• Tom Newton

    I’m soon approaching that age in life when women start feeling an urge to splash out on high-end skincare products... and when things that never mattered to me now matter. Things like Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Collagen, Propylene Glycol Hylorounic Acid and lots of other complicated jargon.

    Though the thought of being forever young sounds inviting to some, what resonates a lot more with me is the chance to age gracefully and naturally.

    Lines of expression are exactly that. Marks on our faces that say we’ve laughed a lot, that we’ve had a full life. That we’ve aged—therefore we’ve had the privilege to LIVE.

    The “beauty” industry is there, waiting for us to start questioning how to go about flash-freezing our age (on our faces) so they can fill our minds with more doubt and more worry—making it seem glamorous and necessary to buy the most expensive “miracle” products; products that contain things we cannot even pronounce, let alone pinpoint what it really is that we are putting on our faces.

    The one thing they do not tell us, though, is the most important and least glamorous secret... and that is that good skin starts from within. Literally, health starts from your gut. Isn’t that so enticing? I know it isn’t, but that is the honest truth. Your gut is the most responsible for your immune system, where detoxifying enzymes and nutrients are created—so smothering a detoxifying mask on your face every week or spending a ridiculous amount of money on masks containing rich live nutrients serves no purpose if you are not eating well.



    Your skin is very telling of how well you eat and how much water you drink. So before you make an appointment with your facialist or ask your dermatologist how many creams, balms, serums etc. to buy, make sure you are battling the war from within:

    1. Start your day with lemon I know coffee is a bare necessity or at least it is for me... but do not run to your coffee machine as soon as you wake up. Instead grab a tall, lukewarm cup of water and squeeze in half a lemon. This helps flush your digestive system and re-hydrate your body after your 8 hours (you better be sleeping at least eight!) of sleep.

    2. Take it down a notch Have a de-stressing routine daily, whether that’s hardcore exercise, yoga, meditation, a walk through the neighborhood or time of prayer. Look for ways in your day to find balance and peace; this does very well to your soul AND gut.

    3. Drink a lot of water (duh!) Like you’ve never heard this before. I know you have but, really, DO IT! Water is the best way to detoxify your system, it hydrates your skin and helps your digestive system—and who doesn’t want that, right?

    4. Eat probiotics and lower your sugar intake These 2 go hand-in-hand because sugar depletes good bacteria from your gut... so while you might want to introduce yogurts and some sort of pickled vegetable to your diet in order to produce good bacteria, you may also want to make sure that those are not filled with sugar.

    5. Hail to all vegetables! Make sure that the biggest portion of your meals is a good amount of vegetables (preferably steamed or sautéed). Why put a Vitamin C mask on your face when you can be eating delicious berries, tomatoes, baby spinach…

    Finally, let me tell you this: Beauty products, in general, should be there to enhance your natural beauty, not to change or mask your best traits. Show off those freckles, be proud of how thin or plush your lips are. Leave those eyebrows alone and please, protect your skin from the sun and clean it with love.

    Non-optional to have at your disposal: A mild cleanser, a good balm and sunscreen (always!).


    How do you take care of your skin? Care to share?






  • Photography ©️ Cate Hill

    Creativity

    The thought of the term creativity often feels bigger than us... and that's probably because it transcends our own beliefs about ourselves. I believe it to be an ability not exclusive to just a select few of us. All of us are responsible for acknowledging creativity within ourselves and grabbing the bull by the horns.

    Creativity is not a manifestation of only those who make beautiful things with their hands . . . or come up with ideas that change the world. Anything that you create or transmit in an original way—tangible or intangible—and which provokes a positive response, is creativity at its best.

    To tap into your own creativity, you're going to need to strip away the preconceived notion that creativity is only related to art.

    Each of us is born to follow our own unique breadcrumb trail of ideas—be it in the area art, mathematics or science. It is when we become aware of our own special abilities, that we are able to contribute. Then we begin to walk in the confidence that we are finally doing what really defines us.

    You decide to be creative by making a conscious decision to dive into your passions in a very self-indulgent way—where you look to satisfy your own needs and your own curiosity first. Saving the world? Maybe you will. But that will only be consequential . . . and will have to wait a tad.


    Creatives

    We all have a genius living inside of us... but as we grow older, we start trying to slot into patterns that already exist, instead of scratching our itch to be who we naturally are. Before long we resign ourselves to there only being a few, limited ways to achieve the results we want . . . and that is what ultimately gives rise to a creative disconnect.

