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Audrey Hepburn: Just Do Your Thing

We could all learn a lot about how to navigate life from the tasteful and classy lips of Audrey Hepburn. She once remarked, For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.

Audrey Hepburn had that je ne sais quoi that is still very much relevant and important today; her legacy is for all ages to treasure.
Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo is a beautiful book to introduce to children so they can learn to know and appreciate the generous and kind spirit and character that was the resonating soul of Audrey Hepburn. I had the pleasure of meeting Manolo Blahnik last year and I remember him saying how sad he was that more young people don’t know who Audrey Hepburn was. Cardillo is changing that.

The theme throughout Cardillo’s Just Being Audrey is what Audrey’s baroness mother taught her from early on, to be kind above all. This is such an important message for children as they struggle with bullies throughout their school career. I cannot think of a better message for a child than to be kind to others and be happy with who they are. Like Audrey used to say, I just do my thing. Even adults can benefit from this message.
Audrey said, If I'm honest, I have to tell you I still read fairy tales, and I like those best of all 

I love that she kept a bit of “little girl” in her as she grew older. Another treasure she made besides her many movies was an audio theatre called Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales.  I have the CD in my car and my children and I love to listen to her read fairy tales like: The Sleeping Princess, Tom Thumb, Laideronette, Empress of the Pagodas, and Beauty and the Beast. Listening to her read I can watch my children drifting into the stories being hypnotized by her voice, they use their imagination to paint pictures in their heads. It is magical!

Audrey Hepburn has always been an important idol for me, since I was an early teen watching her movies. I still want to be like Audrey, from her style, work ethic, but most of all her kind heart. 
I remember watching her movies over and over again (I still do). I think I mentally recreated the scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s when she sang Moon River countless times. She loved culture and knew five languages. She had aspirations of being a ballerina, and a zest for life, a joie de vivre that you could see in her twinkling eyes.
I have always believed that culture is a gift that helps one appreciate and love life to the fullest. There are very few people in this world who have that radiant sparkle that is generated simply by being so extremely beautiful on the inside. Audrey was just that, a true beauty that radiated from the inside out and she lead life with her kind heart.
Audrey is the perfect idol for women of all ages because she was so kind, had good values, integrity, gratitude... She is the kind of woman you want your daughter to have as a role-model. Audrey developed her own style rather than copying someone else’s. Her physical shape was not a typical body type and she accepted hers, creating a truly unique and elegant style by going with what she had and not changing herself to fit another mold. It is very important for young girls to learn to be comfortable with their own bodies.
Audrey was slender, childlike, elegant, charming, and the most eloquent speaker. I love listening to her lovely European accent.  I could listen to her recite poetry all day like she did in Roman Holiday with Keats: Arethusa rose from her couch of snows in the Acroceraunian mountains.
She was born near Brussels on May 4, 1929 and originally named Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston by a Dutch aristocratic baroness mother and an English father.
Educated in London, she began her ballet training at the age of five. During World War II, she and her mother were caught by the Nazis in Holland. Audrey’s family endured much hardship during the occupation; I read she ate tulip bulbs when they ran out of food.
After the war she continued dancing and began to act and model. This lead to her being noticed by the author Colette who placed her in Gigi; from there her acting career took off. She was also noticed by Hubert de Givenchy and became his muse.
She was very much like Cinderella; even the roles she took had a fairy tale charm…Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s each show a magical transformation. In living her life she made the same sort of transformations. Audrey worked hard to make her life better; then when life got better, she wanted to make it better for others.
Hepburn was in dozens of films throughout her life, winning an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Tony, a Grammy, and an Emmy. She was one of the most celebrated actresses ever. Acting was not her only calling; she was a natural mother. It is completely evident in the photos of Audrey hugging her babies. She had so much love to give to her two sons Sean and Luca. 
Audrey loved children and very much wanted to give all of herself to help them. Having survived the war, she knew all too well the feeling of hunger. Using her celebrity status she raised awareness and worked with UNICEF, traveling to Africa and Latin America. She said, I just decided to do as much as possible in the time that I’m still up to it.
As I reflect on Audrey I enjoy thinking of Lauren Bush using her celebrity status to FEED  children like Audrey.
Through all that she experienced and saw, Audrey never became bitter. She kept her warmth and childlike charm, and her heart continued to grow.
My favorite Audrey Hepburn quote and words to live by: I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
Illustrations by Julia Denos

