So many faces I respect surround us, here at the Masterpiece Lyceum/Positive Aging Conference. And, right now, my dear friend & a chief kick-butt influence – the great Ashton Applewhite!
Here’s MY suggestion for if you want to do something, to take up & run with a passion, to explore a new purpose – – DO IT! Make yourself part of the mix you want to make your own. Don’t be discouraged by feeling “out of place” – that sense of being an “other, ” an “outsider” will dissipate once you make your first personal connection. But get in there!
My first conference was the Spring 2014 Leading to Well–being Conference in Falls Church, VA. The wonderful Kim Vargas advised me to arrive at the conference with a purpose set in my mind & heart. When they opened the floor to share our WHY for attending, I stood up & said, “I am an eldercare anarchist, out to overthrow our culture’s wretched attitudes to aging.” I could say that because of Kim.
Which leads me to advising everyone of every age to share their dreams, because you never know who might give a key insight suggestion connection. Standing up & sharing my heart’s desire immediately connected me to kindred spirits, who introduced themselves over the first break & throughout the event. It was standing up & stating my truth introduced me to soul sister, Jane Kerschner, who became my life-changing coach over a year later.
In the summer, things got scarier, when I attended my first National Center for Creative Aging. In 2014, I did not see what “creativity” John & I brought to the aging expansively table. And yet, not sure of my why, I went. And I felt as out of place as I’d feared. But there was no denying that I’d found my tribe, a host of kindred souls. Praise be, I took the pre- & post-conference sessions, which connected me on a personal basis that was impossible at the BIGGER main event. The next year, I was back, able to recognize faces & actually able to connect names with Judith-Kate & Anthony Hyatt, Gay Hanna & Maria Gene. And I realized for the first time what it was that I brought to the feast. Again, the pre- & post-conference sessions were especially enriching on a personal level.
BY 2016, I’d been back to multiple conferences & workshops, which expanded my knowledge, not my network. Then, in July, I did something a little loopy that paid MEGA benefits – on the spur of the moment, I went up to Manhattan to hear an author who’d caught my attention give a book talk at Book Culture. Which is how I met Ashton Applewhite & her friend, Claire Panke, who mentioned she was presenting at August’s Positive Aging Conference, down in D.C. As in the next month, If heading up to NYC seemed nuts, going to D.C. for a two-day event was positively looney tunes. Oh, and Ashton was giving a book talk at the Library of Congress (!) the day before, so make that three days! Dear reader, I went; I went & stayed on-site instead of with friends or at an Airbnb. At Positive Aging, I tagged up with new members of my tribe -and- I made personal connections, people who became my friends & mentors, people who consider ME a mentor.
Here I am, at my second Positive Aging Conference, part of the tribe – now OUR tribe, since my John is here with me – being drawn deeper into our eldercare (r)evolutionary work.
WHATEVER it is you want to do, don’t just dip your toe in, don’t just test the waters – dive in & play with your purpose!