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But how do we move forward?

Tracey Columns

Since last week’s election, my column’s mailbox has been flooded with reader’s reactions. Many are devastated, “How can this have happened in America?” Others are elated, “Finally, it’s our turn. We didn’t take to the streets after we lost. People need to get over it and move on.”

But how do we move forward? Perhaps my personal situation might help you understand what others are feeling. This feels very risky but for the sake of the people I love and my country, I feel it is worth it.

Consider the constellation of the family my husband and I have, three kids, all married.  Four of these remarkable, generous, compassionate, hard working, tax paying young adults are gay. One son-in-law is Mexican American, the other is a Mexican citizen and lives here with permanent residency status. My innocent six-year-old granddaughter is black. We proudly call three amazing young women our own. We could have our own sitcom, right?
But here’s the devastating part … each and every one of these dear souls has been impacted by racism, homophobia, and misogyny.

My son and his husband were spit on one night walking home from a club.

My Mexican American son-in-law started an after hours business cleaning a school. (Yep, he’d work full-time all week in a white collar job and then go to work at night, saving to buy a house.) One night, a white teacher came into the classroom he was cleaning and told him, unbeknownst to her a USC graduate, “you really should aim higher.” Sure her heart was in the right place but sadly, this is racism. She saw his skin color and made assumptions.

He has also been stopped by police for no apparent reason. Yes, he was always sent on his way because he had broken no laws, but there is a subtle pattern there that cannot be denied. (For the record, my younger brother is a cop. I have total respect for responsible law enforcement.)

My daughter and her wife can’t walk down the street with my precious granddaughter without receiving prolonged and sometimes, unfriendly stares.

My other daughter has seen less experienced men promoted at work and has been in meetings where the men control the discussion through interruption or try to take a women’s accomplishment and call it their own.

I am the first to admit that, at times it is difficult for me to recognize the subtleties of the minority experience. After all, I have grown up white and, at least for my adult life, economically secure. Sure, I’ve encountered endless misogynistic moments – what woman hasn’t? But it’s the subtleties of another’s experience that we all may have difficulty understanding.

As an example, consider the backlash to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Of course all lives matter … but since the beginning of time, blacks have had less freedoms, less opportunity, less appreciation, less value.  The statistics on how often blacks are detained, questioned, arrested, jailed, and shot compared to whites are shameful.

But as a white woman, this can be difficult to fully comprehend – it is not my experience. To try and understand, I look to my black friends, who have pounded into their sons about how to behave when stopped by police. Did I ever have to do this my son, beyond the normal “be polite”? Nope. Not once.

Racism, homophobia, misogyny can be glaringly obvious … or dangerously subtle.

Unlike policy based elections, this one was deeply personal. My children are actually frightened about their futures. So am I. Based on this election cycle, we have plenty of reasons to believe our fears are legitimate. Will marriage equality be repealed? Can my son-in-law can be sent back to Mexico, even though he has permanent residency status? Will my daughters ever be paid the same amount as men? Will their healthcare be gutted? These are all real possibilities under the new administration.

This is my family’s experience. Millions of families across the nation feel the same devastation.   This is why so many of us are finding it nearly impossible to “get over it and move on.”

I know it isn’t always easy to grasp the impact of another’s experience. Perhaps if we all try a little harder to open up to what is different, to own our imperfections, to tone down the volume, the rhetoric, and truly hear each other, we can recognize that we are all Americans and that we can be better.

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Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!

Tracey Columns

Today is my incredible mother’s 90th birthday!

While some physical issues could be easier for her, she is mentally quite sharp. She pays close attention to the current political circus, loves to stay up to date on world events, and has maintained a wonderful sense of humor. She is beloved by friends and family and holds a very special place in my children’s hearts.

What a life she’s had. In 1927, her hard working mother and “crazy” father drove a Model A all the way from West Virginia to to San Diego. From the way my Granny always told the story, they slept wherever they could, ate rattlesnakes my grandfather shot, and generally had a truly awful time. Granny would say, “it’s good your mother was a baby. It was a miserable trip.”

Apparently, my grandfather was a sketchy character and in nothing flat, my Granny was raising my mother single-handedly. A grocery checker at the local Piggly Wiggly, she was good natured, though single-minded and tough, never one to shy away from life just because her ‘no good husband skedaddled,” as she liked to say.

My mother was a real beauty. (She still is.) Exceptionally tall, she had perfect posture, a fresh, beautiful face, and lush, glossy, shoulder-length curls. As a kid, I once saw a glam photo of Rita Hayworth. I swear, my mother could have been her sister!

