All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible. T. E. Lawrence
Well it’s been a little while, but if you found my short series on “How to be Audrey”, I thought it was about time to follow up!
Let’s start with diet! The rules I outlined based on her general diet were as follows:
No snacking between meals
Drink plenty of water
Fresh, organic, seasonal and local items are preferred
Eat small portions
Only eat until you’re 80% full
Watch the sugar intake
Overall, I did quite well. I’ve been drinking a lot more water, and for a little while at least was pretty good at not snacking between meals! I had been more firm with myself for the first month or two and while some habits stuck, some did not. I will continue to increase my water intake, since I really never did drink enough. I’ve cut down on the snacking, although I will have a snack-attach occasionally – usually for my home-made dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Which I am currently out of. 🙂 I always buy as much fresh, organic, seasonal and local items as I can, I always have a supply of fruit! And I’ve been pretty good about the sugar intake… although I’ve just always had a weakness for chocolate and certain pastries.
I also attempted to sit and eat and do nothing else, but I wasn’t always very good at that. I like to put on something to watch while I eat, like The Daily Show.
For my daily menu, I tried to stick to something similar to hers for at least a month. This was an average breakfast, although I alternated with a whole wheat bread and a sourdough, and also found that I’m better at making my fried eggs than I am at boiling them. Have to work on that.
After a while though, I got sick of eggs. So sometimes I would have one, sometimes not. The coffee habit didn’t really stick with me, although I will have a cup here and there.
For lunch, I would take some yogurt (sometimes dairy and sometimes vegan) or cottage cheese (which I learned is actually not even vegetarian… there’s rennet in there… way to ruin cottage cheese for me!) with berries. That’s a habit I’ve kept. I don’t always want something heavy, and I love fruit, so that works. I’ve decided for now that my favourite yogurt is the vanilla flavoured Silk soy yogurt.
Dinner was usually some kind of vegetable-based dish, and I keep that up… however I’ve gotten lazy again and revert to frozen things from Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. I would also make more pasta, and I’ve been relying on that lately as well. Growing up, we ate a lot of spaghetti with tomato sauce, to the point that as an adult I gravitated towards alfredo sauce just because it was so novel, and not tomato-based. However, with the right veggies added to it, I’m OK with the tomato sauce now.
I was very good with the snacking for a long time, and limited myself to only one or two of my dark chocolate peanut butter cups a day. However just recently somehow I ate 50 of them in about 2 weeks. And now I have to make more. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s 4 pound chocolate bar. I suppose it’s still progress that I just eat a lot of chocolate rather than biting my nails, when I’m anxious. I’m a recovering nail-biter but these days they look pretty darn good.
I did one of the ‘cleanse’ days after a long flight from Europe, but not since then. I actually should try some more occasional fasting, since it’s supposedly good for you.
As for exercise habits.
In my recent research, I found that she would find time for daily ballet classes while filming Funny Face, and it appears she was taking them up until doing Ondine, as well.
I’ve been going to a weekly ballet class, although sometimes I have to skip them, like tomorrow (I’m filming something). To give myself more of a workout I’ve also been going to a trainer at a gym once a week. It’s torture. I’m not sure how long I can keep it up! Mostly because it involves such a long drive, though.
Audrey wasn’t a big fan of exercise for the sake of exercise, and neither am I. I walk my dog, I love dance classes and fun activities, but exercising… ugggg!
And how is my closet doing?
Well, I’ve managed to get rid of a few things, but I have a lot of things in the To Go pile. I had hoped to have a yard sale but that hasn’t happened. So I’m going to take a few bags to Buffalo Exchange and see what I can get. My closet is still pretty full, and it probably doesn’t have to be. There are certain items of clothing that I really would like to add to my wardrobe, to create the look I want and create more variety in what I can mix and match, and then get rid of more of what I don’t wear very often… however, it’s hard to find the things I want (they’re vintage-style) so I may have to find a way to have them made. Not ideal, but what else can I do? I’ve been posting things I want to sell on my alternate Instagram profile, @kendalscloset .
Last but not least…. her spirit. I’ve really been working on it. I didn’t have the benefit of a strict Victorian upbringing, so my approach to the world has been a little undisciplined! I’ve been slowing down and reminding myself of how Audrey might handle a situation, and trying to do that. It will take a lot of practice. Just this week I had a situation I used this “method” on… probably not soon enough, but I hope I recovered quickly! I had to take a little time away from the situation and ask myself how Audrey might react… and I had to just let it sink in until it became my own thoughts.
So that is the progress I’ve made, the changes I have made and am trying to make! I’m very glad to have discovered Audrey, because she has been such wonderful inspiration.
As you may have been aware, Christie’s held an auction for many of Audrey Hepburn’s belongings last week, and continued an online sale into this week.
I know how I feel, but I am not quite sure what to say.
You will say I should feel joyous at the opportunity, and joyous that I actually won something. I did. And I am grateful, and in shock.
Well, let me tell my auction story. Sit back with a nice cup of tea for this one.
Two days before the auction, I arrived in London with a friend. We found our way over to the exhibit at Christie’s and took a look around. We ran into an “Insta-friend” of mine as we were leaving, Terence Pepper. We made arrangements to meet up later at the Vivien Leigh party and then come over to the Audrey one. I don’t know a lot about Vivien, but she certainly had many interesting things! It was a lovely, dressy event there, where my friend (in jeans) and I (in bright red cropped pants and a bright red shirt tied at my waist) felt a little out of place. But we enjoyed it. We learned a little anecdote about our Audrey that Viv had written in a journal. How when Audrey and Greta Garbo would come over, they were never happier than when weeding in the garden.
Off we went to the Audrey event, where the line was around the block. However, Adrian Hume-Sayer found Terence, and then recognized me, as well, from our correspondence. How wonderful to be meeting all of my virtual penpals! Ah, I could just squeeze them all!
Anyway, he walked us straight in, and we decided to take a photo together. At least one person nearby thought I had been hired as an Audrey look-alike for the evening and wanted a photo with me. I tried to convince him that no, I was not, but I was so flattered and amused that of course we took a picture together.
There were a few speakers, Breakfast at Tiffany’s playing in one room, and in another room a line of women getting dolled up like Holly for mini-photo shoots. I’m not a fan of waiting in line, so I skipped that! We eventually called it a night.
Two days later, it was auction day.
We arrived at Christie’s at noon, unsure of how busy it would be before the 2PM start time of the auction. At 1PM we entered the auction room and grabbed seats near the front. My lovely Insta-friend Charlotte joined us not long after, as did Terence. Another mutual Insta-friend, Henry, was at the other end of the room with his mother.
I had a short list of what I was interested in. First, a pair of hoop earrings (which they neglected to mention were Yves Saint Laurent and just threw out a 1960’s-ish date for the 1967 collection it came from). I bid on them to my limit, and then felt a jab from my friend. “Keep bidding,” he said. It went higher, and higher. “You’re not going to get it,” Terence said. Higher, higher… he had the auction bug. But finally said enough.
Sold for over £7000.
Second, a big butterfly hairclip, made most likely from her own hair. In the catalogue they described it as having been cut for The Unforgiven. Which was highly unlikely and I deducted it was for The Nun’s Story, if it was her real hair. I was a bit hesitant on this one and finally had to let it go once it went past £2000.
At this point, Charlotte and her companion decided to leave. The prices for everything were depressing and out of her price range. We were all feeling a bit emotional. Even Henry would get up and walk out of the room occasionally… it wasn’t just the prices. But the whole idea of this auction, which I will address later in this post.
I had contemplated bidding on shoes, and had a favourite pair, but I thought they might go way out of my budget, so I had resolved to focus on the smaller items (that I thought would go for less) as my goal. However, an earlier lot of two pairs of shoes went for about £1000 while I was out of the room saying good-bye to Charlotte, so I was encouraged by this and decide I would indeed bid on the pair of shoes I liked. I had run out of small items on my list, anyway. I hadn’t anticipated how vicious the bidding would actually be… As much as I wanted those two items, the idea of winning shoes really appealed to me. I had been toying with the idea of writing a book with the title of In Audrey’s Shoes, if I was lucky enough to come away from the auction with her shoes… maybe it was actually a realistic idea.