    When I think of creative souls, I think of people who understand that creativity inhabits them—in bucketloads... that innate power within them that makes their deepest desires tangible. Your soul is willing to turn off the "impossible" as long as your mind lets it.

    Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.”—and you can see the truth of it in people who understand that beauty has a million different faces.

    People who live their creative passions live in the uncertainty of the outcome of what they create—and they're fulfilled by the mere act of producing something despite that uncertainty.

    It's simply impossible for you and I to look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are not creative when we've already set our minds on something that's wildly as creative as blogging is. I'm glad we agree.

    That said, feeding the creative you doesn't assure that failure is never on the table. Rather it assures you that if failure does ever come knocking, you will be able to pick yourself right back up and try again—because that thing you are trying to unleash is much bigger and more powerful than any obstacle—within and without.




    Process

    Whatever we set our sights on, we get bombarded with ideas that are sometimes brilliant and sometimes not so brilliant.

    Everyone... and I mean everyone that's in the business of creating their own online editorials, has this type of artistic streak—and more often than not, channeling it all is an uphill battle.

    There's no secret formula to unleashing ideas in your life. There's no one-pro- cess-fits-all method—it takes knowing what our end goal is and focusing on that to make the right decisions.

    What often fails us is not creativity or inspiration . . . it's our fixation on the things that we are pouring our time into. We need to examine our motivations before we decide to create and to ask ourselves:

    Am I really doing what I deeply want to be doing?

    If you answer is "yes", ideas will have your back . . . and they will grow in you as something intelligent, dynamic and interactive. Where there's passion there's inspiration and where there's inspiration, you find a way.

    The windfall of accepting that creativity is a part of us is a steady flow of ideas that can truly be of service to us. While your process is unique, the following stages are essential in every Creative's life:

    Preparation
    This is the first phase—and it focuses on sharpening your skills so that you can warm to those ideas: Creating a monthly mood board, for example, can help keep you in the flow for the next step.

    Incubation
    Gives your ideas time to sink in. In this stage, your conscious and subconscious minds converge, making true connections that allow you to rest on your thoughts without letting them overwhelm you or clutter any area of your life.

    Illumination
    This is your "Aha!" moment—when a concrete idea hits you and you are able to discern the essence and worth of it. At this point, you write down 3 key benefits of your general idea.

    Implementation
    It's time to put your idea out there. This when a product is shaped, a post is written, a marketing idea comes to fruition... fill in the blank.

    Eventually, creativity works with us as opposed to "for" us when we focus on things that truly motivate us . . . and when we come to understand that perfection is the killer of progress.

    Embracing those recurring moments where ideas are born is something that can help you build a better relationship with your process. It helps you to be better prepared and to rest on something—instead of feeling the urge to poke at it endlessly—which makes for a more mindful outcome.

    My personal advice is that you live your life fully, and manifest your creativity by making sure that your focus is on things that move you . . . that you satisfy your curiosity and never stop working with your own set of skills and beliefs. Do not give up when you feel like you've hit a brick wall. Those obstacles are there to shape us, not to have us throw in the towel.

    Whatever you do, don't ever tether your creativity to praise—or the lack thereof. If you even subconsciously make it dependent on that, you will continuously sell yourself short. There's no hollower place to be than having your happiness lie at the whim of others.

    If what worries you the most is to either meet everyone's expectations (or to avoid criticism), maybe you need to realize that most people are so caught up in their own love affair with perfection to notice your "unforgivable" imperfections, that what you think are mammoth-size mistakes are really tiny specs of dust falling through cracks without anybody noticing them.

    So... be kind to yourself when it comes to judging your own work—and instead of resisting, open yourself up to other people judging it, otherwise, you will never find the courage to put it out into the world, to be who you want to be and do what you want to do. And for God's sake! Be inevitable, unashamedly and humanly imperfect.

    Let your workflow and develop your style organically. Have the Universe know that you are up to the challenge.

    ___

    Excerpt from my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging  Chapter 'Creativity', Page 98

    Curious? Get the book for free this weekend. Yes, really!

    Flash—Sale | This weekend → Get a custom logo, media kit, 5 blog graphics and a FREE copy of my book | 55% Off




  • Photography ©️ Alice Gao

    A little over a year ago I started noticing certain daily things were causing strange involuntary reactions in me: like a slight increase in my heartbeat every Sunday before bed, or a near inability to take deep, steady breaths while I worked on my computer or replied to emails.

    The symptoms worsened when my father got ill—until seemingly out of the blue I woke up one day and I started becoming paralyzed with fear at any given moment. Stress and negative thoughts weighed down on me to the point of making me experience the feelings of going through unimaginable tragedy and loss. The slightest day-to-day challenges would set me off on a panic attack. Air seemed not to fill my lungs and I would get more and more worked up until my body would eventually crash and I’d feel burned out. An exhaustion I'd never experienced before.

