life

20

December 3, 2017
jolielaura_paris_birthday_20_2017

In the previous week, my favourite animation turned 20, the best romantic movie of all times turned two decades as well and my dearest magazine already published its December issue for the 20th time. Why am I bringing this up? Not only had I grown up with Anastasia, Titanic and ELLE Romania, I also happen to change my first digit in about the same period as them.

The shock I felt when I realized all of this should have prepared me for the mental realisation that my teenage years are gone and that I am starting a new chapter. Yet they only made me feel behind all the plans I made for myself.

One month before turning 20 I was going through the hardest times I ever faced – far worse than in my first year apart from my family. I would have frequent anxiety attacks and there was a constant state of helplessness over the very things affecting me. At one point, my mental state had gotten so bad I couldn’t stop crying and I was so restless I had to ask my mom to tell me a bedtime story over the phone.

So, comparing the truth to the reality I have envisioned for myself was a brutal exercise.

I thought that by the time I was 20, I would know what I wanted to do after graduating, either if it were a master or starting a business and I would have been at least partially financially independent. However, here I was: alone, emotionally drained, exhausted, overall confused, and unconfident in myself and thus, questioning all my choices. Was it right to move out of my country? Was my study choice the perfect fit for me? Was I living my best student life? Was I fit to apply for a master? If yes, which one and where?

I will not lie – it was a period I do not wish to relive. I have not fully recovered in order to be myself again and I don’t know what that even means now. However, I am trying to look at the bright side and acknowledge the fact that I still have amazing, supportive parents, that I am healthy and that I am extremely privileged to live through all the good events I get to experience.

Yes, I was planning to read more, to know more and to be more before I turned 20. But I realized that all of these are in vain if your mental health is not on a positive and stable path. So, for my twenties, I am turning my mental health into a priority. My newest goal is to be at peace with myself and with my own body and to find the right balance between controlling things and letting go in front of the unknown.

Here is one of the best messages I came across in Paris, the other day, at Shakespeare and Co. bookshop:

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being. – Hafiz

*The photo above was taken in Paris, where for one moment, it seemed as if I was stepping into someone else’s shoes. Someone happy, lucky and holding the very magazine once only looked up to which now listed their name under Editorial Team. I still have to come to terms that person’s me and that, maybe, the dream life actually made its way into mine.

 

Laura

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LauraxELLE

What is the Gig Economy and why are so many people freelancers?

November 29, 2017
jolielaura-the-gig-economy-carl-heyerdahl

Here is a scenario with which we are already accustomed to and another one which has big chances to become our reality:

2017: ‘So…what do you want to be when you grow up?’

Pilot like my Daddy! Judge like the lady I’ve seen on the TV. Princess, just like Elsa! Architect, like my brother. Doctor like my Mommy.

2037: ‘So…what do you want to be when you grow up?’

Creative freelancer like Mommy! Independent worker like Daddy. Part time collaborator just like my sis! Zero hours contractor like the gentleman from the radio.

Sounds freaky? Well, the change of our professional dreams may be just one of the effects we have to think about when we preach the global implementation of the Gig Economy.

What is the Gig Economy, what is the connection between Facebook, Airbnb, Alibaba and Uber, why so many youngsters are flexi-workers, what are consequences of the freelancer careers on the society and why should you care? Read below to find out.

Gig, an English word predominantly used in showbiz, means a performance. For example, when a band organizes a show or when they are asked to play at an event, this is called a gig. So, generalizing, gigs refer to actions which happen just once and which, consequently, do not imply constance. So, the revenues of people who do gigs come fragmented and from more sources, usually via a digital request.

The origins of this way of working may be traced to the development of the Internet networks from the ’90s. All of the sudden, Internet connection was offering the world to its users, reducing the dependency on a fixed office. Moreover, at the same time with the euphoria of digital companies (The DotCom Revolution), increasingly more firms started to take advantage of the fact that they could externalize a considerable amount of work, which led to an increase in the number of requests for collaborators, freelancers and independent subcontractors. Soon, companies realized that the externalization of human resources leads to huge cost cuts since the respective workers are not considered contractual employees, which means they are offered less social benefits.

Before detailing the effects and the problems generated by this new way of working, it is essential to trace the extent to which two current trends in the economic system are complementing the directions in which the Gig Economy runs the society: the Sharing Economy and the Collaborative Economy.

To start with, the Sharing Economy is a term used to define an economic system in which goods or services are used by multiple people for free or for a fee paid to the owner or the service provider. For instance, Uber, the world’s biggest taxi company, is representative for such an economy because a driver is sharing his or hers own car with other people by driving them from place to place for a certain fee. The same goes for AirBnb, the biggest website for short-term renting, where users can list a spare room or an entire house for a price point they get to decide. Peerby, a Dutch start-up, allows users to borrow and lend household items, electronics, bikes and cars for a short period. Here it comes the notion of collaborative economy which entails that more people consume or use an object collaboratively, which reduces consumerism, diminishes personal investments (why buy a drill when you can borrow one?), optimizes resources usage, produces waste and some might say that it even improves interpersonal relationships between users, which may be neighbours or complete strangers.

