Life is an adventure in opportunity and creativity. If we are fortunate enough to live a long life, we can look back and see that sections of our lives fall into chapters. Each one represents a new vantage point, a creative shift made in response to our circumstances.

Sometimes that shift is unexpected, ushered in by trauma. I survived sexual assault, a disasterous marriage, significant injury, and loss of loved ones. There are also more gradual shifts, which are expected but still require change. I pursued a nursing career, moved to the woods, became a mother, started writing books. The expected and unexpected chapters often overlap.

I’ve started a new, expected, chapter––I’m getting ready for old age. I’m adjusting my lifestyle to accommodate arthritis and joint replacement. I’m talking with friends about how we can continue to manage our current life at home, what we think we’ll do when we can’t, and how we might make that easier for our kids. It all assumes an inevitable decline and end. It’s realistic.

I could focus my attention on that decline. I could let those physical and cognitive changes of aging define my next chapter. But I don’t have to. If I choose to focus solely on those limits I might as well throw in the towel on any future chapters that involve growth and expansion. I would rather live every day infused with intentional Life Force. I would rather make use of my opportunities to create a rich future.

With that in mind, I’m shifting into another chapter of my life, one that is new and interesting and unknown. I’m pursuing an expanded career as an author. I’m taking my books on the road in an effort to reach more interested readers. I’m looking for a creative partnership with a publisher or agent. I’m seeking help with publicity and marketing. And I’m eagerly looking forward to making deep creative connections all along that path.

Someone who’s helping support this growth is Twyla Tharp. You may recognize her name as a premier choreographer and yes, of course, she is that. She’s now in her 80’s, however, and unable to dance the way she used to. But she’s not done, by any means. She is continuing to employ the attitudes and techniques that have kept her fresh and creative for decades, and she’s sharing them through writing.

I’ve read three of her books and recommend them all! The Creative Habit, Learn it And Use It For Life (2003) is aimed at anyone living a creative life of any kind. The Collaborative Habit, Life Lessons For Working Together (2009) focuses on relationships. Keep It Moving, Lessons For The Rest Of Your Life, (2019), is directed specifically toward aging.

Tharp is a direct, no-nonsense teacher. She understands and embodies the creative process. She is also an art historian and uses a wide variety of examples of people from real life. Throughout her books she provides many exercises which are both simple and profound.

These books have been good shaker-uppers for me. Each day I read just a few pages and then walk away to let Tharp’s energy and encouragement infuse my living. I find that her ideas (whether I do the exercises or not) loosen my thoughts and attachments, freeing me to be more creative not only in my artist’s life but also in my life in general. My lifeblood has been stirred. I feel more alive.

I could choose to stay stuck in the rut of stability, doing the same predictable things over and over. But staying stagnant is not a recipe for fun and fulfillment. We have the privilege of being able to not only seize opportunities, but create them. We are creating our future based on what we choose today.

If you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.”   ~Bob Dylan