Sydney based journalist, author and wellness authority Elle Halliwell knows all to well about finding the silver linings in life. In early 2017, Halliwell was diagnosed with ‘Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia’ a rare form of cancer – two days after receiving this devastating news, she found out she was four weeks pregnant. Facing an impossible decision, Elle was left to decide whether she would go ahead with the pregnancy, potentially risking her own health, and that of her unborn child.
A Bold Women interview that is filled with joy, courage and endless optimism, our CEO Pippa Hallas welcomes Elle to share her wisdom with us all – something she delivers in spades.
“I feel like I have climbed two proverbial mountains, the first mountain I climbed was career focused; it was one of those ones where you don’t really know what you want to do with your life and you make decisions based on other peoples perceptions. The second was after I got sick, it forced me to re-evaluate what I wanted from life. It was a wake-up call, and I realised this isn’t who I am, it was my bodies way of fighting against what I was doing.”
When we’re young, it is important that we push and challenge ourselves to build resilience – These days it is so easy to fall into a comfortable living pattern, and for me I feel like comfort can breed not just mediocracy but also a sense of listlessness. What we’re going through today is a collective adversity and I think that’s something that up until this point in our generation, even our parents’ generation, never had to experience. I have clearly been through some real, personal challenges, so naturally I find it really hard not to perceive this. But, coming from a place of where I never thought that I’d get through to now, I guess I’ve developed a retrospective ability to say you know what, these are really tough times, but as a generation we will grow stronger from it.
One of my biggest challenges has been learning to sit comfortably in the present – And as a result of this, I inadvertently started becoming mindful. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or in the future and I think that together we are practicing mindfulness [during the pandemic] because we don’t know what is going to happen – we are slowly forcing ourselves back into the present.
“A technique that I use is the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. I do it all the time, if I look at 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can feel, 2 things that I can smell and I changed the last one to 1 thing I am grateful for. And, just like that you forget what was getting your mind so wound up in the first place.”
I love helping be able to help people, whether it’s through speaking, writing or educating on how to look after mind, body and spirit – Throughout my studies in naturopathy I used my journalistic skills on trying to find out the best way to support myself and my family, considering I still have cancer I continue to find ways to give my body as much love and support as I can. This is where I stumbled upon vaccaria seeds which are applied with plaster [are really ugly] but had amazing results. I researched further and stumbled across ‘gold seeds’ – designed to ease anxiety by applying pressure to the ear, which has the biggest impact on our vagus nerve, which controls our parasympathetic nervous system or more commonly known as our rest and digest trigger. So I decided to launch ‘Auricle’ – it’s a business I really believe in as there is a lot of research and science behind it, I hope to encourage people to rest and digest, allowing us to pause and give ritual, love and time into what our body needs.
In today’s world, it is important to keep it real – There is so much filtering happening around us, but eventually people come to a point of exhaustion and collectively everyone gets sick of keeping up appearances. We need connection more than ever, especially now. And we can’t connect if we’re keeping our guard up – so I think the more real we are, the more we can connect with not only ourselves but the people around us.
“We all need a cheer team to surround us, and there will be different people that you need at different times. One that provides you with a wholesome belly laugh, or the person you call who will literally sit in silence with you and just be empathetic. And then of course, the people you call when s**t hits the fan, if you have people that can fill all these buckets – then you have hit the jackpot.”
In order to live boldly and with purpose I maintain three daily habits – Each day I check in with my values and what I am grateful for, I push myself outside of my comfort zone – do something that scares me, it doesn’t have to be a lot, most of the time it’s not a lot, and I also ask my why; remembering everything that you do should have a ‘why’ to it. If you ask yourself enough, I think you will find the answer. When it comes to living boldly, the key for me, is to live a life free of other people’s judgement – if you can reach that level where you truly do judge your life by yourself alone then I think that’s a really good indicator of living a bold life.