A Serendipitous Summer

Serendipity has always been one of my favorite words.  It makes me think of Sri Lanka because Serendip was the former name for Sri Lanka. It came from English author Horace Walpole, who formed it upon the title of the fairy-tale The Three Princes of Serendip.  As the Princes traveled they were always discovering some of life’s unexpected pleasantries and good fortune by accident.
French scientist Louis Pasteur said, In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.  Our minds must be open to finding serendipity. I think it was serendipity that American physicist, Joseph Henry, read Pasteur’s quote because he then said, The seeds of great discoveries are constantly floating around us, but they only take root in minds well prepared to receive them.
The meaning of this delightful word is: unexpected discovery and extremely pleasant surprises.
Imagine the sounds of summer: ceiling fans, ice cream trucks, waves at the beach, splashes at the pool, sizzle of the grill, the ding of a bicycle bell, the music of cicadas…What would happened if you followed or searched for these sounds? You might find your own serendipity. Summer is the perfect time to search for unexpected treasures because there is more time to wonder. The days are longer, there is more of a relaxed state of mind and a slower pace to explore.
If you are ready for something good just around the corner, chances are you will find it! As a middle of the road personality (half type-A/half free-spirited) I think this makes me a good traveler because I have a plan but sometimes the plan is to have no plan! You know the saying, All roads lead to Rome? To me it just means, even if you’re bad at directions (which I am), you will still find where it is you’re meant to be.
The best example of serendipity I have happens to be in Rome! My husband Derek and I realized we left our camera in the car at the airport on the way to Rome. We were both so bummed out! Our first night in Rome, we took a walk not knowing where we were going, had an amazing meal and on the walk back to the hotel in a random corner of the street where no one was around was a photo booth. It’s one of our favorite memories because it was one-hundred percent serendipity!
I don’t think you can plan real serendipity but its fun to imagine what you might find. If you’ve ever been geocaching (an outside game of searching for hidden objects using a GPS), this is similar (exept you know you’re looking for something). Geocaching can be a bit serendipitous because you are seeking to discover something that remains a mystery until you’re at the correct coordinates and unbury the treasure.
Two people meeting by chance after a long time in an unusual place could be serendipitous. Have you ever run into someone you know on a vacation? That’s serendipity!
Sometimes you have those days when your light inside is shining brighter than usual and there is a certain energy that attracts others to you, kind of like magnetism; either you have that energy or you don’t!
When you look at a bride, her light is definitely on; a bride has that radiance and energy that draws you near her.  
I believe serendipity leads to more serendipity.  I took my children to an unplanned trip to my favorite grocery store this past week, Central Market (a place filled with the most unique and delicious foods), where we were just browsing and looking to see what appealed to us. Sometimes those are the best shopping trips, when you don’t have a list and you just shop with your senses. I wasn’t sure what we would make with our random items but that’s when my friend Margot came in helpful. I showed her my ingredients and the light inside her turned on bright; in her kitchen she created serendipity!
I think if you are too busy and wrapped up; you might not find your serendipity. Part of the magic is being open-minded and allowing yourself to wonder.
Hopefully, we can all remain ready, willing and able to enjoy serendipitous eureka moments. Good luck finding yours! Like a sailor, set out in good faith and find your summer serendipity.
Photo: Pino's painting titled, Serendipity.