We took a dinner break (because by this time it was around 7PM) and returned to bid on my favourite pair of shoes… a gorgeous black satin pair from the 1960’s.
Henry also raised his paddle. I couldn’t tell if he had seen me or not, but my heart leapt into my throat.
“Oh, Henry!!” I exclaimed. He didn’t hear me. Our whole corner was gasping at the war of the paddles. I finally put mine down. He seemed very determined, and another bidder had also stepped in. Henry won at £2400. Then he turned to us, grinning. I shook my head and waved my paddle, and he realized that I had been bidding as well. Oops. I did feel a bit bad, if I raised the price for him. But I also felt bad that I had bid on two other things and had lost them both, and now was beaten by a friend on my third try! But the shoes are in good hands. Maybe they’ll look nice with that Audrey-worn Givenchy gown he owns. Lucky boy!
But now what could I bid on? There was nothing else on my wish-list… I flipped through the catalogue, now still hoping perhaps I could find some shoes, so I could write my book! There were two pairs of high heel sandals… a pair of red satin high heel Givenchy’s… Neither of those really spoke to me. Then I found another pair of black satin shoes, labeled from the 1960s. Not as gorgeous as the last pair, but perhaps my last chance. I wasn’t sure if I could trust the online auction that would be going on until next week, and only one pair had been listed as 1960s (though I discovered a pair hidden amongst a lot of 1980s shoes later). I had been told by Henry earlier that the tiny (minuscule, really) golden fish charm was already bid up to £1000 and there was still a week to go. Better to bid here. This was one of the last lots in the book. We estimated at 20 lots per hour, it would come up around 11PM. My friend thought that would be ridiculous, what auction would go that late? Well. We went to dinner and came back with plenty of time, and indeed, it came up for sale around 11PM.
My friend was in the game now. He hadn’t cared for the butterfly clip, but he would help me win some shoes. “What’s your maximum?” He asked. I said around 2000. He said if it went higher, to go up to 4000. OK. Dear God, please don’t let it get that high.
A man in front spoke into a telephone. “This is our lot.”
Damn. I begged him with my eyes. Just hang up. Hang up.
Then someone online in New Jersey bid against me. Higher, higher… I had it at £3500 and waited… the auctioneer had mercy and ended the auction with a bang of his hammer. I sunk in relief and shock. £3500. Plus a 25% fee. What have I done. There are thousands of people losing their homes in a hurricane and I’m spending how much on a pair of shoes I can’t even wear?? Such mixed feelings on this. I didn’t even do the currency calculations for days afterwards. I just prayed I would be able to donate an equal amount to my favourite charities someday soon, to ease my guilt.
I grinned in relief, and the room applauded. I’m sure they had watched as I bid on all of the items before and were pleased that I finally got something. Nobody in the room had bid against me on this one. After 10 hours in that auction room, I felt like we had all been through an emotional rollercoaster together. We had all watched in fascination as her Breakfast at Tiffany’s script got bid up, and up and up and up until being sold to the woman (from Tiffany’s) in the back for £520,000. We all laughed in disbelief at the prices some of the photos were going for. I’d never been to an auction before, and perhaps it was the bond between people who adore Audrey, but the mood in that room was very cozy.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to pick up or pay for the shoes that night, so it had to wait, and we left to go get some much-needed sleep. That, my friends, is my auction story (and when the shoes arrive, I will let you know!)
Now… why do I have mixed feelings about this auction?
It’s because to me, it seemed to go against everything Audrey stood for.
Audrey was a woman who loved to give, loved to help people and make them happy. She didn’t cling to material possessions, nor money. When her first engagement was broken off, she told her designers, the Fontana sisters that;
I want my dress to be worn by another girl for her wedding, perhaps someone who couldn’t ever afford a dress like mine, the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find.
The dress was worn by Amiable Altobella, who wore it to her farm wedding.
This is the kind of woman Audrey was. She would give her clothing and her jewelry to friends and co-workers. My orthodontist told me once that she had given her bike to a friend of his (and then it was stolen…). She wasn’t interested in the money. She enjoyed giving. She was quoted as saying,
There is a moral obligation that those who have should give to those who don’t.
An auction at Christie’s is the farthest thing from giving possible. Her son Sean Ferrer is quoted as saying about this event,
A lot of things we’ve kept. But there was also a desire for us not to have these beautiful items which actually have been working hard for the past 25 years in a variety of exhibitions which have been for the benefit of children’s charities and UNICEF and so on and so forth. We wanted to share these things, we wanted to share these things with her fans and the ever growing base of ‘tweens and teens who are in love with her. And so I think if you look at this collection, apart from the very valuable BAT script and whatnot, special dress from a film, Charade, to me the emblem, the symbol o this auction is the little silk flower that she wore in her hair for an event or with a beautiful Givenchy dress, and which a young girl can convince her mother or her grandmother to buy and to keep as a keepsake much in the same style as when you lost a grandparent and your parents brought you something to keep and remember them by, that’s sort of the spirit of what we’re trying to do.
Pardon me for being disputatious here, but when I was a teenager, none of these items would have been within reach for me or my parents, or my grandparents. The lowest priced item to be sold was £500, plus fees, for a small promotional pamphlet for War and Peace. Silk flowers and jewelry were all in the high thousands. Perhaps his experience of childhood was different from most people’s, having been raised by Audrey Hepburn, the mother who could afford to buy a house for him as a wedding gift. That’s privilege that most of us don’t experience.
When I would put my tithe in the plate at church as a ‘tween, I felt embarrassed to be giving coins, but the 50¢ I would put in was more than 10% of my allowance for many years. When I began babysitting, I breathed a sigh of relief that I could finally put bills in. My first job, when I was about 15 or 16, was picking strawberries. My first paycheck was $25. I would make and sell little pieces of jewelry to family and friends for 50¢ to $1 a piece.
When we got the internet (I was 16), I would research sewing patterns that were selling well on ebay, buy them for $1 at Joann’s, and re-sell them, bringing in maybe $100 a month with that. When I decided to move to Los Angeles, I had been working at the Renaissance Faire, hot-glue-gunning feathers to hats in a stuffy back room, wearing a Renaissance dress I had made for myself, or colouring in designs on wooden play shields. I bought a car (note: my parents didn’t buy me a car, nor were they going to pay for college, or a house, for that matter) for $150 and made it to LA with no money (all spent on gas and then a new radiator somewhere in Arizona for that 1978 Dodge Aspen station wagon) in my pocket to start doing background work. Making $200 a week, working 5 12-15 hour days, I felt rich.
My birthday checks from my parents and grandparents were rarely more than $50. Even a $1000 War and Peace Pamphlet (because that’s how much it would cost, in dollars, with fees) would have been unthinkable for me, my parents, or my grandparents. So to say that you want or expect these things to go to her fanbase, who are mainly people who were born after she died, is not acknowledging reality. Even Audrey could have known that. She would not have sold her things to her fans. Without knowing her personally, I will still say that with 99% certainty. Yes. Fans will buy her things. But only fans with a lot of money, or those who aren’t afraid of going into debt for a while (*raises hand*). But Audrey never would have wanted anybody to spend money they couldn’t afford on something she could give them.
If Audrey were to be convinced to sell her personal belongings, you only could have convinced her by saying the money would go to UNICEF. Again, I say this with 99% certainty.
Secondly, Audrey was a very private person, and also respected other’s privacy. She wouldn’t have sold off letters written privately to her. She wouldn’t even write an autobiography. She was very sensitive about this. She would have returned the letters to their authors, or destroyed them, if she were told she had to part with them. I wonder how many of these things she would have wanted to be public… tokens of affection between her co-stars (and lovers) and herself? She once got furious at her grandmother when she sold a private wedding photo to a newspaper, rather than tell her she was in a bad financial state. After scolding her, she then sent her a little money every Christmas.
Yes, her sons are not her. They will make different decisions. But even those of us who were not raised by this wonderful woman have it engrained in our consciousnesses how we should conduct ourselves when it comes to matters such as these. Audrey worked hard for what she had. And then in turn, she reached out a hand to those who perhaps had also worked hard but did not have the opportunities that she had. I believe she would have found a way to give her things to fans who had no means to afford them at auction or retail prices. To give them to people who had worked hard and followed her example in kindness, graciousness, and compassion. To people for whom they held no monetary value, only sentimental. She would have donated her screen-worn items, scripts, etc, to UNICEF to auction off for fundraising, to help children in need. And it kills me that this was not done. Absolutely tears my heart out.
