The Time of Your Life is as open and honest as Margaret Trudeau’s conversation at the book launch event in Waterloo that I attended. Margaret shares her history, her present situation and her ideas of how she will spend her future with a sense of humour and grace. This book is targeted to senior women but had insights that are appropriate for women of any age. I am happy that I was able to see her in person and feel her warm authenticity.
The book begins with chapters on Do it Now, Find Your Why and Make Friends with Your Bucket List. Margaret shares that she began to think about what she calls her third act (a term she borrowed from Jane Fonda) following her mother’s death and her friend’s diagnosis with early onset alzheimer’s disease. She shared the importance of finding a purpose and identified her ‘why’ as serving others which givers her a sense of meaning, hope and contentment. She considers that “the closer we get to death, the better we understand what matters most.” Margaret encourages readers to follow their inner compass, seek adventure and live in a manner so that they will have no regrets through a process of goal setting and working towards completing your bucket list.
” You never, ever know when something life-changing is about to happen. And when it does, all you can count upon is the inner strength you have cultivated, and the systems and supports that exist in your life to help you through.”
The next two chapters deal with relationships. Margaret depends on her network of friends, of all ages, as well as her family. She is very clear that she has raised her children but she enjoys spending time with her grand-children. She is very careful to maintain her friendships, ensuring that she keeps in touch with her friends regularly. Although she admits that she might like romance, she is realistic in deciding that she does not want to look after another person and enjoys her freedom. She speaks about ‘grey divorces’ yet during her event encouraged the audience to nuture their marriages and find things to share and experience together.
The readers are reminded of the importance of sleep, nutrition, exercise and brain health in the next couple of chapters along with the necessity of shaping a healthy old age while you are in your fifties. She encourages readers to stay healthy, make efforts to avoid chronic diseases, stay strong to avoid falls, get enough sleep and enjoy a healthy diet avoiding sugar. Dementia is discussed and the importance of keeping the brain health by learning new things and maintaining stimulating relationships is encouraged.
Through sharing personal challenges with finance, Margaret talks about the importance of planning for your future and ensuring retirement savings to meet your needs once you quit work. After starting her career in her 50s, she continues to work at age 66 to support herself and save for the future. She discusses the importance of being financially literate and how to cut costs. Margaret describes her own living situation and gives an overview of other options for senior living. This section is just a broad overview but with my perspective through experience in health care, working closely with long-term care, it provides a starting point for readers to start asking the right questions and preparing for a future that may include living in a retirement or long-term care home. My commentary here is that individuals may prepare for their funerals but don’t always consider plans for when more assistance with living is required.
The end of the book covers living without (coping with grief) while she describes the losses in her life including the loss of her beloved son in a tragic accident. She shares her devastation and the resulting mental health crisis while discussing her path back to health and being able to once more celebrate life. Again the importance of relationships with family and friends were essential during this period in her life.
Margaret has clearly had an interesting and fulfilling life full of ups and downs which she has navigated with the support and love of friends and family. She is committed to helping others both through her volunteer work and with this book that will help guide senior women. Although i do not meet the target demographic (yet) the book provides interesting thoughts for the future and has tips for dealing with change that would be helpful at any age. The sharing of her personal experiences and that of her friends and acquaintances provides real life examples of the lives of Canadian women.