“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish”

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” I was reminded of these words from Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Sanford University as I watched the new Steve Jobs movie. The movie simultaneously portrays him as a heartless opportunist and a creative visionary. Regardless of the characterization, Steve Jobs was a fascinating guy who brought us the likes of MacBook, ipods, ipads and iphones. The movie depicted him as algorithm obsessed and relentless in his pursuit of the perfect product design. Geniuses are, by their very nature, a little lopsided. And, Steve Jobs was, apparently, pretty lopsided- brilliantly creative and interpersonally dysfunctional.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish
Steve Jobs

Stay Hungry…stay eager. Stay foolish…try new things, step out of your comfort zone.  This speech feels a little ironic. It was spoken by a college drop-out, who had recently been given a death sentence. He was delivering it to a group of highly educated, hopeful, 22 year olds on the precipice of launching their lives.  

“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” He went on to counsel…

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I don’t think this advice has a time stamp or an age limit. Baby Boomer women, of whom I’m one, have lived a significant percentage of their adult years within very prescribed lines. I’m working on a book entitled, Be Brave. Lose the Beige: A Coloring Book for Living Outside the Lines which encourages women to be brave and step outside some of those lines to experience more playfulness in their lives. I guess that is why I found this speech so inspiring…it’s how I feel as well. As we age into our 50s 60s, and 70s don’t settle for living someone else’s life. I don’t believe it is ever too late to pursue our postponed dreams and follow our hearts and intuition.  Follow Your Dreams


Caregivers Living In Color

This post launches a new category of blog posts for Be Brave. Lose the Beige. As a 62 year old Baby Boomer married to a 66 year old Baby Boomer, I’m fairly convinced many of us in this age cohort will be facing caregiving duties at some point.

Now, you might be saying, “Wait a minute…I’m already caring for an aging parent.” Others might say, “I’m integral to the care of my grandchildren”. And still another might add, “I’m caring for my aging parent and my grandchildren”.

My question is, “When in our lives have we not been care givers?” Caring for others has kind of been the MO (modus operandi/method of operation) of our generation, particularly for women. We have been hyper involved in the care of our kids, including our adult kids. Thirty-one percent of Boomers have simultaneously supported and cared for older and younger family members.  (The Boomer Generation can truly be dubbed the “Tweener Generation” sandwiched as we have been between parenting children and caring for aging parents. This clay pickle-impaled figure illustrates this predicament since 60% of caregivers in this country are women) 

Tweener generation
The Sandwhich Generation



It’s a good thing our generation enjoyed sex, drugs, and rock-in-roll in our youth because our adulthood has and will be fraught with a considerable amount of responsibility. While I know we are up to the challenge, I wonder if we have really paused to consider how we feel about caring for our spouse/partner? The Conversation Project is a website that encourages these kind of hard conversations with our partners. They believe the place to begin these conversations is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit.

I fully disclose I am not an authority on aging (excepting my own experiences). I am not a geriatrician or social worker.  I am, however, an aging baby boomer who blogs about issues facing other Lady Boomers. I offer tips for living in color, even, or, especially in the midst of hard times. Losing the beige is not just about color, it’s about empowering the spirit. I suspect our spirits might need some bucking up as we face inevitable health changes.

While health changes may be inevitable, our attitudes toward these changes can help invigorate our spirits.  Creativity is at the core of BBLB.   I sometimes feel like a creativity evangelist, so persuaded am I of the health benefits. Creativity is not just about participating in the visual or performing arts. It’s a way of thinking about and approaching one’s life, a way of viewing the world. It’s doing mundane things in a novel way. Even a little creative thinking can produce seismic changes in our lives.

Each week BBLB will post a blog targeted to current and future caregivers. Using the metaphor of color and sometime tongue-in-cheek art, BBLB will post living in color tips encouraging caregivers to exercise their creativity as a way to promote personal wellness and brain health. The goal is to help improve the overall quality of life for caregivers. Happy creating….



My Grandson Showed Me the Light

How many times have you said or heard someone say, “Don’t you just love fall?” I remember Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” talking about how much she loved New York in the fall.   Living in Florida we get the “you don’t really have discernible seasons” rap, as if to say, “you have no concept of fall. The “real” fall only happens north of you.” Well, I beg to disagree…our leaves change color, ever so slightly….after months spent running from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned office, avoiding the oppressive heat and humidity, it’s fun to be outside, to open windows allowing in cool breezes and the sounds of wind chimes. The humidity starts to evaporate. The quality of the light changes. And, we get to decorate for Halloween.

It tickles one’s spirit to behold patches of pumpkins perched on porches and witches wrapping their arms around trees…and those fun orange lights illuminating shrubs and doorways.

I was excited to invite our son, daughter in law and almost 2 year old grandson over for a Sunday stroll to look at lights and Halloween decorations.   Our gang of 4 adults, 2 dogs, and one little boy pushing a stroller set out for the tour. I was like an ADD 4 year old excitedly pointing out clusters of orange lights here and purple lights over there. Mildly interested, Austin kept pointing upward saying…moon…moon as the almost full orb dipped in and out of the clouds. “Yes, that’s really cool Austin. But look over there at the funny pumpkin faces.”

my grandson at Halloween
Austin the Cookie Monster

“Moon” he persisted…And we all finally paused to behold the miracle of the moon. The light emitting from the moon illuminated the sky and our pathway. It truly was much more beautiful than the fake lights wrapped around bushes and porch railings. As the grownups in the world, we spend a lot of time rushing around doing stuff. Austin showed me the light that evening as we paused to be mindful of the moon and all its glory. Good lesson. Thanks, Austin.



