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Helen, The 40 Over 40 Women’s Portrait Campaign

Helen, 64

I have been described by my friends and family as…

I never wish to be easily defined.  I have been described as cosmic, mysterious, solo-artist, graceful, and walk through the world in dance.

Some people say I am compassionate, insightful, patient, perseverant, kind, and always with a dash of humour.

I am most proud of…

The capacity for transformation. Transforming straw into gold, and bringing to mind the depths of the human heart, to constantly unfold deeply.

My commitment and path of yoga and Ayurveda, as a daily discipline, and as a template for healing and wholeness, has been ever-evolving closer to the mystery of life, and to the divine feminine.

I feel some sense of accomplishment by having created two yoga ayurvedic retreat centres, one in Hout Bay and one in McGregor. Many people have come through there and have benefited.

My favourite poem…

“You need not leave your room

Remain seated at your table

And listen

You need not even listen

Simply wait

Just be still and quiet and solitary

And the world will freely offer itself to you

Unmasked

It has no choice

It will roll in ecstasy at your feet”

By Frans Kafka

 

What advice would I give my 20-year-old self…

Don’t sweat the small stuff and take it more lightly. To love and appreciate myself more, treating myself like I treated others.

And once my cup is full, it will overflow to those around me.

Not to worry, trust and go with the flow.

We all experience many lifetimes in this one life. What did you find were the most poignant changes as you entered your 40’s?

The older I get, the better life becomes. One learns to sift the BS and to create better boundaries. There is a profound relationship between the inner and outer mirroring of places, like homes that I’ve lived in, and life phases.  The homes and life phases seem to go together.  There are specific homes that have been linked with my primary relationships.

For example, I lived on a large rural property in Hout Bay and that was all about my husband, my family, raising children, school…etc. Very social and very active. I created a yoga center there too, and a very beautiful shrine called the beehive shrine. The next phase was country small village life in McGregor….- a time of much healing.

Back to Cape Town, to my grandchild, my friends, my family, myself, and flourishing. The homes get smaller and smaller and inside it gets bigger and bigger.

Thoughts on aging…

Maturing is like a good wine. Keeping my body healthy, my mind steady and clear, and my heart soft and open. So a combination of all.

Age is like shedding one’s skin;  year by year one gets closer to oneself.

Future dreams and goals…

It’s my heartfelt wish to continue having the opportunity to deepen my journey in Ayurveda, Buddhism, and yoga.

The ancient traditions which have so profoundly mapped out what it means to live a really good and worthwhile human life. And continue facilitating others along their healing journey.

A story about myself I’d like to share…

In my experience, one has to dig deep into the coal mines to mine the gold nuggets. It takes a lot of pain, internal hard work, the capacity to bear suffering in order to mature.

Otherwise, one remains stuck in some samsaric patterns and life can be wasted repeating the same grooves.

Like a lotus flower with its roots in the mud, it needs the dark messy, mushy stuff in order to flower, in order to move upward, and open and flower.

When Helen and I had our first chat over the phone, in the leadup to the campaign we spoke about being photographed.

Helen said that being photographed was about ‘not hiding, but having a mirror of yourself…and looking at yourself…and really seeing yourself.

And that the photographer, is ‘the eyes, seeing into one’s soul and vulnerabilities.’

At the end of her session, I asked her, “How did you feel when you arrived at my studio?”

Helen replied “Everything felt so easeful, so natural,  so welcoming. And it’s been the most beautiful experience and journey. It’s been a complete pleasure and delight, and completely chilled”. 

At the photo reveal session (this is when a client comes back to my studio to view a slideshow of their portraits), we chatted about the experience. Helen said something quite profound:

I’ve realised that the photo is the experience. It becomes the experience.

And it then, in some way, defines your life.

Being photographed, and seeing the photos, has been a bridge for me to step into myself and my power.”

Hair and Makeup by the lovely Delaney

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