    I had no idea why after I had gone through so much in life I was suddenly unable to cope with the most common things. My creatively demanding job, of course, wasn’t helping. I was starting to lose touch with the things I loved and giving up on everything that I had built.

    My life was at that point where I couldn’t go left, right, forward or backward. I could just exist in that moment and try to change my attitude—because the situation wasn’t going to change any time soon. My father was going to get worse or pass away before he could get better and my daily work was always going to have its positives and negatives. I needed to relearn how to cope.

    I wish I could tell you I had that realization moment and I set off on a magical journey or rediscovery, but it was nothing like that. There was the preliminary part where my emotions and what I knew to be “me” had spiraled out of control, making me lose all of my sense of routine, self-love and the work I held so dear.

    One day, a few months down the line after going through the actual loss of my father, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, having just woken up from a vivid dream where I had taken a train ride with him. I woke up sobbing and feeling like my chest was going to explode. Suddenly I felt tired of it all—of imploding and feeling I had no control over my emotions.

    I had to face the fact that I was helpless and stop swimming against the current. I had to truly stop and realized that I had all this bottled up and it wasn’t serving me.

    Minimalism was one of the many things that helped in the process of picking myself back up. It made it so that I could grasp some perspective and focus on the present moment. I needed to let go of some of my emotional baggage and that is exactly what I did.

    I kept it simple. I did what I could manage every day and I kept my focus on the day-to-day with a heart full of love and forgiveness for what I thought I had neglected or left behind when I wasn’t able to cope.

    I committed myself to doing one thing at a time and to tackling that one thing that was the most terrifying at the beginning of each day. That meant I wouldn’t let it hang over my head and that I wouldn’t run the gauntlet of anxiety every single day. Being mindful helped me find true strength in times where I’d otherwise have lost all emotional control.

    With time and much persistence I’ve been able to react appropriately to each situation. That’s not to say that I no longer suffer from anxiety or panic attacks but they do not run my life anymore. Last week was a terrible week for me. I was anxious and down. I was physically ill and entertaining all the negativity I could... but what counts is today—and today I'm here.

    Even in the midst of experiencing paralyzing fear, I’ve been able to push forward knowing that I can do at least one thing every single day. That the emotions that don’t serve me are supposed to be let-go of and not bottled up... and that as terrible as today might seem, there is still hope for tomorrow—or even for a minute or an hour from now.

    Minimalism has brought mindfulness into my life and consequently comfort and happiness, even in times of grief, need and fear.

    For everyone suffering from anxiety or panic attacks like me, I’d suggest looking for professional help. I wanted to share my story with you on where I’ve come from so you know that you can come out on the other side too... but this might not apply to you, so this is not at all a formula to follow but a story of someone who knows how hard it is and who can now see light and hope in her situation.


  • Photography © Norm

    Your alarm goes off. You grab your phone, your eyes half open as you eyeball your like count and messages. After spending a few (or maybe not so few) minutes seeing what needs seeing, you skyrocket out of bed to begin your day—as if the day itself was on a Machiavellian mission to do you in. Between your day to day responsibilities and the unexpected and inevitable surprises of life's mishaps, your day seems to end in the blink of an eye . . . but somehow you haven't managed that much. Feel familiar?

    In this day and age we're all connected. Think about it. How much of your available time is spent staring at a screen: scrolling, liking, replying, pinning? . . . As if the world was going to implode if we didn't. A 24-hour day to us is not even close to what it meant to our parents and their parents (who were present every moment of their lives).

    We spend so much of our lives plugged in that we forget the power of doing one thing at a time—mindfully—from start to finish. I'm not saying that time spent on anything non-work related is time not well spent. What I am saying is that in order for us to better get a hold of our must-do's, we need to give everything its space and time.

    Your days as well as mine are torn between work, life and rest—and neither should suffer because of the other. Putting everything in its place guarantees that not only will your day be well spent, but that you're not suddenly overwhelmed and overrun by your commitments.

    The feeling of accomplishment is immediate when you give things an allotted time for completion . . . and that will only encourage you to move forward, knowing that the time you have available is more than enough.

    Seeing time this way (and not worrying about technology to the point of it becoming a nervous tick) has given me a breather not only in my day-to-day living, but it has also definitely made me more present and less anxious about my daily routine.

    Please share your thoughts with us.

