Self-love and Self-knowing

Life Essentials, Reflections

I  sometimes feel an aversion towards clichéd concepts. ‘Finding yourself’, for example. Attacking this concept, however, is arguably more overused than the concept itself. Clichéd or not – we all have our own take on certain subject areas. And when these realizations are fueled by a personal event or even an epiphany, they become even more important to the individual. Every so often I find myself heavy with the obligation to write about these subjects.

‘SELF-LOVE’ is one of such topics.

But what is it that drives one to the desire to ‘find’ oneself, if not a feeling of being lost within or without of one’s SELF? And that feeling of being ‘lost’ is one with which so many of us can relate. Whether it comes from the world external or internal.

In my opinion, these two concepts are intrinsically linked. ‘Finding oneself’ and ‘Self-love’. Satisfaction of self is different – it is more external. Self-love is inward. It carries no agendas. It doesn’t relent. It carries no caveats. It is truly unconditional. It is an entity of itself.

One who LOVES their SELF, loves their soul, their spirit, their heart and their body, too. Understanding that this body is a mere extension of the inward person. This person cares for their body, their skin, their health and their heart. Not because of outward vanity but rather because they see the external body as a mere extension of SELF. And they see SELF as that almost intangible part of their being. It cannot be seen in the mirror, on a resume or through the opinions of others.

One who LOVES their SELF does not withhold this love due to performance. Or lack therof. She still loves herself when her muscles ache, when she realizes she has underestimated the time it will take to get to an event and even when she fails. And her dreams are crushed. She continues to love herself because that love is not finite. It has no end or boundaries.

But how can one love oneself lest one is acquainted with oneself? Or, I might go as far as to say: How can one love oneself lest one is FRIENDS – BEST friends with oneself. You cannot love someone before you first know, like, cherish and appreciate them. And oftentimes we speak to ourselves in the most atrocious ways.

We say things to ourselves that we would never tolerate from anyone else. We look in the mirror and we tell our pores, midriff and thighs that they are ‘huge’. We chastise ourselves over missing the tube when the next one arrives in 3 minutes. Too often, we don’t show ourselves love.

You could call this an ‘inner beauty’ piece. But I am coming to learn that without cultivating a spirit of self-love, one cannot be one’s best self. One cannot have one’s best skin. One needs to discover, know and find oneself to love oneself. And finding oneself is a process of discovery and advancement. The true SELF may be improving, but is more than likely imperfect. The imperfect, contemporary, current self is the one that needs to be accepted and loved.


Loved – both for and despite its apparent flaws. Known – with acceptance of imperfection.

Cheers, peace and love

– Christiana

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids and MEEE(h)

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

So literally one day into my pre-testing of my ‘Plan B’ skincare routine I (once again) turned into a hass avocado.


I have had this experience before. I purchased TWO bottles of a much raved about serum from the in-flight duty free catalogue on a flight from Addis to Doha. I was stoked. I finally found it. I couldn’t find it in the UK and quite frankly, I thought that I had hacked the system. My frequent travels were finally paying off!

Until I incorporated this lovely serum into my night-time routine. I developed the literal skin texture of a prickly pear and my combination skin was dry and peeling. I blamed the serum. I blamed the airline. I didn’t realise that my problem was AHAs.

Weeks went by and whilst in London I ordered a collection of otherwise excellent products. (Review on the way. Patience my lovelies. All five of you reading this <3)  I didn’t test out the Alpha-Hydroxy acid serum until I was in Lausanne – after a lovely mask and general attempt at self care. It happened again. Not immediately. It took about a day or a few hours more. But this time I didn’t know what it was. I attended my dermatologist and tried to convince him that I was in the midst of an emergency. He laughed. I love my dermatologist.

He prescribed me a mild hydrocortisone formulation that I didn’t have a chance to pick up in Geneva or back in London. Thus, about a fortnight elapsed before, this morning in Lausanne, skin already restored by the sheer forces of nature, I was able to obtain the formulation. I didn’t need it. What I needed was to hold off the AHAs. I didn’t know my problem was AHAs.

I ACTUALLY THOUGHT MY PROBLEM WAS AGEING !!!! This happened approximately three days before my birthday just as a kind induction to the mid twenties. Cheers and thanks. My dermatologist laughed.

