She Used a Paintbrush to Sing

"Maps" is the painted products of Regina Holliday's presence at the 2016 MAPS (Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety) Conference.
Patient rights advocate Regina Holliday painted "Maps" at the 2016 MAPS (Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety) Conference.

I started hosting nursing salons and this hobby blog to curate reflections from nurses and our partners in healing.  Figurative canvases, the venue for a nursing salon or the blank page of an unwritten blog post are spaces to create conversation starters.  Marie Manthey, one of my many dear mentors, often closes her nursing salons by saying, "Conversations change people, and people change the world."

Last week I met Regina Holliday at the Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety (MAPS) Conference.  Regina is starting conversations that are bound to change the world.  She was the opening keynote speaker, and I first spied her on the side of the ballroom, wearing a hand-painted jacket and wielding a paintbrush like a magic wand.  I never snapped a picture of her in action, but I did my best to create a rendition of her presence with a little watercolor wanderlust of my own this weekend. I processed her message while I crafted an expression of gratitude for her talk at the conference and for the conversations she is starting with The Walking Gallery, a movement you can watch in a mini doc on Vimeo by Eideon Film: The Walking Gallery of Healthcare.

Regina's paintbrush influences the course of events like a magic wand.
Regina's paintbrush influences the course of events like a magic wand.

Regina courageously recounted the story of her late husband Fred in her opening keynote speech at the 2016 MAPS Conference.  More, Regina shared her steps to answer the compelling call to grow into the brave, bold, patient rights advocate she is today.  Just ask her about her "Little Miss A Type Personality" jacket and how she embraced the moniker to start that conversation.

Regina painted on the sidelines of meeting rooms all day following the keynote she delivered, chiming in to participate in the dialogue and creating a colorful canvas that became a painted narrative of conversations started in each of the conference breakout sessions.  That painting is the lead image in this blog post.  The details are rich; and they represent real stories about real patients and real pain and real people gathering at a conference, trying to take steps to prevent history from repeating itself as we study and learn from medical error and failed communication.  In an interview published on Regina's blog, she says her painting style has been described to her as, "often sweet and disturbing at the same time." The MAPS masterpiece is no exception in my humble appraisal.

In seeking out more about Regina's story, I stumbled across one article in Forbes, "Will Regina Holliday Become Healthcare's Rosa Parks?"

In reading Regina's reflections on her blog about her relationship to her work, she says, "My favorite piece is “Are you alright?” In that painting, I captured my late husband Fred. He stares at me from that painting like he is still with me. Still alive on pigment covered canvas. Still urging me to help him, a patient.  And every day I do exactly that."

Cranes of Hope Artist Trading Card
Cranes of Hope Artist Trading Card

Years ago I bought a handful of Cranes of Hope Artist Trading Cards at a local hospital gift shop.  In the mix was one that I've hung onto. I think it was meant for Regina - and I'll be mailing it to her, this week!  Writer, speaker, and painter, Regina is modeling more than The Walking Gallery.  She is modeling the spirit of creativity that starts conversations.  And conversations change the world.

Are you a nurse?  What is your canvas to reflect the change you wish to see in the profession?  Are you a patient or a family member or partner in healing?  Have you found a canvas to paint your ideas, your challenges to the system, or your story?  I'm listening.  Feel free to contact me in the comments below or at about sharing a guest post on The Reflective Nurse blog.