The Beginning of Change
It’s Autumn 2011. I’m 59 I will celebrate my 60th birthday in April. In some ways I am dreading it but in others it promises freedom. I would for instance be able to change or quit my job with the large public sector organisation I have worked for for over 30 years without my pension being affected.
We are spending the weekend on the Isle of Wight, the weather isn’t great so I’m spending time surfing the Internet. I come across (I have no idea where) a page by Amelia Critchlow advertising an experimental art e-course. I think ‘I could do that’ and sign up.
I haven’t tried to do anything artistic since I was about 12, I have no idea where this urge has come from, but I follow it just the same. It feels like a little bit of magic!
I rush out and buy all the stuff on the class materials list eagerly awaiting the first lesson. It’s a revelation, maybe I could paint after all!
As the course goes on we turn to photography, even more of a revelation and something I am at least familiar with having taken all the family holiday pics over the years. I look for more photography e-courses and discover Kat Sloma, I sign up for one of the courses she was running at the time and run with it. It’s a revelation! I learn about all sorts of things and really get hooked on photography. 60th birthday present now set to be a DSLR!
In the new year I find a book by Mark Allen The Millionaire Course (I have now realised I could do with some money to support my artistic addictions) and I read about the lore of attraction and start to write ideal scenarios. I also join Tamara Laporte’s (aka Willowing) Life Book class in its first year. More creative goodness.
Then something quite amazing happened. I wanted to go to the world conference on Appreciative Inquiry and was hoping work would pay the conference fee if I took care of the travel and hotel costs. Unfortunately due to cutbacks this wasn’t possible and I was very disappointed. However, virtually the very next day I came across an advertisement for the Call of the Wild Soul Art retreat in Somerset. It occurred to me I could use the money I had saved from the Appreciative Inquiry conference to go to the retreat. So with great trepidation I signed up.
The rest, as they say, is history. Not only was it a fabulous retreat with wonderful teachers, Flora Bowley, Teesha Moore, Orly Averini and Madelyn Mulvaney, it gave me a whole community to connect to. Although many were already experienced artists others like myself were new to painting but still somehow drawn to go to this event.
Filling in the gaps
In between my first e-course and the Call of the Wild Soul Art Retreat a few significant things happened. First of all in October 2011 I started a blog using, as many people do to begin with, Blogspot. I later transferred this to my website which went live in May 2012. You can find both at FunkyRosebud Studio, a site which focuses on my artistic endeavours and is a companion to this site.
As I had not much idea about blogs I decided to do another e-course (fast becoming an addiction) on blogging. I found one run by photographers Kim Klassen and Xanthe Berkley. As well as helping me to set up my blog more effectively the course really jelled as a group so a private Facebook group was set up which remains an Important source of support 5 years later. I also went on to do Kim’s Lightroom course and Xanthe’s video course.
I now feel I belong to two tribes, one that focuses on mixed media art and one on photography. These two groups of women have provided a huge backdrop of support to my artistic endeavours even though the photography group is largely US / Canada based and I have only met one member face to face.
As a result of reading the Marc Allen Millionaire course I wrote down a list of affirmations and began to read them each day including a goal to go part time at work. The prospect of achieving this didn’t seem very likely. Then I saw an email advertising a pensions talk and thought perhaps I should go along to understand more about my options. I very nearly didn’t go because it clashed with another meeting which was luckily cancelled.
Half way through the session I heard something that made me wonder if I could believe my ears. If you were over 60 and had the required amount of public sector service you could draw your pension and continue to work part time. What this meant in practice was, taking the pension payment into account, I would be working 3 days a week with no loss of income, unbelievable! Of course I had to secure the support of my line manager, but this was achieved and I went part time on first September 2012 finally retiring in 2015 on my 63rd birthday.
The big adventure was about to begin