How to Live Well, From Judgement to Creativity

To speak the truth without judgement is the way of the visionary, as suggested by one of the most relevant spiritual leaders of our time, Angeles Arrien. Try it, it is quite difficult. It involves the releasing of preconceptions about others, a sense of humility –we are not alone in this world nor are we the only ones with unmet needs and desires – and to discipline ourselves around the notion of breathing before speaking, taking the time to hear ourselves in our reactive minds before granting others the gift of a thoughtful response. It also requires giving ourselves second, third and fourth chances and to forgive ourselves in order to be able to forgive others. Most importantly, it is a golden key to the act of creation and the practice of imagination.

We tend to leave the crafting of words to poets and writers. In all honesty, it is the undeniable truth that a good poem can change our hearts around the most provocative of subjects or, at least, shake well the dust accumulated in it. The same goes to a well-written book, it gives us wings. But what no poet or writer can do is to be us. They will imagine us, re-create us and unify us in humanly universal and inspiring ways. Thoughtfulness and discernment help us to envision and to manifest a world worth living. And we all have an access key to those most precious human inheritances.

Practicing non-judgement is an act of creation because we must take the time to process feelings, ours and others. We must pause and eliminate toxicity in order to reach a state of child-like innocence from which to better listen to ourselves and others. We must soften our edges and undergo positive transformation. In doing so, we bestow our lives and that of those around us with the gift of joy, one of our fundamental birthrights.

Would you try it?

To watch and to listen, to slow down, to breathe, to speak authentically, to listen a bit more, to come back to your breath, to forgive, to smile, to notice, to give, to laugh. 

The Phenomenal Khatia Buniatishvili

khatia.jpg

One of my favorite young pianists of the moment is Georgian born Khatia Buniatishvili. She moved to France with her parents and sister at an early age. Blessed with an outer worldly musical talent, Khatia's gifts grew very fast. She was already offering her first concert at the age of six.

Khatia is fearless and resolute in protecting what she loves and those she cares about, which, in her case, might mean saying no to a request to play for President Vladimir Putin or not giving up on a humanitarian project.

Find her videos on YouTube. She is something to behold, not just as a very attractive woman exuding sensuality and owning it, but also as a tremendous musician.

I love her relationship to silence. She has trained audiences to await and to listen beyond the last written musical note. It is an authentic call to notice, to feel, to go inwards … a very rare invitation. You will either fall in love with her sense of style, her confidence and insane command of languages or with her equally phenomenal musicianship.

My November Selection in the Listen box is a very sweet piece by German baroque composer George Frideric Handel, arranged by Wilhelm Kempff, and interpreted by Khatia … It takes someone truly accomplished to go back to a simple piece such as this one and draw wings around it … Enjoy <3 

The Hair Care Product that Catherine Deneuve Can’t Live Without

I adore Catherine Deneuve. And her hair, her luscious, always healthy-looking hair. Recently, I was watching this elegant French icon endorse Christophe Robin and his hair products on YouTube. It was quite an enjoyable short to watch, for it is evident they feel mutual adoration after knowing each other for over 18 years. What a beautiful bond. He grew up in utter admiration towards her, just to become her go-to hair colorist and keeper years after.

As I was watching, I was telling myself there would hardly be a tip I could apply to my irreverent hair. She mentioned a few, and I researched them all. Partial to soft, soothing, non-citrusy scents, I chose to try the moisturizing hair oil with lavender. 

I received it in the mail, quickly opened the package, and the incomparable, gentle, pacifying scent of lavender already had me at “hello”. 

Christophe Robin's Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender is for all hair types; a big plus for that accommodating quality. It recommends warming up the bottle before use since the product tends to solidify quickly. I have tried both ways and feel that the fundamental difference is the amount of product you get to play with and the time you hold it in your hands before usage: more product and less time when it’s liquid, less product and more time when it’s solid (you must liquify it and warm it up a bit in your hands). I have never experienced such a magical hair product, and God knows I have tried a few!

Once on the hair, it takes a few minutes to settle in. Meanwhile, you wonder whether your hair is going to be all heavy after the application. A few minutes after, however, you discover the results: my highlights were looking better, as if they were under the effect of a great toner. There was zero frizz and the scent heavenly-bound. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Even more so after learning during my initial purchase that it is paraben, silicone, SLS and alcohol-free! No wonder my beat-up hair loves it.

