My name is Johanna Reynolds. I’ve found that my late 40s have been surprisingly spectacular! For the last 25 years, I’ve always worked in the field of arts and culture, but now I’ve gone back to my painting career full-time. I’m in my fourth year now, and after a lot of intense groundwork laid, I can say it’s the most brilliant personal and professional choice I’ve ever made.
I currently work from my home studio and live with my husband, two girls, and our dog in Toronto’s west end. In March, I’ll be moving into a new studio space around Trinity Bellwoods park. Hello, high ceilings and tons of natural light!
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
Various perimenopausal changes took me by surprise in my early 40s. In the middle of that hail storm, I made up my mind to firmly step into my role as a painter.
At first, I painted for myself, but I had faith that I would find my audience in due time. It was a very big move, both mentally and emotionally. I’m grateful that I had so much support from my husband, friends, and family. They believed in me when I took that leap, and have done so all along. It was then up to me to fill my own well after that! Shifting my mindset to believing in my own ability and finding that confidence has been a massive part of my growth and current success.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I feel like I’m most powerful when I’m calm of mind and feeling excited and curious. I’m learning to really pay attention to the things that speak to me from a deep and honest place. I know that if I follow that path, I’ll end up making the right decisions, and making beautiful art. When I’m painting, I might find myself struggling through something, but I show up to my practice anyway, every day. The real magic happens when I find the flow, and the paintings really transmit something extra to the viewer- this brings a level of peace and power that is hard to describe. It’s deeply satisfying.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
- My health; taking care of a newly diagnosed arthritis condition.
- Organizing home and work environs.
- Retuning myself every morning to operate with thoughtful agency throughout the day – this helps with emotional resilience, which helps with parenting and painting alike.
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I’m learning to mentally pause often through the day to gut-check decisions I’m making, how I’m responding or reacting to things around me, and how I’m spending my time, and on what.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I am always planting seeds! I call this way of living and doing business The Slow Garden technique. I do a lot of outreach. I try and do something every day to push my own boundaries. The more I reach out to people I admire or want to work with, the more seeds are planted. I find it a very natural and valuable way to build relationships. Some of these things may not come to fruition for weeks or months, and occasionally not at all. But some weeks are very busy because seeds I planted all start sprouting at the same time! The momentum that comes along with that sort of happenstance is quite phenomenal – There’s really nothing like it!
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Midlife is an amazing time to draw deeply on whatever it is inside of you that makes you who you truly are. We all have gifts and creativity to share…By nature of being alive, this is true for everyone!