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Creative Collective | Mum, Model and Author Abigail O'Neill

With an innate sense of youthful vitality, and a glow that radiates from within, we catch up with Byron based Mum, Model and Author, Abigail O'Neill, in our latest instalment of the Aje Insider series.

 

A trailblazer in the natural health and beauty spheres, we discuss the origins behind Abigail's biggest driving force, a day in the life of dream country living, and what she's most hopeful for the future.

 

Captured by Jess Ruby James at Australia's most Eastern point, meet Abigail O'Neill here and now.

As a trailblazer in the natural health sphere, tell us about your journey to where you are today; was this something always inherent in your life or something you have discovered along the way?

 

With regards to my approach on natural health, definitely, it’s been both of those things, and of course I’m still learning daily! After over thirty years of practice, I’ve discovered that nature and my own body have been my wisest and most intuitive and powerful teachers!

 

I was 13 years old when my vivacious Portuguese mother led us down the country living path. The organic lifestyle certainly wasn’t so popular then. I read my first ever ‘health book’, learned to bake bread, and prepare delicious from-scratch meals for our family. Even earlier than this I remember myself as a little girl painting some mud I’d prepared onto tree ‘wounds’ or cuts to help ‘heal’ them. Now looking back I can see that there probably was a deeply inherent attraction to the subject of natural health and healing. At 14 I experienced a ‘steam bath’ for the first time and learned of the many benefits of hydrotherapy, juice fasting, sunshine, fresh air and herbs - as an alternative and ancient form of ‘medicine’, along with a 100% plant based diet, rest, trust and the fulfillment that organic living can bring. That was thirty two years ago now!

 

Interestingly though, these personal health, beauty, and wellness discoveries that have shaped my life, and the intuition and first hand experiences lived out in the decades that followed, is what people everywhere are becoming more and more interested in now!

It certainly wasn’t always easy, I’ve sacrificed much along the way (although it never really felt like it) to align myself as closely to nature as I possibly could, even living in the early days without electricity, in corrugated iron ‘sheds’ and letting go of a huge modelling contract to raise our young family in the country near Byron Bay. Now, at 46 and with our three children all wonderful grown ups themselves, I truly feel so blessed all around! It’s still a lot of hard work even now, but it’s been so worth it!

Your passion for food and its incredible healing powers seeps throughout your work, describe where your love of cooking stems from and what prompted you to release your cookbook, ‘Model Chocolate’.

 

Growing up there were never any recipe books in my mothers kitchen but she always had an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and I loved the ‘art’ that I discovered within food preparation. I could zone out for hours! When in my early teens when we transitioned to an even more alternative lifestyle, cutting out processed foods entirely, as well as all sugar, meat, dairy, and chocolate, it gave me even more reason to become creative!

 

Fast forward to around 2008 when raw cacao powder hit the shelves in Australian health food stores, I instantly fell in love with the high antioxidant and mineral content of this pure, real, unprocessed, raw chocolate. I had just started modelling too (another story) and so I thought this kind of superfood was really something that should be enjoyed by everyone everywhere. Not just hippies living near Byron Bay! So I thought of the concept ‘the chocolate models eat’, and it went crazy! It was self published, so I’m really thankful for the response it received. My heart overflows with gratitude daily for the many people, followers or no followers, everywhere, in every sphere are sharing more of the ways mother nature and rediscovering natural foods have helped to empower their lives to be healthier, happier, and ultimately more blessed! This thrills me more than anything. I’m honoured to have been a part of such a movement.

Embracing the beauty of countryside living, tell us about what a typical day in the life entails for you living in the Byron Bay hinterland.

 

I awaken, drink lemon water, make myself a ‘dandelion coffee’ with my homemade hazelnut mylk, spike it with medicinal mushrooms and take a deep breath looking at the mountains in our valley hinterland view. Then as I have for thirty years now, I make delicious superfood rich man-food breakfasts for my hubby and still at home sons, Rory (24) and Ryan (21). After I get everyone off to work, I like to spend some time walking or a couple of hours gardening then, if I need a little extra TLC, or extra beautification/detoxification, a gentle hour of hydrotherapy - steam (hot) and plunge (cold) - in my home day spa. Breakfast is usually lots of fresh seasonal fruit, as well as a supplementary green drink I make of superfood powders I’m needing at the time.

 

Maintenance when living in the country takes a lot of time especially with a family, so I’ll often be catching up on housework through the day, tending to our organic orchards, shopping for any missing essentials at local farmers markets or health stores, or as I can writing, and/or creating inspiring videos or images to share. I used to fly a lot to Sydney for work, but more recently I have been modelling more locally, with so many brands choosing to shoot in Byron Bay, some even opting to create with me at home in my organic garden, which has been really lovely, so this is also becoming a more regular part of my life. In my spare time I’m toying with the idea of writing a new book. More of a full Abi’s lifestyle beauty book with all my favourite tips!

