Reema: Freelance Photographer

Reema has the dream career of many, her beautiful pictures speak for themselves, which translates into +70K followers on Instagram and much social media presence.  What I love the most about successful gals like Reema, is that they do MAKE IT in those fields that often times we are told to stay away from, because in theory, they are not a guaranteed path to financial stability.  Well, guess what, with enough passion, dedication, and perseverance, it looks like it is not only possible, but pretty sweet! With the internet, social media and the speed in which information and images travel nowadays, careers such as these are more and more accessible. I am glad Reema decided to stick to photography and make her dream job a reality.  Ladies dreaming with a life behind the camera, GET INSPIRED!

Source: www.reemadesai.com

Source: www.reemadesai.com

You have the dream job of many.  What are 3 things you enjoy about your job and 3 things you believe people may idealize about your career?

I love the flexibility of my schedule, being able to meet new, interesting people every day, and being able to set the creative direction of my business and work. It’s especially great to know I can take a half day to see a friend that’s in town and make up my time later or go to an event, and meet other business owners that share the same struggles I do. And of course, it feels great to know you’re working for yourself rather than someone else, and that you have that extra bit of control in your work. Those three things definitely keep me going when things get tough!

On the other hand, a lot of people think that when I do travel work, I’m relaxing, vacationing, and generally not doing anything in terms of work. Travel work is wonderful, but it’s a challenge, and there’s often pressure added since you only have a limited amount of time to get the shots you need. On top of that, accounting, taxes, and invoicing are generally not much fun, and rather than working with one supervisor whose personality you learn to read, you essentially get a new boss with every new client.

Source: The Styleline by Reema Desai

Source: The Styleline by Reema Desai

Did you choose your career path or did it choose you?  That is, did you always know you wanted to be a travel, food & lifestyle photographer and worked towards that or did it naturally happen?

I think it chose me! My degree isn’t in photography but all through school I worked for photographers as an assistant and for my university’s paper. I moved to DC with the intention of working in international relations but always did photo work on top of pursuing that. I missed it way too much, and realized it was what I wanted to do full time.

What ONE tip would you offer to someone wishing to follow your career path?

Practice every single day and always strive to get better and learn more, but don’t become discouraged comparing yourself with others.

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http://www.reemadesai.com

What hobbies do you enjoy? Do you have any routines, rituals or practices that help you keep focused and motivated (meditation, spiritual practice, affirmations, etc.)?

In terms of hobbies, I love hosting dinners and meals at my apartment, trying new restaurants, and pretty much anything art related from painting to visiting museums.

I do have a few rituals as well, and have found that since going into business full time, I value them even more. I have an oil diffuser that I love to have on while I work. Diffusing a mandarin oil makes me feel so awake and focused. I start my morning with a big green smoothie every day, and try to make sure to drink at least 2 liters of water a day so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see me without a giant water bottle. Ha! It’s easy to let your health and wellness fall by the wayside when you’re busy with work so those little things help me stay health-minded. My fiance and I also like to walk our dog after our work days which I really enjoy and look forward to, plus it helps me remember to put down my work.

Source: www.reemadesai.com

Source: www.reemadesai.com

  • What would be the title to a book about your life? – Probably “Can I Pet Your Dog?” It sound silly and as much as I love photography, I would make hanging out with dogs my full-time job as I could.

  • What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self? Enjoy every moment, and don’t rush through it

  • Are you living your dream life? I don’t know if I have a dream life, but life is pretty great. I get to be creative in my work, live in a fun city, and I have great people in my life so there’s not much room to complain!

  • What is your favorite photograph of all times – This untitled image by William Eggleston

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    Untitled-William Eggleston

What is:

  • A song that makes you smile – Sometimes by James

  • A place that makes you joyful – So many to pick from! London is probably at the top of the list. I get giddy just seeing the city from the airplane window!

  • An inspiring woman in history – Not quite history, but Michelle Obama is always inspirational to me.

Meg Kelsey: Mom, Wife and District Attorney

As I continue to interview inspiring ladies, I notice there is one common denominator: many of the women who have experienced or witnessed loss, pain, drastic change, grief, major processes of growth… in sum, women who have been hit by life in powerful ways, and who have overcome these challenges with resilience and inner strength, often become agents of change in the lives of those who are fortunate enough to cross their path.  Quite recently I went through a devastating and traumatic divorce and am currently going through the (hopefully last) stages of grief after that loss.  The process of grieving has been BY FAR, the most difficult experience I have endured.  During the weeks and months just after the realization of my loss, some days I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning, I couldn’t find the answers to innumerable questions and the void in my soul is still, today, indescribable.  However, although I don’t have any children just yet, I am certain that the place of a husband in my life can not even begin to compare to losing a child.  As humans, I believe we are not meant to experience certain things, and losing a child is certainly one of them.  Whoever manages to live with a purpose after such an experience, in my opinion, gains a remarkable understanding of life that the rest of us are simply unable to attain.

Meg, 32, is a passionate mother of two boys -and if all goes well – soon-to-be mom of three: Meg and her hubby are applying for adoption of a lucky little one out there!  She was nominated by Ileana Ramirez, who in turn, was nominated by  Lex Weinstein.  Meg is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Virginia.  I find it extremely exciting to know that there are women like Meg in our justice system.  It is easy to be outraged by the many injustices taking place in the world every single day; the outrageous and unfair killing of innocent people, women abused, children kidnapped, prisoners tortured, the list goes on and on.  I am one of those who has gone through periods of not reading the newspapers because it is too much of a weight to carry; being aware of these events and not being able to do enough to eradicate them is frustrating.  But then, there are people like Meg, who case by case, spatter humanity and a holistic approach to the stories that cross her path.  Unfortunately, the work of people- of women like Meg doesn’t make the covers of newspapers as often as the heart-wrenching stories that dominate the media, but it is reassuring to know that there are women like her working hard to change lives.

