Anonymous lines someone wrote to me… Thank you, whoever you are…

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How much mystery in your eyes … I can easily lose myself in their intensity, deep blue or deep green as they are… When you are happy, your eyes smile so beautifully… that means you’ve got in you that sensuality smile… You seem to live beautifully because it represents your presence… You seem somehow to bring energy and joy around you with your presence… I don’t know you, but this is how I see you… a woman’s smile… from here the feminine beauty is born…from sensuality… and you beautifully convey that. You certainly describe what you brought with you into this world, through you into this life… a romantic definition of femininity, not static…but energetic, unpredictable, different. Compliments… it is clear that through the discovery of what we live and see, we can read and meet souls like you… and it can all be harmonized in a nice thought … not a poem… there’s nothing special about these lines… they only describe the early birth of a nice thought of you in my mind…

Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

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We often hear advice like, “Think positive, and good things will happen,” or “Try your hardest, and eventually things will work out.” I plead guilty of giving such advice. I do believe in it. However, while such words certainly have merit and work most of the time, they will not help you if you’re simultaneously engaging in unhealthy thinking behavior. Recognizing and replacing the unhealthy thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that may be sabotaging your best efforts is the key to building mental strength.

Therefore, I thought of a few things that mentally strong people DON’T do and that you should avoid if you want to stay mentally strong:

Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Yourself
Many of life’s problems are inevitable, but feeling sorry for yourself is a choice. Indulging in self-pity won’t fix problems. If you’re prone to feeling sorry for yourself when life gets rough, train your brain to exchange self-pity for gratitude. Mentally strong people don’t waste their time and energy thinking about the problem, instead they focus on creating a solution. And believe me it works. I have tested this!

Run Away from Responsibility
It can be very tempting to blame other people for our problems and circumstances. Take back your power by accepting full responsibility for how you think, feel, and behave. Empowering yourself is an essential component to building mental strength and creating the kind of life you want to live.

Stay Away From Change
Although we feel safest when we stay within our comfort zones, avoiding new challenges serves as the biggest obstacle to living a full and rich life. Learning to recognize when you avoid change because of the discomfort involved in doing something new could be the first step in a long journey toward improving your life. The more you practice tolerating the uncomfortable feelings associated with change—whether it involves taking on a new job or leaving an unhealthy relationship—the more confident you’ll become in your ability to create your future. It’s a tough one this one, but it liberates you once you manage it.

Waste Energy on Things You Can’t Control
So often, we worry about all the wrong things. Rather than focusing on preparing for the storm, we waste energy wishing the storm wouldn’t come. If we invested that same energy into the things we do have control over, we would be much better prepared for whatever life throws at us.

Fear of Taking Calculated Risks
We make hundreds of choices every day with very little consideration of the risks we’re taking. Whether we choose to wear a helmet on a snowboard, or we decide to take out a loan, we often base our choices on our emotions, not the true level of risk. Making decisions based on your level of fear isn’t an accurate way to calculate risk. Emotions are often irrational and unreliable. You don’t get to be extraordinary without taking risks, and learning how to accurately calculate risk will ensure you’re making the best choices.

Complain and be Stuck in the Past
While reflecting on the past and learning from it is a helpful part of building mental strength, thinking about it too much can be harmful. Making peace with the past so you can live for the present can be hard, especially if you suffered a lot, but it’s a necessary step in becoming your best self.

Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over Again
The reality is that we’re prone to repeat the same mistakes sometimes. Learning from our mistakes requires humility and a willingness to look for new strategies to become better. Mentally strong people don’t hide their mistakes or make excuses for them. Instead they turn their mistakes into opportunities for self-growth.

Give Up After Failure
It’s normal to feel embarrassed, discouraged, and practically defeated when your first attempts don’t work. From a young age, we’re often taught that failure is bad, but it’s nearly impossible to succeed if we never fail. Mentally strong people view failure as proof that they’re pushing themselves to the limits in their efforts to reach their full potential.

Fear of Alone Time
In today’s fast paced world, obtaining a little quiet time often takes effort. Many people avoid silence and solitude because the lack of activity feels uncomfortable. But time to yourself is an essential component to building mental strength. Mentally strong people create opportunities to be alone with their thoughts, reflect on their progress, and create goals for the future.

Expect Immediate Results
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in life could happen at the touch of a button? We often grow so accustomed to our “fast paced. no waiting” world, that our brains begin to believe that everything should happen instantaneously. But self-growth develops at a slower pace, rather than at lightning speed. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or trying to go up the corporate ladder, expecting immediate results will only lead to disappointment. Mentally strong people know that true change takes time and they’re willing to work hard to see results.

