Explore Your Creative Side and Live Longer
It’s true. Staying healthy as you age and living longer is enhanced by discovering and pursuing your creative side. Ongoing research backs this up and suggests that creativity may be the key to healthy aging. According to a July 12, 2021 article in the Washington Post, reporter Matt Fuchs writes that “Participating in activities such as singing, theater performance and visual artistry could support the well-being of older adults and that creativity . . . can lead to greater longevity.”
Perhaps you have never had the time, nor the interest or inclination to break into song, pick up a paint brush, or write or story, but now may be the best time because now you have the time. Chances are, you are no longer pursuing a career or raising children, so why not take a leap and explore your creative side! Beacon Hill can help you get started.
There are plenty of places dedicated to finding and nurturing your creative side in a spectacular new space – part of the Vistas’ expansion – called the Studio. It is a haven for artistic expression, comprised of three flexible areas, which can be arranged and re-arranged for almost any creative endeavor. You can take an art class from experienced teachers, create original works of art, or meditate during quiet reflection time.
The floor-to-ceiling windows create a light-filled room for creativity and inspiration. Two large tables can be used individually, for small groups, or pushed together for one large group activity. The modular open space inside the Studio has a plush seating area, inviting vibrant conversation. For book club meetings and discussions, feel free to use the glass-enclosed meeting room. This space belongs to you – gather, share, and be inspired.
If you’re thinking, “I can’t even draw stick people,” don’t give up. Here are some tips for finding and tapping into your creative side. When in doubt, keep in mind the benefits – a longer, healthier, happier life. You can start by being both open to the possibilities and curious about what you might discover about yourself.
A good beginning might be some self-reflection. As you ponder your life so far, what has been your anchor – is it your faith, your love of the outdoors, your family? As you look around your home, what are the things you treasure most – photos, artwork, books? And, as you think of growing up, what are the visual memories as well as the sounds of your childhood? What captured your interest and imagination then that you might reprise now?
There are some easy, fun ways to begin your creative journey. How about making a collage? All you need are magazines, paper, scissors and a glue stick. The goal is to connect with that creative side of yourself. There is freedom in creativity and a chance to have fun and explore.
Maybe the written word holds greater appeal to you. Why not write a letter to your children or grandchildren. Reflect on your memories and experiences in your life and maybe even offer advice on something you have learned. What a gift for them and valuable for you to use your voice to share your own stories.
Everyone should try painting – at least once. What’s the risk – this is for fun, not to get a job or support your family. You don’t have to be a great artist, or even an “artist” to make art. Here are some tips from Barbara Twardowski, who lives in New Orleans and writes about travel, lifestyle and boomer topics. She says it’s how “to become a painter at any age – some practical advice for getting started as a later-in-life painter.”
1 – Join an Organized Group
Poll your fellow residents at Beacon Hill to see who else might be interested in painting or contact Grand Valley Artists (http://www.grandvalleyartists.com/) and peruse the multiple art classes they offer.
2 – Check Out Local Colleges
Grand Rapids Community College and Ferris State University offer art classes that may be exactly what you need to get started on your painting journey.
www.grcc.edu › schools-departments › visual-arts › course-offerings › art
3 – Scout Art Supply Stores
Not only might they offer classes, they will have all the supplies you need plus various instruction aids and books.
4 – Visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum & Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Go to be inspired and learn about classes that they offer.
5 – Hire a Pro
Many local artists might be willing to offer private lessons to an individual or to a group of budding artists.
6 – Search Online
We have all learned what a powerful source of knowledge and information is available online. Although you may be far more interested in person-to-person experiences after the pandemic, it doesn’t hurt to check out what the internet offers.
Just one more thing to keep in mind, creativity is not limited to the arts. Author and Georgetown University psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal defines being creative as “having the ability to make unexpected connections, either to see commonplace things in new ways – or unusual things that escape the attention of others and realize their importance.” It is “everyday creativity” and can be applied to ordinary tasks such as grandparenting, gardening, or friendships.