Embrace risk with exuberance.

Embrace risk with exuberance.

Jan W., age 86

I grew up in a small Midwestern town with significant very conservative rigid value structures. My family reflected this. Early in life, I began realizing I could not accept many of the prevailing views. Thinking differently is risky business. I rebelled in many small ways like taking male-dominated mechanical drawing, being the only girl in class, and achieving top grades.

As chairman of the Junior Prom, I quickly learned doing that job did not guarantee popularity. I did not have a date; I went by myself! Risky! During college, I had to live at home and got involved in numerous activities, including theatre, so frequently could be out. Come graduation, I was told I could not be a medical illustrator as family would not help cover expenses for the needed art institute courses. A history professor began advising and guiding me through getting an assistantship to attend UI Library School where his sister was a professor. I did it and was finally out on my own. Took all my art with me and never looked back. Risky!

Personal relationships have been the same way. Took risks, worked through the consequences. At long last, was able to get a dog, which later became dogs! Great Pyrenees now have been an integral part of my life for over 50 years. Bonus: dog sports keep one involved, alert, and active.

Art was always there in some form, be it painting, knitting, or weaving. Even now, every attempt at creation is a risk. I don’t feel aged. I have always looked forward and figured ways. Sometimes it is highly twisted lines, always there is something to be learned.

Try every experience presented. I’m in favor of risk-taking. Hang with creatives and engineers and designers. Read, listen, and absorb! If you have red (or purple or green) hair, own it!