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.

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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.”

Click here to read other CREATIVE HEROES stories 

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Listen to Your Mother – New Orleans

22 03 2016

I’ve heard that if a TED Talk married the Vagina Monologues that it’s offspring would be Listen to Your Mother. Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a performance about motherhood and LTYM performances will be held in 41 cities across North America around Mother’s Day. Each performance is unique to the city that births it and yet all are related by the same theme. Each cast member reads an essay that they have written. One does not have to be a writer, or a performer, or a woman to be in the cast. The only requirement is that your story be about motherhood. The inaugural New Orleans performance is Mother’s Day weekend. Click here for details.  All past performances can be found on the LYTM website.

LTYM

The Big City
My Dad always referred to New Orleans as the Big City. Baton Rouge is only 80 miles away. I love my hometown, but it’ll always be a country cousin to that big city down river. I remember going there only once in my childhood. I still remember how exotic it felt. There were giant palm trees in the medians of major boulevards downtown. Only the medians were called the neutral ground. There were buildings taller than any in my hometown, wrought iron balconies, and lots of people were out walking the broad sidewalks of those busy city streets. The homes were narrow, and had tiny yards, and were called shotguns. Even inside, the ceilings were higher than what I was used to. People rode streetcars and buses to get to places. It was so different from the small, comfortable world I knew.

As an adult, New Orleans still has the same exotic feel to me. I’ve loved it since that first visit. When I saw someone in a blogging group I’m in was going to produce the first LTYM in my favorite city, I immediately asked her to let me know when it would be because I wanted to attend. When she asked why don’t I audition, I thought about it for a day and said, why not!? I became the first to sign up. Before I knew it, I was reading the story I had written to the producers. And I was chosen for the cast.

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I knew deep down that my story had the right spice for New Orleans. And speaking of spice, every trip to the big city during this adventure has involved experiencing another landmark restaurant. It really is the best foodie city in the world. I could almost live on the bread, coffee and Bloody Marys alone.

Gumbo
I sat and listened to my cast mates stories at the first read through and got a taste of what the performance would become. Like the best gumbo there were the unique elements that gave each story it’s own flavor. Most people say that their mama makes the best gumbo. Together the dozen in the New Orleans cast created an extraordinary gumbo that only stories about motherhood could make. I am trembling with excitement (and a little fear) while I wait for this performance to be served to its audience on Mother’s Day weekend. 

Between the first practice and the performance, I will turn 59. I made a conscious decision when I entered my 50’s to do things that moved me outside my comfort zone. I entered my 50’s by jumping out of a plane and on the eve of my 60’s it feels appropriate that I’m taking center stage. I can now confidently say, “listen to this mother!”

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How Breast Cancer Awareness Month led to a Thankful November

21 11 2014

This post is part of a blog hop by the amazing women of Midlife Boulevard. A blog hop is when a group of bloggers write on the same topic. This month’s topic is What I’m Thankful For. You can find the link to the other blogs at the end of this story. 

I think of my life as a creative journey and I recently came upon an intersection that I had not foreseen. October was breast cancer awareness month. I’m keenly aware of this because it’s my job to help promote it. I work for a woman’s specialty hospital in marketing.

While working on an ad campaign for mammography, a lump was found during my annual mammogram. I’m also working on the Cancer Annual Report and this year’s focus is breast cancer. I became the patient I was creating ads for and a possible statistic in the technical report that I help to design. When I got a call after my mammogram from the head of Imaging, I knew that she wasn’t calling me about advertising.

This year’s Thanksgiving card. Woman’s is one of the largest OB hospitals in the country and is known locally as the Birthplace of Baton Rouge.

This year’s Thanksgiving card. Woman’s is one of the largest OB hospitals in the country and is known locally as the Birthplace of Baton Rouge.

November is a month when we give thanks. While designing Woman’s Thanksgiving card, I didn’t yet know that I would be so personally thankful for the organization I work for. From the beginning, I was told that there was a 90% chance the lump was benign. I listened to the experts and had the biopsy to prove that I wasn’t in the 10% category. Because of their kind and professional assurances, I knew that I was going to be OK. This is why you get those yearly mammograms, to stop cancer early.

