Profiles & Interviews
At SeniorPanache we post interviews and profiles about inspirational and active senior women over 50. All front page stories are also be available within the Profiles and Interviews section.
My Gazelle | by Sally Robison My appointment with my general practitioner went well, my only complaint was a small rash that was summarily dismissed as caused by my medicines. I take eight for a variety of certifiable conditions.
The doctor finishing my examination and said, “Sally you know you are eighty-one.” I nodded that but I made my get-away quickly for I knew that if my body was eighty-one, that inside that medicated old body still resided my gazelle. You must bear with me as I expound on the gazelle factor. Being an artist all these many years I have dwelt on the gazelle. How delicious a gazelle must be. It runs unimpeded through golden savannahs, breezing from one delicious stand of grass to the other, always bright and directed, adventuresome but cagey in the presence of lions and wolves. How my gazelle came to live in my consciousness I cannot tell.
Perhaps I was born with the image of gazelledom, but I can attest that once I was a gazelle. I rushed from sweet scene to another, flirting with danger and taking risks. Where did my gazelle go?
My first child certainly put the gazelle out to pasture, as did the second darling child. Then there was a divorce, a job—no gazelles in selling real estate, a happy remarriage and then I turned seventy. Suddenly my gazelle life returned. Energy emerged. Ideas blossomed. A white watercolor block made me tremble with joy.
Although I did not dash wildly as I had as a youth, I dashed wildly in pleasure as I explored my renewed life as an artist. Here, I must add that during those years of raising children and working, my gazelle appeared at odd moments. I remember drawing madly between visits of prospective clients at open houses.
I have sketchbooks full of ideas never completed. A Room of my Own, by Joan Dash reminded me that Mary Baker Eddy founded a religion and that Henrietta Szold established Hadassah after menopause. How can I leave out Mrs. Roosevelt whose contribution to world peace continued through her long life? If I told those illustrious women that their gazelles had raised their glorious heads to urge them on, they would say that I needed to see someone about my delusions. “What delusions?” I would answer.
I know that when I raise my paintbrush, I have the power of a free spirit dashing from one sunny spot to another, exploring the world, even if I raise my paintbrush in the drippy northwest.
Need I remind you that gazelles need you?”
Sally Robison is an artist and writer residing on Bainbridge Island, WA.
And it’s not as if I am living in a cave, isolated. I meet numerous people daily and still after all these years I am learning not to assume anything about anyone until I have really had an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with them.
Mary Waltham is a case in point. I first met Mary in my outdoor painting course in Bucks County, Philadelphia. She is English and we talked a little through the class but I really didn’t think about her much at the moment. I was consumed with focusing on my own art work during these quite intense sessions where the light is constantly changing and there is a sharp time limit for finishing a painting – none of the leisure of stopping and continuing the next day.
However, when a group of artists got together, including Mary and me, in an ensuing discussion I found myself surprised and somewhat ashamed that I, of all people, would unconsciously make specific judgments about individuals and their technological savviness just because of their age.
First surprise … Mary functions successfully in an environment that is tightly engaged with rapidly changing technological advances. She told me that she had completed a Foundation course in Art and Design with the Interactive Design Institute (based in Edinburgh, Scotland (http://www.idesigni.co.uk/subjects/art-a-design) via the Internet. I had never heard of such a thing.
The course involved Mary completing art assignments, photographing her recently completed artwork and uploading it to a secure ‘My Studio’ section of IDI’s website. A tutor would then review the work and give quite detailed feedback online usually within 24 hours, a very timely response given the 5 hour time difference between Princeton, where Mary lives for much of the year, and Scotland.
In addition there were written assignments that provided an overview of the history of art from the mid-1700’s to the present. I looked up the school’s site on the web and found that indeed there really was yet another whole world of which I knew nothing. Mary said …“I had no choice. I couldn’t attend classes on my work schedule so I found something I could do in my own time, and over the web.” She started classes in 2006 with painting and drawing and then completed the two-year Foundation course (with Merit), and all online.
You can view Mary’s art work at: http://marywaltham.com/studio.html.
Secondly, that afternoon I also discovered that Mary is an accomplished and savvy publishing consultant. Her company, Mary Waltham.com, helps international scientific, technical and medical publishers navigate the rapid changes faced by todays globally connected publishing businesses.
Before starting here consulting company, Mary was President and Publisher for Nature magazine and the Nature family of journals in the US, and formerly the Managing Director and Publisher of The Lancet … both fast-paced publishing businesses relying on advanced contemporary technologies to effectively deliver content to professional users globally.
Mary understands the international markets for professional publications and assists and collaborates with her clients in their use of cutting edge online technologies; though Mary describes herself as initially a “reluctant techie”.
Mary’s sophisticated and cutting edge perspective on business practices and technology in the 21st century is a great example of how aging does not limit ones ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and conditions. Doing business today, with all the attendant new technology and communication devices, enables all of us who are over 50 to invent new ways to successfully take part in our rapidly changing and expanding global world.
No longer do we have to sit on the sidelines and leave the change/transformations only to the younger generation. Today it has never been easier for anyone of any age to successfully benefit from and participate through the use of digital technologies.
Mary is a wonderful example of what any senior can do simply by being willing to creatively engage with the new tools available to us all.
Copyright SeniorPanache 2013
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