Photo by Jackie Krage of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.
In my role as a healing coach at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute® – Abbott Northwestern Hospital, I like to encourage my clients to pursue their passion, in spite of or in light of their circumstances. If not now, when?
My passion is photography. My partner, Vera Kovacovic, has a passion for watercolor. We travel, I take photographs, and she paints. What a joy to share creative times together. In preparing for the current Art of Healing show at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute, I thought it would be interesting to have Vera do a watercolor rendition of some of my photos, showing how an image can be seen differently depending on one’s creative eye, talent and perspective.
This is also true about life, especially during challenging times. My intent in my work is to help people see their circumstances with fresh eyes, seeking hope when it appears dim and allowing healing when it seems elusive. I am constantly moved by the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity for healing.
Being primarily a nature photographer encourages me to seek out beauty. I can forget everything else when looking through the lens of a camera. I once spent three hours in 20 below temperatures shooting photos of the trumpeter swans on the Mississippi River in Monticello. By the time I was done I could barely feel my fingers, but I had the best time. It cleared my head, soothed my spirit and ignited a flame that kept me warm. Of course, making a beeline to the closest coffeehouse when I was done didn’t hurt!
Living fully can mean different things to different people. I can’t hike up a steep mountain with 30 pounds of camera equipment on my back trying to get a shot, nor will I risk life and limb. (I ask myself…Is this shot worth a year in physical rehabilitation?) So it forces me to slow down, look deeper and see things differently. This allows me to find my unique vision.
I cannot see life through another person’s lens, only my own. But I can seek understanding. It’s like looking deep into a photograph to see what the artist was trying to convey. Sometimes it is obvious. Other times not so much. That is what I believe Vera does in her interpretation. As a watercolorist, she starts with a blank slate and creates what she sees. She says it is the “essence” of the image through her own personal lens.
That is also what I do in my role as a healing coach. I need to stay aware of my own lens, but be able to go beyond myself and find the true essence of the person who has entrusted himself or herself in my care. It is truly an honor.
Nancy Cox, RN, healing coach, works with people dealing with cancer and their families. She sees clients at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute – Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. For appointments, call 612-863-0200.
Art is powerful. It can nourish the mind, body and spirit, and it can support healing. That is the inspiration behind a bimonthly Art of Healing exhibit offered by the Penny George™ Institute for Health and Healing.
The Penny George Institute will open another exhibit at its new Penny George Institute for Health and Healing – WestHealth clinic in Plymouth, Minn., in August. The paintings of Nicky Torkzadeh will be on display there.
In addition, the following exhibits are at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus through the end of September 2014:
The displays are part of the Penny George Institute’s Art of Healing Program, which provides arts-based wellness intervention and education, and supports a healing environment. For more information, call 612-863-9028.
By Guest Blogger Maria Genné, founder and director of Kairos Alive!
The research is clear: moving is good for you and dancing is even better.
When we dance, we increase our cardiovascular circulation, balance, flexibility, strength, and we get a good cognitive workout. With shifting rhythms, patterns and dynamic changes, dancing challenges our neurological system.
When we dance with others, we add a key indicator of well-being ― social interaction. When we reach out, hold another’s hand, smile, look into each other’s eyes, and move together to music we enjoy, we fill a basic human desire to connect with others in a positive way.
We also get a burst of neuropeptides – our body’s response to the stimulation of movement, music and interaction with others. As the late geriatric psychiatrist Gene Cohen said, this creative artistic stimulation is “like chocolate for our brain.”
In addition, dancing can help us resist or delay the cognitive and physical challenges of the aging process, including neurocognitive impairment. In 2003, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine published their 20-year study on the impact of leisure activities on dementia. It found that dancing had the most significant impact in delaying the onset of dementia.
At Kairos Alive!, we call our participatory dance, music and story making “Choreography of Care™.” I have been a dancer, choreographer and teacher for many years. In that time, I have invited people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to dance in a creative, open-hearted way. I have seen a diverse community of people ― grandparents, young children, parents, frail elders, teachers, young men volunteering from a correctional facility, and older Veterans ― come alive with creativity and imagination when they expressed themselves through dance, music and story.
I also have discovered that there are many ways to dance, including dancing in a chair. We have an opportunity to reclaim dancing as a basic human expression, no matter our age, background or ability. There are many ways to dance from line dancing to the twist, from Scandinavian folk dancing to contemporary dance, from dancing in the living room with our children, to waltzing across the dance floor with our sweetheart.
The best way to begin is by dancing the way you like to dance to music you enjoy. Sometimes it might mean waiting until you have the house to yourself and remembering the quote, “dance like no one is watching.”
Another way to get moving is to dance with others. Look for dance classes or special dance events at your local community center, community education program, performing venues and professional dance organizations. Or you could organize a dance event.
Recently our Kairos Alive! artistic team started offering the Kairos Dance Hall™ to bring together people of all ages and abilities to take part in lively, interactive dance/story/theater events. Participants dance to live music performed by professional musicians. See a video from an event in Detroit Lakes.
It is an opportunity to bring the whole community together for joyful participation, health education, and personal and community well-being. We call it our “dance party for all ages,” and it is free and open to the public.
I hope you will join us at an upcoming Kairos Dance Hall™:
Minnehaha Falls Park Pavilion in Minneapolis on June 18 at 7 p.m.
Loring Park Community Center in Minneapolis on June 26 at 7 p.m.