Retirement was scary for me and as I tried to analyze the “why” of this, I came to realize that much of this fear was directly related to my perceived loss of identity. Who was I? Who am I now? For 40+ years I have been a nurse working in a hospital environment for most of that time span. It has been a long and rewarding career throughout and a roller coaster of happy and sad memorable events. How many different lives did I touch? Did I grow in experience, common sense and knowledge during that time? Will my absence be noted in the grand scheme of things? No matter what the career field, I think the prospect of retirement can give birth to many different emotions about our relevance to our world. Fresh on the heels of my retirement, our world dropped into the Covid-19 pandemic, another change in my already changing world as social distancing and fear began to invade my world. Lots of mixed emotions here. My instinct and my driving desire is to rush forth, return to the hospital work because I know the desperate need of healthcare workers, the overwhelming fatigue of 12 or 16 hour shifts and the heartbreaking tasks ahead for all of these wonderful people. Those are my emotions driving me. The reality is that I am old and immunocompromised and as such very high risk and my brain knows that my time has passed. I’ve passed the torch to a new generation of tech smart, dedicated men and women who will rock this challenge. Besides, my daughters have me on house arrest!
In the grand scheme of retirement things, I believe myself to be fortunate because of my varied interests, one of which is a wannabee artist. I have discovered that retirement freed me to spend more time exploring many different art projects. My latest interest is in mixed media. Truth be told, I have tinkered in art in many different forms throughout my life and some of my earliest memories include art work from kindergarten using crayons to oil paint, watercolors, tempera paint, oil sticks, oil pastels, soft pastels and yes, even house paint when constructing scenery for a girl scout camp site at Cadette Event. Art has always been a part of my life and happily it is now filling my retirement hours and now “corona” time as well. The pandemic has isolated many of us, particularly if one happens to be older and in possession of some other co-morbidities. So during the first two months of my retirement, I have tried to find my “new” way, my new routine. There are no alarm clocks in my life now, only two cats that yell me awake each morning when their hunger bellies ring. After feeding the beasts, coffee is the first order of my day. Enjoyed with a dive into my newspaper, it propels me to decisions about what I might accomplish today.
I am always amazed that my brain will seize upon an idea and as time passes, that idea may spring to life upon a canvas or board. I take photos along this journey because I have learned that cameras never lie. My eye and my brain may rationalize something I have put upon a canvas, but the camera screams any inconsistencies or mistakes I have made along my creative journey. Below is a montage of snapshots of my journey through the recreation of a James Audubon print a la Ginny.
So my “corona” time in my new “retirement” mode is guiding me to create a whole “corona bird” portfolio. Using slips of paper (cut from the huge volumes I have collected over the past 15 years), paste, pen and pencil I have returned to my kindergarten skills using scissors, paper and glue to build my artistic version of some of my favorite birds. Perhaps this alone time has allowed reflection on the possibility of creating my new identity as an artist. After all, Grandma Moses didn’t begin her career as an artist until she had reached the tender young age of 78! Maybe there is hope for me!