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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Walking Gallery Center for Arts and Healing

When I was a young girl I struggled to read.  In fourth grade I had a teacher that helped me beyond measure.  She taught me how to read well.  She cast me in the play Oklahoma.  She encouraged me to write and draw.  By 5th grade I was reading chapter books all by myself.   My favorite books were all of the Little House books, A Little Princess, Pollyanna and Heidi.

The pint-sized heroines inspired me with their ability to overcome adversity.  I loved the idea of imagining and then creating a beautiful world within a cold dark attic.  I could envision a rainbow of color hidden in chandelier glass and play the game of always thinking of something to be glad about.  I could understand the allure of returning to healthy mountain air over the coal dust vapors of a Victorian city.

I have never forgotten these lessons of my youth.  I know the power of hope and friendship can heal so many wounds of the spirit.  Now I am an adult with a responsibility to spread goodness in a world that is often filled with sorrow.

I live in a small town teaming with young children and adults yearning to create. They want to draw and dance and paint, but in the winter opportunities to do such things are few and far between.

I work with patient advocates and medical providers from around the nation who cry out to me.  They tell me their sorrow and I paint it on their back; but sometimes they need more.  Sometimes they need a place to rest and reignite their fiery passion.  

I created a movement called The Walking Gallery and I need others who will paint with me and help to spread the patient voice. We need the space and time to turn hundreds of jackets into thousands.

So I ask you to help me build a vision into a reality.

In the healthy mountain air of Grantsville, Maryland I want to create The Walking Gallery Center for Arts and Healing.  There is a 100 year-old building here that was once the home and office of the town doctor and his artist wife. The history of this building matches the vision of the Center.

When you walk in the door there is chandelier that is filled with a promise of rainbows.  There are rooms that will be galleries and rooms that will fill with laughter and dance.  There are bedrooms that will refresh the weary patient and inspire the striving artist.

All this will come to be if we work together and turn a vision into reality.  

We have 40 days to raise enough money to begin the process of securing this building.  I think we can do it, but not without your help.  Cancer 101 has agreed once again to act as our grant partner in this crowdfund, so all donations will be tax deductible. 

To quote the words of Pollyanna, “It’ll be just lovely for you to play…It’ll be so hard.  And there’s so much more fun when it is hard.”  

Thank You,

Regina Holliday

Sunday, November 16, 2014

#Cinderblocks2: The Partnership with Patients Continues

In September of 2012 we had our first gathering of  #Cinderblocks or The Partnership with Patients summit in Kansas City, Missouri.  There were about 70 in attendance and everyone left filled with the passion that changes hearts and minds.  Sarah Barr wrote about the event for Kaiser Health News. In the two years since, people has asked repeatedly about when do we plan to meet again.  Well, I tell you the time has come to spread the word of our next gathering.

#Cinderblocks2: The Partnership with Patients Continues will be held June 4-6, 2015 in Grantsville, MD.  

This conference will be held in the scenic beauty of the mountains of Western Maryland.  This will be a destination event and the spirit of the conference will be sort of like Burning Man meets healthcare.

Now some of you may not remember why I use the hashtag #Cinderblocks, so I thought a refresher might be in order... 

"When I was a child I went to an elementary school that had few resources.  In fifth grade, someone donated a large amount of books to our class.  We were very pleased to have them, but we had no bookshelves on which to place them.  My teacher was very enterprising though, and she contacted the local lumberyard and requested they donate some two by fours and cinderblocks so we could make shelves.  The lumberyard manger said yes, with one caveat, we would have to pick up the supplies.

That year our fifth grade class had a field trip.  

We left the school as a class with our strong backs and eager minds. We walked to the lumberyard.  Some of us grabbed the two by fours, some of us cinderblocks and some us combined the two to make a carry yoke for two students to heft.   We walked those blocks all the way back to school and up three flights of stairs.  Then we assembled those shelves and placed the books upon them.  We stood back and looked proudly at our work.  I cannot believe there was a class anywhere else in the entire nation who cherished their bookshelves as much as we did ours.

We loved those shelves because we overcame adversity and made that which we needed.  It wasn't pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but it was ours."

