Counselor shares tips on getting creative in midlife


Lisa Longworth was 19 years old when she found out she had a brain tumor. After seeing 17 doctors in four months, it looked like she would spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, at best. But instead, she walked away. She was left with a scar and the vivid memory of a near-death experience, where she saw her life in black and white. She tried to tell people about the experience, but they couldn’t understand.

“It took five years to find a language to express it,” Longworth said. That language was art. Art was not new to Longworth. She had designed jewelry since she was in junior high school and ran a successful business selling it.

But when she returned to study art, she had a different goal. “I was lacking that deeper fire within, but then I found that the symbols in art were like a language and I was on fire,” Longworth said. “Art is a language that can help people stay connected with who they are.”

Longworth wanted to pass along what she learned and help others tap into their creativity. After graduating with a degree in fine art from UCSD, she earned a masters and doctorate in psychology and started her career in counseling.

Now 25 years later, Longworth has a private practice in Solana Beach, and has counseled thousands of patients using a program she calls, “Cocoon to Butterfly” that combines psychology, creativity and spirituality.

Longworth will provide a taste of the program at a workshop June 12 at Earthsong Bookstore in Del Mar. The free two-hour mini-workshop, “Reclaiming Creativity in Midlife,” will focus on why it’s important to tap into one’s creativity when going through midlife challenges.

“Midlife is a juicy time—a ripe time,” Longworth said. “Just because our bodies might not be the same as in our 20s, doesn’t mean we are going downhill—this is a time we can stop and pursue a deeper spirituality.” Longworth compares it with getting lost and then figuring out a new way to go. “We sometimes get lost in midlife and ask, “Where am I going?”

Longworth’s cocoon-to-butterfly analogy comes from the idea that one has to shed old ways of looking at things to get a fresh perspective on where one is going. “Sometimes we have to shed the way we’ve done things before and shed things we’ve become attached to,” Longworth said. “We are continually moving from cocoon to butterfly—it’s like an awakening,” Longworth said.

Her goal is to guide people in the process. Longworth tells people to trust their intuition and let that guide them, which is one of the ideas she carries from her conversations with Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine and founded the Salk Institute in LaJolla. Starting in the mid-1980s for five years, Longworth mentored with Salk and talked almost daily by phone with him about creativity and intuition.

“One of the things I’m most passionate about that I’ve taken away from our conversations is the power of creativity in humanity’s survival,” Longworth said.

During the workshop, Longworth will offer exercises so participants can tap into their own creativity and intuition as they interact with some of her small sculptures and Floating Paintings, which combine silk, acrylic and mixed media.

“This will be a way for us to clean our lens of perception and open ourselves to creativity,” Longworth said.

Lisa Longworth on joyful living ...

  1. Renew.
Take a retreat — a year, a month, a weekend, a day or an hour. Connect with nature, take a road trip, dive into a book, play with art materials. Just experience the fun and joy of it. Schedule renewal time now!

  1. Let go

  1. Either use it or lose it. Less is more. Everything has its place. Simplify life by keeping your nest clean.

  1. Take care

  1. Exercise regularly, eat well, get plenty of rest. When sensing stress, stop and breathe. If over weight, eat less and exercise!

  1. Meditate.
Take time each day to meditate. 10 minutes morning and evening. Connect more with nature. Sit and simply watch. Be present with your surroundings using all senses. Release attachment to intense mental activity. Relax into the silence.

  1. Simplify.
Do less. Don’t be seduced into activity. Focus on the completion of no more than 2 or 3 tasks each day and release the rest.

  1. Play.
Build sandcastles. Play with children. Play board games with friends. Laugh, giggle, be silly - have fun!

  1. Give thanks.
Make a daily ritual of expressing gratitude (before meals, when arriving and leaving work, at bedtime.) Tell someone you appreciate them. Give thanks everyday. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

If you go

What: “Reclaiming Creativity in Midlife,” a workshop with Dr. Lisa Longworth

When: 1-3 p.m. June 12

Where: Earth Song Bookstore, 1440 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar

Cost: Free


and (858) 755-4254