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AofA People: Diane Kutz


12 Minute Read

Diane Kutz who is in her 60th year supports others along their life paths – from helping to write a CV after redundancy to sound healing for emotional trauma – and follows a shamanic spiritual pathway. Here she gives a wonderfully personal account of her life now.

What is your name?

The name I go by these days is Diane Kutz. I was born with a different surname, and when I married I took my husband’s name. When we split up I changed again. And there are times when I wonder about changing it again. My first name, Diane, is not something I consider changing. I love being connected to the Roman goddess Diana – or Artemis in the Greek pantheon. A powerful woman of the moon. I resonate and vibrate with the moon. Sometimes in the night she calls me awake and I get up to go to marvel at her silvery beauty.

How old are you?

I am in my 60th year.

Where do you live?

Currently, I am located on the South Coast of England. Having moved back to the town where I grew up, after over 30 years of living in other places – South Yorkshire, NE Scotland and South London.

What do you do? 

I do many things. I breathe in life. I play with my grandbabies. I hug people. I support those going through change and transition. I sing, I dance, I play music, I create, I laugh, I cry, I love. I play my part in this wondrous Uni-verse, the great One Song. I identify as belonging to many groups, many communities. These include, being part of a family, a resident of a town, connected with others with similar interests in spirituality (personally I follow a Shamanic path).

This brings me on to my work. I help others along their life paths. This support can take many forms, from practical assistance helping someone going through redundancy to write their CV, to helping them to heal emotional trauma using sound. It is such a privilege and a joy to watch people rediscover their core, their strength. I love to walk alongside people. We might engage in conversation using words, music, art, or whatever. All of which is designed to assist them in moving through things, or being with Life situations, (re)connecting them with their deepest selves, helping them to (re)discover their own strengths and resilience.

Tell us what it’s like to be your age?

Difficult to say. This is the only age that I know. It is the present moment, and it is my moment, my life. This is my 6th decade in this lifetime. It is exciting and amazing. I feel privileged to still be around, something that has been denied to many others who I have met in the past 59 years.

I guess you could say that it is the perfect age for me, inevitably, because it is where I am.

What do you have now that you didn’t have at 25?

Ha! Lines on my face, thinner skin and a thicker waistline. And on a more serious note, I have more life experience. Although I had experienced some things by age 25. I had got married, lost children through miscarriage, given birth to a child, and had a mortgage. Now I have a grown-up son with a wife and children of his own.

I have witnessed much – joy, grief, hurt, laughter, good times, bad times, all these and much more that make up a lifetime. These things I have witnessed in myself and in others.

I have a confidence now that I did not have when I was younger. This confidence is in my abilities. That it is OK to be me, fully. For example, I always had strong intuition and the ability to connect with others (in this realm and in other realms). However, previously I would not always trust these abilities. Now I know it is OK to do so. I have given myself permission to trust.

What about sex?

Since splitting up with my son’s father, I spent some time exploring me – not just sexually, but finding out about who I am, what I like and just generally more about life. I moved to London and met a number of guys who I had fun with. I learned a lot about what I want in a partner. One thing I am now very clear about is that if I am involved romantically with a guy, that the physical and sexual sides of that relationship are important to me. One thing about getting older is that I know what works for me. So, I can express more easily what I want and need sexually, and in other ways. And I am open to learning more about me, and about any future partner I may have.

And relationships?

Interesting that the question of sex was before relationships. I have many relationships with people – friendships. And I guess you mean romantic-type ‘relationships’?

I know that I enjoy being in these relationships with guys. I say guys, but I am definitely into monogamy, so only one guy at a time. An open relationship would definitely not be for me. In the past 20 years (since the end of my marriage) I have had a number of relationships. However, none have lasted more than several months. I feel I am now open to being involved longer-term with someone. Though to me it is much more about the quality of a relationship, not how long it might last. After all, there are no guarantees as to how long a relationship might last, nor how long any of us will be treading the earth plane.

What I am looking for is someone who I like, respect and can have fun with. A couple of the guys I have been involved with are still my friends and I love that I we can still be friends. This is something that has changed as I have got older. Another thing in relationships is that I have attracted people who I get along with, no real stressy arguments, not the angst-ridden relationships of youth. Something much more balanced, where it is about enjoying each other’s company, respecting each other for what the other one brings to the connection, mutual enjoyment. An ease of just being together

How free do you feel?

I feel very free to be me, to express myself in whatever ways I choose. In a way, I feel less free about other things.

