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03/13/2010


When It Rains, You Shower Back Love • by Gina Kim


When I'm not painting in my studio, I’m a pediatric psych nurse at a 12-bed, inpatient facility. Working with an incredible team of doctors, social workers, and mental health counselors, we help protect vulnerable children ages 4 to 17, deemed dangerous to others or to themselves. Bipolar, depression, post-traumatic stress and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are the common mental illnesses. What's amazing about our unit is that the walls are filled with artwork handcrafted by the very children we take care of. Art is a major coping skill for these children.

Everyday I Am Reminded How Art Saves
Three weeks ago, my husband was laid off right before Valentine’s Day. As he was (and is still) looking for a job, I knew I had to put a major hold on my art life to pick up more hours at the hospital. On one hand, we were utterly grateful to have a source of my part-time income coming in. On the other hand, it was a creative death-sentence to this artist. It was very difficult to come home from an exhausting shift and expect to pick up a paintbrush and "go make art". For the longest time, I was immobilized, unable to paint anything. And yet, I couldn’t allow my creativity to be squelched this way. Then, I had an idea to craft my own healing ― an idea that would give me a creative outlet while also keeping my sanity.

Showering Back Love
I posted a blog out to my community that I was giving away free mini-art as affirmation postcards (http://ginaleekim.blogspot.com/2010/02/when-it-rainsyou-shower-back-love.html). For this Valentine's season, I gave out cards to anyone that needed support while going through a difficult time. Whoever needed a positive and uplifting message in the mail would get it simply by asking. No strings attached. This way I’d be making lots of meaningful art but in a smaller scale. Most importantly, it would placate my worries. Mixing the watercolor backgrounds, cutting out ribbon and sewing it all onto paper quieted my anxious heart. Sending them out to people I didn't even know, gave me a renewed sense of well-being. You can't bankrupt yourself by showing kindness or extending generosity or sharing beauty.

To reiterate what I wrote on my blog: “Think of it as a postcard hug. A symbol of hope. It's my way of saying to the Universe that I trust and believe in an abundant world. That in the end, we have each other and that humanity cannot be beaten." Today, I'm going to the post office to send another batch of my handmade goodness. At the end of the day, I know that everything is going to be alright.

This is how art is saving me.

Gina Kim is a pediatric psych nurse and mixed-media artist who lives in Essex County, Massachusetts. To learn more about Gina visit her blog at ginaleekim.blogspot.com.

Comments

I love how you opened yourself to heal, by helping others.
I love how your work, also shares the message, that art is a coping tool, for all of us. We just need to extend a kind gesture, whether it is a hand or a postcard hug!

Beautiful post, Gina. It's wonderful that you are able to incorporate your art in little ways that feed your soul. And I love that the children in your unit are creating art to help them heal as well.

Gina: You are amazing. I am sure your wonderful husband will find work soon. When I lost my job I decided to start my own photography and event planning business. Takes a while but totally worth exploring other options in life.
Trish

What a beautiful idea, Gina. Our wallets may grow thin, but there is a lifetime abundance of kindness to be given to others. Thank you for sharing your story here!

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