The good news is, everyone has the ability to build mental strength. But to do so, you need to develop self-awareness about the self-destructive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that prevent you from reaching your full potential. Step away from pessimist thoughts or the focus on THE problem, and be more optimistic and look for SOLUTIONS no matter how grim a situation can be. There is always a way out!

Working Girl Basics: The Pencil Skirt Mix&Match

With all the sales around, I decided to go for a small shopping spree this weekend and ended up buying once again a pencil skirt…in white leather this time, because yes, I did not not have one in this style and color… I always say that of course. And this is what actually led to this post.

The bottom line is I realized the pencil skirt is my go-to item for the office. I just love it. I feel feminine, elegant and professional at the same time. I often wear monochromatic or tonal tops or classic button shirts with it (my favorite combination to be honest).

Looking back at the pencil skirt style I read that thanks to the genius of Christian Dior, working women in the 1950s turned towards precision tailoring and slim, mid-calf skirts that celebrated the feminine form. The pencil skirt worked its way up to the knee and became more figure hugging in the 1980s as part of the “power suit.” Fast forward to 2013-2014-2015, and while the colors and fabrics may change, the pencil skirt’s ability to flatter and mean business remains. And that’s what I love about it. It is a timeless piece indeed!

Pencil skirts can accentuate curves or create definition, depending on your body shape. Here are a few facts about pencil skirts:

1. Buy them in monochromatic colors – one color from head to toe – it creates a smooth line this way.
2. The more conical it is, the more curvy the silhouette will look – consider how much attention you want to call (or dial down) to your lower half.
3. With that said, you don’t have to be really skinny to wear a pencil skirt. Pair with a solid color top that hits the hip. Believe me, it works!
4. Pencil skirts look best with high heels. (!!!)
5. As it is a timeless piece you can mix and match, I suggest you invest in the highest quality you can afford. Pencil skirts can make you look pulled together, so make sure yours doesn’t fall apart.

You can find beautiful pencil skirts in Zara, BCBG, Herve Leger, Topshop, Asos, PNK Casual, Burberry and many others.

I ultimately believe that the pencil skirt style is symbolic of a woman who understands that femininity and professionalism are not mutually exclusive :).

Below, I pulled out some looks from a character from “Suits” (TV series) I particularly liked, Rachel Zane, that portrays very well the professional/stylish pencil skirt style. Enjoy :)!
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7 Soft Skills that contribute to a Successful Career

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I just read this very interesting article written by Bernard Marr (author and business man) about the 7 soft skills that successful people possess, and I found it particularly interesting and captivating. Therefore, I believe these 7 soft skills should be acknowledged, considered and developed by those who strive to be leaders.

Practically, the idea is that if you manage to master the skills below, you are able in the end to perform exceptionally in any business situation and position you may be no matter how new or out of your comfort zone. Here’s my take on the ultimate 7 soft skills.

1. Emotional Intelligence
Understanding what makes your colleagues tick, how to build relationships, connect emotionally with them and how to manage your own and other people’s emotional make-up is key. Having emotional intelligence helps you to be able to get along with people at all levels of your organization, equipped to choose the right battles (and the times to fight them!) and be prepared to finesse sticky situations. Also, you sense when to speak, raise points or to let go of arguments. It’s like the 6th sense of a business person.

2. Communication skills
You might have the most brilliant ideas in the room, but if you aren’t able to effectively communicate those ideas, you’ll never get anywhere. Being able to communicate clearly is vital to working with managers, teams, and clients. You can start improving your communications skills by paying more attention to what you say. Also, you have to learn to communicate concisely. If you rumble too much, you lose managers in the first 20seconds of your speech (and this is from personal experience:) ). Saying too little is not ok, and so is saying too much (deviating from the main point irrelevantly), so you have to learn to balance and choose your words and arguments. It’s all about experience, practice and some “emotional intelligence to it”.

3. Decision making
A decisive person is going to be desirable in any position, at any level, and the ability to make decisions is especially important the higher up you climb on the ladder. Taking forever to decide, procrastinating by doing unnecessary research, or avoiding making decisions altogether aren’t a good way to get ahead anywhere. Practice being decisive and demonstrating your decision making abilities to get ahead. It proves you can take accountability and risk. These are abilities of a striver and a fighter.

4. Integrity
Integrity at work means speaking up if you make a mistake that reflects poorly on you (rather than trying to soften or hide it), doing what you say you’re going to do, acknowledging when new information shows you were wrong and not being afraid to say “I don’t know.” Building a reputation for integrity pays off. When people know that your priority is to be honest and objective, not to protect yourself or try to make yourself look good, your opinion for sure will be taken more seriously, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt in he-said/she-said situations and, often, potentially difficult situations may go more smoothly.

