My name is Melanie Isis Tinken. I am a visual artist who hand embroiders vintage photographs that I find and curate from antique markets. I have worked for a healer in Toronto for much of my thirties and forties. I have pursued work in the arts for many years and have a degree in photography, as well as much of my twenties spent writing creatively.
I have wanted to be an artist since I was a child. Artists run in my family. In my mid-thirties I went through what I would call a crisis that was both the best and worst thing that happened to me. I went through a break up, a job loss, and a home loss that put me in a position to heal some old trauma, tabula rasa style. I stopped my pursuit of the arts and took almost a decade to heal, integrate, and learn all I could about healing and my old buried wounds. During that time I discovered I have some empathic traits that complicated some of my life. It has not been a conventional path, and in my acceptance of this I have found the buried treasure that was always there that I failed to see.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
The biggest shift has been owning my story, and allowing myself to live a life less ordinary. My work with a healer, who is also my employer, has given me a gift of profound love for my story and my gifts. It has opened my mind and heart to areas of life I never knew existed. Within this process I found I had a talent in my art work I had not met yet.
And when I discovered my artistic expression I experienced a freedom and a joy I had known intuitively was possible, but had not yet encountered. The biggest shift for me was owning this, committing to the joy of my creation, and sharing it with the public. I had my first solo exhibition at GAS art gallery in 2018. And much to my absolute astonishment, my intentions for my artwork were received by the audience that viewed and purchased my work. The shift was simply, if I’m living my truth with joy and authenticity, other people are served by this, it’s a win win.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
Power comes from clarity for me. The more I am able to be, without grasping for attention, or need, or even a desire to influence; the more powerful I feel. If I surrender; things move. If I’m neutral; ideas flow. If I’m open; creativity blooms. If I’m accepting; life responds. I have learned through many trials and errors that life is on my side, and it’s an inter-dependent, and co-creative venture.
Isn’t that incredible? Trusting in the truth that life is wise and loving, makes me powerful. Participation in the idea that life is on my side, that it is abundant and providing, makes me powerful. That the more I live following my heart, my joy, and my curiosity, that I follow what resonates, the more magic and power becomes available to me. Listening to the inner guide and hearing the way life rhymes with that, is my key to freedom and happiness. Simply becoming more and more alive. And being humble enough to keep learning.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
- My art, and serving my patrons, learning more about the business of art and working and creating as much artwork as I can. It’s truly the bliss stream for me.
- At 50 I have met my life partner. I am sinking into the pure goodness of this partnership. It’s been a hell of a ride to meet him and I cherish every moment.
- My community, network and spirituality; at large, my work, my family, my friends, clients, my healing friends, my arts family.
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I am in my home studio every morning by 6:30 am after I meditate for 15 minutes. I create my work first thing in the morning. I self care. I communicate with my loved ones. And when I’m not feeling great, I take care of myself and my needs. I implement kind but firm boundaries. I allow myself to just be. I practice my spirituality. It’s personal and magical, it’s powerful. I learn as much as I am able. I read a lot. I’m a nerd for all kinds of interests.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
Learning. Dreaming bigger than I have allowed myself to before. Planning my life with my partner, being open, talking it out loud, involving each other in the process. Continuing to heal what’s in the shadows. Divesting from certain cultural conditioning. Being humble. One huge thing for me, that I feel completely new at is I’m learning about embodiment. Embracing my body, it’s a body that gains weight easily. I’m just at the beginning of getting to know this vessel of mine and divest from years of shame about weight gain. I’m learning about radical self love. After decades of dissociation from my body. This feels very significant on the edge of menopause.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
My advice would be don’t tell yourself it’s too late for your deepest dreams. I am a late bloomer. I believe in the power of that pivot; that everything you desire within you is there for a reason. It’s the call of your soul. If you didn’t have the power to create this in your life you wouldn’t have the deep persistent desire. Trust it. It knows who you are.