Coming Full Circle

March 31, 2014  
Filed under Mature Matters

By Sarah Lemnah

Aging is often not an easy topic to discuss — and an even more challenging thing to celebrate and explore. But, one local filmmaker is doing just that. As Camilla Rockwell approached 60, she realized she had one of two choices with regard to dealing with her age. “I could deny it and start faking it, but I don’t want to pretend. It is not who I am.”

Instead she embraced it and is inviting fellow Vermonters to do the same at a three-day event called the Full Circle Festival ( happening at 10 locations throughout downtown Burlington from April 11-13. Billed as a First Night for Aging, the event offers films, live performances, comedy, workshops and art exhibits.

Rockwell explained, “I only take on a subject that is of interest to me. I hope this event allows us to open up to recognize we are not alone in this, that we have a sense of connection instead of isolation.”

For many seniors, the aging process is one that is dictated by fear. Seniors are worried about their independence, their safety, their health, their resources, their loneliness, their lack of a voice and their changing relationships with their children. Learning to acknowledge and face their fears is a journey all seniors must travel in order to have a successful aging process that produces the highest quality of life.

On April 12 at 4 p.m. in the boardroom of Main Street Landing, there will be a discussion called “Facing Fear: The Unspoken Anxiety of Aging,” featuring a panel of experts including: Dr. Susan Wehry, commissioner of the Department of Aging and Independent Living; Rachel Lee Cummings, founder of Armistead Caregiver Services and Owner of Rachel Lee Cummings Guardianship; and Karen Gissendanner, CVAA Case Manager.

However, sometimes laughter is the best medicine. “Laugh ‘Til You Die,” featuring physical comedian Tom Murphy, takes a humorous or at times not so humorous look at aging. Murphy is an acclaimed clown, winning the Number One Clown Award in Paris at the International Circus Competition. The New York Times described his work as a “sure fire cure for the blahs.” Having performed slapstick comedy around the country and around the world, he brings his unique vision to Vermont at the Full Circle Festival. His character is much like himself, a man who finds that age is starting to limit what he once could do.

Murphy talks candidly about how he never thought aging would have an impact on him. However, after a herniated disc, some things that were once easy became difficult. “I want to do back somersaults. My confidence came from my physical awareness. I knew who I was and was so confident in what I could do.”

Today, Murphy is re-learning who he is and what he can do in an entertaining but thought-provoking production. Geared to entertain all ages, “Laugh ‘Til You Die “ will be performed on April 12 at Burlington’s Contois Auditorium at 1 p.m.

The Full Circle Festival celebrates us all and the journey we are on. It promises, to make us laugh, to dream and to think.

Sarah Lemnah writes on senior issues for CVAA, the resource for seniors since 1974. For more information on services for seniors call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119 or click on


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