Photo by Lanewood Studio
Head of Girls Preparatory School, Autumn Graves has always been devoted to working with children. She serves as a leader, role model, and support system to 600 young ladies, teachers, and staff. A fiercely driven career woman, she also maintains a realistic, well-balanced approach to her family life. She and her husband of nine years have two beautiful children under the age of five. While Autumn approaches all of her roles with gravity and respect, she also finds time for light-hearted dance parties or the occasional cooking show binge (you can hear about these and much more in her video interview, 30 Questions in 3 Minutes, on HealthScope® magazine’s Facebook page). Read on to see how this driven woman approaches wellness, family, and her many responsibilities.
HS: What is your approach to wellness?
AG: For me, it’s about being true to myself. If I approach it from a place of integrity, it’s very liberating. It keeps me from being an extremist about anything, and helps me find balance in my diet and daily routine. In our house we have “sometimes” foods and “everyday” things. We try to never label anything as “forbidden” or “bad.” It’s just about encouraging a healthy relationship with food and fitness and being balanced.
HS: How do you encourage your children to be healthy?
AG: Well, in addition to a balanced approach to nutrition, both kids are already involved in physical or athletic endeavors. We really want physical endeavors to be associated with community and character building. Also, I know that when they see me work out, it shows them that it’s a priority in my life, which is a good example.
HS: In what ways do you empower the young women you work with?
AG: I really own the idea of being a role model, and so I share stories and experiences from my personal life. As a mother, daughter, and former student, I share experiences they can relate to. I recently told them a story about my son’s week-long birthday celebration and how I was really proud of everything we pulled off for him. And when I asked him what his favorite part was, he said, “When we all went to McDonald’s together.” It was just a great reminder that it’s not always about how much you spend on something or how over the top you can be, it’s really about being fully present.
HS: What are the traits you most value in yourself?
AG: I value that I’m honest and straightforward. I value that I put children in the forefront of my decision making, both personally and professionally. And I value that I take my work very seriously, without taking myself too seriously. My work at GPS, at home as a mother and a wife, and a daughter, I take those things very seriously.
HS: Where in life do you find the most value?
AG: I think somewhere in the intersection of being a daughter, a wife, a mom, friend, mentor, coach, sponsor, role model, teacher – there’s an intersection of all those roles that I play, and that’s where I find the most value.
HS: What’s in that intersection?
AG: Love. It’s a connecting factor. There in that overlap, what they all have in common is they are places where I can love. And I learn so much and am affirmed so much, which provides me with that sense of happiness and accomplishment. HS