Friday, July 15, 2011

mary, mary, quite contemporary, how does your garden grow?


Ah, the lushness of summer. You sit at the poolside of your beautiful mansion, sipping a maitai as you admire the garden of Eden you have created: the trickling of the fountain, the rose bushes in every shade of pink, the vegetable plot at the back of the house teeming with fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes and spaghetti squash. You laugh at the thought that most of your friends don't even know what spaghetti squash is.

Then back to life from your daydream. There is no mansion, the jardin de utopia is just that- an imaginary place of perfection far beyond your currently reality. You live in a flat, in a large city with a tiny balcony that overlooks a crowded street. No waltzing out to your garden to pick fresh lemons, no luxury of fresh herbs to sprinkle on your meals, no plush flowers. Yet one can take a trip to Europe and see the ridiculousness of this, in every tiny balcony life springs eternal in every color and fragrance. Little old ladies walk over to their window to pluck fresh rosemary, or a lemon.

We are becoming so far removed from the earth that most kids have never experienced gardening/planting and growing. Plants can bloom from anywhere, so we see from truck farms crossing the US to educate kids on how their food is grown, and how you can grow anywhere, even from the back of a truck.(


So perhaps now is the time to consider bringing a little green into your life, a live flower here, a bush of mint and cilantro there, maybe even a dwarf lemon tree to really make you feel you're living the life.

I have promised myself for a YEAR that I would get two things: a herb garden, and a few plumeria plants. A year later, I finally sucked it up and started both and added succulents (near impossible to kill desert flowers) ,and jasmine. I made two trips to the nursery at the Home Depot, a gardening guide for the hip and young called "You Grow Girl", (check out and a small balcony that finally is getting some love. Cilantro for my eggs, rosemary and thyme for rack of lamb, mint for my tea and rice, how divine! Even my little Buddha sits outside, contemplating the universe underneath his plumeria tree.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Paleo Promise: how to drop 10 pounds before christmas and keep poop out of your bloodstream

In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  ~Author Unknown

It's October folks. Yup, you might not have noticed the halloween junk in all the drugstores yet, but be sure of it: the holidays are just around the corner. There is just over a month before thanksgiving, and a shy two before christmas jingles around, tiding in the next 5-10 pounds to add to your body, along with the 5-10 you haven't worked off since last christmas. Oh yes, the years are now flying by, and like bad credit card debt, your freshman 15 has compounded into something of a little monster.

Mon petit monstre reared its ugly head this past year with a few changes in my lifestyle: the "snuggle weight" that slowly piled on from having a very handsome man to nap on the couch with every weekend (very low on the caloric burn rate but great for oxytocin levels), the corporate expense account used when I traveled (which meant I was in restaurants at least 70% of the time),  poor nutritional knowledge, the ill effects of constant jetlag and changes in sleep schedule, severely reduced amount of exercise, and the very difficult issue of finding food that supported my body on the road. Yeah, shit happens. All these factors created the perfect storm for my gradual descent into "why the hell can't I fit into my jeans" syndrome. I know a few of you are rolling your eyes at my size 2-4, and my fractional weight gain, but hear me out on the jeans:  who the hell likes wrestling with buttoning up those $170 premium denim jeans that you splurged on because of muffin top? Muffintopland is a destination I would rather not go. Disneyland, however, is. But my last visit was far from utopia from what I saw: child obesity everywhere. No longer is the one fat kid in class made fun of, the entire class is a morbid joke. First Lady Michelle Obama announced combating child obesity to be her biggest priority ( Even the US department of health (gasp) is finally revamping the very outdated (and lobbied) food pyramid. ( Face it folks: we have an epidemic. We are getting fat and sick, and disneyland is being overrun by jellydonut-fueled fat potlickers.