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Where are you from?
Virginia Beach, VA
You are a District Attorney, what exactly does your work consist of?
As an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney (same as a District Attorney or State’s Attorney), our office represents the state in prosecuting crimes that occur in our city. We are divided into teams based on the type of crime. I have been on teams that prosecute property crime, white collar crime, and drug-related crime.  We also have teams that handle juvenile cases, domestic violence crime, gang and violent crime. My caseload is over 100 cases at any given time and I’m in court 4-5 days a week for motions, pleas, and trials. For example, in prosecuting a Distribution of Heroin case I would typically go to court for a preliminary hearing, a motion arguing constitutional issues, trial, and/or a guilty plea.
What inspired you to follow this career path?
I was lovingly described as “disputatious” as a child. I loved to analyze and argue, which was loads of fun for my parents. In college, I began to read more about social justice and human rights issues, particularly the work of International Justice Mission, and I felt passionate about giving a voice to the marginalized. I started to think seriously about law school, and after spending 3 years in Argentina after college I returned to the States as a student to get my JD. While in school, I participated in a community clinic, offering education and resources to a low-income neighborhood close to my school, and also took criminal law courses that completely captivated me. I greatly respect the work of criminal defense attorneys and value those who fill that role in our justice system, but I wanted to start my legal career on the prosecution side. I feel strongly about advocating for the communities who suffer from and the individual victims of crime.
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What is a typical day in your life?
Typically my husband and I are up by 5:30am to get ready before our son, Elijah -who just turned 1-, wakes up. I am out the door by 7:30am and in the office to gather my files and finish prep for the court that day. I could be in court for anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 hours, it just depends on what (and how many) cases I have. I leave the office by 5:00pm and most weekdays I bring some work home with me to do after my son goes to sleep.
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As a major goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be?
A prosecutor’s duty is, broadly, to seek justice. However, at times, my job feels hopelessly reactionary. I receive a case file after a crime has been committed – after months or years of decisions and circumstances that lead to this action of breaking the law. Many times, the path begins with a broken family or life in poverty. Those circumstances are not an excuse to commit a crime but can provide part of an explanation.
One goal I have is to approach cases in a more proactive manner. For me as a prosecutor, that involves a change in mindset towards the individual defendants I see every day. For example: if men and women committing prostitution are themselves victims of human trafficking, how do we identify and prosecute those responsible?
If drug users are trapped in addiction to opioids stemming from dependence on pain killers, how do we provide treatment and resources to address the addiction?; if a veteran is shoplifting merchandise because he has an untreated mental disorder, how do we diagnose and treat that illness? Answering the above questions when balancing the goals of punishment (retribution/rehabilitation/deterrence/incapacitation) could promote justice by preventing further injustice. Thankfully there are a number of incredible resources in my jurisdiction- such as first offender laws and alternative drug/mental health/veteran track courts that I can offer and encourage defendants to pursue.  We can leave for another day the debate on punishment theory and the role of law enforcement in society but I hope to make a difference one case at a time for both victim and defendant.
If you could publish an autobiography, how would you title it?
“Geezer”  My dad gave me the nickname when I was little because he said I was like having a grandma around the house.   I like to think I showed maturity and wisdom beyond my years, but it was probably because I was stubborn and opinionated. My brothers have continued to call me various forms of ‘Geezer’ and I now find it endearing.
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Tell us ONE challenge you’ve encountered?
 When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first son, Jack, we found out he had a severe chromosomal disorder that was “incompatible with life”. For a variety of reasons, I was prepared emotionally, spiritually and intellectually to make the decision to continue with the pregnancy.  The most difficult moment was saying goodbye to my son after carrying him to full term, giving birth and spending 2.5 days with him in the hospital. He made me a mommy and I’m forever changed and forever grateful for the chance to have him as my son.
I’m sure anyone who has lost a loved one understands the challenge of grief. It puts life into perspective. I love my career and am incredibly fulfilled by my work. But it isn’t the point of my life.
In grieving the loss of my son I have felt the freedom to fail, freedom from living to please others, and freedom to live for heaven. The challenge of grief will not (and should not) completely end in this life and I pray that the process continues to grow me and enable me to love others well.
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What is your choice of each of the following:
A song- Quimbara by Celia Cruz . Or anything by Celia, the Queen of Salsa
A place- Panarea, Italy
An inspiring woman in history- Deborah the Judge
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Jenny Perez, Visual Pop Artist

Besides the fact that this gal and I live in the same city, -which automatically adds yet another hint of ‘coolness’ to the misunderstood and often stereotyped city of Miami,  this interview relates on a very personal level because of a seemingly trivial matter: HAIR.  This inspiring woman, with her fearless life philosophy, is an expression of art and her hair is no coincidence.  Jenny’s beautiful, curly and dominant hair is an attention-deserving statement.  Hair is such a subtly powerful tool of empowerment -or disempowerment, depending on the circumstances-, particularly when we’re talking about textured hair.  Textured hair is not a trivial matter; it is everything from a motive for bullying, to an important visual and social aspect in political & civil movements in the past.  I admit I am the first one to flat-iron the last curl out of my hair every so often, and I love, accept and defend the freedom to choose, but personally, there is something about letting my curls come out and play, rocking that “lion look”, and letting my hair speak volumes for myself before I say a word; embracing the statements that my natural hair have the power to express.  Rocking big & loud curls, the type that announces our entrance into a new scenario, is more than a fashion statement, it is a claim of  individuality, self-acceptance and a desire to place self-fulfillment and understandings of freedom above certain social expectations. It is wearable art, self-expression in its maximum form. It is a way of being.

