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Sixty Things I’ve learned in Sixty Years

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Today’s my birthday, and after several weeks of mental flip-flops trying to decide just how I felt about it, I’m announcing to the internet that I’m turning 60. Even typing it makes me catch my breath a bit, even though every single person I’ve told that I was going to be 60 has looked at me in complete disbelief. For those of you who are a long ways from this age, let me warn you: sixty is like no birthday I’ve had before. Sixty is the first birthday where I’ve had to consider that my life is more than half over.

But once I got used to the idea, I’ve also spent the last few weeks thinking about what a great life I’ve had, with so many experiences to be grateful for. Life continues to throw new things my way, and I love the new things I’m learning now. Even at the ripe new-to-me age of sixty, life is very, very good. And since I know there’s a pretty good possibility that most of you reading this are younger than sixty, I thought it might be fun to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. In no particular order, here’s my list of sixty things I’ve learned.

And blogging is most fun when it’s a conversation, so if you feel like leaving a comment, I’d love to hear something you’ve learned in your own life.

Kalyn’s List of Sixty Things I’ve Learned in Sixty Years

  1. The book is almost always better than the movie.
  2. Growing your own vegetables is definitely worth the work.
  3. Older people really are often wiser, but once in a while you meet a very wise young person.
  4. When you’re buying food, expensive brands usually taste better than cheaper ones.
  5. It’s easier to stay organized than to deal with the consequences of not being organized.
  6. Falling in love is a lot easier than staying in love.
  7. Remodeling always costs twice as much as you’ve planned, and takes twice as long.
  8. Spending more for good quality clothing that you love to wear is a good investment.
  9. People who make you laugh are important to have around.
  10. Intelligence is much more important than age when it comes to choosing friends.
  11. No one is thinking about you, they are all thinking about themselves. (From “Rules for Aging,” a very funny book.)
  12. Women were much happier with their looks before television was invented. (From “The Beauty Myth,” a very insightful book.)
  13. Having a huge house isn’t that great if you have to clean it yourself.
  14. Not having car payments is definitely worth driving an older car.
  15. Most kids will behave well if they have the right incentive.
  16. Understanding how someone else feels is pretty much impossible.
  17. Butter makes almost anything taste better.
  18. Whether you feel really bad or really good, it usually doesn’t last for long.
  19. It’s much easier to stay in shape than it is to get back into shape.
  20. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
  21. Knowing a lot of people can be fun, but having a few good friends is much more important.
  22. Getting up early can be just as fun as staying up late.
  23. Some of the best times of your life can be moments when you’re all by yourself.
  24. Having money in the bank is a wonderful feeling. (This is a lesson I was slow to learn!)
  25. People who can’t be honest with themselves won’t be honest with you either.
  26. If you’re more intelligent than the average person, you’ll be misunderstood a lot.
  27. Not everything about getting older is enjoyable, but it beats the alternative.
  28. Always having fresh-squeezed lemon juice in the freezer is a wonderful thing.
  29. Saving all your meat and vegetable scraps and making homemade stock is a good habit to acquire.
  30. People who are great cooks, rarely get invited to people’s houses for dinner (unless they’re lucky enough to have friends who are also great cooks.)
  31. When you lose weight, it’s a good idea to get rid of all the clothes in the larger size you don’t want to return to.
  32. Most people don’t really notice whether or not your fingernails are done.
  33. When the day finally comes for your hair appointment, your hair will look better than it has for weeks.
  34. It really is possible to become great friends with your brothers and sisters.
  35. It’s much easier to criticize the schools than it is to fix them.
  36. If you’re not lucky enough to have children of your own, being around other people’s kids can be good enough.
  37. Most every problem will seem less serious after a few days have gone by.
  38. Most adults have very little idea what the job of a grade school teacher is like.
  39. If you have bad news to deliver, the only fair way is to do it in person.
  40. Flowers can make even the worst day seem a lot better.
  41. Growing your own herbs is one of the best things you can do to become a better cook.
  42. Price has little if anything to do with the quality of restaurant food.
  43. In strange cities when you aren’t sure where you are, a taxi is never too expensive.
  44. Nothing improves a child’s hearing as much as praise. (From “Rules for Teaching.”)
  45. Your best friends are the ones who’ll tell you what you need to know but can’t see because you’re too close to the situation.
  46. Unless it’s pretty outrageous, most people never notice what you’re wearing.
  47. You’ll never get fat by drinking too much water.
  48. Most any vegetable tastes great if it’s tossed with a bit of olive oil, some herbs, and roasted at high heat.
  49. Don’t buy tomatoes from the store unless they have that fresh tomato smell. (And even then, they are rarely that good.)
  50. Doing as much good as you can is like putting emotional money in the bank.
  51. Shoes that aren’t comfortable are never a good purchase, even when they’re on sale.
  52. When you’re on vacation, sometimes it’s better to buy postcards of the scenery than to spend lots of time trying to get good photos.
  53. People who talk about other people to you are probably talking about you to other people. (I do admire people who never gossip, but it’s a trait I’m still working on acquiring.)
  54. Pretty much everyone’s face looks more attractive when they’re smiling.
  55. You can catch a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. (Favorite saying of my mother who died in 1998.)
  56. Words actually can hurt a lot more than sticks and stones.
  57. Cards that come in the mail are more fun than e-cards any day.
  58. Often it’s better not to say what you really think.
  59. Even people who are very intelligent sometimes do things that are truly stupid.
  60. Nobody knows everything, and the longer you live, the more things there are that you know absolutely nothing about.
Thanks for reading all the way through the list! Here’s looking forward to at least forty more years, with a lot more recipes and good dinners to come!
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141 comments on “Sixty Things I’ve learned in Sixty Years”

