What a joyful experience to have my two worlds come together! My hospice work as a RN and my artistic endeavors! Every year the Evergreen Foundation accepts applications for grants to foster improvement in the care of patients and betterment of staff. This is the second year I have applied with the encouragement of management, as studies show that creative work as an outlet helps prevent compassion fatigue. My idea was to have each staff member make a beacon of love via a flag that could hang outside the hospice center for the month of Hospice Awareness. The flags would serve as a vehicle for staff to express their own hopes, blessings, and love for our patients. The act of making the flags itself was a chance for the staff to decompress from the heavy work we do. We wanted to do it during the already scheduled staff meetings so that more staff could attend and get paid for their time making art! This proved a challenge as naturally we don’t meet in an art studio but in a auditorium and conference rooms! So the project had to be portable and not messy. After looking at options.. it seemed stencils and fabric paint dauber and fabric pens would be the best fit. So lucky for me my dear friend Tracy Fraker of Art Spot in Edmonds met with me and was able to order all the materials bar the fabric for me. The materials were very nonthreatening to the staff who are ” artistic naïve” and allowed for the 40 min. we had to create the flags.
Again, I saw that when staff who otherwise deemed themselves inartistic are given the right tools and encouragement they lose themselves in the process and find they can communicate artfully!
I had 2 sessions with 30-40 staff at each meeting. Before each meeting I began with a reading from Ann Voskamp,
“It takes a full 20 min. after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full?…. This moment I enter–I don’t reach forward and I don’t reach back and I weigh the moment down with full attention.” I then invited the staff to join together in weighing down our time together. I also reminded them not to get too attached to the art but to remember that these flags were going to be outside in the weather, symbolizing our lives and wishes being spilled out over the ones we love. Also, a reminder of our own impermanence. Here are a few samples of the flags created. The flags will be hanging at Evergreen Hospice Care Center in Kirkland,WA the month of Dec.
HERE ARE A FEW OF THE BEAUTIFUL FLAGS