Embracing Your Creativity/Part 1:
Discovering Your Potential
Whether you’re considering a reverse mortgage to allow you the freedom to travel or simply to enjoy your golden years without financial worries, one of the great joys of the second half of life is embracing your creativity, whether for the first time, as in a creative urge long deferred, or in response to an inner calling to express awakened wisdom.
Consider Betty, age 87, who sports purple-streaked hair and a dry wit. After lovingly nursing her husband through a long illness, followed by a grieving period, she began sketching charcoal portraits of the hospice staff that cared for her beloved during his final weeks. They’re stunning creations rendered from photos, and while Betty takes great delight in her art, she chooses to create for love alone, offering her art as a gift rather than for payment.
What’s perhaps more astonishing is that Betty only discovered her artistic talent at age 70, when she enrolled with her daughter in an art class. Gene Cohen, MD, PhD, author of The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life and past president of the Gerontological Society of America, says this is not at all unusual: “Creativity is a powerful inner resource that is not only possible in later life, but common.”
He cites examples such as Charlotte, 76, a self-described “shrinking violet” who confronted her social fears following her retirement in her mid-sixties — and joined a community theatre. By her early seventies she was acting and singing publicly. Or Robert, 88, a retired government lawyer who took up photography and produced an extensive international photo series, traveling from Alaska to Tahiti.
Creativity needn’t take traditional art forms, either. A group called ElderWisdomCircle.org is a kind of “Dear Abby” for the mature years: more than 600 advisors aged 60-105 offer free online guidance to anyone who writes to them.
And of course there’s the venerable SCORE, which invites those “50 or better” to share their accrued business wisdom as mentors.
So once you’ve obtained your reverse mortgage, think about painting your house — on canvas. Or painting a new vision of life in your wisdom years.
In Part 2, we’ll explore how creativity actually contributes to healthy aging.