Haligonian Hospitality Rocks

It may not be spring yet in the Maritimes but the Halifax welcome we received cut right through the chilly air!  It began with the bouquets of tulips in the beautiful suite we received as an upgrade for the visiting author – thank you Simon, Linda and the Marriott! Several dozen people braved the sleet and icy roads to get to the book launch. And some of them attempted to buy their body weight in books! (See photo below) My feisty role models, Richard, Ruth and Mary were undaunted by the conditions and came out to launch the book in dashing style. (See photos on flickr link.) People took home buttons and certificates to give to their role models and generally got into the spirit of the event. It was a pleasure to meet new role models like the dynamic 87-year old Emmeline. As her son says, “She is full of energy, has a sharp, brilliant mind and a real zest for life.” A special thank you to Linda, Barrie and the rest of the Black clan who made sure we wanted for nothing.

I am receiving some wonderful feedback from book readers. Here’s a small sample:

Alan writes: “I have read your book and, although I confess that I don't typically read this sort of book, it is a terrific work. My sister begins a visit on Friday, and we will celebrate her 59th while she is here. I have now bought a second copy of your book as a birthday gift. (Thanks for solving that little problem.)”

Margaret writes: “I've devoured your book and have resolved to take all your suggestions to heart.  Truly an inspiration and tonight I'll begin the re-reading of it, taking notes and checking out the websites.”

Karen writes: “You’ve changed the way I view my career.  Instead of wondering (as I have) if it’s worth missing some hard-earned fun activity when I’m working, I’m now viewing the work (which was always fun) as something that is and will contribute to my wellbeing and ability to participate in fun activities.  Thank you."

See you in Ottawa.


Wonderful Vancouver Welcome!

WOW! We received the royal Vancouver welcome from every corner – spectacular spring days  - everywhere you look a feast for the eyes - bowers of pink cherry blossoms –herons nest-building in Stanley Park - men in business suits and helmets biking along Kits Beach - and sunbathers making a striking contrast to the ski-runs still snow-covered on Cypress.

About 120 people attended the book launch at Chapters. My friend Bill gave me a broad grin when I arrived. “You’ve oversold this event!” he said, “I helped put up extra chairs but folks keep piling in.” Boxes of books had been ordered for the event (175 copies) and by the end of the evening only a handful were left. People bought books for their parents, their partners, their friends and themselves, and they picked up role model buttons to give to the people they admire.

As I was signing books people told me how they had heard about the launch. Some had read the terrific article by Jenny Lee in the Vancouver Sun, others had watched my interview with Fanny Kiefer on her very popular show on Shaw TV, others had come into the store, picked up the book and decided they wanted to hear more. One man told me he had come all the way from Haida Gwaii to be at the launch because he was trying to figure out where to live when he retired.

I was absolutely delighted that two of my role models for the book, Beth and Bob Breadon were able to attend, (you’ll see the photos of them being applauded), as well as many people who had given me wise counsel as I was writing the book. Family and friends came out to support me, including a friend from high school who thought he recognized me from the photo in the paper. And my friend Dale brought her wonderful role model mother. Thank you all! And the lovely room in Chapters with its great cityscapes was a great place to hold the launch. Now on to Halifax. We’re getting to enjoy spring coast to coast!

"Who has a Role Model?"


Victoria in Full Bloom

Ah Victoria! Her harbour crammed with watercraft negotiating their space on sparkling water - close-hauled sailboats skimming by kayakers, water taxis mindful of landing float planes – and all those birds! And this trip – a new sight for me – a duck purposefully walking along the edge of the road – and on the safe side yet – facing traffic. Despite the gorgeous weekend weather that made it terribly hard for all of us to come indoors, some 40 people gathered at Chapters on Douglas to talk about aging well and to celebrate the role models. Have a look at the photos (click that blue square on the right hand side) to see Dorothy and Ida, two of my role models who were interviewed for the book, as well as other role models being celebrated by their friends.

We talked about the shakiness of using chronological age as a marker for physical or mental capacity since we age very differently. And we shared stories about regrets – things we didn’t do and wished we had (It’s not too late!) and the steps some people are taking to make amends and rebuild burnt bridges. One of the seniors told a story about how frustrating it was to be patronized by a salesman. She was shopping for shoes and her daughter who had come along for the ride was sitting next to her. The salesman addressed all his questions to the daughter until she finally said, “My mother is the customer, not me,” and walked away. This is what it took for him to finally speak directly to this vibrant, intelligent woman. The event concluded with a proposal by one woman to continue the discussion as part of a study circle. She was able to get the nucleus of a group and they made their plans to expand. The conversation continues. On to Vancouver.


The book tour is launched with panache! 

Last night about 200 people came out for the Toronto launch of  “You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready” at the University of Toronto Art Centre. The crowd included some 50 smart, sassy seniors. There were two people over the age of 100 and about a dozen Role Models who had been interviewed for the book. Sporting their Role Model buttons, the seniors reminded us that life, like good wine, can get better with age. Check out photos from the evening to get a sense of the fun.  One guest called it “an enchanting evening”, another “inspiring”. The book’s publisher, Thomas Allen, announced that book sales have been so good they are already reprinting. This is a remarkable response since the book has only been in stores for the past week or so. We are leaving for Victoria and the next launch will be on Sunday, April 11 at 2 PM at Chapters, 1212 Douglas St.


The Snowballs are Growing

Each time an interview is published or broadcast, I receive feedback including terrific examples illustrating the book’s advice. I feel as though I’m pushing small snowballs off the edge of the hill and watching them roll along, growing ever larger as they gather story upon story. Here’s a sample after Erin Anderssen’s article "The key to aging well: Laugh it up" was published in The Globe and Mail, on Friday April 2, 2010.

Merrillicious posted this feedback on the Globe and Mail website about the article. “So true. Grandma #1 (95) is totally losing her memory and struggles to remember which granddaughter I am, but is hilarious to be around and never complains. Grandma #2 (71) has all her marbles, but is one steady stream of complaints and nasty gossip. I love them both, but I'd much rather visit the lady who can't always remember my name, but will always have something nice to say.”

Patricia sent me this e-mail. “Yesterday my 91-year-old dad arrived for a visit, after a 7-hour drive from his home, so he could meet his new 6-month-old first great-grandson. After breakfast this morning he and his friend who had accompanied him on the trip, were talking about an article they had just read in today's Globe and Mail about aging. [yours] My dad said that what he had just read was exactly how a good life is lived. His friend, who will be 70 this year, said she is eager to buy the book because what the article explored totally resonated with her. What an important conversation you have stimulated amongst us who are on our way.”

Ellen Roseman will be writing a series in the Toronto Star on upcoming Sundays that will look at how to plan for life beyond full-time work. How much do you need to save? Are you on the right track? What if you haven't started yet? Her April 4 article titled “Canadian consumers are weaker” quoted You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? in discussing the challenges raised by longer life spans. “Many seniors she [Green] spoke to found it helpful to plan ahead and establish some clear goals. ‘Thinking about your financial future could mean a future where you won't need to think about finances,’ Green says.” I look forward to reading Roseman’s insights.