When I quit my job back in June 2010, one of my goals for the first year was to help out with a Habitat for Humanity build in my community and then to help on a build in the part of the country that had been affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
I signed up for my first build day in October 2010, and spent a rainy day hammering Tyvek onto the side of a house and holding a ladder for a 20-something woman while she used a palm nailer on the higher areas. I got home wet and tired, but satisfied. And feeling old, since I was at least 30 years older than the other 25 participants, members of the young adults group at a local church.
Then, in March 2011, my husband Art and I traveled with Road Scholar (used to be Elderhostel) to participate in a five-day Habitat build in Lafayette, Louisiana. In our 60s, we were youngest by at least eight years, but we were not the fittest. We had a great week; build activities planned for our age group were doable, we got to make new friends, spend time in the sunshine, and learn about Cajun culture in the evenings. You can read about that trip starting here: http://bagladyinwaiting.blogspot.com/2011/03/anticipation.html
After we we got home, we received a letter from Road Scholar thanking us for our volunteer service and explaining that most of the trip was a tax deduction!
For the next two months Art and I did four more Habitat builds in the Seattle area. I learned, to my disappointment, that my fear of heights prevented me from being useful on roofs and scaffolding, and that I needed a nap in the car in the afternoon worse than I needed to be useful. Then I hurt my back. So my Habitat build participation was pretty much over, and I moved on to other volunteer activities.
Two months ago - this would be January of 2012 - I got an email from Road Scholar. They were writing to all participants in 2011 service projects through their program (I think there are a couple dozen each year). Seems they'd been approached by a media company looking for stories about people in "the second half of life" who were volunteering. The company's mission is "to entertain and to inspire you to participate". They were developing a social outreach video as part of the release of an upcoming new movie, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" - it's about British seniors who move to India - and they contacted Road Scholar because of its service learning offerings and its list of people who had been on those trips. Road Scholar said if email recipients were interested in telling the story of how they got involved, they should let Road Scholar know. So I did.
Then I got a call from Road Scholar. I told the woman about the bucket list I'd made, how Habitat had been on that list for the first year - including the part about doing a build in the hurricane-afflicted areas - and how the Road Scholar program last March had filled the bill. She thanked me. A month later she called back and said the media company wanted to talk to me. Apparently I had made the cut.
I talked to the media company. Twice. They decided they wanted to come to Seattle and do a video shoot with me as the subject. They were doing one other interview, in Boston, on a person they'd found through Encore, another "second half of life" organization. We agreed that April 2, 2012, would be the day of the shoot. They would do an interview of me in my home, and then shoot some footage of me volunteering.
Here's the hiccup. They assumed, I think, that it would be a shoot of a Habitat for Humanity build. Only I don't do that any more. They didn't ask, and I didn't say. By the time last week rolled around, the subject finally came up. What to shoot instead? Linda gardening, at her exercise class, working out at the gym? Somehow, all those options sounded like a boring visual. Plus, the exercise class people and the gym people said no - it was too last minute, they would need liability releases, other patrons might not like it. Another flurry of emails between me and the media company.
So here we are, two days before the shoot, without a visual. So I went to the gym for my 17 minutes on the elliptical trainer. Staring out the window at the rain, it occurred to me. They could shoot at the town forest.
It's called City Light Woods, and it's a park in Brier, Washington, where I live. There are two trails, probably totalling a quarter of a mile, where you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere - beautiful Pacific Northwest trees and native plants, fallen logs and underbrush. I took a walk there yesterday afternoon and it will be perfect for the shoot. I even get to take my 3-year-old next door neighbor to fill in for my grandchildren on the walk.
The last of the emails with the media company went out last night, and we're set. They'll arrive today, we'll meet up this evening before sunset and do the interview tomorrow. They told me I'd been "remarkably helpful".
That would be me. Just trying to be useful in my second half of life.