Watercolor artist Suzanne Shaffer doesn’t just teach others how to reimagine themselves in retirement — she’s living those same changes herself. A retired clinical art therapist and practicing art educator, Shaffer recently added “author” to the list of her identities. Her book, Conscious Creative Retirement: Eight Essential Keys to Maximize Your Next Life Chapter, offers advice and hands-on creative exercises for grappling with the changes that come with aging.
Creativity is a big concept for Shaffer and her co-author, Patty Van Dyke, but it’s often misunderstood. “Creativity has nothing to do with artistic ability,” Shaffer explains. Even if someone has never drawn, painted or played a musical instrument, she continues, “We didn’t get to this age without using creativity in our lives.” As folks consider what’s next after building a career or raising a family, she says, they need to draw on their inherent creativity to move forward in ways that promote mental and physical health, avoid depression and maintain healthy relationships.
Even as she paints a picture of the many possibilities for self-expression and fulfillment in retirement, however, Shaffer doesn’t gloss over the more difficult aspects of aging. The three most common anxieties surrounding aging are health, money and the fear of running out of time, she says. Many people also struggle with the shift away from accumulating possessions and markers of success. “We’re downsizing our houses; we’re letting go of things we feel we don’t need anymore. Oftentimes that letting-go process can be one of grief and despair,”…
click here to read more.