Surrounded by magic wands, angel statues and spiritual tomes, Joan Becht Willette, aka The Enchanted Goddess, is reclining in her writing chair, notebook in hand, waiting for the right words to leap from pen to paper.
Whether inspiration comes swiftly or slowly, it does not matter.
The sun is shining, Merlin is meowing and Joan is sipping hot coffee from her Wonder Woman mug.
It took Joan a long time – her entire life, in fact – to channel her creativity, which is why she’s helping other women reinvent themselves.
“You don’t have to be young to take chances and learn new things,” she says. “Women can do it. That’s my message.”
This desire to share her time and talents with others is a natural progression for Joan, a serene Earth Mother with cornflower eyes.
Joan, who is from Malverne, Long Island, is one of eight children. As the oldest girl, it fell to her to nurture her siblings.
“I helped them with their homework,” she says. “And we were always doing things together – putting on plays, making jewelry, going on nature expeditions in the backyard and having sword fights with sticks.”
A self-described lifelong learner, Joan became a public school teacher. She continued working through two marriages and the birth of her daughter, Allison.
Four years ago, after 34 years with the New York City Department of Education, she retired, moved into a new apartment and reimagined herself as The Enchanted Goddess.
“When I turned 50, a bell rang, and I came into my own,” she says. “It was a time of re-examination. I grew up during a time when women didn’t have equal rights. I wanted a life of clarity, a life of choice.”
She painted bold teal stripes in her grey-blond hair, took a bunch of online courses and connected with the local arts community.
“I’ve met such fascinating women,” she says. “We are intergenerational. I want to show women of all ages that there is nothing to be afraid of about getting older. I want to show them that as you march through the decades, it gets better.”
For Joan, it sure did.
Like magic, she got her poetry and prose published and established The Enchanted Goddess, which brings together women through a variety of programs, including the Queens Council on the Arts’ March 10 event Celebrating Queens Women Artists.
“Creativity transforms lives, and when women gather, which they have been doing since ancient times, things happen,” she says. “I want people to be inspired and take the jump into creativity like I did.”
A decade ago, Joan’s transformation started with a three-ring pink “vision” book in which she collected articles and photos of what and where she wanted to be.
She quickly flips through it, pointing out all the dreams that have become reality.
“Four years ago, I didn’t have any of this,” she says, referring to her peaceful place.
To help other women make the leap to a more rewarding life, Joan is expanding The Enchanted Goddess.
Someday soon, there will be a lifestyle course and even a retreat.
And did she mention that she’s writing a memoir?
Joan’s wonderful life has not been without its challenges, but she chooses not to dwell on them.
“I don’t like to talk about my two divorces,” she says. “It’s painful when love doesn’t work out.”
Speaking of love, Joan brings out a framed photo of Allison, who is 33 and following her mother’s creative path.
“She’s the most powerful blessing in my life,” Joan says. “My soul’s purpose is to be a spiritually evolved teacher for her so she can have a life beyond her wildest dreams.”
The sun catches Joan’s eye.
She walks through the French doors of the living room onto a large deck decorated with wicker furniture, diaphanous draperies and comfy cushions.
This sacred space is guarded by a gaggle of goddesses.
She looks up at the skyline and stretches her arms to embrace it.
“I’ve been blessed,” she says. “I’m living a life of miracles.”
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at Nruhling@gmail.com; @nancyruhling on Twitter; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com.
Copyright 2017 by Nancy A. Ruhling