The Gig Economy sums up those notions of consumption, collaboration and work, but it distorts them by considering that these activities can replace a full-time work contract. Let’s return to Uber and the fact that you can get extra money by using a good you already own. Sounds absolutely lovely, right? What could possibly be wrong with this? The issue is that the Uber driver, by driving his car for a client, works for a company and is not considered an employee, but an independent contractor. Which means that the Uber driver can set his or hers own working hours by being their own boss and can generate more money during days with special events or during peak times. However, advantages stop here because the Uber drivers, thousands of them, are not medically insured, are not having their car insured by the company, are not guaranteed a certain workload, are not promised a minimum monthly pay, are not offered paid vacation days, are obliged to contribute to the tax funds all by themselves and … the company does not contribute whatsoever to the pension funds of the drivers. Moreover, Uber may decide at any time to revoke the access of a driver, this happening to drivers who score 4.6 stars or lower (out of 5). However, Uber, Lyft and other transport companies are charging a commission from every ride, which can reach up to 25% of the whole value of the trip, which justifies the fact that in the absence of these platforms, drivers would not be able to find clients. The complaints and numerous protests of drivers have brought the attention on the fact that these companies are making profit on the backs of their drivers, without offering as much in return. And they are not the only ones to highlight this new way of management which seeks high and rapid profits and which ignores long-term consequences in the lives of the exact people who bring those revenues.

Other examples of companies and initiatives based on transportation are Uber Eats, Foodora and Deliveroo, which attract bikers to provide food delivery services. Put simpler, if you are craving for a fast food in the middle of the night and your favourite restaurant is still open, you can have your food by your door in just few minutes thanks, in the majority of the time, to a student on a bike who wants to get extra money. And there is nothing wrong in this. However, if the biker gets sick or has an accident on his/her way towards a client, the company is not responsible and will not offer any kind of compensation, although it takes a commission from every successful delivery.

Postmates, an American company, boasts with the fact that it’s a logistics firm which offers on-demand services, which means their network of service providers receives tasks from groceries shopping to picking up clothes from the dry-cleaner. Users who register for platforms such as TaskRabbit and Fiverr, receive similar tasks, from participating in a video as an extra, verifying the spelling of a CV, offering foreign languages classes, assembling furniture, sorting letters and many other tasks which others either don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do them, don’t want to do them or need help. The difference between the two websites is that on Fiverr, all tasks are rewarded with 5 dollars, from which the platform will take for itself 25%. Completely unsurprising, these companies are not covering work-related accidents, free days or days in which a certain service provider does not manage to get tasks. So, working for these platforms is unstable and unsure, which represents one of the negative effects of the Gig Economy.

The first questions about the uncertain future of full-time Gig workers, which are those who do not have a job with conventional terms on the side, are headed towards the necessary arrangements for a life that can support the new work style and life. Such activities include: managing a private pension fund, declaring their revenues for taxation, possibly hiring an accountant, diversifying the type of gigs and platforms they are available  on so there are as few periods of inactivity as possible, analyzing the feasibility of maternal/paternal leave, incorporating rest vacations in the structure of the year so the remaining working days can sustain them and also, saving up money for likely future spendings (kids’ education, buying an apartment) and saving funds for urgencies like medical problems.

Furthermore, these administrative tasks are combined with negative social consequences of these platforms: the fact that people are treated like, yet not considered employees, but more like human assistants, easily-replaceable people who can be offered unqualified work which does not have many requirements. Moreover, these platforms exclude all types of motivation and stimulation, from good, stable pay to hierarchical advancements, the possibility to receive company stocks or to attend development trainings. Which leads to an increase of societal polarization, in which rich class continues to use the less-fortunate people, which live from month to month. This structure explains why so many young people work as freelancers: since the requirements for certain tasks are minimal, many youngsters see in this aspect an opportunity to generate their first income. And as most young people do not have time for full-time jobs due to their studies, yet they need the extra money, they have to start their careers with side jobs/gigs, which sometimes revolve around simple, unspecialized tasks for the entry-level. Again, nothing wrong here. But because this structure does not rely on progressively developing the complexity of the jobs, many young people remain entry-level workers for long periods of time, which later makes it harder for them to make ends meet.

However, there is another type of worker: professional freelancers, those who take on projects which require abilities and training in a certain domain, such as illustration, programming, copyright, publishing, photography and other markets which have accepted the fragmentation of work and the idea of collaboration between wider groups of people.