  • Photography and Styling © Karina Dimas

    For most people home ends on the outside of one door and work starts on the inside of another . . . but that's not the case if you, like me, work from home.

    We are the envied few, viewed as the lucky hipsters who get to work from bed. We lived in a falsely romanticized life by those who believe we get to work from cozy beds decked out in Egyptian cotton, free to work or play at our leisure.

    The testy truth is that working from home is far from glamorous. It is instead an endless race to meet deadlines and oftentimes a setting aside of the conveniences a home office might bring. It wraps around us like ivy and makes us feel guilty for enjoying the everyday things that others working outside of home enjoy: An 8-5 schedule, an hour-long lunch or even a 30 minute break away from our computers.

    So yes, working from home is one thing, but managing it successfully is another. It is very common, in fact, for most of us who work from home to feel like we'll never get a hang of it. We often use all of our energy and resources burning ourselves out, only to accomplish the same level of success as others who do less.

    I've personally found in my own pursuit of success on the work-from-home front that the secret to doing it successfully is inviting in a contradiction and holding to structure as if we were working outside of home.

    The 2 main areas where we need those limitations are:

    01. Space Designing a specific space for work might burst your expectations bubble and feel trivial if you believe the best thing about working away from an office is the freedom to work anywhere you want—but in assigning one space for daily work, whether that be a room, a workshop or a section of your living room, you automatically also create the ability to switch on and off work by acknowledging that as soon as you step away from that space you finish work and when you are in it . . . to log into it.

    Doing this doesn't take away from your freedom to occasionally spend a day of work at a cafe, to do it from a hotel room or even while on a plane ride to your vacations. It simply gives your brain an automatic way to switch off from your responsibilities.

    02. Time This one is a hard one but it is probably one that's the easiest to take for granted or to not value, depending on your schedule.

    Having a set time to work and structuring your online hours in extremely important—even for us creatives who might have a fantastic idea in the middle of the night or might feel a rush just before meeting a deadline.

    Time is were we have the most freedom when we work from home; we don't have to comply to a set schedule, we just have to put the hours in. So, playing with that freedom and missing the mark is often what happens. Delimiting your time can bring you not only a feeling of accomplishment every day but also actual accomplishments. Why? Because you will be giving your 100% to each task without the interruption of a billion other things.

    If you determine a clear work schedule and commit to it, you will welcome the daily pauses and breathers with a whole lot more peace of mind—and that will help you make the wheels spin with more ease on a daily basis.

    In short, freedom cannot survive without structure and structure deserves a little bit of freedom. To succeed at working from home, we need to understand where our limitations lie and enjoy our work and the fruits thereof fully and freely.

    What is your secret?
  • Photography © Nina Holst I wanted to tackle a topic that I know interests most of you and after a bit of lurking I came to the realization that Productivity is general concern, and rightly so. Most of us who blog are usually multi-passionate which puts a lot on our plates every single day.

    Having a custom strategy is important to ensure that you don't have deadlines coming out of your ears, it's also essential in preventing burn out – but sometimes just taking the time to build a realistic plan is far from possible.

    I'm not an expert when it comes to time management and productivity but I haven't gone insane... yet. I believe that at least qualifies me to tell you which bits and pieces of productivity advice have worked for me when I didn't have a strategy or at times when life's challenges have thrown that carefully planed structure out the window:

    01. Write Sh*t Down

    Dave Kolo's WSD productivity method is the thing that makes the most sense. If you have something in writing to remind you of what you're supposed to be doing and when you're supposed to do it chances are, you will do it.

    02. If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now!

    Is part of Davi Allan's GTD philosophy. Why write it down or stress out about it when you can get it out of the way? Quick calls, short emails or even small household tasks. Get them out of the way before seeing them in writing overwhelms you. Now, this is only successful when you focus on 1-2 tasks. There's no point in this if you end up spending an hour doing 2-minute tasks.

    03. Eat your frogs

    "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." – Mark Twain.

    Certainly Mr. Twain didn't paint the prettiest picture but it's great advice for those of us who constantly feel pushed to the point of not knowing where to get started completing our tasks. Work on the most difficult task first.

    Simple.

    04. Focus

    This is something I've always done, even before reading more about productivity. My approach is similar to the Power Hour technique. It's about limiting yourself to focusing on one task for 1 hour – my only exception is that I change the time-frame according to my needs.

    This works only if I don't reply to messages, personal emails or even worry about other work that might be queued. If you're a natural multitasker and you're happy juggling things all the time, this will be difficult but it's done wonders for me.

