Laughter and contemplation with the first edition of Grazia in 2016

I have been a fan of Grazia pretty much since it’s launch in the UK and while I don’t have a subscription, I do buy it weekly. Last year I tried pitching a few ideas to the editor but they fell short and I was gently reminded that the audience is mainly women in the 18-35 age bracket.

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Having bought the first issue of the year yesterday, I was reminded of the age bracket, leafing through the magazine & before I switched off my bedside lamp, I thought I would write a post about some of the things that ‘grabbed’ my ‘over the 35 age bracket’ attention.

–  January is the time of new year resolutions and one of ’10 Hot Stories’ is dedicated to stopping hibernation and getting fit, with the suggestion that on-trend trackies might inspire you to do that. Sadly all the fitness gear in that feature, alongside all the fitness ads in the magazine are ‘modelled’ by women barely in their 20s who are slim/skinny, of model height and hardly breaking the sweat. That reminded me of a recent Instagramm image of Deliciously Stella, who poked fun at the ‘workout perfection’ phenomenon. I workout not to be pretty but to be fit and well & as far as I know, mere mortals sweat when they exercise & it doesn’t make us any less attractive, in fact i prefer that to airbrushed perfection.

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– I mostly leaf through the magazine but some features or stories grab my attention and I read them from the beginning till the end. One of those was ‘ The life-changing power of giving no f**ks’.

Some of us are born self-assured, some gain that perspective in later life, as experience makes you realise that only opinions of select few people in our lives really do matter or make a difference to what or how we do things. People like to advance themselves or talk about good intentions or supporting endeavours of others, but not everyone walks the walk. Sarah Knight, a self-confessed overachieving perfectionist, writes honestly and with humour about walking away from her senior book editor job after 15 years because the pleasure was sipping away from her life. January is indeed ‘the perfect month for giving fewer f**ks because the festive season is so, so draining’.

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– ‘Let’s style it from the boys‘ – seeing those images made me hoot with laughter and made my husband look at me with raised eyebrows, clearly questioning my sanity, when I suggested he ‘adjusts’ his office attire. Neither was I inspired to borrow those style ideas and incorporate them in my own wardrobe. I know plenty of men who are in touch with their ‘feminine’ side, but I don’t know any who would be drawn to dressing like men in the images below. The whole trend of making men more feminine and less masculine is somewhat distressing, as many already don’t know how to do a simple thing like put a nail in the wall and hang a picture, thus making women less romantic and more tough. If that trend continues, I don’t know what the future for relationship between men and women will bring.

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– ‘Hottest health kicks‘: reading about the things that others say ‘will rock’ your wellness, is always fun but a timely reminder that before we start buying into trends and fads we should really question their benefits for us. The answer is clear how it benefits PR, marketing and brands.

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Streamed Classes: great for those of us who love working out from the privacy of their own home or when travelling.

Fitness Gaming: I know that even young kids love virtual reality, but personally I prefer to do real things, like actually swimming in the sea or going on a rollercoater, instead of ‘imaging’ doing it. A life is worth living & not pretending to do so.

Wearable tech: a top monitoring one’s heart rate sounds great but I draw a line at leggings telling me the amount of calories burnt. Do we really need the earpiece that tells us to chew more slowly or a gadget that tells us to sit more upright? Instead of spending the money on those, I would rather use my mind to do that, for free.

Normcore eating: bless the ‘diets be gone’ slogan – I would ban the word if I could!


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Happy 2016, Happy You !

Every time we get over the hurdle of celebrating Christmas and New Year, we are faced with the barrage of detoxing and fitness tips, sports wear, new apps & guides, alongside juice detoxes, new diets, vegetarian dishes ( what about those of us who aren’t or don’t want to be vegetarian – are we automatically excluded ?) and new exercise regimes that will help to shape the ‘new’ you.

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Often we end up following the ‘personality’ like Ella Woodward or Kendall Jenner, becoming part of their money-making machine but without the long-term benefit for our own’s well-being. We jump from one blog onto another, from one diet onto the next, instead of asking ourselves why we have this or that bad habit and what prevents us from achieving the goals that only we can set for ourselves. No one can force change but we can kick-start it with a good intention and desire to succeed. You don’t need fancy equipment, personal trainer or a mountain of books – just a few would do .) Ask yourself what stands in the way of you being happy on the inside and start moving the object or objects out of your way, like Hercules did. You can’t lose weight without making changes to your diet, you can’t improve the skin condition without the right skincare routine and products suitable for your needs, you can’t get fit without regular exercise – you can’t be happy if you don’t make yourself happy – trust me, I have been there .) I know many talented people who can or do help me find my own Zen, but intention is set and work is done by me and the desire to change and be better tomorrow than I am today is mine. That is the uniting factor for all of us !

