LIFE @ (or above) 50

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August 30, 2010 by David Gillaspie

(written for

AARP Orlando @ 50 conference will be a ripping success no matter who blogs the event.  When a group trained to squeeze the last drop of excitement from the last second of every day gathers in a place designed to amaze, they’ll get it all.

But don’t AARP members deserve something more. 

They need someone who will engage them on twitter and facebook without the gloss of “Everything is fine.”  They want someone who will post blog entries that go beneath the surface.

How many times have you listened to a guest speaker read a presentation as if it were the Yellow Pages and you needed every service available?  How many blogs have you read that give the same feeling? 

The answer is the same for both:  Too many.

The AARP blogger for Orlando @ 50 is someone the greater audience has an affinity for, someone who garners immediate trust. 

Most people trust museums and museum people.  It is, after all, a facility of historical trust.  Objects are exactly what they are listed as; paintings are not copies.  I learned this from spending twenty years as a museum professional.

The blogger for Orlando @ 50 will communicate greater truths to the AARP audience than mere definitions of words found in a dictionary.  Like others, they will attend events and listen to speakers and gather information.  In addition, they will blog through the eyes and ears of one who has been in the Sandwich Generation, who has been a long-term family caregiver.  The Orlando @ 50 blogger will work with the delicate balance between those who embrace life, and those whose grip has grown weaker but still remember the warmth.

I am such a blogger.

For five years I moved between teenagers in high school and my father in law with Parkinson’s.  My wife and mother in law added the sort of unexpected touches to family caregiving you never find in assisted-living or nursing homes.  As primary caregiver I tuned into an eternal truth: getting old and being sick are not the major identifying elements of having a good day.  Old and sick are not jobs either.  There’s no shift work. 

As a blogger I accept the reality of the moment, but know that change comes sooner than later.  My writing goal is giving others the confidence they need to deal with change, instead of fear change. 

Most of all, the blogger sent to Orlando @ 50 needs to understand the difference between ON and OFF.  An experienced reader knows when a writer has shut it down but still makes their deadline.  An experienced writer knows that every reader looks for a reason to stop reading.  My training in news writing, script writing, fiction, and non-fiction combine to keep a writing edge and a reader’s attention. 

That is what I’ll do in Orlando.

As evidence of strong blogging, a recent trip to Spain brought the sort of situations made for Hollywood comedies.  My wife and 84-year-old mother in law clawed our way through Barcelona traffic, Valencia beaches, Granada hospitals, and a 120 degree reunion in Seville with our boys.  I blogged through it all. 

After that everything else will be easier, even AARP Orlando @ 50.

I’m trying to blog my way to the AARP Orlando@50 conference. This blog post is an entry in their competition to find the official blogger to travel to and cover the event. Find out more about the conference here.


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