I really enjoyed meeting everyone at The Fourth National Cancer Conference in Hull last week. It was my University town, not my birthplace but nevertheless a formative place I have many fond memories of.
There were a few familiar faces from the world of palliative care I used to inhabit and some really exciting new ideas and themes that resonated with me. It was the first time I had had the opportunity to share Disentangling Genius with a professional audience and as a keynote speaker. If I could only have seen this coming all those years ago as a frustrated artist and idealistic nurse who felt lost in the increasingly complex and process driven world of healthcare and a hellish time of personal disorientation.
Yes, I am happy to say there are many voices appealing for such spiritual qualities as “love” and “comfort” in our work with patients.
One speaker was a patient who appealed for “compassionate ordinariness”. Another, David Sheard the CEO of Dementia Care Matters lit up the audience with his passion for the vulnerable and our ability to meet and connect with a dementia patient on a truly imaginative and emotional level.
As if I had needed to worry whether the healthcare-orientated crowd would “get” my cause for creative expression and each person’s uniquely contributing genius. I had wondered how the audience would react to my meandering tale of recovery from hellish frustration, a slide of Grayson Perry’s Tom Rakewell tapestry, Jackson Pollock’s paint blotches and an appeal to “Live Full, Die Empty”.
One or two were stunned, a couple of educationalists intrigued and a few fresh student nurses visibly excited about the passion and vulnerability of my own story. I hope they felt inspired to continue in their unfolding dream to be real game changers as nurses in a demanding time for their profession. The overall plea coming from the platform was a resounding appeal to be real, to own who we are and equally honour our stories and our humanity as professionals as much as our patients.
If anything, this year I am learning to embrace more fully than ever, the combination of work and play that is my chosen lifestyle. As I continue my practise as a nurse and choose to have the margin I make to write, to teach and create exciting learning experiences, I am more content than I have ever been. In fact I have almost lost track of whether writing or nursing are work or play, or whether either of them could be both! That’s quite a liberating place to be. No longer trying to escape a day job for a dream job but living purposefully for today with a sharp eye on where each moment is taking me. What an adventure!
And one of my next adventures will be the teleconferencing coaching I aim to deliver over 8 weeks as a high value peer learning opportunity for the frustrated mid-lifer, the weary pioneer or deflated dreamer. Come on, let’s pick up that passion and run for a new season of genius creativity in our lives and relationships!
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