You can introduce one daily change or set weekly goals. You can start with a simple daily meditation, or making sure you drink a green smoothie or juice daily. I love fruit, so I won’t advocate just a vegetable based green juice, as it will make me a hypocrite but try adding only one fruit and let the green vegetables, as well as spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon dominate the taste dance. Walk the stairs, instead of taking the lift or escalator on the tube ( possibly not the best idea if you are doing a yoga class or going to Sushi Samba at the Shard ). Dance to your heart’s content instead of working late into the night on your laptop ( or use a fitness ball as a chair when you do work on your laptop at home ). The point is to introduce some changes to your familiar routine that makes you set in your own ways, get you out of your comfort zone and make you feel like you are in control of your own destiny.

My own intention in January and February will be to focus my posts on inspiring you by stories, people, products and ideas that will make you curious, as where there is curiosity & inspiration, there is change ! May yours be long-lasting and beneficial to your mind, body and spirit!

Happy New Year

I can’t believe that it is the last day of the year already – where does time fly? My dear followers and subscribers, I am grateful for your presence in my life and for your comments and constructive criticism. We get to explore interesting subjects together and have an open dialogue, which I hope, allows both sides to grow.

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2015 hasn’t been the easiest or particularly peaceful year, so I hope that 2016, a year of the monkey, will be more peaceful for every nation or country around the world. I hope we all have more in common and that we can move forward with gratitude and tolerance for each other. At the end of the day we all are the same, irrespective of our race, age or religion, yet each is individual and has something to offer to the world. We can and should celebrate things that unite us, instead of focussing on our differences. Love, health, happiness have universal meaning, no matter where you live.

I wish you happiness and health! May your dreams and ambitions come true – just remember that success doesn’t fall from the sky but is the result of passion, drive and hard work. May your home be a full house and your friends genuine & loyal. Time is precious, we all rush, so I hope you will have a chance to slow down a little and savour life’s daily luxuries, like peaceful moments, a delicious cup of tea or coffee and the beauty of nature. May your children, if you have them, delight you. May the challenges that you face help you grow. May you receive what you genuinely need. Happy New Year and to the new beginnings that it will bring.

Christmas gifts, part one: the thought behind mine

Every year December arrives on our doorstep only to catch most of us unprepared for the festive season. In addition to work and family commitments, we have to spruce up & decorate our homes, as well as get fit and camera ready for the parties. Many of us are also faced with the dread of festive shopping and getting christmas gifts ready for everyone, with the thought of  ‘where do I start’ constantly punctuating our already exhausted brains.

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This year, instead of doing many separate posts on the subject of Christmas gift ideas, I thought I would simplify the task and do one coherent post, which will hopefully help to inspire you.

For me, choosing a gift is more to do with the pleasure of giving and seeing a smile light up the features of the receiver, rather than giving the latest ‘it’ item or the often predictable things suggested by the retailers or magazine editorials . I also don’t like rushing and never buy last-minute gifts, as I want my gifts to show the person that I care for him or her and make an effort to learn what will delight or surprise my friend, colleague or the person whose presence in my life I appreciate.

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One more thing that I want to share with you: this year one of my son’s friends chose to forego his birthday gifts, choosing instead to ask them for donations for Mary’s Meals charity, that provides one hot meal a day for children in Africa, at their place of education. After the party he wrote a card for each of his friends, thanking them and telling them that thanks to their joint effort 23 children will be fed for a year – just ponder that staggering thought for a moment!

Shortly after my son, inspired by one of the suggestions made by his school teachers, roped me in to help and together we made a ‘shoe box’. Yep, you have read this correctly! We decorated it with Xmas wrapping paper and filled it with toys, pencils, mini puzzles & comics, as well as some good quality dark chocolate. When the box was finished , my son took it to school, eager for it to reach a boy similar in age to him, who sadly might not be getting any festive treats or gifts otherwise. As we were preparing this shoe box with love and creativity, I couldn’t help but think that actually it is gifts like that, that require your time and an open heart that are particularly poignant, reminding us all that it is a privilege to have a roof over one’s head, a hot & delicious home-made meal on the table at the end of a busy day & a feeling of love and joy that washes over each one of us when we are together we those we love.

FullSizeRender-2Giving, I think, should be about meaningful pleasure, rather than about purchasing another expensive trinket for ourselves on the occasion when we had a bad day, which, incidentally is always a short-lived pleasure. Thanks to my son and the amazing team of people who teach him at school, as well as the example set for me by my own parents, I was again reminded that it is the simple things in life and supporting those we care about, without even knowing them on occasion, that matter. As is, in my case, choosing to buy things from brands that I, as consumer, want to support and which, in turn, give back to society or charity, while running a business not for their own short-term benefit but with long-term business plan & genuine care for their customers.