Jenny Perez’ powerful hair statement is only a facet of her self-expression.  After some life trial and error experiences including times in corporate jobs where she only corroborated how unfulfilling these jobs can be for a creative soul like herself, Jenny decided to devote her life to happiness over the security of a traditional job, and since then, has created her own version of “secure”, one that obtains financial stability through art, creativity, happiness and self-accomplishment, not the other way around.  I truly admire how this lady challenges the commonplace practice of making life decisions based on fear; to me, using fear to comply to unhappiness, is just an excuse to victimize ourselves and not take the actions that move us towards our individual freedom.  She is the proof that when we live in truthfulness with ourselves, beautiful things happen.

Jenny’s astonishing work comes at an exciting time for Miami, her determination, passion, and authenticity, combined with a growing art scene, only guarantee that we’ll hear more about her and her powerful creations.  Jenny was nominated by Arlene Delgado, the inspiring lady I most recently had the pleasure of interviewing. Because all three of us live in the wonderful, sunny, vibrant and growing city, we will get together soon and share some lady power thoughts over coffee (or wine!).  Can’t wait!

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In the So What’s Your Story section on your blog, you portray an image that many of us can relate to.  With “adulthood” we are expected or forced by financial circumstance to conform to jobs and routines that don’t necessarily make us happy, particularly those of us with creative needs.  One day, you accepted your reality of being an artist, not wanting to conform to those rules and changed your life.  In three words, describe yourself before and after this life-changing action.

Before: trapped, inert, pretending

After: liberated,  bold , happy

How has this experience improved your life?

I am finally living authentically, which in itself, changes everything and feels so good! Things flow and opportunities continue to arise when you are living your truth and following your highest excitement. It’s a continuous evolution upward. I like being known for what I can offer the world, it provides such a sense of purpose and it is just a plus that people enjoy my work as much as I enjoy making it.

What is one challenge you have encountered and how have you surpassed it? 

As an artist, it has always been a struggle to stay creative despite all the challenges of life. Yes, of course, financial difficulties get in the way sometimes and trying to fit my lifestyle into the “normal” stream of everyone else’s is also challenging. By that, I simply mean that while everyone is waking up to their 9-5 jobs I am probably still in the studio from the night before. I suppose the best way to truly not be affected and move forward creatively is to simply trust that you are exactly where you need to be. I am also always fluctuating between being this tortured artist struggling through life with so much on my mind and so much to express and then simply being 100% ok. I find that what keeps my sanity in check most, is the fact that I have found a platform to release and to express. Without painting, I would be more tortured I suppose, so I am grateful for this much at the very least.

As a major, long-term goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be?

 If I were to close my eyes and dream up my most perfect most fulfilling dream, I would see my work in books, museums and be regarded as a monumental artist that shaped my generation’s creative identity, like Warhol did in the 60’s, and how Basquiat did in the 80’s. I would want the world to know who I am in the most intimate way. I’d like a documentary made of my life’s work.

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If you could publish an autobiography, how would you title it?

A dream within a Dream

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Well Jen, here we are, we’ve got a full life ahead of us so lets tear it up.

Jump into the water before testing it out for temperature, trust that god’s got your back, so stop being so afraid. Lick your fingers for the extra indulgence after a yummy meal, close your eyes more and kiss the sky every morning for showing up for you. Please own yourself and all your impurities and make the world love each and everyone, tell them it is art, and believe me, nothing is ever that deep. It’s ok to fall in love, Stay humble and appreciate your mother – she means well.

What is your definition of a “dream life”? Are you living yours?

I am currently in a dream of my own. Yes.  I am in love with my process, my friendships, and my career. I like thinking of all the things I have yet to accomplish and reminding myself of all the things I have, because it reminds me just how powerful the heart can be and how far you can go when you lead with it. It’s truly been an amazing journey and it’s so important to always remember those moments that made your heart dance.  The definition of a dream life is: loving yourself and living your truth. I am in this pursuit.

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What is your choice for each of the following:

A woman who has influenced your life or work –  All the women in my life have influenced me to some degree, I could not imagine one without the other but I was raised by an exceptionally powerful set. My grandmother Mercedes is a badass in so many ways and my aunts Dinorah and Lisette have always taught me the most beautiful things about life and encourage me to continue to be a powerful pioneer within my own family and amongst peers.

A place – Barcelona was the city I felt most alive, I cannot wait to return and roam the streets in search of Gaudi with a fat piece of bread and cheese in hand.

A song- Valerie by Amy Winehouse, gets me every time.

 

Arlene Delgado: Art Director | Founder of Bohemian Riot

I am very excited about this interview because believe it or not, although I’ve been calling Miami home for over two years now, Arlene is the first Miami girl I’ve interviewed.  Her work speaks for itself.  Literally. Which I love.  In my eyes, Arlene’s work is a Miami/fast-paced, city girl interpretation of spirituality & achievement; a very cosmopolitan view on self-exploration.  Her work is creative, bold and above all, very easy to picture on my walls 🙂   Do yourself a favor, and indulge in some eye candy for your home, check out her gallery over here.  Meet this intuitive, self-starting, and kicka** Miami girl!

 

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You are the Founder of Bohemian Riot, you create products that foster a creative and inspirational environment. What or you inspired you to create this dynamic project?

A friend of mine, Kristine Chien, was getting ready to launch her rad online gallery, Two Palms Art Bazaar, and reached out to see if I wanted to be a part of her artist collective. I jumped on the opportunity and worked on expanding the small collection I had already started creating for Bohemian Riot. She was a major catalyst for me.

Bohemian Riot was born out of an innate desire to create. I wanted to design unique prints that don’t take themselves too seriously and make you think, laugh or feel inspired.   Artwork that looks good on your wall, but that you can also relate to on a personal level.

“Like my Zen As F*ck print. It’s a bestseller because people can relate.”

 

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I’ve recently started exploring a more mixed-media approach to my work. Currently, I’m working on a new series using some sweet vintage Playboy’s, which explores the complexity of female sexuality. Stay tuned!

