Our Happiness Lies in Our Own Hands

In recent months, I have experienced as I watched from a distance, someone else’s life. In my thoughts, I am in a sort of very long trip that just will not seem to stop. And without ever having something taken-apart from innumerable cups of black/green tea to stay awake after many sleepless nights. Natural high, as it is also referred to as beautiful. It’s a strange thing; adrenaline. It is one of the most uncomfortable feelings that I know, because usually it is accompanied by a large dose of nerves. And that means; trembling knees, a lid that just will not stop vibrating and the Russian language that seems suddenly very difficult — and stuttering in a tearing rush talk included. But, I would not be archer if I was not slightly addicted to adrenaline. For how uncomfortable I feel, also when the nerves take over my body as much as I return to my bed would want to crawl on exciting moments, and how scary I find new things sometimes.

I hear you think; what the hell have you been up to, Irma?! Where you got such a kick out of it?! Well, the big story of it I will tell you soon, because I’m still in the middle of the whole adventure. A bit weird, I know. But seriously, there’s something I can tell already. And that is a lesson. Without lecturing or to sound like a smart ass, I want to share something. It may sound like an open door which I unceremoniously flick but bear with me. I do not know what possessed through me, but in the last few months I have a sort of ‘all or nothing’ feeling. And that means that I was attacked by a powerful force, which I had long not felt. And that was again the result that I no longer dreamed about the things I want, but suddenly, I added action, determination and motivation to my vocabulary. A giant step in the right direction, which I achieved in a personal goal and — perhaps more importantly — realized that your happiness really does lies in your own hands.

Nobody is going to make your dreams on a platter for you, no one can conjure that your dreams come true just like that, except you. You’re the only one who can choose to go the safe way, or to challenge yourself and show what you got. You are the boss of your own life! Without fear, without any doubts or uncertainties, and full of conviction in that what you want to achieve. If you go with that setting and full of positive thoughts go to work — it may just so happen that your dreams might start coming true. Thus. Grandma has spoken. 🙂

Illustration: Alessandra De Cristofaro

Thoughts on Being in My Early 30s

Every birthday is a blessing. Truth is, I feel much younger than what I imagined 32 to be.

Here are some of my thoughts on what I’ve learned being in my early 30s.

32 years young. It’s been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. So make sure you spend time with people who are full of life and inspire you.

Looking younger. Wearing less makeup really helps. I’ve noticed that I look much younger if I wear less bold lip colors, though I love a deep red lip. I don’t dress very conservatively. I like to keep my outfits casual chic with some sass.

Take care of your skin. This should be my number one. Truth is, keeping my skin super hydrated does wonders. I avoid direct sunlight for long periods of time, especially if I’m not wearing sunscreen. I drink LOTS of water each and every day. I’m thinking of sharing my 32 beauty secrets in a few weeks!

Stress less, feel younger. Stress takes years off your life, but you could be adding years back by taking responsibly of controlling your own actions and learning when to let go. Forgiveness is power and resentment is poison. Listen to your body, it’s never wrong. My best way tip to shake off stress is to get exercise. Gym, yoga, jogging are some of my favorite go-to stress relievers. Over the years I’ve noticed that my body needs regular physical activity (every day) to feel my best.

Fine lines. These are proof that I smile and laugh a lot! But in all honesty, I really only have a few around my eyes, and they appear while I smile.

Know when to say NO. This has become much easier with age. NO to uncomfortable situations, societal or peer pressures, and I know when and how to remove myself without feeling guilty.

Memories = Happiness. Creativity, taking time off, working less so that I can create more memories is what drives my happiness levels waayy up!

Spotify 24/7. Ever since my teens years I’ve been a music addict but now it’s more soothing to my soul, like lighting a candle or taking a warm bath with sparkling juice. Haha.

I won’t be a “young” mom. And I’ve always been fine with that, even though my mom had me by age 30! It’s a different world we live in now, everything is in God’s hands and will happen when it’s meant to.

Love where you live. Truth is, there’s no such thing as the “perfect place” in which to live. All cities/towns/villages have pros and cons. You just have to find the place with the ones that suit you best and call it home.

Plan less, enjoy more. I used to be a big planner, and now I barely plan. I’ll only do it if it’s absolutely necessary for things such as projects, deadlines or trips.

Love what you do. We live in a world where we can be creative to find ways to work outside of the typical corporate office setting. I was in that once, and I knew it wasn’t for me. Followed my gut feeling, trusted in God’s plan and here I am. Happy with what I do and where I do it from.

Take care of your body. I started when I was in my mid twenties. So glad I started then. Keeping my body healthy is crucial if I want to be able to have good consistent energy throughout the day, everyday.

Get your 7-9 hours of sleep. I feel my best when I sleep about 8 hours. Though these days I don’t always have the opportunity to get enough every night.

