I Read Gisele's Book And It Is As Beautiful As She Is
"In such a dark time of her life, despite being the top model at the time, she transformed her life. Our darkest moments teach us the most. Gisele is living proof of that."
Gisele Bundchen by Irivng Penn for Vogue
I recently read Gisele Bunchen's book Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. As a woman with such success in her career and personal life, Gisele is someone I've admired for a long time. Her photographs throughout the years are some of my all time favorites. The name "The Girl Habit" was originally inspired for my Tumblr account, a place where I collaged endless mesmerizing fashion photographs. The women in the photographs represented the confident and fearless woman I wanted to become.
Reading about Gisele's journey was inspiring. She grew up in the small town of Horizontina in southern Brazil with five sisters, one was which was her twin. Her childhood sounded beautiful and filled with love. She loved going to her grandmothers farm and was a good student. All the sisters did chores around the house and on Sunday's they would sit with their father as he played the guitar and they sang.
Gisele was more of an introvert in school, compared to her twin Pati. She admired Pati for how social she was. Gisele liked to climb trees and spend time on her own. She prayed at night to God, to her star and guardian angels. At a young age she was fascinated with metaphysics and spirituality. She grew up Roman Catholic and often challenged the status quo. Gisele was a young girl with great spirit.
Her discipline started at a young age with her school work and playing volleyball which spilled into modeling. Gisele was discovered by Elite in São Paulo at fourteen which quickly lead to her life changing journey. The following are the lessons I took from Gisele.
ALWAYS LISTEN TO THAT LITTLE VOICE
When Gisele first moved to São Paulo, her father gave her enough money to take a taxi from the train station to get to her new model apartment. This was the first time she was away from her family and she wanted to make them proud. She said she wasn't going to come back "empty handed." She was determined to succeed. When she got to the station, she looked around and saw more people than she's ever seen all dressed in nicer clothes than hers. She thought to herself, "Why don't I take the train instead of a taxi to the model apartment and with the money I save I can buy myself some new clothes." Gisele only had some ill fitting jeans and a couple t-shirts. She thought "I can't go to my castings dressed in my clothes." The voice inside told her to do as her father had instructed but she thought her idea was clever. She made the journey to the station nearest to her model apartment, asking for directions and switching different trains. She was proud she made it. Upon her arrival, she looked for her wallet and it was no where to be found. Her money was no where to be found. Someone must have stolen it out of her backpack along the way. She cried and was defeated and disappointed. This was her first lesson to listen to the little voice inside.
HARD WORK IS THE ONLY WAY
In school, Gisele practiced discipline and dedication when it came to her studies. For her modeling was no different. She was determined to learn the craft of modeling and because she felt she wasn't the prettiest compared to others in the industry. Seeing hundreds of beautiful young women all around her, Gisele felt she had to work that much harder. She was never late. Always eager and full of energy. She learned her angles, about lighting, the positioning of the camera and what made her look shorter or taller, the makeup that highlighted her features best, and that movement in front of the lens would be her signature. Studying your craft vigorously and professionality is an important component to anything you do. Whether Gisele became who she is today or had minor success is not significant. Her work ethic is what is significant. Because you will always succeed in one way or the other when you focus and work hard.
FURRY FRIENDS CAN BE YOUR BEST SUPPORT
Living alone in New York City, Gisele walked by a pet shelter and saw a little dog in the window. She played in the store with her for hours on the floor, losing track of time. She bought the dog with no hesitation, knowing the model apartment didn't allow animals. She named her Vida, meaning Life in Portuguese. Gisele brought Vida everywhere with her and Vida protected her. Vida was her companion and she says without her, she wouldn't of had the success she has. Animals can be healing with their unconditional love. In times of rejection and stress in Gisele's hectic life, Vida was always there. Vida became her family and her loving support.
