The second annual Creative Aging Day event is coming up this month in Kelowna on June 19th. The exhibitions, performances, displays and discussions around creative expression and well-being will flow between the Rotary Centre of the Arts, the Factory and the Kelowna Art Gallery this year. Kelowna is blessed to have a community of inspired people who wish to extend an invitation to everyone to come and explore a “day-long celebration of your creative life.” This will be a day of opportunity to examine the role that creative expression can play in promoting engagement, healing and wellness for all ages.
When we think of creativity, this is our ability to imagine and bring innovation to life. Harvard MD, Dr. Gene Cohen focused his life’s work on researching and teaching about a modern conception, driven by his passion, that the second half of life is full of potential for creative growth. He described the process as C=me2. Creativity is me to a higher power. His thoughts were that when we focus creative energy on the mass of all we have experienced, it transforms and enlarges our sense of self and brings a greater state of emotional health and well-being. Research now fully supports these concepts with the knowledge that neuroplasticity allows the brain to continually re-sculpt itself in response to experience and learning. Dr. Cohen refers to one result of this is that our emotional circuitry becomes more mature and balanced as we age, leading to refinements of cognition, judgment, and social skills. He came to believe that “the secret of living with one’s entire being is the creative spirit that dwells in each of us. It can occur at any age and under any circumstances, but the richness of experience that age provides us magnifies the possibilities tremendously.”
Cohen emphasized that creativity plays “a dynamic role in building and managing relationships, in responding to adversity with new solutions and direction, and in promoting culture and the common good via intergenerational and community interactions.” In other words, continuing to think outside of the box and using our imaginations is strengthened by our life experiences and with age, an even finer potential exists at this time of our lives to find an expression of this palette of expanded wisdom. I would even go so far as to say, it can be transformational in finding grace on the aging journey.
Even if our memories seem to falter as we age, what allows the mind to tap into creative potential in seemingly unexpected ways? There is much documentation of seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s disease lighting up with music that brings back a beautiful connection to youth, the brain remembering old songs with explicit detail despite not knowing what happened several minutes before. Artistic ability can be unleashed as well, with no limitation exposed from the deficits of memory loss, but rather a freedom of expression can unfold that may have gone untapped previously in one’s younger, perhaps more physically active years.
Artistic endeavors open us to the intuitive capacities of our right brain and to our emotions. Doesn’t our human potential lie in our ability to connect emotionally? There is no age limit on the wealth of engagement that creativity offers to each of us, both with ourselves and with others. Aging and the transitions of later life bring a maturity that enhances the balance of our right and left brain because of these experiences. There is actually more potential available for us to utilize in creative ways if we just take the chance. And, as we do, a generosity of spirit is unleashed along with it that allows us to let our wisdom be shared and returned to our own individual community circle, to be savoured and to make a difference to those who are coming along behind us. Yes, life is a circle and the energy of creation moves in it. It is up to us to keep the movement of that energy alive for as long as we can.
I hope to see you there on the 19th of June sometime between 10am and 4pm to listen to what creative imaginings you have swirling in your mind. Stop by my Graceful Aging table for a visit and hopefully you might catch a repeat performance by my dear 99 year old friend and hula dancer, Audrey, who now has me swaying to the music of Lovely Hula Hands on a regular basis.
Another opportunity for learning and discovery is a one day workshop on June 27th entitled Grace Full Aging Part One: Transforming Later Life. Part Two: Creating the Life You Want can be taken the following day on Sunday, June 28th if so desired or just attend Part One now and Part Two will be available again at a later date. Call Marjorie Horne at 250-863-9577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of both flyers.