This post was written by Kathy Curtis, healing artist, Fort Wayne Dance Collective. The Healing Arts program is made possible in part by generosity through the Parkview Foundations and integrates literary, movement, music visual arts into patient care. Read more about Kathy’s word art initiative here.

I was finishing a patient’s word art in the lounge at the end of her floor, when a woman walked in and sat down a few seats away. She looked confident, purposeful and well put-together, and not like someone who was in need of word medicine. Since I never view encounters like this as random, I introduced myself and told her what I do with words. She asked how I get a patient to give me a word, and I told her about how I relate my question to what we used to ask sick people in the old days; Not “What do you have,” but rather, “What are you lacking?” It has been an interesting way to engage with people, and they rarely even hesitate before telling me their word.

I asked this woman what she would say if I asked her the same question. She told me that she gets up every day and spends time in gratitude for all that is right in her life. And her life is incredibly right. 

So I asked if there was anything small that might be lacking? Her eyes wandered away for a minute, and then she looked right at me with tears in her eyes and said there was something. She wasn’t sure what the word was, but it had to do with her self-doubts when it came to raising her kids. One of them, in particular, was making her wonder whether she was doing something wrong. His choices weren’t the best, and it was causing a ripple in her otherwise beautiful life.

We talked for a few minutes about the word, and finally landed on MOM. We agreed that that simple 3-letter word contained so much meaning and depth, it would be impossible to look at it and not know what it was triggering for her. 

As I drew, I felt deeply for her. She was obviously a powerful woman, and yet she was completely willing to show her vulnerability about this thing that was tugging at her heart. The way the word began to take shape reminded me of a badge. Like a badge of courage. Or honor. Or honesty. 

Yes, it was a badge of honesty. Because when it comes to healing of any sort, whether it’s inside of us or in relation to others, honesty is the best medicine there is. 

So to this MOM and all the others out there, go ahead and question yourself. And feel less than powerful if you have to. That means you’re being honest, and your kids will someday figure out that they can trust you (when they’re ready.) Till then, just keep being MOM in all the ways you are.


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