I am Marina Dempster, I am 46 (can that be right?), a self-employed visual artist, mentor and photographer. Seemingly forever busy, and with fingers in several pies, I felt the results in my life weren’t a match to the efforts I was making…and some stranger-than-fiction traumatic upsets and losses motivated me to re-evaluate how I could re-pattern old ways of thinking and creating. I decided to take full responsibility for my own joy.
With the kids in school and happily building their own resilience, I decided to get clear about my true desires and what work I needed to do for myself to fall in love with my life again, to re-ignite my passions, and to feel that what I do matters.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
I used to be a chronic put-everyone-else-on-a-pedestal kind of thinker; always more comfortable in supporting roles. I didn’t see that preferring to assist others was sometimes camouflage for distrust in my own capabilities and exhausting imposter syndrome. I have re-discovered the power I have to lead with love and compassion and I realize how much I was shortchanging myself when I depended on others to be the powerhouses – the ones with the high beams on to light the way – and that I’ve actually always been a courageous leader, even if a reluctant one.
In my mid-forties, I’ve re-lit my pilot light. I am trusting myself, my intuition, and my inspirations to lead me in the right direction and love the journey (and the past) whatever the route. I know without any doubt, that this is how I can best be of service to myself and others. I know that I belong in the best company of other willing and compassionate souls doing the work to get closer to their own truth and freedom. I now see my strengths, rather than focussing on my perceived inadequacies. I understand myself as magnificent and magnanimous and hope to help other’s see that in themselves.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I feel most powerful when I am in action doing the things that I value with persistence and playfulness…when I am creating art, sharing art, and in a mentorship role guiding others toward accessing their essential creativity. I love to take myself by surprise, and especially seeing others surprise themselves with what they are capable of when they are connected to their infinite creative nature and revealing the beauty and poetry of the spirit.
What are the top three most important things to you right now?
My community of like-minded, inspiring friends that share the desire to expand grow and heal, the relationships that I have with my husband, children, and extended family, and exploring how my unique creative expression can serve others.
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I have been working on creating new nourishing habits which include daily writing, art creation, and practicing “letting go” of what clutters my thoughts, my body, my heart…exploring the boundaries of my sacred containers.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I am working on a bold vision of what I would like to manifest this year and getting clear about both the commitments that keep me on track as well as a self-compassionate awareness of the distractions that are a slippery slope toward old ways of thinking. I know now that my coaching support has been the most fun and exciting way to fall in love with where I am at and feel empowered to move in any direction I choose with confidence and joy. And to realize what is at stake if I don’t!
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
The best decision I have ever made is to acknowledge where I am stuck and seek support in creating the life that I desire. I no longer feel that I am exposing some failure or inadequacy but rather embracing my worthiness that is no more or less than any one else’s. I want to be the change that inspires others to value and celebrate themselves all the more.
How can people connect with you and your work?
I am currently the artist-in-residence at The Orchard Lyceum, a brand new Montessori-inspired middle school, community art space and commercial art gallery in Toronto. I am absolutely in love with being a part of pioneering this new collaborative space and creative community in the heart of Queen West. In exchange for my studio space at the school, I mentor the students in art and photography.
I recently exhibited a new body of sculptural fibre art installations which can be found online for purchase called “IN//HABIT”. A series of hand-hooked yoga mat sized fibre works that explore what it means to “take up space” and what our level of comfort/discomfort is with it. They are an expression of the beauty of showing up for oneself and how that freedom liberates us all.
What I am am beginning to appreciate about myself, and the nature of all the artists I admire, is the persistence required to alchemize unlikely materials into something unpredictable and magical….doing over doubting, choosing to follow curiosity, wonder, intuition, and exercise the imagination and trust that in sharing the work we will find resonance and connection. In the aim of practicing this way of being, I lead playful art journaling workshops which I call “The ritual. The rhythm. The record.” which help participants in a variety of contexts to access their creative nature and self-express with ease.
In tandem with my art and mentorship practices, I delight in being of service to my community as a professional photographer, assisting other courageous trailblazers with personal or professional branding, portraiture, event coverage and art documentation.