Connecting and Learning

When people contact me to discuss my books I end up learning more from them than they learn from me. Let’s take Christine Jenkins as an example. Christine is a contributor to Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism, the co-founder of AsperDames and a specialist in autism and aging. You’ll read more about her work in Spectrum Women Magazine.

Last month, Christine spoke at the National Autistic Society’s Women and Girls Conference in Edinburgh. You’ll find her insightful and data-rich presentation “Ageing (Dis)Gracefully” here. Christine is a pioneer, using her brains and energy to create an autistic safe space that allows spectrum elder sisters to unmask safely, and help others do likewise. Truly ground-breaking. I've included a photo of her presenting below. 

Another example is C. Brian Smith. He interviewed me for his article “Inside the New Movement of Support Groups for Retired Men” for Mel Magazine.

Brian unearthed some excellent examples and introduced me to PIPs. I really like Mel magazine’s tagline: “Because there’s no playbook for how to be a guy”.  

And then there’s Ben Ziegler who’s always doing important work. Currently that includes facilitating a support group for male caregivers. The Victoria-based group lets men who are caring for an adult (whether family member or friend) to connect with peers, share what's on their mind, and learn from others. It’s a safe place for the men to have open conversations on matters that are important to them. Contact info for Ben and the Family Caregivers of BC can be found here: Male Family & Friend Caregiver Support Group.  



We have the wherewithal to increase our charitable giving, and we're not resistant to giving more. That’s what the research finds. In my interviews, people were interested to learn how little it takes to make a difference, and how many organizations welcome even a modest legacy. And they were surprised at how little it takes to set up a personal foundation through many vehicles including our Community Foundations. 

The Celia Franca Society, the legacy arm of the National Ballet of Canada, provides a good model for engagement. Marcia McClung, the Chair of the Society explains that their strategy is to “go wide.” Anyone can become a member of the Society who commits to including the Ballet in their will. The benefits of membership include watching dress rehearsals and attending lectures. Marcia describes the impact this way: “This means that all ballet lovers of all income levels can sustain their passion for the organization. And we can sustain and nurture their commitment and loyalty. Some of these relationships will end up being more fruitful than we could have imaged. And every one of them is valued.”
On June 16, I had the pleasure of speaking about The Well-Lived Life with author Katherine Ashenburg to a sold-out audience brought together by the Society, the Royal Ontario Museum and Trinity College. The photo below shows us in the Ballet’s beautiful Walter Carson Building in a rehearsal and performance studio transformed into a discussion space. You can just make out in the mirror the dedicated Ben McNally selling books. 


Taking Stock of Our Lives

Hearing from readers is one of the great joys of writing. Each of you is journeying through The Well-Lived Life on your own path, following relevant threads of thought and arriving at different insights. It’s a delight to get your trip reports. 

One theme is the ways people are taking stock of their lives. Here are some techniques: 

  • Imagine your life ending abruptly– right now. This is not intended to be grim. My first thought would be: I’m so glad I drank that bottle of expensive wine instead of saving it for a special occasion. And why did I spend so much time flossing? But then we turn to questions that remind us of the impact we’re having – of our importance in this world. What responsibilities would we leave dangling? Maybe family we’re caring for, community commitments, a pet? What about messes –concrete or emotional – things we always intended to sort out? How about the contribution to the community we’ve intended to make – volunteering more, donating more? What about all that living we’ve been postponing for some future day?
  • Get together with friends and have everyone write their own eulogy. Pass them around for comment. Result: laughter, increased self-awareness, and maybe a surprising “to do” list.
  • Set up a group like The Final Run, organized by my architect friend Martin Golder. Martin says the goal is to meet regularly “to design our lives and drink red wine.” “For 25 years, I met every month with another architect, a mythologist and a philosophy prof,” he writes, “but two are now dead. I put out a call on Facebook to start up The Final Run and we have about 6 people, which is a good number.” 
  • Visit a Death Café. Café participants have open-ended conversations about death with the goal of living a more meaningful life. Since September 2011, 8254 cafes have been held in 65 countries. The organizers say they are energized by the amazing quality of the dialogue at the events and they are overwhelmed by the interest they have received.

Remember to Live

The Latin maxim memento vivere, “remember to live” is a compelling resolution for the new year. But I would add the caveat that we are living, and maybe we should pay attention to what our life looks like. This is the central message of my latest book The Well-Lived Life, which will be in bookstores in mid-January. Sarah Selecky, author of This Cake Is for the Party and nominee for the Giller Prize, wrote my favourite pithy review: "Read this book when you’re ready to stop taking your life for granted." I’m very grateful the book has received such positive early reviews from Sarah and other reviewers, as you’ll read below.  


"I remember interviewing a famous actor a few years ago and asking ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ His answer was simple: ‘I don’t care, I’ll be dead.’  Cute, but I’m not sure he was really serious.  I think all of us, no matter our age, worry a little bit about the legacy we leave behind. But what do we do about trying to frame our legacy?  What can we do? Lyndsay Green’s latest must-read book lays out some effective ideas and you will be amazed at just how many smart and unique paths she finds that can influence the way we are remembered."       Peter Mansbridge 

“This book could just as well be called 'A Travel Guide to the Journey that Matters Most -- Your Life.'  Lyndsay Green has done a fabulous job of answering all the essential life questions that loom for all of us, and she does it with grace, humour and fastidious research. Her message is clear and most welcome: there's still plenty of time to get it right..."       Roy MacGregor, author of Canoe Country 

“A warm, practical guide full of stories and inspiration — it resonates and reassures.  Read this book when you’re ready to stop taking your life for granted, and you wish you could ask a grounded, clear-eyed friend for advice.”       Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light


Pre-order the book now at Indigo or Amazon or find it at your local bookstore 


Retirement is Not An End

Marlene Chan moved to Montreal after retiring from a thirty-year career in Ottawa with the Federal government. In this delightful video she talks about how she first fell in love with Montreal as a young woman and why she seized the chance to make it her retirement home.

Marlene is inspiring in so many ways. She recently went back to school and earned a degree in the History of the Book, a Masters in Research from the London School of Rare Books. She participates actively in the McGill Community for Lifelong Learning where she’s co-moderated several study groups, and one of the off-shots was a Symposium on 21st Century Age Friendly Habitat.

“You have to think about retirement before you leave the job that has defined you for so many years,” Marlene says. “It can’t be done at the time of retirement, you have to think about it very much earlier. There’s a wealth of opportunities for people who are retiring. Don’t think of retirement as an end.”

The photo below shows Marlene surrounded by the staff from the video production, which was done by CUTV Concordia University Television. The video is part of a collaboration with YES Montreal's “Impact Dialogue Series”, which aims to decrease social isolation among seniors, engage seniors with their community, and promote intergenerational learning. In the 4-part video series they are highlighting inspirational seniors from a variety of backgrounds and Marlene was a perfect choice.