In 2007, during my 34th year of teaching, I heard a voice which said, “If you don’t stop teaching you are going to die.”
I was 54 years old at the time, healthy, at the height of my career, married and with two successfully launched grown children.
Something deep inside of me prompted me to heed that voice. Within months, I began planning for an early retirement and the next phase in my life.
When I became a teacher at the age of 21, I was forced to put my own creative dreams on hold. In the months following my retirement, I began to reconnect with my childhood dreams of traveling the world and being a writer.
My travels took me many places I had only dreamed about before—Italy, England, Greece, Spain, Israel, Peru and many places in the US I had never visited like the Grand Canyon, San Fransisco and Northern New Mexico. The very first time I walked out of the airport in Albuquerque, I was smitten by the landscape and the light and had a premonition I would one day live there. Later I was to learn that this was so common it was almost a cliché – older, creative women, feeling drawn to the land of Mabel Dodge Luhan and Georgia O’Keefe..
The most important thing that happened to me in the years immediately following my retirement was connecting to the women of AROHO a non profit whose mission it is to “end the isolation of creative women.” I had googled “writing retreats women” and found a link with an application to an AROHO writing retreat to be held at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.
At the time I applied, at age 54, I did not consider myself a writer. The only works I had published were academic articles about my teaching practice. I don’t know why the women of AROHO accepted me, taking a chance on an emerging, rather than established writer. But it changed my life.
There surrounded by the magic of Ghost Ranch, protected by its circle of looming red rocks, embraced by the shadow of Pedernal, dancing with 100 other women, I found my voice as a writer.
After that retreat, I returned to New Mexico every chance I could. Everything felt bigger there. Life. Possibilities. Me.
At a writing conference in Santa Fe, I met Tanya Taylor Rubinstein, a writer, director, and solo performance coach.
“How many of you have unfinished projects?” she asked a group of 100 plus women. Almost all of us raised our hand.
“When you abandon your projects, you abandon yourselves.”
That was all I needed to hear to connect with Tanya, and within months of that first encounter, I had hired her to help me develop and direct a one woman show about my teaching career, a project I had long ago abandoned. I rented a casita for 7 weeks, and there I wrote the first draft of Chalkdust, which I later performed in Santa Fe on November 14, 2015.
The call to move here came on Easter Sunday, 2015. Victoria Rogers, a photographer, realtor and owner of the casita I had rented phoned me to ask if I would be interested in buying her house and casita ( the one where I’d written Chalkdust). I talked about it with my husband of forty years, my best friend Nate. He and I knew it was time for us to pursue the next chapter of our lives separately. So with his blessing, I moved to Santa Fe where I have been working as a writer, creative consultant, fledgling film producer.
The casita where I once stayed to write my play is now called “Two Ravens Studio” and it is available for people who want to visit Santa Fe for short or longer visits.
But my biggest dream, which I am in the process of realizing, is turning the casita into a haven for women writers or artists who need a room of their own to heal, create, and be inspired.
As a Jewish woman and educator I lived most of my life doing the work of tikkun olam – to engage in work to heal the world. This chapter is a time for tikkun hanfesh — to go inward and heal the soul.
It’s been quite a journey – this move into the next phase into the next phase of my life as an independent woman and artist creating a life here in. Santa Fe, and I want to share what I have learned with other women.
There is something so fresh and new and exciting about being a woman at this time of life – when we can build on all that we have done, all our education and knowledge and lived experiences to create a vibrant, meaningful life.
This is what a generative life looks like. And it’s my purpose for this chapter of my life to connect with other women as a creative consultant, as a resource, as a community builder and as a friend..
Send me a note. Introduce yourself. Let me link your website to mine. Email me and arrange a free 30 minute consultation about how I might help you ride the age wave and make your transition to the creative life.