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How Andie MacDowell Stays Awake and Aware
Few would disagree that actress, model and mom Andie MacDowell has a great life. The star of the new Spiritual Cinema Circle movie club feature film “Tara Road,” she’s starred in more than 22 films including favorites “Green Card,” “Groundhog Day” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” She’s made People magazine’s list of the 50 most beautiful people in the world twice. Yet she’s also very real — a mom who loves simple walks in the woods and is downsizing her movie-star-sized house to help the environment.
We caught up with Andie to ask her about how she stays so healthy, happy and grounded.
Q. In “Tara Road,” two women try to escape the reality of their lives by trading places. How do you escape stress and stay grounded in your real life?
A. Great stress reducers for me are a walk through the woods, being with my horse, and yoga. Yoga has made a big change in my life. It can change your body — make your tummy strong and all your muscles toned. But it has also helped me with old injuries and pains.
When I first began yoga, I hated the last part of class where we meditate. Meditation was difficult for me. I never understood the reason for it. I thought, why would anyone want to sit still for a long time and try not to think? I was a person who would rather run six miles than sit for five minutes. Now I have learned that true bliss can be found through those quiet moments. If I am in a good state, I can reach a place where I feel as if God is holding me. I have transformed into a much calmer, gentler soul who still wants to run, but understands the vast rewards of being still.
What else do you do to stay so healthy and vibrant looking?
Some people think beauty creams that cost a hundred dollars or more must be better. I have used L’Oreal for 20 years. Don’t be fooled. Conserve your money and use the saved cash on healthy foods. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Wear sunscreen. Drink lots of water, and exercise.
What was your moment of spiritual awakening?
There have been so many experiences that have impacted who I am now. One stands out as a time that changed me. On my way to Cape Town to work on “Tara Road,” I had to drive past poverty that was shocking. The town was made of bits and pieces of wood and what amounted to nothing more than trash. There were beautiful little children playing in dirt streets without clothes. When I arrived at my hotel it looked like a dream, Disney picture-perfect. I felt sick.
I shared with one of my fellow actors my desire to hear an all-black church choir sing. So he arranged for it the next Sunday at a church near the poor area I had driven through. The service was one of the strongest, most moving moments of my life. The people had such dignity and pride. Their voices were so powerful. I was so moved by the sound of the voices and the power of these people’s emotions. It was as if someone had turned my eyes into faucets.
I’m thankful that I followed my deep yearning to hear these voices. They changed me, and the way I see life. I will never forget these people.
How is living green part of your formula for living a great life?
It’s important to me. I am actually selling the big house I live in now because it is more than I can justify. My long-term plan is to build a totally green house. I also have a conservation easement on land in Montana, a 2,000-acre piece that will be protected in perpetuity.
I drive a Prius, we eat organic, and we compost and recycle. But what’s really interesting to me is how easy it is for my children to live in ways that will save the earth. My girls are vegetarians because they don’t want to support the degradation caused by raising cattle. Meat has been harder for me to totally give up. I am not a big meat eater, but it is a source of protein that I feel my body needs.
I wish there was a sustainable way for people to have a small amount of meat in their diet. Those of us who grew up spoiled by a culture that wanted to have things easy — we find it difficult. In the end, the adjustments are not hard or a burden. We must change and take responsibility as caretakers of the earth. I include myself in this statement.