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Joan’s Stones: Aging Creatively

Joan Sadler–Leaves Falling

“All the things that I was before I aren’t any more.”

Leaves by Joan Sadler from Joan’s Stones

We all had to stay straight and proper
in our former lives on the tree;
now down from that cover,
it’s fun to discover how interesting we can be!

Rebecca’s 92 year-old Aunt Joan said this playfully when Rebecca asked her how she copes with not being able to do many of the things she used to enjoy, like sailing, tennis, and dancing.

“I realized the necessity to reinvent myself.  If I can’t do these things and I’ve got nothing that’s really jazzing me, then what can I do? What do I want to do?  I say that I want to do something useful, but sometimes it’s hard to know what is ‘useful’.” 

So, how did this nonagenarian “reinvent” herself?  She took up blogging, of course!   She had been a photographer –but just shooting photos had become stale for her.  A buddy of hers signed her up for a blog-writing workshop where students were given the suggestion to “Go out every day for a month and find something that catches your eye and blog about it.” Joan said to her buddy, “We’re photographers, we ought to take a picture, too.”

Each day Joan took her Instamatic camera on a stroll to find whimsical, evocative images that captured her imagination and then she wrote a quick poem to complement the photo. “I did it for the month and I was having so much fun, I just kept going–it’s almost an addiction.  I now have 900 or something entries on my blog, which I called  Joan’s Stones.”

“I began to think more about the energy thing,” she told Rebecca, referring to the previous CWW newsletter about using more of the strengths that energize us.  “We need to build our lives around those things that engage us–you can feel when something moves you, there’s a demand being made on you that energizes and excites you.  So although I’m not sure in the bigger picture why I’m doing my little photo journal entries, what it’s doing for me is keeping me alive and giving me a reason to get up in the morning.”

Joan also identifies that as we get older we lose opportunities to express ourselves.  Finding an outlet to channel pent up energies creatively is important throughout all stages of our lives and it can be increasingly difficult to do as we age.  Joan says, “I’ve got a certain amount of playfulness and lightheartedness that is bubbling inside and needs to be released.  My ‘Stones’ give me a way to do that.”

Joan says that although she doesn’t worry too much if other people read her entries, she is intrigued when others comment on them and has had people as far away as Africa leave messages.  And she feels warmed when she gets an unexpected friend drop in a reply.  She chuckled that she has a friend who calls her by 10 AM to see if she’s alright if she hasn’t seen her post yet and she and the buddy who got her into blogging keep inspired by following each others’ daily entries.

Joan calls her online activity “interdigitating”—which she defines as using the digital world to connect (she and I looked this word up and it actually means to interlock one’s fingers–perhaps that serves as a useful metaphor).  She identified that these online connections add to her motivation and enjoyment of this daily interlude.

Take-aways from Aunt Joan (someone who embodies what we would call Creative Wellbeing):

  • Find what energizes, engages, and challenges you no matter how light and casual
  • Find a way to express yourself creatively
  • Find buddies “that sing the same song”

Joan’s Suggested Activity:  If you were to express yourself creatively at this moment, what form would it take–a piece of art, writing, poetry, dance, video…?

Do it!  And then, if you get a chance, share what you’ve done with a buddy or have them join you in the process.

Feel free to share them here or on our Facebook page.  And visit Joan’s Stones!