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Creativity

Have you noticed yourself feeling strangely restless? Are you aware of a growing need to express something, to be seen and heard? Do you feel the urge to create something?

Midlife is often a time when people start to look inward, to recall old enthusiasms or create new passions.

“People see creativity as the solution to the midlife crisis,” Julia Cameron, Author of “The Artist’s Way” and “It's Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond.”

One of the upsides to turning 50 for me was that I experienced a huge surge of creativity. Once the brain fog cleared and I gained a little more clarity, ideas started to ferment in my mind, bubbling and fizzing until I simply couldn’t ignore them! 

Since going through the menopause I have learned new skills such as photography, returned to writing short stories, articles and the beginnings of a novel. I’ve set up two businesses and learned how to promote them - and myself! I have taken more interest in clothes and my appearance and felt the need to feast my eyes and ears on art and music and books with an intensity I have never felt before.

All these things are creative endeavours - including setting up in business - and they make me feel fulfilled and excited about the future. Creativity is, according to coach, Caroline Woodwell: “the secret sauce of midlife,” and I cannot help but agree! It has literally given me a new lease of life.

But why now?

Here are some theories to consider:

  • As caring duties lessen, we have more time for ourselves and are able to rediscover old passions, or explore new creative possibilities
  • Once we turn 50, we became more aware of our own mortality and realise there are things we want to express
  • Many people feel an urge to leave something behind more tangible than memories
  • We start to feel a need and passion for self development
  • At midlife we start to search for deeper meaning and creative pursuits give us a way to explore and connect with the essential part of ourselves - what some would call our souls - that we have perhaps ignored since we were children
  • We rediscover a need for play
  • We become less afraid to fail and therefore more brave

Writer Alice Taylor describes this surge in creativity as:

 “Nature’s way of redirecting female energy.”

As we grow older, we start to extricate ourselves from the shackles of “shoulds” “woulds” “coulds” and other ideas we have picked up along the way. Such as believing we’re “not creative” or, if we are, that we’re “not good enough”.

Not good enough for what? To exhibit our art in the Tate Gallery? To sing in the Sydney Opera House? We don’t need a stage to give expression to our creativity - we can create purely for ourselves.

Ironically, midlife can also be a time when focus and concentration are a struggle, to the detriment of the creative flow. Novelist, Amanda Craig, reported the opposite effect when she went into an early menopause after surgery:

“Losing my mojo also seemed to have a disastrous effect on creativity. The flow of words, ideas and images that seemed as inevitable as breathing was gone.”

Her solution was HRT - a month after she began the medication, her characters started speaking to her again and now, as she puts it, “they, and I, swim on a tide of hormones.”

My experience is that creativity is a process. It ebbs and flows with life situations, health, hormones and life stage. There are numerous downsides of the peri-menopause years, as we discuss here on this blog.

At its most basic level, menopause is simply the cessation of our ability to reproduce. That does not mean we can no longer be productive. My creativity feels like a gift and is so much more than a compensation for loss of youth.

 

© Jo Blackwell - The Midlife Movement November 2018

 

SOURCES

 

Does Creativity Depend On Raging Hormones? The Independent https://ind.pn/2Sy281N

Writing Through Life’s Joy and Pain. The Irish Examiner https://bit.ly/2ropBHa

Midlife Creativity: Why You Need It and How to Find It Medium https://bit.ly/2BjnlW1 

 

Picture Credit: Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

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