Sherry Klassen is an artist and painter with pieces displayed in Roam Gallery in Vancouver.
I believe that your mindset can change your life. That what you think about and focus on will manifest itself. Consequently, it is extremely important to direct your attention towards what you want, rather than what you do not.
I also believe in the power of small kindnesses. I strive to be more aware of others. I think thoughtful acts will not change the whole world, but they may make a difference in one person’s world for at least one day. I have always set goals for myself in all areas of my life. I make sure they are specific, break them into small steps, and set out an order of approach. I strive not to work on too many at the same time, to ensure successful completion.
Although, as an optimist, it is sometimes difficult for me to limit myself. I am a “can do” kind of person. I have been blessed with a positive attitude and a lot of energy. An employer once said to me, “you can teach skills, but you can’t teach attitude,” and that stuck with me. I believe that if you have a positive mindset and a strong work ethic, you can build a great life.
As a young woman, I met Jim on a ski trip. He had graduated from UBC and recently landed his first engineering job. We quickly fell in love and decided we wanted to share our lives however, we had a major obstacle to overcome. In his first year of University Jim had a horrific accident and was unable to work. He had incurred a lot of debt.
When I realized how much Jim owed – more than twice his annual net income, I knew we were going to have to do something drastic. We had to find a way to live rent-free so we could dedicate Jim’s salary to debt reduction. We were able to find a position managing two apartment buildings in exchange for a suite to live in. I was working as a retail store manager at the time and took on an extra job assisting in the showroom at a newly built condominium complex. Additionally, we earned extra money by painting the suites when people moved out.
Within two years, we had paid off the debt and saved enough for a down payment on our own apartment. Although it was daunting to face such massive debt, it taught us to work together through adversity and set a tone of unity for our 30-plus-year marriage. At the time, it seemed so difficult, however, I realized that it taught me so much about possibility, grit, strength, and determination.
I am fortunate to have been given many gifts in my life and am grateful for all of them. One gift is the desire to learn and seek to improve, both myself and the world around me. I am working on reducing my footprint and living a more sustainable life. I often say; “if not me, then who?” I have so much more than I need, and if I am not prepared to try and do better, how can I expect someone who is struggling just to get through the day, to step up and do more to recycle, volunteer, or eat more sustainably.
We all want to be acknowledged, accepted, and loved. Any time we step out of our regular routines and activities we are putting ourselves out there and taking the risk of rejection or failure and it can be scary. I have learned that it is okay to be afraid. Often the best growth and self-discovery happens during times of great discomfort.
I am living a life of reinvention. I have had several different occupations, and I am currently working on becoming a fine artist.
I have discovered a love of painting and a drive to express my inner creative voice. I have just started working towards a painting certificate at Emily Carr University. I am a lifelong learner and hope to continue to evolve.
I think that possibilities in life exist for all of us, at any age. A successful life for me is one filled with loving connections with family, friends, and animals. Time spent enjoying new experiences, contributing to the community, being active, and getting outside in nature every day. I am already happy with my life, but I am still working on becoming my best self.