A championship tennis player, she quietly and humbly won numerous  tournaments all over San Diego. One of my most favorite photos of her is a group shot with other young tennis players. Decked out in her tennis togs, she is tan, strong, fit, and has a radiant smile. I always appreciated that she’d had a brief but successful time on the tennis courts. There was something about that piece of her history that intrigued me. I used to imagine her strength, how she’d throw herself into every match, mapping out her game strategy for the win. I think this may be how I managed to develop my own problem solving abilities and I am grateful these traits somehow rubbed off on me.

Another memorable story from her youth was when she was Homecoming Queen. My grandmother certainly didn’t have the money to buy her a formal gown but, creative thinker that my mother was, she borrowed a dress from her best friend. The only problem? My mother was about ten inches taller than her dear friend. Her solution? When riding on the float in the Homecoming parade she never stood up!

Soon after graduating, the Homecoming Queen would meet and marry her rival high school’s star basketball player. They met at a beach party and my father, a dynamic and charming young man with a full head of red hair, swept her off her feet. The only problem was that the poor guy was simply never cutout for marriage.

Eventually they would divorce and she would do exactly what her mother had done, raise two kids on a shoestring budget. But thanks to her grit and good humor, she  carried all of us through.

Just imagine what it took for her to pack up two young children and a few belongings into a 1951 Ford, drive 800 miles away, to work 16 hours a day at a ski lodge in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We lived in a two room cabin, had a wood burning stove, bathed in the big laundry sink in the lodge’s basement, and ate with all of the employees in the staff dining room. My brother and I were in heaven, free to roam wherever we wanted, while my poor mother worked her fingers to the bone managing the desk, cleaning rooms and cabins, and handling the books. Talk about grit!

Fortunately, things would eventually get a little easier for her. We returned to San Diego and my mother became surely the most well liked checker at a large grocery store. (Her line was always the longest because yes, she was just that friendly!) A relentlessly hard worker, she helped both of her children get their college educations. Always an exceptional grandmother, in her sixties she re-married and for many years traveled the globe with her husband.

Life isn’t particularly easy at 90 for anyone. But I have to say that my mother’s grace, tenacity, and kind heart continue to help her through the journey. We are all so grateful for who she is and what she has given us.

Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!

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The perks of aging … Social Security Benefits and Medicare!

Tracey Tracey's Blog

Guess what I found in my mailbox today? A letter from the Social Security Administration that began with these words: “You are entitled to monthly retirement and Medicare benefits beginning October 2016.” Wow.

Filled with a sense of disbelief, my mind flashed back to when, as a 16-year-old working the pony rides during the San Diego County Fair, I was first introduced to the concept of  Social Security contributions. Having just finished mucking out the stalls at the Del Mar racetrack, my boss arrived and handed me an envelope. He may have even joked, “don’t spend it all in one place.” A couple of the jockeys, kind men who had taken a shine to my lanky, inexperienced self, laughed knowingly.

I eagerly opened up the envelope … only to discover the deductions across the top of my very first paycheck.

I was stunned to realize that some of my hard earned money was going to be withheld by the Social Security Administration. And then my nice boss, who looked to me to be older than dirt, though he was probably no more than fifty, explained that this would happen with each and every paycheck I ever received, throughout my entire working lifetime. He said that every employer would match the contribution. Seeing my disappointment, he stressed that it was a really good thing, that one day when I turned 65, I’d appreciate having retirement benefits.

What? He had to be kidding! This was a good thing? No way. Day after hot day, I’d been mentally counting on every single penny for an entire week. (Trust me, there’s more to pony rides than cajoling a bored pony to walk around a small, circular corral while trying to comfort a terrified, screaming toddler so her Mom could take a picture on tiny Brownie camera!) Besides, it was incredible to imagine people actually lived long enough to collect their benefits. Not even my dear Granny was that old!

My adolescent brain couldn’t comprehend any of it. As my face dropped even closer to the soiled hay, those dear little jockeys fell silent. One of them tried to lighten the moment, offering something like, “welcome to the real world, kid.”

Fast forward and there I was today, standing at my mailbox, holding the letter that represented my required retirement savings plan based on 49 years as a worker bee. (Is it safe to now admit that my pony ride tenure had been preceded by four years of babysitting and ironing, all paid under the table? Thank goodness none of those mothers deducted anything from that $.50 an hour job.)

