Crashing the seniors’ party | Editor's Note

By Laura Daniali | May 05, 2016

Rule No. 1 of crashing a senior’s party: Don’t underestimate the power of the boom.

I’m not talking about bass booming from a teen’s subwoofers. I’m talking about the power of a generation – the baby boomer generation.

The seniors of Edmonds recently held a two-day party. They took over the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Friday, April 15, and the Frances Anderson Center the following day for the first Creative Age Festival of Edmonds, or CAFE.

The festival offered those age 55 and older the opportunity to attend 30 workshops on ways to stay “Creative, Active, Fulfilled and Engaged,” with topics ranging from health and wellness, travel and technology, and the visual, literary and performing arts.

While it wasn’t dubbed a “party,” you wouldn’t have known it. Laughter and smiles created a buzz of excitement throughout the day’s events and the city.

I attended several of the Saturday workshops to get a sneak peek of what life has to offer in its golden years, which, for me, is many, many, many years away (OK, maybe that’s one – or two – too many “manys,” but hey, I’ll always be young at heart).

Dori Gillam, who taught two classes, said at age 64 she feels like a rebellious teenager.

“I can do whatever I want,” she said in her “Life Reimagined” class.

Gillam said life used to progress from childhood and adolescence to adulthood, retirement and then old age. But, there’s a “new” phase of life between adulthood and retirement.

“I don’t have to retire because I’ve hit a certain age,” she said.

Festival organizer Dick Van Hollebeke said that new phase can bring a new sense of freedom with it.

When people reach that phase, Van Hollebeke said it is important for them to focus that freedom.

“When you have a purpose in life, that you’re doing something for yourself that’s either enriching personally or enriching others, you have a sense of value, and you want to get up in the morning and do it, instead of saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do today,’ or ‘I’m kind of bored’ and all the rest," he said.

Over 280 people attended CAFE, and Van Hollebeke said it was a way to offer people a “survey day” to look at multiple ways to enrich their lives.

Gillam’s “Life Reimagined” workshop led participants through a brief tour of AARP’s Life Reimagined course, which aims to help those reaching their 50s and 60s turn “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda’s” into “Will, Can, Did!”

Using a workbook, participants started off by mapping major life events thus far and labeling moments where they felt their lives were in balance, triggered or in limbo.

After identifying where they had been, participants were told to look ahead – consider what is important to them, and what talents and skills they’ve been able to count on – and list activities, from new hobbies to new careers, that they would like to add to their life.

“You have a 100 percent survival rate thus far,” Gillam said. “You’ve survived all of your life’s challenges thus far.”

So now what do you want to do?

Gillam said there’s a formula for a “Purposeful Life.” It looks like this:

Gifts (things you are good at) + Passions (things you love) + Impacts (who you want to benefit) + Values (things that motivate you) + Possibilites (what you want to be, feel and have) = Purpose

“There are limitless opportunities, but you’re also going to need a lot of curiosity, choice and courage,” a woman in the class said.

In addition to those valuable qualities, Gillam said you’ll need a guide or your own personal GPS to help you achieve your goal.

She listed six practices for successfully making a change or starting something new – reflection, connection, exploration, choice, repacking or reprioritizing, and acting.

By combining your vision for a purposeful life with the six practices, you could be on your way to reimagining your life.

Gillam said if you want to accomplish a goal, you are 18 percent more likely to accomplish it if you simply formulate it in your mind.

You are 30 percent more likely to achieve your goal if you write it down, but you are 75 percent more likely to achieve a goal if you tell someone.

In February, Van Hollebeke and his team of festival organizers announced to the community the beginning of a new, exciting festival for seniors in Edmonds.

Van Hollebeke said they achieved their goal, and the festival will return next year!

“We felt that we did it,” he said. “The idea of staying CAFE, the idea of staying creative, active, fulfilled and engaged, and I would add giving it back to others through volunteerism and outreach were part of the message.

“We think that message came through pretty loud and clear.”

What I learned from my day at the festival is it’s never too late to embrace life and its opportunities.

I carried that over to the weekend after the festival when my 13-year-old son convinced me to give mountain biking a try at Issaquah’s Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park.

My first thought was “Awesome, let’s do it!” Then, I saw the first drop and thought “I might need accident insurance … for next time.”

The Golden Rule: There are no rules. Live the life you want to live – now and in your golden years – and party like it’s 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

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