The only thing I remember coming out of the fog of anesthesia was the direction to not do any housework and no heavy lifting. I also remember telling my nurse/friend that we needed to go out for bloody marys. I’m sticking with the no housework rule and still need to get that drink with my friend.

I’m fine, no cancer.

During this time, I worked on the ad campaign to tell the public about the new 3D mammography technology that Woman’s now has. Just as I was told to do no heavy lifting, the marketing team worked together and the creative effort was shared. No one had to do the heavy lifting alone. This campaign actually launched an explosion of creative energy within the team. This team has all been touched in some way by breast cancer and I’m not the only one in the group who has had a biopsy. There was a sincere enthusiasm on how best to tell the public about the new technology.

The creative approach we chose to use to explain 3D mammography is origami. Traditional mammograms give a 2D image, like a flat piece of paper. The 3D technology is dimensional. It is like the folded origami. We chose to use the crane as our model, this origami bird is also the symbol of good luck. The campaign launches during this month of Thanksgiving.

Below is the campaign the Marketing team created. If you want to learn about the new 3D technology, just click. 

Campaign billboard

outdoor blog

Campaign print ad

3Dad blog

Campaign web banner

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I say a daily prayer to be given the wisdom to see the gifts the universe sends me. I was given the gift of living Woman’s mission: to improve the health of women and infants. That mission includes my own health.

To all the women and men I work with day after day and to the community we serve, I am thankful.

Shout out to the marketing team: Lynne, Bridget, Margaret, Rachel, Laurel, Tracie, Brian, Amiee and Dana. And to my sweetie, Steve, who held my hand and took care of me during it all.

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Click here to read to the other stories in the blog hop.





The Blogosphere

29 12 2013

Year’s end is a natural time to stop and look where I’ve been. I started my blog because I needed a place to express my creative voice, which is why I call it My Creative Journey. All journeys have twists and turns that lead us to unexpected places. My blogging journey is no exception.

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It was last year on Huffington Post that I stumbled on a bloghop by a group of midlife women. I then found this group on Facebook, and in what was a bold move by me, asked to join. It was through this warm and accepting group of fabulous women that I became comfortable calling myself a writer.

More importantly, I developed new friends over the last year and I want to introduce you to some of them. Each has a unique and authentic voice that I admire.

Midlife Boulevard is a great group of women with a great website. It’s is run by friends, Sharon Greenthal of Empty House Full Mind  and Anne “Not a Super Mom” Parris.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this group and their monthly bloghops have both pushed and challenged my writing.

Generation Fabulous is now organized by Chloe Jeffreys, an OB/GYN nurse. My day job is at a woman’s specialty hospital; the challenges in today’s healthcare market are something we both care about. Her journey has taken her to Haiti this year and she brings her readers on her life journey at Chloe of the Mountain.  

Another group that I discovered and now write for is Better After 50 (BA50). This is yet another group of powerful women writers. Their tagline is real women, real stories.

It was because of the connections to these groups that I went to BlogHer in Chicago this summer to meet my new friends IRL. I roomed with someone I had never met and only knew through blogging. Virginia Sullivan and I became instant BFFs. Virginia can be found at First Class Woman.  She writes from the point of view of being a professional woman in corporate world.  I know we have something that we are going to do together in the future; we’re not sure what it’s going to be, but look out when it happens!!

I have several friends who have health blogs and the following three have all been nominated for a prestigious award, the Wego Health Activist Award. Check them out (the award link is on their name) and give them a vote.

Cathy Chester is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met. An Empowered Spirit is about life and about living with MS. Her sweet spirit shines through her words in every post.

Ruth Curran writes Cranium Crunches.  It’s about keeping your brain active and in shape. She was inspired by my post on New Orleans as a way to keep your senses fully engaged.

Walker Thornton is another fascinating writer I’ve come to know who writes about sex at The Diva of Dating. I admire how she puts her life’s experience out to the world over a subject she believes all women should embrace and enjoy fully.

Lois Alter Mark is another new friend. She just won Blogger Idol, Woot! Midlife at the Oasis always brings a smile to my face. (She also went with Oprah to Australia—how cool is that.)

I’ve become friends with women who live far away from my little Louisiana world. I enjoy the words of Karen and Wendy Irving, sisters who share writing duties at After the Kids Leave. One sister lives in Canada and the other one in England.

