You may be thinking to yourself “Seriously, Amanda, could you get any more clichéd of a Luxspiration than Audrey?” But hear me out. While Audrey Hepburn is remembered most often as one of the most glamorous and fashionable icons of all time, she was so much more. Audrey Hepburn was granddaughter of a Baron. A woman who spent her teens doing ballet to secretly raise money for the Dutch resistance against Nazi Germany. Audrey Hepburn was a passionate Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner. Audrey Hepburn is the type of woman that I want to be and why I chose her as this month’s Luxspiration.
[Tweet “”The greatest asset we can have as women is unassuming joy, and a genuine, heartfelt smile.” – Audrey Hepburn”]
If you aren’t already familiar with the story of Audrey Hepburn, there are no shortages of sites which will recap it for you. Born in 1929, she spent her childhood in Belgium, England and then spent the time during World War II in the Netherlands, the home country of her mother, where she experienced the horrors and trials of Nazi occupation. Thorough her dedication to ballet dancing, she went on to Amsterdam following the war and was quickly recognized as a talent both on and off the screen. Her first film was made in 1953 (Roman Holiday, one of my favourites) and her film career lasted through to 1989 but tapered off considerably in her twilight years as she became more and more active in charitable endeavours. She also shares a love of travel and seeing the world – when she proclaimed a love for one of my favourite cities, Paris, when she coined that “Paris is always a good idea”
[Tweet “”Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn”]
While she may have led an incredible life as a humanitarian, her fame helped publicize the efforts of the various organizations she worked with. The film years of Audrey’s career are what most people can clearly remember Audrey Hepburn for. Classic film favourites like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady defined the image we have in our minds when you have to immediately recall Audrey – mine is the photo of her peering in the window on Fifth Avenue with the pearls dripping down her back, the glam sunglasses and the most elegant of up-dos.
Her charitable endeavours are arguably where Audrey really found joy and purpose in her life. Through her own experiences throughout the period of the Second World War, where she later recanted that her good fortune in surviving that difficult period is what motivated her to help the children in the world’s poorest countries. One of my favourite photos is the one below of Audrey and one such child taken on a UNICEF mission. Several people who were with her have given amazing accounts of how “Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her”
[Tweet “”As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn”]
So how can we take the lessons Audrey so fiercely believed in and translate them into our own lives? I think she would have agreed that she lived by three tenets:
Find Your Bliss
Audrey loved being alone and being outdoors. She loved helping those in need and she loved her own children. She knew once she started spending more time with UNICEF that her calling was more in line with that facet of her life than her illustrious film career. You can take a hint from Audrey and figure out exactly what it is that makes you tick and then pursue it. This is one of the very things we strongly believe in here at the Refined Side and that we cover through our Luxe Love articles.
[Tweet “If my world were to cave in tomorrow, I would look back on all the pleasures, excitements and worthwhilenesses I have been lucky enough to have had. Not the sadness, not my miscarriages or my father leaving home, but the joy of everything else. It will have been enough. – Audrey Hepburn”]
Not all of Audrey’s life was happy. There were the years she spent eating baked goods made from ground tulip bulbs during the war or the miscarriages she mentions having whilst trying to grow her family. But what is most evident is that she never shied away from the idea that she could – and deserved to – be happy. She often said she was drawn to people who made her laugh and that laughter was something that could cure all ills – as was a delicious chocolate cake.
[Tweet “”The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn”]
While Audrey dedicated her later years to charity, she still maintained that fun was at the heart of what made people happy. Whether it was having manicures, laughing or wearing lipstick there was always an opportunity to find something to be optimistic and happy about and to have fun whilst doing it. Perhaps it’s that boring office report you have to write that can be made more tolerable with an upbeat soundtrack in the background. Perhaps it’s finding that you love to volunteer your time with children and sharing your talent for painting. Perhaps it’s figuring out that when you love to do and pursuing it so everyday can be fun.
[Tweet “”I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and… I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn “]
In honour of this month’s Luxspiration of Audrey Hepburn, I called up a local volunteer agency and volunteered some of my time to help children in the classrooms learn about the things I can help with based on my professional career. I just hope that finding my bliss will make me as luminescent as Audrey was as she aged.