You are what you eat. I eat a paleo diet for the most part but I don’t really eat much meat. If I eat any meat it’s grass-fed or free-range. At restaurants, often times I go for chicken or fish, and always choosing the best quality available. I rarely eat gluten-free baked goods, and on occasion I eat pasta, but I like to make it myself.

Stand your ground. I don’t follow the majority. If it’s a Netflix show that’s amazing, and everyones watching, then that’s ok, lol. There’s so much marketing pressure these days to try botox and fillers (is that the same thing?). I don’t allow the pressure to get to me. I don’t let it bother me.

Adulting. It can be tough, but it can also be really fun. Once you gain some life experience after college and truly experience ups and downs, you have the power and perspective to make your 30’s be the best decade of your life!

My closet is refined. It has taken me years to get to this point, and it’s still got a ways to go. I go for quality fabrics over quantity or something I’ll only wear once. I shop for basics and classics, pieces that will always be good to wear (even if they go in and out of style).

Interior space matters. I want my home to look beautiful and be comfortable for everyone. I have extensive experience in fashion design, and it’s something of an addiction to me. Love seeing my ideas and work come to fruition, plus I’m more productive in a clean, well-organized space.

Projects always take 2-4x longer than you think. It can be so frustrating. I’ve learned to budget 2x longer for all projects. That way I feel way less stressed. Now, just don’t procrastinate on getting started!

I’m a “new” blogger. I struggle with how to tie this into my Instagram feed sometimes. The blog is a great outlet for creative topics and I’m gonna work on posting more here in 2019!

Go with your gut feeling. It’s so true when they say that women have a sixth sense. I believe it because I use it all the time and it works great.

Regret is poison. Have no regret. Once an event is long gone you can’t beat yourself up for it. It’s best to learn from it and know how to face it next time around.

You are the product of your decisions. You are also the product of your experiences and the people you surround yourself with. Choose wisely and stick to your guiding principles by following your moral compass.

Confidence is sexy. Believe in yourself, let go of any fear or insecurity. You, as you are is beautiful and unique. That’s a superpower we each have. So use it!

Illustration: Alessandra De Cristofaro

How I Stay Inspired

Those of us who are creatives require a good amount of inspiration. I thought to share with you guys my top ways that I find inspiration. It is daily work or you will find yourself burnt out especially if you work long days. Much like seeking happiness, seeking inspiration is another essential task for staying on top.

Music

This alone can make me so happy in an instant! I’ve been so drawn to it since I was young and every time I get “too busy” and forget to turn on some good music, I find myself getting run down much faster. I like to keep the tunes fresh each day or week, and go by what my mood craves. I’ll find myself all over the place with genre’s sometimes, and I love the variety of it.

Take Time Off – Knowing When To Take A Break

This has been the hardest thing for me. I love what I do here so much that taking a break isn’t always an option I give myself. When I do something, I submerge myself into it 150%. I’ve always had a heavy dosing of passion and that is what gives me so much drive in life. However, self-awareness is very important and I overdo these feelings more than I should. Work will always be there, no matter how ambitious you are or where you are in your journey. Make the time everyday to enjoy yourself as a human being.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

I cannot emphasize enough how important this one can be. When you only have a 1-hour break and you want to maximize on your time, you probably seek the most uplifting people. I know I do. Last thing you may want is someone who will drain you of your energy. Spend your time with those that bring you joy. I always look to replenish, because a break is a break and should feel like one.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Individuals

I love to be around people that are always dreaming and developing new ideas. I am like this myself, so I always seek to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Feeding off one another’s aspirations and energies is amazing!

Be Honest With Yourself

You can’t do it all in one day. End of story. Realize you are human, and your health and wellness are of utmost importance. I have struggled so much with this over the years, and am still seeking a good work-life balance.

Your Dreams Won’t Be Granted Overnight

Keep dreaming baby! But realize that dreams (which literally happen overnight) don’t play out that way in real life. Be focused on your goals, be patient, visualize them and then go about each day with a fierce, never-give-up attitude.

Chase The Good Vibes

Over the years I have come to realize how much I prefer to be around warm, kind-hearted people that have a positive and confident body language. I like to think of myself as such a person. However, we all go through hard times and that is alright if we are not ourselves for certain periods of time. But always feeling down and beat up by life is not healthy for you or those around you. I always seek to be a better person each day and being around kind-hearted, supportive people really helps!

Get Lost In The Little Things

A walk on the beach. A sweet thought or memory. A feeling you get from a song you haven’t heard in ages. A rekindled emotion or feeling. The taste of a dish that takes you back to your childhood days. The smell of the outdoors after heavy rainfall, are just a few things that help me center myself and go on.