A few years ago, I considered moving abroad, but now I want to be around for my parents, my son and his family. I don’t want to be too far away from my grandchildren, as although technology is a marvel (another change from my younger days) and we can talk and see each other via the internet, there is just no substitute for cuddling little people and playing together. I am looking forward to when they are big enough to play puddle-jumping, messy art, and other fun things. Not things to be done at a distance. And doing these things are freedoms in themselves, being able to reconnect with the inner child. I am definitely looking forward to some marvellous fun.

What are you proud of?

Not giving up. Like most people I know, I have had tough times over the years. Some things have happened that led to despair. At one time, I went through a depression, which was not a great place to be. Now I know I am strong enough to be with the tough times, and that these times give me lessons. In learning lessons, I have more to offer others, different ways to help support people on their paths.

I am also a very proud mum and grandma. To have had the privilege of watching a person grow from a bump in the tum to being a lovely human being is amazing. And now I am looking forward to seeing how my grandbabies grow. I wonder who they will become? What gifts they bring to this World?

What keeps you inspired?

People, nature, books, the world around me. When I think about the world and the cosmos, I am awestruck at the beauty, and the passion. I am inspired by the compassion of others. There is so much to be explored, both on inner as well as outer journeys.

When are you happiest?

Generally, I am a happy person. For sure, there are times when I might feel low, or whatever. But mostly I am happy. My happiness is not dependent on external factors. I guess that has been one of the learnings in this lifetime. That if we hook our happiness to someone or something else, then it can always be taken away. Whereas, finding happiness within, means that the seed of happiness is always accessible to me.

I have already mentioned my grandbabies, and for sure, being with them and their parents brings me great joy and happiness. Other things bring happiness too, such as walking in nature. I am fortunate to live a ten minute walk from the sea and only a short drive from the New Forest.

And where does your creativity go?

Into making music / sound, painting, cooking, writing, and much else. One thing I love to do is design and run workshops. My most recent creation being a workshop called, Weaving the Threads of Your Life Story, which I will be running later this year, having piloted it successfully last year. It is an exploration of our life to date, and a novel way into accessing how we are with that life.

What’s your philosophy of living?

Life is to be lived, to be savoured, to learn. We are all here to learn, through a physical existence, about emotions – using the visceral experience of physicality to understand emotions and feelings. Ultimately, we are here to be expressions of love.

My work is called The Heart of Joy. This is about the expression of Five Fields of Being. Everything that I do, is related to one, or more, of the Five Fields. One of the things that has changed as I have got older, is that I now understand the work that I am here to do. I just need to get on and do more of it!!

And dying?

A gentle breathing out for the final time. It will happen to us all. I know how I would like to go, I do not fear dying, though there are some ways of dying that hold no appeal for me. I also believe that this physical existence is a temporary home for our true and deepest selves, our soul, spirit or whatever you want to call it. We are born and we take our first breath. Then we die for the first time, as we breathe out that initial in-breath. Life is then a constant breathing in of life and breathing out of death. This continues until we take our final breath, and breathe out, never more to breathe in again in this lifetime.

I have attended a workshop, twice, called, Dying to Live. It is an extraordinary workshop and helped me to understand a number of things. One of these was how to be with someone who is dying. I will always be grateful for this understanding, as it meant I was able to be around a very dear friend of mine who died two years ago. I had the privilege of being with him just a few hours before he passed into spirit – a beautiful gift for which I will always be grateful.

Are you still dreaming?

Yes, definitely. I dream about the world that I would like my grandbabies to grow up in. I dream about how I can help to make things better, about what is my part to play in the world. I dream about my work and what I can do next to help others.

What was the most outrageous action of yours?

I am unsure how to answer this question. In my younger days, at school, I was unpleasant to some other children. Looking back, I can see that my actions were nasty and even bullying. However, I was just a child myself, and I did not understand how my actions may have impacted others. I do hope that people have not suffered because of some of the things I did when I was young.

The most outrageous thing I did at work was when I left my first job in a life assurance company. It was a very conservative organisation. On my last day, I wore bright red jeans, and a mesh blouse that was completely see-though, apart from two large patch pockets that were strategically placed, and no bra. It was hilarious, as I got somewhat tipsy at lunchtime and then went round the office embarrassing people by sitting on their desks and talking with them. Many guys had no idea where to look.

