I was skinny, quiet and my mind wondered constantly. I was given a certificate as the “Most Behaved” student in first grade. I gave my teacher a drawing of a rose and in her excitement, she hugged the drawing to her chest and proudly showed it in class. I was stunned and embarrassed. I ran home crying and swearing that I would never draw again. My mother was worried that I was going deaf because I couldn’t hear her calling me for dinner. Every time she found me, I was crawled in a little corner, quietly drawing.
Back in those days, I took long walks with my sisters and brother, coexisting with the smell of pine trees, sunflowers covering mountains and wild calla lilies. We walked through the morning fog until the fog rose and revealed the grass. Thick Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat Zin authentically described this later as Mindful Walking, what I unknowingly practiced 50 years ago.
I learned the meditative practices of yoga on my own and by watching videos. Once I was able to balance on my head, I joined a class in a local yoga studio. To my surprise, I bent and stretched more naturally than others.
Contrary to my passion, my mother insisted that I should become a nurse. In nursing school, I continued to immerse in the arts, i.e., drew during lectures, drew on my books, or drew a portrait of my professors or the person in front of me. In my nursing career, I created Christmas murals and won first place many times over for my unit anywhere I worked. I invited non-artist hospital staff and created three mosaic artworks that hang in the hallway of our Critical Care building. I also created a turning clock that that was instrumental in decreasing Hospital Acquired Pressure Injury.
It took my Chief Nurse Officer to believe in what I can genuinely create and regard Nursing as an art. I exhibited 2 pieces of artwork for American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet conferences, “Caring Mosaic” and “Healing Stories.” It was my CNO’s idea to have a meditation room called the “Watson Room.” I made it come to life by immersing in my 5 senses.
After I attended the New Jersey Council of Magnet Organizations conference in November 2016, I brought back ANA’s HNHN challenge to my professional organization, Philippine Nurses Association of New Jersey Bergen Passaic Subchapter (BPSC) Education Panning Committee. We provided a statewide conference on “Breaking Barriers to Health and Wellness- A Guide for Healthcare Professionals” on March 25, 2017. The conference focused on nutrition and taking care of ourselves first, as nurses. I took the HNHN challenge further by creating an HNHN Mosaic. This was an original life size oeuvre measuring 18 feet by 7 feet. The artwork showcased favorite exercises and sporting activities of our BPSC Executive Board (EB). Mindful words that resonate for each EB were outlined along the shape of each person. The mosaic was displayed in the Philippine Nurses Association National Conference at the Hyatt Regency, Jersey City, New Jersey on July 2018.
I am grateful that I don’t have weight or health problems. All my childhood experiences, my dad’s teachings on cherishing imperfections and letting go, and what I have been practicing all along are aligned with ANA’s HNHN. I allow myself to be quiet and still. It in those times that I go in a sacred space and journey to creativity.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Jocelyn Espejo, CCRN-CMC, BSN, RN
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