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Cat Suit at 63

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Lynn Price

Yesterday, a gentleman asked my age.  Over time in the past, when asked that compelling question, I’d reply 21 or 29 (perpetually), 30 something, in my 40s and 50ish.  Once in a while I’d shave a couple years.  Yesterday, I replied, 62.

His response, “Wow, you look 52!”  Well, what does that really mean?  I can take that as a compliment with all the nicety assumptions.  Yet I wondered, how did he get to that number – and why does a number have such power over us?

In a current role in retail, numbers play a dual role.  With size, everyone seems to want a size smaller than will appropriately and comfortably fit.  It doesn’t matter if you explain that one designer might run smaller, and another larger.  I kindly suggest they forget about the number.  I wonder, wouldn’t it be great if a client loved a certain fashion item and I could respond with, “let me get YOUR size” without a number attached.

Further, I often hear, “I can’t wear that at my age.”  I kindly respond, “You can wear whatever you want to wear – do you like it?”

As we get older, and wiser, this number thing can tend to restrict us.

At Camp To Belong Summer Camp, I wear oversized T-shirts with my hair in a pony tail.  I’ve put on face paint as a clown for the carnival and stick out my tongue as we sing “Singing in the Rain” so I can catch the raindrops.  On stage, inspiring a professional audience, I wear a suit with my hair curled and make sure I dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ as I speak.

One can say, “Act your age.” Well, I am… acting the age I feel in the environment I am in.  Do I do things to feel young – yes, fitness every day, positive mantras, meaningful connections, ‘special’ creams – but at the end of the day, I am still my age, fit into a size congruent to the designer and wear what I want if I like it.

Some may dream of making and saving more money for the retirement journey.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t sometimes feel guilty or even irresponsible when I opted to make a difference instead of making a living – when I questioned (ever so briefly)  my volunteer hours and pro bono speaking engagements, reflecting on how I should have more money.  My son Tanner relieved me of my questionable state recently.  Speaking around a dinner table of fabulous family and friends, everyone grew silent and looked at him when he said, “We do it for the outcome, not the income.”

We hear 60 is the new 40.  Well, today I am 63.  And 63, well, is 63.  And as for what I am wearing, I can still wear my cat suit !  I’ve had it for countless years.  More recently a complete stranger came up to me and said, “OMG, you are the only person I know who can get away with that at your age – fantastic!”  She didn’t know my age.  And as far as more money, I understand it is a balance, yet as they say, ‘some things are priceless’ and I will continue to make a difference without getting hung up on bigger dollar numbers.

My gratitude journal today has a quote by Charles Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

So this upcoming year, I’m reacting to the age question.  I’m not 21, 29, something, in my Xs, and ish or shaving numbers off, I am 63.  And I’ll wear a cat suit in the size that fits me and continue to make a priceless difference in our world – because I can!! Perhaps if we ask how young are you (rather than how old), we will create a shift that diminishes restrictions. After all, it is just a number! How do numbers restrict you?

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Living Life on Purpose

owl-1705112_1920The idea of “Wise Elder” suddenly occurred to me. While standing at the counter at a full service car wash, I observed the discounts available. “Are you:  Military, Student, or a Wise Elder?” Typically, I avoided the senior, senior citizen, or above X age options in so many other places.  However, this time I swallowed and even said out loud, “I am a wise elder” to the young person behind the counter!  It was the first time, at ‘my age’, I took the discount and the moment of reflection continued.

Ironically, it is AARP who has joyfully invited me to reflect on my lifetime of wisdom, to embrace their slogan of ‘Real Possibilities’, to focus on my life purpose and to celebrate the significance of an encore career.

When I received my degree from the University of Illinois in communications, it was a given to follow that education and related interest into my first career.  My telecommunications journey started at ESPN where I focused on the real possibilities of cable television and on an industry on the verge of bringing twenty-four hour specialized networks into living rooms.

I spent over a dozen years representing eclectic programming networks, thriving as a road warrior, stopping at cable operator locations, whether in mom and pop furniture shops and homes or business centers and high rises to gain subscribers. I invited clients to college football games with ESPN.  I amused my clients by giving presentations wearing a cowboy hat to represent The Nashville Network, then Disney ears to represent The Disney Channel and then a tie to represent Satellite News Network. I stood on one foot giving an example of gravity golf to represent The Golf Channel..  I put on an annual song and dance by wearing a yellow rain slicker as part of a ‘newscast’ and sang, ‘you are my sunshine, please don’t take my subscribers away.’  My colleagues, the clients and the industry were vibrant, enticing, intriguing and rewarding.