In addition to this, Mr. Robin wins my heart and respect with a gorgeous site in which he declares his aim for long-term results. His brand is also eco-conscious, investing in reforestation and having customers participate on that chain reaction of goodness through the purchase of any of Mr. Robin’s products. His philosophy statement is very well written and inspirational. It is a $47 investment, but it will last you quite a while. And how wonderful it is to support a good cause, while enjoying the benefits of a beauty product made with love by people with integrity. I am hopelessly in love. J’aime beaucoup. Merci, monsieur Christophe Robin <3

 

Learning to Dance A La Cubana

229540_443609925682962_557326694_n.jpg

The Cuban dance style is joyful, daring, sensual, liberating, playful, empowering, and like with anything that is worthwhile in life, it gets better in time as you get to experience its nuances and learn its codes. Just like with any great romance, the more you commit to it, the more you receive from it.

The teacher you get should match your expectations. Personally, when I am in the position of student, I like to be a little more in depth and then dedicate whatever time is needed in order to get it right. I will research and find the best that field of knowledge has to offer.

Tip #1: Keep in mind there are two aspects to the learning process: body movement/feeling, which is your individual training, and learning to dance with a partner.

Tip #2: For most people, learning to move a la cubana is about awakening areas of the body you didn't know existed, except in an anatomy class… Scary? Not really. I see it time and time again, how fun and liberating it is for men, women and children to start moving their hips, bending their knees, softening their torsos, just empowering themselves in a culturally different way.

Tip #3: Here is a word of wisdom from the Cuban elders; always keep in mind that learning a dance pattern and learning to dance is not quite the same. The first one refers to following someone's moves. It might give us instant gratification but not long term results. Accordingly, there is a good chance we will never get it, really get it, as in heart and soul. In the second case, you are actually learning a method, a sense of progression. It takes patience and time, but boy is it worthwhile ... Dance is a language. It has a specific vocabulary, unique expressions, grammar and syntax. To learn to dance is a love story, and we have to decide how wet we want our feet to get.

My fourth and most personal tip: find someone who’s aim is teaching to learn themselves, meaning they come to you open to mutual giving. Teaching is one of the greatest learning pathways; a question or a response from a student can change the entire course of a class, even facilitate the rewriting of a method. The more we share with each other, the more learn.

If you live in Seattle or anywhere nearby, come by and dance with me. My doors are always open to one more pair of legs with an open heart. 😊

 

A Toast to Visibility

I am an introvert: an introvert groomed from an early age into the pros and cons of becoming visible. I was very familiar with stage presence and public exposure through the work of my parents as stage actors and, years later, through my beloved dad Iuhito, as I called him, and his role in the Cuban ballet.

Yet, I just wanted to hide, whether at a school piano recital, at an interaction with my parents cultivated colleges, at a public speech as a student leader, at my own stage performance, at a recognition as a vanguard student (the Cuban way), at the looks of those scrutinizing me when I became ‘the daughter of’ someone famous, or at any other instance in which the limelight was over my head.

I was allergic to public exposure, pushed into places and circumstances in which I had to painfully grow out of my shell and greet the day. For the most part, I did not stop to think about it; I just did it. I answered in embarrassment, pushing the limits of my ability to stand straight in front of what to me was a great person or even more challenging, a multitude of people.   

I was the slouchy, skinny girl wearing glasses; the girl with the impossibly big smile (thank God for that!). I felt unworthy of any kind of acknowledgement and utterly surprised when someone called me beautiful, deeply embarrassed when teachers introduced me as a role model to other students, wanting to walk away from the very telling of my name, anywhere, by anyone.

Between then and now there are many people to whom I feel forever grateful. Those who believed in me when I could not. Those who encouraged me from a place of honesty and integrity. Those who protected me. Those who taught me patiently and tenderly. Those who challenged me, in their confusion, knowingly and unknowingly, to grow into compassion and acceptance. Those who looked at me and saw the best of themselves in the mirror I had become, at that divine moment, for them. Those who trusted me and, in doing so, taught me by example the meaning of wisdom, intuition and kindness.

I learned rivers from those beautiful people: friends, family, partners, teachers, students, chance encounters, mentors, colleagues ... I learned about the meaning of love. And isn't love the most transforming power there is? Here's to those paving the way to my becoming.

Today, I toast with all of you to my stepping into a new form of visibility.