5. Drive
Having drive doesn’t have to mean you have to work until 11pm every day every week or take on more responsability than you physically have time to perform. Instead, drive is about demonstrating you have determination and it could mean consistently working hard while you’re at work, or being concentrated and fully immersed in what you do. It could mean having the courage to go the extra mile for a project. It demonstrates that you’re committed to your work, and that’s very attractive to employers and managers.

6. Focus
Maintaining focus is an extremely important skill, whether we’re talking about focusing on a single task at hand or on your long-term objectives. It also means not getting sidetracked by “shiny object syndrome” :)))) or by what seems easy. It also proves that when things don’t go that well on the personal front, your professional performance will not be affected and that is really important.

7. Balance
I believe maintaining a healthy balance between your career and those things that will make you truly happy is very important.

8. Bonus skill: Calmness (yes, they were 7 soft skills, but I felt the need to add this one from my side because personally in my experience it proved to be very important and has helped me a lot in my career so far)
Calmness is one of those traits that doesn’t always get appreciated until it’s absent. But if you make a point of staying calm, rational and objective, even when you’re frustrated or angry, you’ll stand out for it. It happened to me many times. Plus, it only takes one instance of snapping at someone or slamming a door to get a reputation as The Angry One, and that’s a label that’s hard to shake. Calmness also tends to go hand-in-hand with low drama; people who are calm tend not to indulge in un-constructive interpersonal conflict and generally operate with cooperation and good will towards their colleagues.

I hope the above skills end up being a sort of inspiration for you. Maybe some of them are no brainers, or maybe I just raised a thought in your mind it would be a good idea to work on some of them. However, it was a small food for thought just before the weekend 🙂

Tame the idea of pure Originality, spin-off Inspiration and Create. Express yourself.

photo seaThere was this thought I had these days honestly, of being scared not to be original… Don’t be afraid to create and express more of who you are, even if what you do or how you do it is not a 100% novelty to the world. It can’t be! Everything is in some way or another interconnected… One big web… of intricate pathways. Leading here. Then there. Going to a dead end of ideas eventually… And then reuniting with another. Our human nature works this way and this is how we evolve, us and the world.

So, instead of creating NO value waiting around for that “Evrika” moment or idea and thinking of that pure original way of doing it, you could create incremental value or business or art that could benefit you (as you expressed it in your own reinvented way) and the world. Nothing happens in a vacuum anyway. Divide. Extrapolate. Create. Inspire or some other such variation. That’s how it happens. The “originality” we are able to create is a mere variation of something else. It inspires from something… It’s your touch to something most probably done before.

The reality is nothing is 100% original. Ever. Not in this world we are living in, unless you can reinvent the wheel or something. How could it be? Everything happens in relation to everything else, everything is a piece to a much larger whole, and every whole is just a piece to something else.

So why is everyone so scared about not being 100% original? Is it a new trend just to put forward this thought? Does it sound nice and cool that someone aims to be “100% original” and then it masks the fact that they create nothing with the simple excuse it is not purely “original”? This is not how we evolve.

A lot of people, I think – not being a lot of people I can’t possible know – fret and fuss over trying to be so unique that they end up not doing anything at all. How silly… Progress is not build this way. Progress is build by ideas building upon each other, it’s a team work in the end, a variation of interpretations and expressions. Individual breakthroughs are rare, collective incremental creativity is what can move us forward in the meantime.

But I know and fully understand: Being a cliché, or an imitator, or whatever else is not a thing for example an artist wants to be. An artist wants to express his or her self in a most unique fashion. Most art is about self expression. Self expression is about expressing yourself, not someone else’s mind. If it looks like you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, whatever work, on whatever platform, that’s not cool.

Thinking about your next killer novel idea, or next masterpiece, or what else you could use to paint a self portrait – thinking, thinking, thinking about your personal weave, whether or not it’s already been woven, whether or not your weaving process is different enough from the last guy who vaguely resembled how you pictured weaving that you inside – and not doing anything. That’s not cool nor constructive either…

There’s nothing wrong with striving to be 100% original and create breakthroughs, of course. It is admirable, BUT don’t limit yourself only to that. Inspire, reinterpret, revisit and put a personal touch on what is out there already if you feel like.

If you are considering to put one of your feet forward, turning inward, opening your eyes and examining the walls of your imagination, running your finger against those walls, blindly, to bleed, to feel, to listen, to hear what is happening there, within yourself, grabbing what you’ve found with two hands, clawing dimples into that dusty sponge that is you and dragging it out into the open sun to share your discovery with the world – then just do it. Express yourself. Do it. Don’t wait. Don’t worry whether it has been done before. If it’s from inside of you, bring it out. If you know it’s yours, who cares whether it was once also someone else’s? Chances are, it was.

If you’ve got an idea, don’t worry about whether it’s original. Just jump on that ideas shoulders and let it take you as far as it will (it applies to business too, by the way).