Living well inside and out
My faith and values
I was brought up as a Christian and there’s not a stage of my life where it has not been an integral part of who I am. My family have always inspired and encouraged me and I’ve been lucky enough to know some really wonderful Christians in my life, including the impressive Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, who is a family friend. Anyone who has met this remarkable man cannot fail to come away feeling completely enlightened and inspired.
I am also inspired by the young Simon Guillebaud, who does such incredible work caring for the poor and needy in strategic and sustainable ways in Burundi. As someone who occasionally works in Africa, I’m only too aware of the many challenges and hardships he faces, yet he takes it all head-on with extraordinary, fearless tenacity. Simply reading his Twitter feed is a challenge.
I’m very much committed to ‘doing the right thing’ and giving back where I can. These are the values and ethics I was brought up with and they are simply part of my DNA. The Bible teaches, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48) and I take this to heart.
I love working with ingredients from the natural world, which is why I chose to work with botanicals when I co-founded the Liz Earle Beauty Co, back in 1995. It’s not that synthetic, man-made ingredients are no good, it’s just that the natural versions are often so much better! But there’s a big responsibility towards sustainable sourcing and ensuring the environment is not damaged in the process.
Back home, running an organic and pasture-fed farm in the West Country also seems like the right way to look after the animals and the rural landscape. We know that intensive agriculture strips nutrients from the soil and that grass-fed animals produce healthier meat and milk, richer in the essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and CLA that benefit our health, so it seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to me that this is the right way to farm and to produce the best food – best for the animals, best for the land and best for our own wellbeing.
I’ve loved designing my own jewellery and I’m so pleased there’s more awareness now about Fairtrade gold. I used to make a small collection many years ago, but as the beauty company grew, it took up much more of my time so many of my original passions – book writing, TV work and jewellery design – had to take a back seat. After the beauty company was acquired back in 2010 (it is now owned by Wallgreen Boots Alliance and so is part of the Boots’ family), I was able to pick up many of my earlier loves, including jewellery design. Each of the special pieces in my Botany Collection is based on a botanically-accurate favourite flower or leaf design.
I’ve learnt so much over the years about the importance of sustainable sourcing, so my first question was “where does the gold and silver we’re using come from?” I was really quite shocked when no one knew! With so much of precious metal mining mired in dodgy dealings and accountability issues, I found the Fairtrade Foundation the only organisation with a completely independent audit trail for ‘clean’ gold and silver. From paying fairer prices to improved health and safety facilities and better care of the environment, it really does make such a difference to the miners’ lives, as well as their families.
I still work as a global ambassador for the Liz Earle Beauty Co, but I have more free time now to give back to some of the disadvantaged communities I’d met during my many botanical field trips. I set up LiveTwice as a ‘second chance’ charity, offering opportunity where there is need and putting the principle of “love your neighbour” into action.
It has a broad remit, so we’re able to offer many benefits, from skills training to welfare and medical or nutritional assistance. For example, we’ve just sent 22 sewing machines and some tailoring training to Sierra Leone and Uganda, and we’re also supporting Amy Peake’s Loving Humanity project, providing machines to make sanitary towels and nappies for Syrian refugee camps.
Closer to home, we founded Noah’s House, a home-from-home respite care home for children and young adults in Dorset. We have also worked with many church-based charities including: The Oasis Centre, Gorton; Yeovil4Family and The Message Trust, and we’ve helped provide safe houses for persecuted Christians fleeing Isis.
Our work is varied and we deal only with those we know and trust, so we can ensure our funds get into the right hands swiftly and easily, with minimum red-tape and no admin costs. As I personally underwrite all the charity’s running costs, every penny of our kind donations goes direct to needy projects.
On being a mum
I have five children, two girls and three boys, ranging in ages from 26 down to six, so we span pretty much all the ages! My two in their 20s are living and working in London; in fact my eldest daughter, Lily, is the digital editor for Liz Earle Wellbeing Magazine, as well as having her own beauty and wellbeing column for the Evening Standard.
