Lessons for Life

5 apr 2024 · 4 min. 52 sec.
Lessons for Life

Joanne’s book, “By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go” is now available from your favorite online book seller. Stay tuned to hear if Joanne will be speaking at a bookstore...

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Joanne’s book, “By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go” is now available from your favorite online book seller. Stay tuned to hear if Joanne will be speaking at a bookstore near you. If you’re interested in having her come to your local bookstore, contact her directly at joannergreene@gmail.com or get updates on her website at joanne-greene.com and make sure to sign up for her newsletter!

In June of 1990, in a Wellesley College commencement speech, former first lady Barbara Bush said, “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.” I’ve held on to that piece of wisdom, knowing deep in my soul that what matters most to me is my relationships, how I give, receive, and grow as a person, not what I accomplish externally.
Recently, for my seventieth birthday, my children created a list of 70 tips for life that they’ve learned from me. What a gift. It’s my values, my truth, my quirks, and my legacy all in one document.
I’ve apparently shown them that being in nature, hiking and reading, dancing and celebrating, maintaining strong friendships, and showing up for people when they’re hurting or facing a challenge are key to a meaningful life. Keeping promises, maintaining open, welcoming arms to new family members, working on yourself at every stage of life, believing in magic and exploring spirituality in whatever way works for you are all things I strive to do, and it fills my heart that they noticed. Apparently, I taught them to try to be humble, to live life fully, to be generous, and know when to laugh at your own expense, to be a hugger, to never miss a chance at a sales rack, and to love every dog. (The canine imperative was repeated in various forms. I guess I really made the point.)
After continually overbooking yourself, they wrote, just learn to lay low. Go to the spa and get massages, invest in your own rejuvenation. Material things don’t bring happiness, spend your money on health and education, travel – there is so much to discover in the world, and always remember where you came from, honoring generations past by sharing their stories and traditions with the next generations. Never doubt the worth of a good therapist, never turn down the opportunity for adventure, be spontaneous, smile, and give, give, give. The best gift is a lasting memory, consume the news even though it’s painful, cherish and foster your community, they show up for you when you need them. Learn to cook healthy food to feed yourself and your family and to bring people together. Never miss a Stevie Wonder concert, check in on people regularly, try not to put a picture of a naked guy riding a bike as your social media cover photo, but if you accidentally do, as admittedly I did, know that you will never live it down.
To be a grandparent is to give, encourage your kids to actually take a break by being a genuine caregiver to your grandkids, be your grandchildren’s safe space and also their most fun playmate.
Do fashion shows of your latest purchases and dramatically explain the discount, pick a partner who makes you laugh and holds you when you cry, light the Shabbat candles, take a hot tub under a starry night sky, journal regularly, and understand the other side, regardless of the context.
Letting go, I believe and now they do too, is a lifelong process and age is only a number. Disabilities are nothing to be afraid of. Treat everyone with respect and love. That one just tells me that they were watching. And Be Extra. Life is too precious to play small.
If this is what I’ve shown them….if this is how I’m remembered…I’ve accomplished enough.
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Autore Joanne Greene
Organizzazione Gabi Moskowitz & Joanne Greene
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