 

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What challenges have you encountered along the way to Bohemian Riot and how did you overcome them?
I work full-time as the Art Director of a design studio here in Miami and it was difficult to find the time to create for Bohemian Riot. The biggest challenge to launching was finding my creative flow and implementing a routine that allowed me to capitalize on my time and peak hours of creativity.

Prior to the launch I started waking up at 5am everyday to workout and work on Bohemian Riot for a few hours before getting into work. It was hard at first but once I got into the groove it was smooth sailing. I’m most inspired in the morning so this routine worked perfectly.

 

Do you have any routines, rituals or practices that help you keep focused and motivated?

I find that when I tap into a state of creative inspiration, focus and motivation follow naturally.

The best way I’ve found to get into a state of flow is by getting into my body and out of my head. Moving and connecting to my body allows me to stop focusing on my over-active mind. Morning exercise is essential. I like to switch it up but I am currently into boot camp and yoga. They give me a nice balance of hardcore intensity and mindful relaxation.

I’ve also been exploring meditation and breath work. Sometimes I use the Headspace app when I’m in the mood to be guided. I recently worked on branding for The 7, Miami’s first meditation studio. When I’m in the mood to be socially anti-social, I go there to meditate with others.

Oh and caffeine in the morning. Copious amounts caffeine. I’m a big fan of yerba matte which gives me the caffeinated high I crave without the crash.

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You also do “flower bombing”, tell us a bit about this and what your larger goal is with this project?

Flower Bombs is a guerrilla art initiative I started as an exploration of the karma and power of public art through the use of positive messaging. Using inspirational wheat paste posters and geared with flower dresses and gas masks, my best friend Diamari and I, semi-vandalized Wynwood by posting them throughout the neighborhood.

Art and design give humans a platform for evoking an emotional response in others- which is SO powerful. I used empowering quotes from the tarot,Illustrating the idea that in life experience can always be gleaned from any hand you are dealt.

I love seeing how this style of inspirational messaging has spread since the project’s inception in 2012. Walking through Wynwood now, you almost can’t help but come across poetry and quotes stenciled on the sidewalks and walls. It’s beautiful to see Miami natives using their unique voices to inspire strangers as they casually walk through life.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of bringing Flower Bombs back to life by creating a new unique series of tarot inspired designs and using different mediums such as video to further explore the concept.

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What would be the title to a book about your life?

“Juxtaposed: Zen and the Art of Blasphemy” or it could also be “Adventures in Caffeine and Curiosity”.

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What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
If I could give my 20-year-old self some advice it would go something like:

“Hey kiddo,
Make sure to be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Always trust your intuition. Work hard. Enjoy more and worry less. Easy on the vodka. More class, less clubbing. Relax and trust the timing of your life.”

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Are you living your dream life?
As human beings, we never stop becoming. Evolving. Life is a continual process of arrival into who we are. I have an impulse for continual growth and rarely feel self-satisfied which drives me to continue to explore different aspects of who I am and who I want to be.

Daniel Gilbert from the book Stumbling Happiness said it well: “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” The key, I find then, is to be content with where I am in the present moment while not being too self-satisfied to stunt my own growth.

From my current vantage point when I look back, I can see that I’ve come into being many of the things my past self, planned out to be. But now an entirely new set of dreams and aspirations have presented themselves and so the process continues.

So I AM living my dream life yet simultaneously I am not. Not in an ultimate sense.

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Your choice of:
A song
Soul Purpose by Nightmares On Wax

A place
Havana, Cuba. The textures and colors of the buildings, the salt in the air, the loud vivacious people. Feels like home.

An inspiring woman in history
My mother. She migrated from Cuba to the states in the 80’s during the Mariel Boatlift when she was 18 years old with nothing but the clothes on her back. Through hard work and determination, she became a licensed Customs Broker and started her own successful business over 10 years ago. She’s such a girl boss.

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Neyu Marques: Yogi Traveler

I came across Neyu just as I discover most of the amazing women I interview for this blog, through social media.  Her images are quite powerful and impressive. Her body works with yoga in a superior way, adopting forms that are beautiful and almost unreal.  One can’t help but have a reaction and much admiration to what the human body can do, if given the opportunity.  Without knowing much about her, I contacted Neyu for an interview, and to my delight and surprise, Neyu is from the island I spent some of the most beautiful and also some of the most life changing times I’ve experienced.  As I’ve done a few times in my life already, with a few suitcases, zero fears, many dreams and deeply in love, I moved to Menorca, Spain at the age of 21.  I left Menorca two years ago, and although I am very happy, I miss the island every single day, and I know I will be back one day.  It is a magical place.

Neyu has transcended the paradise island of Menorca and is now a yogi citizen of the world.  Besides her body’s beautiful shapes, she also has a beautiful soul full of joy and happiness.

Meet the lovely Neyu:

How did your yoga path start?

Last year, when I was living in San Diego, a friend invited me to join a beach yoga class.  The truth is I didn’t think it would be my kind of practice; I had the wrong idea of yoga, but I still agreed to join her.  As soon as the session started, I fell in love with yoga.  I had found my passion!  Since then, yoga has been my lifestyle.

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Besides traveling and yoga, what other things are you passionate about?

I am passionate about children, their curiosity and desire to learn.  I used to be a teacher, and it is a career that I also enjoyed very much.  I also love everything related to a physically and emotionally healthy lifestyle.  Dance and any other activity that allows me to develop my creativity is part of my hobbies.  I also enjoy reading and writing when I need something a little less active.

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Where do you live at the moment?

Everywhere! LOL, I don’t have a base anywhere.  Today I am in Bali, a month ago I was in Thailand and in two days I am leaving for Hawaii.  If I ever feel the need to go back home, my home is Menorca.

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How would you title a book about your life?

Following a dream with love and gratitude.

