Picking up the Pace

"Green and Orange" (1958) by Carmen Herrera.

“Green and Orange” (1958) by Carmen Herrera.

Another year, another approaching birthday. This one had me thinking maybe it was time to consider the “R” word: retirement. Maybe I’ve already used up all the words I have to share, published all the books I need to publish, I thought…but all that was before I saw this segment on the artist Carmen Herrera on CBS This Morning.

Born in Cuba in 1915, Ms. Herrera is 101. A large body of her work was created in the late 40’s and 50’s and as one art critic exclaimed she has been “hiding in plain sight” since then. She sold her first painting at the age of 89. (Twenty years older than I will be this year!) Her current exhibit at The Whitney Museum in New York closes January 9. She recently sold a painting for $970,000 to a telephone bidder, and she still gets up every day and draws and paints in her New York studio.

“If you wait for the bus, the bus will come,” Ms. Herrera said in the interview. “I waited almost a century for the bus to come, and it came!”

Exhibit:"Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight," Whitney Museum of American Art.

Exhibit “Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight,” Whitney Museum of American Art.

So where does that leave me? Sitting at the bus stop, of course. Waiting expectantly. Thinking about my next assignment, my next project, my next marketing opportunity. My writer friends and colleagues have already started posting their “one word” themes for 2017. After the story about Carmen Herrera settled in for a few days, my word descended upon me while I was out running errands: accelerate. Not slow down, not give up, not rest on any laurels I could piece together, but accelerate—just like any marathon runner or ski racer would do with the finish line in sight. Pick up the pace. Put one foot in front of the other. Link one word to the next. Run the race to the end.

"Iberic" (1949) by Carmen Herrera.

“Iberic” (1949) by Carmen Herrera.

In the Bible I call my “real” Bible, because it’s the one with so many under linings and margin notes that I can no longer use it when selecting Scriptures to quote because I can’t see the commas and periods, I have written “my life verse” next to Philippians 3:13-14. It goes like this: But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I know that the prize of which Paul is speaking is an award of everlasting glory. That is mine to claim already because of my faith in Jesus Christ. But what am I to do between now and then? It seems clear to me now. I’m to be like Carmen Herrera. To get up every day and allow God’s creativity to flow through me in any way He chooses. Right up until the last.

So if you see me sitting at the bus stop this year, resting briefly, please honk and wave! I can use the encouragement.

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  1. Your Huzzband says:

    I hope I can keep up with your “accelerated” plans. 🙂

    God will lead us both into this next decade. May we both be willing to follow Him.

  2. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    With a nasty cold and 1 degree weather this morning I won’t even make it to the bus stop!
    The article is great, Nancy. Keep on writing ’cause I’d like another of your books to read as I wait at the bus stop when the weather clears and I feel OK again.

  3. Jan Keller says:

    That is the secret … keep on keeping on!

  4. You still have so much wisdom to pass along friend. You are JUST getting started.

  5. Charlie Fusco says:

    Terrific share! I love when one creative inspires the other; and that’s exactly what you did here! I too am accelerating after having a hard couple of years caring for Mom and her final passing around Thanksgiving. Just now, I am finalizing the filing of Mom’s last paperwork so I can clear my desk of the past to make room for my long-delayed project (a gift book and CD) to be finalized. I truly believe for each of us who dares to launch out into new endeavors the most fulfilling life to be lived is yet to come. Good for you Nancy! I am so happy I can look forward to your insightful, inspiring words to come. You are AWESOME!

  6. Thank you for your wisdom, Nancy. There’s a talented artist here in the Springs who is about 95 and living in a nursing home. She started painting around age 70, and she says how easy it is! “Just draw it first in pencil and erase till you get it right.” Her paintings remind me of Grandma Moses!

  7. Unsolicited observation: You don’t strike me as a person for whom the “R” word applies. You have talent that comes from our creator, but in your case, he blessed you with many talents. You are at that stage in life that if you want to, you can sit on the back porch swing and never hit another lick, but I suspect that that’s not what you might be contemplating. What else? Perhaps you might want to explore some other talent that gives you as much pleasure and fulfillment as writing? Explore a different type of writing? Explore something that you might consider foolish but is really a potentially disruptive, paradigm changing, challenge that has been nagging at your mind for some period? The beauty of the stage we have reached in life is the freedom we are afforded to do and pursue any crazy idea or walk down any path we choose to wander without fear of failure or what people might think. So long as we respond to our creator’s wish that as long as we draw breath we follow his will, pursue His purpose, which He, reveals as we search for it until he calls us home. So long as we do this, He bids us to proceed with His blessing. I can’t find the passage where He said, “Sit on the Couch and Veg.” You have many years and many paths to explore my friend. My sermonette for the day…sorry

  8. Kathy Fitz says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. Keeps things in perspective on so many levels. We don’t know how much time we have left, but He has numbered our days for His Glory! If we seek Him, we will find Him and He will reveal His divine purpose for each of us.

    Good words!

  9. Peggy Ellis says:

    Great, inspiring post, Nancy! None of us is getting any younger, so it behooves us to start or continue using the talent God gave to us. Ms. Herrera is a perfect example for those of us who are ready to give up on accomplishing something we long for, but have not yet achieved.

  10. Delores McCullough says:

    You are always there even when you don’t know it.


  1. Infant Blog says:

    Pick Up The Pace

    […] work was created in the late 40’s and 50’s and as one art critic exclaimed […]

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