I’ve been reading a great book called Thrive by inspirational Arianna Huffington (co- founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post). In her latest bestseller, Huffington encourages readers to redefine their own notion and measures of success, so they’re not limited to being wealthy and powerful. For her, and an increasing number of people including some of the world’s most influential corporate leaders and popular personalities, real and sustainable success incorporates life balance, self-care and care of others.
With the benefit of maturity and after experiencing a few health challenges, Arianna is wholeheartedly embracing this ‘new’ definition of success that her late mother had taught her long ago. (“For my mother, Elli, who embodied wisdom, wonder and giving, and made writing this book a homecoming,” she writes as a dedication at the start of the book). I can totally relate to Huffington: like her, I am incredibly grateful to my mother for teaching me so many good things about life in general and self-care (including skincare) in particular. The wisdom and inspiration I have gained from watching and listening to Maman has been priceless. I am happy and honoured to share her wisdom with you too.
- Always take control of your health
My mother taught me that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to the health of your mind, body and skin. Like Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine did almost 2,500 years ago, Maman has always advocated the concept of ‘food as medicine’. She follows a diet rich in plant foods – known to help alkalinise the body and prevent excessive acidity that contributes to inflammation and skin ageing. True to her wellness principles, Mum fed her own family a healthy diet where colourful fruits and vegetables always took centre-stage. But with moderation and enjoyment also being her mottos, we were allowed the occasional and highly pleasurable culinary (and highly acid-forming) treats in the form of a bowl of ravioli and cheese (a childhood favourite of my brother and me!), traditional home-baked Sunday ‘gâteau’ (cake) or the odd glass of celebratory Champagne.
- Be self-disciplined
From Mum, I have also learnt to appreciate the benefits of being self-disciplined and incorporating a series of non-negotiable, life-enhancing habits into daily life. Now aged 86, Maman still takes great pride in her appearance. Indeed, she dresses impeccably every day; religiously cleanses and moisturises her skin twice a day; and masks and exfoliates her skin weekly. And, being Mum, she still applies the same rigour to keeping fit by going on a daily bush walk with Papa come rain, hail or shine – and it does rain a lot in the north of France where they live! My parents’ walking distance may be shorter and their pace slower now, but this daily habit gives them the added benefit of being connected to nature and sharing a common passion. These are the kind of self-care rituals that make one remain healthy, happy and youthful looking, but they do require self-discipline.
- Always go for quality
My mother instilled in me discernment for quality in everything. She never settles for second best. For example, at the market or supermarket, Maman will always favour foods that are the freshest, healthiest and most natural (in the 1970s, long before it became fashionable to do so, she was already rebelling against the use of food additives!). Quality is also a must-have criteria when choosing her own skincare: Mum always goes for high purity ingredients and highly performing formulations which she usually finds at her local salon de beauté (beauty salon) or pharmacie (chemist). But, of course, in order to appreciate quality, she knows that one must always keep a critical mind to be able to separate genuine facts from marketing hype: this is called making an informed decision.
- Always value kindness and what truly matters
My parents totally embody kindness: they are both caring and loving people who choose to see the best in people. In fact, Mum and Dad have made universal love their own fountain of youth. It truly shows on their faces (have a look at this recent picture of the two of them below – not bad for a couple in their mid-eighties!). It is the love that they have for each other, their children (lucky us!), immediate neighbours, local community and people in general that keeps them genuinely happy and young. Growing up, Maman always used to tell me to show kindness and empathy to others, and to never to get caught up in the materialistic aspects of life. “Make time for what truly matters in life, always be genuine and follow your heart,” she would regularly repeat. In hindsight, I now know that these are the best skin-friendly life lessons one could ever get. Merci Maman!
What skin-friendly wisdom did you learn from your own mother? I would love to here. Please share.