Turning 40 and Becoming an Artist

Joanne Morton declared herself an artist when she turned 40. She spent the summer with a friend in Miami painting, drawing and photographing mangoes that fell from a neighbor’s tree into her backyard. She always hesitated to call herself an artist, but here she was spending a month drawing mangoes. Joanne didn’t think she could draw, so how could she be an artist? A wise friend of hers told her, “Joanne, you can draw. You just have to accept the way you draw.” At 45, she left her apartment of 16 years in New York City to travel the country and begin an interactive community art project, which she’s still working on to this day.

Guest Bio

Joanne Morton is an artist, speaker, event producer, creative expression strategist, and community engagement activist. Originally from the Midwest, Joanne spent many years in New York City until 2010 when she was inspired to become a traveling artist. Joanne uses art, gratitude, laughter, and visualization together to encourage conversation and action to create hope for ourselves, communities and world.

Her art and events help people activate positive energy within themselves so they go from feeling stressed and frustrated to feel relaxed and motivated. When people feel relaxed it Resets Energy, Creates Ease and Sustains Success in their lives thus giving them motivation to collaborate to create positive change with others.

Joanne is currently working on her interactive community engagement art project CIRCLES OF HOPE: Co-Creating Positive Change. When we can see our collective vision, it inspires action and solutions that uplifts others. Everyone is invited to be a part of it – reach out to her online!

Declaring Herself an Artist

Joanne turned 40 in 2005 when she was living in NYC. She remembers asking her friends to kick in money so she could buy a 40-gig iPod to celebrate her 40th birthday. 

Joanne moved to NYC when she was 29 and spent her 30s enjoying all that the City had to offer in the late 90s and trying to figure out who she was. When she turned 40, she felt something shift; she says she felt like a woman for the first time. 

The summer before she turned 40, Joanne was in between jobs. A friend invited her to spend the summer in the sunroom at his house three blocks from north Miami Beach. She sublet her apartment and headed south for the summer. She thought she’d work on a one-woman play she had started. Instead she started painting and drawing and photographing mangoes in the backyard. She had always hesitated to call herself an artist, but here she was spending a month drawing mangoes. Joanne thought she couldn’t draw, so how could she be an artist? A wise friend of hers told her, “No, Joanne. You can draw. You just have to accept the way you draw.” (Which is, BTW, pretty damn good advice for any of us on any subject!) 

So Joanne decided to start calling herself an artist. Meanwhile, she had been studying manifesting and the law of attraction. When she returned to New York in the fall, she manifested an amazing art studio in Chinatown. 

Joanne mentioned the book Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, in which one of the characters says, “Everybody needs a hot job, a hot apartment and a hot lover.” Here she was at 40 with all three and experiencing a blossoming of her work. 

A Time to Leave

Joanne believes in “divine time.” By 2009 she had given up her art studio and was trying to make everything work in her tiny, sixth-floor walkup, but it just wasn’t working. So she decided to give up her apartment of 16 years and travel the country with an art project she wanted to create. 

Two days after her 45th birthday, she left New York City and headed south to Atlanta and then Tybee Island, outside of Savannah. What she thought would be a couple days turned into six months that she spent writing and painting and sketching out, imagining and manifesting what she wanted her life to look like. 

Her parents gave her their old minivan, which gave her the ability to travel. She picked the car up in Ohio, went back to New York and got whatever would fit in the car out of her storage unit and left the rest behind. Then she started driving south, just in time to chase the fall foliage down the East Coast. She spent another year in Savannah and, in 2012, she decided to hit the road. 

Joanne traveled by herself for about six months. She invited people she met along the way to contribute to a hanging mobile interactive community art project. She asked people to share their visions, messages and dreams for the planet, the people, prosperity and peace. She spent her 46th birthday at the Grand Canyon and then headed back to Savannah, where she currently lives. 

Joanne cautions people against saying “never” because you just never know. She never thought she’d leave New York and she never thought she’d live in a small town, which Savannah is. 

Intuition = Inspiration

In her mid-30s, Joanne started to tune into her intuition, which led to a transformative experience amid the chaos of 9/11, which she watched from the roof of her building. She was heading back down the stairs to her apartment and felt a “whoosh” go over her body and heard a voice say, “this is an opportunity for world peace.” 

As she walked to work the next day, taking a path through Union Square, she saw so many handwritten notes of peace and hope. And she realized that everyone who had seen the news was sending love and compassion and peaceful thoughts to New York City, which she touts as an example of collective consciousness. 

In recent years Joanne has recognized that, if you have the ability to talk about this kind of stuff, then you should because the more people who are talking about positive energy, magic, passion, love, peace and gratitude, the more we can work together to accomplish those things. Whatever your skill or talent is, that’s what you can bring to the table for the good of the world. (Don’t ask her to do any bookkeeping for the good of the world, btw.) 

