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"Consciously, or maybe subconsciously, I transfer the emotions from the workday onto canvas."

Interview: Gloria Green is a clinical dietitian at SickKids by day and a painter by night

During the day, Gloria Green is a clinical dietician (she got a degree in nutrition) in pediatric oncology at SickKids. But at night, she’s a painter. These two seemingly unrelated passions actually feed off of each other, fuelling Green to continue practising both. She even donated a painting titled Waves of Hope to the hospital. Here she shares her thoughts on working with sick children, making art, and how the two connect.

Shedoesthecity: How did you end up working at SickKids?

Gloria Green: Twenty years ago I interned at SickKids, and from that experience I knew I wanted to specialize in pediatric nutrition. I have been providing nutritional care and support in the pediatric oncology unit at SickKids for 18 years. There’s no other place I’d rather be.

SDTC: I feel like SickKids is one of those workplaces that is both so inspiring and so heartbreaking. 

GG: Yes, at times it can be very challenging, and as you said, heartbreaking. But it is also very rewarding, fulfilling, and stimulating. I get to make a difference in peoples’ lives. It is a teaching hospital, so there are great educational opportunities. We get to teach and mentor a new generation of health care providers.

SDTC: Can you elaborate on what it’s like to be surrounded by, well, sick kids every day?

GG: It is difficult seeing how a child diagnosed with cancer affects the entire family. We are driven and focused to provide the best possible comprehensive medical care for these children, by supporting them and the family through this very difficult time.

Just like in any job, you have your good days and your bad days.  Having said that, dealing with very sick children every day can be stressful.  The ability to handle this stress varies from person to person.  I have my art, music, yoga/exercise, and husband/friends/family as my vital vehicles for self-preservation. 

SDTC: So you started painting as a way to cope, right? How has art helped you?

GG: I have always had an artistic side. I’ve played the piano since I was four years old.  Painting is another modality for creativity, providing an emotional outlet and release. It makes me feel good to create something tangible. Consciously, or maybe subconsciously, I transfer the emotions from the workday onto canvas. When I paint I am totally immersed and focused in the process.  

I am inspired by so many things: my day at the hospital, my urban surroundings, the beauty and grit of the city, the back alleyway of my balcony where I sit and paint. This has all influenced my latest series, “Street Noyz” [which will soon be on display at Rue Pigalle]. 

SDTC: What are some other ways you cope with your very demanding job?

GG: Yoga, running, playing the piano, and listening to music ( I always listen to music when I paint). I try to appreciate and enjoy life to its fullest every day and am grateful to have the support of my loving husband, friends, and family.  I must admit: Sometimes a little retail therapy also helps! I treat myself to a mani/pedis.

SDTC: Any advice for others who are in similar fields?

GG: Balance! Try to enjoy life to its fullest, and try not to take it home with you (easier said than done). Staying positive helps.

SDTC: What career advice do you have for young women?

GG: Put your energy into what you are passionate about and if you can help others in the process, even better. Try to achieve your own personal interpretation of success.  

Gloria Green’s Street Noyz opening reception happens Wednesday, July 17 at Rue Pigalle (927 Queen St. W.) at 6:30pm.

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