I’d been following the news items on her son and the Children’s Fund, including this article in the LA Times, which was a disappointing thing to read about the situation. Then came this one, about the lawsuit between her sons being settled in a way that forced them to sell her belongings and split the profits 50/50 . It grieves me… and I don’t know the details, so it’s hard to really comment… but the overview does not paint a pretty picture. And the fact that this lawsuit was not mentioned at all as a motivating reason for the auction (no, just that her young fan base should have a chance to own something of their idol’s, rather than having them hidden away in storage… ) in interviews or explanations of the sale. I have thoughts, but I won’t share them, because that’s not what Audrey would do. Today, another article popped up as well that troubled me. I don’t believe Audrey would have thought well of this kind of nonsense.
The last thing that bothered me about the auction were the errors in the catalogue. I understand they only had a few months to pull it all together (although, actually, according to the lawsuit settlement, they had one year to have the sale) but many of us are noticing errors. Some of them were noticed too late. The shoes I bid on were not from the 1960s, but from 1989, to be very specific. But neither I, nor most likely the two people bidding against me, were aware of this. Judging by the prices for other pairs and sets of shoes, I paid the vintage 1960 price for a 1980s pair of shoes, and am paying 25% on top of that. And perhaps customs fees. Another pair of 1960s shoes were inadvertently included in a lot of 1980s shoes for the online sale as well. I bid on them, but having spent most of my money on the other pair of shoes, I had to give up on the auction at some point. I was outbid by £200, and the set of 4 still went for less than my one pair of shoes – and I believe it was because they were all represented as from the 1980s. Other pairs of shoes from the 1960s went for similar amounts, and the 1980s shoes went for much less. This is painful to me. Other items were labeled the wrong designers, the wrong years, the designers not mentioned at all, etc, etc… For the amount of money flying around for these things, more care should have been taken in the descriptions. This is a well-known and respected auction-house and we were all shocked and dismayed at the lack of attention to detail.
So those are my thoughts on the recent auction. It’s been a rollercoaster of a time this past week…
However, I’m going to make those shoes pay for themselves, and am starting research on a book (like everyone else. lol). I’ve already got nearly 15 years of research and notes behind me (obsessive much?), and now feels like the right time. Wish me luck (and buy a copy)! I intend to donate a portion of the profits to a charity, though I don’t know which one, yet. I support a few.
Tell me your thoughts on all of this. Did any of you attend, bid, or win anything? Do you know something I don’t? 🙂
I wasn’t quite sure what to label this last post, but I thought perhaps the word philosophy might cover it. This is the most important part of what made Audrey who she was, the most important thing about her that we could emulate. And I don’t think I can really do her justice with my words.
Yes, she had a good sense of style (um, except during the ’80s when it seems nobody had a good sense of style), she had healthy habits (except for smoking…), and good self-control, but the thing that impacted the people she met, and even those she didn’t, was her sense of compassion for others, and her calm and soothing presence.
“For me, Audrey is still here. She is someone you can never forget for a thousand reasons, not solely to do with her beauty, her excellent acting abilities or her talent. The key reason lies beyond all that. Above all, she was human, deeply viscerally human, as she demonstrated throughout her life…. she devoted incredible energy to changing the world.”
Hubert de Givenchy
I believe this sense of compassion was ingrained in her early in her life by her mother, who has been quoted as saying to her, “Others matter more than you do, so don’t fuss dear; get on with it.” Added to that, going through a war with her friends and family certainly must have instilled in her a sense of community and empathy that lasted throughout the rest of her life.
Words are going to fail me here, in this particular post, which is why I’ve procrastinated at writing it. I’m going to rely heavily on the words of those who knew her, such as her producer from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,”
“Everything you have read, heard or wished to be true about Audrey Hepburn doesn’t come close to how wonderful she was. There is not a human being on earth that was kinder, more gentle, more caring, more giving, brighter, and more modest than Audrey.”
I don’t think I will be able to do her justice, having not even once met her, admiring from afar and knowing her only through words on a page. But I have never read anything terrible about Audrey. 99.9% of the time she seemed to be present and focused on whomever was in front of her, attentive and compassionate. She made everyone feel important, welcome and greeted everyone as though they were old friends even if it was the first time they had met.
“She had a quality I found in Eleanor Roosevelt. When Audrey said to you, ‘How are you, dear?’ she looked in your eyes and wanted an answer. It was not a form of salutation. It was a question from someone who cared. It was that one-on-one quality that electrified everyone. When Audrey was talking or listening to you, you possessed her totally and she possessed you…”
Roger Caras, president of the ASPCA
And it was genuine…
“Audrey was the kind of person who when she saw someone else suffering, tried to take their pain on herself. She was a healer. She knew how to love. You didn’t have to be in constant contact with her to feel you had a friend. We always picked up right where we left off.”
She definitely had her moments of stubbornness, if I recall. She insisted her dog be an exception to the quarantine rules of Africa to join her while filming “The Nun’s Story.” I recently read somewhere (when I find it again I will edit this!) that when a hotel in Paris couldn’t make her drink right at the bar, she switched hotels. She tended to travel with her whole household in her luggage and request the same room in a hotel, even requesting some of the same furniture if it had been moved to another room (if anyone has the references for this, please let me know. I’m going off of memory right now). However, I am betting that all of these requests were made with the friendliest attitude, none of the irritated entitlement one would expect from a film star.
“She was so wonderfully easy to work with and so unfailingly kind and caring to everyone. Genuine, unique, compassionate, true to her beliefs, honest and without any artifice, she stood out of the conventional image of show business, glitz and glamour.”
She was very thoughtful and diplomatic in her interviews and interactions, I’ve noticed. She didn’t seem to want to offend anyone. She once stood in for Patricia Neal to present the Best Actress award at the Oscars, but due to her complicated situation of being overlooked for “My Fair Lady,” and presenting the award to Julie Andrews for “Mary Poppins,” she neglected to mention Patricia, was reminded, and apologized profusely. I’m sure she felt terribly guilty for ages.
After a tribute to her at the Lincoln Center in 1991, at a post-tribute dinner, the following occurred:
“She had to make sure that everyone who had come long distances sat close to her, but she couldn’t bear to decide who should or shouldn’t. So she had us make one tremendous table by pushing ten together into a giant oval that went on for miles. It was perfect. Nobody’s feelings were hurt. It never happened before or since at one of these events, because most people don’t care. But Audrey did.”
While living in Rome, she made many new friends but apparently never quite fit in, because she refused to engage in conversations about others.
“She never integrated because she was not a gossip.”
Anna Cataldi, friend
However, although she was kind and considerate, she was also withdrawn.
“She, in some mysterious way, kept me from being totally intimate… I longed to get closer, to get behind what was the invisible, but decidedly present, barrier between her and the rest of us more mortal human beings. Something… was there, holding me back from getting as close as I wanted.”
I believe that this was a mix of her mother’s teachings, and also a self-preservation method she adopted as an actress. I’m sure when she was younger she learned to hold back information to protect her privacy. But also, being a sensitive person, she may have held back parts of herself more frequently as she aged to protect herself from disappointments and betrayals.
“I sensed a sort of reserve, a hesitancy in her relationship with people. She was always prepared to withdraw from any event or discussion – she could quickly, almost abruptly, bring it to an end. I’d give her an ‘A’ in closure! It made her not less but more interesting.”
Dr. Ron Glegg, Rob Wolder’s brother-in-law
“She was not chatty about her personal feelings. She was British in that way – friendly, kind, but with that reserve of ‘Don’t get too close to me.’ ”
Sergio Russo, her hairdresser in Rome
But she did trust a select few. Audrey had a very small circle of close friends. An older friend of mine was married to a screenwriter “back in the day,” who was working with a producer who was working with Audrey Hepburn. She has stories of so many celebrities she’s met in her life, but the one she wishes she would have been able to meet was Audrey. But “she was very insulated, and didn’t want to meet many new people,” she told me.
