For those of you who are NPR junkies like me, you have more than likely heard of Ira Glass and his This American Life program. The following is a clip of Ira glass talking about creativity and story-telling. His words are balm to the souls of all of us “creatives”. Check it out- http://vimeo.com/24715531#
Anyone reading our blog of late has probably concluded I’m obsessed with turning 60. Now while that might be an exaggeration, I am more likely to read articles and pay attention to news shows featuring the topic of aging. That is why I read with interest an article in the New York Times last Sunday by Peggy Klaus called, Embrace Your Age and Conquer the World. I don’t know about conquering the world so much, but maybe conquering my own world would be a worthy pursuit. Klaus argues that in spite of, or perhaps because of, ageism (discrimination based on age) we Baby Boomers should “start to own, even embrace, how old we are”. She says it’s the perfect time for a major cultural attitude adjustment. Hmmm, maybe this aging thing just got a lot better, I thought to myself.
Klaus cited a Northwestern University study in which the author opined that people who are 55 and even 65 have more innovation potential than 25 year olds. Benjamin Jones noted in a paper titled, “Age and Great Invention” there has been a large upward trend in the age at which innovators begin their active careers.
A CBS Morning Show last week featured Jeffrey Kluger of Time Magazine in a segment called “Awesome Aging”. Kluger contends creativity increases with age. He referenced studies that have found the brain continues to grow in those areas involving creativity. The very deterioration we dread actually enhances creativity. Kluger says, “The walls break down. It’s no longer language in the left hemisphere and art in the right. There is a free flow of information back and forth.” He added, “Wisdom is a bi-product of creativity. What is wisdom but creative thinking?” This must be why Frank Lloyd Wright, Pablo Picasso, and even Galileo did some of their best work in their 80s.
I can’t tell you how affirming these two articles are. Creativity is a central thesis of Be Brave. Lose the Beige (our blogsite and book title). We go so far as to urge people to “exercise” their creative muscles. As adults, we have come to recognize the validity of exercising our bodies and minds, but somehow, once we get past the age of ten, we often pay less attention to our creative muscles. And, just like physical muscles that fail to be engaged, so can our creative muscles begin to atrophy. 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.
While I have always enjoyed participating in creative activities, I’m feeling as though I’m on creativity steroids at this point in my life (at age 60). My brain is a virtual popcorn machine with new ideas/creative thoughts continuously popping up (probably more because of my ADD brain). My husband and I consider ourselves entrepreneurs. I think we must conceive of new business ideas every other day. The process of conception (much like in the other kind of conception process) is the fun part– the brain storming process; the excitement of a new idea; the hope of making the idea an income producing one…
So, I agree with Peggy Klaus. This is a perfect time for a major cultural attitude adjustment, and let’s start with us- the Boomer Generation. After all, there are a lot of us- 80 million to be precise. Rumor has it over half of us will celebrate our 100th birthday and beyond. How do you plan to creatively spend these next 20, 30, or 40 years.
I’d like to share a laboring technique that doesn’t feel quite so much like labor. I’m sitting under a tent on the beach, laptop in hand with my feet buried beneath soft, crumbly ivory colored sand. I really am working, I’m just doing it to the accompaniment of the rhythmic sounds of a summer ocean. I’m using technology in a way that is advantageous to me; I’m not allowing it to use me (at least not at the moment). My cell phone is near by, as are the sandpipers and ruddy turnstones with their punk rocker hairdos. (Seagull relatives)
Let’s face it, most of us have to work. Work can take the form of office labor or the labor intensive responsibilities of being a parent or other responsible adult. Whether we are filling out those endless beginning of school year forms for our children/grandchildren, paying bills or typing on our laptops, do one thing that makes it all more pleasurable. Our parents taught us work first, play second. I think we are capable of doing both. This is a photo of my business partner, Jackie
Sorensen and me working at Nichols Surf Shop Cafe in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. This funky, bohemian café situated yards from the Atlantic Ocean provided a creative atmosphere for designing our series of Be Brave. Lose the Beige workshops. A Lady Boomer one table over snapped this photo saying how envious she was of our work environment.
If you can and when you can, perform your tasks/ work in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing. It will qualitatively improve your production. And besides, you might not mind doing it so much.
