Holiday Wishes


I wish you all a merry December holiday, whichever one it may be, or your next holiday if it isn’t in December. I hope you spend time with those you love, eat good food, give and receive exciting gifts – and I hope you do so not as a means of escape but as a strengthening. Let this holiday season be not a year-long version of living for the weekend, but a rekindling of the dreams we always have but forget about in everyday life.

I wish for everyone to find their inner peace. I wish you presence of mind to handle all struggles with grace. I wish that you go easy on yourselves and find forgiveness, since no one is perfect. But I don’t wish you to succumb to laziness and a lowering of standards, since that will only be detrimental to you.

I wish for everyone to have the discretion to focus on the right things. I wish you strength to overcome the habitual, the cyclical, the obsessive-compulsive. I wish that you find understanding and enlightenment and then don’t forget about it the next day. I wish you a new year that is truly new.




It’s difficult to get what you want if you don’t know what it is you want. It seems that over time, some of us cease to dream because it will set us up for disappointment. Why build castles in the air? Why think about things we don’t have? Wouldn’t it only result in a depressed state of mind? Unnecessary negativity. We don’t need that in our lives.

And yes, thinking about what you want but sorely lack can be unhealthy if you go about it the wrong way, if you let it consume you. But on the other hand, how can we build our future without having a plan for what it is we’re building, what it is we want it to become?

A blog I follow got me thinking: It’s right there at the top, in her description:

“I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?”

It seems so blunt, in a way. Here’s my site and BAM, this is what I want in life. Take it or leave it. Simple Ula, you got me thinking.

I’d like to take it a step further and say that we should be more specific. Maybe not in our blog description, but privately. Let’s build up those castles: how exactly do we want to be rich? A nice house? An extensive social network? Being super fit? An incredible career? Children, and everything you need to take care of them? Your own business?

Now, after deciding on your favorite future, the most important thing is not to start pouting because it isn’t real. It can be real. Especially now that you’ve thought it up. Congratulations, the first step is done. Now get cracking!

Kristina’s Fail 50 Times Challenge


As it turns out, constant approval and success don’t do much for a person’s resilience in the long term. Never letting yourself fail can lead to an excessive fear of failure – which then discourages you from learning or trying new things.

That’s not good. So in light of these observations, it seems reasonable to start practicing failure. Today I am starting a project called Kristina’s Fail 50 Times Challenge. I am going to try to fail at 50 different things by the end of 2016.

Just to be clear, I am not going to try to fail on purpose. I am just going to do things even if I don’t really believe that I’ll succeed.

I figure, it’s a win-win. If I fail at a task, I get to add it to my list of 50 things. If I accidentally succeed, then boo-hoo! Worst news ever! Something actually worked!

In the end, at least I will have a list of 50 things that I can honestly say I’ve given a try.

Item criteria for getting on the list:

  • It must be new to me.
  • I must try it.
  • I must fail at it.

So far…

  1. Blogging. This one’s tricky because how do you define failing at blogging? Well, I am setting myself a modest goal of getting 150 subscribers by the end of 2016. I’ve never been a big online personality, and I may very well fail at this. This is a fail-in-progress. We shall see.
  2. Interview #1. Since the start of this challenge, I went to one job interview and failed, as in I didn’t get the job. That one’s self explanatory. The more of those I do, the more of them I can add to the list.

I think that’s all for now. Wow, it feels strange trying to think of something I’m failing at and actually feeling frustrated because I can’t think of anything else. That just means I need to start attempting things!

It’s time… to do the Opposite!



Other People’s Opinions


So I’m reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, and there is a passage that stood out to me.

Dweck writes about a time some strangers in a grocery store said to her, “You’re a bad-mannered person!” because they thought she was going to cut them in line when she wasn’t planning on doing anything of the sort. These words “had a strange and disturbing effect on me,” she says, “and I had a hard time shaking off their verdict.” Then she goes into why many women are so easily swayed, discouraged, and otherwise defined by the opinions of others:

When they’re little, these girls are often so perfect, and they delight in everyone’s telling them so. They’re so well behaved, they’re so cute, they’re so helpful, and they’re so precocious. Girls learn to trust people’s estimates of them. “Gee, everyone’s so nice to me; if they criticize me, it must be true.” Even females at the top universities in the country say that other people’s opinions are a good way to know their abilities.

Boys are constantly being scolded and punished. When we observed in grade school classrooms, we say that boys got eight times more criticism than girls for their conduct. Boys are also constantly calling each other slobs and morons. The evaluations lose a lot of their power.

A male friend once called me a slob. He was over to dinner at my house and, while we were eating, I dripped some food on my blouse. “That’s because you’re such a slob,” he said. I was shocked. It was then that I realized no one had ever said anything like that to me. Males say it to each other all the time. It may not be a kind thing to say, even in jest, but it certainly makes them think twice before buying into other people’s evaluations.

(Quoted from “The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment,” from Mindset by Carol Dweck)

I have wondered about this too. Why is it hard to bounce back from hearing harsh criticism, from a rejection, from a nasty comment? Intellectually I know that these things shouldn’t sway me nor consume me, but it’s almost as though there is a physiological response. There’s a disturbance in the force, so to speak, and that feeling is difficult to ignore. Is that the price we pay for being good little girls?