“She had almost a child’s need or capacity to trust and to entrust herself to someone. Once she trusted someone, she would give them her life.”
Although she seemed to keep only a very few number of people get close to her, she wasn’t afraid to show love, even if it wouldn’t be returned.
“Audrey was a great cutup – very impish and playful. It’s a quality you find in children and in puppies, which might explain why she was so drawn to animals – and perhaps had more trust in animals than in human beings. Sometimes when she would show a great deal of love for someone on whom I felt it was wasted, I’d say, ‘Don’t you expect something in return?’ She would say, ‘No. My love for them doesn’t mean I expect anything back. It’s like with an animal.”
Having lived in Hollywood for quite some time, I have to say that this quality should be practiced more often, especially in the film community! Los Angeles is a city where everybody wants something and they’re only nice to you until they’ve got it (or until they realize they’re not getting it). I love the fact that she would give love to anyone she thought needed or deserved it, without expecting anything from them.
“There is a moral obligation, that those who have should give to those who don’t.”
Always thinking of others…
Audrey never seemed to have any public displays of anger or ego, nor many private ones that I’ve heard of (I can’t imagine there weren’t any raised voices when struggling with romantic relationships). She had a tremendous amount of self-control…
“There are people who blow their tops, and people who don’t. I am told it is bad to bottle it all up inside you, but then if you blow you have to go around apologizing… I suppose I should just let it come out of my ears.”
However, it seemed she liked to keep more than herself under control, and perhaps wasn’t very spontaneous. From an interview with herself and her husband at the time, Andrea Dotti:
“It’s difficult to have both [security and love], especially for women, since security is based on a fixed social and economic situation, a status quo with prearranged agreements or contracts, while love is wild, unfixed, unpredictable… No doubt Audrey’s childhood experiences intensified these drives. She’s a perfectionist, with a strong need for security. She must have matters under control and she’s afraid of surprises. For example, if she has to go to Geneva next month, she buys the ticket now. I do it the day before, and maybe then I’ll change my mind and go to Sardinia.”
“No, love, you wouldn’t fly off anywhere, because for Sardinia there’s always a waiting list.”
Though she wasn’t stuck in her ways and still took joy in exploring life:
“I think Audrey was much more comfortable with Sister Luke than with other parts. It was the story of a woman who investigated life, who was constantly on a search. As Audrey was.”
Audrey didn’t talk much about her spiritual beliefs, but from what I gather, she was raised Christian Scientists, considered herself Protestant for a while, and later on in life seemed to be thinking more about the spiritual aspect of life. Around the time of “The Nun’s Story,” she was quoted as saying,
“I have been educated in the Protestant faith and shall remain Protestant even though I have great respect for those who profess the Catholic faith.”
In 1956 she mentioned religion in an interview with Phyllis Battelle:
“Two things I never talk about are salary and religion. I find them sort of intimate things, and besides, it [her salary] changes all the time… My religion has been the same for 27 years but I won’t tell anybody what it is. Not that I’m Mohammedan, or anything surprising. I just keep it to myself.”
Her son, Luca, stated,
“Mom thought that religious education was an important part of our cultural background and had great respect for all beliefs. Worship was something intimate and personal for her, that extended to every little action we make. She believed in the struggle between Good and Evil and had faith in Love as the single element that bonds everything.”
Stepping back a little to the self-discipline Audrey possessed, I have to say she impressed me very much with her work ethic, especially early on in her career. She certainly was hustling.
“[Landau] said one day that anyone who’d like to make an extra shilling could be in cabaret. So after Sauce Tartare, at 11:30 at night, I’d be at Ciro’s again at midnight, make up and do two shows. All dancing. I made £11 for the first show and £20 for the second. So I was doing 18 shows weekly and earning over £150 a week. I was completely nuts.”
Around Christmas, she added in children’s shows, playing a fairy, and doing eight matinees a week.
“I got home at 2am [from Ciro’s], slept and was up and in rehearsal at 10am. I was very ambitious and took every opportunity. I wanted to learn and I wanted to be seen. My voice was pitched so high that my mother said I sounded as though I were about to take off.”
And throughout her career, she worked hard, studying her script at night and on the way to set, taking vocal coaching, dance and movement classes… she was a hard worker (although I did hear that she spent a lot of late nights out with her fiancé during rehearsals for Gigi and got scolded for her poor performances the day after!).
This has been a long post, hasn’t it?! Kind of rambling… there’s just so much to say about her, but I tried to keep focused on the wonderful attributes that she exhibited and that we can learn from. So now comes the part where I apply Audrey’s admirable qualities to my own life, in my effort to emulate her. As I said, the idea is to emulate her good qualities, the habits that would make a positive difference in my life. I’ve covered self-control when it comes to food and exercise, and have been examining my closet (and I’ll write an update on how all of this is going, later), but now I’ve added a focus on self-control when it comes to interactions with others, and self-discipline when it comes to work.
Having been raised differently than Audrey, and with different experiences behind me, I’ve always found it difficult to suppress when I am upset, displeased, or dissatisfied. And in the age of digital communication, it’s made it even more difficult! With email instead of letters, texting instead of calling… every interaction seems more intimate and casual than it used to be, or should be. I’ve been re-educating myself on the rules of communication, and figuring out how to retreat a little from the casualness with which I normally respond to things.
For in-person interactions, I would like to be a bit more proper, however it doesn’t come natural to me. I am always feeling nervous and insecure and unsure of how to address anyone, always in some way feeling insecure or inferior. When it’s my own party, for example, I feel much more relaxed and in control, but when I’m the outsider I don’t know what to do with myself! I suppose practice makes perfect. I’m also discovering, through a book on French-American cultural differences that I’ve been reading, how Americans communicate differently than the French. Now, I know Audrey wasn’t French, but she was not American and I wonder which communication habits she was more familiar with. Learning about my own culture from an outsider’s perspective has been interesting.
The biggest challenge for me is learning how to better express concern, appreciation, and attentiveness. I’m not very good at expressing anything with words, in my opinion, so this may take a long time to master. I think I need to find a lot of good examples, perhaps letters, to study. I do enjoy making others feel good, but I fail when it comes to finding the words to do so. I was not raised with parents who exhibited a natural skill with words, and never thought much of it until years later. So I have remained quite shy and quiet, which can be easily misunderstood. Working on this.
I feel as though I can look into the future by observing Audrey and how she handled her pain. I didn’t include text about that here, since I wanted to keep the focus on her good habits and not on the things I didn’t want to emulate. But after several relationships had ended, apparently she carried that grief with her for a while. I don’t want to end up with pain that others can see. I want to learn how to deal with it and not carry it with me. I haven’t quite figured out how yet…
As for worth ethic… I think sometimes I’m a hard, dedicated worker, and sometimes I’m not. As I get older, I have less patience for things that I have to do simply to make money, things that seem like a distraction from more important things, and things I just don’t like doing. I’ve been a bit spoiled, working online, though when that’s not going well, I do lock myself inside and work hard to pay my rent! In fact, I’m usually always working on something, though it doesn’t always lead to money. I could stand to have more focus and discipline with the things I say are important to me, though. I have to really narrow it down and prioritize, otherwise I just get into a state of overwhelm. I love to do so many things!
In short, really, to emulate Audrey I must be sensitive to others, learn to express happiness and gratitude and to deal with anger and frustrations gracefully. I mustn’t gossip, and I must give without expectations of receiving. I must be careful whom I open up to (and as an American with the tendency to talk to strangers more, that book I mentioned finally makes sense of why we may do that) but also find a way to deal with pain so that it doesn’t stick around later on and negatively impact me or my relationships.
I wish I could already be like Audrey in these ways, but it’s never too late to improve oneself. Nobody can be Audrey, just like nobody can be you, or me – we’re all unique and we all have something different to offer the world. But personally, I see room for improvement in my attitude and outlook and behaviour, and Audrey has been my measuring stick, as she is the embodiment of grace, tact, gratitude and love (to me). I want to leave the world better for having been in it, just like she did.
Help me, Audrey, to become the best version of myself I can be!!
