CREATIVE HEROES: Walker Thornton

29 10 2017

Walker Thornton is a sex blogger. She’s a published writer and her writing on midlife sexuality has won awards and professional recognition. I know her from an online blogging group we’re both in. It takes boldness and bravery to live a creative life. She is a Creative Hero.

walker

Living Outside the Comfort Zone
You have to be authentic to live a creative life. Walker has consistently opened herself up to new possibilities and amazing adventures have followed. A friend told her, “You play a big game of life, and you play a big game of business, and you integrate these so well.”

Walker grew up in a small, southern town. She was raised to be a proper, southern lady. She was taught that it was important to always look good and men would not like you if you did not wear makeup. Walker got her masters in educational psychology and married young. Her professional life was spent helping women who had been impacted by sexual violence and teaching women how to protect themselves.

Walker took a big risk when she divorced her husband of many years. She lost the support of family and friends because by the time she got her divorce, her husband was in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis.

Emotionally she ended her marriage, but she didn’t walk away from her ex-husband when he needed help. They worked out an agreement that worked for both of them. They continued to live in the same home for a number of years until he went to an assisted living facility while she remained his primary care giver. She continued this care until he died.

Walker began her newly single life—and dating—while still living under the same roof of her ex-husband. Walker broke the rules ingrained from her upbringing. She did what was not necessarily considered proper. It was a huge, difficult step that led her to the journey she is on today.

A Pivotal Moment
After her ex-husband’s death, she felt truly free. She wanted to own her sexuality. She wanted to know how to feel pleasure in her body, for herself, not to please anyone else. She leapt out of her comfort zone again and flew across the country for a woman’s sexuality retreat designed for women to discover and embrace the divine, juicy woman within. It was during a massage that she began to feel the beauty and strength of her older body. When looking at herself she saw the extra pounds, the stretch marks from her pregnancies, and her aging breasts. The trained sexological bodyworker touched her belly and called out to the beauty within that had carried her children and to the beauty of her breasts that had fed those children. It was a transformative moment when she learned to cherish her aging, imperfect body. She embraced the beauty of the life her body had given her. She returned home with a newfound, radiant confidence.

Walker had long been a sex educator and women’s advocate. She realized no one talks about sexuality at midlife. How does one cope with what menopause, divorce, widowhood, the changes of age or illness can bring? How does an older woman embrace her sexuality when society pretends it doesn’t even exist? Always an educator and now a writer, Walker began to integrate her life with her business. She began to write about midlife and senior sexuality and she took another risk. When most sex bloggers write under a pseudonym, Walker writes under her own name. A lot of women don’t talk about sex because of shame. Walker can be who she is and knows there is no shame to living a full, creative, and sexual life. She can be the role model and take away the shame. Her audience can see themselves reflected in her.

Walker writes about sexuality frankly, honestly and in a non-prurient way. As often happens when we allow our authentic selves to shine, others are drawn to our light. Walker’s matter-of-fact approach to senior sexuality has brought her professional recognition; she has become an award-winning writer and sought after speaker. Her journey is her audience’s journey and she’s become a published author with her book, Inviting Desire.

Taking Risks
Walker is a sexy, silver-haired woman. She continues to do things that she was once told she couldn’t or shouldn’t do as a proper southern lady. In a time and an age when women are often fearful of traveling solo, Walker flew to Portugal for a 2-week adventure. She learned that while not easy, traveling alone meant you could do whatever you want, whenever you want. And sitting alone at an outdoor café allows for flirty adventures that do not happen when traveling with others.

She owns her  power. In addition to writing, she is drawing and painting. She’s taking online creative classes. One assignment involved taking self-portraits. Early one morning, she rolled out of bed and snapped a selfie of herself still disheveled and makeup-free. It made her laugh and the image captured her delight. She soon saw a casting call for women who are aging naturally. She sent in the photo and got the gig.

As I write this, Walker is expecting a visitor. She’s been in communication with a man who is flying in to meet her. That fluttery, excited, anticipation of possibilities is the same for all ages. She doesn’t know what the future holds, but she’s always going to take the risk.

Walker continues to step out of her comfort zone, to live a fully creative life. It has not been easy. She has been the wife, been the mother, been the PTA president, and she is now being her own authentic, creative self. As she said, “This is me, coloring outside the lines.”

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CREATIVE HEROES: Jade Th’ng

17 04 2016

When I started this series my idea was simple; interview people who were living fully creative lives. I often say our lives make sense in hindsight. That’s especially true when you reflect back on your life as a creative journey. The interviews, so far, have been people looking back on long, adventurous journeys. This interview is someone at the beginning of their adult journey.

jade cover

Jade Th’ng is a talented, smart, beautiful woman in her mid twenties. As a child she preferred crafts to dolls and Office Depot with its endless supply of markers, pens and pencils, to Toys R Us. She would be the last one to finish when working on a group creative project, paying attention to the tiniest details. She was drawn to music. She says it has it own language; one that all musicians—around the world and throughout the centuries—understand. She also always loved the sound of applause. Her audience could be just her parents when 4-year old Jade sang the entire Sound of Music score to keep from going to bed to 17-year old Jade performing an oboe concerto in front of a full theater.