Achieve MORE with a Personal Trainer

Why should you have a personal trainer? Can you imagine a football team getting ready for a season without a coach? Think about having a baby without someone telling you how to breathe. People need real live words of encouragement to do (like Jim Morrison sang) “Break on through to the other side!
What can a personal trainer do for you? The main thing a trainer can do is improve your fitness by designing a safe program to motivate YOUR fitness goals. Having a trainer can reduce injury while you achieve goals like: strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, and balance. These are attainable goals and will be accomplishments that WILL make your life longer, healthier and happier.
Motivation is such an important part of any exercise and having someone to make you stick with your exercise program, get you over a plateau, keep you interested, and push you more… You can achieve more with someone over your shoulder telling you to get it done. When someone shows you the correct way to position your body, your life does change for the better because your body does too.
As a Pilates teacher I want to be challenged just as much as my clients' do. I think sometimes, it’s easier if you have a standing appointment in your schedule and a commitment to meet someone that you will actually follow through. What’s nice is that for one hour YOU are the center of the universe and the best part is that your trainer becomes your friend who cares about you.

That feeling you get when you’ve accomplished a workout is like a little happy place. How can you not want to follow up on that? I never regret a workout but I always regret missing out on a window when I could have.
My husband Derek is a cyclist and he wants to up the ante by practicing with a trainer. Derek’s excited to be pushed to new thresholds of endurance and power in his cycling when he meets with his new trainer.  Even the anticipation creates that “happy little buzz!”
Think of a personal trainer as investing in therapy for your body. For me, Pilates is an alternative kind of therapy which helps me maintain my mental and physical well-being while keeping a sound mind and body. For me, Pilates is a way of life and can be a helpful with anything I do (even everyday tasks like driving my car and washing my face).
Good trainers practice what they preach and personally practice the techniques they are teaching and while gaining continuing education credits to learn and improve techniques.  Pilates trainer Veronica Combs from Telos Fitness says she will go take classes for her own Pilates practice in addition to working herself out because, “You always need someone’s eyes on you!” My friend Pamela and I recently trained with Veronica and we look forward to going together again, sometimes you just need a friend's push to make sure you get in your workout.
Just as children are more likely to read if they see you reading, the same is true for exercise, no matter the sport, an active body is a happy body! With children’s obesity on the rise, who wouldn’t want to be a better role-model for their child? Finding a way to exercise together is the ultimate!
Having a trainer as opposed to a book or DVD is far better because your trainer can show you how to correctly position yourself in each and every movement you make and fix you if you are doing something wrong. Interactive feedback is so important!
A personal instructor can physically help you achieve your goals and push you when you need a boost when doing difficult movements. Being committed means making an effort and an investment in your health; the best option is working with a personal instructor.
Patience and Persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor." ~Joseph Pilates
Places I find inspiration:

Rosemary Beach: a watercolor of a vacation

Ahh…summertime at Rosemary Beach, Florida and the living is easy. The lazy hazy turquoise sky days are a watercolor of a vacation at the emerald coast. Imagine unforgettable sunsets, children’s laughter, gentle surf, snowy white sandy beaches and you’re at Rosemary Beach. It is a special place where the pleasant and ever-present breeze creates a calming effect that totally relaxes the body and mind. The only thing to think about is what to eat for dinner.
Unlike other beaches, once you arrive at Rosemary and park your car, you won’t need to get back into it until it’s time to go home. Rosemary Beach has that leisurely feel that eases you into a real staycation because once you arrive; leaving is not something anyone wants to contemplate.
Vacationers can walk everywhere and do anything they please because everything is at your fingertips: shopping, swimming, Pilates, yoga, tennis, biking, the spa, restaurants, bocce ball, Frisbee, or croquet… There are so many choices; you might not be able to check off everything on your list in one week (especially if you become a regular at a favorite spot). All the more reason to return!
My family definitely became regulars at the Sugar Shak, having ice cream once (sometimes twice) a day. Everyone’s favorite flavor is right there at what seems like everyone’s favorite place…I mean really, don’t you just want to be at a place called “The Sugar Shak?” The beauty of a vacation is that you can always choose to do as much or as little as you like and Rosemary Beach is the perfect place where whatever you choose will be perfect.

