By MYRON LOVE Retirement can be a difficult transition. You suddenly have too much time on your hands and not enough structure to your day.

Some of those who can and are so inclined take the opportunity to travel more frequently. Some discover the satisfaction of volunteer work. Some become couch potatoes.
Then there are those, like northenders Michael Lemer and Sandi Bloomfield, who take the opportunity to turn what was an avocation or hobby into a brand new career.
Bloomfield can best be described as a healer who uses gemstones to aid in healing. Quartz, for example, enhances the effectiveness of medication, she says. Rose quartz, she notes, helps alleviate pain and bring about loving energy. Blue lace agate helps with hip and knee problems and lessens the pain of arthritis. It’s also good for the thyroid, lymph glands and psoriasis, she adds.
She also sells jewellery.
Bloomfield began her working career as an x-ray and lab tech at the Mount Carmel Clinic working with the late Anne Ross. She had to give that career up when she began having her children.
Following a move to the Hamilton/ Burlington area with her then husband in 1970, she went into real estate sales, a profession she continued to excel at after the family moved back to Winnipeg in the mid-1970s. Over 21 years in real estate, she won many sales awards and even operated her own company. She quit the profession in the early 1990s following the death of her parents and some health issues of her own.
“I had become a workaholic,” she says. “I was burnt out.”
And the medication she was taking, she says, over the years made her sicker.
Eight years ago, Bloomfield suffered a heart attack.
“That is when I started my jewellery and gemstone business,” she says. “I stopped taking most of my medications and began treating myself with gem stones. I haven’t felt this well in years.”
Now this u-turn in Bloomfield’s life was not exactly a bolt out of the blue. She says that she has always been intuitive. She recounts, for example, a dream that she had when she was four.
“I dreamt that I was going to have a baby brother whose name would be David Earl,” she says. “I didn’t know at the time that my mother was pregnant.”
And she had taken many courses over the years to do with healing. One of the programs that she attended was at The International Institute of Integral Human Sciences where, over ten summers, she studied a variety of spiritual and healing disciplines taught by visiting professors from all over the world.
Bloomfield offers personal readings at her home and group sessions. She has been invited to appear at bar and bat mitzvahs and seniors centres such as the Gwen Secter, where she has been a long-time volunteer. And she does jewelry parties in private homes for fundraising or for clients who just enjoy having family and friends for an educational and fun evening.
For each client with their ring, she will put together a group of programmed gemstones in a pouch or vial or in a necklace. She also has a large selection of rings to choose from – in varying price ranges – each with the proper gemstone already mounted. (She doesn’t keep the rings at her home/office.)
“You don’t have to be ill to appreciate my gorgeous programmed rings,” she says. “I just call them feel-good jewelry. I have one of the best jewelry selections in Winnipeg with over 500 rings to choose from.”
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The impetus for Michael Lemer to turn to pottery full time came in November, 2013, when his career in sales came to an end due to downsizing.
“It turned out for the best,” he says. “I had been doing pottery almost full time anyway. This is what I want to be doing.”
His introduction to pottery came about 12 years ago when he and a friend signed up for a course at the Stoneware Gallery on Corydon. “It was something I was interested in,” he says. “My father (the late Sam Lemer) had taken up stone carving in his retirement years. I found the class to be a lot of fun. I really liked it.
“So I bought myself a potter’s kiln and wheel and started doing pottery in my basement.”
He subsequently took more courses, learned glazing, and picked up different techniques and ideas. He also does a lot of research online.
One of his inspirations, he says, has been long-time potter Alan Lacovetsky. “I have really been impressed with Alan’s pieces,” Lemer says.
He notes that for him, pottery started as a hobby, progressed to a serious hobby, then a part-time occupation and, over the past 16 months, a full-time business.
Lemer notes that all of his work is either hand made or wheel thrown. And each piece has its own distinct personality. He describes his creations as primarily functional. He produces complete dinner sets (cups, bowls, plates, platters), condiment jars, goblets and mugs and cookware – all of which is oven and microwave safe.
“One thing I do that I don’t think anyone else around here does in quite the same way is to infuse coloured glass into stoneware,” he notes.
Lemer sells his pottery online, also in a number of galleries, gift shops and bookstores locally. His works are also on display in Kenora and Calgary.
The next stage for Lemer (and his supportive wife and partner, Evie) is to go the festival route. He is planning exhibits at the Festival of Crafts in Calgary in May, the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July, and the “Big One” Arts and Craft sales in Brandon in October and the Signature Show at the Convention Centre here in November.
“I always enjoyed going to trade shows in my former career,” he says. “I was pleased with how well we did for our first time at the Signature show here last year and I am told that people look forward to seeing your wares and come back year after year. It’s a lot of fun.”