“I don’t know what the hell I’m gonna be doing in 38 minutes.”
That's what I was thinking on my drive up to Garden Village.
I wasn’t worried, though. Concerned a bit, perhaps. But worried? No way. That’s the difference with me these days. Years ago, when faced with a similar challenge, my stomach would be turning. I’d be worrying, “What do I say to them?” “How do I approach them?” “What do I wear?” “Where should I stand?” All of that stuff. But these days, things just seem to flow more naturally. I’m guessing it’s that “comfortable in my own skin” factor kicking in.
Mary Jane and I talked about me putting together the same kind of program at Garden Village that I’ve done at some other communities over the past few months. The Texas mistake town meeting occurred and... bingo! An idea. Now, it's become as simple as me sending an activity director an Eldercation background sheet and my CV, they post it throughout the community a few days before the event and, voilà!! I walk into a room filled with smiling faces and – we’re off to the races. The formula, (if you want to call it that, because each experience is so very different) is I first speak briefly about how I came to do this work. Then I ask a one or two questions I would normally ask potential interviewees. As you might expect, a few faces in the crowd always want to take the lead. It doesn’t matter what age you’re dealing with, there are always those who are more energetic and outspoken and then there are others who prefer to sit back and observe. They listen and smile. It doesn’t mean these more serene folks aren’t interested or interesting. They’re just more careful, they’re probers - testing the waters. Testing me. This process has now worked quite will in accomplishing two things. Well, actually, three, the first one being the best : (1) the group and I get to have fun for an hour or two; (2) the people get a chance to express themselves; and (3) I have a chance to see folks in action, a few of whom might be great people to speak with on a one-to-one basis. This saves the activity director time and allows the people to be more used to me when they see me milling around the community.
And so, I wasn’t worried on the drive up. I printed out a few more excerpts from past interviews and the like - a make-shift lesson plan, of sorts. But, other than that, I've been winging it. And it’s worked so far. I suppose there will be a moment one day when I’ll be sitting there in front of a room with nothing to say.
Nah. That’s never gonna happen.