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I hope this post will inspire you and make you pause, before you go shopping for gifts for those people, who make your own life better or more meaningful.

Trust-worthy sources of beauty & well-being: who are they?

I grew up surrounded by loving family, where conversations flowed all day long, often around the kitchen or dinner table, where my parents or grandparents gathered family and guests. I grew up listening to those conversations, to bedtime stories that my parents read to me before the lights went out, but mostly I remember stories that were created just for me by the resourceful mind of my paternal grandfather Yvan, a creative and accomplished man who travelled a lot, spoke several languages and who took me on amazing journeys around the world by constructing fascinating story-lines just for my own pleasure, education and delight.

There was lots of freedom to roam and explore with my friends on our daily adventures or during summer vacations in the Baltics and later at my parents country house, where there was time to read, listen to conversations and music, as well as the sounds of nature. The pace was slower, life was happier and somehow more fulfilling.

We live in the day and age when many people consider themselves to be ‘experts’ on various subjects, when in actual fact they have no qualifications to justify the title of an expert in their chosen field – this of course is subjective and open to a wide discussion.

We all are bombarded daily by the information from all kinds of directions -radio, TV, ads on the tube, social media and there seems to be no filter for it. Take beauty journalists or bloggers – are they best experts to give advice on your skincare routine? If you are sick, you will go and see a doctor, not read advice by a health blogger I hope. Internet won’t cure you if you are ill, but the right doctor has a good chance of doing it, possibly alongside qualified  professionals like dietitians, acupuncturists & physios.

My point is that we all have a right to educated choices. Read, process, decide. We can all admire someone or follow someone famous, whose lifestyle seems so fascinating  we want to emulate it – but what you see or read about them, what made you follow them in the first place – ask yourself if that is real? Does following some on Twitter or Instagram make you feel better or worse about yourself – that’s the question we all should ask ourselves before pushing the ‘follow’ button.

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The longer I do what I do ( I write all of the content for my website, apart from the guest posts but don’t necessarily consider myself to be a blogger – I actually have a postgrad degree in journalism ), the more it becomes clear that honesty is the best policy. Some of the bloggers I like advertise on their website and do sponsored posts. Do I have a problem with it, as I don’t do it myself ? Not one bit, provided there is full disclosure. The thing is, the world of beauty is not as pretty as one might think but often bloggers are more knowledgable & more open than the press. Why? Well, publications depend on ad revenues and many beauty articles are sponsored by the marketing and PR machines, putting the latest ‘miracle cures’ that promise to solve your skin voes in your direct vision field. You go and spend the money that goes into the ‘pocket’ of the brand and pays the salaries of marketing and PRs but do you, the customer, get the long-term satisfaction from your skincare, beauty or well-being purchase or do you continue to haemorrhage money in your quest for the latest beauty launch?

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I think we all need to press the pause button and listen to ourselves to start with. Do you know your skin type? The ingredients that irritate your skin or aren’t compatible with your body? Take the time, get to know yourself and then and only then go and look for like-minded people and professionals, the voices of which resonate with you and make you feel better. Try to engage with them, build rapport but still pause before you take someone’ advice and run away with it.

It is one thing to read a magazine, view the fashion show or an art installation – beauty, well-being, health are somewhat different and require care and knowledge. Beauty journalists and bloggers ( myself included ) are not experts on a par with doctors, nutritionists, tricologists, dermatologists, facialists – a true professional takes years of studying and practising to build a practise. After working for many years not all doctors achieve a private practise status, yet many well-known bloggers make a mint with technically no qualifications. They have experience, are savvy and driven, they are smart and sociable. They know marketing and PR tricks and they become successful because no doubt they are good at what they do and they appeal to their audience. I am not passing judgment or telling you whether to trust this or that source. What I suggest is to remember that no-one is a better judge on what’s good for you other than yourself. Never stop learning, trust your instincts and follow the sources that resonate with you, makes you reflect and wonder – sources from which you know you are learning and that ultimately benefitting you and your life by helping become a better version of yourself.

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Use social media as a useful tool but not as a therapist who will solve all of your problems all at once & instead of you. Gravity works against us and there is no miracle cream that will stop its effect on our faces and bodies – if somebody tells you otherwise, turn around and walk away. Social media shouldn’t replace a gut feeling or instincts. Trust people who have honesty and integrity amidst the noise. Questions what you read and see on TV.

I recently read a book from the Inspector Fandorin series, written by the Russian writer Boris Akunin and there was a passage there that really stuck with me: ”Remember that the best one can do for another is turn him in the right direction and give him a gentle push. Whether he walks in that direction or not, only he has the right to decided’.