Skincare is a personal thing. And it’s all about learning. Thus, as much as I knew the benefits of the occasional use of an AHA serum, particularly as I am dealing with a new issue of only very slightly enlarged pores, this particular compound is simply not for me.

Many people – like myself – will detail their skincare routines. This includes those with a scientific inclination such as myself, as well as many others who are varied experts in their own rite. Like me, however, each person needs to learn the distinct personality of their own skin. Don’t stick to something if it isn’t serving you. And don’t presume that what works for one will work for another. This is clearly not an informative piece about AHAs. However, due to their growing popularity I might write one soon – either here or on my healthcare blog.

This is more about you. And you knowing you and loving as well as nurturing every part of you appropriately, including your skin, for what it is. Take it all with a pinch of salt. All of us out here on the internet writing about skin are like my many aestheticians. Sometimes we directly contradict one another. Sometimes what we know for certain doesn’t work for you for reasons we don’t know. We may just be a girl behind a computer with a good deal of experience but who simply doesn’t know you, medication you take, the climate you live in, your diet and your genetics.  My skin is recovering – but this, coupled with the changing weather, was an experience for me. And so again, take me, and all of us, with a pinch of salt.


“No voice should speak louder than the voice of your own skin.” – Yes I’m quoting myself.

Cheers, peace and love,


A New Era

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

And so begun my ‘quarter-life crisis’. Or, perhaps, begins.

After five and a half years, two degrees, one business, two blogs, and many memories – here begins my last 5 weeks in London. I have never been a Londoner. In fact, I have never really been fully anything. And my time in London has been spent largely travelling to get away from this wonderfully miserable, awfully magical city.

I ‘return’ to Switzerland. A brand new city – not Geneva, but the charmingly beautiful city of Lausanne. For my new adventure! I came to London at 18. And now, at 24, I am ready to move on. I have learned a lot, grown into an adult, bought my own ‘stuff’ and paid bills.

This, however, is about another journey. My skincare journey. My skincare story has been a long and winding one. So let’s just start here.

After my MSc, jumping straight into 5 months at a crazy, hectic job, almost two hours daily commute on the underground under the armpits of fellow Londoners during rush hour, poor self care, high stress and not nearly enough sleep – my skin is in shambles. Utter shambles and its true! At least I now know I have pores. (Seeing is believing, right?) And, to aid my 2014 nostalgia – the occasional forehead acne blowout party! As if that wasn’t enough – the heatwave, pollution, winter realisations that my oily skin is actually combination….. ? Wait what. As a self-proclaimed skincare connoisseur – the past year has taught me a lot. Serums serums serums. The ‘bloggers fave’ from the in-flight duty free catalogue that gave me a full fortnight appearance of a hass avocado. After only one use! (Talk about results) You know who you are. I bought two of you .And I paid in euros. But I was invoiced in dollars.

But now, I’m free. Two full working days of marvellous unemployment and I’m as anxious as ever. So what will I do with my skin?

PLAN A: Try my old skincare routine with adherence. Lets see what happens after a week, shall we?

Today I will take a photo and in one week, another. I will detail my skincare routine in steps. Let’s see if it works!

Why the Modern, Independent Woman Identifies with Blair Waldorf: Gossip Girl 10-year anniversary!

Books, reading and lessons learned, Fashion, Monday juice, Reflections

I first discovered Gossip Girl in high school. I was a latecomer to the party. And spent most of one Christmas break binge watching the preceding seasons. I couldn’t pull myself away.

I rediscovered the show long after it had ended – and then again this  year. I had missed the last season or two; but I had gathered from social media that “Chuck Bass is dead. No wait, actually he’s not.”

Needless to say, I now know the show very well and have taken a liking to one character in particular: Blair Waldorf.


Hate her or love her, this month marks the 10 year anniversary of the start of the first ever season of Gossip Girl. This piece resonates with me. And I would like to share with you why I feel that Blair is the perfect proxy for the young, ambitious, independent woman (note: not girl).

1.Blair taught us what it can mean to ‘have it all’


The concept of “Having it all” has taken on a slightly different meaning for millennial women, such as myself. We went from despising the term – we read and still love Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ – to thinking ‘Perhaps this term isn’t so bad – if one defines it right’.

I am of the generation who were at the age to be watching Gossip Girl during those formative high school years. And unbeknownst to me, for whatever reason, something stuck – because many years later I returned to the show – in part – with a brand new set of eyes.


