Keep Calm…

Our Alchimie Forever marketing calendar says that April is the month of Calm. As in calm skin, and calm spirit.

Calm skin. April is National Rosacea Awareness month. Those who suffer from rosacea know this is the antithesis of calm. Red, angry, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe rosacea skin; calm is not. Helping to calm your skin looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. These will vary somewhat individually: heat, alcohol, spice, and more.
  • Protect your skin. From the sun (always), but also from the cold and the wind.
  • Treat your skin gently. Avoid harsh products, cleansers and otherwise. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients. Remember that less is more.
  • When all else fails, apply makeup to cover up the red. I so rarely recommend makeup other than for color… but sometimes it really is necessary.
  • Your dermatologist is your friend. Listen to his / her recommendations, follow his / her prescriptions, trust the expert.

Calm spirit. Is there a calm spirit month? This is the time of year when my spirit is the antithesis of calm. Tired, overwhelmed, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe an agitated spirit; calm is not. Helping to calm my spirit looks like this:

  • Avoid triggers. I know what mine are, I trust you know yours.
  • Protect my energy. Be more quiet. Spend more time in nature (as I write from the gardens of Salamander Resort & Spa).
  • Treat myself gently. Sleep more, drink less, exercise more. Cancel appointments (responsibly).
  • When all else fails, smile until I make it. A Saturday with absolutely zero commitments is 3 days away. Tinos is 64 days away…
  • My therapist is my friend. For me, that means my massage therapist… thank you Brian!

Calm – of skin and spirit!

 

Tinos tips

I have been back from Tinos for almost two weeks, and its magic is still with me. A few of you have been asking about this island – my happy place. Part of me doesn’t want to share (what I love the most is how remote it is and how there are more churches than people), but sharing is caring. So here goes.

How to get there:

It takes two days from the US (did I mention it is remote?). Airplane to Athens. Taxi to the port of Rafina (about an hour). Ferry to Tinos. If you have time in Rafina, have lunch at Agoni Grammi.

The chora (aka the town):

Tinos is the name of the island, and of the main town (where the ferry will drop you off). This town is filled with restaurants, bars, clubs (yes – clubs) – more on that later. Make a trip to the main church, where many come for a pilgrimage. If you can avoid it, don’t stay there.

Rental car:

You will need a car in Tinos (although my uncle who now owns the house does not drive, he takes buses and taxies on the island – but trust me, you need a car). Don’t use Vidalis, they are popular and all over the island but extra expensive. Use Dimitris Rent a Car. Owned by Heike and her husband, they may be the nicest people on Tinos. Email her here: dimitrisrentacar@gmail.com. Don’t forget to get your international driver’s license.

The villages:

Tinos is known for its amazing villages. My grandparents bought a house in Triantaros in the 1960s (which is how I got to be lucky enough to discover this island). This village so close to my heart is known as the balcony of Tinos.

You must also visit Isternia (which I love equally as Triantaros), Kardiani (the garden of Tinos), Pyrgos (which has an amazing town square), and Panormos, which is by the sea on the opposite side of the island.

The restaurants:

Thalassaki – in Isternia bay. The best seafood on the island, maybe in the entire Cyclades. It is literally “on the water” – there are “splash tables” with disclaimers that your feet might get wet. Have the taramasolata.

Dinos – in Kardiani bay. Family owned, three generations of “Dinos’s” work there, the view of the sunset is breathtaking.

Exomeria – in Isternia. Maria is the best hostess, she does breakfast, lunch, apero, dinner, late night snacks. I am not sure when she sleeps. The view is as breathtaking as her pizza and vegetable pies.

Mayou – also in Isternia. Another breathtaking view. A great place for coffee or a drink.

Bourou – near Kionia. This is one of the first restaurants I discovered on the island, and it remains one of my favorites. The vegetable balls (yes, it’s a thing) are my favorite on the island.

Pranzo – in town, fabulous Italian, amazing people watching.

Tarsanas – at the end of the port in town, amazing fish and a very special type of rice (ask the owner how he makes it and watch him launch in a 30 minute very animated description).

The night life:

Zambarco – by the new port. The palce to watch anything related to the World Cup. Great also for breakfast.

Koursaros – which means “pirate.” Start your night there around 10-11 pm. (Next to Zambarco)

Argonathis – this is the best dance club on the island. It is owned by Catherine, and her business partner who DJs better than anyone other than my brother-in-law. Go there after 1 am, stay until the sun rises.