Gigantic companies such as Facebook, AirBnb, Uber, Alibaba and other smaller-sized competitors from almost all industries have come to revolutionize the way in which companies make profit and the way people work. How? They are all relying on the sharing and collaborative economy which include goods their users already have, services which they can provide and information that they can use commercially. This way, the contributions of these platforms are minimal, in the sense that they do not have journalists to create media content (Facebook), nor real estate (AirBnb), nor fleet (Uber) or product stock (Alibaba). Therefore, these companies take advantage of their positions as leaders in connecting the offer with the demand in order to generate high revenues with minimal investments.

So, it is possible that in the next years we will all become freelancers, contractors paid by the hour, independent subcontractors or micro-entrepreneurs.

But are these the profiles we want to pursue for our children?

— article published in ELLE Romania, November 2017 issue, number 240

Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

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fashion

5 reasons why I don’t like Victoria’s Secret

November 25, 2017
5 reasons

If you have been active online in the past few days, you may have noticed the abundance of pink-related content popping in your social media feeds. Yes, I am talking about Victoria’s Secret, and I think that now, when the hype about their latest Shanghai show is still high, is the best time to start a discussion about some reasons why this brand is not going on a good path, at least, as far as I can tell.

Here’s why:

1. It promotes unrealistic ideals
Percentually, the VS models represent a minority of the society. Yet they are advertised to the masses. So we are all made to think that this is how everybody looks and how everybody should look like, which is an issue for all, from young 8-year olds watching the show on TV to the women who just gave birth and feel insecure about their bodies, to the teenagers feeling extra-conscious during beach trips and to all women who throughout the years have put on a bit more weight. Also, those mental perceptions don’t affect just women; they affect men’s ideals about women too, which is also concerning.

2. The brand is not backed up by value, beliefs and inner inspiration
I am honestly fed up with things which don’t bring value into my life. So, how can a show displaying lingerie enrich my life? If I wanted inspiration, I would have just talked with my mom, thanks. Also, if I wanted fun and entertainment, I would have chosen a book. So I can rely more on my brain than on my exterior looks throughout my life. Watching a 10 minute show with models holding onto their toes in heels while they strut with heavy wings on is not bringing anything into my life, except maybe the thought I just wasted some minutes I will never get back.

3. The VS show is an unnecessary and expensive parade of unpractical costumes, some which also pose cultural appropriation issues 

I mean, have you ever worn a bedazzled bra under a sweater? Yeah, not a good match. Or how often do you take your one million dollar bra for a spin? Never? Yeah, me neither.

Also, how many people wear Navajo-inspired headpieces alongside lingerie and 11 cm heels? No one? Oh, yeah, because it is completely unpractical and insulting to other cultures. Who knew?!

“Honey, does this make me look sexy racist?” “You bet”.

4. It’s part of an old era when objectifying and misrepresenting women was not penalized.

Applauding women while they are almost naked on a runway and looking up only to skinny and (mostly) white women who are no older than 40 is in no way something still tolerated. Today, more than ever, we need to embrace the notions of diversity, representation and natural beauty. When Rihanna launched her Fenty Beauty cosmetic products, she included 40 skin tone shades in her foundation line. 40! The outpour of positive responses and encouragements is something which shows how much-needed this color range is and how much people desire to have access to the same type of products and to generalize, the same type of opportunities. Products need to be relatable in order to sell, and by representing as many categories as possible, brands are more likely to build a positive corporate image for themselves, while also improving sales.

5. Victoria’s Secret is the work of men. And this is easily noticeable.

VS was founded by a man, Roy Raymond, in 1977, and 5 years later it was sold to another man, Leslie Wexner, who still owns it. However, I am pretty sure things would have looked much differently if the management of the brand was mostly female. Because in no way could women think so narrowly of gender representation. I mean, look at Emily Weiss and the latest Glossier Body Hero campaign. Tastefully done, inclusive, body-positive and a perfect example of marketing done right. And their sales, customer satisfaction and word of mouth support this.

Overall, I think Victoria’s Secret concept will have to adjust soon in order to fit the more mindful and conscious customers and in order to strengthen their image throughout different racial, geographical and demographical markets.

What do you think? Are you a VS customer? In your own experience, what was their selling point?

Can’t wait to hear what you think,

Laura

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Laura Recommends

October Recommendations

November 3, 2017
jolielaura_october_recommendations

Hello, there!

