I surround myself with people who live a life I admire and who lead by example. Enter Christy Turlington Burns.
Christy Turlington Burns is my fellow Positively Positive contributor. What blows me away the most about Christy is not her external beauty, as you would assume. That’s a given. It is her mind-blowing internal beauty that humbles me and makes me want to be a better person. She has grace and kindness like no one else I know.
Her dedication to seva, to giving back, and to her family, is a divine source of inspiration and love for me. I wanted to share her with you not just because she is a yogi, but because of the incredible work she is doing. She has created a foundation called Every Mother Counts.
Recently, Christy completed a documentary film, No Woman, No Cry. From her Every Mother Counts website she says, “I hope that by bringing people together through the universal experience of birth, we can help create a mainstream maternal health movement that ensures the lives and well-being of mothers worldwide, for generations to come.”
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTY TURLINGTON BURNS
Jennifer Pastiloff (JP): What are you the most proud to have manifested in your life?
Christy Turlington Burns (CTB): My family.
JP: What was the most challenging aspect of making your film “No Woman, No Cry?” The most inspiring? Where can we see the film?
CTB: “No Woman, No Cry” is a feature-length film. I decided to make this film after visiting an inspiring maternal health partnership in Peru in 2007, where they brought down maternal death to half in five years using low-cost solutions in low-resource settings. Once I saw how they were able to do this, I knew it was possible to make a bigger impact in other parts of the world. My film is the result of a personal journey which started after I delivered my daughter Grace and experienced a childbirth-related complication that often leads to death. The movie premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 and made its television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network last Mother’s Day. It was just released on DVD on December 6th.
JP: I am fascinated by your commitment to maternal health. How was Every Mother Counts Manifested into being? What was it that said to you “This is what I must do. This is my calling.” How was EMC born?
CTB: As we were finalizing the documentary, it became clear that we needed a place to direct audiences who felt inspired to want to engage on this issue. Every Mother Counts is a global advocacy and mobilization campaign to educate and support maternal mortality reduction. We wanted to build a community and provide resources to people who wanted to take action on behalf of moms around the world.
JP: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?
CTB: My children are my greatest teachers. I learn from them daily. My daughter often reminds me that I only HAVE to do something when I really WANT to.
JP: We all know that you are a yogi. What I love most about you is that you are not simply “doing” yoga on the mat but you are a LIVING example of what yoga is—of seva, of giving back. You are BEING yoga rather than doing yoga. I know that you truly live your yoga daily, but do you still practice yoga regularly on the mat?
CTB: I practice asanas a few times a week these days. But I practice seva every day.
JP: My father died when I was eight and he was thirty-eight. He smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. It devastated me. I was very moved by your passion to help the cessation of smoking after your father’s death, and by your obvious closeness to him. If he was sitting here with us now, what would say to him?
CTB: I lost my dad almost fifteen years ago now. He never met my husband or my children so I’d probably start with an introduction. There is so much I’d want to share with my dad, though I do share everything with him always.
JP: My nephew has a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome, for which I am doing my very best to raise awareness and funds for research. I know the more successful I get, the easier it will be for me to spread my message and to give back. I was able to get a sound-bite about Prader Willi Syndrome in The Good Morning America segment I just filmed, which thrilled me to no end (airing 12/26). It seems that you use your celebrity in such a profoundly positive way. You get messages out there that wouldn’t normally get out there. If there was one message you could convey to the world right now, what would it be?
CTB: The trouble is there are just so many issues and messages. The world is a very crowded place, figuratively AND literally. I wish there were a way for every cause to get equal attention, but that doesn’t seem likely. All I know is that sharing an experience can be a powerful way to connect with other human beings, and by practicing mindfulness and compassion we can make this world a place we’d choose to live in again.
JP: I have a list of rules. A few of them are:
“You must sing. Out loud. Even if badly.”
“Have a sense of humor—especially when it comes to yourself.”
“Forgive yourself for not being perfect, no such thing.”
“Find things to be in awe of.”
What would some of Christy’s rules be?
JP: Who are you most inspired by?
CTB: I am endlessly inspired by all of the women I meet when I travel around the world for my advocacy work.
JP: I make a practice out of being endlessly grateful. In fact, many of my yoga classes are taught to this theme. Who would you like to say “thank you” to right now?
CTB: Thank you, Jennifer for shining your light on mine.
JP: What can we do to get involved with Every Mother Counts?
CTB: Visit everymothercounts.org and share it with your loved ones. If you have a voice you must use it, because millions of girls and women around the world do not have that power. You and I do.
JP: Thank you Christy and mothers everywhere. I bow to you.
You can get the amazing film, No Woman, No Cry on DVD here.
Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America. She is a yoga teacher, writer, and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga® and leads retreats and workshops all over the world. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular daily blog called Manifestation Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.