Talented Senior Woman Painting in Art Studio

"Many of us have decided they’ve had enough of all those negatives. We’ve started new hobbies and found that we can sell our art work, jewelry, crafts and books."

Hey, why can’t you start a new career in your senior years?  Whether you’re 60, 70 or 80 or somewhere in-between, you have more to offer from your life experiences than when you were twenty or thirty years younger. 

The biggest roadblock is how you feel.  

So how do you feel?   Bored? Tired? Nothing really to look forward to?  Rejected by your busy children and grandchildren? Focused on your aches and pains and “can’t do that any more” thoughts?

Regrets?  Depression?   Limited finances?  Tired of doctors’ office waiting rooms?

Many of us have decided they’ve had enough of all those negatives. We’ve started new hobbies and found that we can sell our art work, jewelry, crafts and books.

It’s a lot of work. It’s difficult. It’s full of detours and roadblocks, but a lot more rewarding than shuffling along in our latest physical complaint.

And if you think I’m really judgmental, let me tell you what can be done...because I’ve done it.

Widowed and retired at 65, and living across the country from my children and their families, I stared inadequate income in the face and decided to try teaching watercolors at a local craft store, and later an art supply store in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

I knew I could teach. I’d been teaching bible studies for years ever since my children were small and I taught at Vacation Bible School. I knew I could paint. After retiring, I had discovered a wonderful art community called The Bonnet House  in Ft Lauderdale where I took lessons, entered art shows and displayed my watercolors in local galleries. 

My classes were just beginning to become popular when I decided to move back to Phoenix where my son and his family live. So, after this major move, I began again to look for opportunities to teach watercolors.

I began at the Pecos Senior Center, then continued at Hobby Lobby for five years. This led to interest from Ironwood Library where an administrator allowed me to teach several multi-week workshops with packed classes. In these classes I got to know dozens of men and women who were trying to paint for their first time.

What a joy it was to me to see their masterpieces!

More opportunities arose with other libraries and City of Phoenix senior centers where I have taught classes at six other centers around the city. 

Again, I had the joy of watching eyes shine with surprise when a physically or mentally challenged student produced their first painting at 75, ready to come back next time. This was when I named my classes “Fun with Watercolors.”  

And it wasn’t easy!  If you decide to embark on the tremendously rewarding challenge to use one of your gifts or abilities, it will require most of all:  courage...and lots of prayers. 

But God is faithful and gives me strength when I can’t imagine how I can load up all my supplies into the car, drive to the venue, unload them and set them up at the long tables which I may have to help set up.

And that’s the beginning. I have a couple of hours of standing, demo, walking, leaning over and showing others how to hold their brush, draw their picture, mix their paint and take their own leap of faith!  When I’ve loaded up to go back to my car, the fatigue is almost crippling, but the joy gets me home. And I can pay another bill with my earnings.

I found time to also write and publish two books, filling them with the joy of God’s love, especially for single women.

I’m now a few months from my 80th birthday, and I still am going forward. I’m not a high energy person. I would love to curl up with a book or my favorite TV series.

 But rather than give up my house, and other freedoms, I know I must continue to pursue my opportunities. I pray a lot more for strength, memory, skill and a lot more all the time, and God is faithful. 

I’m so grateful for these opportunities and the will to take them up. We need to be productive, use our talents and skills, and be nudged along. After all, most seniors profess to know this saying, “move it or lose it.”

For more information on Fun with Watercolors: Judylokits.com

- Judy Lokits, an Ahwatukee resident since 2012, is author of “Bouquets from My Beloved” and “Deep Calls unto Deep in the Song of Solomon.”

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