If you have been following my #MakeFacebookGreatAgain project, you are already familiar with some of my latest recommendations. Here is the full list of things I liked in October and would like to pass on:

 

CAMPAIGNS

One.org

Few weeks ago I saw on Instagram the image below and I immediately stopped scrolling. It was so compelling, painful and inspiring at the same time that I knew I had to learn more about it. I discovered it was made by ONE, an organization which aims at ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases. More recently, Bill Gates shared a geography quiz on Facebook and to my surprise, I realized that it was also part of ONE’s campaign. I won’t spill out more beans about it, so you’ll have to check out the quiz by yourself. I hope it will change something in the way you see the world.

image1

 

BOOKS

TED Talks – The official TED guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson

I have been fascinated by TED events for almost four years and after attending a TEDx event in Amsterdam, I decided I wanted to deepen my understanding of public speaking. The book was full of great advice, numerous references to amazing talks and a series of details I didn’t read anywhere else. One of the best parts? The fact that all referenced videos are linked here and that below each one there is a short text with the reason it was mentioned in the book. How cool is that?

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Is there anyone not fascinated by Elon Musk?! While this book has been on my reading list for quite a while, only recently I have come to finish it and I must say, I am impressed. Definitely recommend this book for everyone who wants to get a bigger picture of PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity and so much more.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

One of the most captivating books I read in the last period, “All Our Wrong Todays” tapped into my soft spot for time traveling (I blame all those Rachel McAdams movies) and technology. I would recommend reading the original version since I made the mistake to read the Romanian one and it had quite too many typos to thoroughly enjoy it.

 

RESOURCES 

Business of Fashion for students

If you are into fashion, business or both, you are probably very familiar with this website. However, you may also know that once you reach a certain limit of read articles per month, you are obliged to subscribe to BoF professional, which is an extra expense for students. The trick I discovered this month is that there is a special student-only membership you can apply for which is supported by Topshop, so you can enjoy member-exclusive content for free. YAY and Bravo to both companies for this initiative!

 

PLACES 

Raïnaraï, Amsterdam

I discovered this restaurant simply because it was decorated with amazingly-looking vegetable and fruit, but the smell of food coming from inside was what convinced me to go in. Amazing choice if you are a fan of North African cuisine!

Basilico, Amsterdam

Wonderful cure for homesickness (although maybe it’s actually home-food-sickness since I am not Italian), this restaurant and grocery store have some of the best cannolis I have eaten outside Italy.

Bite, Bucharest

Probably on all hot lists right now, Bite is a super cozy restaurant with light and delicious food, great environment and the wallpaper of the moment: green leaves.

Pensiunea Samedru, Măgura

As I was in Romania for four days in October and I urgently needed to escape urban landscapes, we headed out to the mountains and went all the way to this guesthouse and restaurant. Enjoying some brief, sunny and tranquil moments here was more than I could have hoped for.

 

EXTRA

While reading this book about Swedish culture, I found out that Fjällräven, a super popular brand of backpacks, has created Re-Kånken, a product made out of 95% recycled materials and as I am always interested in ways we can live more sustainably, I was instantly won over. Click here for the full post.

Of course, as a true bookworm, I wanted to share with you this article about world’s most beautiful modern libraries. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

And finally, although you may have seen it on Instagram, I wanted to post it here as well: one of my latest micro-poems.

you are autumn
you are kind
you are all I have in mind
.
— the message you never press ‘send’
sweet and sour

Enjoy November!

Laura

 

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LauraxELLE

What is Millennial Pink and why you should care

October 31, 2017
final_collage_millennial_pink

– collage by yours truly

I’ve recently had a conversation with my dad trying to tell him about my latest Internet obsessions: Pantone Politics and Millennial Pink. Despite my enthusiasm, he replied treacherously: “So, who cares?”

However, I understand his reaction and I do not condemn him for it. He does not know what Pantone is, he has never taken into account the fact that the nuances of clothes might have meanings (except for the election campaign and the football matches), he has never heard of the “Millennials Generation” and he could not care less about pink. So obviously he was not interested in hearing more about my story: we weren’t speaking  the same language.

And that happens often. It is normal, the differences between generations are becoming increasingly sharp, as technology creates even greater discrepancies between the habits, needs and abilities that we and our parents have.

This is the reason why, starting October, I will write for ELLE Romania about the generation I belong to, namely the Millennials, to increase the level of understanding between generations and to create a constructive dialogue.

Let’s start from the beginning:
The Millennial generation, although defined differently by several theorists, generally includes people born between 1982 and 2004. And although the period is frequently challenged, it does not change the fact that this generation has some specific features, such as the lack of the need to own – Millennials prefer to rent or borrow, the willingness to work differently, as in more flexibly, and to embrace freelancing or intensive travelling. In a nutshell, Millennials are more concerned with experiences, thus they invest less in things.
In media, they are usually portrayed negatively, being cited as one of the sources for which the real estate industry has issues, as the perfect examples for illustrating narcissism, especially in the society where selfies are the most common type of images or as the main source for the degradation of relationships: from long-term commitments to open relationships and not too much emotional investment.