Crafts

Creative projects

As a teen she was still creating; sewing and making jewelry, painting and drawing, baking and decorating cupcakes. She started a jewelry business with her mom called Nekkid Girls Designs. I know all this, because I’m that mom. Both her father and I are graphic designers, so she grew up in a home where creativity and making things were just what we did.

Performing

Always performing

Jade entered college as a music major. She hit a roadblock her sophomore year when she recognized she was not thriving. This future of being a musician did not fill her with passion and her grades suffered. Changing majors was a hard, tear-filled decision. She meandered for a while and it took her 6 years to graduate. She ended up with a liberal arts degree with three seemingly unrelated concentrations; Italian, film, and communication. Her Nana never understood and kept asking when Jade was going to cook her an Italian meal, since she was studying Italian.

jewelry

Jade made her first pair of earrings at nine. She’s still making jewelry.

Learning Italian allowed her to be an au pair in Italy one summer for the only daughter of a pair of doctors. She polished her writing skills with a quirky and funny blog chronicling her adventures called “Twenty-One in Tuscany”. Her jewelry making skills creatively connected her to the strong Italian mother in a way that nothing else did. She also returned home with a wonderful authentic lasagna recipe and her  Bellini’s now make brunch a memorable event. So her Italian did make her a good Italian cook, which pleased her Nana.

Italy

Jade in Italy from a summer as an au pair. She brought a great lasagna and Bellini recipe home.

Student jobs included waiting tables, bartending, and working in production on TV commercial sets. Her sewing skills put her in the wardrobe department and she once made a caveman costume for a small budget commercial. Her attention to detail led her to assisting Louisiana’s top food stylist for several national commercial brands.

In her meandering she took a class that ignited a new passion—screenwriting. She discovered while her classmates were all writing dramas; she had a talent for writing comedy. She once filmed me for a mockumentary to talk about the evils of Comic Sans (my own personal nemesis).

After graduating, she knew she wanted to pursue comedy and set her sights on Chicago. She studied comedians she admired, like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. What many of these comedians shared was learning comedy and improv in the windy city, Chicago—1000 miles away from the sleepy, southern city she grew up in. So off Jade went last summer, to what is her unofficial graduate school. She’s taking comedy classes at the renowned iO Theater, she’s honing her writing skills, she’s getting her work produced on stage, and she’s waiting tables to pay the bills. She has also found a creative tribe of friends who are creating their own art while starting their own adult lives.

I know one day all her skills will fuse together. It will make sense in hindsight. I don’t know where her journey is going to take her, but I do know that creativity will always be a part of her life. She is making her dreams happen. She is living a fully creative life. That is why Jade, my baby girl, is a creative hero. She will always have my applause.

Click here to watch an extended conversation with Jade (be sure to watch the very end—it’s the best part).

screen shot

Click here to read other CREATIVE HEROES stories

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CREATIVE HEROES: The Birth of an Idea

31 01 2016

•creative art

I’m filled with creative energy as I start the New Year. I’m in the process of giving birth to a new idea. It’s about living a creative life. Since this idea is in the birthing process, I’m not sure what this idea will grow up to be.

This baby idea is about how small details full of creative energy can grow into a full life experience. Those experiences make a richer and joyful life. Sometimes the seed of that experience grows out of a difficult time.

Our lives make sense in hindsight. This baby idea has been 10 years in the making and has grown from a time when my professional life was going to shit.

Ten years ago, I had a new, young, smart boss who didn’t like my design style—I’m an art director in an in-house corporate setting—she felt I was an old dinosaur. She told me I would not make another round of budget cuts and should consider a job in sales. Eventually all she allowed me to create were flyers that went on the inside of bathroom stalls (really the shits).

I then believed I was no longer hirable and I began to seriously ponder on what did I want to do in this upcoming new chapter. I was freshly divorced and responsible for my aging mother and my teen daughter, so I didn’t feel free to walk away from a job with great benefits, where I had invested a dozen years. This is what propelled me through the next decade of living a fully creative life.

Whereas my boss saw me as a dinosaur, my professional organization saw me as someone with experience and asked me to be on their Board of Directors. I used this experience to grow my life in new directions. I started to face my fears and pushed myself into doing things that made me uncomfortable, like public speaking.

I eventually became the President of my club and that young boss followed her own ambitious rise up the corporate ladder and left the company. As I regained confidence, I wanted to share my life experience with others and created workshops on creativity. I knew firsthand how fragile it could be and that the creative spirit needs to be nurtured and encouraged to thrive.

While my day job improved, I still needed a place for my creative voice to be heard unedited. So I created this blog, My Creative Journey and a side business with my sweetie, which we named Greenview Designs. I’m about to audition for a performance play called Listen to Your Mother, where I’ll read a story I’ve written that grew out of this blog. That’s something I couldn’t have imagined doing a decade ago.

Today I’m a designer, a writer, a marketer, a speaker, a teacher and in a loving relationship. This all grew out of embracing fear. It has been a creative journey of many small steps that has me living a full, creative, joyful life.

My baby idea is to record others who are living creative lives, people who inspire me. This blog is going to hold their stories and Greenview Designs is going to create videos. I’m calling this series Creative Heroes.

So welcome to my baby idea. I hope you’ll enjoy watching it grow. Let’s see where this journey takes us.

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