Here is a breakfast scene from the conference, showing the head table during the keynote speech by Governor Timothy M. Kane of Virginia. I was impressed by his speech. One important point he made was that candidates for political office need to give us more specifics about their proposals rather than just "pie in the sky" ideas, and that the press should ask for and pass along those details so that we can make more intelligent choices.
Each day featured three workshop periods with sessions divided into three tracks: Writing, Public Relations, and Life Skills. Since the specific types of writing projects covered were not of particular interest to me, and public relations is not and never has been my field, I found myself attending life skills sessions. Certainly everyone needs those!
The first session I attended was not clearly related to my own life, but it was interesting. In "Directing your Destiny," Attorney Melanie Lee explained the ins and outs of the business side of launching a career: sole proprieterships, limited partnerships, etc. I'm not interested in starting a business at this point in my life, but I learned to understand some of the issues involved.
I also attended "Dressing for Success," even though I live alone and can do my writing in sweat pants or an old bathrobe, or in the nude if I were that daring (I'm not; I'd probably frighten myself if I walked past a mirror). A few of the styles shown (including short skirts and very high heels) were definitely for the young and daring, but as usual, I liked the more casual, elegant pants suits. That's what I'd wear if I went out in public more, and if I took the time to shop seriously. My wardrobe needs work, but who cares? The makeup demonstration was interesting, too, but I'm too impatient to work at creating a new face. I'm used to the lines on mine.
Probably the most relevant-sounding session was "Growing Older, Not Old," by Debbie Burcham of the Virginia Department of Aging and Betty Booker, who spoke humorously of the myths of aging. My first impression was that the younger Burcham was not exactly in tune with her older audience, which included some of us in our 70's and 80's. I don't think she realized that we oldsters were still around and active. She concentrated more on the baby boomers and their need to plan ahead. Booker told some very funny senior stereotype jokes that kept us laughing. My basic impression is that the over-50 group is so diversified, and perhaps split into seniors and boomers, that it's hard to pinpoint issues and interests. Let's face it: we do grow not just older, but old!
Finally, I went to "Closing the Book Deal" by attorney Kirk Schroder. This was obviously about traditional, not self, publishing, but I learned what publishing and entertainment lawyers do. The tag line was, "Learn how to negotiate the often perilous shoals of publishing and come out a winner." I'm not likely to do that, but I'm sure it's useful information.
All in all, this was an interesting conference, even though much of it was not directed to my life and concerns--I didn't expect it to be. I enjoy learning new things, and I advise other seniors to venture out of their comfortable ruts occasionally, as I do.
Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne
Photo by the author