But this generation can not be summed up to some negative assumptions. Reality is more complex and conceals a problem: the fact that the voices we hear the most from the young side of the generation are those of beauty and fashion bloggers, vloggers who accept crazy dares and those who offer every summer some „wonderful” blunders at the Baccalaureate exam. Considering them too young and too inexperienced, we do not know what they think about politics, although most of them are part of the electorate, we do not hear too often what their views about work are and if they really consider themselves representatives of the „gig economy” and we rarely give them the confidence to speak up during important times.

Okay, okay, so how does pink fit into all of this?!

It is essential to state that Millennials are naturally more inclined to fight for equal pay, feminism and the inclusion of all categories of people in society as they want to continue the struggle for equality started by their parents. What brings us to Millennial Pink, a series of pale pink and peachy hues, considered in the last decades to be feminine and as a result, used to separate boy toys from girls’. Although at the beginning of the twentieth century the two colors were inversely related to the present given that blue was the color in which Virgin Mary was most often portrayed, and pink was the closest hue of the carnal, passionate and warrior-like Red, with time, these associations have been lost. Today, pink shades have been recaptured by younger generations and used with the desire to eliminate the gender stereotypes that have accumulated around them over the years. What brings us back to a cause for which Millennials are fighting for: accepting all categories of people in society, who may be members of the LGBTQ community, ethnic and religious minorities, individuals with disabilities, or people who do not want to have a set gender, who are often put under the “gender-fluid” umbrella. Thus, Millennials want to tear apart decades of stereotypes, not only by promoting that anyone can wear pink, but also by stating that this should not imply wearing a social label. Moreover, a year before Pantone declared Pink Quartz as one of the colors of 2016, the trend forecasting agency The Color Marketing Group had said this would be “shim,” a powdery pink hue that was defined as a neutral pink, wearable by anyone, its name being a combination of “she” and “him”.

You may have already noticed the fact that over the past few years, more and more pink shades surround us: from the rose-gold Iphone 6s to the Acne shopping bags, the cover of the best-selling book “Girlboss,” Wes Anderson’s universe in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to Unicorn Frappucino, one of the newest Starbucks drinks. And that’s not a coincidence. Given that the target audience of these products is a young one, captivated by #PalePink aesthetics, the most popular chromatic hashtag on Tumblr, a microblogging platform, color matters more than ever in design.

I have mentioned above Pantone, the international color authority. This institution is the first to build a standard color reproduction system, which involves passing a unique code between two people who can use the same shade without problems of accuracy. Thanks to its practicality, this system got adopted very quickly by the design, painting or printing industry. Moreover, each year Pantone studies the presence of colors in cinema, interior design, architecture, fashion and other areas to observe new chromatic tendencies that lead them to declare a star color for the coming year. For the last years, the colors selected were: Quartz Pink and Serenity (light pink and baby blue for 2016), Marsala (a cherry hue) in 2015, Radiant Orchid in 2014 or Emerald in 2013. The current year is marked by Greenery, a hue of light green with yellow tones, inspired by the early spring days that mark new and fresh beginnings.

And although the colors of our clothes have always been associated with a mood, an event or a message, such as black clothes for mourning (a tradition started by Queen Victoria of Great Britain after the loss of her husband, Albert, in 1861), using specific colors to transmit a political or social position has entered the current vocabulary as Pantone Politics.
Two case studies relevant to the deliberate use of color in clothing are Hillary Clinton in the presidential election campaign of 2016 and the British Royal family. To start with, Hillary Clinton got a lot of attention for choosing pants suits that came to define her image, and by subtly transmitting messages through her clothes. For example, one of the first suits worn during the campaign was a white one, associated with both purity and innocence, as well as the suffragettes, the women of the early twentieth century who had fought for equal political rights in England. Thus, Hillary paid tribute to women who had campaigned for equality and who had paved the way before she was elected the first woman to represent a major political party in the United States. Moreover, the white conveyed innocence in front of the multiple allegations claiming she would have sent classified information by email. Another important chromatic moment was her purple costume during her concession speech, a time when she admitted her defeat to Donald Trump, the Republican party’s candidate. In her speech, Clinton addressed the crowd, assuring her supporters that the fight would not stop there; while also wishing Trump good luck. The purple color, though less common in Clinton’s wardrobe, reflected exactly her words, being the shade resulting from the mixture of blue and red, the colors of the Democratic and Republican parties.
As for the British Royal house, the Cambridge dukes, William and Catherine, they received a lot of public attention after deploying Clinton-like tactics in their international travels. And while it is a common practice for diplomats and politicians to wear pieces created by local designers when they are abroad for work, the British Royal family has taken diplomatic dressing at a different level, namely chromatic coordination with the flag or history of the host country. This is also the case of the recent visits to Poland and Germany, where William and Catherine landed with their children, all dressed in red and white pieces, respectively in Prussian Blue. Thus, these calculated choices indicate the extent to which colors have come to do politics, the importance of seemingly insignificant nuances in changing gender prejudices and the role that colors have in relationship with our image and the messages we transmit.