Yep, the arrival of this letter was a moment to remember, as well as a moment to savor. I’m thrilled to be receiving those benefits!

But I also want to reassure any of you who are poised to apply for your Social Security benefits that the process is really quite manageable. I offer this opinion even after a small problem had to be cleared up.

Imagining a horror story at our local Social Security office, I arrived just as the office opened, mid-week and mid-month. (I had been told Mondays and Fridays at the beginning of the month tend to be the busiest times.) Two friendly security guards met me and within five minutes I was sitting across from a very pleasant, knowledgeable woman who was nothing but smiles and solutions.

Though everyone has the option to apply for benefits in the office, I opted for the online application, discovering that this agency really knows what it’s doing. The process was clear and easily understood. The first thing you’ll find is a list of all of the documents required for your application. What a time-saving approach! Once these were gathered, I sat down to start the application and was finished in about 30 minutes.

A short time later I received a letter confirming my application and instructing me to call within a certain number of days to verify some information. But the Social Security office beat me to the punch by actually calling me a couple of days later. The man I spoke with was professional and extremely friendly. It was a quick and thoroughly painless call.

Now, here I am, just weeks from the beginning of the application process. Everything for both my Social Security and Medicare benefits is confirmed and ready to begin in October.

What fun it’s going to be to open my mailbox and find a check in there every month!

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Canadian mariners and the value of a positive attitude … all in one post!

Tracey Uncategorized

My husband and I have returned from our annual boating vacation in the waters off of British Columbia. Now in year eight, we were cruising in Adagio, a beautiful wooden boat built by this talented guy I’m married to.

She is a real beauty and has all of the comforts of home. Though perhaps she’s a bit sparse for some; at 28 feet we are always the smallest boat in the marina or cove. Yet I’d be willing to bet no one is any happier than the two of us, when we’re cozy in the evening light, rocking ever so gently, with a cup of tea warming our hands and our loyal mutt warming our feet!

One of my joys in boating are my fellow mariners. I’ve come to believe that it must be boating itself that binds us together. We find generous, friendly, helpful, and fun loving boaters wherever we go. This trip we shared a big skillet of freshly caught prawns with one couple, lemon cake and tea with another. One morning, three boaters actually trotted to the end of the dock and quietly waved us off at sunrise. Yes, they were that friendly

While some of these delightful people were Americans, because of our route, the vast majority of them were Canadian. This is where is gets downright fascinating because I have yet to meet a grumpy Canadian! Scouts honor. Surely one exists somewhere but I’ll be darned if that grumpus has ever crossed our bow.

This trip I started asking people about this observation, acknowledging it was a generalization but reiterating the fact that our experiences with Canadians have always been positive. Most of them demurred, some said we’d just had ‘good luck’.

But one thoughtful soul offered this possible explanation: “Canadian culture was founded on a British standard … don’t make a fuss, apologize even when it’s not your fault, always be respectful, be part of the group not independent.” He paused, carefully deciding on his next words, “… while America began with a group of people rejecting the British way. They were searching for their own identity, desperate for independence. And then along came your cowboys and well, you know, the rest is history.”

We shared a laughed at his characterization. (Oh those cowboys and the Wild, Wild West!) Then, with that aforementioned respect, he moved on to the topic that nearly every Canadian asked us about, “How do you explain what is happening in the United States during your presidential election cycle?”

Every time this came up we were stymied. While we understand the many issues we face as a nation are complex and deserve improvement, we couldn’t begin to explain the mean-spirited, disrespectful, and deceptive vitriol that seems to be our nation’s new norm.

Honestly? It was embarrassing. Canadians are horrified by this election cycle. So are we.
Throughout the trip, I found myself contemplating what part I play in this disturbing reality. What could I do to change, temper, or alter the way people behave? Probably not much because I know all any of us can do is be responsible for our own behavior.

But, as the older members of our society, perhaps we can actively model the exact behaviors that seem to be slipping away: speaking with kindness and respect; not rushing to judgment; seeking facts, not sound bites; sharing our opinions and truly listening to others when they do the same. It’s worth a try.

I know many people our age feel too marginalized to have any impact but I beg to disagree. As the Dalhi Lama has said: “If you think you are too small to make a difference … try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.”

Come on, let’s make a buzz!

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Thank you!

Tracey Uncategorized

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Typically, I don’t begin a story by revealing a happy ending. But this time, I’m making an exception.