Long gone are the days that women had to choose between having a successful career, being taken seriously and financially independent and having a ‘family’ – potentially wealthy husband and a couple of lovely children. Today we know we can have it all – it is largely the norm for women to work regardless of if they have children.

But Blair showed us another level of having it all.

She had the passionate love affair, wealthy boyfriend, and after inheriting her mum’s company worked very hard, independently, to make a success of it. She set the bar very high. She faced people assuming/suggesting that her standards were indeed too high. But she met them. And she achieved inconceivable success.

BEA Yes thank you

Most importantly, despite her young romance and SPOILER ALERT – getting married and settling down very early in life – she had a man who understood her ambition; and had his own. They both knew they had important milestones to achieve before settling down. But their ‘love’ was strong enough to sustain this – and wisdom prevailed. Despite ups and downs, they waited until they were each successful in their own rite before settling down. And that is the next level of ‘having it all’.


On that note, Blair was also not afraid to love, and show it. She declared her love with boldness. She followed her heart, but she followed her mind too.

2. Fighting for it

There’s no denying that Blair came from privilege. Nonetheless, unlike Nate Archibald, Blair was not a Vanderblit. Her connections and influence did not have anywhere near the same kind of reach. Unlike her on-off-on-again heartthrob lover, Chuck Bass – she had no Empire to inherit.

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that compared to many of her on screen comrades, Blair’s financial background was relatively modest. Her conscious or subconscious awareness of this may be why she overcompensated with additional snobbery, the ever-visible presence of Dorota, adamant rejection of Brooklyn, always beautiful, intentional outfits; not to mention her ‘minions’.


Her mother was a very successful designer, but those connections only went so far; particularly outside of the fashion industry. Case in point: after Blair’s short-lived marriage to Louis, his family’s dowry would have bankrupt her family. But Chuck paid it off in secret. Serena could date or marry whomever she wanted without fear of a change in lifestyle, as her grandmother, Cece’s money would last for “generations”. Blair was in. Blair was the same – particularly in the short term. Money doesn’t buy class – and Blair had class in abundance. But, Blair had to fight, and she knew it.

So, she FOUGHT. Blair knew the woman she wanted to be. And that woman was not ‘good enough’. She was the BEST. She fought for that internship at ‘The W’ – as she did not have any particular advantage in journalism despite boundless persistence. This might partially explain Blair’s ‘scheming’.


Blair will fight for love, she will fight for success, she will fight for power. She will, unapologetically, fight for whatever she wants.

3. Blair is a real woman

Make no mistake, Blair is, in every way, absolutely gorgeous. She is elegant, regal, has perfect skin, beautiful eyes and knows it, too. But, in some way, she is also accessible. She is not the perfect, tall, blonde, fabulous, effortless and seemingly unattainable, Serena Van Der Woodsen . Somehow, it is easier to see oneself in Blair. It almost feels as though she has yet to come to a place of full awareness of self. And that is something that many of us can relate to.


Blair wakes up in the morning, puts herself together – often with the help of Dorota – and looks amazing all the time. But she suffers emotions, too. She ‘wears’ a brave face, just like many of us do. She hides if she can, but she she shows up when she knows she MUST. You get the sense that she is still battling her emotional troubles – even when she smiles. And you realise that she is not simply ‘high maintenance’ for the sake of it. She is ‘high maintenance’ because being Blair is hard. It takes effort to get up in the morning, and commit as well as strive to be the best in every aspect of her life. It takes effort to be Blair.


4. She always has a plan but she is still finding her path


One gets the impression that most of the time Blair is not ‘living for the moment’. She is sparingly spontaneous. She is aware of the effects of her actions – even when her actions are manifested in a less than savoury type of ‘scheming’. Her intelligence and love of the arts and literature drew her to Dan Humphrey in later seasons. And even she didn’t fully understand why, or how to interpret that friendship. So she hid it, she questioned herself, misinterpreted her own feelings, misinterpreted his feelings and, finally, in one of life’s cyclical turns, found her centre once again.

Although seemingly unexpected, this kind of episode is typical of Blair. Just like her episode with Prince Louis. She might have a good idea as to who she is or what she loves, but he doesn’t yet know what she wants.