Joanne says it’s important to listen to that inner voice, even if it doesn’t make sense. Listen and then figure out how to apply it to your life. When we don’t listen, we get a little crazy. When you start feeling that little “errrt,” what is it that you should do? 

When Joanne became an artist, she started by painting big colorful pieces. She played with splatter. But after leaving her studio space, she evolved to smaller abstract paintings on which she overlaid words and affirmations. 

In 2011 Joanne was painting in a studio space during Arab Spring and she got another “whoosh” of intuition or divine guidance and heard ‘peace is possible’ and ‘we’re here to love.’ Those sentiments have pervaded her work ever since. In 2015 she took part in a Kickstarter that asked people to make 100 pieces of something. She painted 100 pieces that said ‘we are here to love’ and she’s still working with the phrase to this day. 

Circles of Hope

Joanne’s interactive community art project is called the Circles of Hope, which takes the concept of a vision board and breaks it down into circles strung together into a hanging mobile. As she was traveling, Joanne asked people she met to make a circle. By the time she returned to Savannah, she had collected almost 400 circles and started doing installations and exhibitions of the mobile, which hung from the ceiling with 7 circles per strand. Visitors could walk through the mobile and move among the strands, seeing what other people wanted to create or manifest. She says it’s powerful to see what other people want to create in the world. And anytime she exhibits it, she also invites visitors to add their own circles to the project.

She started the project in 2010 and hopes to continue it through 2030, making it a 20-year project. She’s also started thinking that it would be cool to make it the world’s largest hanging mobile, co-created by people from around the world sharing their intentions for people, prosperity and peace.


The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Find Joanne Online

Website: www.joannemorton.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/positiveenergyartist

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/positive_energy_artist/

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Stephanie: Hi, Joanne. Thanks so much for joining me today.

Joanne: Thank you, Stephanie. I am so grateful to be here, too.

Stephanie: Grateful to have you and so interested to hear your story. You were living in New York City when you turned 40. Is that right?

Joanne: Yep.

Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about your life there.

Joanne: Okay. So it was, 2005 I turned 40. I remember you probably remember this too, when we were younger, like "I'm gonna be 35 in the year 2000!" I turned 40 and I also had a birthday party and I asked my friends to contribute so I could buy a 40 gig iPod that was like two hundred dollars.

Stephanie: Oh wow. Oh wow.

Joanne: 40 gig iPod.

Stephanie: That's awesome.

Joanne: Cause I'm 40. So that was kind of fun, but, yeah, I moved to New York and I was 29, so I've turned 30 in New York City. So I'm really grateful I got to 40. I see how, when you're in your twenties and your thirties, especially in your twenties, when you're just coming out into the real world and we don't really prepare ourselves for that at all.

Joanne: I gotta find this TED talk but I listened to this TED talk once where they were talking about our formative years are between the ages of six months and four years or whatever it is, but it's also 20 and 24. And we just expect us to know about stuff, you know, and then you're becoming sexually active, you're getting married, which is way too young, so way too much when we're still in our formative adult years. Of course, I didn't know that back then. So I question myself, I often, like there's something wrong with me because I wasn't married. I wasn't following the traditional, get a job. I did go to college, but it took me 10 years. I graduated college at 28. So there was things, but at the same time, looking back, it was the perfect path for me to go on. You know, that's the thing about aging.

Joanne: And then when I moved to New York, when I was turned 30, I got to spend 10 years being a 30 year old living in New York City. And there's a lot of fun things. This was the late nineties. So it was a, you know, very interesting time in New York and I'm just grateful I got to live in Manhattan, you know? So then I turned 40 and I really do feel like that's when I first felt like a woman and something was shifting. And I also don't wanna go too deep in this in, but I ended up a couple years earlier than that, was at this place where I was kind of done trying to look for relationships and casual sex. I was, you know, trying to find out who I was and so I said, I'm just not gonna do that anymore.

Joanne: I took a break and I'm also really grateful that October of 2005, I met this amazing guy and we spent about a year and a half, two years together. It was just like a rebirth of everything, you know? So I was not only entering my forties and knowing that I survived New York City for 10 years and I was in this really great, fun relationship. And so I kind of reclaimed everything that I was working for in my twenties and my thirties. Yeah, it was pretty powerful.

Stephanie: That's fantastic.

Joanne: Yeah.

Stephanie: You had a little bit of an identity shift as well, though. When you turned 40 you told me that you started calling yourself an artist.

Joanne: Oh, you're right. I forgot about that.

Stephanie: Let's talk about that a little.

