Continuing the Conversation
Quest Makers are women in their 40s and beyond who've declared
"now it's my time," and then set off on their own journeys to realize their dreams. Every month a Quest Maker is featured in the FREE e-newsletter, Your Next Quest Chronicles. Click here to enjoy archived issues.
This month, Your Next Quest Chronicles enters its third year of publication. To celebrate, we continue the conversation with some Quest Makers from the first year. Where they are now in their own quests, how have their own personal journeys continued to unfold?
|Hilary Cooper-Kenny||Tracy Colson||Cheryl Young|
|Camille Saunders Musser||Judith Shangold||Margaret Winter|
|© C. Lewis Studio||© Juliette Coughlin|
To learn what they have been up to in the past two years, you can:
- read the brief vignettes for highlights from our conversations, or
- pull up a chair (or an iPod!) and listen in
At the beginning of each vignette is a link to the original Quest Maker interview. Just below is a link to the mp3 recording of our conversation.
Hilary’s own next quest began just a decade ago when she was 53, when she wanted to leave nursing to weave full-time. After leaving prison nursing behind and becoming a per-diem nurse, her dream was Crazy as a Loom Weaving Studio. She purchased an historic 1790 home located in the little hamlet of Kingsbury, New York as a place to set up all my antique looms. Her goal was to quit nursing completely, which she did this past April.
Since our interview Hilary has begun hosting Weaving Weekends at studio about once a month , making use of the historic home's four bedrooms as a weaving bed and breakfast. Women, many of them beginning weavers, arrive on a Friday afternoon and stay through to Sunday evening. When they leave, they've made new friends and have 2-3 completed projects like these you see here to bring home.
|Weaving Weekenders with their projects|
|A Hip to Be Square kit|
Hilary, whose dad was a junk dealer, considers herself a queen of recycling. Solmate Socks sends her all its seconds and textile waste which she uses to weave the rag rugs she sells. When she realized she'd never recycle the abundance of sock material all on her own, she got creative. Much to her suprise, she created a product called Hip to Be Square, a small kit to introduce kids and grownups alike to weaving. The kits include small looms handcrafted by a local carpenter from recycled wood, along with weaving materials straight from her remnants stash.
As you can see, a resident kittiy, who allow Hilary to use the studio for weaving gives a rug her seal of approval.
|Miss Puss, one of the studio's kitties,
reclining on a Solmate Sock rug
If you would like to get in touch with Hilary about her rag rugs, booking your own weaving weekend or to buy a kit, you can send her an email, call her at 518.747.4147 or visit her website, Crazy as a Loom, where she also blogs!
After owning a retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y., for
10 years, Judith developed a reputation in the yarn world with her own knitwear designs for human beings, American Girl dolls and Boyds Bears. In 1999, she purchased the distributorship for Manos del Uruguay yarns, taking it to a new level of success. Eight years later she sold this business. She was 63 and wanted to figure out how to spend this time in her life. Retirement posed different questions. Judith began thinking about her personal quest about what to do with her newly freed up time.
Her quest has been an evolution. She returned to an early love, weaving. Tying her knitting experience to her weaving, Judith has begun designing clothing using woven yarn. Since most of the projects she has seen have more to do with the home rather than clothing, Judith feels as if she has tapped into something.
Now that she has retired, Judith and her husband travel to Tucson, Ariz., for the winter. While there she not only sets up her looms to weave, she also teaches weaving classes at several yarn shops. In addition, she pursues her interest in drawing by taking classes and continues to make jewelry.
|The view from Judith's Tuscon home|
It was her love of teaching that led Judith to approach the organizers of Stitches, a knitting industry show and offer to teach weaving. Weaving at a knitting show? Because of her connections in the knitting world, the organizers took a chance. Her timing was spot on: coupled with a growing consumer interest in learning to weave, knitting stores are always looking for new ways to sell yarn. At Stitches East, Judith will teach three (sold out) classes: Bash Your Stash with Weaving for beginners and Weaving Beyond the Scarf for intermediate weavers. In the intermediate class, she will début a booklet that presents simple contruction ideas for woven clothing that require very little cutting and sewing. She also offers Clothing Construction for sale on her website. Judith's next quest is to use it as the foundation for a book on weaving she hopes to publish in the near future.
To get in touch with Judith you can send her an email, visit her website or call her at 800.401.1577.
To Margaret Winter, hammers and nails have a lot in common with feathers and netting. They're different facets of the same thing - helping women feel better about themselves and become more comy in their homes and their skins. At age 55, Margaret asked to be laid off from her job. Following her hands and her interests into the world of home improvement she started her own handywoman business called Another Pair of Hands. Serendipitously, a short time later, she entered the world of creating fascinators. Her endeavors led her to a life that is a million times better than the world of publishing that she left behind.
When we spoke in early 2009 Margaret was convinced that fascinators were a passing fad. Two years later, It turns out, it's what she is doing most and the business has turned into its own entity. This fall she held a successful trunk show at a local store and also exhibited her more avant garde and green pieces, made from recylced materials at the grand opening of Studio 6, an alternative art gallery in Ventura, Calif.
