Knowing now what you wish you knew then

Philippa Leader and Christine Minkov encourage over-50s to create postcards with messages to their younger selves.
Philippa Leader and Christine Minkov encourage over-50s to create postcards with messages to their younger selves.

As Terry Doherty glued a picture of a vintage car to the front of a blank postcard, a big smile crossed his face as he remembered what it was like to be 16.

"I was looking forward to the freedom of having a car and working," Terry laughed.

Now working for Lismore City Council, Terry recently took part in one of Lismore City Council's Postcard Project workshops where community members over the age of 50 were asked to create a postcard with a message to their 16-year-old selves.

"On the back of the postcard I've written 'Don't dwell too much on the future, live life today'," Terry said.

While colourful postcards with insightful messages have been trickling into Council over the past few weeks, coordinator Christine Minkov is hoping to receive even more by March 11, in time for them all to be exhibited in Lismore CBD for Seniors Week (March 18-25), and again in Youth Week (April 13-22).

"I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take a moment to reflect on their lives and share some of the lessons they have learnt; good, bad or otherwise, through this project," Christine said. "It can help us build a wonderful conversation between the older and younger people in our community."

So far many of the postcards Christine has received show a strong theme about having confidence and accepting yourself as you are.

"At 16, you are self conscious and want to fit in and hopefully the message that it's okay to not be perfect, that we are all flawed human beings, can be shared between the generations," she said.

Christine created a postcard to her 16 year old self with a message that that bullying was not acceptable.

"I feel strongly about bullying; it's been around forever and it stays with us forever," Christine said. "I was bullied at school when I was 16 and it was devastating, but I realised it wasn't about me - it was about the bullies who needed to feel powerful. It's cathartic to write it down, let it all go and share it with others."

Looking back on the past isn't always through rosy coloured glasses as Philippa Leader discovered when she created a postcard to her younger self.

"I was amazed at how deep it went," Philippa said. "It brought up issues for me but it was great to share it. I'm so different from other members of my family. I have a creative focus and I'm not money driven and it was helpful because I realised I had decided that when I was 16. I think it could be good for teenagers to see the decisions they make will last for the rest of their lives."

People over 50 are encouraged to think just beyond writing words on the back of a postcard and also create a visual representation on the front, through drawing, painting and making collages of photos, pictures and words. Blank postcards can be collected from Council's Corporate Centre at 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah or the CBD Office at 55 Magellan Street, Lismore. You can drop finished postcards off at Council's offices or pick up an envelope and mail them back though the red post box outside Council's CBD office. Workshops can also be arranged for community groups who would like to participate by emailing Christine Minkov at or phoning 1300 87 83 87.

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