So the really cool thing about this event is that it isn't in the grand ballroom of a four star hotel.  It may not be perfect, but it is ours.

You can register to attend here:

How will you get to Grantsville, MD?

By Car:
The location is about 1 ½ hours by car from Pittsburg or 2 ½ hours from DC/Baltimore.

By Train:
The Amtrak train from DC has a daily stop in nearby Cumberland, which is about 20 minutes away.

By Party Bus!!!:
On June 3, 2015 the Health Data Palooza 2015 in Washington DC will finish. We have a charter bus that can pick up 55 people from that event and bring them to Cinderblocks2. The bus will take them back to DC on the afternoon of June 6th.

Who will be there?

We expect to see a very diverse crowd at this event. There will be people who work in the government, healthcare, crowdfunding and technology.  We expect to see patients, patient advocates, activists and caregivers.  Artists, performers and dancers will be attending as well as local individuals very interested in the intersection of art, policy and health.

What is the agenda?

 For any folks who arrive on the evening of June 3rd we will have a potluck or cook out depending upon available venues.  You are welcome socialize or to rest depending upon your personal needs.

Conference Day 1
On June 4th we will meet at 8:00 am at Penn Alps Restaurant and Meeting Center for breakfast and our general session.  Then we will do breakout sessions until lunch.  The afternoon will also be filled with breakout sessions. The formal sessions will end at 4:00pm. Feel free to explore.

6 pm * Dinner location to be announced.

The Walking Gallery Gathers

At 7:00 pm we will gather in front of the old elementary school 116 Main Street for a group shot of The Walking Gallery and the conference attendees.   We will walk from there across the historic Casselman Bridge to the Arts Field by Spruce Artisan Village.   There we will have our evening event under the big; this portion of the conference event open to the public and does not require tickets.  This will be the 4th large gathering of The Walking Gallery of Healthcare.  In this space we will get to hear people tell their powerful stories. We will get to hear singers and musicians who are doctors and informatics professionals and choirs that sing on the Threshold of the dying.  In honor of the Cinderblock itself, we will watch those that dance with fire. 

We will embrace the spark within ourselves and remember those we lost as we endeavor to make this world a better place.       

Conference Day 2
On June 5th   another conference day begins!  At 8:00 am meet at Penn Alps Restaurant and Meeting Center for breakfast and our general session.  Then we will do breakout sessions until lunch.  Lunch will be served at noon-1:00. The afternoon will also be filled with breakout sessions. The formal sessions will end at 4:00pm. Feel free once again to explore.

6pm *Dinner and evening event to be announced

Conference Day 3
June 6th at 8:00 am meet at Penn Alps Restaurant and Meeting Center for breakfast and our general session.  This day we will break into small groups to work on mentoring and individual coaching sessions.  General Conference close at noon.  The party Bus will be in the Penn Alps parking lot at 1:00pm to drive back to DC.

Where do we stay?

Meshach Browning's Cabins on the River.  These cabins are right next to Penn Alps and come in variety of styles and sizes that allow for 2-6 guests.    

The Casselman Inn This hotel is in the heart of town and in walking distance to most of our activities.  It is a historic drover's hotel and has more space in a motel addition.   

The Comfort Inn This hotel is right off 68 and is about three minutes away from town center by car.

Please let Regina Holliday know if you would rather be placed with a local host family. 

(If The Walking Gallery Center for Arts and Healing is fully funded by June there will be rooms there as well. )

So mark your calendars and register! I hope to see you there!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Legacy of a Free Lunch

In September of 2012, I attended an IT summit in California.  It was a large event and I enjoyed painting the content of many of those who spoke about HIT (Health Information Technology.)  On the second day, a speaker began to jokingly to disparage hot lunch at elementary school.  The audience began to titter in agreement and the speaker concluded with a sarcastic rhetorical question, “Who would ever eat school lunch?”

I looked up from my painting and quietly and said, “I would.”  A couple hours later I was able to get on stage and explain the paintings I had created.  Then I asked how many of those in this room had been a free lunch child.  There was an uncomfortable shifting in the seats as very few people raised their hands.  I told them I was a free lunch child and I would never turn down the nourishment that sustained me nor make fun of such a needed service.