As I grew older, I became outraged at things, rather than being outrageous myself. One time, when I was living in South Yorkshire, there was a discussion in the media about whether or not peace studies should be taught in primary schools. People were writing to the newspapers about how this was terrible, and how young children were unaware of wars. I was furious. I wrote to the local paper. I told the story of how when my son was two years old, and the Falklands’ War was happening, he came to me one day and said, “When I grow up, Margaret Thatcher is going to make me go into the army. I’m going to go to the Falklands and be killed.” Him saying that, really got me thinking about the world and what was happening. And so much for some adults thinking that infants are ‘unaware’ of war.

In 1980s Britain I supported anti-apartheid, the fight against the poll tax, the miners strike, CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament) and many other ‘causes’. Marching, talking about things with others, and so on. These days, I tend to do things differently. I work with energies, spirit, whatever you want to call it. I engage in sending healing energies. Knowing that whatever we do as individuals affects the wider world. Just like dropping pebbles into a pond and watching the ripples move across the whole pond from one tiny stone. Kindness and compassion are now watchwords for me. This does not mean that I am always kind and compassionate, but that I strive to be that way. I am still a work in progress.

And I am still open to taking outrageous actions when the need or desire arises.

You can find me on the web at www.theheartofjoy.com This is a site that is developing, as I develop my own understanding of the work I am on the Earth to do, in this lifetime.

AofA People: Gillian Haqqani – Jeweller


3 Minute Read

What is your name?

Gillian Haqqani

Briefly sum up who you are and what motivates you

Who am I? That’s a hard one. Factually I’m a twice-married once divorced and now happily separated mum, granny, and former teacher, now a small business owner. What motivates me? I’ve always been very self-motivated, and I’ve always wanted to do things to the best of my ability. My immediate family also motivate me and nothing is better than getting a “Wow! That’s Awesome Granny ”. In tough times my family keeps me going.

If you have a job, what you do for a living?

I’m a former primary school assistant head and the most of my career my responsibilities were for children with special need or disability (SEND) as well as for Child Protection and Children in Care. I’m now retired and so have more time to focus on my jewellery business.

How long have you been doing this?

Just over two years.

What you find most satisfying about your job?

I love the feedback I get from customers whether that’s in real life or online and I particularly love it when I have returning customers. I also enjoy the whole creative process especially when I’m working on a new design and there is some problem solving involved to get the reality to match what I’ve got in my mind. Learning new skills whether that be in the making of my jewellery – which is something rather different as I use paper and origami to create my pieces, or in developing my business IT skills.

Is your work primarily a means to an end i.e. money, or the motivating force of your life?

I’m lucky enough to have my teachers pension as my main source of income but the money I make from my jewellery really helps in terms of getting some of the wants. I really love making my jewellery and tried to be the best I can be and it is also very much a form of emotional therapy for me. Building up my business and all the positives that come from that have really helped me to rebuild my confidence and self-belief.

If you don’t work for a living, can you say why?

Unfortunately, about five years ago I developed severe arthritis in my neck and after some other chronic diseases decided to come along and join the party, last year (2017) I had to reluctantly admit that it was becoming too difficult for me to carry on working. The plus side is that I can now focus more on my jewellery business.

When you are eight, what did you want to be when you grow up?

Very boring, but the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be was a teacher.

Did you get there – and if not, are you happy/sad that you didn’t?

Yes and I’m so glad I did.

What is your dream job?

My last job. I loved the job, the school, and the pupils. It made having to give up even more heart-breaking.

If UK – based, are you glad, indifferent or disappointed that the official pension age is rising

Disappointed, I’m lucky in that I do have a decent teachers pension and I also receive some disability benefits. However, as I still have a mortgage to pay until I’m 64 money is tight and as I’m 57 at the moments having to wait another 10 years to receive my state pension seems an awfully long time.

AofA People: Clare-Louise Battersby – Photographer, Graphic Designer and Web Designer


4 Minute Read

What is your name?
Clare-Louise Battersby 

Briefly sum up who you are and what motivates you 

I am a once divorced, now happily married, bipolar, 40 something, creative type with a soupçon of tech geek thrown in for good measure. 
If you have a job, what do you do for a living? 

Freelance Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Web Designer. I also do two days a week, as and when I can, in a small independent wine and spirit shop as I have a lot of wine knowledge and I like being involved in the local community in Hampton Village. I do a few hours a week as a PA for a Business Psychologist as she helps keep me sane and I also volunteer in a small locally run charity bookshop for a few hours every other week. 

How long have you been doing this? 

I’ve been a creative type for as long as I can remember, to the point where back in my day, in a school in Dorset they didn’t really know what to do with me. Photography started out as a hobby and is now an all-consuming passion for both work and play. I had a strong Marketing & PR Career – Corporate side – until my 30s then swapped to Creative Agencies and finally I realised I wanted to ‘create’ myself rather than guiding someone else to do it. 