My two teenagers are in the midst of GCSEs and all that this entails: homework, projects and plenty of stress! While my youngest is still at our local village school and keeps everyone grounded and relaxed by playing lots of LEGO …
As the mother of two daughters – one in her twenties and the other in her teens – I’m keenly aware of the pressures from their peers to look good. I do think it’s getting slightly better as everyone is so much more aware of photo-manipulation, re-touching and camera filters. There is a welcome recognition that so many images are enhanced and few actually look that good in reality.
I think one of the biggest difficulties is around food and what young girls should be eating. I do find it worrying how much influence so many inexperienced and untrained food bloggers have on girls’ growing bodies. My teenager is always asking “Is this healthy?” because she’s confused by so many mixed messages about being vegan, dairy-free, wheat-free, low-cal etc. I steer her towards moderation and balance in all things and she’s helped by having an older sister to turn to for advice.
I’m not a fan of teenage vegans, as girls especially need to lay down plenty of calcium to build strong bones before the age of 25, when their capacity to build bone density shuts off. Calcium-rich milk, yoghurt and cheese are so important and even the genuinely lactose-intolerant can find versions now to suit them. I fear we’re going to be facing a legion of women with early-onset osteoporosis and brittle-bone disease in just a few years from now.
Keeping it all together
I think the secret is to do what you enjoy work-wise as much as possible. I do what I love and love what I do, so it doesn’t seem so much like working, but more a part of who I am. I work hard because I enjoy it and think it’s worthwhile, but I try not to get too pressured. I’ve learned to lighten up over the years. I don’t try to be perfect – if it’s mostly right for most of the time, then that’s pretty good going.
I find technology a huge help. I have meetings over the internet via Skype and keep in touch with work, friends and family using WhatsApp and FaceTime. Technology is so helpful for home-workers and has taken away the daily grind of the commute for so many now.
Make your own fruity face mask
All skin types will benefit from a special treatment once in a while and it can be fun to occasionally make your own – especially with teenagers who are learning about beauty and trying out different skincare routines.
This gentle, fruity homemade face mask is one of my favourites. It’s easy to make and is excellent for moisturising and soothing tired, dehydrated skin. It also brings a bloom to tired, sallow or grey complexions.
I prefer to use organically grown or un-gassed bananas (the gas is used to artificially ripen most bananas) as these do not have traces of chemicals on their skins – which could end up on my skin!
1 Mash one small ripe banana thoroughly in a small bowl until it forms a smooth paste.
2 Stir in 25g finely ground oatmeal and a teaspoon of runny honey and mix together well before applying to freshly cleansed skin on the face and neck.
3 Relax for 15–20 minutes before rinsing off using warm water.
4 Pat the skin dry with a soft towel and apply a light moisturising cream.
+ For more of Liz’s recipes, wellbeing advice and information on her jewellery and charitable projects, visit www.lizearlewellbeing.com
Our Easter celebrations
I love Easter as we’re usually at home on the farm and in the midst of lambing. The long weekend is a time for all the family to return and there’s always plenty to do.
I always include a big Easter Feast in my Liz Earle Wellbeing Magazine – we are a quarterly edition and each issue has a central party theme, so Easter is perfect for our spring issue. This year we’re featuring a delicious Arabian-inspired feast, so the menu is garlic, tomato and aubergine dip, then succulent lamb kebabs with fragrant rice followed by crunchy date and nut fruit tarts.
On Easter Sunday we all go to our local village church which the flower team fill with the most incredible home-grown floral displays. We follow this with a long, leisurely family lunch with no one having to rush off back to school or work.
I also love flower arranging and will bring in armfuls of pussy willow and cheery yellow laburnum to hang with a collection of decorated eggs. My collection has grown so much over the years, it’s almost as much of a ritual as decorating the Christmas tree!