    After completing the task, I allow myself the time for out-of-work activities for 10 minutes, I use those to stretch, fill up my water bottle or maybe send out a quick tweet about something completely unrelated to work and then carry on with the next task.

    05. Relax and drink water

    Believe or not one of the things that stop us from being highly productive is that we are in constant reaction mode, to the point in which our productivity becomes sporadic through out the day without letting us maintain a healthy pace.

    We're also trained to think that caffeine equals alertness, therefor ups our productivity. The reality is that caffeinated drinks not only make our stress hormone go off the charts it also dehydrates our bodies. Dehydration causes mental fatigue which results in lack of concentration. I make it an every day ritual to drink at least 2 liters of water and you should too.

    Not taking care of our minds and bodies is the perfect road to hitting brick-walls. When you are not working it is important that you give yourself true relaxation time, be as intentional with the "doing nothing" part as you are with the work. Make it a practical and mental exercise to disconnect from your lists and deadlines.

    Whether you want to take your weekend off or a couple of hours of your every day, this will change your complete approach.

    Try it.

    You can apply one or all of the tips above by determining if it fits your lifestyle or not. The key thing to understand is that we will either run our day or the day will run us. Reclaim your productive life back by making it work for you.

    How do you keep yourself from getting distracted throughout the day?

    For more advice, tips and a full productivity strategy: Purchase my book 30 Days To Minimal Blogging.
  • Photography © Ana Degenaar When it comes to leading a balanced life, I'm a true believer that while this is a very romanticized and idealistic thought in my own personal life, perfect balance is seldom achieved. This would mean I'd have to give equal attention to everything and everyone at all times... and being that circumstances are constantly changing, this might never be the case.

    The reality is that we only look for balance because we live in constant pressure. If we learn to live intentionally we immediately take that out of the equation and automatically learn to live in the in-between.

    A couple of years ago, I was working 20-hour days both at home and outside of home and doing extra hours, often consisting of 8 hours on a Saturday and 8 on a Sunday. Needless to say, I didn't need to have someone telling me I was going to have a breakdown. I did. 


    Life and work are sometimes a matter of redefining and reshuffling to me. The same way I rearrange my living room, I rearrange the how, when and where I do things. Focusing too much on balance itself deviates from doing what’s important when it's needed.


    I’ve always thought about this subjet with a bit of guilt - that is until I realized there's nothing wrong with shifting my focus and giving my undivided attention to what feels to be the most important thing to me at that time. In order to do that, I needed to learn not only to be very perceptive and aware of the needs of those around me, but also my own needs. 


    For the most part, this advice will sound like a list of no-brainers but more often than not it’s the simplest, most practical things that we overlook that brings us the highest benefits:

    You
    The first shift you need to make is realizing that taking care of yourself is not selfishness – it in fact allows you a sense of readiness when it comes to taking care of things and people other than yourself. There's no point in trying to achieve so much and slide towards a breakdown.

    Limits
    Just as kids need boundaries, we – the infamous breed of workaholics, also need them: carefully planned 8-10 hour work-days with breaks in between and a way to draw a line between work time and personal time are crucial.

    I’m not saying you should have it all together but you should strive every day to see your work tools (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone) as your "place of work", understanding that if you’re off the clock, you shouldn't even be near those tools. Making a pledge to simple shifts like: Neither will you eat at your desk nor take it with you while I'm on holiday.

    
Move
    Although I find exercise to be of utmost importance in my life, this point has nothing to do with it. It has to do with being stuck in your office for long periods of time.

    This little change will make an incredible difference in your life.

    I frequently use my office for my design work but once I'm in the replying to emails stage, I move to a different location every day. I set my times and I dedicate myself to that – fully aware of what I’m doing.

    These tiny shifts of location can help you, honestly, not to lose your mind.

    Relax
    When a pressing matter consumes your every waking moment or you get sick (as with every other human being), you need to learn to listen what your body is trying to tell you. Be safe that the internet will be OK without you and that you will be OK without it.

    If something goes terribly wrong, then you'll have the time to explain yourself, apologize and move on. Of course, I could only get to this point after getting sick and realizing that although I am a very responsible and hardworking person, we all experience misfortune and have our ups and downs.

    There’s a time to be productive but there’s also a time to feed our bodies and our souls and the latter shouldn't be at the mercy of how much we are able to get done in a day.


    Wrap It Up
    At the end of each day, go through all the things in your productivity list. If there are things you didn't manage to do within those 8-10 hours, simply move them to the next day.

    Closing off your day means you have already gone through your set work hours and that you need to regroup. Forcing yourself to work further can result in sloppy work and work that you’re not proud of. Don't be ashamed to log out – confident that you did everything you could and enjoy some special time of cell regeneration, otherwise known as sleep. 