Serendipitously  an email made its way into my inbox from a friend's blogpost: Tim Ferriss - How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days). The thought of how poop might end up in my bloodstream and how it is connected to losing weight definitely was thought provoking and down right gross. The post was about a guy named Robb Wolf, a former research biochemist who then opened his own gym: NorCal Strength & Conditioning, one of the Men’s Health “top 30 gyms in America.” He’s also a former California State Powerlifting ChampionHe then went on to write the NYTimes best seller The Paleo Solution and this book was the subject of the post. The Paleo Solution unearths the story of the original human diet by uniting the anthropological knowledge of our hunter-gatherer past with the latest, cutting edge discoveries from genetics, biochemistry, immunology, and life extension research. His book completely changed the way I view food and lifestyle, along with a host of other paleo websites and nutritional sites that pave the same road.

Enter: the Paleo Lifestyle

Drop the bagel
In fact, drop the croissant, the potlicker's jelly donut you stole, and the cinnamon roll. Put down the pasta. No more BrĂ¼no-esqe carbicide. I know, I know, you're screaming bloody murder because you can't imagine your life without bread, just like how you said you couldn't live without that good for nothing ex- you'll get over it. That crap is killing you.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats, barley. READ: (from Latin gluten "glue").  Other grains such as corn and rice have similar, but less problematic proteins but still wreck havoc on your system. Grains, just like poison oak on your skin, do everything they can to make sure they don't get eaten. Here is what Robb says in his book:

"Grains contain lectin, a protein that does not get broken down in your body and attaches to receptors in the intestinal lumen and are transported intact through the intestinal lining.  Certain lectins “fool” transport molecules in an effort to gain entry into our bodies intact. These large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites. It’s perhaps unpleasant to think about, but the intestines are not the nicest place to hang out. This area is a major source of infection by bacteria and viruses, and the immune system lies primed, waiting to pounce on any invading pathogen. Not only does lectin enter the system intact, it damages the intestinal lining, allowing other proteins (danielle's note: and just about anything else like viruses, bacteria, and poop) to enter the system. Why is this a problem? Our immune system mounts an attack on these foreign proteins and makes antibodies against them. These antibodies are very specific to the shapes of these foreign proteins. Unfortunately, these proteins also tend to look like proteins in our body." Which means we start making antibodies against our own body. We fight ourselves. Fight club, anyone?

He goes on. Grains cause malabsorption issues. They do damage to the gut lining, which means we do not absorb nutrients-protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, the whole lot. Grains damage the gall bladder and bile production. If you do not absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, and other nutrients, you will have problems utilizing any minerals you do absorb, to say nothing of the nutrient deficiencies from inadequate essential fats. Grains also consist of nasty Phytates which tightly bind to metal ions and make them unavailable for absorption. This is not a good thing for bone health or iron status. Grains basically open door for autoimmunity and cancer. Once the gut lining is damaged, we are at exceptionally high risk of autoimmune disease and several types of cancers. The pancreas is assailed by grain-induced inflammation due to cholecystokinin problems- cholecystokinin usually sends the “on” switch to the gall bladder and the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes. When this signal is blocked, we do not properly digest our foods, particularly fat and protein. Not to mention elevated insulin levels. Well, shit, Shirlock! how does that bagel sound now? Let's add dairy and legumes to that mix.  Say cheese! When we factor in their anti-nutrient properties, and potential to wreck havoc on our GI tract, consider dairy and legumes in the same category. That's most beans, soy and all the dairy including icecream, butter, milk, yogurt, etc.

Recap of the "do no pass go, do not collect 200 dollars" list:
no grains, no gluten. No corn, very little rice, but absolutely nothing with wheat. No processed anything: no croissants, no bread, no pasta, no pancakes, no cookies, biscuits, none of it. No dairy: no butter, milk, cheese, yogurt, morning lattes, ice cream, pudding, etc. Look closely at labels. Everything  contains gluten and you have to make sure that none has been added. Most salad dressings, soy sauce, soups, and condiments have gluten in it. No soy except when fermented and gluten free (asians who are crying over soysauced rice-i feel your pain). No potatoes. Let's add the rest of the crap we're hurting our bodies with: white/brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, no agave, no pop, soda, brace beer. Beer is possibly one of the worst things you can put into your body because of the amount of gluten in it. Since my body keeps telling me to add more things gleefully to the list of things she hates, let's put all alcohol into this category as well since it's horrible on your liver. Try and keep away from coffee( i know i know! I had coffee for the first time in weeks and I B-lined it at the coffee shop for the bathroom and let me tell you it was not pretty!). Okay, phew, I think that's it.

