Turning Point

An interview with Diana Randall

Not so long ago Diana’s life was 99% stress. She had sold a house, moved from the other side of the world, got divorced and her mother was ill back in the UK. At 50 she had been out of a mainstream career for nearly seven years. She was in a poor emotional state because of a marriage breakup. A lot had happened and her self image was battered.

Diana’s Story:

I had been living in Australia since 1991. On an earlier visit in 1990 I had fallen in love and impulsively got married. I then started studying for an Art and Design Diploma and later for a Masters in Art Therapy. It was a fulfilling time in many ways. and a great chance to really start a new life after many years working in education.

Then suddenly life took a nose dive. My marriage fell apart, Mum’s health deteriorated and I hit 50. I found myself travelling back and forth for several years to be with her. Whenever I was in the UK I fell back on my original experience as a teacher and was able to take up supply teaching. In Australia, I mainly worked in a juvenile prison, both teaching and counselling. Fortunately, the prison was flexible about my coming and going.

From rock bottom there was only one direction to go – up. So I made the decision to return to the UK for as long as it took to support Mum in her last days. I didn’t know what this choice would bring, but it seemed the right thing to do. One thing was sure – I didn’t want to be a wage slave any more, having had so many years out of the system!

Back in the UK I began to focus on my goal and became self employed. My speciality was working with disaffected teenagers and I was soon offered a niche in a pupil referral unit. But I was still employed as a teacher, it was so hard to get the art therapy off the ground as I always had to concentrate on making immediate money.

One day I bumped into someone I had worked with back in Australia, who was now in London working in a psychiatric hospital for young people. He suggested I approach the hospital for work. Because of caring for Mum I was only able to work part time and the hospital offered me a professional post as Education Coordinator. After two and a half years the post was made redundant, but he hospital then offered me work as an Art Therapist to work on a sessional basis with young people and adults. It was an unexpected gift!

That was 2 years ago. Since then I have never looked back and am now involved in Art Therapy for schools as well as at the hospital and other assignments.

What helped you most with the challenges you faced?

Accepting change was part of the process. I practise Buddhist meditation and I’ve always done lots of work on myself. During my Art Therapy course I also had psychotherapy, which also helped in dealing with what was happening. My Buddhist beliefs and practices were the most helpful support, especially when I split with my husband. He was a lot younger than me so the separation really hurt my self image.

From childhood I’ve had an unusual life and moved around a lot. In some ways that helped, as I’m used to change; but also there was not much by way of a stable foundation to fall back on and tell me who I was.

The meditation practices really helped. I came to Buddhism through Samatha in the UK (http://www.samatha.org/). In Australia my most important teacher was Ajahn Brahmavamso, a monk at the Buddhist Society of Australia (http://www.bswa.org/).

I believe you have to put work in to bring about positive change so I also went to various personal development workshops. Fitness is equally important to me. I practise Yoga and go to the gym. But mental fitness is most important – keeping your mind in a good state.

Recognising and taking opportunities as they arise is also vital. I recently went on a free part-time course for more ‘mature’ women entrepreneurs called Forward at Fifty. It really boosted my skills and motivation and it was wonderful to see so many older women with brilliant business ideas! For more information, contact the Editors at: editors@giddylimits.co.uk

How do you feel about having your own business?

It’s absolutely great! I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am still doing a little PAYE work in schools as an Art Therapist, but my goal is to be 100% self employed. I’m 60 but I don’t see any sign of life slowing down!

How Does Art Therapy Work?

The process of art is a right-brain activity, whereas talking is left-brained, so that when the two brain hemispheres are working in tandem that is when results happen. Art is a very healing form of therapy and is powerful at a deep level, as there is no pressure to ‘produce’ anything. Children often love to work with clay and as they do so they are free to express their emotions in a safe, contained way without having to produce a finished object.

What advice would you give to other people over 50 starting their own business?

Don’t be daunted and don’t give up. Keep an open mind to opportunities which might present themselves. Network as much as possible. Remain positive, keep fit in whatever way suits you and nurture your spiritual side.

And have a good time – get out, socialise and have fun. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with things to do, especially when self-employed, but don’t let ‘work’ grind you down.It took a while to get to this point but I can honestly say now that life is more exciting and amazing than ever!

This article was supplied by www.giddylimits.co.uk

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