How Creativity Re-emerged from my Midlife Review.
After pursuing a career in fashion design in my 20s and 30s, I had the good fortune to be able to return to study psychology and aging at university. Little did I know that I would soon stumble across the work of Becca Levy, a renowned Yale Professor and author of Breaking the Age Code (becca-levy.com/the-book/). I had the great honor of being mentored by Becca for part of my PhD project, visiting with her at Yale in 2012.
My topic was exploring cross-cultural attitudes on aging. Becca’s work became an enormous inspiration for pursuing a research career as I transitioned from my 40s into my 50s.
While completing my post-graduate work, I also discovered Chip’s book Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder and not long after I enthusiastically enrolled in the MEA online course, became an MEA Alumni and a part of our local MEAx Australia community. In May this year, I participated in one of our local university’s (UNSW) social events by a special interest group on ageism, where we viewed the film Golden: the end of Ageism. Until then I had only watched the trailer, and I was heartened to see MEA, Chip and team show up and be elevated by the film’s storyline as an antidote to the problem of ageism and negative age beliefs.
Through my connection with the Modern Elder Academy I became familiar with author and co-facilitator of MEA’s Midlife Transitions program, Bruce Feiler. His book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at any Age has resonated with me. Like many midlifers, I have had career changes, relationships changes, and changes in dwellings many times over four decades. I’ve been back to school, divorced, studied while parenting and stitched together a sense of self by transforming these experiences into more creative pursuits such as blogging about aging and transformation.
My midlife review, thus far, has made me reflect on the communities like MEA coming together to support those making their way through midlife transitions. After what I would describe as poor ‘life choices’ in my 20s and 30s, I’ve gradually started mastering some of my life transitions better. Or improving my “TQ” as Chip might say! However, the gravitational forces at play for me now appear to be asking how I can combine my passion, needs, strengths, love, profession, and work with the desire to give back?
I love the concept of Ikigai, and while ‘giving back’ might fall under the auspices of vocation, perhaps there needs to be a sub-heading for this action in the famous Venn diagram. An urge to channel some of my creative dimensions has led me to a new project. However, I am incorporating my dormant creativity that has recently bloomed again, but in service of a greater cause.
My new ‘passion project,’ Edgy Elders, has become a creative pursuit that allows me to utilize some of my earlier careers’ knowledge, combine my interest in combating ageism, with cheeky slogans and harness the capacity to take some of the earnings from this project and give back to local organizations supporting individuals who have fallen into homelessness.
The hope is that the slightly irreverent nature of Edgy Elders emblazoned on everyday products will be a conversation starter to examine one’s own attitudes on aging while also generating some social change and provide a contribution to help support individuals in need.
Natasha Ginnivan is an Australia-based researcher, founder of Edgy Elders and a blog-writer of lived experience, aging and transformation stories. She’s an MEA Online alum and here’s her blog: mobilisingwisdom.com