A wonderful movement is afoot in our community to bring a new vision to aging, called conscious eldering or ‘sageing.’
There are a growing number of people here in Kelowna who are aspiring to share the hope and encouragement that comes with seeking new ways to grow in consciousness as we age, to feel greater self appreciation, and to be of service to others.
Exploring one’s creative spirit is one way that offers us an opportunity to open up to exciting new possibilities, to stay engaged and passionate about our lives, no matter how many candles there are on our birthday cake.
Karen Close is an artful creator and editor of the on-line quarterly journal Sage-ing with Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude, produced here in Kelowna by senior volunteers. Karen also teaches the heART Fit program at the Rotary Centre of the Arts, which is a group that gathers weekly to practice “spontaneous process painting.”
Karen and a wonderful team of volunteers are birthing an inspiring free event for our community called Creative Aging Awareness Day to be held this Friday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rotary Centre of the Arts at 421 Cawston Ave.
Vancouver doctor Gabor Mate published When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Says Dr. Mate: “Everyone has the urge to create. Its expression may flow through many channels: through writing, art or music, through the inventiveness of work or in any number of ways unique to all of us, whether it be cooking, gardening or the art of social discourse. The point is to honour the urge. To do so is healing for ourselves and for others; not to do so deadens our bodies and our spirits.”
This doesn’t change as we age. In fact, it seems even more important to nurture its awareness.
I had the privilege of meeting and talking to a shining example of an elder with indelible creative spirit this past week.
Audrey Fraser, who is soon to turn 98 years of age, had honoued me with a phone call some months back to encourage me on how my writings spoke to her and aligned with how she was feeling about wanting to keep engaged with life.
Another call recently from her daughter Wendy, prompted me to make a visit to find out more about this incredible woman who still lives in her own home, volunteers weekly at the Cancer Centre and remains actively engaged in living her life with passion and creativity.
“My Mom is an incredible hula dancer,” Wendy told me enthusiastically as we spoke. “She just did a performance at my sister’s wedding in Los Angeles and all who saw it thought there was a star in the making.”
When I arrived for our meeting, I was greeted at the door by a vision of loveliness, dressed in beautiful Hawaiian attire with a colourful flower in her hair and lei to match. We sat and talked for a couple of hours about her approach to life and the many transitions she has witnessed and moved through.
Audrey describes herself as a natural born listener and she seems truly interested in the story that each person has to share. Staying engaged with life through giving to those that need her gentle warmth over at the centre, she says gives her a deep sense of gratitude for her good health and an awareness of the blessings she has in her life.
This attitude of gratitude certainly looks marvellous on her.
I asked her if she would be so kind as to do a little hula for me. On went her CD player and she began to move her arms and hips with a flow that any 20-year-old would envy. What I immediately felt was the joy that this gave her and the connection that formed between us as I also began to dance and join in the story she was telling with her hands.
A smile that lit up her entire being was contagious and with all else forgotten, I became lost in the soothing sounds of the Hawaiian song and the delightful glint in Audrey’s eyes.
What more can I say? She’s unbelievable.
I think what is so important is having the opportunity to share our gifts with others. It is in the connection that forms through that giving and receiving that truly lifts the spirit.
My visit with Audrey helped me to remember the joy I used to feel through my own love of dancing and how moving to music just plain makes you feel happy.
I hope you will take the time to stop by this event on Friday and get back in touch with your own creative spirit through the sights, sounds, exhibitions and performances that will be there for the taking.
You might even catch Audrey and I doing the hula around my exhibition table. It will be our big smiles that you can’t miss.
Check out the event website for full details at www.okanaganinstitute.com/creativeaging/.