Learning at the Library

For me, the highlight of this busy fall has been the talk I gave with Sydney Bacon at the Toronto Reference Library. Sydney (pictured above) is 100 years old and is one of the book’s role models. There were over 80 people in the audience and Sydney’s wise and witty take on life had them spellbound. Here are some questions he was asked:
Q. Should you tell your age?
A. No – it’s irrelevant. What matters is who you are as a human being.
Q. What is important in life?
A. From the age of 62 I have lived Polonius’ advice to Hamlet: to thine own self be true.
Q.  How do you keep your mind so sharp?
A. I accept whatever stage I am at, and make the most of it. And I never stop making friends.
Talking with Sydney forces us to throw away our assumptions about aging.

Book as Springboard

I find it fascinating the way people are using the book to launch into important conversations with spouses, partners and friends. Brian wrote to say that he took the book with him on vacation and discussed it with his wife and the other two couples with whom they shared a house. He says, “It made a good holiday even better.”

Jonathan Chevreau, who writes the Wealthy Boomer blog for the Financial Post, read the book and then passed it on to his wife to read. He says, “I bought the book at a bookshop while on vacation last week at Bayfield (billed as Ontario’s West Coast) after an enthusiastic endorsement by store-owner Mary. After reading it, my wife started on it and we find it a useful springboard for discussing several issues we expect we’ll have to deal with at some point. [We're a few years younger than Green but most of the content is relevant.]”  

The results of these conversations can be important – and surprising! Peter admitted to his wife that he could not bear the thought of spending winters in Florida. He is a thoughtful policy-maker and has not been able to find any soul mates in their recreation community. His wife doesn’t care about the conversation; she just wants to be out of the snow. So they’re reluctantly coming to the conclusion that, in the future, they may be spending several months apart in the winter and they will need to plan accordingly.


Your Summer Musings

Summer has brought more terrific feedback. Here is a sample:

(Bill) "Your enlightening book helped me understand what is occurring to me.  I will be 65 in a month.  I was looking at retiring as soon as I pay off a mortgage.  Your book helped me recognize that even if I do that, I have to do a lot more.  I plan on doing part time consulting, and training.  Also with no children, my wife and I have to make more friends and associate with younger people more.  Thank you for your very helpful and sage advise."

(Ginny) "Your book is full of valuable advice and confirms the conviction I always held, that anyone leaving the workforce must participate in interests before retiring, remain connected with people and keep insatiably curious about learning.  My mother died many years ago from cancer at the age of 55.  Because of that, my feeling has been since my twenties "Do what you can, when you can because you don't know what tomorrow will bring."  My mother's father who LOVED people and who was incredibly sociable was going on 94 when he died! There is an amazing lady who works in one of our stores here; she loves her customers; they love her and in September she is turning 86!!  She's on her feet for hours at the cash either two or three days a week - a wonderful example of someone active, so connected with people and who is obviously a happy person."

And this response from a friend made me howl with laughter:

"I have your book, surveyed it quickly, and discovered to my horror that I am doing perfectly the inverse of everything you and your group of elders wisely recommend, living instead to Edna St. Vincent Millay's verse:

My candle burns at both ends,

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,

It gives a lovely light.

Alas, my sojourn through Elderworld promises to be a descent into hell itself, 'nasty brutish and short', unless I substantially mend my ways." 

Thanks to all. Keep those e-mails and letters coming.


June updates

You’ll find a new link on the right hand side of the page. The blue boxLooking for a follow-up workshop?” takes you to a description of the i know Program. This workshop is offered by Peter Bouffard of Impact Workshops and takes as its starting point You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? After participants have read the book, Peter uses a process of individual exercises and group work to help them develop a plan to implement the book’s findings. I’ve worked with Peter and have known him for many years and he “walks the talk.” Seven years ago, at age 54, he left his position as President of two companies he had founded to begin a mid-life adventure. He became an artist, teaches courses on Leadership and Creativity at Sheridan College, and passes on his life lessons through Impact Workshops.

 Those of you who are really paying attention will have noticed that I posted a new and improved Discussion Guide for Book Clubs. I prepared this new Guide with the help of the Booker’s Dozen Book Club, a group of dynamite women that has been meeting in Ottawa for 25 years. Thank you Booker’s Dozen – you are a perfect example of that sustaining and enriching emotional circle recommended by the role models.

The media interest in the book has continued unabated and over the past couple of weeks I have done interviews with radio stations in Wingham, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Saint John, Waterloo, Fredericton, Toronto and Kingston. We have posted online links to these interviews wherever they are available under Media.

 Here’s some more of your wonderful feedback:

Derrick tells this lovely story. “I had to deliver a best man's speech at my only sibling's wedding and was trying to figure out what to say. I picked up the Globe and Mail outside of my hotel door and saw the article about your book. I was crazy inspired about the concept of your book, the scientific/sociological method behind your research (having actually studied 40 role models), and resulting conclusions. I honed in immediately on your statements about finding someone who truly appreciates your company and is there for mutual care when things get rough. Such simple words, but so impossible to achieve it seems. This was the foundation for my toast – and why I had been given the honour.”

Reg wrote to me about the joys of music as we age – both as performers and audience. “We are a group of Ottawa-based senior musicians "The Mostly Bows" who regularly bring music to nursing homes, and other places where seniors live/gather.”

Coleen writes: “I have to tell you one very important thing that I got from your book and that I have immediately implemented:  Make more effort to meet new friends or to invite people over that I would like to get to know better!”


Vive Montréal

You have to love Montreal. Spring arrives and the streets and parks blossom with people as joyful and colourful as the city’s signature Profusion crabapple flowers. I had the pleasure of speaking on Sunday at Paragraphe’s Books and Breakfast at the Hotel Sheraton. This event has been one of the highlights of the literary scene in Montreal for many years and is attended by droves of devoted readers. Two of my role models, Warren and Muriel, were able to join us, as well as several Montreal friends. (See photos by clicking on the blue flickr box on the right hand side of the page.)

The seriously talented Anne Lagace Dowson hosted the event. She also interviewed us on her CJAD Saturday afternoon radio show. One of the delights of the weekend was getting to know Anne, as well as meeting the other speakers and hearing about their books: Harvey Cashore, Isabelle Lafleche and Catherine McKenzie.

A big THANK YOU to Paragraphe Bookstore for its support for writers. Weeks ago they filled their window with copies of my book (see photo below) and now only a few remain.

Montreal was the final stop on a month-long book tour that took me to nine cities. A more celebratory or welcoming reception is beyond my imagination. I thank every one of you for being part of this journey. And my heartfelt gratitude goes to my publisher Thomas Allen. I could not have wished for a more supportive or talented marketing and publicity team. A special thank you is reserved for all the seniors, both those I interviewed for the book and all the others who participated in the events. They are our role models.

I will continue to blog about your feedback to the book and will post interesting links. So please keep visiting – and keep writing!