In the middle of a huge condo renovation right now, she is considering leaving her handywoman business behind and focusing solely on fascinators, as more and more brides find her work locally by word of mouth, through lcoal stores and on the Internet via her website Over the Top Fascinators, Facebook and via Twitter.
Margaret still keeps up with many of her old publishing friends and while she sometimes feels a little twinge when they talk about taking an author to lunch, she doesn't miss the road trips and the conferences. On balance, life is still a million times better!
When Tracy Colson reached her early 40's, she decided she needed fun in her life and volunteered to be a manatee watcher, which ultimately led to her advocacy on their behalf and the launch of her own business in Crystal River on part of what is called Florida's Nature Coast located on the west coast north of Tampa and stretching up to the beginning of the state's panhandle. She also became an entrepreneur when she launched Nature Coast Kayak Tours, which offers personalized guided kayak tours of some of the most scenic waterways in the area. Click here to join Tracy in a kayak as one of the manatees that Tracy has worked so hard to protect swims nearby.
When I interviewed Tracy in early summer of 2009, she was actively involved in helping to save Three Sisters Spring, which in wintertime becomes a warm water habitat for manatees. Surrounding the spring 60 acres were slated for condo development.
One year and a month after our interview Three Sisters Spring was saved! In July 21010, the 60 acres surrounding the spring were added to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge so that manatees will be further protected. In the next several years, a visitor and education center will be built. A boardwalk along the spring's edge will have overlooks so that people will be able to view manatees close-up without harming them. To learn more, visit the Save Three Sisters Spring website.
Tracy's active involvement in securing the land, and now in helping to shape its development, has put a temporary hold on her dream to help her friend singer songwriter Katherine Archer produce a children's environmental television show.
As she prepares for the winter tourist season, Tracy is concerned that the perception of the Nature Coast and of Crystal River have been colored by media coverage of the Gulf oil spill, which has led people to believe the oil spill has affected all of Florida. It has not affected the Nature Coast at all. Tracy's kayak tours take place on inland waterways which are as crystal clear as the river's name, as you can see in the above photo taken this month on a Nature Coast kaykay tour.
Cheryl Young's quest sought her out in a university research library when a book about women pilots in WWII literally landed on her head, setting her off on a quest that ignited not only Cheryl's passion for oral history but also an exciting second life for 69-year old Elizabeth Wall Strohfus, one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots - (WASP). Along the way, Cheryl wrote two books and helped spread the word about these unsung heroes. Just as WASPs have shown her how to be the pilot of her own life, over the last 20 years Cheryl has done the same for young girls so they can set their own course and fly!
The girls change the oil in a car
Since our first interview, Cheryl has brought the Rosie’s Girls® program to her southwestern Vermont community. This past summer seven young girls took part in a one-week summer camp where for the first time they camped out and lived off the grid. They welded, built a solar-powered water heater, constructed a wooden stage in a natural amphitheater for Merck State Forest, learned how to weld, change a tire and the oil in a car, too. On the last day, the shyest young girl told her mother: "I'm no longer shy. I'm free!" Every one of the girls left camp brimming with self-confidence.
|Building the solar hot water panel||Building the amphitheater stage|
Cheryl plans to organize an elemental Rosie's Girls for next year: she wants to get the girls up in the in the air, take them to the coast to mess about with boats, dig in the earth and cook in a sustainable way using fire.
Her passion for oral history has led her to become an editor/producer for the Historical Portfolio of Hailstone Press. Two of her editorial projects will be published in late November: I Love You, Dad and an oral history of three generations of country veterinarians. Hailstone Press also sells one of Cheryl's children's book, My Grandma Is a Pilot.
To get in touch with Cheryl, you can
send her an email.
Camille's next quest to pursue painting began in earnest when she decided to celebrate turning 50 by holding her first solo exhibition in St. Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) for her family and friends. Using proceeds from the sale of her paintings, she founded Youlou Arts Foundation, a visual arts program for children on the island where she was born and raised. Along the way, Camille was profiled in Pamela Tanner Boll's documentary, Who Does She Think She Is?.
Camille had high hopes that Youlou Foundation would receive support from a local island bank and/or Lesley University, both of which had expressed interest, in either funding or providing, respectively, intensive art education to 30 local teachers so they could in turn teach art to the children on the island. Neither partnership has worked out, though she is convinced the proram will find a partner. Camille estimates that a training program like this will cost $15,000. She is now seeking sponsors and companies to help bring her dream to fruition.
Camille has taken advantage of all of the contacts she has made from being in the film to promote her art. Currently she is spending more time in her studio, getting her newest work, a series on Haiti, ready to show to galleries in Denver. Within the next 18 months, she will also move the small island craft shop she inherited from her mother to a larger location so she can have space to exhibit her art. She paints for her muses—the people of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Camille wants her work to be seen there and be owned by islanders.