Those of you who have known me for a while know that I celebrate my birthday every year with birthday month. Those who have experienced birthday month know that I’ll be driving everyone crazy every day of June.
One year I celebrated Birthday Month by going out to eat with someone different EVERY day of June. I had 30 meals some with folks I see frequently and some with people I hadn’t seen in years. It was lots of fun but my crazy June schedule and my waistline say please don’t do that again this year.
This year I’ve decided to share a different thought every day on Facebook on what I’ve learned in my 56 years of life. I’m hoping that these thoughts will inspire you, encourage discussion and most importantly make you smile. There just don’t seem to be enough smiles in the world right now. If you’d like to see them just like or follow me on Facebook.
When I turned 50 a few years back I planned and researched a trip of a lifetime. We took a barge cruise through Burgundy, France and everything about the trip was just about perfect. We had just started to think about writing about travel and launched PoshPorts. Since it was brand new we weren’t taking a million pictures and interviewing everyone like obsessed bloggers. We actually enjoyed every minute of the trip. Thank God. I didn’t know what lay ahead. To be sure the places I’ve been have been fun, weird, unusual and spectacular. I wouldn’t change my decision to quit my corporate job and start my entrepreneurial journey for anything. But 7 years ago, I didn’t have a clue of what was in store for me.
The 14-hour days, the self-doubt, the endless work that no one could do but me. Let’s just say it’s not for everyone. Some of the qualities that made me successful in my ad agency life translated very well to food travel blogging. I’m a good communicator. I am extremely resilient. Although I’m a Cancer crab and like things to be organized and orderly I’m oddly adept at adjusting, learning and fixing things as I go along. This is invaluable, especially if you’ve ever run a website or tried to keep up with the ever-changing social media landscape. If I couldn’t bounce back and move forward I would have probably stopped long ago.
One thing about getting older is that although you may get a bit slower, a bit more sore after spending the day in the garden, and a tad forgetful you do get a lot smarter. You begin to understand the things your Mother, Grandmother and Uncle told you when you were growing up and know that their wisdom came from their experiences, their age and love. I now find myself saying similar things to my nieces and nephew hoping that they’ll understand but knowing they too have to learn many things on their own in their own time.
One of the things about getting smarter is paying attention to things that make my life easier. A lot of people may roll their eyes but I joined AARP when I turned 50. I know many people get those notices in the mail long before their 50th birthday and toss them out. Like that can stop you from actually becoming 50. If there’s anything that us baby boomers have done correctly is age. We’re not our mother’s and father’s 50. We’re active, for better or worse we’ll be working for a long time, we pay attention, and we get involved – in everything.
I got my AARP card and read the magazine when it came because who could resist the cover stories on some of my favorites like Robin Roberts, Bruce Springstein and many others. But that was about it.
When AARP contacted me to join them at the Life At 50+ National Event in Miami a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what to think. My blogger self said YAH! trip to Miami, my other self said wait am I old? Fortunately, after reviewing what to expect at the conference my blogger self won out and I enthusiastically accepted their generous invitation to put me up at The Palms Hotel + Spa on South Beach and introduce me to their Life At 50+ National Event.
When I arrived at the Life At 50+ National Event for the first time I have to admit I was blown away. First off it was huge, taking up the majority of the Miami Convention Center. The crowd was energetic and fun.
They were learning how to salsa, picking up fitness tips and researching their next vacation. There were hoots and howls throughout the convention center as vendors spun wheels for give-aways ranging from pens to trips. This was not my idea of a “seniors” conference. There were presentations on how to use social media to keep in contact with family, how to manage money, retirement and healthcare issues. Heck, even our friend Carla Hall was there talking Money & Work. Samantha Brown spoke on Planning the Perfect Trip For All Generations. There were newly released movies at the Movies for Grownups Film Festival and even an AARP Superstar competition which was an American Idol type singing competition judged by Chaka Khan and Kenny Loggins! They offered wonderful volunteer opportunities to help feed, cloth and house people in the Miami area. There were so many things going on I couldn’t possible get to them all in the time that I had.
As I worked my way around the pavilion I learned that I was wasting my AARP card. I have phone service from AT&T and didn’t know that my $16.00 AARP membership earned me a 10% discount. What!?! I also rent a business mailbox from UPS didn’t know that I wasn’t taking advantage of a 15% discount there either. So much for feeling smarter!
Turns out this was just the tip of the savings. The AARP membership card offers discounts on food, travel, shopping, entertainment, health and much, much more. Check out AARP Discounts for the complete list.
AARP’s slogan is “Real Possibilities.” I loved that there was a booth that asked attendees to think about their own possibilities. When are you at your best? What do you want to be remembered for? What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail? It’s never too late to explore the possibilities of your life. The Life At 50+ National Event was full of so many real possibilities and reminders that truly the best is yet to come. It was the first time for me to experience the AARP possibilities and I’m really hoping it’s not the last.
When that red and white card ends up in your mailbox be sure to look at it again. It’s not a sign that your life is half over, it’s the sign that your life is just beginning. I changed my life at 50 and you can too. Just be sure to take your AARP along for the ride you might be surprised at the places it will take you.
QUICK BITE: Our Co-Founder Sue Reddel gets ready to celebrate Birthday Month. She shares some of the lessons life has taught her as well as her journey to AARP’s Life After 50+ National Event.
I’ve also do a full report on all the AARP Food and Travel Discounts so you do have to miss a thing!