Written March 13, 2018, by the Mediterranean Sea in Netanya, Israel

Breathe in

Breathe out

Today I cross the road so I can walk along the sea.  And what do I see?  My eyes pop, and my mouth makes a wide “O.”

The color is different today.  It is multi shades of the color turquoise, a favorite color of mine that always makes me feel guilty because of the day a young me clumsily dropped the turquoise stone friendship ring my father gave my mother into the sand on the beach, and never found it again.

And the sun makes sparkles in the sea that reflect like twinkling stars of nighttime.

How can this sea keep thrilling me day after day, view after view?

I think of my most creative friend who told me that it is her creativity that wakes her up joyfully every morning, ready to pursue her many talents.  For me, less talented than my old friend, the sea awakens something wonderful in me too, lulls me to sleep, and soothes my aging soul.

In the vastness of the sea before me, one sailboat trying to catch the wind goes slowly by.  It doesn’t look lonely out there by itself.  It doesn’t look afraid of the breadth and depth of the sea it is on.  Does it have a purpose?  A destination?  Do I?

Now that I’ve seen the turquoise blue sea, and felt the wind upon my face, I am content not to live too long.

Long live the turquoise sea!

Breathe in

Breathe out


June 26, 2011

At the recent Creativity Conference I attended, there was some material given out in our folders that I finally got around to reading — and found quite fascinating.  It was a copy of an article in Psychology Today called “The Creative Personality” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/print/21439).   A book called “Creativity:  The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People” published in 1996 by Harper Collins, was written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who devoted “30 years of research to how creative people live and work.”  He chose the word “complexity” to distinguish the creative personality from others.

I’ve been observing the creative people who live in my retirement community because they stand out as the ones most eager to get up in the morning to pursue their often creative passions.   Afflicted with many of the indignities and illnesses of getting older, they nevertheless power through with remarkable, sustained enthusiasm.  I admire them.  I love to watch them at work when I can.   Creativity is their fountain of youth that replenishes them.

In the Psychology Today article, the author found “10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.”  I found his observations thought-provoking.

“They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.  (But) they rest often and sleep a lot.  The important thing is that they control their energy; it’s not ruled by the calendar or external schedule.  When necessary they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries.  They consider the rhythm of activity followed by idleness or reflection very important for the success of their work.”  As for their sexuality, they achieve a balance.  “Without eros, it would be difficult to take life on with vigor; without restraint, the energy could easily dissipate.”

“Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.”  While the IQ of creative people is generally high, an IQ above 120 “does not necessarily imply higher creativity.”  Here, the author believes that convergent thinking (solving well-defined rational problems with one answer) and divergent thinking (leads to no agreed-upon solution and involves many ideas, flexibility, and being able to switch from one perspective to another and picking unusual assocations of ideas) coexist in the creative person.  There is the need for “contrasting poles of wisdom and childishness.”  Mozart was an example of a creative genius in which “immaturity, both emotional and mental, can go hand in hand with deepest insights.”



Where an infinite blue sky and a blue-green sea meet is where we left the ashes of a dear artist friend who passed away.  She was 84 years young — young because of her vibrancy, enthusiasm, and creativity with color and brush.  Nothing about her was ordinary, including the journey we took in a private yellow railroad car owned by her son to carry her ashes there.

Her friends reminisced about Marian Spinn,  their artist/friend who died with many paintings accomplished, yet still many in her mind yet to paint.  She held the joy of creativity close to her heart even as she dealt with the cruelties of aging diseases and wanted only to be able to paint again.

She had told me that she had unknowingly painted spirits into her paintings and only saw them after someone else pointed them out to her.  But they were friendly spirits, and so were welcome to inhabit her paintings.

Her son let each of us choose one of her prints.  I chose a spouting volcano, filled with the power of intense color cascading up and down it.  It was an easy choice for me because she had always talked about how much she loved the years she lived in Hawaii, and I had at one time personally stood near that same volcano during another eruption.  And yes, I quickly located the spirit inhabiting that painting.

She was as colorful and beautiful as the extensive artwork that will continue to live on after her.  It was a life that was easy to celebrate, and a fitting send-off for a fine artist, mother, grandmother,  friend, and a long time member of the National League of American Pen Women.

Comments??  Please e-mail Suellen@ZimaTravels.com


February 18, 2011

I have packed into my 67 years a wealth of experiences that made for a full and satisfying life.  I have done the “normal,” traditional things I expected to do with my life, and have also had more wide-ranging adventure and challenge than I ever expected.  I have loved and been loved.  I have rejoiced with my successes and cried over my failures.   I have worked, and I have led the free life of retirement since 2006.   In truth, I have felt myself adrift for some years since I settled down in southern California — not unhappily, not unproductively, but without a passion or focus.   I’ve been asking myself, now what?

So, it was with some enthusiasm that I picked up Mary Catherine Bateson’s new book, “Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom” in which she explores lifestyles from the vantage point of a broad view over a longer time frame than any former generation has been able to live.  Because of the “extra” time, we can add what Bateson calls, “Adulthood II” — a time still available to us to add spice and zest to our last years before we get caught up in the deterioration and limitations of true old age.  She encourages us to find “new meaning and new ways to contribute, composing (our) lives in new patterns.”

I like her vision of aging as an “improvisational art form calling for imagination and willingness to learn.”  Some people are able to go back to something they always wanted to do, but for whatever reasons, didn’t do.  Some have developed new directions and even new businesses in their lives.  Some go in directions they never considered before, sometimes finding previously undiscovered talents and living happily ever after fulfilling these talents.  Some use their “extra” years to repair damaged personal relationships, while others seek new relationships.

I sometimes wonder why composers like to write so many variations on a theme, but I see comparisons with one person, for better or worse, continuing to live variations on themes in his/her own life.  A friend of mine insists that we psychologically re-play our lives over and over trying to make them come out the way we want.   Age brings with it ambiguity and shades of gray where black and white were so clear in our youthful years.  All of these can be exciting and empowering, or paralyzing when it comes to making big decisions and changes.

My passion for travel, exploring other cultures from the inside, and creating niches for myself in other countries kept my middle-aged years challenging and intense.  I was definitely into “doing.”  As time went on, I began to appreciate “being” more and more.  It’s harder to qualify and quantify “being” compared to “doing,” but there is a quieter excitement and calmness about it.  Perhaps more “being” than “doing” coincides with the aging process and waning energy.  But it has also led me to wonderful experiences like meditation, yoga, and just sitting and looking.  Although I periodically still get restless to “go,” letting my mind wander while my body stays in one place has actually allowed me to go places I’ve never been before.  As my physical world shrinks, my mental world is expanding.

Sometimes it’s easier to be sure of things I don’t want.  I’m very sure I don’t want to spend time worrying over my money and my health.  I don’t want to be sick, so I know I need to continue vigorously exercising.  “If you don’t use it, you lose it” has become my mantra.  Of course, there are some things I wish I could have been (a dancer) or done (more hiking and backpacking), that are only possible in a limited way now.

From what I’ve observed, the happiest old people I know are those who find great joy in actively expressing their own level of creativity, wherever that direction leads them.  The people I admire most are those who understand and feel their human connection to wildness and nature on a deeper level than modern day human society encourages.  These are two worthy goals to add to my future years.

Comments??  Please e-mail Suellen@ZimaTravels.com.

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