Then, it was my encore career that, unknowingly at the time, came because of education and related interest that was generated outside of my formal education but instead from life experiences.  I spent my childhood in the foster care system. When I became a full-time mom (a dream I had because I didn’t have a mother per se), I began volunteering as a court advocate and shelter ambassador.  I quickly realized the angst of the children immersed in thoughts that they wouldn’t amount to anything or anyone because of their lives in foster care.  Additionally, I was stunned to learn that brothers and sisters continued to be separated in different homes when placed in care, splitting their families even further.

I had made choices when placed in similar care as many of these children.  Positive, purposeful choices with real possibilities to defeat the odds of failure and find success as a college graduate, focus on health, priority of family and purposeful career, and even welcome a relationship with my sister (albeit later than anticipated) as sisters and best friends. I had an awakening to help other children find their way.

From the idea of Camp To Belong to the first summer camp program was three months.  A week of sibling rivalry, sibling connection and ‘you can be anything you want to be’ programming ended with a question by one of the volunteer counselors, who asked, “What’s next.”  My answer was, “I don’t know, but I just fell in love with 32 kids and I’m not going to say, ‘See ya, have a great life.’”

This was the start of my encore career.  22 years later, Camp To Belong exists and thrives to bring real belonging, real possibilities, real purpose to reunite siblings placed in separate foster, adoptive and relative placements – and – encourage the youth to take control of their own destinies.

I think many people do what they have to do in their first careers, just like my pursuit of a career in communications for the cable industry, all the while dreaming of the next thing that they so often do not get to pursue.  I got to it, thankfully.  And now I am humbled to give inspiring keynotes to social entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition – and to rise up the foster and adoptive communities to embrace their purpose.

Encore.  Purpose.  Possibilities.  Now, I am an AARP Purpose Prize™ Fellow. On behalf of all the wise elders out there who took a leap of faith in an encore career, living life on purpose, I take a bow.

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Lynn Price received the AARP Purpose Prize™ Fellow distinction in October, 2017. To see the full details of this award please visit the AARP website.

Interested in an inspiring keynote presentation on social entrepreneurship at any age?  Lynn Price has several to chose from. Just click here to see options and to contact Lynn to discuss your next event.

 

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If you tell Oprah…you better follow through

Lynn Price, Oprah, Angel Network, Camp To Belong, Social Entrepreneur2005 – Camp Kentahten, Campbellsville Kentucky – Flashback; several years prior to being a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I told Oprah and her worldwide audience that Camp To Belong would be expanding to Canada.  It just came out of my mouth.  There really wasn’t a plan.  I didn’t even know anyone in Canada.  But, the intention was set.

Through the beauty of being in the right place at the right time – in front of their respective television sets – Wendi and Susan, two Canadian women with vibrant energy and commitment to vision, helped put the ripples in motion.  With strategic outreach to Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, devotees of Camp experiences for children – and – Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, keen to engage in our vision to reunite siblings, we set our sights on Camp To Belong Canada…in Kentucky.

Yes, Canada in Kentucky, a wonderful story.  You just make it happen!   On a starlit August eve in 2005 anticipating the arrival of 60 campers and chaperones from Toronto, I marveled at the outcomes of intention alongside Caz, Chew, Papa, Magic and Linus as they announced to a volunteer counselor team giddy with anticipation of this special Camp experience that we all needed Camp names.

That’s when I became Ripple and the Power of the Ripple was born.  You see, they gifted me with an identity that emulated my vision, casting that one stone of intention across a still body of water.  That stone caused a ripple touching all the people involved in bringing Camp To Belong Canada to fruition.  The waves surged and catapulted to contagious collaboration that celebrated – in this case Camp To Belong Canada – where everyone rode the whitecaps as sibling memories were about to be made.

More Camp names were thoughtfully knighted around that opening counselor campfire like Kodak, Fiesta, Dixie, Harley and Curly.  And, the next morning as our sibling campers separated by foster care, alongside 40 volunteer counselors and staff stood in respectful attention as the American Flag was raised alongside the Canadian flag, the joy of singing The Star Spangled Banner and O Canada beautifully resonated for the Power of the Ripple and the intention set with Oprah.

Welcome to the Power of the Ripple Blog where we will share stories of the ripple…the wave…the tsunami that educates and engages people far and wide in ways we cannot even imagine with casting that one initial stone!

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