Beautiful Voices is our ongoing blog series that highlights inspiring, empowering women. Our most recent Beautiful Voice is Ellen South. See what she says when we ask her some questions about her own personal beauty…
Who do you feel you are today? What event has defined your life?
Today I am quite amazed as I feel so happy, grateful and inspired by my life. I’m even glad I’m the age I am (58) as there is some wisdom in it! I’m not as desperate as I was when I was younger.
There hasn’t been one event that has defined my life but a few, and I’d define them as the things that have allowed me to grow and discover how to ultimately become who I truly am. One defining event was meeting my husband at a young age and giving and receiving unconditional love. When that happens, you’re already flying with the birds!
Another defining event was moving from London to California with my husband and two small children twenty seven years ago. The inspiration was one of those strong [night] dreams. I woke up and announced to my husband we HAD to move to LA, we “belonged” there (as a voice in my dream had told me). Luckily, he was open to the message. He was a musician, so it wasn’t as bizarre as suggesting Egypt or Alaska or somewhere. Twenty seven years later, we are still here: my husband does music for film, our children are grown, and I still do a day job as administrative assistant in a curatorial department at the Getty Museum.
I used to hate having to go to work, as I’m a home loving, artist type. But when I ask myself what I would prefer to be doing, I realize on some level that I like what I do in order to earn a regular paycheck. I’m better at being an assistant than having a career to which I’d have to attach importance. I’ve benefited from the structure, as it’s just possible I’d want to just smoke pot or something if I had my days to myself! It’s also a way of interacting with others (I’m more a loner) and maintaining a healthy diet (salads from home taste especially yummy at work for some reason).
Really, the main problem with going to work comes down to my not having enough time and energy to do everything I want to do. I use my best energy at work and I need to trust that the river flows and at any point on its journey it is alive and beautiful.
Another thing that defines my life is meditation.
This time last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and this feels defining as well. It felt like my head dropped off and broke open, like a coconut.
I think I was in shock at first, because I have to admit that I was very happy to have such a long time off work! To be able to live for myself—getting up when I wanted to just for starters(!)—was a healing experience right there, and especially spending time in the garden where we live in Topanga Canyon, which is where I feel most peaceful in nature’s magical environment. I spent a lot of time watching the flowers, the birds, and the butterflies. Even on the worst days of chemo, there was comfort in the company of animals whose lives usually seem at such a different pace from our human ones.
Having cancer, there were things I could do that helped. For example, getting a wig of the “hair I’d always wanted.” For me, that meant long, straight, smooth hair of the Brazilian variety, as I’m naturally curly haired! Also, I wasn’t actually someone who felt devastated at the loss of her breast, as my breasts had always caused me the anguish of “less than” in my younger, passionate days! Now I’d have them a size up, although strangely enough, it’s not a big deal any more. Small is also beautiful, although I didn’t realize that for so many years.
What's your favorite beauty secret or tip?
I think the biggest beauty tip is understanding you ARE beautiful exactly as you are. This takes a long time for most of us to get to, and it's really the point of life. Getting a nice wig and not worrying about losing my breast was something that helped initially, but when a neighbor gave me a copy of Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Cancer, that was a big inspiration. From the perspective of her incurable cancer, she has broken through all the ticker tape of unexamined beliefs and leads the way to authentic joy through diet, investigation and courage. Luckily, I already had a dehydrator and juicer in my garden shed from previous years I had forgotten about (another advantage to being older if some of your old ideas were good ones!), and I was therefore able to immediately start juicing, as Kris recommends.
Plant power and green juicing is the secret tip for life! It makes one feel fulfilled, optimistic, joyful, strong AND beautiful! Apart from the alkalinity which my body craves, what is it that cucumber does for the skin? (It helps so much when one feels bad from chemo to see in the mirror one’s skin looks unusually good!) I think drinking it daily is also what made my love handles disappear. Wow! I never knew my back was that shape! 🙂
How does Annmarie's mission fit into your lifestyle?
It was through Kris Carr’s website that I learned about Annmarie Skin Care and their mission to make skin care that was natural and organic. Because I hate using lotions with chemicals, I tend to just use almond or coconut oil on my body, but strangely my skin still felt dry a few hours after I put it on. I thought since Annmarie’s products were natural with nothing artificial, they might not “work: or be a more expensive way of simply using store-bought coconut oil.
But in the blessed openness that cancer gives you, I thought I’d give it a try and bought one (the cleanser) and then another (the silk body oil). I use the anti-aging facial oil as well now and am intending to always use all her line as it has become instrumental to my feeling grateful, safe, worthy and loved. How can that be possible with a skin care line? Maybe AMG’s loving spirit is transmitted through it, I don’t know! It has to be tried to be believed.
So my way of pampering myself is first to dry brush, then bathe, then massage in AMG’s silk body lotion. My skin loves it, my nose loves it and my soul loves to massage it in. Best of all my skin feels supple, hydrated and smooth many hours after using it. My feet love to rub against each other now when I read in bed! AMG’s skin care line is better than a glass of wine.
Isn't she beautiful?
“Teaching People About Beauty From the Inside Out”
(If you’re interested in being featured as one of our Beautiful Voices, please email us at info [at] annmariegianni.com)