Joanne: Yeah. Well, that's interesting. This is something else I think is right out of a movie, the summer of my 39th year, right before I turned 40, I was in between jobs. So a friend of mine who lives in out north of Miami Beach offered me to stay in his sunroom for the summer for free. He lived three blocks from the ocean. I'll do that. Rent my apartment to interns, I'm out of there. And I went there thinking I was gonna write my one woman show I had started. That was when I was just kind of getting into my understanding of what manifesting is and law of attraction, reading all these metaphysical and new age books. So I was really wanted to write my one woman's show about who I am, but instead I started painting and drawing and photographing mangoes. I love mangoes and they were falling from my friend's neighbor's tree into our backyard. So the whole month of June, I had actually had to freeze a lot of them. I had so many mangoes. And and that's when I was like, oh, you know, I was always afraid to call myself an artist because I don't think I can draw. But a very wise woman, friend of mine said, "No, Joanne, you can draw, you just have to accept the way you draw."

Stephanie: Interesting.

Joanne: Game changer. So I was sort of embracing that and I've always wanted to go to art school, but I instead going to film school because I didn't have the courage or the, just the confidence to do that. So that summer, I was like, I'm, I'm, I'm an artist. I'm gonna start calling myself an artist. And I'm studying the law of attraction and manifesting. So if I think it, feel it, take action, it will manifest. And I went back to New York after the summer and I would say, within five months, I had manifested an amazing art studio in Chinatown.

Stephanie: Wow.

Joanne: I decided I wanted an art studio. So I just started looking at, advertisements that were up in the, you know, art stores and things like that. And somebody randomly sent me an email saying "My friend's looking for an art studio mate. If you're interested, give her a call." I called her, went down and it was this amazing loft department in Chinatown, this little crooked street. And I had a pretty good job at the time and when she said it was $450 a month to share, I said, I can't afford not to take this. You know? And so I had it for three years and she, she eventually moved out. So I got the lease and I was able to control who came in and shared it. I'm so grateful that I had that opportunity. So I was in my early forties. Did you ever, have you ever read the books, Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin?

Stephanie: Yeah, I read the first one.

Joanne: Okay. In the first one, I think they say it, "Everybody needs a hot job, a hot apartment and a hot lover," you know, that's what we're all looking for. So I had all three, you know, and it was, it was really a very powerful blossoming of my work. And, it was, I was really grateful and I think, you know, not to say that I couldn't have handled that when I was 33, but we handle things so much differently. I, this is totally my belief, but I see people who moved to New York in their twenties and I see people who moved to New York later. If you move to New York in your twenties, it ages you. I moved to New York after my twenties and I don't look as old as I look at. Like, you know, I see people, who've it just ages you that that's part of the city. It does. It takes something from you. So you have to be able to not let it take you. And 20 year olds don't know how to handle that. So, so I feel that's the part where I was like, I was really, you gotta believe in divine time. Trust it's not your time, it's divine time. And so I was at that place. And then that's the same thing at the end of 2009, I had given up my art studio and moved everything back into my little sixth floor walkup. I was trying to figure out how I could make it all work, and I couldn't do it, so I made the decision to let go of my apartment of 16 years and I was gonna travel the country with a project that I wanted to create. And I had sort of a plan, but didn't have a plan, but I just kept believing and trusting that the next indicated step would show up.

Stephanie: Wow.

Joanne: I let go of my apartment in March of 2010 and then on my birthday, April, I'm an Aries. Two days after my birthday, I left New York City by train. I'm a filmmaker, so I like the book ends, first time I went to New York was on my birthday, on my 29th birthday and I, and then when I moved to New York, three weeks later, I moved by train . So I had to leave by train, too.

Stephanie: Oh, wow. Those are lovely bookends.

Joanne: Right. I also am so grateful that I left New York still loving it and still having a relationship with it because, some relation advice: end it before becomes too bad. I still wanna love you. I still wanna, like you. Recognize if it's not working, let's make it better for both of us. So that's kind of how I felt. So I went to Atlanta and then from there I got guided to Tybee Island, which is just outside of Savannah. I spent my first summer outside of New York, what was gonna be a couple days, ended up being six months. Six months without paying rent after 16 years of paying New York City rent was a gift, a gift. And I had a little part-time job but literally because I had a little bit of money from the letting go of my apartment in New York City, I was able to spend that summer just writing and riding my bike and painting and just sketching out and, and imagining and manifesting what kinda life I wanna create.

