Guest Opinion: Creativity comes in many forms at any age


Dear Susi Q: 

I’ve been thinking about taking a writing or art class, but now that I’m in my seventies, I’m unsure because I know I’m not as sharp as I used to be. Maybe I just don’t want to face that reality. Do you think creativity wanes as you get older?


Carole Zavala, founder of Gallery Q at the Susi Q, author, volunteer, and workshop leader replies: 

I wanted to share that even when you reach your 80s (I turned 84 years old this August), the creative life can still be full of shifts and surprises. 

And it need not be restricted to painting and/or writing or what we tend to think of as “creative pursuits.” As we age, we can use our wisdom and experience to ‘create’ a new and authentic way of living. We can find new ways to be of service to others, whether as mentors, donors, or volunteers. How about a creative approach to spiritual life? Retirement? Dealing with limitations?

I started painting seriously (whatever that means) about 15 years ago. I was still working full time, but a friend suggested a watercolor class at the Laguna Beach Recreation Center -and voila – a new pastime and ‘modest’ career began. 

Also, I started an open studio art salon for fellow artists with the City of Laguna Beach because so many of us were painting in isolation on our kitchen tables. We are still going strong. Then I started Gallery Q, at the Susi Q, at the request of a Board Member when it opened 12 years ago. The shows focused primarily on works of artists 55 plus, but over the years, and with new leadership, it has included work by children and now to artists of all ages. 

This summer, I finished a young adult/fantasy novel for girls ages 10-14. I started this in 1963 when I was a new teacher in Los Angeles, and wrote during faculty meetings. It went by the wayside with school and my young boys. And I kept comparing my work while reading Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” I felt I couldn’t write anything that could compare. But several years ago, I realized those stories were all about guys, not girls. Where was the heroine’s fantasy? Thus “Serena’s Magic” was born, and now she’s being read by several girls and their moms or grannies to give me feedback before I send it out to a publisher!

I’m finding the pandemic opened up exposure to excellent Zoom sessions by artists worldwide as they share videos of their work and the processes they use. Who knew? YouTube has lessons, but these are a rich and exciting addition to those, and these artists offered special ‘free’ extra gifts as part of their lessons.

Why do I share all of this? I heard a quote that resonated with me recently. “Never let a yearning become a regret.” Powerful and full of meaning if we stop to think of it. Don’t get lost in your yearnings and dreams. If you’re upright and taking nourishment, get a move on and find a class at the Susi Q or online. Take a risk. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“Dear Susi Q,” brought to you by nonprofit Laguna Beach Seniors, is intended to provide readers with helpful advice on relationships, retirement, home safety, transportation, mental/physical health, and local entertainment and educational resources. It’s “Dear Abby” for the Laguna Beach crowd.

Qualified staff, support group leaders, and volunteers stand ready to answer your questions, so please send them to [email protected]. We can’t wait to help.

No identifying names will ever be used. Some questions, such as today’s, may be a composite of several submitted. 

For more information about Susi Q and Laguna Beach Seniors, visit

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