I’m a Creativity Evangelist

I really shy away from using words like “crusade” or “evangelist” due to their religious connotations, but on occasion, I think these words can be apropos. For example, at times I feel like Be Brave. Lose the Beige is on a creativity crusade and I’m an evangelist singing its praises, so convinced am I of the potential life-changing/life affirming capabilities of creativity. Pretty strong statement, huh? Well, a New York Times article entitled “We’re All Artists Now”, validates this contention. The article’s author, Laura Holson, leads off by saying “Our best selves are merely one doodle away. Where once drawing and other painterly pursuits were the province of starving artists or simply child’s play, unlocking one’s creativity has become the latest mantra of personal growth and career success”.creativity

I’ve extolled the creative virtues of doodling (see Doodle for your Noodle) and coloring books for grownups in previous posts. More than 60 books are expected to be published on doodling and a meditative drawing technique called Zentangling in 2015. Johanna Basford has made coloring cool for adults with her three books –Secret Garden, Enchanted Forest, and An Inky Quest -two of which are topping best seller lists this year.

This NY Times article noted that creativity has the same holistic benefits as a weekend at the Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa (and much cheaper, I might add). The Mayo Clinic recommends the health benefits of painting and ceramics. A four-year study found that people who took up creative endeavors at middle age suffered less memory loss.

Elizabeth Gilbert, of “Eat Pray Love” fame, has written a new book entitled Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. She argues creativity is not about dropping everything and becoming an opera star, but rather life driven more strongly by curiosity rather than fear.

Gilbert talks about her father’s passion for beekeeping. He did not abandon his practice as an accountant but rather folded his dream into his every day life.

Whether the economy has improved is up for debate. Many people remain stuck in jobs they do not love. Creativity enables fulfillment in other aspects of our lives. Let’s face it the left brain linear thinkers among us have reduced the concept of creative to a “trivial pursuit”. In reality, people need to maintain some sense of themselves and to keep their soulful spirits in tact.

Throughout the country creativity clubs are sprouting.   Members keep in contact to help each other rouse imaginations.

Living a creative life is hardly a new idea. Robert Henri, an artist and teacher in the 1920s, wrote The Art Spirit. He counseled his students that artful living is as much an attitude as a practice. Then there is Julia Cameron, writer of The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.   Her newest book, It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again: Creativity In the Golden Years, will be published next year.

Cameron writes how many of us feel it is too late as we have squandered our creative capital by investing disproportionately in the hopes and dreams of others. “Others think the only path to a creative life is a quit your job or nothing proposition”. Cameron says by fantasizing about doing your art full time sometimes means not even doing it part time or at all.

Many of us are currently in the midst of transitions- work to retirement, work to grand-parenting, work to a different kind of work, and even health transitions.   A Be Brave. Lose the Beige motto reads…

Running from meeting to meeting, checking off the to-do-list—That isn’t really living. Discovering the playful side of life.  Spreading joy. Being colorful…clever…creative.

Now, that’s living!

Just like the accountant/Beekeeper mentioned above, try folding your dreams into your daily lives. Even a little creative thinking can produce seismic changes.  

Cheshire cat clay cupcake
Cheshire Cat Clay Cupcake


The Giving Tree

This is probably the last day we will awaken in our beach condo. Last night I was up to my elbows in the likes of parchment paper, ping-pong paddles and polymer clay. I was packing up bits of our lives from the last 21 years at our beloved New Smyrna Beach home. I awoke several times during the night and again at sunrise realizing this would be the last morning arising at our beach place. Boy, I realize this sounds like a first world problem (as opposed to a third world problem as I’ve heard my kids say). But the memories of summer days spent frolicking in foamy, washing machine waves, feeling like kids again, reading novels by the shore (non-fiction not allowed), or walking along the water’s edge at low tide. This was the first place my husband and I considered our own (he having moved into the house I shared for years with my former husband). This has been a place for romance, solitude, a safe harbor for kids in transition, and friends. It has at various times served as a creative arts studio. I had a pottery wheel ensconced in the laundry room for many years; my food processsor and pasta maker took up residence in the hall cloest along with polymer clay and tools for sculpting. My husband kept a spare guitar in case a musical mood struck.condo

This was a gift we could share with family members and friends- I don’t think I ever gave a present as meaningful to others as a weekend at the beach. Jim and I called our Seascape Towers retreat our “sanctuary” (another name was our “love shack”). One could feel and smell the humid, salty air as you crossed the bridge to the island of New Smyrna, a place where the ocean breeze penetrated the schedules, to-do lists and deadlines living inside our overworked brains.

These induced pauses were a source of inspiration… We came up with many “aha” moments here. Like naming our creative arts program for at-risk kids The Jeremiah Project. I wrote many a blog post with my toes burried beneath soft, crumbly, ivory colored sand, and my husband wrote pages of his book here.

It was kind of the gift that kept on giving. As I close the door for the last time I’m reminded of the Shell Silverstein book, The Giving Tree.   The book begins… “Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy…”, and ends with “And the boy loved the tree…very very much… and the tree was happy.” Thank you walls, floors, and ocean view for the people we came to be these last 21 years. We loved you very very much, and we were happy…the giving tree