2017 was a challenging year for me in many ways, some good, some not so much, but it ended positively.
In October, I had opportunity to show ten new paintings where I work, part of an exhibition titled Healers, Artists, and Breast Cancer Survivors. A local TV news station covered it. Around the same time, I was interviewed for a local magazine, also about being an artist, oncology nurse navigator, and breast cancer survivor. I admit, I felt very good about both, because 2017 was a difficult time for pursuing my goals as an artist.
Part of the hospital exhibit was an artist talk. I spoke about how my arts career was launched when I completed cancer treatment, and was told I had a 32% chance of dying in 10 years from disease recurrence. Blah, blah, blah, I decided if I were to die in 10 years there were three things I wanted to do:
- Become an artist
- Fall deeply in love with, and be deeply loved by the same person
- Give people reasons to say nice things about me when I die.
As I spoke these words to the audience, I realized I have achieved the first two of the three, and it’s too soon to know the outcome of the third. I need new life goals.
I spent the past weekend reflecting on what these new life goals should be. I did some deep soul work, and came up with new intentions. They include questions I’m hoping to have the answers to this time next year. I’m not going to write them here. They’re personal.
I started 2018 with a bang. I spent time with some of my closest family, which was a goal for 2018 (there’s a difference between yearly goals and life intentions). Afterwards, I went to my barre class, and the instructor talked about breaking plateaus. That resonated for me. I’ve reached a plateau in my life goals. 2018 will be the year to break through.
I came home from that class ready to write a post for this blog about how to know if you’re stuck in your life goals, and methods to get unstuck. I was on fire.
I forgot to mention, I began knitting a sweater last week. I’m a pretty good knitter, but the pattern I chose, though it builds on skills I’ve gained by making smaller projects, is the most complex pattern I’ve worked. It’s knit from the bottom up, beginning with the sleeves, which are joined to the body of the sweater before making the yoke. I’ve been working on the first sleeve for several days. It’s over a foot long.
That’s when I noticed it’s too long to accommodate the rest of the rows needed to make the remaining necessary stitch increases. I re-read the pattern. I had misunderstood the increase rows sequence. Now I have to rip out all of the knitting I’ve done, and start over. Arrgh!
I felt defeated, the wind let out of my sails. It’s the first day of 2018, and already I’ve made a mistake!
Then it came to me: That’s how plateaus are broken. You try something new, and you’re not good at it yet, so you make a mistake, maybe more than one. You have to start over, and keep trying until you get it right. That’s how you get unstuck. That’s how progress is made.
I haven’t ripped out the stitches yet. I decided to write this post first. I feel better because I did. I feel motivated to rip out all those hours of knitting, and start over.
2018 is going to be a transformative year.
The above paintings are original works by Julianna Paradisi, and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
This year, I’ve had a few opportunities to try on the art of public speaking, a newish skill for me. The topics revolved around breast cancer, and oncology nurse navigation.
Recently, I was asked to speak to a group of inpatient oncology nurses about the role of nurse navigators for breast cancer patients, and the application to the hospital setting. Integrating the patient experience throughout the continuum of cancer treatment is a prominent part of what nurse navigators do, and inpatient nurses wanting to learn more (and earned CE) about oncology nurse navigation is exciting. It demonstrates ONNs have an impact on patient care.
For the occasion, I decided to learn a new skill: creating a Power Point presentation. I know, I know, some of you were making Power Point presentations since your first elementary school book report, but you probably can’t write in cursive as well as an older nurse, or use a real typewriter.
Here’s the stipulation: because I am also an artist, I have a thing against using clip art or stock images from the Internet to illustrate my words. If you are familiar with my blog posts for Off the Charts you already know this.
So, not only did I learn to create, and present a Power Point slide show, I used jpegs from a series of paintings I made of mountains, illustrating the presentation from the perspective of my personal practice. For many, the word navigator connotes images of the ocean or GPS, but as a breast cancer survivor turned ONN, I see myself as a sherpa, someone who has climbed the mountain, familiar with its terrain and potential for treachery. I lead patients up the mountain, summit, and then come back down. The paintings of mountains also suggest the barriers to care ONNs are tasked with removing for patients. The theme was woven into the closing remarks of the presentation.
Most of the paintings depict Mount Hood, the dominating peak and iconic symbol of Portland, Oregon, my home.
I gave the presentation with a sense of creative satisfaction in finding another way to merge art into my nursing practice.
Recently I had a unique experience as an artist and nurse. At the hospital, I was stopped by someone I vaguely thought was a former patient, or perhaps a family member or supportive friend of a former patient, I really don’t remember.