The beach(es):

There is only one beach: Kalivia Beach. There are so many reasons I love it the most.  The swimming in the bay is excellent. There are beach chairs and umbrellas. There is a beach bar with drinks and food. Mostly, there is Marco, who owns it, and his amazing team. If you are looking for me on Tinos after 1 pm, there is one place and one place only you will find me. Make sure you ask him for a shot (or a couple) of Raki – he makes his own… (did someone say Greek moonshine?). Use the Greek “cheers” – Yia Mas.

Apolamvano! (meaning, Enjoy!).

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Flashback to Warren Buffet – and his great advice

If you have seen me travel, you have seen me with a pile of magazines, going through them methodically, tearing out articles that seem relevant and of interest. Sometimes I read them immediately, sometimes I “save them for later when I have time.”

I brought such a pile of magazine tear-sheets with me to Tinos to read during my two weeks of R&R. And in the middle of them, somehow, I found very old notes (like from 11/14/2002 old!) about a speech I heard Warren Buffet give at the McDonough School of Business. I am not sure how these notes go into this pile, and I am not sure how they survived the last 16 years (!!) but they are timeless and still so very relevant today.

Buffet’s advice:

  • Do work you love and are passionate about.
  • Always follow the front-page test: if you don’t want your words or actions on the front page of the Washington Post, don’t say or do the thing.
  • Think about who your heroes are.
  • Don’t marry for money, especially if you’re already rich!
  • Don’t save sex for old age. (Yes, he did say that!)
  • Your life’s success is measured by who loves and respects you.
  • There is no such thing as “business ethics.” There’s just ethics.
  • Don’t pay attention to the economy. Focus on what is knowable and what is important.
  • Don’t be envious, it only makes you feel bad.
  • Run your business like it’s your only asset and you can’t sell it for 100 years.
  • Don’t be bought.
  • What you are later in life is determined today. Have good mind and body habits.
  • There are a lot of things you can’t control – but you can control the type of person you are.

 

Tinos 2018 Reading List

When people ask me what I do for fun, my answer is “read.” I read fiction, I read non-fiction, I read for book club, and I read beyond book club. Most of all, I read during my summer R&R, in Tinos, Greece. I aim for a new book every two days.

Here is this year’s Tinos reading list – in the order I imagine reading the books…  I probably won’t make it through 11 books in 16 days, but I will try.

Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam. I found this book somehow on my IG feed, recommended by someone I follow. I started my vacation with this one and loved it. Great advice on how time really is elastic and how to be in control of your time, of what you spend your time on.

The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek. I also came across this book on my IG feed. I started it but could not get into it – so I am leaving it be for now, maybe I will pick it up again at the end of my vacation. I have to admit I don’t like WWI (or WWII) books, or sad love stories… maybe this was not the best pick for myself.

Who is Rich by Matthew Klam. My friend Cathy recommended it as our next Book Club read – she always stretches my reading comfort zone, and I am looking forward to this novel, about a cartoonist, set in a lovely New England beach town.

Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. My friend Kassie  gifted me this a while back, and I have never made the time to read it. It is about manifesting and the laws of the Universe – I think. Again, a bit out of my reading comfort zone, but isn’t that what friends are for?

In the Name of Gucci by Patricia Gucci. My Dad gave me this one – apparently a great read if you are in family business.

Silent by David Mellon. Another novel, written by my husband’s step-brother. I am looking forward to discovering it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I figured I would be reading this around my two-week vacation mid-point, and perhaps by then the Tinos air will have worked its magic on my mind and everything I give a F*&^% about.

101 Ways to Open a Speech by Brad Phillips. Melissa May recommended this book when I took her public speaking seminar in December 2017. I have been meaning to read it since. I am hoping it is quick and insightful.

Principles by Ray Dalio. This is the big one for this trip. I am leaving it to the second week of vacation because I am expecting to need a rested brain and open mind to get everything out of this read that I should. Also, it’s pretty thick.

Kilometre Zero by Maud Ankaoua. A book in French made it on this year’s reading list… My friend Severine gave this to me just last week when we got together for champagne in Geneva. I will give it a try… Other than my mother’s books, I can’t remember the last time I read a book in French is.

Building a Stroybrand by Donald Miller. I have been reading this for months, a great recommendation by my friend and graphic designer Kelli. There is so much, and it makes me think so hard about my brand Alchimie Forever, it feels like work – it will be the perfect book to end my vacation on and begin reentering the work world.

Tinos Countdown

In June, I count the days. The days until I am eating a Greek salad and drinking a glass of rosé at my favorite café at the Port of Rafina, in Athens, awaiting the ferry that will take me to my happy place, the island of Tinos. There, for two weeks, I will enjoy the sand, the sun, the sea, I will swim and read and eat and think and write and sleep.

In addition to counting the days, I relish the weeks leading up to that day and the anticipation by preparing for my trip in very specific ways. Here is my vacation preparation routine.

