Last day at Shands, "Clowning around"

My last day at Shands saw Paula Patterson push me well beyond my comfort zone! The day started easily enough, after meeting and talking about our common ideas and issues around grants, programs and the future of arts in health with Kris Sullivan, I joined the rest of the AIM team for their weekly "Artist Rounds". This was a wonderful opportunity to meet members of the team I hadn't met to date and to listen to their reflections on the work they had been doing with patients during the week. All of the artists use this meeting as a peer support and mentoring opportunity as well as a time for critical reflection and planning. I was thrilled that Tina invited me to talk about our work in the North and West Metro Region Palliative Care Consortium, the Churchill Trust and my Fellowship and of course I took the opportunity to "plug" "Four Funerals in One Day" and "Jelly Bean's Secret" (when you're given the floor you need to make the most of it!). The team were all very interested in all of the above and conversations continued during lunchtime in the garden. It was then that I had to put "professional me" in the cupboard for an hour as I walked around the hospital dressed as a "goofy" waiter with Paula and one of her volunteers, handing out chocolates to staff in celebration of International Nurse's Week. I must say it was WAY beyond my comfort zone, particularly walking into the nurses stations impersonating the John Cleese "silly walk" (all part of the routine, I'm told). I must say I never realised that "clowning" was such a serious business! But I think I'll leave it to the professionals in the future, I don't think I'd make a very good living if I had to depend on my clowning skills.

After my clowning performance, the pace changed somewhat as I spent some time with Nancy Lasseter looking at the mind/body renewal program.......far more my speed, especially sitting on the massage chair as I really needed it by then! Nancy runs a great program where staff can book in for a massage in addition to providing yoga, meditation and guided visualisations. Most impressive. Finally I met the Palliative Care CNS, who I had a long chat with (and I hope I convinced to come and visit us in Melbourne).

My stay at Shands @UF Arts in Medicine sadly finished and I said goodbye to a stack of new friends with whom I know I'll keep in touch in the future. I was so grateful for their generosity, their honesty and their interest in my work. All in all I have met some wonderful people in the U.S, in Buffalo, North Carolina and now in Florida and I know I've established relationships that will be ongoing in addition to learning heaps about how others use the arts in a mainstream health facilities.

I finished my Shands visit with a night at the theatre and funnily enough, the play, "Shipwrecked" was about a French born Englishman "Louis de Rougemont" who ran away to sea and (of course) was shipwrecked somewhere off the coast of Australia. How much of his story was true and how much delusional, we never found out, but it was most entertaining and I am very grateful to Cathy DeWitt, who took me along as her guest. Also funny, at the reception prior to the performance (for the local PBS radio station), I met a woman and her husband who'd lived in Melbourne for 10years, she taught in Ascot Vale and he in Broadmeadows and they lived in Carlton (right by Princes Park), it sure is a small world!

Before I packed my bag to head to London, the lovely Madeline took me out to the Harn Museum, where I not only saw some wonderful art, some gigantic skeletons and a great floral art competition, but got to spend time in the "butterfly house"..........just my sort of place, extremely hot and humid, lush and filled with colourful flying things.........AH, HEAVEN!

So "toodle pip" United States, thanks for having's been a ball!

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