Work Structure

How you go about your day is very important. With a heavy workload each week, the best way I tackle it all is to be organized and to delegate specific tasks. Designating specific times to emails, editing, planning, writing, and then sticking to it are of top priority to me.

Spice Things Up

Cook yourself or someone a fabulous dinner. I love doing this because I love cooking.

Travel, Even If It’s Just Outside Of Town

No trip is too small. Sometimes we are so busy to leave our desks but wonderful things happen when we travel. The simple act of leaving town makes me feel better. Traveling always gives me a new vision, a new outlook, a new feeling, and so on. With fresh air comes fresh ideas.

Having A Sense Of Urgency

I have this sense non-stop. It’s what keeps my adrenaline high, energy high, ambitions high and so on. However, I wish I was better at relaxing and unwinding. Finding ways or people that I can relax and unwind with are key for me. A nice bath, a home cooked dinner with my mother, taking extra time to get ready in the morning, a coffee with a friend, all help me unwind.

Eat Healthy

I don’t always exercise. The best sources of fuel for me are vegetables, low carbs, and proteins. I feel my best eating this way and I don’t need caffeine to get me through the day. I drink coffee for the taste and 95% of the time I get decaf. Otherwise my sense of energy shoots through the roof! 

Keep Growing Your Passion

Nothing feels better than seeing your hard work paying off. Keep consistent, keep sacrificing (yes this part is a kick-starter) to get you to where you want to be. You cannot have it all, all the time. You may need to let go of something you may not realize you are attached to, or something that is holding you back, in order get to where you want to be. And lastly, have some fun. Don’t take life too seriously (like I sometimes tend to do, which I’m working on). 

Illustration: Alessandra De Cristofaro

How to Always Think Positive: Thoughts on Creating Your Own Sunshine

When things in life are not going the way I want, I stop and ask myself, “what action can I take right now to have things go better?” Or I ask myself “what positive action(s) could I take to get me to living the life I want to live?”

We all have goals. We all have dreams. When you know EXACTLY what you want (short-term goal), and you are focused on that specific goal, you will find ways to get there much quicker rather than just having some vague idea.

Not every day is clear skies and happy days, and starting with step-one could be the hardest! But the good part is that we all have a choice! Did you know that its estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day!? Sounds insane right?! Well, in a big way, our lives are a direct reflection of these countless decisions!

So… Are you going to wake up and go to work? Are you going to wake up and go to the gym? Are you going to start your day slow and enjoy that latte? I don’t know about you guys, but I like to brush my teeth before I do any of these things.

Point is, YOU have the power to choose and the power to create! So what’s holding you back?

Some of us however may say that we do not have the freedom or luxury to make all of our decisions because they are dependent on others (family, finances, bosses, etc.). Well, if that’s the case, then sit down and think of ways you can free yourself, and no I am not talking about leaving your family or job, lol.

To me this has always been about using my passions to create my own sunshine. What does that mean to you? It means start working on that passion project you’ve been saving for “later.” The time is now, and the sooner you realize that you need to be proactive towards creating your own happiness, the sooner you can enjoy the sunshine!

5 Ways To Create Your Own Sunshine

An Attitude of Gratitude

This is a mindset and a lifestyle choice that can change your whole life! Some keep a journal and for others it’s counting the blessings of each day before bed or in the morning. You’ll start to see things differently. Instead of complaining about situations, you will see solutions better. Plus, when you are grateful you tend to share that positive energy! There’s so much happiness to be had, that spending time being sad or negative is just not worth the time!

Love & Kindness

Show others what its like to love. Show yourself what it’s like to love. Give yourself more credit. Give someone the gift of your presence and really listen to them talk. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the gift of peace. Let go of what you can’t control. Tell someone they’re awesome and tell them why. Trust me, it feels so good! 

Finding Fulfillment

It could be your job, it could be your kids or a pet, it could a passion project. Ask yourself, what fulfills you everyday and how passionate are you about it. These days I feel fulfilled with my writing. Waking up knowing that what I create is all on me, is one of my favorite feelings ever! Believe in your goals, believe in yourself.

Supporting Others

Help someone in need. It really helps to get out of your own head by focusing on others. Have empathy toward others and their journey. Don’t judge or criticize. Show your compassion and willingness to help.

Staying Fit & Eating Healthy

If your mind and your emotions are weak, you probably aren’t walking on sunshine. I’ve been there myself. One thing that has helped me was changing my diet and getting into the routine of working out. I don’t believe in “diets.” I believe in eating healthy. To me that means about 85% non-packaged or pre-made foods. I’m talking about fruits, veggies, lean grass-fed meats, wild fish, nuts, and a few grains. I love to cook from scratch! If you know me on a personal level, you know I don’t need caffeine to stay awake! Despite that, I still really love my cappuccino’s! 

Illustration by @iamlubi