I can see how this concept applies both in the context of women’s professional lives (“I didn’t get the job; there must be something wrong with me. Somebody criticized my work; I must be bad at what I do”) and in their personal lives (“My male partner can’t understand why the things that offend me, offend me so.”)

The more somebody is used to approval, the harder it is for them to grow a thicker skin. Turns out that doing everything right all the time actually makes you very vulnerable.

Nobody wants to admit that other people’s opinions make them feel insecure. And yet, I wanted to share this because I think it’s important to think about. Rather than just thinking, “Grr! Criticism, bad! Run away!” it’s a whole lot more mature and helpful to dissect the motivation behind these types of reactions. Only then can we catch ourselves and work on changing our habits.

Charlotte’s Web

On a wave of inspiration –  thinking about mindsets, possibilities, and long-forgotten interests I never pursued – I searched Google for a spider blog, and found one. Because, aren’t they cute?


“Each year I have a group of spiders who I visit every day or night, depending on who and where and when they are out and about.”

                  -Lynne Kelly


I used to do the same exact thing! Except unlike spider-obsessed me, who was a kid at the time and knew nothing about what species I was looking at, Lynne is a science writer with 14 published books, the majority of which actually aren’t about spiders but things like Stonehenge, anthropology, and oral traditions.


It was inspiring to see that here is somebody who has studied spiders scientifically and has written an entire book about them – approached the topic professionally – and yet it all boils down to that childlike curiosity. The thrill of checking on your spider-buddies, who all, of course, have names. Seeing what they’re doing, watching them weave webs by night. It all begins there. Then, I suppose it really is all about mindset.

Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

During the past week I have been in contact with Brilliant Earth, an ethically and environmentally responsible company that is setting a new standard for the jewelry industry.

“Brilliant Earth is one of the fastest growing ecommerce jewelers in the world, and the leader in ethical origin fine jewelry. Founded in 2005, we have been featured in Newsweek, Glamour, the Today Show, and Martha Stewart among many other media outlets. We are a team of dedicated individuals with a common goal of creating a more sustainable, transparent, and compassionate jewelry industry.”



I did a writing exercise the aim of which was to explain what sets this company apart. I’m posting it here not only because I’m rather proud of it, but also because I respect this business and I’d like to spread the word about Brilliant Earth regardless of whether or not my communication with them continues.


“Where did this diamond come from?”

Do you ask yourself this question when you are shopping for an engagement ring, a holiday gift, a birthday surprise? Are you wondering if that shiny rock on your or your loved one’s finger was obtained with honesty and transparency, with fair wages and environmental responsibility? Or did it come to you through violence, abuse, and destruction?

In 2004, a newly engaged Beth Gerstein was shopping for a ring. She was picky. Everywhere she went, she asked retailers that very question: “Where did this diamond come from?”

Nobody seemed to know. Was the diamond high-quality? Yes. Was the setting well-crafted? Certainly. But how did the diamond get there? Nobody seemed to have a clue.

Beth was not okay with that. Are you?

Beth Gerstein founded Brilliant Earth with her business partner, Eric Grossberg, specifically in order to change this. Here is what sets our company apart:

  1. Our diamonds aren’t just conflict free; they’re beyond conflict free. We’re so committed to bringing you diamonds that are ethically sourced, sustainable, and environmentally friendly that the existing Kimberly Process certification isn’t strict enough for us. Only 0.01% of the world’s diamonds meet Brilliant Earth’s standards of quality and pure sourcing. That’s because we make sure that our diamonds are not only conflict-free, but free of all types of human rights abuses that might slip through the cracks and loopholes of existing certification standards. We also make sure that they’re environmentally responsible and 100% traceable to their point of origin.
  1. We focus heavily on recycling both diamonds and precious metals, in order to avoid unnecessary mining. When we recycle metals – such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium – we also re-refine them. That means they are reduced back to their pure elements and become identical in quality to newly mined metals.
  1. Many of our diamonds are lab-created here in the United States. In the lab, they’re grown using technology that mimics the conditions under which diamonds naturally form. The end result is an eco-friendly diamond that is in every way identical to a natural mined diamond.
  1. We request SCS Global Services to audit our supply chain to guarantee the recycled content of our precious metals, the traceability of our diamonds, and other ethical standards.

Brilliant Earth is unique in that we’re actively changing the diamond industry for the better. We bring you the most gorgeous, high-quality, perfect diamonds you will find, but with one difference: when you ask us where your diamond came from, we have an answer ready.

 Please note that the information above is not in any way endorsed, published, or approved by Brilliant Earth, nor was it written by a Brilliant Earth public relations specialist or any other Brilliant Earth employee. It was a writing exercise only – just an opportunity for me to take a crack at writing promotional material.


Putting Ideas Into Action

I woke up in the morning and I opened Carol Dweck –

I had to get some insight ’cause my mindset was a wreck.

Then I moved on to Godin, tried being a linchpin:

If I give everyone a gift it’s possible I’ll win.

I read about Zen habits; my LinkedIn profile’s done.

Yes, everybody has a blog, but here’s another one!paper-1100254_1920