“Again, that’s the element X that people have, or don’t have. You can meet somebody and you can be enchanted, and then you photograph them and it’s nothing. But she had it. And there will not be another. Today, there is Julia Roberts. She is quite capable, very funny. . . . I loved her instantly in Pretty Woman. But no actress should be expected to be Audrey Hepburn. That dress by Mr. Givenchy has already been filled.”
This is not quite the end of this little series… I’m going to post an update later, in case anybody is interested. I also am going to mention here (and in the next post) about my almost-secret project. I’ve been talking with two friends of mine about going on a grand Audrey adventure across Europe, and making a film about it. I will tell you more about it later, or you can just go to On How To Be Lovely and see what’s there. 😉 I’m really hoping to make it a reality! If you think you may be able to help us with it, please let me know!
So I’ve been working on my self-control with not snacking during the day (which is harder than I thought! But apples are a good and healthy snack to fool your stomach. Not quite as good as peanut butter cups though), and my discipline with exercise. I’ve even decided to go to a gym once a week and work with a trainer. It’s something I’d thought about in the past but it seems like now is a good time to just do it. I know I’ve got the potential to be healthier and stronger than I am, and I don’t want to regret waiting any longer than I have! It’s one of those things I never felt that I could afford, but I feel like my body needs it, and what better time than now? I have to fit into all of these gorgeous tiny vintage dresses that I adore!
In this post, I’m going to cover Audrey Hepburn’s style, and look at how I can apply her fashion sense to my own wardrobe. What we choose to wear, or how we choose to wear what we have, is one way in which we shape the image of ourselves that we present to the world. Everything we wear says something about us. About how we see ourselves, or how we want to see ourselves. About our status, our preferences and priorities. It is in many ways an outward projection of our inner selves. Or at least as much of ourselves as we want to let others see. And personally, my wardrobe has not always really reflected who I was or am. I had always wanted a large vintage wardrobe, because that was what I loved, but it was always easier and more affordable to buy the latest trends. In high school I would shop at the Goodwill and other thrift stores, but usually what I found was not in good condition. I’ve finally decided that it’s time to revamp my wardrobe into what I’ve truly been wanting. However, even putting together your vintage style takes a little thought and planning! Audrey to the rescue…
“Some people dream of having a big swimming pool – with me it’s closets!” Audrey
On How to be Audrey, Part III – Style
In 1949, when Audrey was living in London and working in the theatre, her wardrobe was quite different from how most of us think of her.
“She had one skirt, one blouse, one pair of shoes, and a beret, but she had fourteen scarves. What she did with them week by week you wouldn’t believe. She’d wear the little beret on the back of her head, on one side, on the other side – or fold it in two and make it look very strange. She had the gift, the flair of how to dress.” Nickolas Dana, High Button Shoes dancer
Audrey had less than most of us do in her closet when she was starting out. And her method of making it work for her was to get creative! You can make almost any outfit look new and different by changing up your accessories. I would love to see what Audrey did with those scarves (I could use the inspiration). She was so innovative with clothing that at one point, to earn extra money, she would purchase plain little hats to embellish and re-sell. Now that’s inspiring me…. and making me wonder where all of these hats ended up. A hat made by Audrey Hepburn, wouldn’t that be a treasure!
When she left for France to work on Nous Irons à Monte Carlo, her co-stars Geraldine and Cara gave her some of their own clothes, seeing as she didn’t have much of a wardrobe. And apparently they all bought their first bikinis at the Monte Carlo Beach Club!
Eventually, with more work and more money, and a new friend in Givenchy, she settled on what would become her signature style. Casually, she would be seen wearing pedal pushers or cigarette pants, with a button-up shirt tied around the waist. Formally, she favoured dresses without patterns or details that would date it, in flattering cuts with very defined waistlines.
In 1962 she gave an interview to the Baltimore Sun and went into great detail about her fashion sense. I will let Audrey take over now.
“I have come to realize two important factors about myself. First of all, my coloring lacks definition. I therefore prefer to wear black, white or muted colors such as beige or soft pinks or greens. These colors tend to make my eyes and hair seem darker whereas bright colors overpower me and wash me out.
Secondly, I am quite tall and of angular build. Therefore I don’t wear padded or squared shoulders and often cheat on my armholes and collars to give an illusion of narrow rather than wide shoulders. I wear low-heeled shoes to give the impression that I’m smaller than I am.
Another thing I have learned, in order to avoid the cliché, “I don’t have a thing to wear” in spite of a closet full of clothes, is to prepare a clothes chart for the coming season, just as I do when handed a script of a new movie. I start by writing down all the things I have and then eliminating the ones I feel I’ve worn out or outdated. Then I try to visualize what my needs will be during the upcoming season, all, of course, depending on where I might be. I then go about buying rather purposefully just the things I need to fill any gaps, such as a new suit or a coat or dinner dress.
As I rarely have time for shopping, I have to plan ahead, which saves me from being tempted by that one dress I shall never wear.
Also, I have a problem which is peculiar to my nomadic existence and that is packing. I try to travel with as little as possible. This brings me to my next point, which is to buy things adaptable for many, rather than just one, occasion. That is another reason why I like conservative colors such as beige or black, which will look right at almost any hour of the day or evening and in almost any weather.
This enables me, too, to cut down on accessories. I have only black or beige shoes and bags and wear only white three-quarter-length gloves. The only exceptions are an evening purse and one pair of white satin shoes.
The principal contributive factor to the way I dress is that I am fortunate enough to be married to a fashion-conscious man by the name of Mel Ferrer, whom I think has infallible taste.
It is tremendously rewarding for a woman to have a husband who notices. Mel has a real interest in clothes, and we enjoy choosing my things together. I have become greatly dependent on his taste and guidance. After all, I think any woman dresses mostly for the man in her life.” Audrey
And as a bonus, she gave “Four Rules for the Hepburn Look”
Audrey also didn’t wear much jewelry. A pair of hoop earrings were a favourite early on, and she always had a pair of pearl earrings on hand. Occasionally she would wear a bracelet, and never a watch (She had been noted saying that she strongly disliked the initial cold of the metal when touching her skin and the heaviness of the watch).
I also have to mention that Audrey did NOT always dress up. She wore t-shirts and cozy sweatshirts and sweaters like the rest of us when she wasn’t expecting to be photographed. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
So to distill it down to a few points, and to analyze my own habits and see what adjustments I should make…
Audrey Hepburn’s Rules of Style
Know your colours. I have similar colouring to Audrey and upon examination of my closet do find it quite full of muted colours, black, and white. I don’t know if it was really intentional, but I do see a pattern. Most of the more colourful things I own, I don’t wear, and are in the “to go” pile now as I pick through my closet. I will definitely make note of what I feel is more complimentary to my colouring.
Know how to create the proportions you find pleasing. Although Audrey and I are the same height, I don’t have a big problem with being tall, except when I’m around women who are much shorter than I am, or men who won’t match my height in heels. I like the look of heels with certain skirts and dresses. However, flats are always more comfortable and practical! I also have wide shoulders and hate any kind of shoulder padding or puffed sleeves, so those are avoided. Perhaps that’s why I’m not a fan of the ’80s.
Go through your closet regularly and visualize how to have the wardrobe you want with the least amount of pieces. This, I am in the process of doing. I have way too many pieces of clothing that I don’t actually wear anymore. I want to simplify and only have clothes that I actually love and wear. Living in California for so many years, I never felt a need to separate my winter and summer clothing. I just added coats. And in France, well, I usually lacked any storage space, so everything hung out together there, as well. I do sometimes examine my wardrobe and think of something I feel is missing, and go on a quest for it. But I also went on spontaneous shopping trips with nothing in mind, and returning home with bags of new garments. I’m cutting down on that! Which brings us to:
Shop with purpose. For several years I have had a major Crossroads Trading Company (it’s a secondhand store with amazing finds) addiction, and would just walk in looking for buried treasures, nothing specific. And this is how I end up with more than I need. But I haven’t set foot in a Crossroads in at least four months now! I have been shopping with purpose on etsy. Pat me on the back.
Buy quality over quantity. I’m getting better at this. Slowly. However, with Crossroads, I felt like I could have both quality and quantity. Dior shoes, Mark Jacobs jackets… but now my closet is full.
