Long Live Creativity

Today I’m just noodling about the pleasures of life.

The act of creating something special you love, even something new to you, is available to us at any age.  I was nourished this week by two marvelous events that prompted these thoughts.

OLD COUNTRY ROAD, is a band consisting of (pardon me) 4 old guys and one younger man who grew up in the hey day of  traditional country and bluegrass  music.  Possibly because I’m really starting to feel my own age, I thoroughly enjoyed their recent concert.  In fact, I’m a fan.   These white haired musical phenomenons,  all retired from successful careers,  just won’t stop playing the old music they love from the 50s and 60s.

They delight their older audiences with the memories the songs evoke. They forget, they laugh and we all laugh, then they remember, and they just do their thing. Rehearsing weekly and playing occasionally in the community are key activities in their elder lives. Their concerts clearly nourish them and all those who hear them, reminding me that is never to late in life to create great fun and let it ripple out.

What was different and equally nourishing was my participation in THE REUNION PROJECT at our local Loomis Village. After attending her 50th high school reunion, Lora Brady was taken with the histories of women whose lives have spanned so many significant changes, her own included.  (For more on this span of time from a woman’s perspective,  I heartily recommend the Ruth Bader Ginsberg documentary, RBG.)

Lora, a resident scholar in Women’s Studies at Brandeis University, felt sufficiently energized by that reunion experience to create a project to get elder women of my generation talking, not only with each other, but sharing our journeys with younger women. Her intervention prompts and highlights those conversations in retirement communities and senior centers.

A prize winning photographer, this was Lora’s self-initiated  third “career” and livelihood.  Her “creation” has given meaning to her own life, to those who participate, and to the communities in which the participants live.

Our creativity never needs to die.  In fact it nourishes us, and all those around us. Speaking of nourishing oneself, I’ve just  started another journey book about living my life on the way to 80.  Apparently, reflecting on healing, aging, living life, and writing about it,  is what I do to keep me sane and happy.

What is it that YOU are hankering for in your life? 

How might YOU create more of it?

Making the Most…in Conversation

“I’m old enough to die.”  At 78, yes, I am here…old enough to die.

Great conversations with my age peers add juice to the mix:   “That means I am also old enough to live my way, without annoyances, aggravations or miseries.”   Or,  “That means I am now old enough to be outrageously authentic for the rest of my days.” 

I like these ideas from my acquaintances…they resonate for me.  How much clearer can it be?   

I’m now old enough, and wise enough, to live the life that is mine, and on my own terms. Period.   You, too.

We all reach the point, at whatever age,  sufficiently prompted to notice what doesn’t work in our lives. And selfish and courageous enough to make some changes.

Friends, local and online, are there to help.   The questions about navigating the path to elderhood are real and resonating. Whether you start addressing them at 55, 60, 65, 70, or 80.   Opportunities abound for great connections with other folks also wanting to be CONSCIOUS CREATORS of MEANING and PURPOSE and JOY.

Get connected with those who are grappling with what’s really important to them and how to do more of it, despite any losses that inevitably occur along the way.

Check out the Conscious Elder Network that is devoted to making conversational space available to talk about the delights, dilemmas and choices of later life.  Their Death Cafe space is deep and rich.

Check out the community colleges in your area as they begin to respond to the boomer generation’s interest in forums for the essential later-in-life conversations.  I’ll be helping to facilitate a few of those offered by Holyoke Community College this fall 2018. Call 552-2123.

Check out Carol Rinehart’s Stamina Project for wide ranging conversations in Western Massachusetts which occur on the fourth Sunday afternoon of the month. You’ll see me there.

Yes, I am old enough to die, and still curious enough to want to keep learning how to make the most of my remaining years.

Won’t you join me?

What will outlive you?

My mother always said:  “When things get tough, go out for a run!”  I’ve found that advice—issued regularly from my physical educator parent—to have been of benefit. She probably doesn’t know how much these words, and the release they prompted, have helped over the years to neutralize and bring clarity to whatever I was suffering at the moment.  In later years, however, I had to balance her advice with my own lived wisdom, “When things get tough, it’s also deeply healing to shed your tears.”

Another important legacy from my mother : “I’m never going to leave to my six children the mess I was left at my parents’ death.”   And she was true to her word.  It was a magnificent legacy. At her passing, we had almost nothing to do except mourn and celebrate.  She had started her preparations 20 years prior, communicating each of  them fully, and executing every one of them with precision.   The specifics were found in her desk drawer, neatly placed in the folder marked AT MY DEATH.

And so, recently,  when a much younger client said to me as we closed out our formal relationship, “Your words are in my head,”  I smiled.  Although I didn’t ask what words, I was guessing that as this person’s life challenges persist, she might recall me saying, “Self care is an act of courage” and make some different choices. I found myself enjoying the possibility that some of my own most potent life lessons, morphing into encouragements for others, might have been permanently transferred as useful and ongoing guidance. 

As our default legacy, we can’t help leaving beyond who we are, for better or worse.  It’s a given and we typically don’t think about it.

Beyond the givens, I found myself wondering what other legacies we might choose to pass on if we determined to do more than just leave everything to chance.

What gifts to future generations might be appreciated, even if they required time and effort?    How about the words and stories of our growing up years?  A memoir which only you can create, in writing or video, might help your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, better understand and. appreciate their heritage?

Each life is part of a generational continuum.

What words or models from your antecedents still empower you?

What of your presence, your values and your words, will outlive you?