Hey, Dad, have I caught your interest now?

– article originally published in ELLE Romania October 2017, issue 239

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Laura Recommends

September recommendations

October 8, 2017
jolielaura_september_recommendations_sicilian_coffee

Hey, there!

I am back with another list of things I read, tested, experienced and loved during the last month! I have already shared some of them with the #MakeFacebookGreatAgain on my profile, and below you will find them all plus so much more! I am currently back in Amsterdam, already preparing for my final exams for two courses, so everything is on fast-forward right now for me, but I hope some of the recommendations you will see below will make you stop for a minute, write them down on your phone or agenda and explore them whenever you want to relax or learn something new.

BOOKS

Elena Ferrante – Neapolitan tetralogy 

I know everybody has been talking about these books, but it has been awhile since I got so entangled in a series. The character construction is marvelous and the way Ferrante is ending the books with cliffhangers is the best proof of her amazing narrative powers!

Click here to see the post about what I have planned to read in the upcoming period! Also, I would love to thank again everybody who commented, sent me private messages and DMed me on Instagram about their current reads, it was so fun and inspirational! Let’s do this more often 😉

MUSIC

Eckhart Tolle’s Music to Quiet the Mind 

This is an amazing Spotify playlist recommended by Arianna Huffington in her book “Thrive”. It is truly calming and peaceful and it is also an instant mood-changer.

This is: Enya

Another great playlist on Spotify, I discovered this while I was humming some songs from my childhood and I was surprised how serene my mind felt after few minutes of listening to Enya. Give it a try and let me know if it has the same effect on you.

The Script – We rocked the world – My newest cure for low energy days.

VIDEOS

3 ways to plan for the (very) long term

Introducing solutions for short termism, Ari Wallach talks about transgenerational thinking and other two clever ideas, which form a mentality more of us could benefit from. Have a look at the video, it’s less than 15 minutes! Here is one of my favourite quotes from this talk:

[Future] is not a thing that washes over us. It’s something that we actually have total control over.

How the sandwich was invented

I always love curiosity and learning more about things we take for granted, so this video is a great example for such way of thinking. Also, the artistry behind the video illustration is absolutely stunning. Definitely worth 2 minutes of your life.

Beauty and the Beast Explained: Tale as Old as Time

I love the Screen Prism Youtube channel and I am always looking forward to seeing what they post. I particularly remember this video after it blew my mind with its chromatic analysis.

PODCASTS

Freakonomics Radio

This new find is one which absolutely thrilled me as I am always keen on discovering new ideas and seeing this differently. Their special episode on Esperanto was so full of information and amazing trivia that I had to share it!

APPS

Office Lens

I recently learned about this app, which allows you to scan documents, business cards and whiteboards and send them to your email or Drive as a photo or as a PDF, and I thought that it was super handy. Let me know if you use it and if you know more apps like this! The link above is for IOS, but the app is also available for Android and Microsoft.

ARTICLES & FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus – Srini Pillay

After attending an event with Srini Pillay organized by The School of Life Amsterdam, I was left reassured that unfocusing is indeed beneficial and that more people should try it. The fact that the message got across on Facebook and was shared by few people was a confirmation that we need to unplug from time to time and that we’re realizing this just now.

Food for the future human Martians

Although I don’t think I will live long enough to casually go on a vacation to Mars, I do believe in backup plans. And while this should not mean we should continue to carelessly destroy our planet, my belief is that we should always have a Plan B, no matter what. That is why I considered important to share how a new research project managed to grow healthy crops on Martian-like soil.

Good News

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this section on more news websites as I believe we need optimism and news which also trigger hope in us in order to survive our hectic lives. Click on the hyperlink above for all the links :)

The evolution of Women in Stock Photos

We have come so far in the past years regarding appropriate female representation, yet we still have a lot more to work on. This NYTimes article presents the evolution of women in the most bought stock photos in the past ten years, and it will definitely leave a mark on you.

(RO only) Atelierul Merci – a story by Oana Botezatu – a great read about social entrepreneurship!

(RO only) How to write better. Advice for bloggers, students and beginner writers – an amazing and resourceful article via Inoza

That was all for September, I hope you noted some new ideas and I will see you soon with some very exciting news and series of articles 😉

Have a great October!

Laura

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Laura Recommends

August recommendations

September 1, 2017
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Last month I started a special social media project, called #MakeFacebookGreatAgain, which consists of recommendations of books, things, places or articles I enjoyed so much that I would like to share them with others, so this post will compile everything I shared in the past 30 days and some few more, just for the blog readers 😉

 

MUSIC

Have a nice day – Stereophonics tribute (put this on before continuing reading, it will definitely brighten up your day)

 

BOOKS

Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair (published in Romanian by Baroque Books and Arts, which is the first one in Romania to print on sustainable ecological paper!)