In policy circles, we talk a great deal about a digital divide within HIT, but we often ignore the economic divide.  I have attended many a meeting in the halls of power where the attendees are intelligent and hardworking, but they are not economically diverse. I am glad I can speak in these rooms about the power of the patient and the legacy of a free lunch.

I found out recently there is another free lunch student speaking out in DC who has dedicated her life to service.  She too grew up in poverty.  Her name is Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc. and she is the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology for the US Department ofHealth and Human Services.

She has joined The Walking Gallery and this is her jacket story “The Legacy of a Free Lunch.”

Karen had a challenging childhood.  Her parents were fromNew Orleans but had trouble finding work.  The family eventually relocated to Austin, Texas. At five years of age Karen’s father walked out on her Mother and his three daughters.  Karen’s young mother did not have a college degree and struggled to find work.  Karen and her sisters thrived because of safety net services that were available in Austin.  She ate free lunch and attended the local summer recreation programs for the poor. She also watched her mother struggle to work and maintain a family while suffering from depression.  No matter how bad it got Karen’s mother always managed to care for her children.

Karen decided early on she wanted to be a doctor.  She went to college and studied hard. She succeeded in her dreams.  She returned to New Orleans for medical school and stayed to practice.  She discovered health care was more than just the patient in front of you; access to care was so important.  When Hurricane Katrina Hit in 2005 she was on faculty at Tulane University and was practicing at a charity hospital. Karen was medical centric until Katrina dispersed the community and shut down all support.  

The anchors of care were gone.  

Karen DeSalvo, as Vice Dean of Community Affairs and Health Policy for Tulane Universitywas asked to help with the rebuilding process. New Orleans had a clean slate to rebuild the entire system. What if the new system looked very different?  What if access to care was in neighborhoods? What if Health It was embraced? That would be better than keeping track the now water-logged scraps of paper with scribbles.  Karen and her team took opportunity from tragedy and worked out in the communityThey must have free clinics first. These needed to be medical homes fully IT enabled.  Some of these clinics would be mobile and some would be brand new buildings, but all would be working together and created from scratch as part of the community.  

Karen began to delve deeper into the safety net of the entire city.  She started asking many questions. Where do people live, work and play. How do you navigate the healthcare system? How can you choose to schedule time off for a mammogram, when that means missing a chance to see your child in prison? Where is your playground? Three blocks away can be another neighborhood in New Orleans.The University gave Karen free reign to rebuild in NewOrleans with medical homes, community health workers and seamless hand off for mental health.

By 2010 Karen was exhausted, but glad she had done so much to help her beloved city.  Karen was part of the search committee to find a new Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans.  When the woman they chose decided not take the position.  Karen realized she should step up to the plate. Karen took a leave form Tulane University and became Health Commissioner in 2011 and served till 2013.

In January 2014, Karen was chosen to be the new National Coordinator of Health Information Technology for the Department of Health and Human Services.  So much her life has been focused on helping patients and now she does so through policy, but she still finds time to practice once a month at the clinic. It helps her to stay centered.

I painted young Karen standing waist deep in the waters of New Orleans.  I painted her loving family at her side and her free lunch clasped firmly in front of her.  I painted her with hope for a better tomorrow etched upon her face.

I painted her mother with a worried expression and her back half turned.  In 2005 Karen’s mother was slipping in to into the late stages of early onset dementia. Karen had been looking forward to a day she could care for her mother as her mother had cared for her.  Karen’s mother was the kind of person who loved people deeply and without condition.  As her disease progressed her memory was like a whiteboard filled with notes that someone was randomly erasing.  Karen watched as the nursing aids in the group home were disrespected even though they knew about the patients as people.  It opened Karen’s eyes.

In 2005 Katrina struckKaren’s mother had to be evacuated to Texas to be near Karen’s two sisters.  Karen had to place her mother in a nursing home.  Nursing homes can be such sad bad places.  She lasted 8 months.

I painted the New Orleans that Karen loves upon her back, both the tragedy and the jazz.  I painted the Hubert H. Humphrey building that houses Health and Human Services.  I painted a blue moon that is also a Blue Button.