Joanne: My parents gave me their old minivan, which was really nice of them 'cause I didn't have a car. I'm like, how am I gonna travel? I don't have a car. I had some ideas, but I got the minivan. So moved up. Well, they came and got me from Ohio, went back to New York where I had a little storage unit, whatever fit in my van I kept, everything else was put by the trashcan. And then I began to travel down the East Coast in October and I went to the Poconos, Philadelphia, Virginia, South Carolina. And again I think it it's really important to have a plan, but it's also kind of fun sometimes to just not have a plan. I didn't plan on driving down in October, but the fall leaves are amazing. And as I was driving south, I got to see every single, full bloom because it, you know, they turn differently at different times and, driving down the highways and the mountain roads, it's just like, whoa. So I came back to Savannah, spent another year here to sort of get my grounding. And then in 2012 January I decided it was time to travel and I made a plan. So I had a little bit of a plan. From January I followed a route along the South: Jacksonville, Tallahassee, went to New Orleans and then I got to Austin, Texas.

Joanne: Occupy Wall Street had started that September 2009 and all these different other locations were opening up, so I wanted to check them out. So I went to a lot of different occupied sites. That was a nice little path to take. Along the way, what I was doing was inviting people to add to this hanging mobile project, this large scale, hanging mobile. It's an interactive community art project, but I'm inviting people to share their visions, their messages, their dreams for the planet, the people, prosperity and peace. And it was fun to have these conversations. When you have a project, you can like have a reason to talk to someone. So I was traveling, I was couch surfing. It was an amazing experience to couch surf. I don't know if we'll ever go back to being able to couch surf so openly, like we did back then, complete strangers, there's this website would open you to your house and it was so magical. But I ended up traveling out to California and then went back to Ohio, by July, see my parents.

Joanne: So it was six months total that I was on the road and I traveled by myself the whole time, I had a couple ride shares, especially across Texas, it's really long, so people needed a ride, you know, couch surfers that needed rides. And I spent my 46th birthday out in Arizona, I was heading to the Grand Canyon where I'd lived for a short time when I was 21. I wanted to go back and see it, 'cause if you've never seen it, it really is like awe-inspiring. I didn't get to Flagstaff as soon as I wanted. So I ended up spending the night I had set up this minivan, it was a Ford Family Windstar minivan, but I set it up so I could sleep in it. It was very comfortable. So I spent the night in my minivan and some roadside parking lot where a motel was. So I had a little safety and but got to the Grand Canyon for my birthday and it was magical and cold, but it's okay. But then, like I said, I got back to my parents' house three months later and I stayed there for a short period and then I decided to come back to Savannah and live to get some grounding, because having a home for 16 years in New York City, when I lived for my twenties, till New York, I lived, I moved apartments every year. I lived lots of places and bounced around and it was really strange that first year when I moved to New York and I signed another a year lease, and then you sign signed two year leases, ' cause you have better rent that way. So I started two year leases, but it took me like three years to realize I'm gonna stay here for a while and there's something so important to have grounding, but I was looking for that and found it in Savannah. And it's a beautiful place here. The trees here, it's gorgeous.

Joanne: And so I'm here and now I'm 57 and I'm just really in awe of how aging can really be a fun thing. There's some things about it that are, you know, that can feel a little troubling. It's especially menopause for women and I've never been pregnant, so my hormones were never turned on like that. So it's an interesting experience, but at the same time, it's who we are. So let's celebrate it, let's embody it. And I also feel like if you are of a certain age, if you are in your forties, especially if you are single and you're able to do this, even if you're not single, but taking road trips by yourself, it doesn't have to be six months with everything in your car. Don't do that if you don't want to, but it was fascinating when you're on the road traveling: there's a lot of men of all ages, a lot of young women, but very few women over the age of 38, 40,

Stephanie: interesting.

Joanne: that I met back in 2012.

Stephanie: Interesting, right. Well, this was let's remind ourselves that this was long before van life, right? This was long before this current era of people converting Sprinter vans into mobile apartments and spending six or 12 months or, or the foreseeable future on the road. I mean, to be honest, this is outlandish, you know, for someone like myself to hear this. I've always been rooted in places. I lived in Boston for a dozen years and then I came home and I've been back in New Hampshire for longer than I was in Boston now. But the thought, and I love to travel, but the thought of being on the road for six months at a time, or, or several years at a time is, is not something I can really wrap my head around.

Joanne: I think we all have different things, you know, I've lived in lots of cities and coming to Savannah where it's a small town, never thought I'd ever live in a small town. And I think that's something to remind ourselves too. Never say you're never gonna do something 'cause you just never know. I never thought I'd leave New York and I'm not there anymore. Don't

Stephanie: right.

Joanne: even want to live there anymore. But it's so important. I think, to have those people who are from someplace to keep it grounded and being open and not being closed minded about it, of course. But then there's also those people like myself who travel, because then we get to share the information. Because even in New York City, you know, let's just go, even in the East Village, there were people in the East Village that never left. They were born there and they live there. So they are just as small town

Stephanie: right,

Joanne: as people who live in Savannah.