What the hell can I eat then?

Vegetables! kale, one of my new favorites is super high in protein, tomatoes, avocado (though both technically a fruit), cucumber, all herbs, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, the list continues endlessly. You can go for sweet potato and any squashes, but beware the carb count if you're still in the reducing phase. (potatoes are out!) 

Then comes your meats: beef (grass fed), pork, veal, lamb, chicken, buffalo, duck and whatever else you can think of, all organic and fed their natural diet. Seafood galore of shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, octopus, squid, sea urchin if you are feeling adventurous...the whole lot. I'm going to throw in omega 3 eggs into this bunch as well.

Let's not forget fruit, though you want to go easy on fruit as they are high in sugar, and stay away from fruit juice. Stick to the berries the most as they have the least amount of carbs in them. 

Nuts: stay away from peanuts and cashews, but go for almonds, sunflower, pine, macadamias, etc. A favorite new thing for me is almond butter, get it from trader joes, raw.

Oils- oh good old olive oil, sesame oil, and, brace yourself: coconut oil. In droves. Bath in the stuff, and put it in everything. It's super good for you. My mother makes virgin coconut oil in Indonesia- if you're interested let me know. My crowning glory now? truffle oil. truffle aroma that is melded into olive or grapeseed oil is like the elixir of gourmet gods. Angels orgasm when you use it. Heck my house is like an orgy to them, i use truffle oil on EVERYTHING!  Also make sure you're eating enough salmon, or take fish oil. They balance out your n-3/n-6 ratio in your body. Really really good for you.

Rule of thumb: Just shop organic around the perimeter of the grocery store. For the visual learners of you lot, here is a handy-dandy diagram:

Still sounds boring and tasteless to you? Try my dinner from last night :

sliced spiced peaches 
Danielle's paradise poke: ahi, mango, avocado, shallots, furikake, truffle oil
iced lime young coconut drink (fresh coconut people- hack it yourself at home!)
organic rosemary thyme rack of lamb with traditional english apple mint jelly
roasted butternut squash with apple pie spicing
raw kale salad with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, heirloom tomatoes and avocado (massage the kale, it is 40-50% protein, it will break down a bit and be much much softer)
lavender chocolate fudge- lavender, cocoa powder, maple syrup (pure), coconut oil
 raw refresher: apple juice, frozen  banana and basil smoothie

booyakasha. I'm from the paleo massive. 

Wooooooo saaaaaaaaaaaah. 
 Take a chill pill, man. Back in the day say 500,000 years ago, we weren't stressing out every minute. Sure, when a beast charged us and we had to run, we had spurts of cortisol release. But it was not a i-have-a-deadline-for-the-rest-of-my-life sort of stress. Our cortisol levels now are high and constant, low in the morning due to lack of sleep and higher at night because of the enslaught of concerns: omg, how am I going to pay my $600 lease car payment? How am I going to deal with me overworking myself at the job I hate?  I see you now, medicating at night to shut your ever noisy mind clatter, and medicating  with coffee in the morning to keep you awake till the donut sugar kicks in. Taking the time to get enough sleep (that's 8-10 hours or whenever your body wakes you up), reducing and streamlining your life so you don't create more havoc will keep you alive longer, and stop pumping cortisol into your system. Cortisol is a hormone that has the job title of "pump more sugar into bloodstream so body has fuel to run away from charging beast". Constantly give the charging beast signal and that extra sugar will be stored around your midsection. Hello michelin tire.

Without proper sleep your body does not have time to rest and when you wake your insulin levels will be so damn high that even if you're eating perfect paleo, it won't do jack because your insulin will counteract any good that you did that day. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars, go straight to fat jail for the day. Do invest in heavy blackout blinds, turn off with any sort of light in your room, and for God sake, take out the night light in your kids room. Wait till little Bobby finds out all this. If he's scared of the dark because of monsters, make him watch monsters inc. 300 times. 