Buy tops and bottoms that are interchangeable and versatile, especially for travel. This is something I have to pay more attention to now that I’m not wearing jeans as much. Jeans go with nearly every top. But now that I’ve got a green skirt, and a tan skirt, and a navy skirt… I can’t just wear the same white shirt with all of them all the time, I need at least one or two other shirts that could go with them and create twice as many outfits. This is already how I travel… seeing how many different outfits I can create with the least amount of clothing. And I usually stick to two pairs of shoes – the black and the white, unless I have room for one or two more. With the cost of vintage clothing (which I’m buying more of nowadays) being usually more than the things I find at Crossroads, I have to pay extra attention to how many outfits I can make with each piece.
So those are my challenges.
Get rid of the things I don’t wear and narrow down my closet to pieces that are versatile, interchangeable, timeless and loved. Simplify and organize.
In my first post about Audrey Hepburn, I went over her eating habits and outlined a diet for myself to follow. So far, so good, although I got thrown off the other day when I had to be on set at 7am (way too early to be hungry…) and then gorged myself at the lunch buffet. And also had some snacks from craft service. But other than that, it’s going well! I’ve added my own discipline to it and am trying not to eat after 7pm and definitely no earlier than 7am. Not snacking has been a challenge, but I think with practice it will become easier.
Today I want to cover Audrey’s exercise habits. Less is known about this aspect of her life than her diet, it seems.
On How to be Audrey, Part II – Exercise
Audrey grew up immersed in ballet, however the only reference I’ve seen to ballet class in her adult years was one mention somewhere of her attending class while she was working on Broadway, in New York City. She also danced for her film, Funny Face.
During the filming of Green Mansions, she did a spread for a magazine showing her in various stretching poses similar to yoga.
A couple of websites claim that Audrey discovered yoga and made it a part of her daily routine, however, I haven’t found any mentions in her biographies or official sources that this is true. It’s always mentioned on yoga websites, so I’m not sure how accurate their information is! I can imagine that being a former dancer, she probably did have some kind of daily stretching practice, but perhaps we will never know for sure.
However, dancing and stretching will be part of my “emulate Audrey” month. I already have a history with ballet (in my early 20’s) and yoga (a couple years ago), and recently have started back up with both.
I suppose I won’t be adjusting my habits too much when it comes to exercise. Saturday morning ballet (and eventually back into the adult pointe class, I hope) and daily stretching/yoga.
Again the key here is discipline. Audrey was very disciplined, very focused. According to her,
“I have often thought of myself as quite ugly. In fact, I used to have quite a complex about it. To be frank, I’ve often been depressed and deeply disappointed in myself. You can even say that I hated myself at certain periods. I was too fat, or maybe too tall, or just plain too ugly. I couldn’t seem to handle any of my problems or cope with people I met. If you want to get psychological, you can say my definiteness stems from underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority. I couldn’t conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found them only way to get the better of them was by putting my foot down, by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive.”
And it served her well. So throughout this exercise, I’m hoping to adopt a similar more concentrated drive by introducing more discipline into my everyday life. I know I have always had an issue with focus – so many exciting things to explore in life! It’s a constant battle I fight. What I enjoy about ballet and yoga is the fact that once you get into the “flow”, you stop thinking about anything else. You’re focused solely on the present and being in your body. It also feels good to regularly set aside that time for yourself, as if telling the world, “I care about myself and want to treat my body well. I insist on taking this time out from my concerns to open up, and to dance and to breathe and let everything else go for a while.” Afterwards, I feel refreshed and focused and motivated and ready to tackle the world! And so I shall!
Hello, all! It’s been a while, I know. I have started a few blogs in the past and I’m disciplined for perhaps a year and then I trail off. There are times in my life where I feel I will have plenty to write about, and times when either I don’t, or I simply don’t feel like writing! Which is why I will never be a professional, full-time blogger, I suppose!
So I was watching a video on YouTube recently, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill and when he came to number 18 (the video picks up there, if you click on the link) I immediately thought of Audrey Hepburn. Oh yes, there are plenty of things I admire in other people, like Katharine Hepburn with her strong, independent spirit, but when it comes to choosing a role model for myself, it always comes back to the other Hepburn. Perhaps because our basic quiet, anxious natures are similar, so although she has many traits I aspire to, she is also relatable. I’ve always sort of viewed her as something like a cousin whom I admire but never get to spend time with. You’re told stories and you see pictures and you wish you could spend time with her and you want to be like her… at least that’s how I felt about my actual older cousins growing up, and it feels much the same with Audrey. I didn’t have an older brother or sister, but always wished I had.
Oh, don’t let me go on like this! Let’s get to the point of this post!
So I was watching that video and when he came to number 18, I thought of Audrey. I thought, OK, let’s do that, why not. And I decided that, to keep myself accountable, and to perhaps inspire and help someone else who may be having the same idea, I would blog about it. So I started making a mental list of what I knew of Audrey that I could apply to my life, and decided that I would make a very conscious effort for at least one month to follow in her footsteps. Because she’s been my role model for years already, I have a head start on some things. But we’re going full Audrey for August.
Good timing too, because it will put me in a good mindset for my next few adventures, which I will tell you about soon!
There are several aspects of Audrey to be covered, and rather than making one giant blog post about them all, I will cover one at a time. I will cover diet, exercise, philosophy and style in four separate posts. Today, I’m going to start with diet.
So let’s get started, shall we?
On How to Be Audrey, Part I. Diet
“She was always very careful about her diet, did not drink alcohol except an occasional glass of wine with dinner, and avoided desserts. She chose her diet as a dancer would: plenty of protein and lots of vegetables and salads. She ate sparingly and rarely splurged. But we did have a yearly feast of caviar in a baked potato.” Mel Ferrer
Audrey’s slim figure is one of the things she’s well-known for, generally being quoted as 5’6 ¾”, 110 pounds, 32-20-35 (although I know someone who owns one of her dresses from the 1960’s and the waist measures 23 inches. This is a weird fixation for me, because the 20 inch figure seems very off and I can’t resist solving a mystery).
Fortunately, I don’t have to really wish for Audrey’s figure, being 5’6 ¾” myself, between 112-116 pounds, and 32-25-35. But because diet is such an integral part of everyone’s lives, it’s important to me to incorporate her eating habits into this challenge. I want to see how changing up my diet and adding additional discipline might affect me.
Audrey’s diet changed throughout her life (as is true for most of us), so I’ve taken the information I’ve gathered and created my own Audrey-based diet from it. In general, her rules were:
No snacking between meals
Drink plenty of water
Fresh, organic, seasonal and local items are preferred
Eat small portions
Only eat until you’re 80% full
Watch the sugar intake
“I eat everything. I eat a great many vegetables, fruit, and…um…otherwise, I eat meat and fish and all those things. I like chocolate and sweets but they are not good for my skin I noticed, so I can’t eat very much of them.” Audrey
While Audrey ate everything, I on the other hand, am mainly vegetarian (and sometimes vegan), so I will be making some adjustments to suit my own dietary preferences but still stay close to her diet.
Snacking: “Don’t build this bad habit!” Audrey says. Yes ma’am. This one is also difficult, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid snacking.
Drink plenty of water. This has been a struggle for me for ages. I know I have to drink more. I just hate spending so much time in the bathroom! This is the month to get into the habit though. Being properly hydrated is very important!
“It isn’t very interesting to eat something that is completely white, so it also can’t be that good for you.” Audrey
My meals normally include fruits and vegetables, so as long as I don’t get lazy, I’ve got the colour thing down!
“She was crazy about the pasta, she would eat it almost every day. Her absolute favorite was spaghetti with tomato sauce. She could live on that alone.” Luca Dotti
I’m always tempted to buy pasta for my meals, however I am not entirely sure that it’s a healthy thing to regularly eat! I believe her pasta addiction appeared when she moved to Rome, as I haven’t seen mention of pasta in earlier accounts of her diet. Although I will include some pastas for dinner occasionally, I won’t be eating it all day every day! As for tomato sauce… I was raised on a lot of spaghetti with tomato sauce and now as an adult am taking a long hiatus from that particular combination. However, seeing as it is my month living like Audrey… I will make an effort to include it in the menu. In fact, I started with a pasta lunch today so we’re off to a good start!
