The seven life lessons we can learn from Jane Fonda
1 I feel better at 78 than I did at 30. I strongly believe that age is only partly chronological – it has more to do with your spirit and your energy, whether you are still curious about life and passionate about things.
2 I wish I was brave enough not to have plastic surgery but I grew up in the 50s and I was judged by how I looked, both by my family and in my profession. It’s bought me some time professionally, but I’m ashamed that I wasn’t brave enough not to do it.
3 You shouldn’t fall in love; you should walk into relationships standing on your own two feet. There’s a tendency for women, in order to please the man, to give themselves up, leave those parts of themselves that they don’t think are loveable behind. That works for a while, even for a decade, but you can’t maintain a healthy relationship if you haven’t been authentic.
4 I feel better when I am physically active. I’ve never been good at team sport, so I work out or I walk. Working out can be anything from yoga to lifting weights to using resistance bands. I have osteoarthritis, I’ve had hip and knee replacements, so I use lighter weights, and I move more slowly. A lot of people when they can’t do what they used to do just do nothing, but staying active is one of the most important factors in ageing successfully. It sounds trite but the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ is true.
5 I’m very aware of my failings as a parent and it’s one of my big regrets in life. I’ve admitted to my children [Vanessa Vadim, now 47, Troy Garity, 42 and adopted daughter Mary Williams, 48] that I wish I’d done a better job. I’ve studied how to be a good parent – reading books and working with adolescents and I now understand it means showing up and being present with your child. From the very beginning you have to be affable, a child has to trust you and feel able to come to you with questions, and you have to give unconditional love. It’s not easy for someone who didn’t have that growing up to provide it, but I truly believe parenting is something you can learn.
6 I was born resilient. I honestly think you can have two siblings born of the same parents, going through the same experiences and one can be resilient and the other not. You can go through horrendous trauma and if you’re resilient you bounce back. If not, you can be surrounded by love but you can’t metabolise it, you can’t benefit from it, you don’t even know it’s there.
7 The word ‘healthy’ means being able to experience life without mental or physical impairment. You can be in a wheelchair, you can be unable to walk, but if you can receive the joy around you and participate in life on some level, that’s healthy.