Becoming a new person: change your body through gene expression
You can literally change who you are by what genes in your DNA are "on". Your cells choose based on your activity what genes to express: stay in active and seditary and you'll get just that. Burst into movement and you'll become that. Think about when you first broke a bone and had it cast, or signed someone else's cast. The muscle surrounding that bone wilts down to nothing while it is out of use, and springs back up to size and strength again after the cast is removed and your muscles are worked again. You need to be moving: long, low impact cardio like a long jog, or 14 hours walking around disneyland like I did a few weeks ago. Ontop of that you need to lift heavy things for your body to say "holy poop batman! we need more muscles!" (women- this includes you! the higher the weight and less reps, you will NOT swell or bulk I promise). Do compound moves that build core muscle groups: do bench, bulgarian  split squats, lunges, anything that includes full muscle groups and not just isolates. Also, sprint intervals that will build your fast twitch muscles. Play- have fun, go on hikes. Play helps dissipate the negative effects of stress hormones from the day. Just keep moving. I try and have a dance party with myself before I start work just to get my body moving, it can lift depression! move move move!

So where am I today on my new lifestyle?
I've been paleo for a month now, meaning I have no had dairy nor wheat or anything else but coffee on the list I gave you before. I  have dropped back down almost to fit my clothes again. My skin has cleared, that "mental fuzziness" has disappeared and I am no longer bloated.  The muffin top that had started to rise on me is disappearing, I never feel exhausted after I eat, and, here is the big one... the cellulite that was starting to form on my body that i was freaking out about, is going away. I feel amazing, I'm learning so much about cooking and I feel proud to treat my body like the temple it is. I bought really good running shoes,  a new gym bag and I have workout clothes that I feel cute in. My boyfriend expertly taught me how to bench press and all the compound exercises mentioned above and I am hurting right now deep inside my body in places i never knew could hurt. This is good. I go to cooking classes at whole foods and learn all sorts of neat cooking skills and recipes, and am an Alton Brown "Good Eats" fan. I even have a happy dance to his opening showtune.

So go for it. Try it for 30 days and see what results you get. But I caution you to fully be 1000% into this: cheating "a little bit" on paleo is like cheating "a little bit" on your spouse. Be fiercely loyal. Your gastrial-monogamy will pay off. As the year rolls by and you rewrite your new years resolution, think about what you really want for yourself. Take a chance, and an inventory of your life, your health. I urge you to take a blood test before hand and see how your blood work improves. Read the book, and go to a multitude of other sources that I will list below, and look good this winter, and into the next year. If you want to sneak in some holiday cheer:Try some paleo pumpkin muffins.

 Happy holidays in advance, everyone.

some resources:

Robb Wolf: The Paleo Solution,
Mark Sisson: The Primal Blueprint,
Loren Cordain, Ph.D, The Paleo Diet,


Monday, March 8, 2010

big bad apple

This is Atlas, with the world on his back, bowing down before grace. That is Saint Patrick's cathedral, and these two beauties are in Rockefeller Center, New York City.

On my recent trip to NYC, I took this photo after deciding a year ago that I was going to come back and take it. Last year my team and I were walking the streets of new york and without a blink of the eye, we walked past this. I urged we stop and look, which we did, before hurrying off to the next store.

I remembered this. I remember wanting to back and see, remembering to go back and go into the church this past week. I just did some research and looked at close up photos and I realize that all I was looking for was to take a photo and really did not LOOK. I did not see he was made in the art deco style, or that his abs or trunk seemed much thicker than his arms, or his cool hair. Nor did I see the constellations and stars and moons on his banner, signifying that he was carrying more than just our planet. What was wrapped around his thighs? I did not see that the way the axis crossed, that it was pointing to the north star. How did his toes grasps around the edge of his platform? Here, this colossal titan... and I don't remember his face.

In three months I will go back and really meet poor Atlas, whom I so rudely snapped a photo of without a proper introduction.

It is amazing to me how quickly we adapt and allow ourselves to be completely unconscious in our daily lives, and even when we travel. We all have treasures of beautiful things in our back yards that people travel the world to see... let's make an effort to SEE them, in every detail, in all glory. The present is all we have.

