Welcome back to Refreshing Recitation – your weekly invitation to meditate on the inspiriting work of a brave sister living and giving from her place of Divine gifting. This week’s featured artist is a personal favorite. For as long as I can recall, Audrey Hepburn has served as my standard for beauty, poise, and grace. Her quote below encapsulates the spirit of her charm and wit.
“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, THE WORD ITSELF SAYS ‘I’M POSSIBLE’!”
Audrey Hepburn lived an extraordinary life, though not without heart ache and grief. She lived through World War II and was largely influenced by the horrors she witnessed during that time.
I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon.
The traumas of wartime were amplified with her parents’ divorce. In 1935, her father left the family to lend his full support to the Fascist movement. Audrey was six years old at the time. She later described the incident as the most traumatic of her life.
In 1939, Audrey’s mother moved the family to Arnhem in the Netherlands, where she thought it would be safe from Nazi invasion. However, in 1940, the Netherlands fell to Nazi occupation. During the occupation, Audrey often danced to help raise money for the underground movement.
The occupation of Netherlands became increasingly brutal towards the end of the war. The Germans took most of the pitiable rations of the Dutch, leaving many to starve or freeze to death. Shootings against the local population were common. As a young girl, Audrey saw relatives shot in the street by the Germans.
These chilling wartime experiences left a profound mark on Audrey eventually leading her to join efforts with the UNICEF children’s charity. In her own words,
I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.
Audrey had an enduring empathy and sympathy for children victimized by war.
After the war, Audrey went to London where she resumed her ballet practice. Her height and malnutrition prevented her from becoming a really great ballerina, so she sought work as an actress.
It was Audrey’s role alongside Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953), that first established her place in Hollywood’s elite. From there, she was placed with many of the leading men of the time – Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina and Fred Astaire in Funny Face. The film was a box office success gaining her and Academy Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture Drama.
Audrey continued a lustrous course of Hollywood success eventually leading her to her iconic role in Breakfast At Tiffany’s in 1961. The film remains a favorite to this day.
By 1967, Audrey had chosen to devote more time to her family and UNICEF. She served as a special ambassador to UNICEF, actively campaigning to improve conditions for children around the world.
In 1988 she visited an Ethiopian camp for children. Upon seeing the impoverished conditions, she remarked:
I have a broken heart. I feel desperate. I can’t stand the idea that two million people are in imminent danger of starving to death, many of them children, and [sic] not because there isn’t tons of food sitting in the northern port of Shoa.It can’t be distributed. Last spring, Red Cross and UNICEF workers were ordered out of the northern provinces because of two simultaneous civil wars… I went into rebel country and saw mothers and their children who had walked for ten days, even three weeks, looking for food, settling onto the desert floor into makeshift camps where they may die. Horrible. That image is too much for me. The ‘Third World’ is a term I don’t like very much, because we’re all one world. I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering.
She also visited street children in South America and was appalled to see their living conditions. She later reported to Congress how UNICEF had been able to make a difference:
I saw tiny mountain communities, slums, and shantytowns receive water systems for the first time by some miracle – and the miracle is UNICEF. I watched boys build their own schoolhouse with bricks and cement provided by UNICEF.
Audrey was an extraordinary beauty, who lived an extraodinary life because she understood a simple principle, namely – Nothing is impossible!
Like all of us, she experienced adversity. She injested tormenting images of grave injustice from an early age. She could have remained stifled, shackled by fear and insecurity. Instead, she elected to leverage the evils of her past to be a change agent for the future. Today, countless lives owe their very existence to her relentless work and persuasive voice.
You too hold the power to affect countless lives for the better. There is a legacy hidden within you, a treasure meant to enrich the entire world. Effortlessly unleash your gift by choosing to live true to who and what you are.
Well-Heeled Mommy exists to see women set free to be their truest selves, to live out their destiny. We believe that every woman possesses a unique gift and calling intended to enrich the world. Similar to our fingerprints, the intended impact of each and every woman is unlike any other. When a woman encounters the freedom to live profitably, while also living authentically, the entire world benefits.