Intergenerational Joy

There are some thought-provoking points of intersection between You Could Live a Long Time and Teens Gone WiredGenerativity is one overlap that I’ve been pondering. The psychologist Erik Erikson coined the term and, at age 87, had this to say.

"The only thing that can save us as a species is seeing how 
we're not thinking about future generations in the way we live.  
What's lacking is generativity, a generativity that will promote 
positive values in the lives of the next generation.  Unfortunately, 
we set the example of greed, wanting a bigger and better everything, 
with no thought of what will make it a better world for our great-grandchildren."  

Teens Gone Wired talks about the importance to our young people of having loving, meaningful relationships with adults other than their parents. For some teens, grandparents and great-grandparents provide that positive force in their lives. For the author Mary Piper, it was the time she spent with her grandmothers that saved her when she was going through periods of hating her body, her town and her school. On the flip side, You Could Live a Long Time recommends hanging out with young people. Ninety-year-old role model, Betty, is passionate about spending time with people much younger – especially her grandchildren and their friends. “I get a lot of inner happiness when I see young people and I’m always learning something current.”

But you don’t have to be related to get the benefits of generativity. The New Horizons for Seniors Program has funded a number of projects across the country that connect seniors and young people. One of my favourites is “A Walk on the Wild Side” where the seniors in the Sherbrooke Community Centre in Saskatoon have created eco-trails and insect/butterfly gardens in collaboration with grade five and six students. According to the master gardener, “The seniors have taught the kids to slow down, listen, reflect and appreciate the natural environment.”


Far-Flung Readers

It would be great fun if books included GPS locators so we could see the wonderful voyages they make. I’ve gotten a sense of the journeys from the messages I’ve received from people reading You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? in far flung places.

Karen visiting Israel: “My sister who lives in Israel showed me this great book she is reading - You Could Live a Long Time - SHE LOVES IT! So I finally bought it, and it is superb. I am giving it as a gift to my other sister for her birthday. And will continue to do so with other friends. Really inspired. A great contribution.”

Margaret from Trinidad and Tobago: “WOW what a fantastic book! I have read it - treasured it - over time. Savouring it. I believe I've made tiny stars on just about every page, meaning points to remember and return to read again. I was really impressed.”

Yolanda from Mexico: “I want to thank you for your “gorgeous” book. I must say, it’s a great lesson for people who want to reach elderly age with pride and dignity, with health in all the senses, and wisdom. Life doesn’t end when we get old, it begins in another way, and we must be prepared to face it with happiness. As we say in Mexico “Viejos los cerros y reverdecen.” Such is life.”


Camaraderie and Commitment at The Arts and Letters Club

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Literary Luncheon of The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto about You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? The Club was founded over a century ago for people who love the arts and provides a strong emotional circle for many of its members. Events range from musical/dramatic productions and art exhibitions to improv and alternative performances. Good conversation and camaraderie are long-standing club traditions, as was clearly evident from the discussion after my talk. Here are a few snippets from the thought-provoking exchange of ideas. One man told us about the striking quality that had helped his mother age well: her genuine curiosity about life and other people. He finds it frustrating to watch her now as she faces increasing isolation with a mind that remains active and a body that is failing. A woman told us about her group of some two dozen friends who started out 20 years ago meeting regularly for Scottish country dancing. When they realized they “couldn’t keep the dancing up forever”,  they switched their focus to theatrical outings - first in the evenings and now at the matinees. Because the group has been adjusting their focus as they age, they’re still going strong. A former widower told us his story. He and his wife had retired to Prince Edward County but after 10 years enjoying life together there, she had died. His friends invited him on a cruise and, among the fellow passengers, he met his new love. His sweetheart explained that her life included The Arts and Letters Club and they were a package deal. By accepting the challenge he says he was doubly blessed. He found both his new partner and the Club and they rest in his affections – in that order.


Embracing the Book Sellers

Thank you to the dozens and dozens of book sellers who welcomed me as I toured the country launching Teens Gone Wired: Are You Ready? At the book launches, you have come out in the evenings, in rain or shine, to sell books enthusiastically. At my store visits, you have been unfailingly courteous and welcoming when I’ve interrupted your day with my dog and pony show complete with buttons, cookies and even a contest. You are hosts in salons of delights, mind readers deciphering customer wants from slim clues, matchmakers trying for that perfect marriage between writer and reader. Here are photos of a few of you in action.  May you continue to love what you do.

We appreciate you.


You Have to Love Haligonians

Despite an extreme weather warning, a full and enthusiastic house turned out to support Laing House and launch "Teens Gone Wired" in Halifax last Wednesday. Laing House is a remarkably successful peer-support organization for youth with mental illness that I profiled in the book. Since their founding a short ten years ago, they have proven the value of  their youth-driven, community-based approach and gained a committed throng of supporters. Our evening was graced by musical performances from several Laing House members: violin selections by Gwen and Erin and an original guitar composition from Chris. In consummate Halifax style the plates of scrumptious brownies were whipped up in a baking bee, the space was donated by Leonard Preyra - MLA for Halifax Citadel-Sable Islands, and the Laing House community turned out in numbers to show their support. The event was held at the home of the National Council of Women, founded in 1894 to improve the lives of women and children. What a perfect location for the launch and what a great evening. You'll find photos from the event here.

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