“She was very strict. When it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, her feeling was, you should take your time for meals and stop what you are doing.” Luca Dotti
Sometimes when I’m eating, I do so in a rush, standing at a table, or eating while working or watching a video… but for this month at least, I will stop everything when it’s time to eat, and focus on the food. This is actually a healthy practice. According to some studies, we tend to over-eat when we aren’t paying attention to what we’re doing… if we’re eating while watching a movie for example. When we slow down and enjoy our food and eat mindfully, we don’t over-fill ourselves.
On Sundays, Audrey would have breakfast in bed, with “homemade madeleines, quince jelly, or cherry jam, along with toast, coffee, milk, butter, a small rose from the garden in a tiny vase, and on the side of her tray the International Herald Tribune.” according to her son, Luca. I may not do this, as it’s my Sunday habit to go to Lake Shrine temple and then have lunch with a friend, but perhaps I’ll find a day for it! And I’ve got her recipe for madeleines in Luca’s book, Audrey at Home!
One of the most specific menus I’ve found for Audrey states that for breakfast she would have a glass of water, 3-4 cups of coffee (with hot milk… cafè latte… café au lait), 2 hard-boiled eggs, and a slice of 7 grain whole-wheat toast. For lunches she would have either yogurt or cottage cheese with raw fruits and vegetables, and for dinner she would have a meat and cooked vegetables (GoodHousekeeping, 1959).
“I don’t like fancy food at all. I much prefer an extremely simple meal that’s exquisitely done; a perfectly cooked steak, a beautiful salad, some raspberries.” Audrey
Simple and easy, just how I like it when I’m cooking at home! However, when I go out to eat… I love finding things that I would never take the time to make for myself!
As for her daily meal plan, I will be following this with some adjustments. I tend to prefer fried eggs, sunny side up, so that I can dip my toast, so I will most likely continue doing that on most days. However, I will hard-boil some eggs as well. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but for you, Audrey, I will try a cup in the AM. With soy, almond, or coconut milk though, since I try to limit my dairy. For lunch, I will have yogurt or cottage cheese with fruits and vegetables. I’ve already started doing this, and it’s quite pleasant. I like the predictability and not wondering what I’m going to make for lunch. I’ve purchased various brands and flavours of yogurt, and have found some vegan options as well. As far as I know, there are no vegan cottage cheese options. For dinner, I will be replacing the meat with other sources of protein (although I might occasionally have fish).
“I have seen her resist the most tempting dessert to guard against one inch more on her extraordinary size eight,” friend Radie Harris
I have a confession to make. I am a fruit tarte addict. I love desserts. Love love love. However, I have been watching my processed sugar intake and will continue to guard myself against it this month (and moving forward). If Audrey can do it, so can I.
“Chocolate was my one true love as a child. It wouldn’t betray me. I’ve always said it was either chocolate or my nails in those years. There was a lot of anxiety.” Audrey
Audrey also loved chocolate, but she managed to discipline herself and have only one square a day. Personally, I’m addicted to my homemade dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and I’m going to limit myself to one a day as well. Oh this will be hard!
I think perhaps chocolate is my replacement for nail-biting as well. I think I only managed to stop shredding my nails in my mid-20’s. These days my nails are doing well, thanks to my ever-present nail-file, but those peanut butter cups go fast! Not this month, however! *sigh*
However, there is a glimmer of hope for me…
“Mr. Ferrer was a little fussy about food, but she ate everything and always wanted to experiment. For a tiny woman, she had an enormous appetite. I really doubt those bulimia or anorexia stories. She loved to eat, and they had all kinds of things with butter and cream. They liked chocolate soufflé, roast duck, rich things.” Florida Broadway, her chef for 2 years.
Apparently dessert wasn’t always off-limits. Big sigh of relief!
“I associate food with happy times, primarily because those times when I was unable to eat were so miserable. I guess in some convoluted way, I’m afraid if I eat when I’m sad, I’ll be feeding the sadness.” Audrey
I’ve also heard various things regarding alcohol consumption. Mel, above, mentioned only the occasional glass of wine. However it seems that later on, she did like some whiskey, as her friend John Isaac told me. And to quote from a recent Facebook post of his (got to show my sources, right?!):
I told them a story about how Audrey Hepburn and I used to have a swig from my whiskey flask while we were in Bangladesh. And one time I said to her that it is only 2 O’clock in the afternoon and should we have one for the road? She said to me, “I am sure it is 6.pm somewhere in the world” John Isaac
As I said, we’re being a bit picky-choosy here and following the healthy habits, so drinking and smoking are not on my to-do list!
Once a month, at least later in her life, Audrey would go on a detox. She would drink a gallon of water, and for meals eat yogurt with grated apples.
“She did it once a month, but usually to get over a jet lag, because you feel bloated after many hours sitting on a plane. … Like a lot of people, she was coming back from trips in Africa and was exhausted — this would help with that.” Luca Dotti
I’m going to pick a day to do my detox and do the same, with or without jetlag, although perhaps I will make it more routine to do an Audrey-style detox after my long flights.
So I think that about covers the diet part of this challenge! Stay tuned for Part 2…
For more references on her diet, please check out the websites below:
Here is where I admit that I adjusted to Africa like my dog would adjust to swimming in the ocean. Which is to say, you toss her in and she gets out as fast as she can (or she’d probably drown). It appears with a quick Google images search that there are no other Yorkies that enjoy swimming in the ocean either.
And I feel terribly guilty about it. Not throwing my Yorkie in the ocean, but how I handled my time in Africa. The people were wonderful, and it was amazing to experience something so different from my own life, but it was way outside of my comfort zone. Yes, that’s partially what draws me to foreign lands… a chance to get out of my comfort zone, to stretch myself, to humble myself, to see things rather than to just hear about them… but it’s not easy. I’m like a new pair of toe shoes that needs to be worn in. I’m stiff and shiny and I need to be bent and softened, cut and beaten down a little bit before I am ready for use. Before God can dance in me.
I would love to react to life the way Audrey Hepburn did. She was always thinking of others first, it seemed, and wouldn’t mind her own discomfort. Of course, she grew up during World War II and had a mother drilling into her that “others matter more than you.” I’m sure she handled Africa much better than I did. Though, to be fair, she did request to have an air conditioner shipped to Africa during the filming of The Nun’s Story, and also that “quarantine laws in the Belgian Congo would be waved for [her terrier] Famous […] and most important of all, that a bidet would be installed and waiting for her… It was probably the only bathroom fixture of its kind in Central Africa at that time.” (I read this ages ago and found this particular reference Here)
I, however, did not have a bidet or my Yorkie. So perhaps Miss Hepburn’s trips to Africa were slightly more comfortable than mine. I did my best, but I felt that two weeks was enough to experience major culture shock and not really get acclimated to a new country such as Ghana. I admit that my own discomfort really took over my thoughts at many times. Many, many times. But what drove me crazy about that was knowing that many, many people have traveled to Africa, have lived in Africa, spend their whole lives in Africa… and probably do it without complaint. I mean, I’m just assuming. Maybe I’m being hard on myself. I don’t know. I can adjust to things. It doesn’t mean I like them, but who says you have to like everything? Perhaps I was just not sufficiently mentally prepared for this.
I knew there would be no running water in the village. I knew the internet situation may be sketchy. I was prepared to bend the rules on being vegan or vegetarian. I was not exactly prepared for other things, however.
I haven’t known exactly how to approach all of this in a blog post. To me, it was another world far from my own. To those who live there, it’s life as usual and people seem generally content. I don’t want to gloss over my experience there and only share the positive, fun stories, but I also don’t want to focus only on the negative points. Because it’s a completely different culture that I’m not a part of and won’t completely understand or agree with. To me, it’s shocking to see the living conditions of some people, and I feel the urge to change things. But I don’t know what it’s really like to live there, or if they even want to change. I’m sure there are aspects of my own culture that Ghanaian people would witness and say “that’s terrible!” and they would be right. We all have things we can learn from each other, and ways we can help each other. This could be it’s own topic….
