Finding that spark at any age

Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

If you find something you love it’s so exciting. Your brain is a bowl of energy. It gives you such passion for life. That is the power of creativity.

Thelma Pepper

One of the most fascinating women I have come across is a photographer who just yesterday celebrated her 100th birthday. Thelma Pepper didn’t begin her creative journey until she turned 60. It was at that point in her life, she embarked on a long career creating stunning black and white portraits of people from rural Saskatchewan. She elevated her subjects, celebrating hardworking people who had amazing stories that would have otherwise never have been told. Thelma also told compelling stories through her camera lens, about the lives of many individuals living in long term care homes.

Her message of finding something you love to do especially later in life is both impressive and inspiring. Creativity does stimulate energy and it can appear at any age or stage of life. I have noticed during this time of physical and social isolation that I was missing that creative spark. My attention span seemed to have vanished and finding that energizing passion for either photography or writing has been almost non-existent. At best, I have been able to revisit pieces of writing and photos taken and focus on an editing process instead of creating anew.

My writing practice seems stunted, some of the tricks that have worked in the past no longer inspire. I am putting in the time but don’t feel that I have that upbeat energy I get when my brain and heart work in tandem. All of those editing tasks that I had been putting off are now completed and submissions for publication have been for writing pieces written some time ago. I have been missing that form of energy that completely envelopes you, making it hard to leave what you are doing when you are required to attend to something else.

Tired of cleaning the house, I have been seeking that elusive creative energy from the stories of other artists which led me to Thelma’s story. Her award winning art is stunning and her message is one of hope that at any age, we can navigate life transitions and begin a creative career by following what leads us to touch that passion within ourselves. What serves as your source of creativity and inspiration? Hopefully you are finding your way through this pandemic, overcoming the difficulties that may have arisen and are moving forward in the direction you would like to be going in.

Stay safe and healthy!

Learning on the fly

Have you ever stopped to consider how many aspects of daily living you have had to adjust or relearn to do over the past four months? This thought occurred to me when I was looking at the course details for “up skilling” in order to deliver a workshop that I have been teaching for the past couple of years. Teaching on Zoom or some other platform for 6 hours a day seems impossible to me at this moment in time but my guess would be in a year or two, I will be doing it and not batting an eye.

Shopping for groceries, trying to socialize within a “bubble”, attending a wedding on Zoom and spending hours considering where to vacation close to home this summer – all of these are things that have become a part of our new normal. Much of what we do is now done differently and have become consolidated behaviours in our lives. Hopefully anyways.

All of these activities in the beginning seemed difficult and nerve wracking. Either my brain has adapted and I have become more risk tolerant or I simply have developed and established new routines and ways of doing things. This shows me that when given no alternative, we can indeed learn new things.

When I consider how often in the past, fear may have prevented me from trying something new or inhibited me from moving outside of my comfort zone, it is empowering to think that we can adapt, adjust, and learn new skills, and ways of being. This is my 50th blog post so not only have I hit my accountability goal for writing but I have actually followed through on something I didn’t really think I could do.

A year ago, a kind and supportive family member assisted me in signing on to WordPress after a decade or more of thinking about starting a blog but not sure how to go about it. This adventure has not been about having the perfect blog format, or getting lots of readers and likes but has been about overcoming the fear I had about sharing my writing.

What I have learned is that the process of writing a post each week has actually laid the foundation for a solid writing practice. I have found confidence to send out pieces of writing for consideration in a variety of publications. Happily I have even published two stories in literary magazines and have solid outlines now for larger writing projects.

When I began this writing journey, I was filled with doubts about the process and my ability to actually post every week. Filled with new learning opportunities, this process has led to the knowledge that I can still acquire new skills and my plans and goals are becoming more and more clear. Couple this with the impact of the pandemic on my life, I have discovered that learning on the fly is not only achievable but necessary and life affirming. At this stage of my life, I can’t ask for anything more.

Stay healthy and safe!

Farewell to a feline friend

Miss Lucky – Photo credit L Meyer

Transition and change have permeated our lives and just as I believed I was finding my footing with our “new normal” an unwelcome and unanticipated change landed at our doorstep. Our cat, a long time member of our family and certainly a senior feline became suddenly ill. No stranger to several maladies that impact senior cats, our “Miss Lucky” was prone to bouts of constipation occasionally requiring trips to the vet clinic, but this time was markedly different. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and we had to make the difficult decision to euthanize her.