My dear husband is absolutely fine! This, after facing threatening medical conditions, being airlifted to a hospital in the dead of night, a 10-day hospitalization, and too many sleepless nights to count. Whew.

But while our attention focused on nothing but his recovery, it seems our dear country absolutely fell apart. From Orlando to Dallas and all points in between, I have no words for the tragedy that continues to plague the nation.

Instead, I would like to focus on all of the good people there are in the world by thanking those who crossed our path this last month. (I only wish I could remember all of their names!) It was the goodness of these strangers that truly carried us through our nightmare.

We found ourselves at Washington Hospital in Fremont, California. I’d never heard of this little gem, a facility that is surely overshadowed by the big names of its affiliate, UCSF, and Stanford. But I have never, ever experienced such kindness, compassion, knowledge, and skill than that which was delivered by the professionals working at this Magnet hospital. (“Magnet” status, as determined by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, is awarded to hospitals that satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of their nursing.)

First up? The ICU staff, a dedicated group of nursing professionals who gently took us in and who ultimately, in one way or another, cared for all of us. (Our three kids and their spouses arrived before our plane had even landed.) I was repeatedly reassured by this staff’s competence and skills, their remarkable communication and compassion. Janette was on duty that night, quietly and tenderly caring for my husband, her nursing experience fluid and seamless. Throughout his stay in ICU, a parade of other stellar nurses came into our lives – Soledad, Jincy, Tasha – each one of them competent and best of all, so human in their caring approach.

I was immediately at ease when the neurological liaison, Linda, introduced herself to us. Good natured, clear and calm, she was the perfect mix for what we were facing. And then there was Dr. Jack Rose, neurologist, and Dr. Jeffery Thomas, neurosurgeon, a team I affectionately dubbed the Dynamic Duo. Naturally, all anyone wants is the most skilled professionals possible and these two delivered. But what made the situation even better was how thoroughly unpretentious and approachable these two men are. They have the admirable ability to listen, respect, and incorporate information and experience family members added to the discussion. Amazing!

I can’t forget James, the good-natured transporter who, day after day, wheeled my husband from test to test. What a wonderfully cheerful man, so dear in his treatment and care. His humor was delightful and James proved to be a real bright spot in the care my husband received.

We passed through nearly every department, finally coming to rest on the sixth floor. Kudos to the charge nurse, Maria, who managed to get my husband out into the rose garden. (This woman really understood the healing power of nature!) Prone to hands-on communication, she typically offered me a loving pat on the back. Aileen was a capable, bright, enthusiastic young nurse who hugged us when we left. The feelings were absolutely mutual! (I tried to recruit her to the north coast. Sorry, no luck.) There was also Kate, who was calm and good natured. And of course, one of our favorites, Jerome, a relatively new nurse who would never leave the room without turning to me and asking “can I get you anything?”

In light of what our nation is facing, and more personally, as white grandparents to a black granddaughter, as parents of gay children, and as a mother and father-in-law to two dear men of color, (‘Modern Family’ anyone?) I’ll close with one last observation. My husband and I agreed that Washington Hospital might also be quietly offering a cure for one of our nation’s most disturbing ills – bigotry. Throughout our experience, it seemed as though the majority of the staff were people of color, many also representing nationalities from around the globe. Together, they produced a collective competence that was overwhelmingly positive and their genuine compassion and kindness crossed every barrier imaginable. Ours was the quintessential human-to-human experience and we shall be forever in their debt.

It’s worth remembering in these difficult times that there truly are so many kind people in the world. How fortunate we were to discover the good people of Washington Hospital.

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39 and counting!

Tracey Uncategorized

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On July 2, 1977, my husband and I stood at the top of these stairs and vowed to spend the rest of our lives together. So far, so good! We’ve recently made our way through a terrifying medical emergency and it served to remind us, yet again, about the value of a loving partnership. We are so grateful for each other and the life we have created.

How have we made it? Some of it is surely luck but most of it is our commitment to actively tend to each other and to the marriage itself. We don’t take any of it for granted. There’s a consideration we share, a kindness too. Somehow, all those years ago (babies that we were) we arrived at the top of the stairs fully aware of our individual shortcomings. I have come to believe that this awareness has helped us both be more accepting of each other and surely, more realistic about what we expect from one another. Oh, and we knew the value of laughter – wrote it right into our wedding vows!

Life can be very hard. Like every couple, we’ve been challenged and yet, we continue to make it through whatever comes our way. Whew.

Best of all? We’re still laughing!

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It’s showtime!