    Restart
    When you start your days, Do not jump in with both feet too fast. Waking up early and allowing yourself a leeway of 30 minutes to 1 hour can benefit you more and make your mind and home less frantic in the morning.

    Easing into your routine is something you can condition yourself to. Maybe even try a few minutes of meditation, sitting in the quiet and stillness of the morning. 


    After these bits of advice, the most important advice I always give, is to do whatever's best for you and your family. Remember that all of this will one day pass... so treasuring everything in the mix, not only work is important. 


    Be honest to yourself and to the ones who rely on you. You cannot do everything but you sure can do enough.

    How do you maintain balance?
  • Photography © Adidas Originals Full disclosure: I’m writing this post as I eat my third zucchini cookie of the day – and experiencing zero guilt.

    To be fair, for someone who’s job statistically labels her as “sedentary” - and completely backing up that fact – I have a moderate to good relationship with fitness and health. But let’s face it: Blogging, designing and running a creative business from home sets up the perfect atmosphere for a sedentary lifestyle, especially when squeezing in an extra hour of work is sometimes a bigger priority in our lives.

    I believe that the place where we put *ourselves* on our mental priority list directly dictates how good of a relationship we have with exercise and spirituality (or at least that has been true in my own life). Awareness plays a lead role in making us believe we deserve something and in understanding that one hour dedicated to ourselves is an hour gained, not an hour lost – or that eating healthy is not a temporary quick fix but a life habit.

    Being aware of ourselves first when it comes to a healthier lifestyle is (surprisingly) not just about vanity and shedding the pounds, although it’s a nifty side effect, don’t you think? Being aware of ourselves makes us uncomfortable enough with our sedentarism to provoke us to action.

    The secret to effortless exercise is learning to redefine the way we see effort itself, not as something that sucks the life out of us. It changes from, "There’s no time for it" to, "I’ll make time for it". That’s where the rubber hit the road and makes us more prone to creating a realistic system for ourselves that fits into our lives and that we can maintain.

    You exercise and live healthy effortlessly when you:

    1. Ease into it – Most people fail at creating healthy habits because they don’t ease into it. You need to start from the beginning when it comes to building a healthier lifestyle, no exception. Start with something that your mind recognizes as effortless. For example, move at a slow pace for 15 minutes today rather than signing up for a military style boot camp... or switch out white bread for wholewheat bread. Simple is always smart.

    2. Redefine your limiting beliefs – Our beliefs are shaped by past experiences, logic and emotion. Once a belief is formed we reject the thought that something can be any other way: If you believe that you can’t do something, you speak and act like someone who can’t, so you actually can’t. Reshaping a belief is about changing the way we speak about things and ourselves. I love the way Tony Horton puts it: Instead of saying, “I can’t” say, “I presently struggle with...” - then act on that new belief.

    3. Be present – Creating healthy habits is a day-by-day process. It’s about what you’re doing today that’s good for you... not about what you will be able to do, feel or look like a year from now. Practicing mindfulness inherently allows you to find the process itself satisfying not only the outcomes.

    4. Align it with your personality – If your actions and habits don’t align with your personality you will soon lose your interest... and you know how that goes. First despondency... and then you'll jump ship. It’s key to recognize how beautifully different we are and how that triggers what we fall in love with. I love yoga and practice it once a week for 1.5 hours - but doing that every single day just doesn’t align with my personality. Things that have me jumping, moving and rolling on the floor are more *me*. Like Plyometrics. So that's the highlight of my week. The same can be applied to healthy eating. If you’re not someone who loves smoothies, why drink them? Eat the way you like and make smart healthy choices.

    5. Condition yourself for it – A lot of us have all these good intentions but when it comes time to put them into practice, we find something better to do or to eat because we don’t condition ourselves and our lives for action. For example, you are much more likely to exercise if you intentionally focus on simply putting on your gym clothes and shoes. Just the way you're more likely to eat better by planning your meals in advance. Conditioning is setting yourself up for success which in the end is winning.

    Keep in mind that this is not all about getting shredded abs... it’s about creating new habits and new beliefs so that exercise is always effortless no matter it’s shape, form or level of intensity. No fitness Guru in the world is going to talk you into making the shift to living a healthier life style if you don’t set yourself up for success.

    Do you have any limiting mindsets when it comes to exercise and healthy living?

