I’m a menopausal woman, with a grown child. One of the things I’ve noticed about myself recently, and many of my contemporaries, is an explosion of creativity. I have a general feeling that I’m bursting with ideas and plans, for art projects, books and other writing, and business ideas, as well as a huge roiling cauldron of information, perhaps even wisdom, to share with others. That’s why I devised my mission statement – businesses that help others succeed. My mission statement functions as a needed limiter, to help me hone my focus on what I should be doing with my time, rather than the multitude of possible projects and schemes that I could be trying.
I had my daughter relatively late, at 38. Raising her in a very hands-on way through home schooling kept me feeling young enough to not turn and look at my own aging. However, once I turned 55, the truth that I am surely, definitively in the second half of my life, and that I was moving solidly into a whole different demographic, had to be faced. I may not have much time left, and I want to use it well.
My mother told me about a conversation she once had with her mother about aging. Nan, who must have been in her early 60’s at the time, expressed to Mum that she didn’t feel any different. She still felt the same dreams and hopes and emotions that she felt when she was a young and vibrant woman. And my mother said she felt the same way, like a young woman. Maybe in part this was because neither of them was completely fulfilled in their own lives at the time they had these conversations. Mum went on to bring her late-in-life enthusiasm and creativity to the local community theater where she lived. But my Nan languished her whole life in an unhappy marriage, staring sadly out her kitchen window.
Meanwhile, I’m getting to that same age, and it is true that I often feel young; I’m just as enthusiastic, and curious, and seeking as I ever was, but the feelings are tempered with the good – all this knowledge I’ve accumulated through experience – and the bad – the occasional physical ailment that hits at my ability to work as long and hard as I used to. I used to bounce back from overnighters – now I can’t do them at all. I used to be able to power through a cold with meds – now they put me to sleep. I can’t remember people’s names well, but that is not new.
There are some great things about being older, and honestly, looking older. I’m an old lady and I can say what I want. I can accept help – “yes, thank you, you can load my groceries into my car” – although I still get most of them delivered, and I don’t feel bad about that at all. I’m still a few years away from most of the Senior Discounts – but you may be sure I will be taking advantage of them.
But in this one way, I am better – I am decidedly more creative. The urge to create stuff – things and information – and the desire to share my vision urge me to be proactive. I want to write, to make, to get things going, and leave some kind of genuine legacy. Leaving it to other people to bring my ideas to fruition hasn’t worked. It’s up to me. And if I’m going to lose my fine motor acuity, I’d better not screw around and waste time! It’s not just an urge, it’s urgent.
So, what am I going to do with all this profound thinking and enthusiasm?
For one thing, relaunch my Creativity Support program. There are people out there, women and men in the same life stage as myself, as well as younger people soon to crest that hill, who need support in embracing this new picture of themselves as creators, makers, writers, designers, and visionaries. No wonder women have hot flashes, they are burning with brilliant new ideas struggling to get out.
For another, I’ve got books, both fiction and non, stories and screenplays, knocking at the inside of my head and jostling for position. One of these on my list is a book about this very topic – the creativity of older women and their paths to fulfillment. It’s a longer research project, but I think it might be a very needed piece to provoke discussion.
It’s time we in the West, as a culture, started valuing the contributions of age. The challenges many older people (and for women that can mean in their 40’s!) face finding useful work, people willing to hire them, are tremendous. Ageism is a real thing in many professional arenas. AARP is doing something about it, with their jobs board. I’m going to think on the matter.
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