One considers these sorts of possible outcomes but until you have to plant yourself face to face with this eventuality, it doesn’t have an emotional impact. When the time comes, no amount of preparation will prevent the grief from welling up when you least expect it. Strange how much of our hearts this feline companion captured. It is unsettling to expect to find her in her many favourite spots around the house and experience the jolt of realization that she is gone for good.

I found over the years that my feline friend was both a comfort and a source of solace when difficult times entered my life. She was a stalwart companion when my father passed away, my son left home, and finally, when I left full time work and struggled a bit to find my bearings and establish new routines. Animals naturally help humans in our healing process and it seems bittersweet and ironic now that my cuddle buddy is no longer available to help me heal from this particular loss and adapt to change.

A special pet becomes a member of your family, an integral aspect of one’s daily lives and routines. Our cat also filled in those tiny fissures that break out in your heart as you accumulate the pain from traumatic events and major disappointments and it seems that those emotions are close to the surface now as well. I guess that is the nature of the grieving process. It can’t be rushed and this transition will require new comforts and new forms of support. Patience will be required as I find my way forward.

I am truly grateful to have had our feline friend in my life for the past fifteen years.

Rest in peace, Miss Lucky

Everything changes

If you leave a white fence post alone it becomes a black fence post. So if you want it to stay white, you have to keep painting it white. You want something to stay the same, you’ve got to constantly change it.

Joseph Finder
Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

The pace of change in our world at this time seems to be moving faster than the speed of sound. Whether the changes occurring are positive or negative actually seems to be besides the point. It is the impact of the swiftness of changes in our daily lives that seems to have a de-stabilizing force that we all must grabble with.

Whether it is the constantly changing information about the coronavirus at the heart of this pandemic, tectonic shifts in our geopolitical landscape, or simply how to negotiate a family barbecue in the backyard, we seem to be inundated with the need to reconsider many aspects of life. Trying to make good decisions and avoid either over estimating or under estimating risks to avoid contracting COVID-19 can be not just time consuming but confusing and anxiety provoking.

A part of me believed that because I had just transitioned from full time work to semi-retirement thereby causing seismic changes in my life, that I would be fine adjusting to all of the disruptions that seem to be predominating our current reality. Change often represents either a loss or an opportunity. Certainly when I retired, I experienced losses – loss of income, loss of identity; daily contact with colleagues, etc. But since then, it has proven to be an amazing time of opportunity.

My writing practice has evolved to where I had hoped it would be at this point in my “new” career. Pre-pandemic I had satisfying part time work in my profession that kept me in contact with my favourite parts of my “old” world. Courses, new activities, plenty of time for walking with a focus on my own health, and new friendships provided the icing on my cake. So why have the past few months seemed so challenging and fraught with overwhelming changes that are hard to understand and accept.

Journal keeping has been a sporadic practice all through my life but since the end of March I have kept daily notes of thoughts and feelings about the pandemic and so many other pivotal moments in our lives. This morning it felt important to pause and to re-read entries from the past few months. Clearly I was looking for perspective and understanding to ground me.

What stood out upon this reflection was the impact that the many current changes were having on my life and to those close to me. And of course, when I am longing for things to be “the way they used to be” I am inadvertently creating unnecessary stress in my life. It isn’t really a cliche to focus only on what we are able to control. Being able to recognize this is the first step to managing all of the decisions to be made and life changes that must be navigated.

Learning to accept change, and being able to nurture the ability to become more flexible is a critical life skill that helps us to adapt and thrive. It seemed clear to me this morning that this is important not just in these times of our changing landscape but at any point in our lives. Change is inevitable. Learning to cope with it effectively seems more critical now than ever before.

The one thing I believe I can count on is that…everything changes. And it is a comfort to know that with some effort, we can control our responses to that.

Stay healthy and safe!

Happy Canada Day!!

Photo by Social Soup Social Media on Pexels.com

Est. July 1st, 1867

Taking a break today to celebrate our nation’s birthday in a quiet, thoughtful kind of way. I intend to take a welcome break from thinking about the pandemic, economic meltdowns, systemic racism, political theatrics, hate speech that permeates social media, and the destruction of our environment.

Instead a day to reflect on the possibilities of how we can each do our part to evolve to preserve our environment while sharing our country with one another in equitable, respectful, and peaceful ways.

Stay healthy and safe!! Happy birthday Canada!!