As a woman over 60, you have already lived a long life. You have likely fulfilled many of your practical goals. You may have married, raised children and had a satisfying career.
You have always put others first and, now that you are older, you may want a change of pace. You want to spend time on yourself – to visit with friends, travel the world, sleep in, read or simply watch television.
But after a while, some of you may feel that something is missing. As you read books, you may think, “I could have written that.” As you go to an art show, you may wonder, “What if I tried to paint that?”
A wave of regret my wash over you. You wish you had painted when you were younger. You wish you had written a book or learned to play a musical instrument while there was still time. You have always felt that you had some artistic talent – you remember that as a child you liked to draw, or write stories, or perform in neighbourhood plays.
You may be longing to let these artistic talents flourish again, but you are afraid that you may have left it too late. You feel that you are too old and do not have the ability or energy to do it now. This is not true!
People have always created works of art and innovative projects well into old age. Many of them made their first attempts when they were well into their 60s, 70s and beyond. We have marveled at the works of elder pioneers like Grandma Moses and Millard Kaufman.
Their work reflects a warehouse of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. This knowledge, researchers are finding, provides fertile ground for creativity. But the story does not end there.
We, as women over 60, all have a rich store of accumulated life experience. But now we know we have something more. Thanks to recent research, we know that our brains have the ability to form new neural pathways, and learn new skills up to a very old age.
Neuroscientists have now accepted that the brain has a quality referred to as “plasticity,” the quality that allows you to learn a language, a musical instrument, or take up an entirely new endeavor, no matter what your stage in life might be.
Shelley H. Carson, (Harvard University), has studied creativity and the aging brain. She says:
“These changes in the aging brain may make it ideally suited to accomplish work in a number of creative domains. So instead of promoting retirement at age 65, perhaps we as a society should be promoting transition at age 65: transition into a creative field where our growing resource of individuals with aging brains can preserve their wisdom in culturally-valued works of art, music or writing.”
Dr. David Galenson, who has conducted studies on creativity for the National Bureau of Economics, concludes:
“Recent research has shown that all the arts have had important practitioners of two different types – conceptual innovators who make their greatest contributions early in their careers, and experimental innovators who produce their greatest work later in their lives.”
These discoveries have dramatic implications for us – we realize now that creativity is not exclusively the domain of the young. We know that women over 60, who are beginning to explore an art form, can depend on many years of creativity.
We know that our talents and abilities are still there, inside us, just waiting to be awakened. Whether you are 60, 70, 80, or even 90, you can use your brain in such a way that this period in your life becomes your happiest and most productive.
By reawakening your creativity, you will capture the natural enthusiasm, energy, and wonder of youth. You will have bypassed the belief that you are too old—you will have taken the quantum leap over the laborious steps of rational thought, and into creativity.
Of course it is! It is still there, just as it always was. The difference is that, this time, it is enhanced by life experience—millions of rich, valuable impressions that you can draw on while you are expressing the medium you want to explore.
Well, anything, actually! You don’t have to be the next Michelangelo, or Robert Frost. You just have to do something that stimulates your creative brain. Once you start, there can be no looking back.
Once you find your artistic and creative niche, you will wake up each morning, champing at the bit, anxious to get going. Nothing is beyond the realm of possibility. Nothing is impossible.
Here are some ideas:
Opening your mind to the creative process will open new channels. It will wake you up and give your life new meaning. Once you have fulfilled an idea, you will be inspired to try another one. You are now on a creative path that will take you into new worlds of experience!
Combining knowledge into novel and original ideas is what the creativity is all about. Women over 60 have both: knowledge and the capacity for original thought. Who knows what can happen next?
“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan
Do you find yourself doodling, or sketching, while watching television? Do you daydream, creating scenarios of dramatic situations in your mind? What are your creative passions? Please join the conversation.
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