Helene Simpkin Jara

Age: 73

"When I say I'm 73

you're supposed to say,

No, you're not!


You're shittin' me!



I see you scanning my face

for wrinkles,

then moving

to my chicken neck

and further down

to my ropy hands.

You say nothing.

You're forgetting your lines."

age: 81  profession: Theatre/Dance Teacher and Director


What is the best thing about being your age?

Still feeling that there is much to be discovered, learned, enjoyed and shared. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Two things...Giving birth to two wonderful daughters and giving hope and courage to them

and also to the hundreds of students over the decades that I have had the privilege to teach so that they are not afraid to go out and be their best selves in whatever they choose to do.

What's your favorite thing you have checked off your bucket list?

Traveling to Israel and feeling the sense of family, pride and history that we found there.

What is your most treasured possession?

My box of letters from family and friends dating back 70 years.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being with the whole family at a big, noisy, unruly dinner party – all the relatives, the kids, the aunts and uncles and cousins.

What is a trait you are most proud of?

Surviving difficult times – some kind of inner instinct.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is being misinterpreted. Often I express things in a very New York way…abrupt and direct.

Although I don’t mean any harm, it is not always appreciated by people who don’t understand the style…to me it is meant kindly but it doesn’t always come out that way and can be hurtful. I fear hurting other people inadvertently.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Be a better listener…and taller!!

what is your greatest extravagance?


What do you most value in your friends?

Intelligence and a sense of interest in the world.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Not to be afraid of the unknown.There will be ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs, but it will all be a wonderful adventure in the end.

What is your motto or favorite quote?

Art is not a thing, it is a way  – Oscar Wilde

Would you like to share your thoughts about the beauty of aging? 

Join the 50 Over 50 Project with Jana Marcus.
Learn more by clicking below

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