I Lived My Life By Gisele Bundchen's New Book 'Lessons' And This Is How It Went
How could it go wrong? So, so easily.
Elle Macpherson famously once said*, "I never read a book unless I've written it myself."
*she may not have actually said it but she WAS quoted as saying it and it's, you know, a rule to live by...
So is that the reason fellow-supermodel Gisele Bundchen has now written a self help book / autobiography, called Lessons: My Path To A Meaningful Life?
No matter -- when one of the world's best and most famous supermodels -- now an environmental crusader -- writes a tome filled with tips on how to live, I want to read it / cry into its glossy pages / take a long hard look at my life. Surely if Gisele has something to tell us, we should listen.
And not only listen -- I'm going to live by her book for a week, reading each chapter and practicing her "lessons".
This should be fun.
"Sounds exhausting!" says a colleague, as I read a passage about how Gisele starts the day exercising while listening to a YouTube video about Ancient Greece.
That's in the first chapter -- entitled It All Starts With Discipline -- which, let's face it, doesn't bode well. Gisele listens to Ancient Greek history while exercising because... it's something she's interested in. I listen to My Dad Wrote A Porno. Snap.
Giselle goes on to talk about her work ethic and says that when she was working as a model she showed up "every morning on time."
I, too, show up.
There's a lot more in here involving her daily routine -- which is super efficiently organised within in an inch of its perfectly ordered life. In a nutshell it includes: exercise, meditation, water, oil-pulling, sun gazing, working in her home office sanctuary, eating soup, cleaning the kitchen counter because she can only live in harmony, listening to that podcast about Greece and talking to husband Tom over a chamomile tea. But it is far more disciplined than even that sounds.
I don't have time for all of that. I barely get to wipe the kitchen counter and talk to my husband over an Aldi Christmas Gin and Tonic. This stuff is trying.
Chapter 2. Challenges Are Opportunities In Disguise
And as I am already feeling challenged by this, I'm hoping those opportunities reveal themselves soon.
To be honest, however, I was a little disappointed in this chapter. Although she teaches us her breathing technique (something called pranayama) and tells us about her time dating Leonardo DiCaprio (she doesn't say it's him but she says she dated someone who wasn't right for her and they broke up so, you know, derrr) -- we don't really get a lesson in how to do anything.
We are told she had panic attacks and changed her life with breathing and eating well.
I breathe. I eat.
I read on, and no disrespect to people dealing with anxiety, but -- and this only my topline reading of the situation -- it seems some of her challenges stemmed from being in a small plane going to Costa Rica and how from that moment on it was hard for her to go into five star hotels. I may have missed something.
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Out of desperation I try that breathing technique -- you put a finger to the middle of your forehead and block one nostril while breathing out through the other nostril, then alternate. It's supposed to balance the left and right side of your brain. I don't know if it did. How can you tell? My coworker just sniggers at me. And I think he may have taken a photo.
Chapter 3. The Quality of Your Life Depends on the Quality of Your Relationships
Yes, Gisele. you're right. Life is all about friends and family. And my quality of life may be a bit different if I was married to your husband, if you know what I mean...
Is that creepy? Yes. It is.
Tom, we find out, is the strong silent type -- and he's so disciplined he won't eat a cookie, whereas Gisele will. Gisele says "I like to believe that Tom's stability and steadiness gave me the space and freedom I need to fly," but to be honest, I'm still worried about him not eating cookies.
Meditation helps Gisele through life, and to show how much it helps her she tells us a cautionary tale about suddenly panicking in the middle of her meditation about not cutting up her son's grapes before he goes to school.
Luckily no one got hurt and the meditation continued.
Gisele says -- and I think we can all learn from this -- "Meditation helps me to stay calm and clear, even when it involves grapes."
She's actually pretty family-oriented, old Gisele, which is very sweet, and she talks a lot in this chapter about being close to her sisters -- of which there are five. She credits them with bringing stability to her life as well as knowing her better than anyone.
I feel I should make more effort, so I call my brother and ask him -- to test just how well he knows me -- what my nickname was at school. He can't remember and then immediately says he has to go.
Much of the rest of the chapter is given over to her dog, Vida, who she had for years when she was a model, but who passed away in her arms a few years ago.
It's really touching how much she loved that little dog. I clutch my cat Floyd tightly and snottily sob into his fur until he makes a run for it.
Chapter 4. Our Thoughts And Words Are Powerful -- Use Them Wisely.
A lesson indeed for someone who makes her living out of, well thoughts and words. And given that I've never used them wisely, it pretty much rules out this entire article.
But Gisele has a point -- having been teased for being tall and skinny at school she's making sure her kids are strong enough to deal with -- not only grapes -- but whatever else gets slung at them. She is a loving and present mother, if a little, well, organised, for me. She also tells how she and Tom never really fight -- possibly because he doesn't speak -- and how she writes her angry thoughts down on paper to help sort them out. All good advice. Her can-do, make-it-work attitude is kinda contagious.
Buuuuuuut... I go home and the builders have left a mess on my balcony. I take it out on my husband without even lifting pen to paper. Have I learnt NOTHING from this chapter?
Chapter 5. Where Your Attention Goes Is What Grows.
What do you do on New Year's Eve? I normally get steaming drunk, have to take my shoes off pretty early and usually end up walking home in a mood.
Gisele? She writes lists of things she has achieved during the year and things she wants to improve on. She then meditates on those two lists. Sitting in silence. For an hour. Party on.
She's SO organised, this gal, it's frightening. But she makes a good point. If you put your attention into good things then good things should happen to you. I think that's what she means.
She put all her efforts into becoming a super model.
I chose not to go down that path.
I've been complaining that I'm not making the most of my life so I put some attention into pitching some stories, clean off my laptop and chase up invoices. In bed. For an hour. With wine. Almost, Gisele, almost.
Chapter 6. Nature: Our Greatest Teacher
Nature is a big deal for Gisele. She can't get enough of it. And you know, good for her -- nature is pretty great.
She loves trees -- hey, same gurlll! She is a big fan of the ocean -- who doesn't love a dip? And she really puts her money where her mouth is, too -- she's now an award-winning environmental activist. You can't fault her on that.
She thanks nature every day. Like really literally thanks it.
And when she eats a salad she thanks it.
Yes you read that right.
Now. I love nature -- I love nothing more than walking in the park, I love birds. And I, too, love salad.
I buy some Vietnamese rolls and say a little word to them at my desk. Then I eat them. I think it goes well for us all.
Aside from the talking to the food, it's my favourite chapter so far. She just loves nature, she wants to save the planet. It makes sense.
Chapter 7. Take Care Of Your Body So It Can Take Care of You
"By now," says Gisele, halfway through listing all her food rules / diet exclusions / milk choices / chef's names / desserts made from avocado / Tom's gluten free pancakes (not a euphemism), "you probably realise I'm not too strict."
*Chokes on a handful of almonds toasted with herbs, a favourite snack of Gisele's.*
Just kidding. I was eating a Snickers. It's all about balance.
Chapter 8. Know Thyself
This chapter begins with a tale about a frog down a well and, try as I might, I can't grasp what's going on. There's then some stuff about male and female energy and I know it would make sense if I could just, well, be bothered. But, Gisele, I seem to have given up, and you don't deserve that. You have a good heart. You're a kind soul. I feel kinda bad about this story now. YOU'RE TOO GOOD FOR US.
Lessons: My Path To A Meaningful Life is out now.
Feature Image: Instagram