If You Can’t See It, You Aren’t Living It: How To Visualize Your Best Life

After cancer treatment, my hair grew back in wild curls that I dyed platinum blonde, symbolizing my pursuit of a more creative life. “Now what?” I asked. How does one pursue a creative life?

photo by jparadisi

photo by jparadisi

The same way nurses create a patient care plan: with a focused goal.

“Huh?” I hear you say.

Nurses ignore hunger. We rationalize it’s OK we haven’t peed for 12 hours, because we haven’t had anything to drink either. Is anyone surprised we’re numb in the creativity department? If you need a Doppler to find your dreams, take heart! There are tools for restoring creative perfusion.

The first tool is rediscovery

For me, it was drawing, riding horses, writing, collecting seashells, cooking, and hiking. I made greeting cards. Not much about nursing. I wasn’t particularly athletic, but maybe you were. What did your childhood self dream of doing? Write it down.

Make a scrapbook of images 

  • This exercise clears clutter: Tear pictures from old magazines of everything that catches your eye.

    photo by jparadisi

    photo by jparadisi

Using a glue stick, randomly paste the pictures into an inexpensive scrapbook. Don’t worry what it looks like. This is an exercise in free association. Do it over several weeks, compiling enough images to spot trends.

Pay attention: Your subconscious is talking! I discovered myself clipping pictures of lofts with contemporary furniture, a far cry from my country-style living room. Pictures of clothing were elegant, urban fashions, not my uniform of jeans and comfort footwear.

Maybe your pictures depict people, not things. In that case, what are they doing: traveling, creating something, dancing, or playing a musical instrument? Are they back in school for that BSN or advanced degree? If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are yours saying?

This project can be accomplished using Pinterest. However, the paper version provides privacy, perhaps fostering candid responses. If Pinterest works for you, go ahead.

Create a vision board

  • Our brains are trainable. Vision boards are a visualization tool. Training your brain to “see” the life you want helps achieve it.

Using the information you gathered from the previous two exercises, glue pictures from magazines representing the life you want on a large piece of poster board. A single mother at the time, my pictures represented falling in love and a happy relationship, along with pictures of an art studio, places I wanted to visit, learning Rieki, and living into old age. I made mine during cancer treatment — your patients might enjoy making this project too.

Through these exercises, I discovered I was cleaning a rarely used guest room. My dining room sat empty because I preferred impromptu dinners with girlfriends served on the coffee table while watching a movie from the couch. Clearly, I dreamt of a lifestyle very different from the one I maintained. I changed that.

Are you living the life of your dreams or simply the one you find yourself living? If you are, how did you find it?


The Meaning of Success Is In The Squiggles

What Success Looks Like, After via, via, via, via ...Facebook 2011 by jparadisi

Recently one of my friends on Facebook posted a drawing about success. I took the liberty of drawing a copy of it. In art school, copying the drawing of another artist, particularly a dead one, is acceptable if you write “After and insert name of the artist whose work you copied following the title of the drawing. In nursing, copying a written policy of another institution or department by using it as a template is legitimized by the phrase, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” My point, is this: I copied the above drawing from an unidentified artist on Facebook, because it illustrates the path of success. Maybe not the path of your success, but certainly mine, and that of many artists, writers, and nurses.

The definition of success has plagued creative and ambitious people since, well, the invention of the wheel. Is success defined by external validation from society in the form of wealth, fame, and Klout score? Or is it generated within the individual, an internal sense of satisfaction derived from knowing that what one contributes holds merit, whether society recognizes it or not? This brings to mind the contrast between the fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge, who’s myopic vision of success impoverished his soul, and the nonfictional, archetypical starving artist Vincent van Gogh, living in poverty for the sake of his art. Both had destructive relationships with success. A similar disparity exists in nursing, which demands intellect, critical thinking, and expensive educations as avenues of success, but offers limited career paths and varying financial incentives in return. Nevertheless, nursing’s contributions to society, and those of artists, are not diminished, though some find it difficult reconciling commercial success with creativity, or caregivers.

While writing posts for this blog, I ponder the meaning of success. Success as a blogger, writer and artist is often hidden in the squiggles, but it is not lost in them. The blog bears fruit. It has attracted opportunities for the sale of my stories and artwork. Moreover, within the squiggles I have discovered an Internet community of artist, writer, nurse companions, and like-minded readers through blogging. With such camaraderie, getting lost in the squiggles becomes a camping trip instead of The Exodus.

If you are a passionate blogger, artist, or nurse currently lost in the squiggles on the Road to Success, keep going. You are not alone.

Scrubs Magazine Features JParadisi Paintings in Fall 2011 Issue

Three Vases, Two Dollies, and a Thong. oil/canvas by J Paradisi 2011

Scrubs Magazine published two series of paintings by moi in the Fall 2011issue. It is a rare opportunity for an artist to publish more than one or two images in a article, so to see the newest series, Vessels of Containment: Part I posted on the Scrubs Mag website is gratifying. I usually create paintings in a series; while each one stands alone, they were intended to be exhibited together. Vessels of Containment: Part I featuring Catalina Island Pottery (made on Catalina Island from 1927-1937) and vintage dolls, explores collecting as a means of holding.

Also unique about the Scrubs Magazine, is that the print version is entirely different from their website. Previously available only in uniform stores, now you can subscribe for monthly home delivery. Past issues have included articles by popular authors Theresa Brown, RN, Garrison Keillor, and in the Fall 2011 issue, Dana Jennings, journalist and cancer survivor who posts for the NY Times Well Blog. You’ll find a very nice article about me, which features five paintings from my series, From Cradle to Grave: The Color White on page 48.

Incidentally, photo credit for all the images, both online and print, belongs to David E. Forinash, my husband.