50 Over Fifty Stories

Char Webster 50 Over Story


Char Webster
CEO to Award Winning Digital Artist


What has been an unfulfilling driving force in your life, now gone or transformed after 50?

The summer I was 14 years of age, I landed my first paying job — detasseling four acres of corn in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for $100.   Riding with a truckload of farmworkers, I was dropped off at the edge of a field each morning at dawn.  I vanished for hours, yanking endless tassels from cornstalks several feet taller than I.  Through early morning mist late into each boiling afternoon, I became cold and wet, then hot and filthy.  Scratches and cuts covered a good part of my body by the end of each day.  I didn’t care. Even then, it was all about the money.

Earning money continued to be a dominant focus for decades.  I worked through college. I worked in-between college. I had a full-time job the minute I graduated.  I entered the corporate world of marketing solutions because that’s where the “big bucks” were.  I later bought or built companies for many years, knowing I had more control over the amount of revenue I could earn.  Later, I re-entered the corporate world, rising to the top as a Chief Executive Officer. Eight years as a well-paid marketing consultant then completed my career before retirement.  I was 66 years old.

Throughout all those years of work, many would say my key attributes were focus and fearlessness. Driven. The fruits of my efforts resulted in progressively higher-ranking jobs, many accolades, bigger homes, beautiful cars and clothes, plus expensive travel. There were endless accumulations, like a $13,000 piano I couldn’t even play. The thought that lots of money yields everything worthwhile in life – including my worth in the eyes of the world and in my own eyes – had been playing out my whole life. I should have been the walking definition of happiness, right? Then why, with the game done and won, did I feel empty, defeated, and devoid of joy?

What prompted a change?

On my first day of retirement, I literally had nowhere to go and nothing to do. There were no business issues to solve, nowhere I had to be, no timelines to meet, and no demands to fulfill. Most disturbing was the fact that I had absolutely nothing drawing me forward; nothing excited me personally. I realized that I had no idea of what to do with myself.

Uncomfortable as it felt, I started to consciously reduce the busyness I had always designed into daily activities, spending time instead completely alone and silent. I eventually realized that what I was missing was creative expression. The hunt for self-discovery began.

How did you go about it?

As a hobby, photography had always provided enjoyment. I was lucky: I had a starting point. I was a precision photographer, which means the end goal was always about perfection. The subject focus, like a tiger, had to be situated in an “ideal setting,” photographed with “total clarity,” and a “true reflection of reality.” I now started looking at others’ work, determining to what I felt drawn and asking myself why. I discovered that what attracted me, again and again, was not an image of reality but an image that artistically depicted a story. I joined local and international communities of photographers who were pursuing like interests. I initiated ongoing dialogues about tools and techniques that the best digital artists used. I tested different software programs to see which effects could help shape an image and its story. I practiced and practiced and practiced.

Now I start every morning doing what I love, as I feel it sets the tone for the coming day. I glance through hundreds of my images, contenders for the “smile test”: if I find myself smiling at one in particular, I begin to work with it. I know there’s something special I’m feeling about the image. My goal is to develop artistically what my inner eye has seen although I never know at the beginning of the process what the outcome will be. I know that the artwork has been completed only when I find myself smiling again.

What difference did it make to you personally and to others?

Presenting a powerful, positive, unique interpretation of what’s good, precious, and magical in our world is my mission as a digital artist. My goal is to entertain, inspire, and educate myself, as well as others. Beyond personal satisfaction, I am thrilled that my art has won awards and even prompted several purchases. I very much appreciate that it brings happiness to others. A Facebook follower recently shared, “Oh, how I love this!!  So beautiful and brings back memories of my grandma!” One triumph with this new venture into custom art was a message from another follower saying, “Char, you are inching more and more into artistic originality. I can feel your confidence growing as you master your new skills. It is so fun to be a spectator along for the ride!” 

It’s fun for me, as well, to be a spectator along for the ride into my thoughts and creativity. I’m daily filled with joy as I consistently move forward towards creative self-discovery.

What were the keys to effective change?

Beyond those identified, the most critical aspect of seeking personal fulfillment is what I now choose to incorporate into my thoughts and activities every day. I continuously remind myself that my life is simply a mirror of how and what I think. I have total control. I wake up each morning and say to myself, “Good morning, you fantastic artist!” I listen to tapes, read books, and attend courses, all towards empowering myself and shifting the way I look at the world. I actively keep my body fit and healthy.  I surround myself with friends who inspire and motivate me to be the best me.  And, finally, I constantly glance at two highly motivational signs on my desk: “What do I want to experience?” and “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

What support tools do you highly recommend for others?

Have you or a woman friend transformed your life after 50? We would like to hear from you!

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