Artist Bernadette Curtin discovers that growing older doesn’t mean missing out on being connected.
As we age do we feel that we have missed the boat when it comes to being cool with Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, Google+ and all that social media offers?
After the book The Joy of Ageing, Esoterically was launched, the editors realised that a website was needed to sell the book online and also to expand on the topics raised in the book.
The inspirational Anne McRitchie, who had retired some years earlier from her management position at IBM, invited a group of older women (most in their seventies) from the Northern Rivers to develop a website. We all embarked on a steep learning curve in order to get to launch. Our common purpose was to fill a gap we all felt existed for the ageing population. Bombarded online and in the media with celebrity gossip, sensational news and the latest and greatest, many of us elders feel that there is very little on offer in the media to inspire us.
So what to do? Should we sit back and give up, feeling invisible and irrelevant? Launching a website felt like a great start to addressing these questions. What was the state of our computer knowledge? Did we need to upgrade computers and/or skills?
With the book as inspiration, we committed to working together to develop content for the website. Anne initiated Skype calls for us to meet once a week, so that was a first step. Download Skype, upload a photo and invite friends. One new thing learned!
Back to content. Okay so we were going to be the writers until we had enough content for the website to be launched. What would be the first topics that we could write about with authority from our own experience? Relationships, the joy of ageing, self-care, exercise were some of the topics that were written about in the book, and that we had been reflecting upon in our own lives. We felt these topics applied to everyone, regardless of age or experience, and so they laid the foundations for the website.
We needed editors, so turning our hand to editing each other’s writing came next. This step meant no imposing, respecting the writer’s integrity and asking for clarification if we did not understand any part of the article. We were clear that the articles had to be accessible to the readers. There was much to be learned about using all the relevant tools offered in Word, such as formatting, spacing and hyperlinks.
You can’t have a website without photos. Who had iPhones? Right, there were are our photographers. As we went along we were very blessed to connect with some professionals who generously gave us some of their photos to use. With time and practice, we were also able to start using our own photographs.
Next was a choice of platform for publishing. Two of our team members, Anne and Gayle spent time researching different options. Weebly was chosen for its clean design, flexible options and ease of uploading content.
An experienced graphic designer was employed at this point to oversee and tweak the layout. Finally the site was launched and you can view it here.
But even ater the website was up our work was not completed; we needed to learn how to upload fresh content and new inspirations to keep expanding the pages on the website. And from there we learned Mail Chimp so that we could put out a monthly newsletter for our subscribers.
We have all been inspired by the way we worked together as a group, and what can be achieved when people work together harmoniously, keeping things light and playful where possible. We’ve shown ourselves that one is never too old to learn new things regardless of how complex they may seem at first! In the words of one team member: “One of the most beautiful things about the Joy of Ageing website team is that we are all learning and expanding through our commitment to serve humanity with the book and the website. Most of what we are currently doing, as individuals, we did not know how to do before we decided to build a website…we all have training wheels on, all of the time.”