1. What's the quickest legal route to joy?
Helping someone who needs it.

2. What makes you still?
Awe of what is.

3. What makes a person fearless?
I don't know; I've never felt fearless.

4 What's left on your "To Do" list?
Continue to be present for whatever shows up.

5. What do you ask yourself most often?
"Where did I put my glasses?"

6. What's one thing that's always overrated?
Monetary wealth.

7. When/how did you last surprise yourself?
I showed up an hour early for an appointment.

8. What's the most daring thing you've done?
I called Oprah "baby" once. I'm not sure she heard me.

9. ...and the most daring thing you wish you'd done?
Said it loud enough for her to hear me.

10. How do you stay calm in a tense situation?
I imagine everyone else as an innocent six-year-old.

11. What are you an expert at?
This is the second question I ask myself most often.


Val Monroe has been the beauty director at O, the Oprah Magazine since September, 2001. She has taught feature-writing at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In October 2007 she was honored at the Skin Cancer Foundation's Skin Sense Award Gala for her commitment to beauty, skin health and sun protection.

Val was born in New York City and raised in a nearby suburb, where she believes she was, during her 17-year residence there, one of the least attractive and most awkward children in the town. Through her experiences with much prettier and more popular girls and boys, she discovered that the phrase, "beauty is only skin deep," is only marginally handy in some situations, and not the least bit useful in negotiating a date or much else having to do with the social contract. She knows first-hand how important it is for women to feel beautiful, because in the thousands of emails she has received in response to the Ask Val page in O, readers always want to know what they can do to look prettier and more alluring. Having interviewed hundreds of internationally renowned experts of all kinds for beauty stories—from makeup artists to dermatologists, plastic surgeons, cosmetic dentists, hair stylists and hair specialists—she also knows that the options available for self-improvement are legion and increasing, and that women can feel as if they are never doing enough. That's why her approach to beauty is to celebrate our assets, have fun while we're at it, and to reinforce the notion that real beauty—not skin deep at all—comes straight from the heart.

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