Thrive by Arianna Huffington ( Facebook post here)

 

PLACES

VanFruct, Bucharest. They conquered my heart after I learned they have recyclable cups made from vegetal sources, so I highly recommend them.

Grilled vegetables and Halloumi cheese salad at Simbio, Bucharest. So. Damn. Good. That’s all I’m gonna say.

 

FILMS

Dunkirk. Even if you’re not a fan of the war genre, check this out for the amazing soundtrack Hans Zimmer has created.

Atonement. I know I am late to the bandwagon, but I recently watched it and I can’t believe nobody scolded me for missing out on such great movie.

 

ARTICLES AND VIDEOS

What the Truman Show teaches us about politics – video ( Facebook post here)

The surprising habits of original thinkers – video (Facebook post here)

Why UPS drivers don’t turn left and you probably shouldn’t either – article (Facebook post here)

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms ( here is a quote I liked from the article : “An entrepreneur is someone who works for a few years like no one will so they can live the rest of their life like no one else can.”)

P.S. With great joy I can finally share with you a piece I wrote for ELLE Romania about my experience in Russia. Although it’s originally in Romanian, some friends already told me they translated it within the browser. Let me know what you think!

 

INITIATIVES:

Dior’s What Would You Do For Love? – a campaign which supports the education of young girls

 

I hope I inspired you to watch more, read more, see more and most importantly, BE MORE!

Until next time,

 

Laura

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travel

5 things that happen when you are alone in Marrakesh

August 9, 2017
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Four months ago I had the opportunity to go on a trip of a lifetime to Morocco. (Un)fortunately, things didn’t go as planned, so I ended up alone in Marrakech.

Here is what I learned:

 

1. You have to adapt QUICKLY

Long story short, I was supposed to meet a group in Marrakech and while I was waiting for my second flight in Lisbon, I got the message they were going to be 2 days late. There was no going back from there, so I had to adapt with the fact that I was going to be alone in a country I had never been before. Plus, not all stories and urban legends I heard were pink, so I wasn’t exactly confident, but I had to figure out how to survive there.

Which led me to avoid being scammed in the airport at the exchange office, negotiate the taxi fare, find a hotel I knew nothing about and argue in French with the receptionist because there was no reservation on my name. Fun times.

However, there was no plan B. And whenever this happens, you learn how to make the most out of plan A. Which leads me to my second point.

 

2. You are FREE to make your own schedule

Being alone in Marrakech, I was able to wake up at whatever hour I wanted, take as much time as I needed for breakfast and walk as much as I wanted (12 km in one day, in case you were wondering). During my first solo day there,

  • I walked to the Koutoubia mosque,
  • I spent two hours inside La Mamounia Hotel and Spa,
  • I hid from the heat near the Saadian Tombs,
  • I ate a delicious tajine nearby the El yazid Mosque,
  • I visited the El Badiî Palace,
  • I fell in love with the beautiful Bahia Palace, and I ended the day in the Jamaâ el Fna square.

It was a pretty light day.

 

3. You become more comfortable with being ALONE

Being alone is terribly uncomfortable and awkward if you are not used to it. But I feel that traveling by yourself can change that. For example, when you are alone, you have to ask your tour guide, your table neighbours or random strangers to take photos of you, so you learn little by little to step outside of your comfort zone and timidity and just ask someone. I was pretty hesitant at first, but when I remembered that I may never see those places again, I wanted some digital souvenirs to prove that I was once there.

Living alone in Amsterdam definitely helped, because I no longer felt weird being alone at cafes or restaurants or simply on a bench in a park. I feel like society pushes us a lot to be in groups or couples that we forget we should first know how be alone, so solo traveling may be a great idea for getting to know yourself better and for being OK with yourself. You’re the one who has to stand your own persona, so you’d better like it.

 

4. You meet NEW people

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember seeing this photo back in April. The girl pictured is Sofia, a Spanish blogger whom I met at La Mamounia (we were all there just for the photos, don’t get too excited) and her energy and fun spirit were absolutely contagious.

I think this is an amazing example of how being open to talk to strangers (and take dozens of photos of them) can lead to great moments and friendships all over the world.

 

5. You feel EMPOWERED

I have to admit, I never felt more empowered than during those days when I was alone in Morocco. I learned that being alone shouldn’t stop me from enjoying the beauty around me. Being alone actually gave me more time for reflection, which is something we do too rarely, especially when we travel. Blame it on the fact that I was alone, but my trip to Morocco was the most powerful and inspiring trip I have ever been on.

There was indeed one moment when I felt the power of this solo traveling trip. It was during one of the meals I had just by myself, in front of a mosque, when I was finishing my chicken tajine with candied lemons. That’s when I realized that I may have never been happier during a trip. I was 19, alone in a foreign country and I managed more than just to survive – I crafted a wondrous adventure for myself and I came back  to tell the story.