Karen lives in DC most of each month.  Her loving husband Jay and treasured pet dog Abita live in New Orleans.  She goes back and visits when she can.  When she is home she enjoys her time with her family and focuses on her loved ones entirely, but when she is in DC she focuses on the health of the nation.  

She thinks about what she can do to make our system better after watching the waters rise, after watching her mother die, after helping those who are lost within a broken system.  She is the legacy of a free lunch and if I were member of the status quo I would be running scared.

Karen DeSalvo has learned that in the darkest hour when things are irrevocably broken, you have a clean slate upon which to create a new and shining world.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Walking Gallery: Year IV

This is the fourth year of the Walking Gallery of Healthcare.  We now number 324 members walking around the world with patient story paintings on our backs.  

This "walking wall" is changing minds and opening hearts.  They are attending medical conferences where often there isn’t a patient speaker on the dais or in the audience.   They are providing a patient voice, and by doing so, are changing the conversation.

An artist or artists will interview medical professionals and lay individuals to form a patient centric narrative. The artist will then create representational imagery and paint that picture story upon the business jacket of the provider of the narrative account. The provider of the patient story aka “Walker” will wear the jacket to medical conferences and events in order to disseminate the patient story to a large group of policy minded attendees and to represent the individual patient voice in venues where they are underrepresented. Further, both artist and walker will support the spread of the story and image via social media.

As of November 2014 , 324 unique Walkers have joined the Gallery wearing 348 jackets.  The Gallery has representatives on five continents, but the majority of Walkers reside in the US. One artist creates the majority of the art, but new artists are joining the movement.  The Gallery is promoted heavily on twitter, facebook and personal blogs.   Its widening appeal within the health conference community is creating a new space for patients at such events.

For more information about joining the movement please scroll to the bottom of this post.

Year Four:

356."Voice" a jacket for Erin Gilmer painted by DJ Hamilton

355."Watching Them Grow" a jacket for Megan Sargent Grocki

354. "Generations" a jacket for John Mattison

353. "With This Ring" a jacket for Cherise Shockley

352. "Saving Her" a jacket for Martin Johnson

351. "Praying with You" a jacket for Kenneth Wells

350. "Another Day Before Us" a jacket for Mike Finley

349."The Legacy of a Free Lunch" a jacket for Karen DeSalvo

348. "Missed" a jacket for Meryl Bloomrosen

347. "It's a Mystery" a jacket for Annette McKinnon

346.  "Understanding Empathy" a jacket for James Spicka

345. "This Pearl of Great Price" a jacket for Clarence "Reggie" Williams

344. "We Can Do It" a jacket for Amy Lynn Smith

343. "My Diabetes Secret" a jacket for Christopher Snider

342. "Threshold" a jacket painted and worn by Julia Anderson

341. "The Golden Kidney" a jacket painted by Tamela Mack

340. "The Outside In" a jacket painted by Zoe Carr and Thomas Richardson for Zoe Carr

339. "Release" a jacket for Lauree Ostrofsky

338.  "Rainbow Road" painted by Courtney Mazza and Worn by Abdur-Rahim Rahmaan

337. "On the Other Side of the Wall" a jacket painted and worn by Rachel Fields

336.  "Sorry For Your Loss" a jacket painted and worn by Hazel F.

335.  "Donnell 2" a jacket painted and worn by Donnell Bonaparte

334.  "Decisions" a jacket painted by Olivia Dias for Michael Dias

333. "War" a jacket worn and painted by Daquane

332.  "Red Phoenix"

331. "Rainbow Phoenix" a jacket worn and painted by Nikai

300.  "Choices" a jacket for Karen Linder-Staubs

329. "The Foundation of My Life" a jacket for Kathy Nieder

The Artists of The Walking Gallery:

1. Regina Holliday 310 jackets
2. Isaac Holliday 6 yrs, 1 jacket
3. Becca Price, 1 jacket
4. Miriam Cutelis, 1 jacket
5. Ess Lipczenko, 1 jacket
6. Ben Merrion 1 jacket
7. Courtney Mazza 7 jackets
8. Michele Banks 1 jacket
9. Megan Mitchell 15 yrs 1 jacket
10. Robert J. Filley 3 jackets
11. Anita Samarth 1 jacket
12. Mary Welch Higgins 2 jackets
13. Richard Sachs 2 jackets
14. Jonah Daniel 5yrs  1 jacket
15. Fred Trotter 1 jacket
16. Leela 7yrs 1 jacket
17. Gayle Schrier Smith 1 jacket
18. Moira Simms 1 jacket
19. Joan Holliday 1 jacket
20. Adalyn 1 jacket
21. Chris Chan 1 jacket
22. Amy O'Hanlon 1 jacket
23. Vera Rulon 1 jacket
24. Jessica Nicula 2 jackets
25. Nikai 1 jacket
26. Deonm, 10years, 1 jacket
27. Daquane, 1 jacket
28. Olivia Dias, 1 jacket
29. Donnell Bonaparte, 1 jacket
30. Hazel F., 1 jacket
31. Rachel Fields, 1 jacket
32. Zoe Carr, 1 jacket
33. Thomas Richardson, 1 jacket
34. Tamela Mack, 1 jacket
35. Julia Anderson, 1 jacket
36. DJ Hamilton, 1 jacket

If you are interested in joining the Walking Gallery here is the info:

to understand the origin of the idea. to understand the sacred nature of this path

To view the jackets in year one 1-162

To view the jackets of year two 163-251

To view jackets of year three 252-328

Logistics of the Walking Gallery:  What you need to do to be a member: 

1.  Promise that you will wear this jacket to conferences and public events at least 2-3 times per year in order to spread awareness of the power of the patient voice.

2.  Send a business jacket. Please do not send jackets made of seersucker, corduroy, knit, denim, leather or stretch fabric, as they are hard to paint on.  Also this is a business jacket on purpose, we are painting on the “uniform” of the conference attendee.  Fabrics that work well are poly-blends, linen, cotton and wool. Also you might want to by a jacket a size larger than you usually do as the painting will stiffen the back and make it harder to close the buttons.  

3.  Tell me your life/patient story, your patient-centered concept that is the center of why you work in health and medicine. Please include personal details of your life so I can more fully realize your image.  You can tell me which story elements you do not wish to publically disclose in text, but it does help to know the underlying experiences and conditions which are the source of your mission. Please send via email with some pictures if possible of yourself or the people in your story.  If you don't want to provide a picture, that’s okay, I have a vivid imagination.  Also please print it out and send with jacket so I can keep track of jackets and their stories.

4.  Artists can participate by painting their own jacket or another's or both.

5.  This movement is spread and organized through social media.  You will need to use twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. to support the mission.  I am using Twitter hash tag to link us all together so please tweet about your jacket appearances under #TheWalkingGallery

6.  You are free to use the image in your own advocacy mission; I also retain the right to reproduce the image for advocacy purposes and write about your mission in areas you are comfortable with disclosing. 

7.  Donations are welcome to offset the cost of paint and shipping, but are not required and you cannot buy a jacket painting.  You are joining a movement and this is a sacred oath to walk the walk and spread the word.

(If you like the health activism work I do and want to support it in a sustaining way you can donate to my @gittip account:  but it is in no way required. )

Welcome to the Gallery.

Any questions?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Walking Gallery at #Artscape2014

Having just returned from an eleven-day road trip to visit my family in Oklahoma, I am very glad to be home.  I love living in a in the quiet serenity of Garrett County Maryland and miss the green peacefulness when I am away.   While in Oklahoma, I enjoyed spending time with loved ones and visiting old haunts.  The boys and I went to the many museums and parks in Enid, Oklahoma.  We also went frequently to my favorite fast food place of all time: Braum’s.

If you have not been blessed to live within a 300-mile radius of Tuttle, Oklahoma you might not be aware of the epic coolness of Braum’s.   Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores is a family run business and a really neat example of vertical integration.  The business controls virtually every element of the supply chain.  They own the cows, the farms, the trucks and manufacturing facilities; because of this level of control they have amazing food at very affordable prices.  They even have small grocery stores called “Fresh Markets” with fresh produce folded into many of their locations.  As an activist focused on health, this gladdens my heart.  Many of these “Fresh Markets” are the only grocery stores in easy walking distance within a community.