    Please, let me know if you want the recipes for these cookies. I tell you, they’re scrumptious.
  • Photography © Line Klein Life has been specially busy lately, I'm still struggling with time-management and recovering for catching the newest bug going around in Northeast Brazil, ah! the joys of living in the paradise. With all the running around and catching up I've had to do, eating healthy and having a consistent workout routine hasn't been a priority.

    I'm one of those annoying people who love the start of a week. I thrive on Mondays, true fact. I love feeling like it's all starting over and that I get a chance to make adjustments to get better at what I do, from my job to all the little life things I have going on... All that to say this latest project by the lovely Line Klein has inspired me to eat healthier this week and make sometime for myself and my workouts.

    Line took personal trainer's Anne Bech cookbook photos and let me just say. Yes! That's what eating healthy should look like, every time. May next week be beautiful and kind to all of us.

  • Photography © Ana Degenaar There are seasons in my life that make me feel like I'm on a never-ending roller coaster ride. That's the exact feeling I've had lately (and the reason why this post is going up on a Sunday). I made it a goal this year to stop glorifying the sleepless hours and 24/7 work weeks. I wanted to start taking care of myself and my health but I admit it's been a challenge. Sticking to a work schedule of only 8 hours a day, having weekends off, eating healthy and exercising every day is a challenge for any workaholic. Don't get me wrong, it's worth the effort.

    There are some times like this month though, when I know my time will be very limited and these are the times when I need to juggle and prioritize. Preparation is key so if you are feeling like me today I'd advice that you prepare, prepare, prepare! Taking a few minutes off your Sunday to cut veggies, freeze meals and make this easy hummus recipe can definitely increase the amount of time you have during your workday.

    I cannot call this a recipe because it's really as simple as placing hummus on a plate, cooking asparagus on a grill and poaching an egg. It took me less than 10 minutes to get this on my plate so this will definitely be on repeat this month.

    What are your go-to recipes when you're very busy? I need to know.
  • Photography © Ana Degenaar Remember how in this post I was telling you I had been learning more about Neuroscience and the effects of it in our emotions? Well, a lot of you asked what that was all about. I don't have a back story of how I became interested in this subject, I just picked up a book one day and got addicted to it as I realized how life-changing these things where. Before I get to the nitty-gritty I just want to mention that this is the first of many posts in this new series called "5" where I'll give you 5 pieces of advice (from my personal views and opinions because we all know I'm not an expert) on any subject you request. That way we'll keep the information relevant and the posts "short". Are you ready?

    Happy People:

    1. Get enough sleep I used to work ridiculous hours and push myself with deadlines thinking I could recover one week of almost no sleep with a few extra hours on a Sunday. That was very untrue, I was lying to myself and deteriorating my physical and emotional health. I made the decision of sleeping 8 hours every night and sticking to a schedule long before learning about neuroscience, I did it because I found myself at a place in which I needed to take care of myself and my health and I needed to stop glorifying how busy I was all the time. Sleep has a restorative and adaptive process, not giving yourself the right to a good night sleep damages your neurological system and it could lead to brain damage. Lack of sleep also ages you and contrary to what we may think, it makes us a lot less productive because our minds will wander and we will feel lost when we have deprived ourselves of rest. I personally find this talk by Arianna Huffington to be very encouraging and true.

    2. Have nutritious breakfastsIt is a reality that the lack or abundance of specific nutrients can affect cognitive processes and emotions. We live in a time in which we are so health-crazed and willing to try anything and everything without truly understanding how our bodies work. Once you have those sleeping patterns right you need to know that in order for your body to wake up in the morning, it will produce high levels of cortisone, that is the substance that produces stress. Fueling your body with a nutritious breakfast is key to bring those levels down, give you energy and make your body function properly. A balanced diet is key to keep your physical and mental health in check. If your diet bases of sugars or carbohydrates your stress levels will be constantly high. Eating within one hour of waking helps give the body the nutrients it needs to lower the levels of cortisol. Remember that fruit juice, fruit and grains are carbohydrates. Vegetarian or animal based proteins, nuts and healthy fats are the way to go.

    3. Live intentionallyThis is a very personal one but I believe in living life with intention, that means knowing why you do what you do. The biggest and the smallest things you choose to do can have a big impact in your life and your career. Deciding to live your life, defining what your life purpose is and staying focused is key in order not to wander aimlessly. Living intentionally sounds complicated but it's actually very simple. It's about knowing what steps you should be taking today in order to get you to where you want to be and following through.

