IN COLLABORATION WITH HUAWEI,
featuring photos shot/edited on the new Huawei P10, co-engineered with Leica.
Why do we do what we do? What is it that drives us, day after day, to pour our time, effort, and our heart and soul into the art, the beauty, the solutions and magic we create?
We pursue our dreams and chase them into our reality not because it is the most natural thing to do, or the easier way to live. Quite the contrary. It is hard work, dedication (sometimes to the point of obsession — do we see a few nods?), and many have described it to be a lonely journey. So why do we do what we do? Because, quite simply, when all is said and done, it gives us joy and feeds our life’s purpose. And hopefully, by doing what we do, we’d be spreading a little of that joy, and a little light to the people around us and, who knows, the rest of the world.
In this seven-part series entitled #TrueCalling, we’ve partnered up with Huawei to bring you the stories of seven women — creators, doers and, yes, dreamers — to find out what makes them tick. How has whipping up a new recipe, designing clothes, or capturing moments from around the world, for example, brought them happiness? What interesting lessons, people and ideas have they encountered along the way? We’re going to give you a glimpse into their worlds through our lens.
For the final instalment of the series, we caught up with the beautiful Denise Keller — model, TV host, eco-advocate and yoga instructor — at her CBD abode, where the 35-year-old opens up about her transformation from a shy and introverted child (who dreams of saving all the cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶 in the world!) into a woman on a mission to find and use her voice to champion the causes she believes in, to make an impact in the world. She also talks about her brand of happiness, which is “contentment”, what yoga has taught her, and the importance of hitting the “self-reset button” every so often.
If only we took
more time to LISTEN to others, LIFE would be way more colourful and diverse in our HEARTS.
Model, television show host, eco-advocate and yoga instructor — you’re a multi-hyphenate. So what would you say is your true calling?
Denise Keller: To find my voice in a noisy world. I was a very quiet, introverted and shy child. Some teachers suspected that I had a learning disability. Truth was, I felt most calm just observing, watching and learning, more so than vocalising and proving who I was in class. I much preferred the introspective passage in life, but at some point I realised people were worried for me; worried that I would never survive in the world. As corny as this sounds, I used to watch Miss Universe and thought: Maybe I’ll start there. Maybe I’ll show and tell what I can do and explain how I wanted to change the world. And eventually it got me a gig at MTV. Music was my language.
How has that changed you and the way you view and approach life?
DK: I don’t think I ever thought that my voice was a “calling”, but I definitely knew it was useful for causes that I believed in. I’ve been involved in several causes in my life, but I guess the one that had a major
impact for me personally was The Climate Reality Project. I had submitted a lot of my film footage and images of Borneo from a helicopter while filming my Passage To… series with the Discovery TLC channel to Al Gore’s foundation in the US, and was personally invited to be trained by him to shed more awareness on climate change in our region. I guess you could say that this experience was life-changing because I had never been invited for something like this, let alone believe that my images would have such a profound impact on spreading the climate change message.
Finding your purpose in life is the first step. It also sounds very idealistic. In reality, what comes after, very often, is a series of setbacks, challenges, even failures. In these less perfect moments, how do you re-inspire and re-empower yourself to get up and go again?
DK: I think I do best when I’m found in less perfect moments. I don’t really dwell too long in the negativity, but instead find ways to shift my perspective into learning and being aware of what is in front of me.
ME TO DISTANCE MYSELF FROM THE NOISE, KEEP THINGS AT ARM’S LENGTH WHEN THERE IS TROUBLE, AND SMILE AT MY FEARS.
Any form of movement of the body helps switch off the chatter in the brain.
I like to meditate for five to 10 minutes when I face challenging times — not only does it calm me but it also helps me practice non-judgement towards myself. I also have an incredible circle of friends who are immensely supportive in case I need a helping hand.
What is your biggest motivation for doing what you do?
DK: People. I love people. I love meeting people and getting to know their stories. If only we took more time to listen to others, life would be way more colourful and diverse in our hearts. I don’t think I could have written my own travel show without being fascinated by culture in general.
Let’s talk about yoga — which you practise and teach. What does yoga mean to you, and what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through it?
DK: A yoga practice is personal. I always say, half the battle in your yoga practice is showing up on the mat. It’s a commitment to yourself. Within that space and time, you are dedicating the energy to yourself and nobody else really (unless you choose to set the
It’s a commitment to yourself. Within that space and time, you are dedicating the energy to yourself and nobody else really.
intention for somebody/something in need). If we forget our “self-reset button”, we tend to become frazzled in our decisions, anxious in challenging times and stressed with our role-playing duties. Yoga teaches me to distance myself from the noise, keep things at arm’s length when there is trouble, and smile at my fears. There is of course so much more, but only the individual is able to label what yoga really means for them, in my opinion.
What is happiness to you? What does it mean for you to live a happy/successful life?
DK: Happiness is fleeting. I settle more for contentment. Striving for happiness is like
striving for perfection. In my mind, none of these concepts are goals of mine. I like to keep things sustainable with being content by journaling all the wonderful aspects of life that happen in one day. Sometimes I write them down, other times I acknowledge them in my heart quietly.
So much unhappiness and stress we experience in life is created by ourselves. It is a decision to take control of and define the way we live. For those who are frazzled, stuck and perhaps lost, what would your advice be for them to take better care of themselves — in mind, body and spirit — and to cope with stress and anxiety?
DK: Do yoga. Pick up a new hobby. Run. Climb a mountain. Learn to surf. Do whatever it takes to get out of your head by doing things actively and be present while doing them. Any form of movement of the body helps switch off the chatter in the brain. If that’s too much, pick up meditation or do some restorative yoga to recalibrate the mind, body and spirit. But always keep an open mind.
Complete the sentence: Life is good when…
DK: …you have a box of chocolates.
I like to keep things sustainable with being CONTENT by journaling all the WONDERFUL aspects of life that happen in one DAY.
PHOTOGRAPHY // Karman Tse
ACTIVEWEAR // Under Armour