Many folks struggle to pursue one creative passion. Nancy Podewils blends multiple roles as an author, artist and actress. When we discussed dates for the interview, Nancy explained she had a conflict with the previous Saturday– she had a board meeting for the watercolor society in the morning and a performance with the Reno Little Theater that evening. And she also happens to be a clinical social worker at Renown Health.
My biggest breakthrough came when…
My biggest breakthrough came in 2002, when I wrote & illustrated a self-help book for people struggling with mental health problems or relationship problems. I had planned to write a book for therapists when I retired; but I ended up writing it much earlier. I was taking art classes from watercolorist Joyce Burke, who introduced me to Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way” and encouraged me to do the exercises to unblock my creativity: I had to write three pages every day about anything—grumbling comments to pearls of wisdom—and found myself writing about depression, addiction, relationships, self-esteem, etc. The pages became the basis for a self-published book, “A Road Map: Guidelines for Getting Where You Want to Go”, which I then felt I needed to illustrate—so I began taking lessons from Jodie Rossi, so I could paint people! I made the book available to fellow therapists and patients at Renown, as well as to social workers at a statewide conference.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My real-life heroes: Virginia Satir, one of the founders of the Family Therapy movement, who worked so effectively with families, helping them to connect with the “treasure” in each person they met.
My grandmother, who was crippled in infancy (had no use of her right arm, because of an accident), but always managed to be cheerful and concerned about others.
Sheila Leslie and Debbie Smith, very human, caring, strong, ethical women who have true advocates for women, children, education, mental health, and the arts.
My daughter, who works for the CDC in Atlanta and is committed to making a difference in the world.
How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits?
Balancing day-to-day commitments with my creative pursuits: It’s a juggling act, and I sometimes short-change myself on sleep (or leave the house a mess)! But I become exhilarated when I am acting in a meaningful play, or really helping patients at Renown Behavioral Health, or painting successfully, or walking in nature on a beautiful day, or able to inspire a child’s creativity. I paint sporadically, but when a beautiful scene touches me, I want to see if I can capture the feeling on paper.
My other passions: acting, my work as a clinical social worker, walking, reading, cooking.
What’s next for you?
I am in a new relationship (after being widowed for eight years) and am eager to see where that leads. I have gotten him interested in theater, and he is helping me to enjoy fishing.
I am open to answering questions. Art Angels, the program I coordinate for Sierra Watercolor Society (which takes free art into elementary classrooms that do not have art) always can use helpers and monetary support for supplies. Thank you.