What do you find most satisfying about your job? 

Creative autonomy and making people feel something. There is no better natural high than someone explaining to you how one of your photographs made them feel. 

Is your work primarily a means to an end ie money or the motivating force of your life? 

It used to be a means to an end and also a bit of an identity crisis. I did the ‘business side’ because I was impressionable and led to believe that was how you measured success. Now I know doing what you love is far more important than a job title, car or salary. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful husband who supports me in all my endeavours and believes in my photography. 

If you don’t work for a living, can you say why? 

I have only once in my life not worked and that was when in the space of three months I had to give up my own Marketing & PR Agency, was getting divorced and my Uncle sadly jumped in front of a train at Clapham Junction. I was diagnosed with Non-epileptic fits (trauma based) and was unable to easily and confidently walk up / down stairs or do simple things without the potential of a frightening dissociative episode. It took me more than two and a half years, a lot of demon facing, soul-searching and ‘sitting’ with myself to move past it. Fortunately, while I remember that person sadly but fondly, I no longer recognise her in my current version of me!! 
  
When you were 8, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

An Archaeologist / Geologist. Although, according to my Mum, when I was 12 I asked her what you needed to ‘solicit’. She replied “A good body and a pair of French knickers”. Obviously, I meant ’solicitor’.  

Did you get there  – and if not, are you happy/sad that you didn’t? 

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. Bipolar is a constant battle and can often creep up on you, even when you are doing everything right. But I have the management techniques, support and family support to, in the main, deal with it as best as I can.
(I’m very happy to say I have never had to solicit) 

What is your dream job

Full-time Photographer working on my own projects rather than the gigs you have to do to pay the way. I really do love it all though, to be honest.  

If UK-based, are you glad, indifferent or disappointed that the official pension age is rising?
I recently read an article about Joel Meyerowitz who is in his 80s. Most famous for his NY street photography and being the only photojournalist allowed access to Ground Zero after 9/11. He said he is doing his best work now! He also said when he started photographing he was working at an Ad Agency in NY and it became a ‘hunger unlike any he had ever known’. I’ve sort of paraphrased this above but I relate hard and hope I am still doing photography to the end of my days!!
I was also brought up to believe in finding work no matter what. If I need money I go and see the old fashioned way if people need anything doing. I’m not proud and I’ll sweep floors if I have to earn a bit extra. Fortunately, I’m not really in that position anymore.

AofA People: Sue Clark


1 Minute Read

Sue Clark is retired and enjoys writing fiction.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Oxfordshire

AGE?

71

TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?

Mostly good. I’ve just enjoyed two major positive milestones: my first grandchild and my first novel being published. But the joints still ache and the wrinkles still multiply.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?

Patience and a little more tact.

WHAT ABOUT SEX?

Closeness is more important.

AND RELATIONSHIPS?

Friendships are vital. Not just sharing with old friends but making new, young ones and spending time with them.

HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?

Free to use my time more as I wish but not free in that family responsibilities remain, even with a grownup family.

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

That my children are sociable, kind, funny and independent of thought. And that my comic novel Note to Boy is to be published by Unbound.

WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?

Life is inspiring every day. I find a lively sense of humour keeps me going through any dark times.

WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?

Eating and drinking with family and friends, walking in the countryside.

AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?

Into reading and writing and dreaming.

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?

Stop faffing and get on with it.

AND DYING?

I’m happy to make room for the next generations. Only let it be pain-free.

ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?

Of course. With one book on its way to publication, I’m writing my next.

WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?

Being brave enough to send my book – my baby – out into the cruel world.

Note to Boy is fundraising on Unbound. You can contribute here. https://unbound.com/books/note-to-boy/

AofA People: Nancy Good – Full-time artist/photographer, musician, singer


1 Minute Read

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Las Vegas

AGE?

56

TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?

Frickin’ awesome

WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?

Freedom of self and confidence borne of paying attention

WHAT ABOUT SEX?

Yes, please

AND RELATIONSHIPS?

Blissfully married

HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?

Very

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

Many things … my husband, my family, friends.

WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?

Watching others shine!

WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?

Daily

AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?

Art, loving my friends and family, giving back to my community

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?

Celebrate and cherish every moment.

AND DYING?

If it’s my time, bring it on!

ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?

Yes!

WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?

Creating an original dress out of one of my artworks to wear at my art opening.

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