Book Inspiration #3: “What’s still missing is the emotional piece.”

Photo credit: Les Anderson on Unsplash

Photo credit: Les Anderson on Unsplash

Brad is one of the youngest people who participated in the interview project about aging, death and dying, and he readily agreed to story his interview with me for this book. When we began to talk about dying, he spoke frankly and thoughtfully:

My parents feel that things should be in place when they’re older, for example, long term disability insurance and sufficient retirement savings. I think that’s how their parents saw it as well — that it is the parents’ responsibility to look after themselves financially as much as possible and not the children’s issue. But what’s still missing is the emotional piece, sitting down and having that emotional discussion, not the practical talk about coverage and financial issues.

Since I’ve started launching and promoting The Invitation, this is one of the themes that often comes up. Young adults and adult children are telling me how the emotional piece is missing in these conversations. Their parent(s) don’t talk about the emotional aspects of aging, death and dying and they don’t know how to bring it up in conversation. Adult children want to, they are ready to, and they don’t know how.

So, here I humbly offer a few suggestions, and I also believe that even before you read them, you may have some ideas of your own.

  • One suggestion is to understand your own ambivalence, resistance and/or avoidance about discussing aging, dying and death with your children, spouse, parents, friends, and relatives.
  • Another idea is to read the stories in the book and notice what moves you, resonates for you, frustrates, aggravates, confuses, or makes you uncomfortable.
  • You might want to consider reflecting and writing down your own responses to the interview questions (they are included in the final chapter).

Let’s keep working on exploring and talking about these taboo topics, and having these conversations together. Let's work together to lessen this uncomfortable silence.


Book Inspiration #2. “I really hope they know how beautiful they are.”

Photo credit: Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Photo credit: Omar Lopez on Unsplash

I was moved when Lucy shared her thoughts about young women in her interview:

When I look at young women now, I marvel at their beauty. I really hope they know how beautiful they are. Also I notice how people need to be so made up today, with their nails, with their hair, with being waxed, looking almost perfect. That seems like such a hard thing today.

Lucy's words made me wonder. Her kindness and love towards those young women is beautiful and I don’t hear it often, not often enough. Yes, it must be hard to be a young woman today with the pressures to look smooth, polished and perfect. Between social media, photo shop and high definition everything, it can get quite intense. It is quite intense.

This singular aesthetic formula of “smooth and polished equals beautiful,” it is fantastic for marble tiles, sculptures, and silver cutlery, but for people? How was this aesthetic born? Because getting body hair hot-waxed or lasered off and polishing our skin with micro-dermabrasion or whatever really makes someone singularly beautiful? Give me a break. Beautiful is also lined, hairy, asymmetrical, and being unapologetically true to oneself. Let’s give it up for some complexity and nuance to our notion of beauty.

But it’s Lucy’s compassion and respect towards young women, the next and future generations of women, that I find especially powerful. There are many industries - makeup, hair, fashion, skincare, “beauty,” fitness, advertising, magazines - that diminish and devalue women, and instigate conflict between women. Their foundation is built on how women look, how we look to each other, how we look compared to each other, how we compare ourselves to other women. Look what it’s done to our relationships with each other, with our family members, relatives, friends, colleagues, between generations of women.

What can I do about that? What can we do about that?

We can tell young women they are beautiful without makeup.
We can be kind, accepting, and inclusive towards each other.
We can stop making critical comments about how other women look.
We can stop eyeing other women, doing the head to toe once-over (you know women do this to each other).
We can smile in greeting when we see another woman.
We can practice self-compassion.
We can acknowledge our flaws and imperfections.
We can be aware of how the hair, fashion, makeup and skincare products we purchase impact how we feel about ourselves and others, whether we buy it for the approval of others.  
We can notice when we are being sold the mask of fakeness.
We can model how self-acceptance and self-confidence comes from within, not from what we buy or do to our outer layer.
We can listen to young women and love them without the mask of perfection.
We can accept and love our aging selves, and the women who are older than us.

What's special about turning 50? A lot.

Our upcoming Facing 50 workshop came about when Allyson Woodrooffe and I talked about turning 50 years old. We both felt that moving into this decade was an important milestone.


We have had our youth and young adulthood, and are now entering this thresh-hold between middle-aged adulthood and elderhood. What does it mean to leave our middle-aged years and become an Elder?

We noticed that there are few events with opportunities to discuss aging, especially for women who are faced with anti-aging everything. It’s time to acknowledge that moving into the 50s is something to be celebrated, not feared. It is an important milestone that hasn’t been recognized in our culture and one we need to, for ourselves and for the generations that follow ours. The negative stereotypes — Old Crone, Old Hag, Ageless Woman (I mean really, come on, ageless?) — continue to exist today, perhaps even more so. In the midst of ageism and negative attitudes about aging, we offer this workshop where we will explore this powerful decade in our lives.

We invite all of you who are approaching 50 or are in their 50s. Let’s connect in community and friendship, exploring our experiences and visions together. It’s time to re-frame this decade as a doorway into much more. Join us in Toronto on Sunday, November 12th. To find out more and to register, go to the Facing 50 event.

Book Inspiration #1. "Take the Opportunity."

Book Inspiration #1. “Take the opportunity.”

Each interviewee offered insights that were honest, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. In this new series, I’m going to share nuggets that inspired me.

Joel talked openly about serious challenges he experienced in his life and said something that stood out:

One thing I can say about myself is that when an opportunity presented itself, I took it, and I acted on it. You have to take advantage of opportunity. You have to actively be open to things and when they are there, take that chance.

Take the opportunity. Take the chance.

It makes me think of opportunities that were offered to me, the ones I accepted and went for and those I didn’t. When do we stay in our familiar comfort zone and not take the opportunities offered to us? What opportunities do we cast aside out of fear?

Travel when someone invites you.
Go to the party or networking event.
Go out on the romantic date.
Be the first one to say "Hello."
Take your body on a physical adventure.
Really explore the suggestion to study, work or live in another city or country.
Accept the invitation, to go to choir or improv or dance.
Start the scary conversation. Talk about the taboo topic.
Tell family and friends that you love them.
Express yourself.
Be the one to invite others.
Get up on stage. Sing, dance, deliver a speech or talk.
Take yourself out on a solo leisure date.
Have a conversation, about aging, growing older, death and dying. That’s an opportunity I wish everyone takes.

Take the opportunity. Take the chance. Oh yes.

Photo credit: Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

Photo credit: Suresh Kumar on Unsplash