Painting workshop honours the stuff below the surface


"How many people felt more terrified than ever before on May 3rd?" I asked a room full of healthcare professionals.  Most hands, including my own, shot up immediately.



May 3rd to our community was like 9-11 was to New York, a point in time that everyone relates to in a deeply personal way.  We are five and a half months out from the event, but the emotions are still there, bubbling under the surface.


I facilitated an abstract painting workshop yesterday with 24 amazing professionals who reflected on their careers, family, influencers and the events before, during and after the great Fort McMurray fire.  We laughed together, shared memories together, and yes, we cried together, too.

"I had countless calls and messages from people asking if I was safe," said one participant.  "This was the first time someone asked how I was feeling in the moments.  It was important for me to remember and voice some of those things."


Words, shapes, colours and brush strokes became a conduit during this 3-hour workshop, a pipeline to memories, moments and feelings that were not suppressed, per se, rather supplanted, by busy lives, and an insistence to press forward and be resilient.  Without exception, every single person had important things to remember, express on canvas, and share.


In the process of going through this experience, work colleagues were able to support each other and get personal insights about themselves and each other.  Adding colour and form to the stuff below the surface and then giving voice to them had a powerful effect.  I felt honoured to be in the presence of these strong and determined professionals who provide care to others as part of what they do every day.  They were incredibly brave during the disaster, the hard weeks that followed, and even now, as they carry on with their lives and contribute to the rebuilding of our community.

If you're interested in find out more about gifting your work team with a 3-hour painting journey, reach out to me.  Asking them how they are doing is one thing, but inviting them to acknowledge and honour what is happening below the surface is care and concern of a different order.

russell.thomas@birdsongconnections.com  | 780-881-3752

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