Creativity can be such an intimidating word. I’ve seen grown women cover their ears and run screaming from the room at the prospect of participating in a creativity activity. That is one reason I enjoyed Ira Glass’s description of creativity and story telling. Check it out here- http://vimeo.com/24715531#
I’m delighted Boomer Cafe published my post on creativity. Check it out at Boomer Cafe
This is post four of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 10 days of New Years Resolutions. I am newly returned from spending the most amazing Thanksgiving week in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico with my husband and our adult children. My kids think this may have been one of the best trips we’ve ever taken. We skied, hiked, dined, and browsed our way through galleries filled with turquoise and terracotta pottery. At least half of our week was spent beholding the beauty of the sage brushed landscape and mountains from our floor to ceiling windows stretched across the back of our vacation home. This three bedroom adobe style home perched on the edge of a reservation was available to us at no cost.
The Holiday, the romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet who exchange their Los Angeles and rural England homes over the Christmas holiday inspired us to join an online site called Home Exchange.com. We were able to trade our beach place for the mountain house in Taos at no expense to either party. While some of the listings are second homes, the majority are primary residences. We have successfully exchanged homes on five occasions. Rather than cramming five people into two hotel rooms where we are forced to eat out every meal, we have a kitchen, living room, and multiple bath and bedrooms at our disposal.
Financing a vacation may sound like a luxury during times of economic distress like we are currently undergoing. Carving out time from stress and schedules may not be a luxury but rather a necessity for our psychic well being and that of our family. It may sound glib to suggest there are alternative forms of vacationing that don’t require taking out a second mortgage to fund it or piling in on top of relatives in other locales. A home exchange worked for us and might for you. Check it out at http://www.homexchange.com.
This is post two of my 10 days of New Years resolutions. As I’ve mentioned previously, Be Brave. Lose the Beige is not just about color (although I’m crazy about colors..all colors, the more the better). Be Brave. Lose the Beige is really a life choice. It’s about exploring the playful side of your life by escaping incessant to-do lists and experiencing more joy and fun in your life.
Resolution Number2- Try introducing a little more color in your daily lives.
After all, do we really need all that beige? Beige sofas, walls, and clothes? I recently exercised my creativity muscles (see post above) by creating drawer and cabinet pulls like the ones featured in the photo below. These polka dotted, flowered and heart filled clay knobs are now affixed to my cupboard doors and drawers at our beach place. You don’t even have to go to the trouble of making your own. Web stores and brick and mortar stores abound with fun, colorful knobs and drawer pulls. The color combinations alone will all but guarantee delight each time you reach inside for a cup or bowl. Somehow color and whimsey can imbue even the most mundane task, such as setting a table or pouring a glass of milk a lot more fun.
So, go ahead, be brave, lose a little of that beige and take a step toward coloring your life.
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!
This is post three of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 12 days of New Years Resolutions. Even though Be Brave. Lose the Beige isn’t just about color, today’s post is. Be Brave.Lose the Beige argues that running from meeting to meeting, checking off the to-do lists, etc. isn’t really living…it is, however, a fact of life. We do run from Parent-teacher sessions to board meetings and on to client conferences. So, let’s accept the inevitable and try to have a little fun with it. Why not try wearing something really fun when you are making the meeting rounds…as an example, try wearing colorful tights. I have and they single handedly make the meeting more fun for everyone involved.
Resolution #3 Try Networking in Color
Recently I attended a women’s networking function at a law firm. Now even the word, networking makes me cringe. It sounds so pretentious and artificial. So, in an effort to introduce a little levity to the mix, I wore a rose colored dress and psychedelic, zig zag pattered tights (photo below). This insertion of color in the midst of a sea of black and navy blue suits caused quite a stir. Young women, middle aged women, law partners and bankers, came up to me throughout the evening saying things like, “I just wanted to meet you, you’re so bold”. People said I was the “life of the party”, all because I deemed to wear a colorful pair of stockings. I had a ball and maybe this act will inspire other women to break out of the beige box and delight themselves and others.
So..Resolution #3- Try Networking in Color
Last year around this time I read with interest a New York times article written by John Tierney about New Year’s resolutions. On an optimistic note he said,
“Whatever you hope for this year you are more likely to make improvements than someone who hasn’t made a formal resolution. You are 10 times more likely to change by making a New Year’s resolution compared to non-resolvers with identical goals. If you make it through January, you have a good chance of lasting a lot longer.”