And yes, denial is part of it, but for the most part, Blair just doesn’t know how to feel. And has the tendency to place more importance on the feelings and expectations of others.

We know little of her most private thoughts. But we all know that Blair spends a lot of time thinking about the future. Focussed, fixated. But simultaneously, not entirely sure what it holds. She knows the kind of woman she wants to become, and like many of us, is still forging her path.


Nonetheless, she does this with the utmost, outward confidence. And somehow, that too, is aspirational. Blair taught us: ‘You don’t need to know what it is yet, but if you can see it, if you can see the faintest glimmer, you can have it. And you should ALWAYS chase your dreams.’

Chuck and Blair decided they wanted to find their individual paths of success independently, first. And this formed the foundation of her relationship – although imperfect – Blair selected a man who is powerful, masculine, loving, liberal and who supports her hopes, dreams and ambitions.


We all came to love Chuck Bass, whether or not we cared to admit it to ourselves, but we loved him for who he was to Blair.


Have an amazing day!

– Chonye 




Image links are available upon request 🙂


The “Thinker’s” Guide to becoming a useful citizen of the world.

Monday juice, Reflections

Global citizenship is not a term that I have ever particularly loved.

Rather, it is one that has, perhaps, been thrust upon me. And that I have not felt a specific reason to resist. Conceptually, however, it is important. We live in a world in which hate has no place, but persists. And many of us have the desire to DO something to make it better. “Making an impact” is a vague term.

In my opinion, the first step to becoming part of the solution is extracting oneself from being part of the problem (well-meaning as one may be).


So here is my ‘thinker’s’ first steps to becoming a useful citizen of the world:

  1. Question everything you know about the world.

Knowledge is an asset. Misinformation is a liability. It’s easy to take certain information for granted that may not necessarily be grounded in contemporary, statistical or empirical evidence or proof.


  1. Challenge knowledge you have through your own personal experiences.

How representative are the perceptions you hold based on experience? Seeing may be believing; but remember that the worlds that you have experienced; be it the neighbourhood you grew up in, or stories from major metropoles you have heard, or the village in a country that is low-income by classification.


  1. Realise that the world is constantly changing: and in many instances, that change is incredibly rapid.


Some of our facts may be outdated. And that’s okay. Clinging to them as contemporary truth, however, is not.


  1. Accept that the everything in the world is incredibly nuanced.


There is rarely right and wrong, black and white. Most situations are remarkably complex: inherently so and additionally by virtue of the multiple external factors that influence and manipulate them. As a rule of thumb, if anything – an epidemiological trend, a political action or the funding of drug development seems easy to understand – you may have an accurate conceptual understanding but you almost certainly have not yet had the opportunity to understand the full picture.

Challenges arise when we, or those we elect, do not have a broad and comprehensive understanding of a situation. Sometimes, it is not necessarily in their interest to do so. (It is important to recognise all the stakeholders and attempt to understand the factors that inform their agenda.) But a genuine lack of understanding understanding can result in poorly designed, imprecise solutions that do not prove effective; or misallocation of resources.

My hope is that this will be food for thought.

Have a stellar Monday!


My Basic Theory of Skincare Routines

Life Essentials, Monday juice, Reflections, Skincare

Let’s not be silly.

I’ve been through it when it comes to my skin. (And emerged triumphant!)

Stick to a skincare routine that you can keep up with. If you can’t consistently use all twenty of those products that you felt obliged to buy at some point (and now feel obliged to use – we’ve all been there); condense it.

Make it work for you.

Ebay is your friend. You’ll be surprised what people will buy.




Whose race are you running?

A series of questions, Books, reading and lessons learned, Life Essentials, Reflections

Colouring in the within the lines. A letter to myself: questions.


Whose dream are you chasing?

Whose timeline have you come to adopt as your own?

Who defined your limits?

Who told you how far is too far?


When did you inherit this doubt?

When did your goals become dreams; dreams become wishes and wishes become unattainable.

When did you realise how far is too far?

When did you find silent contentment in something you never wanted.


If there were no lines, no prescribed boundaries, no end to one page; nor beginning to another; where would your brush strokes start and where would they end?

If there were no lines, what colours, shapes, and hopes would your heart desire.


Is this what you really wanted?



Don’t run someone else’s race. Don’t chase what they said would fulfil you.

Run, yes.

Run from regret.