  1. I like to have 5-10 books to read during this two-week period – both fiction and non-fiction, both what one might consider “trash” and business books. On my list so far are The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Who is Rich, In the Name of Gucci, Off the Clock, The Verdun Affair, Principles, and more.
  2. Bathing suits. New year, new bikini. My collection is slowly but surely growing. I love Volcom, VIX, and Roxy.
  3. Even if I have any left from last summer, I purchase new sunscreen every year (it expires and all that). Of course, daily, the Alchimie Forever Daily Defense SPF23. And in addition to that, LaRoche Posay’s Anthelios Nourishing Oil SPF 50+ and Coola Sport Face SPF50 White Tea Organic Sunscreen Lotion.
  4. Beach body. I strive to eat healthy year-round, but in June I pay particular attention. More water, more vegetables, no carbs or sugars (I make an exception for champagne and wine), less cheese. And hopefully a three-day JRINK juice cleanse…
  5. Beauty appointments. The week before I leave, I make sure to get my eyebrows waxed (thank you Erwin and Karma!), have a pedicure (choosing a particularly exotic nail polish shade), and do a full body polish (this, at home, with Aveda Beautifying Radiance Polish).
  6. Every summer has its own playlist, songs to listen to on the road, at the beach, on the balcony. I have not yet started this summer’s playlist… any recommendations?
  7. Goal list. I head to Tinos with a list of goals, usually involving thinking projects, content creation, strategic planning. It’s amazing what happens to my brain when I let go of the daily tasks and activities and make room for the bigger picture.
  8. Don’t bring to Tinos list. I usually get a couple projects done in June that have been on my gameplan for months – because I refuse to “take them” with me to Tinos. Whether it be a project I have been procrastinating on or a random administrative task I have not yet figured out how to delegate and must take care of, it is getting done before I get on that ferry.

Is it June 29 yet?

Tinos… it's good for the soul…

After a week in Tinos, I feel like a new person. Someone healthier, more rested, calmer, someone with more breathing room. It may be all of the fresh Greek salads, and the swimming in the sea, but I think there is more to it… Tinos is good for my soul.

Time spent outside is good for the soul. Reading outside; eating outside; having cocktail hour outside. How can I implement this back in DC? More outdoor furniture; discipline to walk down three flights of stairs to the side yard for my morning coffee…

Time spent in the clear, cold, salty sea is good for the soul – and the body. Something about the cold invigorates me. At my favorite beach, I am often alone in the water, and that solitude among the waves is magical.

Time with the data on my phone turned off is good for the soul. I check emails when I choose to, not when I can or because I am addicted to the device; I must try this type of digital detox in DC, even if for just a couple of hours.

Simplicity is good for the soul. Simplicity such as a small house that has exactly everything you need in it, and not one thing more; 6 Tinos glasses, 6 and no more because you won’t ever need more; no TV, radio, internet, because the entertainment comes from books (and books there are…) and looking at the view from the terrace.

Doing things  “the old fashioned way” is good for the soul.  For example, drying clothes on a clothesline, rather than in a dryer, is somehow soothing, more environmentally friendly, and better for the clothes. And they end up smelling like sunshine.

Using “old” things is good for the soul. I love making coffee in the old-stlyle coffee maker that probably belonged to my grandmother; I love the old, somewhat ragged beach towels that have been here ever since I have been coming to Tinos, that still “work” perfectly. Somehow with age these belongings have taken on more meaning through history, I have grown attached to them. Who needs the latest and greatest all the time?

Eating local is good for the soul – and for the palate. For the soul, it reminds one of where everything comes from, and of the circle of life. A farmer plants a tomato plant. Tomatoes grow. Next door, a restaurant serves those tomatoes to happy American tourists. Such is the very simple circle of life.

Singing out loud is good for the soul – I have heard more men sing while working here than I ever have. It started with our cab driver from the Athens airport to the port. The radio station was on, Greek songs, of course, and twice during the 40-minute cab ride, he sang to those songs. Loudly and happily, no humming there. It was beautiful. It reminded me that the smallest things can change someone’s day, someone’s mood.

Church bells are good for the soul – no matter the church. The first time I hear them during this trip is at 8:45 pm Saturday evening on our terrace, for no apparent reason. Perhaps they are just there to remind us of the higher powers that watch over us.

Silence is good for the soul. This may be the most significant luxury of our time here. Sitting in our terrace, no matter the day of the week or the time of day, it is quiet enough to hear the wind rustle through the leaves; hear the birds chirp; hear nothing… It is so quiet that we all wonder at the lone car that drives on the single village road, once in a long while.

Tinos, it’s good for the soul.