CALA News & Views | Issue 41 | Resilience

J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 0 , V O L U M E 1 20 the creative view Memory, like imagination, is in the eye of the beholder. An especially applicable caveat, I recall, going around the room listening to a unique group of amateur artists describe their mostly abstract paintings. This is the farm I grew up on. These are flowers I love to smell. Skyscrapers! A beautiful rainbow. Riding my new red Schwinn. A rocket ship to the moon. The joyful reminiscences were the intended result of art classes conducted at a dozen or so memory care centers in Northern California in the 2010s. The weekly activity was called the “Happiness Lab” because the assignment for residents -- individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia -- was to “Paint a picture of whatever makes you happy.” For the participants and visiting family members as well, the experience was always entertaining and often revelatory. A daughter delightfully observed that she had no idea her mother could paint. A son noted how his father never shared anything about his past, that this was all new to him. The sessions had no pretense of structure or rules. Remarkably, the unanticipated and unintended consequence was uninhibited artists and artwork. Simply boundless, childlike creativity. Who knew? Under the direction of a local artist trained in art-mind therapy, we produced dozens of these labs for long-term care providers. As the organizations’ public relations representative, it was a bonus to market and publicize the emotional benefits of this art-infused bliss. Vital to the well-being of individuals with cognitive impairment, the artistic expression was a means of acknowledging they exist, that their life -- past, present and future -- has relevance and purpose. Memory and imagination, art and happiness -- all in the eye of the beholder. HUMBLE SKY, INSPIRED BY … These creative revelations and countless other experiences during my decades representing aging-related concerns helped inform the storyline of my new novella, Humble Sky . And made the fiction as accurate and relatable as possible. Key in both the real and make-believe worlds are the mutual benefits By Stuart Greenbaum in the Discovering Space Uninhibited Mind C L I F O R N I A A S S I S T E D L I V I N G A S S O C I A T I O N

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