Here are some of my favourite photos:

Blue fountain in the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

Blue fountain in the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

The Marrakech Airport

The Marrakech Airport

Light seen through a stained glass in the Bahia Palace

Light seen through a stained glass in the Bahia Palace

Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle

La Mamounia Spa

La Mamounia Spa

Paradoxical commercial street in Marrakech

Paradoxical commercial street in Marrakech

Local landmark in the Rahba Kedima square: Café Des Épices

Local landmark in the Rahba Kedima square: Café Des Épices

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

NOMAD restaurant in Rahba Kedima

NOMAD restaurant in Rahba Kedima

Interior court of the Bahia Palace

Interior court of the Bahia Palace

Light stripes in one of Marrakech's souks

Light stripes in one of Marrakech’s souks

The view from the Jardin Secret

The view from the Jardin Secret

One of the ceilings at the Bahia Palace

One of the ceilings at the Bahia Palace

Café Des Épices

Café Des Épices

Traditional pink salmon house in Marrakech

Traditional pink salmon house in Marrakech

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Raffia bags in the Rahba Kedima

Man carrying plastic bags in Marrakech

Man carrying plastic bags in Marrakech

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

Traditional Moroccan floors in the Bahia Palace

The Badiî Palace

The Badiî Palace

Nomad Restaurant personalized hats

Nomad Restaurant personalized hats

Framed city view from the Badiî Palace

Framed city view from the Badiî Palace

My newest acquisition: a hand woven text on a raffia bag

My newest acquisition: a raffia bag with a hand woven text

Hypnotizing shadows in the Badiî Palace

Hypnotizing shadows in the Badiî Palace

Flowers in the botanical garden of Yves Saint Laurent, le Jardin Majorelle

Flowers in the botanical garden of Yves Saint Laurent, le Jardin Majorelle

Street signs in Marrakech

Street signs in Marrakech

Mosque of Ibn Yusuf

Mosque of Ibn Yusuf

 

Much love,

Laura

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Laura Recommends

Back in Business + July Recommendations

August 1, 2017
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I know it’s been a while since a proper blog post, but the past 12 months have been a ride during which I chose to focus on myself, hence the blogging gap year.

Besides adapting to living on my own and doing so in another country, while studying, I had many questions for myself regarding my choices in the future, including my blogging experience, such as:

  • Are blogs still relevant?
  • Does my blog matter? Does it improve anyone’s life? Am I making a difference?
  • What type of content should I create?
  • Shouldn’t I focus more on micro-blogging like Instagram rather than invest hours of writing on a lesser known blog?

After a year of self-discovery and personal development, I have reached a point where I know how my next moves will look like and what type of content I should strive for.

I believe that we lack a certain type of content, which is both educational and inspiring, from our very own peers. Indeed, there are many websites, YouTube channels, books and so on that do exactly that, but I feel like we are missing this type of content from the people around us. The people whose opinions matter to us. The people who can influence us positively thanks to their connection with us.

So, I started sharing videos, books, articles and anything that seemed worthy of recommending to other people, under #MakeFacebookGreatAgain, a personal initiative that aims at creating a more informative and cultural environment on social media.

Below is what I shared in July and some extra (blog exclusive) recommendations. Please feel free to comment what you think, reach out to me on social media and share yourself the great things you discover.

 

BOOKS:

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook post here)

The Land Where Lemons Grow – Helena Attlee

 

VIDEOS:

Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem – Vox (Facebook post here)

Nonconformity and the creative life – Shots of Awe (Facebook post here)

The Art of Storytelling – Pixar in a Box – Khan Academy (Facebook post here)

The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars – Ted ED (Facebook post here)

Why do competitors open stores one next to another? – Ted ED (Facebook post here)

 

DOCUMENTARIES, FILMS AND SERIES

Before the Flood (Facebook post here)

Handmaid’s Tale – a TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s eponymous book (Facebook post here)

The True Cost (Facebook post here)

 

INITIATIVES

Dior –Women@Dior (Facebook post here)

 

APPS & TECH

Headspace – mindfulness app (Facebook post here)

Iphone lightning cable

 

PLACES

Bucharest

Beans and Dots

Mara Mura

Spatiul M60

 

Cluj & surroundings 

Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden

Bujole

Casa Boema

Jibou Botanical Garden

Joben

Klausen Burger

Toulouse Café

P.S. There is a low-cost flight from Bucharest to Cluj, so you can be there in no time!

 

Prahova

Conacul Bellu

Conacul Domnitei Ralu

Gradina cu Lavanda 

Manastirea Jercalai

Manastirea Varbila

 

Valcea

Casa Memoriala IG Duca

Conacul Mardar

Crama Avincis, Dragasani

 

I hope I inspired you to watch more, read more, see more and most importantly, BE MORE!

Until next time,

 

Laura

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