What piece of advice would you give to the 20-year-old Neyu?

Don’t let anyone make you feel less.  You are worth more than you think, search within yourself, bring out your full  potential, be generous, grateful and never ever give up.

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Do you live your dream life?

Absolutely yes!  That is my life philosophy: to listen to my heart, to follow my dreams and to be happy.  I don’t need much, I don’t care about the material aspects, I just need to be surrounded by good-hearted people to share the beauty that nature offers us.

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A song: All will be well, Gabe Dixon Band

A place where you find peace: To wake up at a deserted beach

An inspiring woman in history: My mother, who despite having lived a difficult life, has always been there, doing it all for her children, always delivering goodness, love, and gratitude.

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Find out more about this impressive yogi on her Instagram, her Facebook account, and her personal website.

Sophie Jaffe: Founder of Philosophie, Raw Vegan Chef, Yoga Teacher & Mama

What makes Sophie Jaffe admirable and inspiring is not only her entrepreneurial spirit and the impressive creation under her belt, Philosophie.  What makes her remarkable is her spirit and how she has overcome adversity and challenges turning her life into a beautiful piece of art. I admire women who succeed in their careers, but there is just something about women who don’t have an easy path, who have lived and experienced defeat, pain, loss, fear, illness in their families, or life challenges of the sort.  Maybe it is because it resonates, it feels fair for us to get a happy ending.  Maybe it is because it gives us hope, it keeps us believing that if we keep on trying, keep on going, keep on believing, this too shall pass.  Or maybe -and this is what I try to believe- when life continues to give us challenges, at one point we just get stronger, as Sophie says, we learn our self-worth, we learn to forgive ourselves and others, we learn to accept what life gives us and create beauty with it, regardless of what it is.  At some point we learn that it is life, and just because of that fact, there is loss, and pain and sadness and despair, but there is also happiness, joy, success, faith, love and hope.  Life presents us different experiences and what we make of them only depends on us.  That, my friends, sounds like a pretty amazing Philosophie to me…


Age: 31

Profession or Passion: Founder of Philosophie, Raw Vegan Chef, Yoga Teacher & Mama

Location: Los Angeles

What or who inspired you to pursue the career path of health and wellness?

Studying psychology at UCLA and receiving my B.A. in the field has definitely influenced my desire to forge a path to lifelong wellness, inner strength, and happiness. After graduating, I started working at an organic raw juice bar near my house and began changing my own eating to alleviate some of the discomfort I felt when eating dairy, meat, and other foods that didn’t seem to sit well. I was so encouraged by how great my body felt after making these changes, and felt inspired to help change the eating habits of others. So I went back to the books and became a certified raw vegan chef, and my passions for healthy eating ultimately lead me to create Philosophie!

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Philosophie is a brilliant creation. At the time of developing the idea, did you envision this or has it organically become what it is today?

Philosophie began with me simply wishing that I could have an amazing blend of superfoods and proteins together in one, convenient jar. I didn’t want to run out of camu camu or another individual ingredient and then feel like my smoothie wasn’t complete, so I went all over LA searching for high quality, fair-trade, organic superfoods and then began packing them into mason jars and little bags. I started giving the blends to friends and family and making everyone workout and nutrition guides. One day, I was in the sea in Israel with my husband, Adi, and he turned to me and said, “You should really grow what you’re doing and share it with more people, make it a company.” And since that day, Philosophie has blossomed into something much bigger than I had ever imagined. Our products have helped everyone from George Clooney to my own dad and are continuing to help so many more people discover wellness and feel as vibrant + alive as they can.

 

Besides your yoga practice, do you have any routines, rituals or practices that help you keep focused and motivated (meditation, religion, affirmations, etc.)?  

I meditate, sip tea, and journal out my thoughts and emotions, a practice that can be just as strengthening as yoga. I also keep a lavender-filled pouch, bring it to my face, inhale deeply, and in that moment, I find my calm, my strength, and myself.

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What has been one of your biggest challenges in life and what tools, practices of beliefs helped you get through them? What advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

I’ve had multiple gritty, challenging moments in my life, from my best friend unexpectedly passing away to being in an abusive relationship to having to watch my mother struggle with stage four breast cancer. All of these painful experiences have helped me really come to understand and recognize my own personal strength, self-worth, and purpose. It comes down to self-respect and self-love, which help you overcome death and negative energy from others and move forward in your life, while also giving love and support to those who need it most.

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How would you title your autobiography?

Philosophie Mama: My Perfectly Imperfect Journey To Finding + Sharing Bliss

 

Are you living your dream life?

Absolutely! There are so many moments when I have to pinch myself to see if I’m really awake. Hearing how our products have helped so many people makes me so proud and so fulfilled. I have so much gratitude for my Philosophie Tribe, my community of friends and family, my hubby, and my beautiful boys!

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Your choice of a song:

Naughty Boy’s “La La La” off the Hotel Cabana album is super fun + upbeat and all about tuning out toxic energy and saying enough is enough.

Your choice of a place:

I love the gorgeous tranquility of the ocean and have always felt such a strong connection to the magical ebbs and flows of the tides.

Your choice of an inspiring woman in history:

Eleanor Rooseveltmy grandmother deeply admired Eleanor Roosevelt and spoke of her often.

Erika Lust: Award-Winning Erotic Film Director, Author, Mother, and Blogger. Barcelona, Spain.

I remember in my youth, trying to get a hang of what sex was all about and since I attended a catholic all-girls high school, Sex-Ed was limited to “all you need to know is you don’t f*ck until marriage. period.”, so we just recurred to the dearly beloved sex bibles of the time: printed magazines such a Cosmo, Glamour, and other juicier publications we could steal from older siblings.  Once, I read something along the lines of “during sex, try to listen to your crush’s breathing and mimic it, until both of you are breathing at the same pace”. This action, was supposed to send some sort of chemical waves to the male brain (they truly enjoyed giving it a very scientific twist referring to us as male/females!) and convince him that you and only you are the perfect female for him. CRAZY stuff! Hopefully, these days are over.

