It’s easy to be fooled by Army Wives star Catherine Bell’s sweet exterior. After all, one of her favorite pastimes is squeezing into 3-year-old son Ronan’s crib with a flashlight, telling him bedtime stories while doing shadow puppets on the ceiling. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a dare devil. Not the kind that does hand stands during power yoga, although she does that too. No, a real dare devil. The kind that screams with delight when she goes really fast around a bend while race car driving. Or learns how to fly helicopters at age 44. “I love anything challenging,” says Catherine. “I love the feeling of, ‘Wow, this really freaks me out!’ When you try something new, it’s always a little scary at first. But once you overcome the fear, you feel incredible. Maybe it’s a little crazy, but I think it’s healthy.”
It’s that dichotomy of fearlessness and kindness that makes Catherine so interesting. When she’s not chasing an adrenaline rush, she loves to curl up on the couch with a book or hang out with her kids with screenwriter Adam Beason (the two, who are amicably separated, are also parents to daughter Gemma, 10). “I try to be in the moment as much as possible,” says Catherine, who lives in Charleston, S.C. with her brood and next stars in the Hallmark movie The Good Witch’s Wonder. “It’s so easy to get in the habit of always thinking about tomorrow or tonight or what you’re going to do next. But when you start wishing you were somewhere else, that’s when you get in trouble. It’s important to try to enjoy the moment while you’re in it. I don’t always succeed, but I try to do my best.”
Here’s the gutsy and beautiful Catherine, sharing the Simple Joys that give her life meaning.
The Bliss of a Kiss: “This picture totally captures the relationship I have with my son. Under his tough guy, superhero exterior, Ronan is such a sweet, loving person. He often grabs my face and pulls me in for a yummy smooch. It’s the best ever!”
Morning Routine: “I love coffee in bed. It’s the best! There’s nothing like waking up to fresh cut flowers and a yummy cup of coffee on your bedside table. I’ve been traveling so much lately. It’s made me really treasure my own bed, my nightstand…and my morning cup of joe.”
Moon Struck: “I’ve always been inspired by the full moon. Every time I see the moon, whether it’s full or clear or close or bright, it takes my breath away for a moment. It reminds me of every other time I’ve gazed up at the moon, wondering, dreaming and planning.”
Dare Devil: “This is my newest passion! Learning how to fly a helicopter is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager. I finally started taking lessons a couple of months ago. Is it hard? It’s really hard! You have both your feet and your hands working and it’s constant adjustment. At first, it’s so overwhelming you feel you’re never going to get it. But eventually it becomes second nature. It’s one of the most exhilarating, challenging and slightly scary things I’ve ever done. Okay, it’s really scary at first, but that just makes me want to push through the fear and conquer. And you can’t beat the view.”
Words of Wisdom: “I love inspiring quotes! I keep this one around. It’s always a good reminder.”
Life’s a Beach: “This is Folly Beach in South Carolina. It’s one of the many stunning beaches in this area. I sometimes go here to watch the sunset. I’m always amazed that there are so few people around, because it’s such a magical moment. Whenever I can I sneak away to this spot. I leave my phone off and soak up the air, the setting sun and the natural beauty surrounding me. In the process, I recharge my soul! I don’t get to do it too often, but it’s so vital.”
Lessons from a Screen Legend: “I’ve always loved Marilyn Monroe’s spirit. As troubled as she was, she had an innocence, beauty and joy that was really remarkable. She was full of passion and, right or wrong, gave her love and talent and trust to the ‘n’th degree! And she kept giving and trying despite everything.”
The Greatest Joy: “My babies! They are my true daily joy. Their laughs, their hugs and their love. Their fears and their booboos. They’re kind of dare devils like me. When my daughter was three we went driving on a race track. She was strapped in the back with me and her dad was driving. She was totally safe! We turned a corner pretty fast and she was screaming, ‘Wooooo!’ At the end and with a big grin she said, ‘That was fun!’ That’s my girl. I love everything about them. I love telling silly stories at bed time or laying in Ronan’s crib making shadow puppets on the ceiling. I love girl talk with Gemma. I love all of it. It’s pure joy!”
• UIrica Wihlborg
Top photograph courtesy of Lifetime’s Army Wives. All other photograph © Catherine Bell.