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Dynamic 92-year-old shares life-long learning message

Mary B. Bowman has been teaching Zen Painting for over fifty years.

She was inspired by her early travels to Japan and now she shares her passion for the ancient art at the North East Community Learning Center.

“We just enjoy the energy and the spirit that each person brings. If somebody is really tired, their leaves are apt to droop; it’s there right in the brushwork,” she said.

All of Bowman’s students are from NEISD’s Academy of Learning in Retirement, or ALIR, and are over fifty years old.

“I had to add a class because it was always full and people kept saying I can’t get in your class and I said well I’ll add a class,” Bowman said.

She believes in life-long learning and is a testament to that herself because in May, she will be 93-years-old.

“It’s just so important to keep your brain occupied and keep excited about something you are going on to. iI’s like moving forward all the time instead of being stagnant and sitting and being a spectator. It’s very important to be active in something that you love,” Bowman said.

The key, she said, is to take care of your mind and body.

“I eat very carefully; I sleep very carefully so that I get enough; the third thing is exercise. I lift weights, I do yoga classes twice a week. It’s all caring enough to do the things that keep you from aging fast,” Bowman added.

You can also still find her on the slopes in Park City, Utah.

“I’m an artist and I love the mountain scenery,” she said.

Bowman’s art students love her spirit and the experience she bring to class.

Christina O’Neill is in Bowman’s continuing Zen Painting class.

“She’s just wonderful; she’s so fun and entertaining and she does such a beautiful job of demonstrating for us,” O’Neill said.

Margarita Benavides is Bowman’s classroom assistant and also one of her students.

“I really liked the way she thought and her kindness towards the world, humanity, and art,” Benavides said.

Bowman said that having a place like ALIR has been great for so many seniors.

“ALIR is a big part of it all. I take classes here as well and I have taken them through the years. It’s just wonderful, it’s a wonderful family sort of thing.”

To learn more about the Academy of Learning in Retirement at NEISD, click here:

Discover the NEISD way, where our educators believe it’s never too late to learn something new.

Ashley Speller