 

Lunch is often from the garden, bowls of greens topped with olives and avocados from the markets, fresh sprouts, buckwheat or a legume, or even just a bowl of fresh strawberries for dessert. I am very into food combinations.

 

Dinner is family time, usually based on a vegetable, grain or legume savoury, and large leafy green salad or lots of lightly cooked side-greens! I enjoy creating everything from high raw vegan to classic man-friendly, heart-warming vegetarian dishes. It’s always all happening here in my kitchen! Then of course, there’s never any lack of tantalising sweet treats afterwards.

 

I usually like to take another form of hydrotherapy to relax my body in the evening before I get an early night. Sometimes it will be soaking in a deep thalassotherapy (seaweeds and sea salts) or any other kind of bath, or even just another warm shower finishing with a light cool spritz. Many of my favourite water treatments I’ve experienced for most of my life in the most basic of showers and bathtubs. There’s no limit to what you can do here if you can possibly pay for, or have access to healing, revitalising water!

The Eloise Wide Leg Jumpsuit, arriving mid January

Encouraging people to create their own healing remedies with household pantry items, what is your all time favourite DIY skincare recipe?

 

Yes! One of my super-easy favourite facials is simply to slather my skin with raw honey I collect from my bees (may use any raw organic honey from a health food store). I then leave this on my face for about ten minutes or more, as it activates blood flow and is a natural preservative, meaning your youthfulness may be enhanced!

 

Then, splash with a little warm water to remove the honey, and pat the skin dry. After this naturally cleansing and activating mask, I love to nourish my complexion with fresh aloes from my garden, nature’s own serum, followed by either pure organic cold pressed rosehip or pomegranate seed oil, to which I’ve added a drop or two of frankincense (my favourite), myrrh, rose, lavender or even roman chamomile essential oils. Feels so good!

The Blanc Midi Dress, arriving mid January

You cite your mum as a large source of inspiration in your life, what is the best piece of advice she passed onto you?

 

To love, to smile, and have fun in the little things! It may sound cliche, but she taught me to always hold onto the spiritual light and hope in this world, no matter what or how dark times may get, and on for all eternity. I have received the most selfless and unconditional demonstration of pure love in the gift of my stunning, free spirited Mother who came from the tiny island of Madeira when she was 17. My whole life is a demonstration of the many things she taught me!



As a mother to three wonderful children yourself, how has your natural health philosophy shaped your approach to raising them?

 

Having a strong natural health philosophy from such a young age that my body is more powerful than I could imagine, that my each and every cell within is constantly working on my behalf to heal, beautify, restore, and nurture me as a whole, has been such an empowering concept! This conviction has been proven true in my life countless times over as I’ve worked through many health issues of my own, and then witnessed in the incredible miracle that is ‘nature healing’ extended to that of my children as I was raising them naturally.

 

Teaching my children the power of plants, water, cleansing, sunshine, herbs, gardening, preparing wholesome meals, taking time for their own bodies to rest and restore naturally if need be when unwell. Teaching them principles of health and natural remedies that really work for common (and less common) ailments, and now after all these years to see them empowering themselves in their own health journeys as they face obstacles as young adults, this has been so rewarding!

The Blanc Midi Dress, arriving mid January

The Meribel Dress, arriving mid January

The Meribel Dress, arriving mid January

What is your current mantra?


Nature is perfect. You are nature. Aligning more with the nature round-about you, and that the nature which you allow to coincide within you, will beautifully realign YOU: body, soul, and spirit.

 

 

What are you hopeful for the future?

 

I am hopeful for the future. That the ageless wisdom to heal and restore, self-evident in nature be ever cherished. That ancient truths of holistic human experiences be told, and re-told as they enlighten us yet again. That our soil and precious microbiome be sacred once more. From our tiniest intuitive cell within each of our body systems to the mighty oceans and rainforests that support all life on this incredible Planet. That we consider daily what it is that we allow to enhance or diminish our own deepest inner flow, our living, life giving bloodstream. Our lifeforce. Our breath.

 

If we care for our own health with utmost diligence, it is likely that we will naturally care for nature. All is connected. That each of us with so much love, this our precious family of humanity, so diverse and beautiful, forgives itself individually and collectively. That we continue to be the change. That we remember that WE ARE NATURE too. We are needed too, right here, right now.

The Eloise Wide Leg Jumpsuit, arriving mid January

The Oxford Sweat Tee and Oxford Sweat Short, arriving mid January

Aje Insider : Abigail O'Neill

Photographer : Jess Ruby James

 

Captured in Byron Bay, Australia

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