerable in the moment.

I’m not trying to downplay the waiting and worrying experience, but I listened to my mother’s wise words when she told me, “Worrying doesn’t change anything; it only gets in the way”.  I want you to be available to you.  I want you to have the freedom to be vulnerable (even fall apart if you feel called to) while someone else, in this case the hospital staff, is taking care of the patient. 

Waiting and worrying is the worst.  It doesn’t get better no matter how many times you do it so don’t try to become the local waiting and worrying champ.  Be who you are, someone who loves and cares for someone who needs the attention of a team of medical professionals, and someone who needs to be open and honest about their experience.  Your experience is real, don’t minimize it, don’t try to be brave, and most of all allow love to flow and receive it with grace!

Posted in art and healing, creativity and health

What Does Hope Look Like To You?

Art and Healing Wednesday…

We are such a verbal culture and we use words to describe everything.  What if you could only communicate non-verbally?  Would you be able to represent a thought, a feeling, or an experience without words?  That’s exactly what the art students at Chaparral High School in Parker, CO (my home town) were asked to do. 

Jude Keller, the manager of volunteer services at Parker Adventist Hospital teamed up with the high school and asked them to create a piece of art in response to the following quote:

     It is the singular gift

     We cannot destroy in ourselves

     the argument that refutes death,

     The genius that invents the future.

      ~ Lisel Mueller

Yes, hope is an amazing experience.  It fuels our potential for health and healing.  It is the catalyst to continue on the pilgrimage to wellness.  The students created works that were inspirational and insightful.  It’s incredible important that we begin encouraging the exploration of hope in our young people because it’s a crazy world and we don’t know when we’ll need to rely on our inner storehouse of hope to get through a challenge.

When I spoke with Jude Keller she told me that she hopes to make this an annual event with the high school.  It is forward thinking of a hospital to encourage the community to become part of its healing team.  It’s this type of collaboration that lets each and every person in the community who comes to this hospital know that there are others who are holding a healing space for them.  No one ever wants to go to the hospital (except maybe if you’re having a baby), but feeling the healing energy that accompanies these works of art is priceless.

I feel fortunate to live in a community like the one served by Parker Adventist Hospital because they understand and support the healing power of art and creativity.  They exhibit this commitment not only in the art that is hanging but in the building’s architecture and obviously as in the case of Ms. Keller, in the people they employ.

How do you visualize hope?  Does the word spark any colors or textures?  Does it conjure up landscapes or cosmic representations?  Playing with your own representation of hope in a creative fashion is a great way to explore your beliefs.  Knowing what hope looks like will serve you in so many arenas, but especially if you are faced with a health challenge.  Give it a try…I hope you never face a health challenge, but if you do you’ll already have the foundation of hope at your fingertips.