This month marks one year since I began interviewing inspiring women over the age of 70 for my WOW Factor blog, and one of the many lessons I’ve learned and benefited from in the process of doing these interviews is this: Growing older with grace, vitality, wisdom and creativity is largely a matter of passion. Each of the outstanding women I’ve interviewed this past year has used this magical word when I’ve asked what motivates and sustains her at this stage of life. “Passion” has been the thread that has run through every interview.
Of course, the passion we’re referring to here is not the kind found between the covers of romance novels. None of the women I’ve interviewed for WOW (and none that I will be interviewing) has sought to waste her precious remaining time trying to pass for a sexy twenty-something. They’re too smart for that.
No, WOW passion is the longer-lasting kind: an individual’s intense enthusiasm for something that provides a sense of purpose and makes life more meaningful, at any age.
Painter, writer, photographer, Masters swimmer, and former triathlete Pat Pollard has that kind of passion. In a recent interview here in Taos, she told me, “I am passionate about my work and what I believe in. Even at 70 I think my best is yet to come, and I always look forward.”
Pat is also a survivor who writes poignantly and creatively about what she’s been through. She survived a difficult childhood, an abusive first marriage, an unwanted pregnancy, and, most recently, cancer. Her current writing project, a straight-shooting account of her quotidian experience, is titled “Breast Cancer Chronicles.”
This month Pat is the featured artist at Sage Fine Art Gallery, just off the Plaza in Taos. On Saturday, May 9, more than 80 people gathered on an unseasonably cold evening for the opening reception of Pat’s show and marveled at the 17 glorious pieces of her abstract paintings on display.
After moving through figurative sculpture, digital manipulation, and printmaking, Pat said, her artistic career finally arrived at painting. “I still employ mixed media in my two-dimensional paintings to create the textural surface and ambiguous color that have always been integral to my work,” she said.
Pat and her husband Jim have been living in Taos for 25 years, and it was clear from the enthusiastic crowd at her opening reception that they’ve garnered many friends and admirers. “One of the things I like best about living in Taos,” Pat said, “is that I never feel old here. I’m not treated as someone past her prime or someone too ancient to be of value.”
As I do with all WOW interviewees, I asked Pat what she might say in a commencement address to a women’s college graduating class.
“I would emphasize the importance of finding your own voice,” she said, “and using it – loudly! I’d say, ‘Find your passion and pursue it. Work hard. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goals.’”
Yes, there it is again: Passion.
[To see more of Pat’s artwork, visit her website: www.patpollardart.com.]