    4. Are gratefulOne of the best habits a person can have is to think about one thing they're grateful for every morning. I've tried it and that simple act turns my day around. Yes, we all strive, we all suffer and we all go through ups and downs but deciding to live with gratitude puts everything into perspective. It's transforming and powerful. I'm sure that you've experienced that in the hardest moments of your life there always things to be grateful for. Grateful people are happy people because they focus on the positive in their lives and are motivated by it.

    5. Make themselves responsible for their happinessUnderstanding that we are the only ones responsible for our own happiness is life-changing, it makes you work harder, it gives you the desire to be better, accepting and very much HAPPY. Expecting others to be our only source of happiness is a recipe for disappointment.

    Thank you for reading. I'm eager to know when do you feel the happiest? and What do you do to remain happy when life seems to be going wrong?
  • Photography © VittVittVitt I pride myself on my ability to happily survive Mondays and usually have all the energy in world to dive into my to-do lists when the day starts and go as far as to look forward to it on Sunday evening but let's get real... Monday also means all those precious hours of rest and weekend fun are painfully over. I've developed a system that makes things easier for me and has helped me enjoy the day... As much as one can enjoy Monday that is.

    First and foremost I have to mention and admit I'm a bit OCD so the first thing I do before bed on Sunday or early Monday morning (if I had to put in an extra hours of work on the weekend) is to re-organize my office and take some fresh flowers to place on my desk in order to set the mood for the next morning. There's truly nothing worse than walking into a messy office when you're about to dive into all the emails and work that was left from the weekend.

    My next step is to create a Monday to-do list with only 4 items, which usually consists of the 4 most important things I have to do every day work-wise. I usually get more than 4 tasks done but it helps keep my sanity intact.

    As contradictory as this may  sound, I do not sleep those extra 15 minutes on Monday. I try my best to wake up early, get dressed and ease into the work piles comfortably.  I segment my work hours as I do every day but... I also let myself indulge a little with good music and a bit of day-dreaming.

    Bottom line, there's no reason why we shouldn't enjoy Mondays and look for practical ways to make the day meaningful and productive.  The key here is not to bite off more than we can chew and to remember that even if the littlest efforts leave you feeling drained there are always ways to reward yourself after a long day of work... Take out, a nice bubble bath and a glass of wine come to mind as I write.

    How do you survive Mondays?
  • Photography © Hay Ever since I was in Uni I enjoyed studying and working on projects at nigh because it was quiet and the possibilities of getting interrupted by anything (except the garbage truck) where very slim. I don't know if it's that I'm a little A.D.D. but when I get interrupted it's very difficult for me to re-take that point where I stopped and just move forward.

    Now that I'm getting older I'm trying to make it a priority to sleep more. When I say that, I mean sleep 8 hours like a normal person as opposed to sleeping 4 like I'm used to. My reasons and motivations are plenty but being fully awake to be with Emma is the strongest one I can mention... Ok! Also aging gracefully is a concern.

    Being a methodical creature, I have worked out a system that fits my life as a globe. It allows me to be a lot more productive in my daily routines to cavort at home with Emma and partake in some serious work scheming at night. This might work for you too.

    1. Before I even start my projects, I gather all the things I will need to work. That includes coffee (to get my creative juices going), a watch, a notebook (how genius is that one?), pencils and anything that would make me comfortable.

    2. I set my timer and stick to working only 2 hours at night. You'd think this would make somebody stressed of rushed but in my case it makes focus. If I know I have 2 hours to work I know leaving all distractions behind is a must and I'm able to decipher codes a lot quicker when the clock is ticking. What now?

    3. I keep a notebook in case my mind is haunted with other ideas while I work. It is kind of a trashcan for me. e.g. If I'm working for a client who owns I catering business, my brain can't help but think about what to serve for Emma's birthday. Basically the notes keep me from wandering about any other programs or sites on my computer and reminds me of getting my act together and finally making some serious party-planning.

    4. I always work with sufficient light, I already wear glasses but the thought of damaging my eyes any further pains me. It is also proven that the lack of light causes stress and headaches and nobody is a fan of those, right?

    5. The morning after is for damage control. (This also works if you had a "tapas" night and copious glasses of "vino" the previous night). After scouting for all kinds of creams last year as I approached 26 I found that Orlane's Anegese 25+ was truly one of the things I needed in my skincare routine, precisely because I was working at night so much. It is tiny and pricey but I only use a drop every morning after cleansing my skin and it works wonders on puffy eyes and sleepy faces in general.

    My main advice is that you only stay up late if you truly have to. There's nothing that can help you recover your precious time of rest and not sleeping well can take it's toll on the strongest person alive. I've learned to be wise with my time and say NO to my urge of getting things done so quickly.

    Any tips you want to share?

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