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Life Reimagined Inspires and Invigorates

10.27.15 Cammy Dierking_Chris Gardner

By Elliot Grossman

SHARONVILLE, Ohio – As a mother, Debbie McConnell has devoted much of her life to helping others. So after hearing about AARP’s Life Reimagined event in Sharonville, she decided she would spend a day there concentrating on her own needs.

At the end of the day, she left determined to undertake more projects that would give her a sense of accomplishment, including writing a blog for parents of children with disabilities.

“The experience has given me energy, drive, passion and enthusiasm to put these Life Reimagined tools to use and keep going,” she said.

McConnell of North College Hill, a Cincinnati suburb, was one of more than 225 people who took a first step – and in some cases the next step – in using the Life Reimagined system to focus on what really matters to them.

Adults of all ages who missed the Life Reimagined experience in Sharonville can attend free Life Reimagined Checkups that are taking place in November and December in the greater Cincinnati and greater Dayton areas. For details and to RSVP, click here on Life Reimagined CHECKUPS.

Nine speakers as well as Second City Works – an improvisational theater group -- inspired, educated and entertained AARP members at Life Reimagined: Pursuing Purpose and Passion, a daylong experience at the Sharonville Convention Center.

Life Reimagined is a personal guidance system AARP developed to help people live with more meaning. People who missed it can attend Life Reimagined Checkups held each month across Greater Cincinnati. The Checkups are two-hour workshops that helps participants take stock of their life experiences, identify their talents, skills and values, and begin to plan for the future – all in the company of other people in similar circumstances. And they can use the Life Reimagined website to guide them as well.

Sharonville speakers – including a TV broadcaster, sociologist, rabbi and actor – had vastly differently backgrounds. But they shared a common message: A person’s attitude can make a dramatic difference in their success and happiness.

Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director of Xavier University’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement, urged people to perform simple good deeds in simple ways -- acts of the heart – by giving gifts of their time, words, spirit and mind.

Keynote speaker Chris Gardner realized that when he was homeless with his son – living in the San Francisco subway system – he could “drive” them out of there because he was the one who had “driven” them there. He found his passion – being a stockbroker – and then, despite setbacks, became a multi-millionaire. He later wrote his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness, which was turned into an award-winning movie, starring Will Smith.

He credits his mother with instilling in him the attitude that he could do or become anything as long as it was something that he was passionate about. “She gave me permission to dream,” he said.

Three times during the day, Second City Works acted out scenarios on the ballroom stage, using crowd members at times, to illustrate obstacles that hold people back.

One skit, for instance, had a character who rejected every opportunity, another who said ‘yes’ to every opportunity and a third who took small, somewhat meaningless risks. “It’s easy to reach your dreams when you set your bar really low,” one of the actors said. “And when you say ‘yes’ to everything, you don’t really have to decide what’s important to you.”

Nicole Ware, AARP’s Ohio associate state director in Cincinnati, asked the crowd for words that describe how they felt about their Life Reimagined experience. Their replies included “inspired,” “invigorated” and “revitalized.” She sent them home with these words: “Go out and conquer the world.”


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