  1. Happy Belated Birthday. I truly enjoyed your list of what you’ve learned. One of my favorite pieces of advice was given to me by my father. He once said to me, “Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to ignorance.” Although I can’t say that the saying is his own, it is one that I often think of when I am offended by someone’s behavior.

  2. What a great post! Loved the list. Hope you had a lovely birthday week. After all, at 60 one deserves a whole week, not just a day, right?

  3. HAPPY BELATED AND BIG BIG GIANT HUGS FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Happy Birthday, Kalyn! My birthday is next week and I’m thinking of copying you!

    Thanks so much for passing along the wisdom. Love to hear it.

  5. Happy Birthday from Brisbane Downunder (almost like Hugh Jackman singing Happpy Birthday – but not quite :))

  6. Happy birthday.

    Great list, great lady.

  7. Amen, sister. The two things I would add:

    61. When whatever you’re cooking “needs something,” that something is almost always salt.
    62. And if it’s not salt, it’s vinegar.

    Hope you’re happily rockin’ the 60s. I have to be honest — I thought you were a full decade younger.

  8. Happy belated birthday, Kalyn! What a brilliant, insightful and wise list. Thanks for your gift to us 🙂

  9. Happy birthday! I would never guess your age. Never. And I can’t think of a single thing to add to your list. Life is good!

  10. Many, many, many, many happy returns of the day, Kalyn!
    Here’s wishing you many more recipes and life’s lessons.
    Warmly

  11. Happy Birthday Kalyn!
    What a fabulous list. Experience really is the best thing going…

    Love your list. I’m going to keep it as I count down to each of my milestones… I do agree with Haalo, up there about life being too short for bad wine.

    Here’s to (at least) 40 more!

  12. Wow, I’m really being blown away by all the nice comments here. Thanks again everyone! I hope no one is feeling slighted that I’m not keeping up with replies. I seem to get worse and worse at that the longer I’ve been blogging, but I do read every single comment in my e-mail when I approve it.

  13. happy birthday kalyn – and thanks for your words of wisdom – they were fun to read and made me think a bit too! Hope you had a great day and enjoy the being a sexagenarian 🙂

  14. Happy birthday, Kalyn! Great list…love it. My birthday is in two weeks and I’m proud to share a birthday month with so many brilliant women, among them my CE friends Heather ClizBiz and you! 🙂

    I love your outlook and attitude.

  15. I know I’m a little late, but better late than never. Happy Birthday! You wrote a great list and your words are very wise. I love your outlook! I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog! I hope you the best in the years to come!

    One thing I’ve learned in all my very few years, is that you can never learn too much, and its never too late to start learning.

    All the best,
    Johnathan.

  16. I enjoyed your list, Kalyn. My birthday was Dec. 7, and I turned 30. You’ve inspired me to try to come up with 30 things I’ve learned. John

  17. Happy Birthday Kayln! Gosh, I hope I look as good as you when its my turn to be 60! Must be all that great food you prepare!

  18. happy birthday!!!!!! I loved your 60 insights.i am also 60 and to realy enjoy your blog you need to be our age. im sitting here laughing because i understand all your about.have a great life.I have been bloging for 2 mo. hope to see you again.

  19. Happy Belated Birthday, Kalyn! I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Hope you have yet another wonderful year ahead!=)

  20. A very belated Happy Birthday, Kalyn, but better late than never (one of the 21 things I’ve learnt so far). You’ve just pipped my dad to it by a matter of months, but he looks a lot older than you. He’s really looking forward to the free bus pass next year – do you get any similar perks in Ohio?

  21. Happy belated birthday, Kalyn. I’m 66 so I guess I should have 66 things that I’ve learned, but I’ll only add two to your list:
    61. Spend good quality time with your 60ish parents while they are still on earth so you can “really” appreciate them when you reach the same age; and
    62. Walking a mile every day really is a GOOD thing.
    Just want you to also know that I’m have become an even better cook in the last six years, something for you to look forward to. Loved your comment about not being invited for dinner by non-cooking friends. Hope you got lots of hugs for your birthday.

  22. What can I say?
    No 1. Happy Birthday!
    NO 2. Don’t let the dreams of life be interupted by the clock of reality!
    No 3. And you certainly haven’t!
    No 4. I took early retirement to do our food blog.
    No 5. I should have done it 10 years ago!
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Lesley

  23. Happy birthday Kalyn, and thanks for all these words. About butter, have you read this article ?
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/12/09/ST2008120902160.html
    But of course, as a vegan, I’ve got a partial point of view…

  24. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but I have to say one more time, I’m so touched by all the nice comments. Thank you again everyone.

