Creekside Community Center celebrated Older Americans Month with guest speaker Don Shelby and musical guest Roe Family Singers during a sold out luncheon on Monday, May 21, 2012. The month of May was designated Older Americans Month (originally called Senior Citizen month) in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy as part of a growing concern that there were very few programs and services for older Americans. A few years later the Older Americans Act of 1965 became the first federal level initiative aimed at providing comprehensive services for older adults.
Today, older Americans listen to politicians and economists debate the best way to reduce their services. With concerns over Social Security, health care costs, retirement age, and pensions, older Americans fear what the future holds for their quality of living.
Don Shelby addressed the fear that older Americans feel, but it wasn’t the fear of losing money or services. For thirty minutes Don Shelby turned the lens away from the politicians and debates and focused on the fear we project onto ourselves that keeps us from living life to the fullest.
Through sharing personal experiences of suffering strokes and managing vertigo and sharing the tragic story of his father, Don Shelby demonstrated how his personal fears of getting hurt, not being relevant, or needing help and feeling embarrassed kept him from enjoying life.
While the fear was grabbing hold of Don Shelby and he was beginning to scale back his life and accept a lesser version of who he wanted to be, a memory of an Italian phrase kept him from giving in.
“In bocca al lupo” translates to English as “in the mouth of the wolf” and is said to actors or singers before a performance instead of “break a leg.” The Italian fairy tale behind the phrase is about a boy who faces a wolf and jumps into its mouth and chokes it to death.
Like the fairy tale, Don Shelby chose to face his fears and it made a difference.
Don Shelby worked in the news reporting industry for 45 years and was a news anchor for 32 years. He retired from WCCO in 2010. Today, he is the Capital Campaign Chairman for Washburn Center for Children and is raising twenty-one million dollars for a new facility. He also picks up documentary work at TPT, performs on stage, and broadcasts seven times a day on forty radio stations around Minnesota for BringMeTheNews.com (a new aggregate news website for Minnesota).
“I’ve been through a lot in my life and so have these people,” said Shelby. “I’ve lived a complete and full life and sometimes people are not very sure what to do with the second half of their life. They sometimes confuse what they did with who they are as opposed to discovering, now again, what that spark was when they were young that made them come alive and say, ‘I don’t have to work in the trenches anymore. I’m going to be who I want to be now.’”
Don Shelby’s speech at Creekside Community Center was filmed by City of Bloomington and intended for viewing on Cable Channel 14 in the future. For a schedule call (952) 563-8874.