Stephanie: Right. Right. Oh, that's an, that's an interesting perspective, right. Just 'cause you live in New York City doesn't mean you're worldly.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. Right. And, and I do know some worldly people who live up here in Manchester, New Hampshire. Exceptionally worldly.

Joanne: yeah.

Stephanie: yeah.

Joanne: for sure. It's a state of mind, a state of being, not a state of place.

Stephanie: I think the thing that really stands out to me about the choices that you made in your forties was that they were so bold. They, were audacious I talked to someone a few episodes ago, who said, when people turn 40, their, their thing is, they wanna run a marathon and, they've gotta make some sort of physical challenge. So there are bold things that people do when they turn 40, but waving a wand and deciding that you are an artist and then divesting yourself of your roots to go and pollinate the country sounds magical.

Joanne: That was beautiful. I wanna make sure I get a clip of that, pollinating the world. Oh my God. I love that. Well, you know what I think it is? A lot of it is I started listening to whatever you wanna call it, my intuition, divine energy, God, whatever. And for me also at the turn of the century, 2000. the Y2K thing, remember all that? But 1999 New Year's Eve, I did not wanna go out and party and just be drunk on the first day of the millennium. So friends of mine we went to a meditation retreat in the Poconos. I'm so glad I did, 'cause there's always party you can go to. Then, you know, a year later, September 11th, 2001, we had this traumatic experience and changed the world. I was there. I, I saw I was on my roof and didn't see some of the things happening live, but I definitely experienced it the day after and the experience on the streets. But I, I shared this, you know, we all have our moments there. I lived on the sixth floor walkup, so I was on the top floor and then I can go to the roof, you know, so we kept running up and down. We're like, what's going on? And there was this one moment when I was halfway back into my apartment to do something and I had this amazing "swoosh" go over my body and I was like, "This is an opportunity for world peace," is what I heard and I was like, okay. And then chaos. And then, you know, the day went on and I kind of passed it up. But then the next day when I went to walk to my job and walking through Union square, which is right in the main, you know, 14th Street right in the center, there were people everywhere out, that's like a gathering spot and people had put paper and stuff on the ground and everybody was writing Peace and Hope and Love da, da, da, da and I realized that when that when the planes hit and the towers fell and all that, happened on September 11th, the next 24 hours, everybody who had access to that news was sending love and compassion and peaceful thoughts to New York City. The biggest, one of the biggest cities in the United States, in the world. Right. And that's a lot of energy. That's a collective consciousness that happened. And then of course we all know what happened. The leaders of the world did not tap into that collective consciousness. Yet .But they're working on it.

Joanne: But you think about what's happened over the last couple years, more and more moments of where we're getting to have understanding about what's happening other places of the world, even with climate change, you know, when the fires are happening in California or Australia, we're feeling it, right? And so for me, I started recognizing that if you have the ability to talk about this kind of stuff, you should, because the more of us that talk about positive energy, magic, passion, love, as I like to call it.

Joanne: Peace, gratitude, whatever, all these good things, good feeling feelings that make us feel comfortable together, that we can work together and take action together, we need to do it. It's kind of your responsibility, but you do it in your own way, whatever your skill and talent is. Don't do something you're not good at, so don't ask me to manage your books for the good of the world, that won't be successful, 'cause I won't be able to do that very well. But you ask me to organize an event and bring some people together, I can do that. So, at the end of 2009, when I was kind of what's next for me, you know, am I supposed, am I supposed to live in New York City? I wasn't working a career job, I wasn't really into doing the night life scene anymore, don't need to go fancy restaurants. You know, the lifestyle I didn't need that anymore. What I needed was to go and be who I'm my my next phase of my life. And so, and I'm glad I listened to it because if I hadn't, who knows what would happen, you know? We have to listen, even though it doesn't make sense, you listen and you figure out how you can apply it into your life, you know? 'Cause when you ignore it, I had an art studio before the pandemic and then pandemic happened. So I moved everything into my front room and I have these nice floors. I don't wanna paint on my floors. And so for, you know, over a year and a half, oh I can't paint. I'm, oh, I can't wait to get a studio, da, da.

Joanne: And I was like, no, I can take my stuff on my front porch. I can paint. And that the sun painting behind me, actually I painted it on Summer Solstice this past year. First time I painted in almost, you know, six months or so. And I was like, that's why I get kind of bitchy because I don't do what my heart's telling me to do. So when you start feeling a little "errt" what is it that you should do? If you're listening, you know, 'cause we all know what we're supposed to do. Even the most uneducated, everybody knows, we all have that inner power. We all do. Whether or not we're taking advantage of or not

Stephanie: Well, and whether or not we're able to tune into it. I mean, some people have the volume turned all the way down and they don't want to listen to it. You know, and that's just, that's a different way of life and that's okay.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah,

Stephanie: that's that's okay.

