My name is Vicky Sanderson. I turned 60 in December, so this is a natural time for me to pause and reflect on my life, and to decide what’s going to be important me for the next phase. I worked in communications since my early twenties: as a journalist for daily newspapers and magazines, as a director of communications for non-profit health, theatre and social welfare organizations. I write a weekly home decor/design/lifestyle column for a daily paper and a decor magazine. I’ve seen an enormous change in the print and broadcast industry over the years. Some of it has been terrific; I love, for example, to be able to access content from all over the world. Some of has been truly challenging and concerning — the rise of fake news, and the fact that so many people don’t see enough value in good journalism to pay the people who produce it. That worries me.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40 (or 50)?
From a professional perspective, it would have to be the decline of conventional print media and the winnowing of writing opportunities. The change in who, and how, events and products are covered continues to amaze me. I was at an event a few weeks ago to launch a new home-related product, and several of the Instagram influencers in attendance had been paid to attend. That’s a seismic shift for me. On a personal level — it sounds like a cliche, but I feel so much more comfortable with myself. I recently stopped dying my hair because it no longer makes sense to me. A friend joked that I had “given up”. I found that such an interesting perspective, since what I feel I have given up is countless hours spent in a hair salon and the need to budget several hundred dollars a year. Personally, I think I look terrific! I am more forgiving in some ways — of both myself and others — but I am also less patient with what I see as injustice, especially from politicians who are supposed to be our moral leaders. As I age, though, I am also increasingly in awe of the younger generations — I see them doing great things, and that gives me such hope for the future.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
When I am speaking truthfully about what’s important to me, whether it’s a strong public education system, protecting the environment, or supporting reconciliation with Indigenous people. Do I sound like an aging leftie? Sure I do — and at this stage of my life, I am completely comfortable with that.
What are the top three most important things to you right now?
- My family. Always my family — my husband and our four kids.
- Designing a purposeful, rewarding and rich life as an almost senior citizen.
- Taking care of my health, so that I can do two!
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I try to stay honest. I try to stay open. I try to do research before I make my mind up on an issue. I look for positive ways to act. For example, a young woman in my neighbourhood is organizing a Mother’s Day Brunch for single moms and I am gathering gifts and prizes for that. It’s such a little thing — but it makes me feel that at least I am doing something that will give a few people some pleasure. Some days that’s all we can do.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
I am volunteering to help support groups that want to safeguard good public education, because I believe education is a basic human right — and that investing in it always bring good return — in the short, middle, and long-term.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
Whether you look to what makes you happy to guide you, and take small steps in that direction, or go whole hog, turn your life upside down, and reinvent yourself, have faith in yourself. Trust your judgment, experience, intelligence, bravery, and strength. You’ve got this. Life after 40 is magnificent.
How can people connect with you and your work?
You can read my weekly column in the Homes section of the Toronto SUN, read my monthly column in Reno and Decor magazine, or check out my website aroundthehouse.ca.