There is no doubt in my mind that the 2014 Municipal Election is all about leadership. Residents of Ward 5 and all other Wards for that matter, must make sure that they select a representative who has not just told them that he will be a good leader. The Candidate voted for must have "consistently demonstrated" strong leadership qualities that are relevant to the responsibilities inherent in the position as a representative on Council.

It is not enough to have been a good leader at work or in sports. To be a leader of a Ward requires a person who is confident enough to listen to where the people want to go and then help them get to their destination. As a City Councillor, you lead from the back. You don't pull the people in the direction of your choice, you help them make wise decisions as a community and then you act as a "shepherd" and make sure that they follow the path of their choice.

This is why I am adamant about the fact that when I sit at City Council, there is going to be no doubt in anyone's mind who I represent. When I speak I will be speaking from the perspective of a representative of Ward 5. So when we discuss policies that are going to affect Ward 5, I will make sure that everyone hears what the impact is going to be on Ward 5 and the direction that Ward 5 wishes to pursue.

I do not feel that as Councillor for Ward 5 I should look at discussions as a "give and take" negotiation. I will not fall into the trap of feeling pressured into compromising my position just so that some other Councillors owe me a favour in the future. When we make decisions they must be for the best interests of the entire City of Greater Sudbury, but I will never vote for any policy that might be best for the entire City of Greater Sudbury if it is going to have any kind of negative impact on Ward 5.

I believe that if all Councillors truly represent their Ward interests, we will arrive at policy decisions and make choices that will be in the best interests of the entire City. That we will move forward in a positive direction. And that we will respect each other's differences and preferences without feeling the need to compromise or negotiate to gain favour for the Ward.  If something is good for Ward 5, then it is up to me to convince the rest of Council that it will be good for the entire City.

Sitting on City Council should not be that difficult a job as long as you remember a few basic principles:

bullet You represent the constituents of your Ward and must speak on their behalf at City Council meetings. While you can be empathetic and supportive of the people in other Wards, it is up to their representatives to look after their interests. All you have to do is focus on the needs of the people in your own Ward;
bullet You must constantly keep in touch with your constituents so that you know their issues and concerns and can address these at City Council meetings. This requires more than just the odd public meeting. It also requires more than just showing up for ribbon cutting ceremonies, open houses, or dropping in to wave and say hello. It means that you must get involved with many aspects of the community and give people a chance to speak to you face-to-face about their real problems. You must be available and willing to listen to their concerns. You must become a part of the community;.
bullet The decisions you make on policies and by-laws with respect to matters that appear before you at City Council meetings must be made so that they will have a positive impact on your own constituents. Everything you do must be done to move your own Ward forward and should be the best decision possible for your own constituents;

Once again, this comes down to leadership. And before casting any vote on October 27, 2014, each Ward 5 constituent should try to find out what kind of "consistent leadership" qualities their candidates have exhibited in the community. This is not about being a good leader at work or in sports. It is about being a good leader for the community and knowing how to lead people in the direction of their choice, not yours.

Jane Fonda's Life's 3rd Act Video

Transcript of the speech:

There have been many revolutions over the last century, but perhaps none as significant as the longevity revolution. We are living on average today 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did. Think about that. That's an entire second adult lifetime that's been added to our lifespan. And yet, for the most part, our culture has not come to terms with what this means. We're still living with the old paradigm of age as an arch. That's the metaphor, the old metaphor. You're born, you peak at midlife and decline into decrepitude. (Laughter) Age as pathology.

0:56 But many people today -- philosophers, artists, doctors, scientists -- are taking a new look at what I call the third act, the last three decades of life. They realize that this is actually a developmental stage of life with its own significance -- as different from midlife as adolescence is from childhood. And they are asking -- we should all be asking -- how do we use this time? How do we live it successfully? What is the appropriate new metaphor for aging?

1:32 I've spent the last year researching and writing about this subject. And I have come to find that a more appropriate metaphor for aging is a staircase -- the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. Age not at all as pathology; age as potential. And guess what? This potential is not for the lucky few. It turns out, most people over 50 feel better, are less stressed, are less hostile, less anxious. We tend to see commonalities more than differences. Some of the studies even say we're happier.

2:15 This is not what I expected, trust me. I come from a long line of depressives. As I was approaching my late 40s, when I would wake up in the morning my first six thoughts would all be negative. And I got scared. I thought, oh my gosh. I'm going to become a crotchety old lady. But now that I am actually smack-dab in the middle of my own third act, I realize I've never been happier. I have such a powerful feeling of well-being. And I've discovered that when you're inside oldness, as opposed to looking at it from the outside, fear subsides. You realize, you're still yourself -- maybe even more so. Picasso once said, "It takes a long time to become young."