Five years ago when I was looking for a new health insurance policy for my family, I made my choice, in part, because of my knowledge of Braum’s.  I knew how amazing a burger could taste with a vertical integration model; imagine what that model could do to one’s health care.  So I chose Mid Atlantic Kaiser Permanente.  I rejoiced in one stop health care with a lab on site and an electronic health record portal that is open to patients and family caregivers.

I personally have enjoyed being a KP member these past few years. In addition, I have been very grateful to The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health for their hosting of the annual gathering of The Walking Gallery in 2011 and 2012.  I love their appreciation of the place of art within wellness. Also, my son Isaac and I marched with other KP members last summer in the DC pride parade and had the best time. (Isaac danced for about a mile of the route) 

Most recently KP asked me if I would be willing to represent The Walking Gallery at Artscape Baltimore in their tent on July 18-20, 2014.  I happily said yes! Artist Courtney Mazza and I will be painting onsite Friday through Sunday. KP also agreed to host an official gathering of The Walking Gallery in the tent from 4-6 on July 19th.  We ask all Walking Gallery members in the area to gather with us.  In addition, each evening we will guide 5 artists/future gallery members through the process of painting their own jacket.  So if you know anyone who wants to join the gallery onsite in Baltimore, please encourage him or her to come.  I find children are especially eager to join onsite or paint a jacket for a parent. (for more information on The Walking Gallery of Healthcare movement see video below)

We will be tweeting on site with the hashtags #TheWalkingGallery and #artscape2014. You can find us at the Kaiser Permanente tent at Artscape about 2 blocks from the North stage on Charles street. I look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dandelions and Micro Galleries

When I was a small child I would watch my grandpa walk endlessly in our back yard with his dandelion pruning fork.  He would move from flower to flower lopping off the blossoms in an endless futile battle.  It was futile in part because every flower he missed would develop a beautiful puff of seeds.  My sister and I could not help but make a wish and blow them all over our yard.  Even without our dubious help Grandpa was bound to fail.  Dandelions not only are great at spreading their seeds, they have a taproot that is ten inches long. If any of the roots remain in the ground, the plant will continue to grow.   My grandpa has been gone for many years. His house where I grew up was leveled. But when I visit the empty lot, I am greeted by dandelions.  

You might wonder at my fixation on weeds today.  I recently bought a home in Grantsville, Maryland and I am learning all about property and yard maintenance.  So many local friends and family members have been guiding me through this process.  It has been a busy and challenging time.  I have been on the road often speaking about advocacy. When I am home, I unpack boxes.

I am creating a micro gallery in my house in the room that was once designated the living room.  It has it own entrance and own interior doors, so I think it will make an excellent small gallery in Grantsville.   (Let me know if any of these paintings interest you.  Most are available to purchase to help support my continued mission.) The gallery in my home is not the only micro gallery I am working on. 

Many of you have asked about when will we have our large Washington, DC gathering of the Walking Gallery of Healthcare.  This year we are having many small gatherings around the world instead of one large one.  Throughout 2013/2014 we had several small gatherings.  We met at MEDX at Stanford in September.  

We met at Planetree in Montreal in October.  

We were at HIMSS in February. 

Several of us were gathered at Rev 2014 in DC on May 9th.

There were many more events where members attended singly or in small groups without official conference recognition.  Thank you for spreading the word!

We have several upcoming gatherings.  On June 3rd we will meet in Baltimore at the American Heart Association event QCOR14: Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Conference. Our gathering will be from 5:30-7:30 during the poster session at the Baltimore Hilton.  Refreshments will be served.  I know this event is at the same time as some health events in DC, but hope to see many of our east coast walkers in attendance. 

We will gather at DIA14: Drug Information Association Annual Meeting in San Diego at the San Diego Convention Center on June 16th from 4-6pm. This reception is being hosted by DIA in honor of the Walking Gallery of Healthcare.  I hope to see many of our west coast Walkers at the event.  We will have a few other small gatherings in 2014 and I will alert you as they come up. 

In Summer 2015, I plan on having a large event here in Garrett County Maryland.  I would like to create a conference that embraces all of us on many levels.  I think it will be a kind of Burning Man meets Health 2.0 in a rural mountain community.  I am already connecting with scientists who are also acrobats, doctors who are musicians and fire dancers focused on healthy living.  It should be an epic event.  The large 2015 gathering of the Walking Gallery will be at that event.