Amanda Fox of The Fur Flies is another Canadian with whom I’ve connected through the blogosphere. While we live miles apart, we share a similar sense of humor and have discovered unexpected similarities.

I made an instant friend at BlogHer from New Orleans, Cheryl at A Pleasant House. I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting Cheryl’s beautiful and very pleasant house. I know my love of New Orleans and cocktails will bring us on adventures in the near future.

I love when synchronicity happens. While I’ve developed friends near and far from blogging, it’s the two women in my own backyard that have been the best gifts this year.

Lisa Froman and Melinda Walsh and I have all had similar career paths, are close to the same age, live in the same town—where all of us advertising types know each other. And even though we have many of the same friends, we somehow didn’t know each other. It was the blogosphere that connected us in a way that our careers never did. We now don’t let many weeks go by without getting together (and we are overdue).

Lisa has written an insightful book, Tao Flashes. Her blog is a continuation of the book’s insights.  She looks at the Tao through the eyes of midlife and writes of how to bring the Tao’s age-old lessons into our lives. We even guest blogged on each other’s sites.

Melinda is a storyteller and her blog is how we are in charge of our own story.  It’s called Love Applied and if you go to her blog you can see the pictures from her recent wedding!

I’ve made so many blog friends this year that this post would go on for days if I listed them all. I look forward to where this journey will take me in the New Year. One thing for sure is that there will be unexpected twists in this journey that will lead to new adventures that will lead to new stories to tell.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.





Fathers and Daughters

19 11 2013

In memory of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the women of Midlife Boulevard have dedicated November’s bloghop to our reflections on President John Kennedy. A bloghop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject. The links to my friend’s blogs are at the end of this post.

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President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and I are the same age.  So like me, she was a little girl when a bullet cancelled her father’s life. My main memory of this tragic event is of all the important adults in my life crying, which was unsettling to a small child. In watching the news on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination it stated what we now know. The assignation was a mile marker in our young country’s life. It marked our loss of innocence. I remember my parents glued to the flickering black and white images on our television as the horrific news played out intimately in our living room. While commonplace now, the immediacy of this kind of news coverage was happening for the very first time in history.

Me in the early ‘60’s

Me in the early ‘60’s

Being only six, I did not relate to the before-Kennedy-was–shot-world the adults in my life would talk about for decades. I could, however, identify with Caroline, the President’s only daughter because she was my age. The images of her young life were similar to mine. They showed a smiling, loving, playful and doting father with his family. Photographs showed her playing in her Dad’s office, just like I played in my Dad’s shop as he worked. While it can be questioned if Kennedy was a good president or a good husband, no one questions that he was a good dad.

Caroline and I have shared the same cultural milestones throughout our lives; blowing out candles on a birthday cake, teenage prom pictures, friends together at the beach. Our college years had us both with long flowing hair, wearing jeans and the required graduation photo in cap and gown. Getting married as we became adults, having children and then pictures of our own young families.

As we entered midlife, we have both entered into unconventional relationships. While divorce rumors swirl around her, Caroline and her husband remain married, though it is reported that they live apart.  I entered a new relationship a few years after my divorce; we’ve chosen to live together and not get married.  Caroline and I are both apparently comfortable doing it our own way.

Me and my dad ‘65

Me and my dad ‘65

We have both reinvented our lives in our 50’s by learning to be true to ourselves. As her children have grown up and started their own lives, Caroline is leaving her old life behind and is now the new ambassador to Japan.  As I became an empty nester and newly divorced I moved forward with my life too. Certainly not as big as moving to another country with a powerful job, but I started a new business this past year and push myself to do things outside my comfort zone.  We are at an age where we are taking our life’s experience and energy and fearlessly embracing this next chapter.

I have not had the very public tragedies that have haunted Caroline’s life. Thankfully I had my father in my life well into my adulthood.  While Caroline’s and my life have been very different, our shared cultural milestones have always allowed me to relate to her and through her I see her father…the man who was once my President. My own dad had a personality that could fill a room and was known locally for the business he created—her dad inspired a generation and led a nation. To hear Caroline talk of her father, it’s readily apparent the real love and respect she has for him. And not as the legendary figure he has become, but as a real man…her dad. I believe both our father’s would be proud of the women we have become. The love they gave us has allowed them to live on through us.

I‘m a proud writer at Midlife Boulevard.

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