3:02 I don't want to romanticize aging. Obviously, there's no guarantee that it can be a time of fruition and growth. Some of it is a matter of luck. Some of it, obviously, is genetic. One third of it, in fact, is genetic. And there isn't much we can do about that. But that means that two-thirds of how well we do in the third act, we can do something about. We're going to discuss what we can do to make these added years really successful and use them to make a difference.

3:34 Now let me say something about the staircase, which may seem like an odd metaphor for seniors given the fact that many seniors are challenged by stairs. (Laughter) Myself included. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There's only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards -- the staircase -- bringing us into wholeness, authenticity and wisdom.

4:19 And here's an example of what I mean. This upward ascension can happen even in the face of extreme physical challenges. About three years ago, I read an article in the New York Times. It was about a man named Neil Selinger -- 57 years old, a retired lawyer -- who had joined the writers group at Sarah Lawrence where he found his writer's voice. Two years later, he was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a terrible disease. It's fatal. It wastes the body, but the mind remains intact. In this article, Mr. Selinger wrote the following to describe what was happening to him. And I quote, "As my muscles weakened, my writing became stronger. As I slowly lost my speech, I gained my voice. As I diminished, I grew. As I lost so much, I finally started to find myself." Neil Selinger, to me, is the embodiment of mounting the staircase in his third act.

5:30 Now we're all born with spirit, all of us, but sometimes it gets tamped down beneath the challenges of life, violence, abuse, neglect. Perhaps our parents suffered from depression. Perhaps they weren't able to love us beyond how we performed in the world. Perhaps we still suffer from a psychic pain, a wound. Perhaps we feel that many of our relationships have not had closure. And so we can feel unfinished. Perhaps the task of the third act is to finish up the task of finishing ourselves.

6:08 For me, it began as I was approaching my third act, my 60th birthday. How was I supposed to live it? What was I supposed to accomplish in this final act? And I realized that, in order to know where I was going, I had to know where I'd been. And so I went back and I studied my first two acts, trying to see who I was then, who I really was -- not who my parents or other people told me I was, or treated me like I was. But who was I? Who were my parents -- not as parents, but as people? Who were my grandparents? How did they treat my parents? These kinds of things.

6:51 I discovered a couple of years later that this process that I had gone through is called by psychologists "doing a life review." And they say it can give new significance and clarity and meaning to a person's life. You may discover, as I did, that a lot of things that you used to think were your fault, a lot of things you used to think about yourself, really had nothing to do with you. It wasn't your fault; you're just fine. And you're able to go back and forgive them and forgive yourself. You're able to free yourself from your past. You can work to change your relationship to your past.

7:37 Now while I was writing about this, I came upon a book called "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. Viktor Frankl was a German psychiatrist who'd spent five years in a Nazi concentration camp. And he wrote that, while he was in the camp, he could tell, should they ever be released, which of the people would be okay and which would not. And he wrote this: "Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. This is what determines the quality of the life we've lived -- not whether we've been rich or poor, famous or unknown, healthy or suffering. What determines our quality of life is how we relate to these realities, what kind of meaning we assign them, what kind of attitude we cling to about them, what state of mind we allow them to trigger."

8:42 Perhaps the central purpose of the third act is to go back and to try, if appropriate, to change our relationship to the past. It turns out that cognitive research shows when we are able to do this, it manifests neurologically -- neural pathways are created in the brain. You see, if you have, over time, reacted negatively to past events and people, neural pathways are laid down by chemical and electrical signals that are sent through the brain. And over time, these neural pathways become hardwired, they become the norm -- even if it's bad for us because it causes us stress and anxiety.

9:25 If however, we can go back and alter our relationship, re-vision our relationship to past people and events, neural pathways can change. And if we can maintain the more positive feelings about the past, that becomes the new norm. It's like resetting a thermostat. It's not having experiences that make us wise, it's reflecting on the experiences that we've had that makes us wise -- and that helps us become whole, brings wisdom and authenticity. It helps us become what we might have been.

10:07 Women start off whole, don't we? I mean, as girls, we start off feisty -- "Yeah, who says?" We have agency. We are the subjects of our own lives. But very often, many, if not most of us, when we hit puberty, we start worrying about fitting in and being popular. And we become the subjects and objects of other people's lives. But now, in our third acts, it may be possible for us to circle back to where we started and know it for the first time. And if we can do that, it will not just be for ourselves. Older women are the largest demographic in the world. If we can go back and redefine ourselves and become whole, this will create a cultural shift in the world, and it will give an example to younger generations so that they can reconceive their own lifespan.


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