Joanne: Yeah, yeah,

Stephanie: right.

Joanne: It's choice.

Stephanie: right, right,

Joanne: geez. pro choice along the book.

Stephanie: Tell me a Tell me a little bit about your artwork. What kind of art do you do?

Joanne: I started painting big with a lot of color and I didn't go to art school. So I'm just playing. Right. And I love splattering. I used to put things on the floor and just splatter didn't think about moving out and having this big floor of splattered paint, but luckily the new tenant loved it. So I'm like, great. I don't have to paint it. But I painted big. It was amazing. I love color. And leaving that big studio space, I had to change the way I work, so I started painting abstract, but they're kind of small. And so I'm like, Ugh, I feel like it's small. I need something else. So I started painting words on them and affirmations 'cause I love affirmations. And that's really what the Manifesting Mobile, the project I'm working on, is just affirmations. It's positive ideas. So I started writing affirmations on them. It was 2011 so I hadn't traveled across the country yet. I was still living in Savannah, and I was sort of living outta my minivan, but sleeping at people's houses and house sitting and things like that. But I did have this one space for a little bit where it was an art studio being turned into a gallery. So while they were doing the gallery, I got to hang out there. So I was painting there and it was the spring of the Arab Spring and everybody was uprising and things. I had another moment of like that thing that happened on 2001, the Peace is Possible. It's been with me ever since it kind of was what I needed to, I needed to travel, what I need. So peace is possible. We're and then the saying the words We are Here to Love showed up. We're Here to Love. That's what we're here for, you know? And so I wanted to send love to the people in the Middle East and Egypt that were doing their thing, because we gotta send the love because that's what they did on September 11th.

Joanne: People sent us love and New Yorkers, we felt it. I have never, ever it's a lot of people. I have never, ever experienced that emotional love in the moment of such tragedy. So surreal. So I started painting We Are Here to Love. I, in 2000, well, 2015, maybe there was a Kickstarter campaign going on, "make a hundred pieces of something" so I painted 100 We Are Here to Love and I still have that. I'm still doing it. So back there I have these, We Are Here to Love and it reminds me that we have to love humanity. We may not like them every time, but there's a difference between liking and love 'cause you can't love other people. How can you love yourself? Because I believe we're all connected. And then of course, right, when the pandemic happened, Love is The Cure. If we're living our purpose, which is love, then love is the cure to everything, to every disease, racism, sexism, classism, 'cause if you love humanity, you're gonna take care of humanity.

Stephanie: Those are some big themes.

Joanne: I, I had a lot to think of when I was driving

Stephanie: Oh, sure. Yeah. Right. That's a lot of open, open road and open brain space.

Joanne: Yeah. But again, these are just inspirations from other people and of

Stephanie: Mm-hmm

Joanne: listening to not only myself to divine, but I'm listening to other people.

Stephanie: Tell me about the project you did tell me about the project you did on the road.

Joanne: So, I, at the time I was calling it the Manifesting Mobile, because I've took the idea of a vision board, which is images and words, that things that you wanna create and bring into your life. I like the idea of changing that from a poster board to a hanging mobile. I don't know if you can see, but it's up there's video, but there's back. They're behind me if you can see me. These circles that have like little mini vision board. So when I was traveling, I was inviting people to make a circle. I was making them out of recycled cardboard food boxes. In Austin, I actually spent seven weeks there and I would a random outdoor event or farmer's market. And if they had a table, I just kind of took it over. I had my little folding table and I would just, "Hey everybody, I'm a traveling artist. What da, da, da, da," and they'd come and they'd make a circle. And so that was really fun. And I ended up collecting about probably three, almost 400 circles when I got back to Savannah. And then when I was in Savannah, what I started doing was installing them and have exhibitions. I'd hang them in a room where people can walk through the strands hanging from the ceiling and there's seven circles to a strand. It's not your typical balancing mobile, but it's, it's close enough, 'cause it moves you walk through it and then you read what other people have shared. Mini messages just for you. And there's something powerful in seeing what other people are wanting to create, right? And when you see what other people are creating, then you can put intention around it and it might even be something that you wanna create. So if it's something that you wanna create, you're putting intention, two people have the intention.

Joanne: And then again, back to the law of attraction. It's what are your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Actually create what you want to create. We're having this collective consciousness with all these, new ideas showing up. So what's the collective action? So I've changed the name to Circles of Hope trying to make it a little more marketable. I'm definitely open to other names. So if anybody has a name, it's a collaborative event, you know, please let me know. I did an exhibition in April here in Savannah. I hung them in a catering tent. And so it was outdoors, free, about 300 people showed up. So it was a really an amazing experience. I also invite local nonprofits and organizations and businesses to set up. So it's like a little mini event, but you know, just a few vendors, but I do this because these people are the ones taking action. So for instance, if this one woman wants, you know, end censorship for books and there was an organization that I know of that's about giving books to students. So it's like, how can you take immediate action on this event that you really want? We have to have conversations about actions. I also have people making circles to be added to the next one. So I started this in 2010. It's now 2022. Oh my gosh. 12 years. I am going to keep doing it till at least 2030, because then it's a 20 year project. And the other idea for us to remember: things take time. Change takes time.