That said, let’s move on. I’m going to just start with some of the things I wasn’t prepared for. 🙂
Transportation. I actually did not get a photo of the exterior of the trotros, which are large white vans that can seat over 20 people inside. They go down the road in set routes, with the mate hanging out the front window making signs with his hands to tell people along the road where they’re headed. You hop in and pay about 25¢ for a ride.
From the junction near our town, we would get a taxi (see above). Several of them would line the street, waiting for either enough people to fill it up, or someone willing to pay for all 4 seats. Somehow, most of the time we got a taxi, it was the one above. The inside was terrifying. You could touch the rolled-down window through the inside of the door… because there was no inside of the door. I don’t recall if it was this particular taxi or another one, but I’m pretty sure there was a jug of gas with a hose stuck in it on the floor of the passenger side. Every time we’d pass a sign saying something to the effect of “slow down! 12 people died here” I was pretty sure they were talking about a trotro accident.
The issue here seems to be that cars are imported to Ghana, and a heavy tax is levied on them, making them unaffordable to most people. So they wring every last bit of life out of the cars they have. Even if in the US, they wouldn’t even be allowed on the street. Here, apparently, if it starts and you can still move it… continue on.
According to Road Safety Services, a few of the major causes of road accidents in Ghana are, in fact:
• Most accidents are caused by broken down vehicles on our roads.
• It appears in Ghana there is a leeway for drivers to drive on worn/second hand tyres.
• The unworthiness of some cars on our roads also invariably leads to road accidents.
• Over-loading of vehicles beyond their expected gross weights is a known cause of accidents.
Road accidents are among the top causes of death in Ghana, with malaria, diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases, according to deputy director of the Ghana Health Service, George Amofa. Road accidents kill more Ghanaians annually than typhoid fever, pregnancy-related complications, malaria in pregnancy, diabetes or rheumatism.
Sanitation. I don’t know why I thought nothing would be different. Sure, in the US and in France you run across the idiots who pee in the street or don’t wash their hands, but I was practically in shock here. Men, women and children used places other than covered toilets to relieve themselves, and don’t seem to see the importance of washing their hands after. I witnessed a small boy at the marketplace casually relieving himself on the ground not far from where food was being sold, and the toilet above was found on a visit to the Department of Social Welfare, with a little sink out in the hallway. Toilets in this part of Ghana seem to be treated the same way as kitchens in Paris – an afterthought.
I got a lot of use out of my organic, lavander-scented hand sanitizer spray on this trip, and cringed inside every time somebody wanted to shake my hand. I loved the children and let them touch me, but I also knew that they probably hadn’t been washing their hands either. I’m not a mysophobe, I swear, but I must have seemed like one. Even with all my precautions, by the end of the trip I suffered mild diarrhea and major stomach pain during my flight home. I’m better now. But so many people are not as lucky.
In Ghana, diarrhea accounts for 25 percent of all deaths in children under five and is among the top three reported causes of morbidity…. Nine million episodes of disease could be prevented each year by washing hands with soap.
“In Ghana it is even critical because most of us like eating with our hands, because of the type of dishes that we cook. So when it comes to handling food we use our hands a lot. Secondly, surfaces [transfer] to palms a lot of germs. It can be a door knob, even our computers, the ATM cards…people use their hands a lot so there is the need to create awareness. Look at the food that we eat – fufu, kenkey, banku and all those things – we don’t enjoy eating with fork and knife, so we have to eat with our hands – therefore we have to keep the hands very clean.
I’m really glad to see that there are efforts to promote hand-washing. Global Handwashing Day has even been established by GlobalHandwashing.org. It’s just one of those things I never even thought about… I naively assumed most people knew you get sick less often if you keep your hands clean. Even last year I learned my lesson once more. After months of winter illness, I started carrying hand sanitizer and not touching anything on the public transportation. Add to that a morning smoothie, and I have not been sick in over a year (though there was the one time I fell ill from lack of sleep). Sometimes I forget that we are not all aware of these things. Heck, there are still things I could learn.
See all that fruit up there? That was not to be found in Ghana. Apparently I’d missed mango season so really all I had were tiny bananas, avocados, apples…mmmm am I missing something? Oh, some papaya but I really don’t like papaya so I couldn’t finish it. My friend had told me diets were different here, but I thought really… so close to the equator… there wouldn’t be tropical fruit to eat? I’d find something. I was a little wrong. I am realizing my love of fruit is so strong that now I’m researching tropical paradises I can live happily ever after in. Kauai?
In Ghana, I’m rich. Fair enough, I understand. I do earn more than most of the people I met. But the cost of living is much higher in the US and EU. And right now I would not be considered rich in either of those places. lol But in Ghana it was assumed that I am rich, and that prices can be higher for me. I suppose it’s like that anywhere for a foreigner…. the other day I bought a little toy from a man outside of the Pompidou Centre and we got to chatting… he told me that he sells the toy to Arab tourists for 10€ because to them it’s nothing. It’s all relative. I don’t mind so much when I’m buying bananas or some fabric, but when they want to charge you oohhhh like, 500% more to enter a fort and then the equivalent of $100-$200 to take pictures…. I’m wondering exactly how rich they think we are.
I’m white. And that’s weird. lol. There is no walking around unnoticed. Even in my nice new dress.
I love that dress. The niece of a friend of my friend made it for me from fabric I’d bought at the market. Other than that dress I wore for Manon and couldn’t keep (it was a costume), and my “Belle” Halloween costume when I was about 12, I think this is the only time someone has ever made a dress specifically fit for me. I usually buy second-hand. But anyway, yeah, there’s just no blending in. You’re white, and you’re rich. Get used to it. 😛
Now we’re moving into the cool unexpected things… 🙂 I mean starting with that dress. I’ve even worn it out in Paris, and I’ll wear it out in L.A.
Water… baggies. What do you call this? This is pretty cool.
Trashybags.org is even doing what I had been thinking about as I stared at all the bags along the streets and outside of the villages – collecting the bags and upcycling them.
Sorry to go back to the negative zone, but this does bring up the issue of trash collection in Ghana. I found an article focusing on waste management in Accra here, if you care to read it. In the village I was at, there was no trash collection, and in my meanderings around the community center I stumbled upon a trash heap (on which someone was, er, squatting, to top it off….). Walking along the beach, I would see buried trash beginning to peak out after a high tide. I didn’t take a photo but I found one online to illustrate:
Anywaaaaay. Since I knew where all my bags would end up, I decided to take most of them home with me. I’m using one of the bags as a soap holder, and the rest are awaiting inspiration.
I’ve been learning about natural cures (specifically in the tropics but some apply anywhere, you can learn more at anamed.net) and one powerful plant seems to be Moringa. It grows in Ghana! In fact there was a tree right behind the community center. Sadly, the pods were very dried up and the seeds didn’t look so good, but we did find some in Cape Coast!
I was taught how to make a certain veggie and fish stew that I found tasty, and it’s been my easy go-to meal to make since I’ve gotten back to Paris. I’ve had to adjust because of differences in the availability of ingredients (those whole cooked fish, not sure where to find them here. Short grain rice? Seems different in France…) but I like to have this new African dish in my recipe book.
Seriously. I’m going to start hacking down palm trees when I get to L.A.
I don’t think I actually ate any, but I’m including it here because it’s funny.
I believe this was the first time I’d ever eaten a fish that still looked like a fish. And I’d do it again. So un-vegan of me….
Well, this blog post has taken hours, and I should start packing up my things for another move this evening.
In closing…. I’ll say of course there is more to say about Ghana… good and bad. It was my first time in Africa, my first time in a really, truly completely different culture…. I was almost going to say “I hope in some ways it’s changed me for the better,” but then thought how self-centered that seems to me… what I really wish is that somehow I could have gone and returned having made someone else’s life better. But perhaps it’s just given me things to think about, and a better idea of what I can be a part of in the future to make someone’s life better. Some sort of reconnaissance mission, in a way. There must be a better phrase for that. But I think with first-hand experience it helps one to understand the world better than you can simply by Googling things (duh). And some day the pieces of the puzzle that you’ve gathered simply by being open and curious will come together and help you fulfill your purpose.
I’d like to leave you with one of Audrey Hepburn’s favourite poems (and one of mine, too) by Sam Levenson…
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.