Meanwhile my fellow dandelions, I see you flying from venue to venue.  You number over 300 walkers and 24 artists.  You are planting new seeds with really deep roots.  You are causing folks to ask important questions inspired by your stories.  You are changing hearts and minds and helping wishes come true.

I pray that I will see you soon.  

Your friend, Regina Holliday

Monday, April 14, 2014


This was the third time I circled the perimeter of the College of New Jersey looking for the visitor parking lot.  Most of the parking lots were an expanse of ice and snow on February 19th.  I gave up and asked the campus police where was a safe place I could park.  I was very happy that I was able to drive to the venue.  Back in July when I had been invited to present, I did not have a driver’s license.  I would spend the entire summer in driver’s classes and after trying to pass my Maryland’s driving test three times; I finally succeeded on the 4th try in September.   

Needless to say, I am not very good at driving.

My family was a little worried that I was going to drive across Pennsylvania and into New Jersey as a relatively new driver.  After I hit my first New Jersey pothole going 55 miles an hour, I was pretty worried too.  I arrived in New Jersey on the evening of the 18th and stayed with the family of John Phelan as they were willing to play host.  John is a member of The Walking Gallery.He is also the founder and CEO of Zweena.  I really enjoyed talking with him about Health Information Technology while I was visiting.  I am thankful to his family for tolerating our mutual interest in all things data.

On the 19th I parked my car and rolled my suitcase full of art supplies to the student union.  I set up my easel and began to paint.  Since I knew little about this venue I began a Gallery jacket.  Like many venues I have attended, the custodial staff was the first to approach me and ask questions.  Next the curious students walked up to me and began to speak.  I was so happy the students were asking questions.  All too soon, I needed to put away my easel and walk to class to begin my lecture.

Yifeng Hu, a faculty member of the Department of Communication Studies, invited me to guest lecture and this is how she invited me:

“First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am an assistant professor at The College of New Jersey (in Ewing, NJ, between Trenton and Princeton).  I got to "know" you through two NPR articles and then your blog. I wanted to contact you for two reasons. First, as an individual, I am so with you and your work!

Second, as a professor who teaches an advanced undergraduate course titled "New Media and Health Communication," I can't help but inviting you, or attempting to invite you to give a speech (or a virtual speech via Skype etc) to my class, because some topics we survey in the class are so relevant to what you have done and are doing, e.g., patient doing online health search or bringing online health information to the doctor, EMR. I teach this course once a year in the spring semester; if you are interested in the idea, I will contact you again when we approach the end of this year.

Meanwhile, if you wish, I think our bigger campus community will benefit a lot from your talk. If you wish to give a campus wide talk, we can do so…”

I keep my tone even and did not over-power Yifeng’s classroom as I began to talk.  The students were well prepared to hear me speak.  Yifeng had encouraged all of them to write on my blog and read my posts. They asked wonderful questions and one students was so engaged she became part of my painting the following day.  She became the woman whose gown spirals away within the coil of a question mark

This is the painting “Hope.”

I painted this in the student union.  It began with a maelstrom of clouds. Students came up to me throughout the day and asked about the significance of the painting.  I explained the spiral of energy leading to a question as an image of their college experience.  After awhile I spoke to a young man who was trying to raise funds for an art installation.  I told him about the power of crowdfunding.  He is the man spraying the word “Hope.” The African American woman in the painting was a student who happened by and was happy to see me painting.  All the figures seem endowed with great energy.

On February 20th I gave a large lecture before various departments.  In this speech I was my usual emotive self and the audience responded accordingly.  I was also a bit loud.  At one point a fellow came from the outside cafĂ© in the hope of hushing me.  That is rather hard to do as many people have realized over the years.

I wrapped up my speech and thanked everyone especially Yifeng.  She had been such a gracious host.  Do you know she plays the violin?  She is quite accomplished at it.  I hope someday to introduce her the Tom Delbanco, MD who works on the Open Notes project.  As he also plays and appreciates the power of the whole note just as Yifeng appreciates to hope her students have in the future to come.