Joanne: Even this project it's taking time, I've had moments where it's the momentum's going fast and then, then it's like slowing down a little bit and 'cause you have, life happens, you know? And so but I'm definitely wanting to really kinda rev it up a little bit more. So I'm talking to people about it. And when I hung it in the tent this past April, I had this other like, aha, wouldn't it be really cool if we could make the world's largest hanging mobile, co-created by people from around the world. 'Cause I had a few people when I was in Arizona, I was at the Flagstaff hostel. So I met some Germans, some English people. So they made circles. the world's largest hanging mobile co-created by people from around the world, sharing our positive intentions for the planet, people, peace, prosperity.

Stephanie: That's beautiful.

Stephanie: It's interesting too. I just think your approach to it is also that of somebody, over 40, meaning you started it 12 years ago and you are gonna go for at least another eight years. You've got a longer view of this. You've got a bigger picture you're looking at, you're not this isn't a quick hit. This isn't something that's, one and done. And, and I think that comes with age and experience and wisdom as well. That that being able to zoom way out.

Joanne: Oh, you have to. Yeah. Yeah. And I, and I also wanna say this too. I think it's so important to zoom out. And I think it's, you're perfectly fine to start that at age 40. What do I wanna do in the next 10 years, 20 years 30.

Joanne: And if you don't start until you're 57, it's fine as well. But to put that much pressure on people, when you're your twenties or thirties, I think is unfair because you just, you, you haven't grown into yourself yet. And you change, even though you're the same person. You go through a lot of stuff and it's a lot to, you know, manage. So,

Stephanie: Yeah.

Stephanie: Well, and there's a lot of foundational things you're doing in that time period. You are are, learning how to be an adult. starting your career. You are, going through relationships. There's so many things that you're doing that maybe you, you're not able to zoom out and see these bigger pictures.

Stephanie: concept that I've read about that, that I like and really resonates with me is the concept of first adulthood and second adulthood. And that the, decade between 35 and 45 is the bridge. You know, people hit it at different times, but during first adulthood, you know, that sort of 18 to 35, or, you know, even 18 to 40, 20 to 40 time, there are lots of foundational, informational things that you're doing.

Stephanie: And then this period of reflection and introspection and growing into yourself really sets you up for your second adulthood, which is 40, 45 through 60, 65 kind of thing. And, you do have different perspectives and you do bring different things to the table. And, and that's why I'm so curious and interested in this, this 40 milestone, because it really just does feel like the linchpin between the two.

Stephanie: And so many people make such dramatic changes to their lives during this time. They come into themselves, they start trusting themselves. They start listening to the voices inside of them, whether it's their heart or their head, whatever they wanna call it, their intuition, their gut.

Stephanie: Taylor Tomlinson is a comedian who's about 26. Who's got this great line about, you know, people always tell me to listen to my intuition, but she said, I, I don't have one. I don't have a gut. What is there to listen to ? And I think by the time you're 40, there's, maybe there's some actual physical girth there that you can tune into that. You might not have in your twenties. But, that is why I'm so curious about this period in time and how other people deal with the transition. I know mine snuck up on me. I was surprised by it and and almost didn't really figure it out until I looked in the rear view and, and sort of put a few things together. But there are other people who are, some people certainly are, coming at this with open eyes and thoughtfulness. So I'm even learning from them. And then there are others like me who are, you know, things break down, things fall apart. You put together a whole new life and

Joanne: Yeah, I don't think I was thinking about. I wasn't prepared for turning 40. I wasn't dreading it or anything, but I didn't really know what was gonna happen. You know, again, that's where I couldn't have planned any better to have that summer. Now that you've turned 40 and you kinda like start seeing things. When you were talking, what really, what resonated with me was your forties are kind of preparing you on how you wanna, be a seventy year old. How do you wanna be? It's so important to not let yourself get stuck, you know, and that's one reason why I wanted to leave New York City, too. I didn't wanna get stuck in a sixth floor walkup with the bathtub in the kitchen. That's perfect for being 30, but being 57, doing that? I don't know if I wanna do that. Physically, I wouldn't mind doing it 'cause it was an awesome exercise regime. And and now that I'm 57 in the last five years, I really have been thinking, where do, how do I wanna age? Who do I wanna age with? 'Cause I'm single and maybe I'll partner up with somebody, maybe I won't. It's, you know, I'm open to, to what, what life brings me. I never wanted to have children, so I'm okay being single, no children. I have lots of friends with kids. And so I'm all on that, but we do, we are gonna age and my vision of me, an older, woman sitting on a rocking chair, on a porch telling lots of interesting stories. You know, life is what you make it, make it interesting.

