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A Renaissance Woman's Life

Retirement self portrait.jpg

It hasn't been a typical career path.

No, indeed! My artistic life started with my first career, cake decorating. Great fun, but I don’t enjoy doing dishes. I moved on.


Nursing school: Working as an RN in open heart surgery/heart transplant floors, and later in the Emergency Room, was crazy stressful and also fulfilling. I stayed for four years. During that time I also earneda Psychology, degree hoping to work with nurses under stress on the job. No such educational program existed, so I moved on.


I picked up a camera and started taking pictures in nearby lakes, bogs, and rivers. I entered my nature photos into a local camera club’s competitions and did well. Intrigued, I took several photography courses at a local university. 


Photography became my profession in a new town. Being a stranger in a small town taught me the need for advertising, networking, and thoughtful determination. Even though my nature photos were published in national magazines, brochures, calendars, and greeting cards, the income wasn’t enough to support me. I pushed forward.


Photoshop came into my life and I studied like there was no tomorrow. I found employment as a graphic designer. Later I was hired by the local community college to teach Photoshop, photography, and graphic design. My colleagues and I started and ran a two-year associate degree in graphic design for nine years.

Teaching was obviously my calling.


To keep my full time teaching job, I needed a master’s degree. I earned my master’s degree in two-dimensional design and computer graphics while teaching full time. Later I completed my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree, just in case a university called on me. That classroom was 200 miles from the college where I taught. Sheer grit was needed during those years. 


A textbook publisher called and asked if I would use their photography textbook in my classes. No way, I said. The book contained misinformation. He asked, “Do you want to write a book?” That first book, Photography for the 21st Century, sold internationally. I wrote a second textbook, Photo 1: An Introduction to the Art of Photography, several years later. It's still alive and well on Amazon. I learned management and budget skills, managing a $20,000 budget and talking with people from 11 different countries. There was nothing like the experience, as I could talk to presidents of corporations to verify the information I would bring into the books. Everyone was willing to help. Shyness and insecurities disappeared.


A nearby university asked if I would teach in their Web and Digital Media Development major. I took the position as Assistant Professor and, over the next 11 years, earned tenure and climbed the ranks to Full Professor. With the evolution of both the Internet and the university’s programs, I encouraged and developed a new degree program in the field we now call User Experience (UX) Design. We were on the cutting edge of a brand new professional field. 


Retirement came into sight. One week before my retirement date, I was contacted by a nearby insurance agency. Would I do instructional design for their employee educational program? I stayed at that company for over two years.


Then I saw a Facebook ad for Rachelle Holowko’s Pattern to Product program. I joined and loved it. Suddenly I could be the creative instead of the teacher. It was like a creative dam broke. That experience was followed by other training programs, including Stacie Bloomfield’s Leverage Your Art and Rebecca Woolbright’s Manufacture: Awesome. I'm forever grateful to those masters of the craft.


“Retirement”…isn’t. I started my business, Career 5 Design, LLC (can you see why?), and have recently chosen to enter the wholesale business. I’ve found an under-developed niche in representing nature in the Great Lakes Northwoods, so the love of nature I developed through my photography has blossomed again.


The future is bright! Let me know if you have any questions. 

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