Women talking about sex is more and more popular and encouraged.  We finally get to hear and see what women really want in bed.  In the mainstream media, shows like Sex and the City, Girls, Orange is the New Black, and the sort, have been openly duscussing what we like, want and dislike in bed.  Which is interesting because, the normality of sex on TV opens yet another discussion: THE BODY.  Which body parts are allowed in the media, which are considered “private”, which are offensive, and which are accepted.  I find it interesting, for example, that on Instagram it is easy to see butts in all shapes, sizes and skin colors out there, but the minute a nipple dares to pop out of a top, some secret Instagram spy just reports your account and that picture is BANNED from the virtual world of Instagram forever!  Makes sense, right?

Then there are women like Erika, who are are truly pushing the boundaries of sexuality in the media, questioning the why’s the why not’s and the how’s, ruling the conversation, taking it to a more realistic, artistic, intellectual and aesthetically interesting realm.  Erika creates smart porn, in which those involved have conversations, fall in love, fantasize, sometimes cheat, other times play, sometimes are married and having fun together, sometimes are same-sex… In sum, it is just a good representation of real life.

Erika has been re-shaping the adult film industry, or shall I say, creating an alternative industry.  She has challenged and reframed views that were traditionally male-centered, and has been widely acclaimed for her innovation in the field.  Her creativity is unstoppable, lately coming up with a very, very sexy project.  And have you ever heard about an indie adult film? Well, meet Erika!

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How has the adult film industry changed since you entered it?

Wow. There’s been a lot of things happening it’s impossible to point out everything. On one hand we’ve seen how internet content has just exploded, which has led to porntubes and mainstream adult content coming in from all angles. And on the other hand, there have been a huge amount of very diverse directors making adult films from a different perspective, films that care about the female perspective, about cinematography, about storytelling or just making sure they make adult films in a non-sexist manner. We’ve seen things like the Feminist Porn Awards, which is a great testament to how many directors there are out there actively creating alternatives to the porn norm.
Where did you find the inspiration to be an Adult Film Director?

I strongly felt like women’s voices were not being heard in adult films. Well, they were being heard but mostly in the form of loud faked orgasms! Whenever I had come across explicit films, they were all about the man, the man’s desire and the man’s needs. I didn’t feel any aversion to explicitness or nudity, just the way it was presented as a thing for just men. Also, I’ve loved film all my life and knew I wanted to work with cinema. So I wanted to merge cinematography with explicit content in a way that would give a more accurate image of sex, that it would also show the needs, ideas and pleasure of women.

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Tell us one challenge you encountered upon entering this industry?

The answer is in your question, in a way! Some people, like my mother, thought I was “entering the industry” and “the industry” has so many horrible associations for people.

It was hard for some to understand that I wanted to subvert and create an alternative to the mainstream porn industry rather than actually joining it. I didn’t want to take part in what the mainstream industry was doing, so to me it never felt like I joined “the industry”. I wanted to do the opposite of what they were doing, and carve out my own space, even though my films would contain sex as well.

So that was a challenge in the beginning. But now there’s a lot more understanding and more female directors as well. Most people now understand that you can be a woman who directs erotic films without being a deranged pervert. Not that I have anything against deranged perverts!

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If it’s not top-secret(!), what is the next project we’ll be able to enjoy from Erika Lust?

I’m still making films for XConfessions but I’m also trying to focus as much as possible on a project based on my erotic novel La Cancion de Nora. Watch this space!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Hmmm! Maybe “Lustin’ for a lay-in” or something – because I feel like I haven’t been able to have a lay-in in bed for years. And it sounds a bit dirty which is always a plus. Occupational hazard! Or wait, would “License to Lust” be too cheesy? And I want to wear sunglasses for the cover photo!

Tell us one of your proudest moments

Giving birth to my daughters, Lara and Liv have been two very proud moments. Nothing can beat that feeling of “holy shit, I just gave life”. But I want to say a moment from my work life too if I may: screening XConfessions at the Chicago International Film Festival last year. I just felt this shift, that people there really listened and realized that showing sex on film doesn’t have to mean vulgar or cheap – that eroticism is as worthy of artistic framing as any other aspects of our humanity. That was a big moment for me. That’s three proud moments, sorry!

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Are you living your dream life?

Yes! When I was at university I never would have guessed that I would build a career directing erotic films in Barcelona. But I’m so happy I took the risk, left Sweden and followed my passion. My family is happy and healthy, my company is growing and I feel more sure of my artistic abilities than ever. So I’m in a very good place. I feel very grateful.

Tell us…

A song you love

Nenneh Cherry “Buffalo Stance.” Loved it since it came out!

A place where you find peace

Costa Brava. I go every year. It has the most beautiful beaches, the best views. The air feels different there and it’s just one of those places where you can get away from everything and reset your batteries.

A person who inspires you

Lena Dunham. When I have a spare moment to myself, there’s only thing I want to do: re-watch Girls again and again.

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Aran Goyoaga: Food Writer, Stylist & Photographer

This beautiful and talented woman is from a very magical place, the Basque Country, in the north of Spain.  The land, the people, the culture and even the language are mysterious, nostalgic and melancholic in a very beautiful way.  This is exactly the feeling that seeing her food and lifestyle photography images evokes in me, a sense of delight, coziness, calmness and being ‘home’.  Her start is somewhat similar to the lovely story of Taline, who created an amazing lifestyle and career from the search for gluten free and healthy little treat recipes.  Aran is the food writer behind Cannelle et Vanille and the author of Small Plates and Sweet Treats, and mother of two.

Did you plan this beautiful professional outcome from the start, or did it evolve through the process?