This person, however, not only recognized me, but knew I painted the art hanging in the infusion clinic where I once worked.
“You sold the horse print.The one over the reception desk.”
“I really liked it. It was good. It was a print, right?”
“Thank you. Well, actually no. It was an original painting. I used oil sticks to make it.”
“What are oil sticks?”
“They’re similar to oil pastels, but big, like cigars. In fact, painting with them feels like how I imagine painting with a big, greasy cigar might feel. But they air dry over time, unlike oil pastels.”
“That sounds really messy, but your painting looked neat and precise.”
“I really liked it.”
“Thank you. So what do you think of the painting of Mt Hood I made to replace it?”
The the expression on her face gave her away, so I threw her a bone.
“Not so much, right?”
“It’s okay. I liked the horse.”
“I really appreciate your comments,” and I meant it.
As an artist I’ve stood through many gallery openings and art receptions. It’s rare for anyone to ask about what inspired the art, or how it was made. No offense intended to anyone, but a common experience for artists at gallery receptions is being approached by people wanting to talk about themselves or their art, not yours. They didn’t come to view the art.
I’m enchanted by this woman who spends her time in an infusion clinic considering the artwork on its walls; becoming fond of a particular painting, and wondering how it was made. She wasn’t there to view the art either, but she did. Not only that, but she had access to the artist, who is a nurse going about her nursing duties, until this brief respite, when the two of us discussed the art.
I do not believe such things happen very often to artists or nurses. I am grateful it happened to me.
Because I’m an artist, one of the pervading themes of this blog is art.
This week, I had the pleasure of being recognized, along with two other artists who are nurses, in an interview by Meaghan O’Keefe, RN for Scrubbedin (the Blog) at Nurse.com. Each of us share our perspective on art and nursing, and why they are uniquely paired.
In their April 2015 issue, the American Journal published Yazzie, a painting from my Urban Horses series, along with a short essay about selecting art for the health care setting. I’m honored to have a collection of my paintings and monotypes hanging the the oncology infusion clinic where I used to work, giving me a special opportunity to pair art and nursing in patient care.
The April 2015 issue of the American Journal of Nursing is available. On page 43 of the print version is Yazzie, a painting I made The Art of Nursing Column. In the accompanying text I discuss the challenge hanging original art in a health care setting. You can view a pdf of Yazzie and the accompanying text at AJN Online.
The paintings on exhibit in the clinic, including Yazzie, are for sale. I will donate 20% of the sales prices to The Knight Cancer Challenge, dedicated to raising research money to find the cure for cancer. The fundraising ends in February 2016. You can learn about the Knight Cancer Challenge by watching their cool video here.
If you watched the recent airing on PBS of The Emperor of All Maladies, you’ll recognize Dr. Brian Druker, the inventor of Gleevec, as the face of OHSU cancer research.
If wishes were horses, this 17-piece collection titled, Works on Paper: Monotype Prints and Paintings would be purchased and donated to the walls of the clinic where they are now hanging, so the patients can continue to enjoy them.
Nurses Day 2013 has come and gone. I had a particularly good one, which I wrote a blog post The Best Nurses Day Gift: Enough Time for Patients for Off The Charts, the blog of the American Journal of Nursing.
Illustrating this post is my painting, What’s Left Behind.
About Face is a new magazine in Portland, featuring interviews of local celebrities, artists, and entrepreneurs. You will find the summer issue by clicking here, then download the PDF by clicking on the cover thumbnail on the lower right sidebar. If you scroll to page 70 you will find a small photograph of my painting Twenty-One, currently part of the Froelick Gallery group show Equine. There’s a little information about the painting as well. Equine runs through July 16, 2011.
Last night was the opening reception for the Froelick Gallery group show, Equine. I am fortune that my painting Twenty-Oneis included among the work of many accomplished artists. Tonight is First Thursday, and there is a reception for the show from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. The show runs all of June, through July 16, 2011.
The Froelick Gallery is located at 714 NW Davis Street, Portland Oregon, 97209.
Artist Statement for Twenty-One
The painting Twenty-One is inspired by the prehistoric drawings found on the walls of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in France. These drawings, made before humans possessed written language, are the earliest known record of primordial expression, and they are images of horses. Later, humans learned to use symbols instead of pictures to create words. Inspired by the transition of pictorial language into words, the repetitive form of grazing horses in Twenty-One suggests ancient cuneiform. Impressed by stylus into clay tablets, cuneiform script marks the abstraction of pictorial expression into symbolic characters. It is the precursor of the modern alphabet.
In June, I have a painting in the horse-themed Equine, a group show at the Froelick Gallery, opening June 1-July 16, 2011.