As glamorous as her life was, Elizabeth Taylor was a survivor. She experienced great physical and emotional pain, endured and overcame it all under the often unkind scrutiny of celebrity. When she turned 60 she said, “I’ve been lucky all my life. Everything was handed to me. Looks, fame, wealth, honors, love. I rarely had to fight for anything. But I’ve paid for that luck with disasters.”

She seemed to enjoy reminding people she wasn’t any more or less human than the rest of us, while thoroughly reveling in the privileges of stardom. Her passions were epic, yet she had her own code of ethics. Asked why she married so often she said, “I don’t know, honey. It sure beats the hell out of me.”

She was gorgeous, had a potty mouth and a loud laugh. “I know I’m vulgar,” she once said. “Would you have me any other way?”

What could we learn from Elizabeth Taylor and how she lived her life?

  1. Be resilient. This important quality Miss Taylor had in abundance. She was knocked down by death, injury and illness but always got up before the count was out.
  2. Don’t take anything for granted. As the quote above says, she appeared to be aware that she was blessed and had the wisdom to be grateful.
  3. Give your passions a loose rein but don’t let go entirely. When her dependence on alcohol and drugs became apparent Miss Taylor checked herself into rehab. In this she was also a pioneer, being one of the first celebrities ever to publicly declare their addiction and need for help.
  4. Have a great sense of humor. She could laugh at herself and apparently did so regularly. This wonderful trait no doubt contributed to #1.
  5. Give back. Miss Taylor became an advocate for AIDS/HIV long before it was fashionable to do so. She took a risk and probably single handedly advanced HIV research by decades.

God bless you, Elizabeth Taylor. May you rest in peace.