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Finding Myself

The crepey (make that creepy) skin, the aches and pains, the propensity for weight gain, the failure to recognize oneself in a mirror or shop window, a short and faulty memory, and a plethora of other ailments are all part of aging.

But if you can get your head around them and not collapse with despair searching for the person you once were who has left town for parts unknown, there are benefits. For starters, you stop worrying about a lot of stuff you should never have bothered worrying about in the first place. You let stuff go -- material things as well as things that weighed down your mind just remembering them. You learn to say "No. I'm not doin' it." And you don't feel guilty about it. You accept that you no longer want to do things you once thought you would always want to do. You stop caring what other people think. You ignore the drama. You recognize there is very little in life that is important enough to lose sleep over.

And you start living for today. Oh, you still make plans -- like 'I think I'll shower' and 'I should probably vacuum'. But if something on your to-do list doesn't get done, there's always tomorrow. Until there isn't. And then it's someone else's problem.

Into my 70s, (Holy shit! When did that happen?) my days are made up mostly of a few household chores, an hour on the treadmill, writing or painting, making supper, watching hockey or baseball, a couple of hours of television and then an hour or so of reading. Every now and again I have an appointment, meeting or social event to get excited about, but I plan for those -- and make sure I take my blood pressure meds.

As I've gotten older, I've learned to be more accepting of others. People can do what they want. They don't need my approval and they don't need to know what I think about things either. Instead of criticizing, I find reward in spreading encouragement and kudos. They cost me nothing and perhaps provide a pick-me-up for others. Win/win.

That is not to say I've turned into a sort of fairy godmother. I can still work up a good rant on occasion and there are still things I want to achieve in my life. But instead of chasing them, I'm learning to let them come to me.

For instance, for years I've been whining because I couldn't figure out what my painting and drawing style was. Numerous fellow artists gave me suggestions on how to discover it, but I was having no luck.

Did I give up? Perhaps. Or perhaps my style found me when I stopped waving my arms around, scaring it away. At any rate, since I've been working on the illustrations for a fellow writer's picture book on the things in life that are hard, I haven't had time to question what my style is. I've simply been getting the illustrations done. And I've noticed a pattern. When I do something I like, it makes me happy. The things that please me tend to show emotion. That's why I gravitate to portraits and figure drawings instead of landscapes and still life. My pieces tell a story. The colours merge. My pencil work is blended. I paint in layers. As I work I'm no longer thinking about what I should or could be doing. I'm doing what feels natural and right. And it brings me joy. That's my style.

If it touches other people, even better!

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