Tracey Columns

It’s showtime!

Those Fascinating Fifties, a lively musical review that explores and celebrates the 1950s, is happening this weekend, Feb. 12 and 13 at the Eureka Woman’s Center. Through captivating stories (performed by the likes of Jeff DeMark, among others,) familiar rock ‘n roll, and nostalgic memories, this show promises to entertain and transport you to days gone by.

Best of all? It’s all performed by Humboldt Light Opera Company’s new Boomer+ Troupe, a talented and enthusiastic ensemble of “second half” performers who have thrown themselves into the fun and magic of musical theater.

Working with HLOC’s artistic director, Carol Ryder, I first met many of these people during auditions last fall. One by one, they would file into the room. Understandably a bit nervous nearly every one of them said the same thing. While they may not have had much stage experience, they were interested in doing something fun and different, even, as one of them put it, “if makes my palms sweat!”

Some of the storytellers I first met during my writing classes through OLLI. Again, I was impressed by the spirit these people brought to their writing. There was an enthusiasm for sharing their stories and a real dedication to crafting the best possible version of their experiences.

During the first rehearsal, I wondered if we might have a mutiny! In order to create a meaningful and entertaining script, Carol and I had the entire cast respond to nearly 30 different writing prompts about the 1950s. From daily chores to the Cold War and everything in between, we explored the cast’s experiences during this decade. Those who were teenagers at the time had vivid memories, while others who had been in their earlier, formative years, had meaningful bits and pieces of their lives come bubbling up. By the end of that first rehearsal, we knew we had enough material to craft an engaging script.

Rehearsing has been a positive experience. They are a cooperative, supportive group, each and every one of them a team player. I’m happy to report we don’t have one overwhelming ego in the bunch and I marvel at our good fortune to have assembled people who are giving the show their absolute all!

But I’ve also wondered if this good natured approach to this show might be a reflection of our collective ages? We’re all old enough to know the value of working together. We seem to recognize that our ultimate goal is to present the most entertaining show possible. Given our ages and vast life experiences, we seem to have made an unspoken agreement to come together for the learning, the challenge, and yes, the fun.

Which is why I’m quite happy to be a 64 year who is thoroughly enjoying a wonderful opportunity with 22 like-minded people. Sure, we’re all hoping our memories won’t fail us or that we’ll remember the dance steps. (Wait until you see this group. They have nothing to be worried about.) But come next weekend, I’m confident we’ll be giving our audiences something very worthwhile.

Join us won’t you? You’ll be tapping your toe with the very first note and then enjoy a glorious ride through a decade that set our country on a very specific specific course.

Those Fascinating Fifties is a fundraiser for both HLOC and HSU’s OLLIE, programs that serve the over fifty learner.

Performances are on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 13 at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. at the Eureka Woman’s Center. (1531 J St., Eureka.) Tickets are $20 for general admission and $18 for OLLI members and may purchased by calling OLLI at 826-5880 or online at humboldt.edu/olli. (Space is limited so it is advised you purchase your tickets in advance.)

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Countdown …

Tracey Featured

We’re almost there! My KEET/PBS series that explores life after fifty premiers Thursday, January 28 at 7:30. In each of the six episodes I have the pleasure of talking with people who are living their later years to the fullest … and that’s not always easy, is it? Join us. You may learn a thing or two, be inspired to try something new, or simply enjoy spending time with some very interesting people. I know I sure did!

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2016 Off and running!

Tracey Columns

It’s a new year and I seem to have hit the deck running. (As long as my back holds out, right?) While I am a little overwhelmed at times, I’m enjoying myself immensely. With two big projects in the works (more on those in a minute) I’m engaged, challenged, excited, and okay … a little bit tired. (I took a two hour nap on New Year’s Day and it wasn’t the result of an all night party! No, I was just that tired.)

What’s going on? I’m sixty-four. Aren’t I supposed to be retired, slowing down, taking it easy?

I recently had a few moments of real clarity about this when I was catching up with an old friend. Both empty nesters, our children all happily launched, we recognized that we’re in a bit of a magical decade, much like our twenties, when we could do anything, be anything. All we had to do was try.

Was I successful every time? Hardly! Believe me, I had my share of flops and failures. But that’s the beauty of youth. I’d lick my wounds, dust myself off, and dive into the next thing. That’s one of the greatest parts of being young, isn’t it? We all just kept plowing through, trying this and that because we were young and we could … and mostly, because we didn’t know any better.