I had no idea that what I am doing today for a living was even a possibility. It honestly grew out of doing something everyday and little planning.
What was your dream career?

I didn’t have one for the longest time. When I was little I wanted to be an engineer. Then as a teenager I just wanted to be around music in whichever capacity I could. I always knew I loved cooking but I didn’t even imagine a career in it, let alone photographing food.

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What is your favorite aspect of this career/lifestyle?

The flexibility to take projects that I love and then other times projects that bring a paycheck. I like navigating work at my own pace and how I feel. It is a true luxury. Plus I get to travel and meet so many interesting people.

What advice would you give to aspiring aspiring food and lifestyle photographers to succeed?

It’s so hard for me to give advice to people in any way… I think it’s really important to work on the things you love but also take projects that will put you in touch with interesting people. I think taking initiative is really important.

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Tell us a “motto” you live by

My grandmother used to always say two things that I think about all the time … Mañana será otro día (tomorrow will be another day) and Nunca dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy (don’t leave for tomorrow what you can accomplish today).

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Congratulations on your book “Small Plates and Sweet Treats”! I notice you describe it as your “first book”. Are you working on a second one?  I have been photographing other authors’ books but I have not started working on my second one. Maybe soon.

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Tell us…
A song you love. So many! Impossible to pick. I am like the film High Fidelity. A top ten for different moments.
A place where you find peace. On the Basque coast in the winter.
A person who inspires you. Both my mother and my father – for very different reasons. They make one pretty perfect whole.

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Ileana Ramirez:Mother of Three, MBA, Military Wife, Professional Singer, Amateur World Traveler

Our next interviewee was nominated by the lovely Lex Weinstein, whom we interviewed a few weeks back.  Ileana is Lex’s sister and judging by their genes, inspiration runs through their families.  They are leading very different but equally inspiring lives.  It is amazing to read Ileana’s picture of her family, I just returned from a very non-glamorous weekend in New York City where I spent time with my dear family. Sitting at the gate, feeling drained after seeing my 93 year old abuelita living with Alzheimer’s in a hilarious and beautifully tragic way.  Hilarious because the way in which her illness is manifesting these days is by her singing non-stop (yes, even in her sleep sometimes!), which can be quite funny.  Her humming is soothing and often times she sang songs that are quite popular and I just couldn’t help myself to join her secretly, although an hour into the same song I admit I wanted to run out of the house and just scream off the top of my lungs, which I tried doing but the -3• weather stop me cold!  That was the funny party.  The tragic aspect of it was seeing my favorite person in the world living in a 93 year old body, dependent, like a child, skinnier and without her admirable grace moving through life.  Her pride, her strong temper and love, her beauty and perfectly styled hair, all of that is mostly gone but it was undoubtedly passed on to me.  There is so much of her in me that sometimes I feel as if I’m not only living my own life, but continuing this amazing story without really knowing the beginning or without even knowing WHO started writing it.  I feel as if my life is not only a life in which I should “accomplish certain things”, become a professional, have my home, family, and all of those things that us humans do, but I feel as if I’m the writer and main character of this story that began with the women before me and will continue with those coming after me.  This is a great responsibility, it is a beautiful responsibility that I decide to embrace with the purpose of making my part of the story a pretty amazing one, one which a niece or granddaughter will look at one day and say “my great-great grandmother was fucking awesome!”.  Even though I was helping my grandmother walk up and down stairs, she made sure she left a great story for me to follow, she left me wondering what can I do to make this even better?  What life can I live to honor this woman and all these badass women that came before me?

My grandmother made being a mother, being a wife and being a proud Tupperware saleswoman a very, very glamorous life.  I remember her meetings with 30+ other beautifully dressed homemakers, they had tea, coffee, pastries and discussed the latest lids on these seemingly almighty containers in my grandmother’s living room, under the light of a beautiful chandelier that made it all feel as in a 1920’s ballroom.  She a power to make her middle-class life seem so glamorous, so blessed, so fabulous… She was a stay at home mom, but her ability to be the best at that not only had me wanting to be like her when I grew up, but once I did get older, inspired me to write one of my papers for Michael Taussig’s class at Columbia University on her life.  It still has me wanting to travel in minu zero degree weather to join her in humming songs.  Ileana’s interview came in at a perfect time for me as I reflect on life, it is a beautiful celebration of family, love and a major purpose.

Name: Ileana Ramirez

Profession or Passion: Mother of Three, MBA, Military Wife, Professional Singer, Amateur World Traveler

Where are you from? Virginia Beach, VA, USA

What or who inspired you to do what you do?

As a child I was inspired by the women in my family.  We had this large Cuban family with lots of cousins and a lot of complicated love and a history of hardship and tragedy.  My grandmother, my mother, and her four sisters were at the helm of everything.  My father was the mouthpiece of my family, but as I grew up I understood that my mother was the real foundation, the silent strength behind everything.

We were taught how to dress, walk, and carry ourselves with confidence and class.  We dressed up to travel, like they used to in the fifties and sixties.  My mother had this classic idea about education: you play an instrument, speak foreign languages, study art and poetry, and read a lot.  My father believed in public education, but my mother would still get the reading lists from the fancy private schools and track down all those books from the library. I read Tolkien, the Bronte sisters, Shakespeare, Dickens, Thoreau, Hemingway, tons and tons, all before finishing high school.

I met my husband in college and knew almost immediately that he was the love of my life.  I remember thinking, “I’m eighteen and I just met the man I’m going to marry. I’m totally screwed.”  I had been thinking of joining the Peace Corps when I graduated, but there I was, this independent feminist in love with this guy with this incredibly demanding career.  Women talk about husbands and families as these burdensome anchors that hold them back, but that was never the case for me.  My husband always said he’d quit any time I wanted something else.  He has said yes to every project, job, or baby I’ve ever wanted, and we’ve traveled around a lot to satisfy my desire to see the world.  The year after my first child was born I worked for a nonprofit and got my MBA.  The year after my second child was born, we moved to Japan and traveled through six countries in the Pacific to meet my husband on various port calls.  Most of the time, I was traveling alone in foreign countries with two small children.  My third child is two months old, and we are moving to Italy in a week.  Together, we are getting to enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.

