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AARP AARP States Volunteering

Is There a SuperHero in You?


As an active member of the AARP Volunteer Leadership Institute (VLI), I had the opportunity to learn more about Life Reimagined and Life Reimagined for Work. Time and again, the research revealed that Life Reimagined is not about age. It’s about discovering “what’s next” and creating a new stage for oneself is a “frame of mind”.  It involves being open to suggestions. Recognizing that yesterday’s activities do not necessarily have to be the activities of tomorrow. And, perhaps most difficult, it involves considering the unexpected as a possible path to greatness.

Serendipitous events often play a key role in these unexpected connections. For example, it’s time for me to start a new exercise routine and swimming was my choice; aqua-aerobics to be exact. I searched for swimming pools in my area. Between the sports clubs and the local community centers there was an ad for an aquatic program targeting pregnant and postpartum women. Although I am no longer looking to have more babies,   I was open to doing a good aqua-aerobics class with this special group of people. And, so, this innocent phone call led me to Andrea; a 30-something year old woman who has already created numerous chapters in her life. As Andrea shared her story with me, she credited much of her journey to situations which simply fell into her lap. I agree that situations do come about when we least expect them to appear, however, even when something falls into our lap, we have to be ready to see it, to consider it and to do it. In other words, to create a Life Reimagined, we have to be open to receiving new experiences.

Let me share part of Andrea’s story with you. Through a series of “fall in her lap” situations, Andrea found herself becoming a go to person for pregnant women wanting a personal trainer. Andrea has never been pregnant herself. Schmoozing with a few of her pregnant clients, they started talking about doing new things that are difficult or challenging. Pregnancy is an example of something that is new (the first time for sure), as well as difficult and often challenging (“Oh, my aching back”).

As the conversation with the group continued, Andrea shared her discomfort with running and jogging activities. From the way she told me the story, this led to a conversation comparing pregnancy to the Marathon des Sables.  It’s ranked as the hardest footrace on earth, by the Discovery Channel, the Marathon is a six day adventure through the Sahara desert. Rules require the participants to be self-sufficient; everything that you will need to survive –except for water and a tent to sleep in--must be carried on your back. Whoa! And, before you know it, Andrea, the non-runner is making arrangements to participate in the Marathon des Sables. She ran. In fact, she was the only woman from the US who finished the Marathon that year! Her Superhero came out; Yesterday’s activities were no longer the norm.

I asked Andrea if I could include her story in one of my blogs for AARP.  “What is AARP?” Andrea asked me. Remember, Andrea is 30-something. I explained that AARP is nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+. Their influence allows the organization to deliver programs ranging from financial and healthcare education to driver safety programs to local discounts.  Through its advocacy efforts, AARP works to uphold fairness with Medicare, Social Security and other public issues.  In the past, AARP has played a big role in the lives of seniors; while seniors continue to play a significant role in the AARP agenda, a lot of AARP focus these days is on helping ALL people, at any age, to see the Real Possibilities that life offers.   The philosophy, I said, is Life Re-imagined. “Sure”, said Andrea.

“However”--- we both said almost simultaneously----“this story has nothing to do with age and everything to do with frame of mind”.

Thanks Andrea for providing me with such a great story --- better yet, a great visual! Her motivational story found me; I did not go looking for it. Or did I…. by changing my own frame of mind?

So, where is my own Superhero hiding? Within my one original piece of artwork (that I felt was good enough to put into an expensive frame)?  Within the six moves that I arranged for my family – each of which brought us to new neighborhoods in new geographies with new schools, new jobs, new friends, new doctors, and more!  Or maybe my Superhero is waiting inside of the blogs that I will weave into a storyline of thoughtful anecdotes. Stay tuned….

Follow  @SharonLewisNYC on Twitter or  @AARNY

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