Tonight I enjoyed attending an event, featuring Margaret Trudeau, with my friend Kim. I had seen Trudeau speak at a work event 8 or 9 years ago and had appreciated her open conversation about her bipolar disease. Wordsworth Books (Waterloo) hosted the evening and she spoke about her new book The Time of Your Life.
She shared how it was shocking to turn 65 years old and that her age had crept up suddenly while she felt like a “perpetual teenager” full of optimism, enthusiasm and always ready for an adventure. She spoke of her past history, having a secret wedding when she married Pierre Trudeau at the young age of 22 years old. At the time, she felt like she was living in a fairy tale, was not thinking of what would come next and was ill prepared for the public life being married to the prime minister.
The loss of her beloved mother, “the one person who really got me” and her friend’s diagnosis with early onset alzheimer’s disease woke her up and helped her realize that it was time to live her life. She highlighted the importance of relationships – the fun she has with her grandchildren when they come to visit (she buys pyjamas in all their sizes at costco) and how her girlfriends have helped her get through life with laughter and wine.
Although she divorced two husbands, Trudeau suggested that it is important to fight for your marriage. Pierre was mentioned numerous times as he had been a mentor and had a large impact on her life despite feeling trapped and having to get away from it. She got giggles from the crowd saying “husbands need wives, wives don’t necessarily need husbands” while she shared her own value of freedom and not having to look after others in her third act.
Trudeau told the crowded church how women used to ‘gradually disappear’ as they reached retirement age, without a network, after the single focus of raising their families. Women need to fight this by having a purpose, by finding things to do and people to meet and by learning new things. She commented that “you never know what is going to cross your path unless you get out there” and gently encouraged women to be involved politically as senior women is one of the largest demographics that could make a difference.
The importance of staying health, getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, maintaining healthy weight and giving up sugar was discussed. Sugar was equated to a similar experience with bipolar disease, giving a person a small high and then later a crash as the energy wears off. Trudeau indicated that giving up sugar was one of the hardest things she had ever done. Keeping healthy leads to a healthy third act and she certainly looked healthy and strong! Depression was declared her her enemy and the importance of maintaining a spark, chasing away the dark thoughts and thinking of life in a positive way was encouraged.
“Change the negative to positive, change bitterness and anger into love and hope”
When asked about whether she had any regrets, she shared that no on is perfect and that “everything you go through in life builds you“. She told the audience that apologizing, learning from mistakes, holding your head high and forgiving yourself is important.
Margaret Trudeau was an inspiring speaker. She was open and shared her past and present life with an audience of mainly senior women. She was comfortable on stage and during the signing was very generous with her time and comments. She paused for the picture about despite the discouragement by the organizers and took a moment to discuss the importance of health and living independently as long as possible with me. I look forward to reading both The Time of Your Life and her previous book, Changing my Mind and wish that I could have talked with her longer.