  25. WOW! What a great list of insights, and since I’m hitting 50 in the next few months, there are many that apply to me as well! Yes, when we let go of what we think is important, we truly realize what is important! Love you, and am sure glad you’re my sister (in-law)

  26. I’ve had this post bookmarked to come back to because I really did want to wish you a belated happy 60th and read your wisdom. It was a joy to scroll through. You sure don’t seem 60 Kalyn! Whatever that means heheh.

    Some of these things I feel like I have learned already (mostly about love and friendships and self-esteem) and obviously there are many, many I am still learning.

    I like your last one. My dad always used to say a variation of that. “The more I know, the more I realize how little I know.”

    Many happy returns to you~

  27. It really doesn’t matter 60 or 50 or a 100 or does it?
    I never really understood age. We grow old and then we die, we only try to minimize pain and suffering and maximize happiness and joy.

    Kalyn, dear, I wish you a Happy Birthday, one that’s hopefully filled with joy and peace.

  28. Late to the party, K, but I can’t believe you’re 60 either!

    I hope you’ve had a great birth month and look forward to visiting at the Denny party in a few days.

  29. Great list Kalyn and belated birthday greetings.

  30. Kalyn, I read every point. Some enlightening and some downright funny. Hope you have a great day!

  31. Please excuse me for commenting so late. Happy birthday!! (I’ve always adhered to the idea that one should celebrate one’s birthday for at least a month)

    You put together a terrific list. With regards to #8: spending more on good quality shoes, polishing them often, even before ever wearing them and polishing them again when they have to be put away because they’re out of style is a great investment. I have a pair of shoes that I bought in 1981 that I have started to wear again. Young cool women, whom I don’t know, have asked me where I bought my shoes because they want a pair. (I just recently had to put into storage – again – a pair that I bought in 1975(!)) I wonder if I’ll be able to wear them in 20 or 30 years though. The heels are on the high side….

    And #22, whenever I get up very very early, I’m amazed at how beautiful it is outside. I love the soft feel of the air and the quiet of the city not yet awake. Every time, I wonder why I don’t go outside very early more often. And very early in the morning is MUCH different after getting a good night’s sleep than it is if I’ve stayed up waaaaay too late….

    and #51: if the shoes don’t feel fabulous in the store, they’ll NEVER be comfortable.

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. I always vowed that I wouldn’t be phased by any birthdays. 30 was no problem; 40 was no problem (inexplicably I had a bit of trouble with 42). But I had the kind of flip-flops you had when I turned 50, realizing that my life was more than half over and what did I have to show for it. For the first time in my life, I was cagey about my age and even considered lying about it! It still gives me pause to have turned 50, but 3 years later (I think) I’m finally coming to terms with it and have been able to admit freely that I’m 53 (or is it 54??)

  32. Happy Belated Birthday! I love your blog and your recipes. I am still learning to cook and love your recipes, they are a great inspiration! Yours is one of the best recipe blogs out there! Thank you for sharing this list of knowledge. I am 30, and am proud that I have friends as young as five and my eldest friend right now is 64. Most of my friends are 20+ years older than me, and we met when I was only 20, so I’m so grateful to them for being open to me, and understanding that age didn’t matter. I’m with you, Intelligence as well as openness and compassion as well as being a good listener are qualities I think are important in friends, age is NOT. Here’s wishing you continued happiness for the next 40 or more years!!

  33. Found you today via Karina. Wonderful list! Happy belated b-day; thanks for the inspiration !

  34. I wrote on my blog how I was dreading my 60th birthday later this week, and someone left a comment with a link to your column. I have to say, reading your list has helped me. I loved my 40th and 50th birthdays, but the thought of turning 60 has been distressing to me. Thanks for helping me look at it differently. Maybe I will write my own "60 Things I've Learned in 60 Years" list. Thanks – and VERY belated Happy Birthday!

  35. I had trouble at 35 and 50 wasn't a lot of fun but the rest I quite enjoyed. It's not about the number as there are a lot of people who are old at 45 and there are a lot of people who are young(ish) at 90.

    Happy Birthday.

  36. Happy Birthday to you Kalyn!
    I recently turned 59 and really appreciate the words of wisdom you shared.
    Your blogs and recipes are a source of joy in my own life here on Long Island, NY.
    Also-Oprah, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Seinfeld, John Travolta, Katey Sagal, Howard Stern and many others are turning 60 too, so we are in good company!
    L'Chaim!

  37. Happy Birthday Kalyn. Here's one on my list: Better over the hill than under it! 🙂 (courtesy of my Mom)

  38. Kalyn,

    I know this is quite a few years late. But, I absolutely love your list. While I am in my mid forties, I am trying to live my life to be appreciative of every single year I have on this earth. I am going to hand write my own list in my journal and add to it every time I learn something noteworthy. You are a great inspiration to people of all ages! Thank you for much for what you do to educate, inform and most importantly entertain us! I am so glad to know there is someone out there that has many of the same feelings that I do, I am sure I'm not alone in that sentiment. xoxoxo

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