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Jeanne Beker: What I’ve learned in 60 years

2012/03/27

From the Toronto Star

 

Jeanne Beker turns 60 on Monday, March 19, 2012. The stylish sexegenarian shares 60 reflective affirmations in her birthday column.

I’m straddling this magnificent crevasse — one foot on either side of a daunting divide between where I’ve been and where I have left to go.

I’m not used to looking back quite this much. But maybe that’s because I’ve never had so much to look back on: so many years of loving and laughing, hurting and crying, working and playing, the pain and the glory. And yes, there are a few secret regrets scattered throughout the heaps of pride.

On one hand, I’m surprised I’ve managed to achieve so much. On the other, I’m disappointed I’ve yet to get it all right. But I’m thrilled by the notion there’s still so much to do: no time to rest on my laurels. I’ve always said that if I ever felt I’d truly arrived, it would be time to leave. I’ve certainly learned a lot along the way, and these days, the realizations are coming particularly fast and furious.

It’s been an extraordinary life, a hard-fought battle against doubt and fear, a wondrous adventure rife with privilege and magic. Ten years ago, when I turned 50, I wrote a newspaper column about the 50 life lessons I’d learned. Now, a decade later, there are at least another 10 to add to the mix. And so, as I celebrate 60 years on this spirited ride, and brace myself for the next exhilarating leg of the journey, I share with you, dear readers, at least 60 of the most important things I’ve learned so far.

I’ve learned that passion is a necessity, not a bonus.

I’ve learned the only constant in life is change; we must try not to resist it.

I’ve learned that humility is a virtue; that ego often gets in the way of progress, and that compromise is not a dirty word.

I’ve learned that while we can’t always tell the truth, we must try never to lie. Especially about our age.

I’ve learned that generosity is rewarded, even if it’s just with good feelings.

I’ve learned that we sometimes have to sink to the depths of misery before we can soar. Suffering is a part of life. It inevitably makes us stronger.

I’ve learned that inner beauty is the only kind that really counts. But good lighting helps.

I’ve learned that great style has little to do with what you wear. It’s how you wear it and who you are. Confidence is the best fashion accessory.

I’ve learned never to wish to be in someone else’s shoes — you never really know where they’ve come from or where they’re going.

I’ve learned that life’s biggest joys have little to do with wealth and power; that great art often comes out of great turmoil; and that my friends are precious jewels who teach me, inspire me and look out for me. I try to do the same for them.

I’ve learned that pets are a blessing, and provide us with profound unconditional love. I learn so much from my pets.

I’ve learned that compassion is what brings us together.

I’ve learned to try to keep an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart.

I’ve learned that love is not always absolute: It can be as imperfect as the people we fall for.

I’ve learned that chipped nail polish is a dead giveaway that you’re not taking enough time for yourself.

I’ve learned that worrying is a waste of time.

I’ve learned that we’re all ultimately alone, though I don’t particularly like the notion.

I’ve learned that a broken heart can heal, but the scars will always be there to remind you. We never really get over loss. We just learn to live with it.

I’ve learned that even though I’ve been cheated, I never want to lose trust in people. Still, I’d rather not count on anything — or anyone — but myself.

I’ve learned that sharing our innermost feelings and personal experiences is the greatest gift we can give one another; that laughter is the best medicine; and that while you can never go wrong if you dress in black, colour is more likely to lift your spirits.

I’ve learned that we should try not to be so hard on ourselves; that we have to take risks in order to achieve greatness, and that no one comes to rescue you if you don’t try to rescue yourself.

I’ve learned that jealousy is venomous; that hate is a waste of energy and passion, and that working out is as important for your mind as your body.

I’ve learned that losing weight and keeping it off is all about mind over matter.

I’ve learned that we must always try to do our best — and that most of us usually do.

I’ve learned that God never gives us more than we can handle; that no one escapes from life unscathed, and that if you leap, the net will appear.

I’ve learned that aging should make us better, not bitter.

I’ve learned that Botox can help.

I’ve learned that if we can’t change our situation, we can always change our perspective; that the older we grow, the more ourselves we become; and that if you want something to happen, you have to try making it happen yourself.

I’ve learned that life isn’t usually black and white. Most often, it’s an interesting shade of grey.

I’ve learned that if it feels good, wear it.

I’ve learned the greatest lesson we can teach our children is kindness, and the greatest lesson our children can teach us is the importance of encouraging their dreams.

I’ve learned that the squeaky wheel gets the grease; that if you don’t ask, you don’t get; and that you have to be careful what you ask for, because it may not be what you really want.

I’ve learned to stand up for my rights.

I’ve learned to try not to hold a grudge, or take myself too seriously, or judge people too quickly.

I’ve learned to wear my heart on my sleeve, and speak my mind whenever possible. Life’s too short for guessing games.

I’ve learned that we must tell those we love and appreciate how much we love and appreciate them, and that we can only hope to get out of life what we ultimately put into it.

I’ve learned that true bliss in life is all in the balance — though trying to strike it, and then maintain it, is perhaps the greatest struggle of all.

I’ve learned that just when I’m about to give up, miracles happen.

So I’ve learned to have faith. Still, we often forget what we know. Because, I’ve learned, we’re only human, after all.

Jeanne Beker is a contributing editor to the Star and host of Fashion Television. Email her at jeanne@ctv.ca, follow her on Twitter (@jeanne_beker) and watch her on CTV, E! and FashionTelevisionChannel.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 2012/03/27 10:03 am

    That’s an awful lot of learning – wish I had achieved 10% of that!

    • 2012/03/28 11:35 am

      We hear feel the same, sometimes what others have accomplished feels quite overwhelming, but I guess we just have to remember not to compare ourselves with others but rather feel satisfied in knowing what we’ve done is good for us. Who knows.

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