JackieI moved to Vancouver from Canmore AB, my home for nearly 30 years. I had friends, an incredible recovery community and good home to live in. My clinical depression had been successfully treated for about 10 years, but my daughter was in Vancouver, and we only saw each other once or twice a year, and that somehow wasn’t enough.  Along with the depression, I’d been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and discoid lupus. I’d been in pain with osteo-arthritis since I was 8 years old.

The decision to move was planned over 2 years.  I made the move in 2004.  Needless to say, the transition was stressful, and my living situation remained unstable till 2006.  I was living in a bachelor suite, which I loved, but getting into a routine and making friends were challenging.  My world seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. I wasn’t eating properly or taking care of myself, and my knees were sore. After a couple of years,  I had both knees replaced, a successful endeavor. I knew my depression was worsening and my family physician could only get me an appointment in 2 years.  By then, I was 63 years old and figured I could wait for the easily accessible Senior’s program available.

In 2011 my daughter and son-in-law and grandson wanted to rent a home in Vancouver, and asked if I would like to move in with them…this was something I had only dreamed of.  We managed to find a suitable home, and moved in just before my 65th birthday.  I self-referred, and within 3 weeks I had a team of Psychiatrist, Reg. Nurse Practioner who came to my home for an assessment.  I was referred to BrightSpot program, started a CBT program, and began to feel somewhat better. I saw a psychiatrist at GPOT and life was beginning to feel better and better. I mentioned that I love to do crafts, knit, crochet, sew, draw, do beadwork etc. and one of the Occupational Therapists at BrightSpot mentioned The Art Studios.

After meeting with Monica at The Art Studios and being accepted into the Older Adult Beginner Watercolour with Colleen…my life changed…when the class finished, I wanted to volunteer to assist with the Older Adults again, and work with Colleen again.

That was 4 years ago, and in that space of time, I’ve given a sock-knitting workshop, taught 2 Beginner Knitting classes, and taken Beginner and Intermediate Pottery, Beginner Drawing…I’ve begun to take part in the Members’ Meetings, and sold my knitting at 2 Winter Sales, taken the minutes at meetings, attended Instructor/Assistant/Mentor meetings and made many friends…My world has opened up. I was a founding member of the BrightSpot Chorus, go to a wellness group, and go swimming twice per week, spend time with my 2 grandchildren and love my life. Being part of my family at home and the family at The Art Studios and BrightSpot have really changed my life.  I firmly believe that I haven’t had my best year yet.  Both my children and grandchildren are here in Vancouver, and life is great.

This unique mixture of people has opened my heart to others, offered me encouragement and a chance to teach – something I’d never thought I’d like to do in a million years.  How fortunate I am to be part of this wonderful place, The Art Studios.

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