This photo will last forever, but because I was not truly present... I was never really there.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

back to the drawing board...

I returned to drawing studio again today, two weeks in a row. Thanks to Aaron and Jessica who came along for the ride and ate dark chocolate with me during studio time.

I was not in the mood to draw, which made this experience perfect for me, because "the artist's way" says that your creative flow should be at anytime, not a notion to wait for her creative highness to arrive before you can start flowing (Aaron took this idea to greater lengths and gave his figure a imaginary crown, bravo!)

Sketch after sketch I found nothing prevailed to me as "beautiful". I then remembered showing my sketches from last week to my darling boyfriend, who then asked why none of my drawings had a rather important male appendage. I was more interested in his shoulders, I said... and ran out of time since those were quick sketches, and also his poses were conservative. We laughed to think that if the role was reversed, a male artist drawing a female nude, the first thing he would draw would be her breasts. Another artist today said he had a teacher who refrained them from drawing nipples, because students would draw them even if they weren't there...such is the hypnotic power of the female body.

I thus followed the inspiration I was given, in the form of masculine admiration for the female form...I over exaggerated curves. I drew the right nipple, which I could not see. It was a delight to celebrate the female figure... it made my own insecurities disappear as everything about her body I found beautiful to draw. We as women need to truly remember the power that we have, as captured so eloquently by Paulo Neruda in the last line of his poem oda a la belle desnuda (ode to a beautiful nude):

Debajo de tu piel vive la luna.
(The moon lives in the lining of your skin)

Monday, December 7, 2009

the artist within

I started reading a book called the artist way a few months back, which is about feeding your inner artist and becoming creative again. I realized that I had become so judgemental of myself that I became afraid of trying anything new in terms of creating, because I believed I was not good enough or worthy enough to create.

In celebration of my artist within, I decided to do a three hour studio figure drawing session. I just did not pay attention to the critic i got in my head, and instead made the event about artistic expression...that nothing would be wrong. Here in these two drawing that I share, I did not let the pen lift off the paper...and I used pretty colors. I actually quite like them. who cares if i drew an extra leg, or maybe his head was a big too big?

So everybody, go out and do something creative! I promise, you'll feel really good about yourself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Your money, miles, or your life

There I was, sitting at egoistic gunpoint staring at the screen. 50,000 miles to Florida. 50,000 miles that I’ve spent the last year building, building in hopes of reaching elite status, and of exotic trips to I do not know where with what time I do not have. Along with hoarding time I was hoarding miles. Do I save them? For what greater reason do you have to hoard them Danielle? I looked down at my mass of self development journals and flipped to my list of things that bring me pleasure and meaning to my life, and number one on the list: family.

I clicked the button. I can’t believe I even thought twice about it.

Grandpa, after many years of struggling with cancer, has decided to cease all treatments, and is in hospice at home. I am convinced he is going to live till 130 because he promised me, but just in case, the entire family is flying to Florida to spend some time with Grandpa. I will see half brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces I have never met, and my father whom I’ve not seen for a year. Here, after eight years of not seeing him, I finally am making time for the number one thing on my list of importance in my life.

How is that so, that we can live our lives so incongruent to what our actual values and priorities are? How could I think twice about spending something as intangible as miles for the experience of seeing my grandfather in his time (or my time) of need?

I am sitting on a plane on the way to Hawaii, having spent the first three hours working away at reports, sales analysis and making incentive plans. When in Seattle last week I picked up a book called Happier, by Prof. Tal ben-shahar, phd. A professor of Harvard University, he created a course called positive psychology, on learning the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment. It soon became the most popular class at Harvard. Im on page 53 so far.

I just read about reorganizing our lives to make time for the things that matter most, that gives us a sense of enjoyment, meaning. This means that we have to be diligent in making rituals of these events, or when the calling comes, to act on that impulse and not to put it off in fear of it not being “perfect.”

Which is why I just whipped out my notebook and wrote this. I’m not going to edit it…change it, I’m going to leave it be. There. I made time for my family, used miles to see them, and made time for a hobby that brings me great joy, writing.

