This episode of The Mindfully Creative Podcast spotlights creativity and the aging process with guest, Wendy L. Miller, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Sky Above Clouds: Finding Our Way Through Creativity, Aging and Illness (Oxford University Press, 2016).  In this interview, we talk about key concepts from the book and specifically how creativity can benefit all of us as we age.

About the Book:

Through their scientific research, clinical practice, and a remarkable life together, husband and wife team Gene Cohen and Wendy Miller uncover new clues about how the aging mind can expand awareness, build resilience, and continue growth, even during times of grave illness, upending long-held assumptions about the aging brain. Cohen, considered one of the founding fathers of geriatric psychiatry, shares from decades of research and personal journals detailing his exploration of the aging brain and the vast potential that is often overlooked. Miller, an expressive arts therapist and educator, highlights stories of creative growth in the midst of illness and loss encountered through her personal life and her clinical practice. Together, Cohen and Miller show how resources that naturally reside within us remain our most valuable tools as we navigate the uncharted territory of aging and illness.

Sky Above Clouds traces the path that Cohen and Miller traveled together as the foremost expert on creativity and aging confronted his own aging process and a metastatic disease that threatened to cut his life short. Cohen’s distinguished work led to breakthroughs in science and society as, for more than a decade, despite his illness, he continued to pioneer geriatric research and advance the public conversation about aging well.

Sky Above Clouds draws deeply from the couple’s merged wisdom and new lessons learned in a struggle through illness and loss within their extended family, eventually including Cohen’s own untimely death. The book blends both authors’ perspectives and voices, incorporating journal entries they wrote together in the years before Cohen’s death.

What happens when the expert on aging is confronted with his own in the context of a grave illness? What happens when the therapist who helps others cope with illness and loss is forced to confront her own responses to these experiences? With Miller’s insights and expressive psychological writing, Sky Above Clouds shows how attitude, community, creativity, and love shape a life through health, illness, and even death. The result is a richly informative and emotional journey of growth.

-Source: Oxford University Press

About Wendy L. Miller, Ph.D.

Wendy Miller, Ph.D. ATR-BC, LCPAT, REAT, LPC, BCPC is an expressive arts therapist, writer, sculptor, and educator. She taught for over fifteen years in various universities throughout the country, including JFK University, San Francisco State University, Southwestern College, Lesley College, California Institute of Integral Studies, and The George Washington University. She is the co-founder of Create Therapy Institute, which offers clinical services in arts-based psychotherapy and trainings in the expressive arts. She is a founding member, and first elected (past) executive co-chair of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, where she continues to be on their Advisory Council. Her current work is evolving as she continues the legacy of her late husband’s work, pioneer of creative aging, Gene Cohen, and his Washington DC Center on Aging, where she is guiding it into projects on intergenerational communication. She continues to research the relationships among the arts, creativity and health, and recently published her book from the writings she and Gene did together, entitled: Sky Above Clouds: Finding our way through creativity, aging and illness, released in March 2016 from Oxford University Press.

During this episode we discuss:

  • How did the idea of Sky Above Clouds come about?

  • As the Baby Boomer Generation ages, how are they engaging in more creative pursuits than other generations?

  • What are, if any correlation between wellness and creativity for older adults?

You can currently find Mindfully Creative podcast on Sound Cloud, Stitch and Google Play.  Check out current and archived episodes here: https://soundcloud.com/mindfullycreative612

Listen to Episode 10 below:


AYA: An East of the River Health and Wellness Market, 10/16

On October 16th from 10am – 5pm a group of nonprofit organizations and small businesses will host AYA: An East of the River Health and Wellness Market. The event will take place at the Center for Green Urbanism, located just blocks from both the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road Metro stations at 3938 Benning Road NE.

AYA will feature:

  • live musical performances
  • fresh produce and baked goods
  • handmade arts and crafts
  • massage therapy, acupuncture and more

Groundwork Anacostia River DC and Dreaming Out Loud, Inc. (DOL) – two Ward 7 focused nonprofits – will partner with The Collective,  a group of small business owners dedicated to promoting “Market Days” that provide quality products and services to enhance the mental,  physical and financial development in our communities.

Through AYA the partners will accomplish the following goals: (1) to expose the community to goods and services to assist in building mental, physical and economic health and (2) provide a platform for vendors and (3) support these local nonprofit organizations.
The Collective is a group of small business owners providing quality products and services to enhance the mental, physical and financial development in our communities. This group of businesses intends to organize ”Market Days” periodically, which will facilitate and nurture the exchange of goods and services for the benefit of both the public and The Collective.

Anacostia River DC is the visionary group which helped to found the Center for Green Urbanism – the first green-inspired business and art center east of the Anacostia River. The Center is an art-infused business incubator providing office space to small and mid-size companies, an environmentally-themed art gallery and demonstration model for homes and businesses in the heart of downtown Ward 7.

The Center for Green Urbanism borders the National Fort Mahan Park. Its environmental ties has attracted the attention of the national organization Groundwork USA. The Center for Green Urbanism is the brainchild of environmentalist Zandra Chestnut and Dennis Chestnut, Washington community leader and Director of Groundwork Anacostia River, DC, the center’s first tenant. The Center’s grand opening will take place on Friday October 15th starting at 2pm with a press conference and ribbon cutting. Join us for this monumental occasion and the market to kick off an incredible District institution!

Contact Tarik Lott to become a vendor — email: tlott@tea4Youdc.com or 240-289-3716

Text “DCGREEN” to 69302 to recieve updates and more information.