Going to the beach should be about finding peace and here, time does slow down. You won’t see anyone at Rosemary Beach wearing a watch because the bell tower in the town square rings on the hour and what more do you need? In the town square you will also find a post office, gallery, shops, and restaurants that complete the community package.
Gallivanting by foot or bike is the preferred transportation, especially because everything is within five minutes walking distance. Rosemary has all the amenities of home including yards for the children to play in and porches for your morning coffee.
It’s fun to explore the many boardwalks right outside your door; you can get lost to be found in this intimate paradise. Rosemary has employed the concept of New Urbanism in which the sense of community breaks down fears and encourages friendliness.

Rosemary Beach is a tranquil watercolor storybook town that was established in 1995. Rosemary isn’t crowded or pretentious; it has an ease and familiarity that all ages will appreciate. Rosemary’s sense of community makes the vacationer feel safe and comfortable; it is livable with a small town atmosphere. The architecture is soft, warm, and timeless; a perfect fit for the stunning coastal landscape.
A relaxed atmosphere of the old Caribbean (think the West Indies) but also Charleston and Italy. Every cottage, carriage house, loft, and building is uniquely custom designed (there are more than 600 homes). Even the colors are calming with the earthy Tuscan palettes of chocolate, cream, and terra cottas on the architecture that compliment the emerald coast. The cobblestone on winding narrow roads gives Rosemary that European-like feel.
You will see a lot of Rosemary here because it grows wild in the area, even the shampoo products provided are Aveda Rosemary Mint.
Rosemary is a restaurateur’s paradise in which you can choose a different cuisine every night and the whole family will be happy.  
The whole experience is so much like the Don McLean song, American Pie. There’s no doubt in my mind that if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were really to catch the last train for the coast, in order to stay true to that song, the train would head straight for Rosemary Beach.
Rosemary’s Good Eats
Cowgirl Kitchen: reminds me of Texas. It has a Southwestern-style casual feel and my favorite, gourmet pizzas.
Onano: named after the Italian town where the owner’s (Mark) grandmother was born, transports you to Tuscany through food.
The Summer Kitchen Café: a casual breakfast and lunch hangout with sandwiches, burgers, and American desserts.
Restaurant Paradis: a small inviting restaurant that serves fresh Gulf seafood along with steaks and fine wines.
Wild Olives: a market for quick bites and fantastic wine selections.
Courtyard Wine and Cheese: stop in the wine bar then enjoy some old world artisan cheese.
La Crema Tapas & Chocolate: a cozy courtyard invites you to enjoy a bit of Spain. I love that they even a child’s tapas menu.
Dog Man Du: my children’s favorite lunch time place to accompany a stroll to the beach. They would eat their Dog Man Du hot dogs in the little red Radio Flyer wagon that I pulled them in and be happy as clams.
Something sweet: Sugar Shak &,  (the newly opened) Sugga Pies: both have an old-fashioned ambiance where the customers are always happy to find the open sign. These two are sweet places for the young and the young at heart.
Shopping in Rosemary
The Hidden Lantern Bookstore: This is not your average book store! Loaded with personality and thoughtfulness, The Hidden Lantern provides books and events that inspire a love for the written word.
My most favorite store in the world is Pish Posh Patchouli’s where you can design your signature scent at the custom scent bar; then select soaps, lotions, perfumes galore.
Fitz and Emme: the newest children’s boutique feels like you could be shopping in a quaint European shop.
Gigi’s Fabulous Kids’ Fashions & Toys: Offers the CUTEST European-style clothing and accessories for children. Gigi’s celebrates your child’s individual style.
Trading Company: You can’t leave without stopping by here! Get souviners that you will accually use!
Tracery: You can find everything you were looking for but haven’t found yet here in this interior design and furnishing shop.
Once you come to Rosemary, you will want to return year after year.