"Aging isn't an imagined concept," says Harry R. Moody. "There's undeniably a component of it that involves a physical slowing down, a decline. However, aging doesn't have to be all gloom and doom."
Moody, the director for academic affairs at AARP, is also a nationally recognized speaker on the topic of conscious aging. He'll be speaking about Later Life Creativity at the Positive Aging Conference, a national conference that will be held November 12 at the U of M.
Says Moody, "When you ask people what they should be concerned about as they age, you'll hear things like good health, being productive, etc. And those are good things--but they are mainly holdovers from things we were concerned about in youth and midlife.
"Conscious aging," Moody explains, "means asking: What are the questions, the virtues, that are distinctive to later life? Maybe it's wisdom, or nurturing younger generations, or thinking about the future. Conscious aging means being cognizant of the process, being aware of the process and the experience."
The most important part of conscious aging, Moody says, is positive aging. "The key is to focus on the positive things, the good things about growing older. Some of those things we can experience are lifelong learning, spiritual growth, creativity and the arts. All of these are inner resources that actually grow stronger and more refined with time."
That philosophy is the foundation for the second annual Positive Aging Conference, which will be held November 12 at the U of M's Coffman Union and at remote sites throughout the country. Co-sponsored by the U's Center for Spirituality and Healing and AARP, the daylong conference will share tools and resources to explore purpose, meaning, and vitality in the second half of life. The day's speakers, seminars, and discussions will also be simulcast live to participants all over the United States.
Moody's Later Life Creativity seminar will examine how the work of artists such as Henri Matisse, Grandma Moses, and Louise Nevelson evolved over time--and, more importantly, what kind of works the artists were producing in later life.
"The goal is to show people that you can still be creative in your old age; also that the creativity doesn't have to be the same as when you were younger. It may be qualitatively different. I want to show that creativity for 'mere mortals' doesn't have to be just painting or sculpting. We can have creativity in our daily lives, in how we react to the changing landscape of aging," says Moody.
Topics at the conference range from the inner self, to work and community, to public policy. Other presenters include author, explorer, and educator, Dan Buettner; Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?; and Richard Leider, author of Something to Live For and founder of The Purpose Project.
The second annual Positive Aging Conference is Wednesday, November 12, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Coffman Memorial Union on the Minneapolis campus. LearningLife subscribers are eligible for a 10 percent discount on the registration fee if they mention code LIFE08 when they register.
Complete conference details and registration information are available on the Conference Web site.
To register online, visit the Northrop Ticket Office Web site.
About LearningLife, Moody remarked, "Your members [LearningLife subscribers] are special people--they know that learning doesn't stop when you finish a degree or a credential; they believe in learning for its own sake. If they attend the conference, they're going to come away having heard many different versions of how they can have a positive view on the later half of life."
Individuals interested in the Positive Aging Conference are also encouraged to check out two of LearningLife's upcoming life skills workshops: Your Next Chapter: Exploring Work/Life Options with instructor Donna Bennett on November 8; and Creating Your Future with instructor, Jerry Allan on November 10. Full details are available on the LearningLife Web site.