Adopting a more pessimistic tone, however, he suggested,
“Most people are not going to keep their resolutions all year long. They start out with the best of intentions, expecting they will find the willpower to succeed. By the end of January a third will have broken their resolutions; by July more than half will have lapsed.”
Tierney went on to say, however, that perhaps we should consider the kind of resolutions to make. Perhaps not making too many resolutions requiring strict adherence to resisting temptation (i.e. I vow not to eat Krispie Kream donuts in 2013).
I agree. I think we should consider the kind of resolution to make. Be brave. Lose the beige aspires to inspire and encourage Lady Boomers to discover their own colorful spirits. Is running from meeting to meeting, checking off the to-do list really what life is all about? Lady Boomers! This is a clarion call to resolve this new year to imbue your lives with more creativity and fun. Infusing your life with more playfulness and creativity does not require significant or major life changes. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting suggestions for you to consider incorporating into your lives throughout the next year. The following is the first of 10:
Resolution Number 1- Try exercising your creativity-
As adults we have come to recognize the validity of exercising our bodies. Working out at the Y, power walking, skiing or swimming contributes to our health and wellbeing. (There is even a book entitled, “Younger Next Year” which promotes daily exercise as a ticket to the Fountain of Youth) Further, exercising our minds is a value our society promotes. We take classes, read literature and news magazines, do crossword puzzles or Sudoku. But somehow once we get past the age of ten we generally start paying less attention to our creative muscles. And, just like our physical muscles that fail to be engaged, so can our creative muscles begin to atrophy. So..resolve to engage your creative muscles this year. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, some of which include (but are certainly not limited to):
-plant a swath of backyard dirt with a garden filled with colorful flowers or aromatic herbs
-dust off your guitar or piano keys and take lessons
-try collaging a few family photographs
-take a pottery class..clay is a wonderful teacher, it comes from the ground and grounds those who touch it. After all, it’s not the pots you are shaping but yourself.
So go ahead and flex those creative muscles. They will definitely get stronger and more defined.
Check out this article on Boomer Care- Failure: Just Another Word for Creativity.
I am far from a “techie” (someone who is technologically proficient) but I was fascinated by an NPR story I heard recently entitled, “Failure: The F word Silicon Valley Loves and Hates”. The story focused upon entrepreneurs in the Tech field in Silicon Valley. According to this report, failure is glorified in this Valley of technological start up companies. Interviewees in this story said things like, “the fear of being a failure drives you.”. One person noted, “Failure means you just haven’t gotten your success yet.” Another reported that “failure is mandatory; it’s as pervasive as the weather”.
I was stunned by the optimism of these statements. My husband and I consider ourselves entrepreneurs. I think we must conceive of new business ideas every other day. The process of conception (much like in the other kind of conception process) is the fun part– the brain storming process; the excitement of a new idea; the hope of making the idea an income producing one…
I’ve dreamed of making my Be Brave. Lose the Beige concept an income producing business. I create art, write books/journals/blogs, and conduct Lady Boomer workshops and retreats on the subject. Endeavors producing a sustainable source of income are such a point of validation. Everyone around you affirms your idea is a success once you begin making money from it. If not, it’s a dream, a silly notion, or worse yet, a failure. Aside from the obvious drawbacks of failing to earn money from an endeavor consuming significant time and focus, there is the added burden of disappointing family members and friends. That fear of humiliation is what drives entrepreneurs says Joe Kraus of Google Ventures. “Threading that idea from the “vision” stage to the “execution” stage is a necessary step in the march to success.
I know what that feels like. I’m 59 years old this year. I can’t believe it. I feel like I might run out of time at any moment without fully realizing by dreams (although it’s not from a lack of trying.) I spend an inordinate amount of time writing, researching and sculpting. I have often hidden these endeavors from my linear lawyer friends out of fear they may say something like, “Why are you wasting your time doing that?!”. After all, there has not been any kind of a guarantee I’ll make money from all these efforts. But creativity is funny. It’s kind of like breathing. I can’t fathom living without it. So I loved hearing this story. I found it encouraging; a virtual support group for creative people. Remember- Thomas Edison was asked if he was frustrated at his lack of success after his 1800 attempts at inventing the light bulb. “No”, he replied, “ I now know a 1000 things that won’t work.”
So, if you feel alone in your quest toward entrepreneurship, share you experience here. We can commiserate.