Linda Johnson, 74, likes to keep her fingers busy and brain sharp. Having retired from a career in education, she thoroughly believes that if you want to learn something new, just jump right in. Since her retirement, Linda has published a book, taken up purse and tote-bag making (a skill she learned by watching YouTube videos), and caught her first fish (the biggest of the season at Taylorsville Lake).
“Learning something new is always difficult, but it keeps my brain from turning to oatmeal. I guess I could just sit and not have a thought in my head, but most of the time I end up surprising myself when things turn out better than I ever imagined them to be,” Linda says of her projects.
For the last six years of Linda’s mother’s life, Linda was her sole caretaker. Her mother died with dementia, so Linda saw firsthand the importance of keeping the brain active.
She and her mother grew up enmeshed in the world of quilt making. For as long as she can recall, the women of her family made quilts out of various fabric scraps. Fabric is what inspires Linda, so after her mother’s death, she branched out from the quilting world into purse making. After watching a few videos online, Linda began making impressive handbags (which she hopes to sell at craft fairs in the near future). This hobby led to jewelry making, a skill Linda learned through pop-up tutorials that surfaced while watching purse making videos on YouTube.
Above all, though, Linda receives the most satisfaction from keeping her fingers busy on the keyboard. She writes for Portland’s monthly newsletter, the place where she was born and raised, and also enjoys writing short stories. She won first place in a short story contest out of Richmond, Virginia, and also self-published a Christmas book last year.
“I get the most satisfaction out of writing,” Linda says. “In fabrics, you always have a pattern. In writing, you have to do all the creating yourself. All you have are the words and some loose ideas, but your mind has to stream them all together.”
Linda tries to create something every day, and this practice, she says, keeps her alive.