Be sure to stay creative, alive and aware

“It all started because I made my ‘q’ into an Indian.” With that simple explanation, I was supposed to understand what had happened to his school assignment.
To begin with, it appeared he’d been doing calculations—mostly division, some fractions and some subtraction. There also were words on the sheet. But then, he had turned the paper around and at the top had drawn a huge complicated movie set.
There was a fake fort, with a secure look-out tower, in a wooded landscape dotted with teepees. In front of the fort were Indians around an open fire and one of those Indians had started out as the letter “q.”
With his deft drawing, it would have looked like a real scene—except for the director with a perky little hat sitting in a director’s chair and holding a bullhorn. The cameras were zeroing in at ground level, as well as from high up on a crane.
No question about it, it was a sketch of a movie set.
There are no words to explain the scene. But years ago when he first handed the paper to me, I jotted down his explanation.
“It all started because I made my ‘q’ into an Indian.”
As a child, my son had caught the importance of living in the moment and making changes as you work. He wasn’t stuck with a “q.” Instead, he felt free to make his “q” into an Indian.
Instinctively, he knew the importance of staying open to change and new opportunities—a lesson that many older people would do well to learn.
It makes me think of a book with this subtitle: “Extraordinary Ordinary People on the Art of Staying Creative, Alive and Aware in Mid-Life and Beyond.” The book is “Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer” by Connie Goldman and Richard Mahler.
The authors define a late bloomer as “anyone who defies the notion that his or her best years are over; someone who responds to the later stage of life not as a crisis but as a quest.”
As we get older, we have to cope with a lot of changes in our lives. It is essential to stay creative, alive, and aware. Like my son, we can’t be stuck with a “q.” Instead, we must remain open to changing our “q” into something new and invigorating.
The key to becoming a late bloomer, say Goldman and Mahler, is an optimistic attitude. Rather than clinging fearfully to the past, be ready to change and look for the countless opportunities in front of you.
“An attitude that accepts change and encourages growth can be a guiding force in remaining healthy, upbeat, and invigorated, whatever the date on your birth certificate.
“The sensation of being fully alive, spirited, and aware is not a function of being young in the chronological sense.”
In fact, a 1990 Marriott Corp. survey found that half of the people over age 65 felt they were enjoying “the best years” of their lives.
So, whatever your chronological age, watch for new opportunities. Stay creative, alive, and aware. And always remember you have the potential to become a late bloomer.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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