Stephanie: You mentioned something to me earlier about, because you've just said a word that clued me into this. You said something about not getting older. You're not thinking of yourself as getting older. You're thinking of yourself in a different way. Tell me about that.

Joanne: Yeah, that just sort of upped up the last week or so. I mean, it's a very new, like concept I'm aging, you know, because when I hear people I'm getting older, there's so much connotation. I mean, somebody said, when you get older, your, your body's gonna give out, you're gonna get sick, da da, da, da. And and I am not, you know, I'm not in bad health, I'm not, you know, I'm not an athlete or anything like that. But and I don't walk as much as I should, but I'm, I'm fairly healthy. I just think when you say your old, old cheese is nasty, aged cheese is delicious, you know?

Stephanie: There are so many things that if you put aged in front of them, it, it makes them more exclusive, more desirable. Cheese is one. Wine is another. Aged wine is is very desirable.

Joanne: yeah,

Stephanie: I think you mentioned earlier whiskey.

Joanne: Yeah. Yeah. And even, and just that, you know, because it has a better taste to it. It's, it's more refined. It goes down smoother. And think about all the relationships that we have when you, when you make a new friend at an older age, it's just, it's just so much smoother. you're not fighting you're da, da, da, da, 'cause you, you know how to communicate. You know how to be, in a relationship with someone, but when you're in your early twenties and you've like, oh my God, I dunno. You know? So it's it's just so important to just know that aging gives you knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Stephanie: That is true. Well, I have enjoyed our conversation so much. Before we say goodbye, tell me where people can find you online, should they want to come and see your art or get involved in one of your projects?

Joanne: The easiest way is my name, Joanne Morton. You know, it's all one word with E on the end and Morton like salt. There's links to my podcast my Patreon site. I have a shop where you can buy art. I have a blog and I have a newsletter, so you can join me that way. And then if you're on Facebook, you can follow me at Positive Energy Artist, which is my Facebook page. I am on Tricky Dame, Positive Energy Artist. I also love connecting to people on LinkedIn, and you can find me my name and I think it's linkedin.com/MortonJoanne. Joanne. Yeah. So yeah, I'm, I'm open. I mean, if you wanted me to come to your town with Circles of Hope, just give me a call, we'll make it work, you know?

Stephanie: I love that. I love that. How many circles do you have now?

Joanne: So I'm gonna say I haven't, I'm getting the process of counting them again and looking at 'em. I would say probably close to 500. I want thousand and I'm working on a way for people to mail a circle to me as well. I do have a PO box. So if people wanna create a circle, you just cut out a circle out of a cardboard box or cereal box, pizza box, decorate both sides with your visions then mail it to my PO box 1305 Barnard street, you know, so it's all that's on my website, but yeah, I think it'd be great to start having people collect the circles too. and

Stephanie: Just remind me and anybody listening. If you're gonna decorate your circle, what, what are we, what are we decorating, the circle? What's the, what's the vision? What's the guide.

Joanne: So you think, so what is your vision, your intention for a healthy planet for the planet? You know, save the whales. You know, pick up litter. Wind power. These are some things that people have written, it's kind of an over the age of nine project, but I've had some really very insightful young children. Right. I will pick up trash, and this one time I was hanging, I went to this amazing festival in Llano, Texas, the Llano Earth Art Festival. It's on my website and this little girl, probably like 10 or 12, she walked through it and I was asking people, what's one word to describe it. Humble. I was like, oh my God, my friend. So people, you know, and when you talk about people, what are you wanting for yourself? It doesn't have to be for the world, you know? And so I have people writing, I want, like a job, I have mine, I have here my ideal clients, 'cause if you were to share that this one woman, woman, she wanted to open up 12 yoga studios around the country. So that way, if you put that on there and someone sees it, boom and then prosperity love about prosperity and then peace. And I will say this. So I did go through and sort of categorize them. Over 50% of the circles are about love.

Stephanie: Wow,

Joanne: So if you just wanna share a message of love, send it to me and I will promise you hundreds and hundreds of people will see it.

Stephanie: That's beautiful. What a great way to wrap up our time together. That's for anybody who's listening. I love it. I love it. Joanne, thank you so much for spending an afternoon with me. I appreciate it. And I just wish you. The very, very best.

Joanne: Thank you. The same to you. Next time. We'll have a drink.

Stephanie: for it.

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