Then, like so many of you, my life detoured into that gratifying and very long phase of home ownership, career, and best of all, parenting. With three other lives to tend to, the freedom of my youth quickly vanished. (It didn’t matter … it’s the main reason I delayed motherhood until my thirties.) Fast forward. One by one those kids flew the nest and established themselves in the world.

My time became my own again. And that’s the fun part. While I could be collecting my social security, I’ve decided there are still too many other things I want to be doing …

Like producing and hosting a program for KEET. CONVERSATIONS: Life in the Second Half, premiers Thursday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.. I’ve spent the last six months talking with some the most interesting people ‘over fifty’ from our community. Some are still working, others are traveling the globe, while others tend to their beloved spouses of fifty years. My guests have unique stories to share and yet, I think on some level, you may relate to each and every one of them.

Did I know how to do this? No, but like some fool hardy twenty year old, the idea seemed sound. Experienced people sharing life experiences – how could it miss? It also sounded fun. I pitched it. KEET, so aware of the world they serve and their commitment to local programming, liked it. Wonderful funders stepped up. The roller coaster ride began at full speed.

Sam Greene, my KEET producer/videographer/editor and all around good guy has been patiently teaching me the ropes. My knowledgable and very good natured associate producer, Jan Ostrom, keeps my head above water with her never ending good cheer and support. (Her years of firsthand experience at NBC news in Los Angeles are pretty helpful too. Now there’s an understatement!) Some days I’m pretty cross-eyed by the process but mostly I’m enjoying a new adventure in the world of public television.

It’s not unlike the one I’m sharing with Humboldt Light Opera Company and their new Boomer+ Troupe. A wonderful cast of 24 talented and energetic people are joining us in this brand new performing arts program for people over fifty. Carol Ryder and I have finished writing the script. The music’s been selected and we’re now in full rehearsals. Our first production, Those Fascinating Fifties, will debut the weekend of February 12 as a benefit for both HLOC and HSU OLLI.

What has all of this taught me? For starters, I need to try and get more sleep. But the biggest lesson? Do what I can for as long as I can and enjoy every minute of this roller coaster ride.

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Not too old to take a risk!

Tracey Columns

When was the last time you did something that kind of knocked your socks off? I had that experience recently and not just once but twice. Lucky me, right? And it wasn’t even something I saw coming, which made me appreciate it even more.

Last week we held two audition sessions for Humboldt Light Opera Company’s new Boomer+ Troupe. I was a little overwhelmed and really happy by the number of people who showed up. It was such a positive response to HLOC’s newest program, an ensemble of singers and storytellers for people over fifty. Our first production is Those Fascinating Fifties, a show that will weave together music and stories to highlight the 1950s, a pivotal decade in our history.

The people who showed up to audition warmed my heart. As someone who has had her knees knock through a number of auditions, I could relate to what some of these brave folks were feeling. It can be tough to stand in front of two people you may or may not know and sing a song or tell a story, no matter how old or seasoned you may be.

Why? Because when you’re the one auditioning, it feels like the process is all about judgement. Will I be good enough? Will they like my song, my story, my piano playing? Am I too too quiet, too short … too old? Really now, who likes to go looking for that kind of experience?

I admired these people. They managed to quiet this self-defeating chatter and just go for it! How great is that? By simply showing up, I knew each and every person had something special, a willingness to step outside of their comfort zone. Their presence told me that they believed in our project – that older folks have something valuable to share with their community. It also said they were open to having some fun … and that’s worth a lot in my book.

We heard songs, listened to entertaining stories, and enjoyed some delightful piano playing. Afterwards, HLOC’s Artistic Director, Carol Ryder and I chatted with each person, curious about their memories of the fifties and how the decade had impacted their lives. These people came from all over the nation, from the countryside to inner city Chicago. Their life experiences were as varied as the people themselves and yet, there were so many shared experiences. It was wonderful to hear from with each and every one of them.

Regretfully, we only had room for about half of the people who auditioned. It was a very difficult decision making process. You see, when you are the one making the selections, there is a whole host of things to consider; how voices will blend, who can sing what part, can we pull together a quartet, a trio? Does this story work with that one? What rehearsal limitations are there? The list goes on and on.

My thanks to all of the people who auditioned.You were wonderful! And an invitation to everyone who lives in our area to join us for the premiere of the Boomer+ Troupe’s first production,Those Fascinating Fifties, the weekend of February 12,2016.I think you’ll enjoy yourself!

Image by Stuart Miles