As a major goal, what would you like the impact of your work to be?

Right now, my primary job is to nurture children who can grow up to be beautiful, ethical adults with the creativity, intelligence, work ethic, and gumption to solve some of the serious problems our society faces.  I believe that is the moral imperative of raising children.  But being pregnant and giving birth in the United States has also inspired me to advocate for women’s health.  The medicalization of birth in the U.S. has largely been a failure, with some of the worst outcomes for mothers and babies in the industrialized world.  We spend more money per capita than any other country, and yet our mother and infant mortality rates are frighteningly high, and our methods of reporting maternal mortality are insufficient.  I want to devote the next stage of my life to fixing these problems.

If you could publish an autobiography, how would you title it?

“A white line, painted on the sand and on the ocean, from me to you.”

It’s a quote from Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer, which is funny because that book’s title is taken from a quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being.  Foer talks a lot about “the ghosts, the spaces amid love,” and I can really identify with that. I mean, sheesh, I’m a military wife, so I know all about distance.  But we all operate under the illusion that we are separate, that injuring another living creature doesn’t injure us as well.  I was always the translator in my family, trying to close the distance between people, and maybe that’s why I love languages and cultures and travel so much.  Empathy and experience are the antidote to loneliness.

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

This moment doesn’t define you as a person.  You’re going to have moments where you are brilliant and engaged and proud of your work.  You’re also going to have moments where you are in mourning or exhausted or just uninspired.  This moment isn’t everything; it’s just a moment.  In a few years when you are doing nothing but nursing a newborn for three months straight, don’t count the seconds ticking by. You’re not always saving the world; sometimes you’re just living, and that’s beautiful and important too.

In just one sentence, describe your “dream life”? 

I travel constantly, speak half a dozen languages, defend marginalized people, read voraciously, go on adventures with my children, fight for justice, wear fabulous clothing, run, practice yoga, paint, sing, learn something new every day, and pursue interior decorating as a hobby.

What is your choice of each of the following:

  • A song

“My Father’s Gun” by Elton John.  It’s such a strange song; an 1865 Confederate soldier’s story written by a Brit a hundred years later.  In general, I love the epic storytelling power of rock ballads, but this song’s also about how we inherit a legacy of loves, losses, failures, and history and how that stuff makes up the lens through which we tell our own stories.

  • A place

Engakuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan.  I had just moved to Japan and was anxious to see some of the beautiful spiritual history there.  Kamakura is full of Shinto and Buddhist temples, but we’d heard especially good things about Engakuji, so we walked several miles, pushing strollers of course, up this hill on this busy roadside, until we practically collapsed into this beautiful Zen temple with groves of bamboo and hiking trails and a stillness that only exists in places where monks are the custodians.  I nursed my three-month-old and saw, in the reflection of his eyes looking up at me, the sun shining through the bamboo leaves, and felt the infinite bliss brush past me for a moment.

  • An inspiring woman in history

Alice Paul was an American suffragette in the early 20th century who was imprisoned and tortured by her own government for advocating for women’s voting rights.  She led masses of women in hunger strikes from prison, and when they couldn’t get her to voluntarily eat, her captors force-fed her using brutal methods.  She shined a light on her government’s hypocrisy, and fought against her own marginalization.

 

Taline Gabrielian, Mother, Food Entrepeneur & Founder of Hippie Lane

It’s very exciting to see what’s going on with food these days, just by taking a quick look at Instagram, our mouths are watering at scrumptious foods that are handcrafted to perfection using only the freshest, healthiest and ethically sourced options available, often times taking previously non-traditional, but very trendy routes such as gluten-free and vegan ingredients.  Taline Gabrielian not only masters to create beautiful and exquisite sweet treats, but she throws in her love for fashion and style into the mixture.  The result: Treats with Edge, as her website Hippie Lane perfectly describes them.  With a solid figure of 260K Instargam followers, her work and presence in any healthy eats-related hashtag and conversation is influential, to say the least.

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After being diagnosed with food intolerances, Taline Gabrielian turn that little challenge into a major life-changing career.  Her sweet tooth and cravings for healthy treats lead her to play around, making dairy, eggs, sugar and nuts-free recipes.  Each of her Instagram posts with appetizing pictures of her treats was followed by countless questions, positive feedback and a demand for more, which gave her the confidence to develop the Hippie Lane app, reaching record-breaking sales in no time.

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Interestingly, Taline’s academic background is in counseling and she holds a master’s in teaching.  She also worked as a waitress, in retail, at an office and even as a barista. Sooooo relatable! How many of us haven’t worked at least one of these jobs (if not all!) to get by.  In another interview, Taline explains “my followers led the way, and I just followed suit“, which only confirms my theory that if we embrace life challenges -such as a food intolerance diagnosis-

if we just let go, life takes us to wonderful places.

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She has graciously created a healthy, active, successful and very photogenic life for us to admire and get some inspiration to do our own thing,  do more of what makes us happy. Taline gave us 5 minutes of her time to answer a few questions:

One of your favorite HippieLane moments:

Landing the raw wagon wheel recipe that I was working so hard to master.

If you could teach your children one MOTTO to live by, what would it be?

Whatever you do, do it with passion

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How would you title your autobiography?

Pay Attention.

What is one thing you can’t go to sleep without doing?

Planning the next day

A dish you enjoy making

My breakfast bowls

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A place where you feel happy

In nature

A woman who inspires you

Christine Centenera, Vogue Magazine

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Thank you, Taline <3

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