YOUR WORK DOESN'T DEFINE YOU
When Gisele was barely eighteen she walked Alexander McQueen's show. One of the biggest designers at the time, this was a huge moment. When it was time to go out in her third look, a tight white skirt, Gisele asked for the top. The response, "There is no top." Gisele felt sick and wanted to run away. The makeup artist then began to paint with white makeup a top. Gisele was wearing a black fringe wig and as her mind was racing, she thought her parents won't recognize her if they see the photos. She didn't want to embarrass them. After all they trusted her judgement. As she was pushed out onto the raining runway, tears streamed down her eyes. The moment became iconic and she exploded into the fashion scene as "The Body." Gisele was the turn of an industry embracing the heroine chic waif look. Gisele was tan and athletic with big boobs. From then on, she looked at the young woman modeling as "her." She disassociated herself from the model and I believe this may have been why she has such success. To be a good model, you have to be a chameleon and willing to transform.
CHALLENGES ARE OPPORTUNITIES
In the height of her modeling career, Gisele started experiencing anxiety, panic attacks and a moment in which she was suicidal. She was working 350 days out of the years. Nonstop traveling, smoking cigarettes, eating unhealthy food and drinking a bottle of wine to fall asleep every night was a recipe for destruction. She started to be come unable to use the elevator and subway. She started to bike everywhere and use the stairs up to her apartment. Gisele called upon a yoga instructor to come to her apartment and teach her meditation. She went on a retreat, quit smoking and stopped using wine as a crutch to fall asleep. She started eating healthy as these changes were her only chance at surviving. When she originally seeked help, her doctor prescribed her medication, but this caused her further anxiety. Thinking what if she lost the pills or ran out. Gisele chose the solution best for her and cut back on work. She needed to start taking care of herself. In such a dark time in her life, despite being the top model at the time, she transformed her life. Our darkest moments teach us the most. Gisele is living proof of that.
RELATIONSHIPS AREN'T EASY
Two months into her relationship with Tom Brady, Tom called Gisele to tell her his ex girlfriend was pregnant. She stood by his side and supported him. She was there for the birth of the boy and considers him her son. Gisele writes about an email she received from Tom while she was in Costa Rica, a place she loves as it is another home to her. The email wasn't the kindest it sounds. Gisele says she has a temper and hand wrote down her response, an advise her father had always given her. She read the pages over and over and eventually burned them. She felt better and relieved. She followed Tom's email saying when he was ready to have a loving and respectful conversation, she was ready. We all make mistakes and say things we don't mean at times. Gisele explains her and her sisters being so close can sometimes do this. It is important to take a step back in the moments we want to react unkindly. Gisele also explains the sacrifices she made to have a family. Calling the time of building her home in Boston and raising her and Tom's children as The Valley in her life. When she was at the height of her career as a model, that was The Peak. Life and relationships in our lives are full of peaks and valleys and it is about embracing and accepting those times both with love.
MEDITATION IS AN IMPORTANT PRACTICE
Gisele has many positive habits. Two I have already begun to follow is drinking lemon water first thing in the morning and swishing coconut oil in my mouth for ten minutes. Both are beneficial for the digestive and immune system. Gisele meditates every morning She takes some time to herself, even if it is with her kids and they look out the window for a few minutes, she calms he mind and breathes. The stilling of her mind creates space for ideas and bringing to fruition, her hopes. She also loves yoga and practiced kung fu for many many years. Her continuous discipline in life comes in her practice of self care as well.
WE ARE ALL CONNECTED TO THE EARTH
Gisele's love of the earth started at a young age in Brazil. She climbed trees and spent lots of time on her grandmothers farm. She explains a humans similarity to a tree and the way a tree grows and stages they go through, throughout the seasons. She is the Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations and has restored the river in her home town. She grows a garden in her backyard and eats according to the season, but all fruits and vegetables from her local farmers market. She has tried twice to stop eating meat but has become anemic every time. She eats meat occasionally. Gisele loves the ocean and to surf. Before she enters the water she always takes a moment to ask the ocean to welcome her and to protect her. Everything is living and breathing around us. We belong to the earth. Gisele's life style is a natural choice of hers. She even gave birth to both her children at home in water. Her connection is inspiring. I choose to live with the same connection. Her and Tom had a wedding ceremony in their home in Costa Rica where she was barefoot, surrounded by forty of her most closest relatives and friends. The nuptials took place at sunset in their living room by the ocean. Starting a marriage and new life as pure as the earth.