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A Difficult Divorce Led Me To Art – Sally, 55

SallyRothenhaus Mug NK
Sally is part of our KuelWoman tribe and you can find her bird houses and art in our shopping section. I am thrilled to have her as part of our “Share Your Story” as well.
There is power in story telling. There is power in community. There is power in sharing. The more we know about one another; the more we understand; the more powerful we become.
We invite all of the KuelWomen out there to share their stories with us.
This is Sally’s.

KUEL LIFE: What are you pursuing now, after 50, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it’s come out of left field?

SALLY: The short answer is ‘art’. I have never taken an art class. I went through a long and difficult divorce. So in my 50th year, there Iwas, with no money, no career, two daughters who were not quite ready to stand on their own feet, and suddenly a mortgage and all of life’s expenses to pay. I knew creativity needed to play a larger role for a rewarding life.

KUEL LIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
SALLY: I have three types of days; design, studio, and business. They all involve coffee. Design days involve lots of discovery, Lightroom and Photoshop work, printing and prepping for studio time.
Studio days involve working with the heat press, wood working and metal working. I create things based on inventory needs and creative inspiration.
Business days are split among computer work, errands, and traveling. Some business days are spent set up at events, enjoying the bustling activity of my vendor booth.
There is a fourth day, when I am working for somebody else on bookkeeping or tax work.  Those days are sometimes when the insight occurs. They’ve taught me to look away now and then.
KUEL LIFE: With what do you struggle?
SALLY: Prioritizing time for myself. Prioritizing my to-do list, currently. And being only one person, with at least three peoples’ jobs to do.
KUEL LIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
SALLY: My customers motivate me. Seeing their reactions, the smiles, hearing the stories that my images and products elicit. I also love each stage of my process and wake up every morning looking forward to my work. Not having a financial safety net is also very motivating – nothing quite like the wolves of necessity at your heels to get one out of bed in the morning.
KUEL LIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
SALLY: Embrace it. Every day, every year, every decade has something to learn, joy to experience and share. Do what you can to avoid dwelling on anything that doesn’t move those things (learning, joy) forward. And don’t try too hard to control it. Be an opportunist so you can roll with whatever life presents.
KUEL LIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
SALLY: Being vulnerable is often seen in a negative light, and it can certainly let in darkness. Being vulnerable, to me, is being open and receptive. What makes me vulnerable is empathy. It comes with responsibility regarding boundaries. Without a balance with knowing oneself, it is easy to allow that openness to overwhelm. I don’t think that anything other than quite a lot of life experience can really drive home how allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and boundaries, work together. That is wisdom.
KUEL LIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
SALLY: Having parents who saw the best in me and made sure I knew that. Even though it was decades before I really tapped into the confidence their love planted, it was there when I was ready to access it.
Raising and loving two special needs daughters caused me to mine my depths for strength I never would have dreamt I had.
A moment of insight when I realized the universe was teaching me, if I could just quiet my head long enough to learn from it.
KUEL LIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
SALLY: My mom and dad. They had a strong and healthy relationship. They blended creativity, intelligence, hard work, and fun in their personal lives and career. I’ve also been strongly influenced by the artists I’ve come to know personally. Especially those who allow their whole person to be that creative energy. Not turning it off for work, on for personal life. I didn’t realize until fairly recently that I could live my life that way. That really, I can not live it any other way.
KUEL LIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
SALLY: A wise friend advised me during my darkest days, “We make the decisions that are right for us at the time we are making them. Don’t spend time wishing we’d made a different decision. It devalues the decisions we make today.”
KUEL LIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
SALLY: Many women, each in her own way. My daughters, industrious women, business people, leaders & mentors, innovators, creative people, women who have faced down difficulties and had an uneven recovery from them, women who realized their identities late in life and are living every moment fully. They are my tribe. I’d be untethered without each and every one of them.
KUEL LIFE: Are you grown-up?
SALLY: I’m not a child, so I guess I’m as grown-up as I am. Which really isn’t very much. I’m definitely much younger than I was 10 years ago.
KUEL LIFE: What do you do for self-care?
SALLY: First and most importantly, I wake up to each day conscious of how grateful I am for all it offers, including the time I am able to spend with my love and partner, Scott. I hike, observe, and shoot (photography) in the natural settings where I am restored. I’m also a musician in a fife & drum corps, CT Valley Field Music.
KUEL LIFE: And last, but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
SALLY: Take art & design classes. Spend a month or two traveling across country in my camper for an extended photo-journey through mountains, desert, and the pacific northwest. Visit with family and friends.
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