Disclosure: My choice of magazine selection or books in this post is by no means my endorsement of them, not am I implying any criticism to any specific title,[...] read more

On Nutrition & Fertility: Q & A with Emma Cannon & Victoria Wells

Being a woman is not easy, whatever your age. Advice on how best to navigate our path to health, beauty and happiness can be tricky and that is one of the reasons why London’s top fertility specialist Emma Cannon and I decided to choose regular topics to talk about, related to female well-being and fertility and this is the first of such Q & As, dedicated to nutrition and fertility. I compiled a list of questions, alongside my website readers, while Emma answered the questions together with her clinic’s nutritionist Victoria Wells. I hope you will learn something new and find the advice useful and relevant to your body’s current needs.

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How important is the diet for female fertility?

We have known for years that the food we eat affects our ability to conceive, so eating healthily can improve our chances of getting pregnant and support healthy pregnancies. You need to be aware that certain foods and drinks are known to lower fertility and that both under-eating and over-eating can contribute to infertility. More specifically, certain nutrients can support each phase of the cycle, for example B vitamins are required to support the release of the egg and support implantation. Relatively simple changes can increase your chances of getting pregnant.

 Is our emotional state affected by how we nourish our bodies with food?

Our relationship with food is often a reflection of how we care for ( managing stress & getting enough sleep ) and nourish ourselves. We must not overlook the need to feed our fertility on an emotional level, as good emotional health is important prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. Remember that food influences our mood and energy levels, so by eating natural, rather than processed foods, you will help to improve your emotional stability.

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In-conversation with Emma Cannon: ‘Total Fertility’ book & how your mother shaped you

Emma Cannon is one of those rare practitioners who is extremely knowledgable, yet she never imposes her views on her patients. She listens, she treats and she makes suggestions but ultimately it is up to you to decide how you want to proceed forward.

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On a sunny morning I popped into Emma’s treatment room, a short minute walk from Sloane Square tube station and just looking at Emma’s beautifully serene face made me smile. She is calm and nurturing and so is her treatment room – it is like a peaceful oasis of tranquility in the middle of a busy city. Somehow when the door closes behind you, the stress seem to melt away and you feel relaxed and ready to have ‘me-time’ that is so important, yet so lacking in our day and age.

Over a cup of one of Emma’s delicious teas ( woody, reflective ) served in a pretty porcelain cup Emma and I caught up on our lives. I mentioned a recent article from Elle, by Victoria Coren Mitchell about Apple and Facebook initiative to offer money towards ‘fertility preservation’ aka ‘egg freezing’ to women who work for them. Victoria actually went on to say that ‘my instinct is that the key to true liberation actually lies with egg freezing’. My opinion on the subject isn’t that straight-forward but that’s the beauty of what Emma does in her clinic – she uses her knowledge and looks for the best solution for you.

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When it comes to female fertility the subject still often remains a taboo or is spoken in hushed tones, yet many celebrities think nothing of shoving their private parts in our face from the pages of the magazines. Or take the subject of pregnancy – if a couple fails to conceive the nod often goes in the direction of a woman, forgetting that it takes two people to get pregnant. It’s not just the physical process, to me there is a little bit of magic that is also involved. But forgive me, I veered off course a little.

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Emma has written several books ( a dear friend of mine who struggled to conceive after trying IVF actually succeeded after I sent her Emma’s book – she implemented some nutritional and lifestyle changes and is a mother of a beautiful child that made the family complete ), her latest is called ‘Total Fertility’. In it Emma addresses such important


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Small changes to help create the best version of you: alternative new year resolutions

If you follow my blog you will know that I write a New Year Resolutions post at the end of each year, reflecting on lessons learnt, but this year I decided to change the pattern a little. 2014 saw the launch of a new digital platform called BodhiLuxe, for which I enjoy writing and when Gemma Bolton, the editor of BodhiLuxe, approached me about writing a piece of the alternative new year resolutions, I only paused for a second before agreeing to take on the assignment.

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Every January, as we emerge from the festive overindulgence, we are greeted with the new diet books at the bookshops and the bombardment from magazines on the detox we all need to do. To be honest January is a wrong time to detox and to start setting huge goals just after the holidays sets us all for failure. Instead, click on the link below and see if my suggestions for the small changes for 2015 will resonate with you and make you want to set realistic targets and goals, leading to a happy, centred, healthy and beautiful you.

http://www.bodhiluxe.com/2015/01/01/a-bodhiluxe-new-year-7-new-years-resolutions-that-will-change-your-life/

I also want to leave you with something else to think about. Earlier this week I was travelling on the tube and observing the people around me. In my mind everyone was supposed to look happy and revitalised, after the holiday break. Instead I saw downcast frowns, grey skin, tired complexions. It made me think yet again that in our constant rush to achieve work deadlines and work and life balance we seem to completely miss the point of focussing on our health and well-being, which are fundamental if we want to live a long and fulfilling life.