Go ahead. What is on your list of things that bring you pleasure? Go do one of them. Give this day…TODAY… Tuesday, July 21st a little bit more meaning, make yourself a little bit happier.

Friday, May 8, 2009

top ten things i learn in college

"Beauty fades, dumb is forever" reads the title. Amusing what you find on the clearance shelf at half price books. Author? Judge Judy. Explains it all. Yeah, start rolling your eyes, but she's right, isn't she? I gave up my last few prime modeling years to be in class with an army of sorostitutes, pimpled computer geeks, and dirty beer-stained frat boys. I still remember the long, tedious hours of doing math homework on the floor of my college boyfriend's room, and thinking how cool his special edition semi-frosted silver T1-86 was. I wanted one.

Wait, back up...what? I left fashion shoots in bank vaults, photo op in the glossy "what's going on" section of Harper's Bazaar, and free clothes to wanting a calculator? (but it was special edition...) BUT IT'S A CALCULATOR. Special edition Fendi spybag, okay. Special edition TI-86, where you still can't figure out the graphing function, yet alone doing discounts, NO. What the hell was I thinking?

So this is what this blog post is about: what did I gain from going to school instead of continuing down the modeling road? How will I apply the skills I learned in business school to position myself for what I want in my future?

Let's start with economics, and a bit of accounting. What would the opportunity cost of NOT going to college be? We could do complicated future cash flows on aggregate salaries of college grads in my field to come up with a number, and compare that to how much I would have made modeling in the same time frame. Yet, as I learned in business school, numbers can be distorted and bent, there is a very grey area in numbers (it's called accounting). We learned that a great asset a company possesses is its brand value, yet it cannot be accounted for on the balance sheet. This is the same way that my GPA, CV and and other quantitative metrics can't represent the synergy of ME, Inc.

Oh finance. I had a wonderful finance tutor who was so passionate about the subject. He tried so hard to enlighten me on the graces of CAPM, mortgage rates that had balloons and arms, two, four, eight of them, like Shiva...and all sorts of other weird things, hoping that I would see the light. We locked ourselves in the dungeons of underground Balmer (business school building) like passionate secret lovers might, but the only love affair I had was trashing aside my finance book to proclaim my undying love for his marketing book. So... let's look at me as a portfolio, a collection of investments. Beauty, I found out, is a exponentially depreciating asset. Not a great investment, if it is your only one. In finance we learn that increasing your return on an investment is safest when you do three things: diversify, diversify, diversify! The rationale behind this is that a portfolio of different kinds of investments will, on average, yield higher returns and pose a lower risk than any individual investment found within the portfolio. So a woman who is diversified is what men call "the whole package." So I decided to diversify into my brain.

So four years and $40,000 of mostly YOUR tax dollars later, what did I learn?
Here is my top ten list of what I learned in college:

10. We won the citizenship lottery

Fellow students in one class presented on Nike one day, and handed each of us an envelope. In mine was 32 cents, and a piece of paper that read:
"My name is Santi. I live in Indonesia. I work at the nike factory and make 32 cents a day. " I sat there with the 32 cents in my hand and completely broke down, right there in class. I easily could have been Santi had my father not been American. Here I was sitting at a university, tuition and expenses paid for by taxpayers and sometimes feeling like life was unkind. I am blessed. I am damn lucky. So my goal now? do something for women like Santi.

9. Always put things into perspective

The previous pearl of wisdom directly relates to this one. Everything is relative to something else. There is no single way of looking at things, and if you look at things in perspective, you might not worry as much. For example, the stress of operations management and so boring. I never learned anything in class. So I stopped going to class, read the book and crammed like a crayon for the final. Perspective? 4 credits out of 200+. don't sweat the small stuff.

8. Beauty can only take you so far

Ever taken a final from hell? The hardest son of a bitch final that ( i quote from a classmate), "you check to see if your balls are still attached as you leave" kind of final? Dean Sefcik would have that honor.Walking into his accounting final was what i think walking into the bowels of hell would be like. It was the first time I walked in somewhere and thought, wow. For the first time in a long time, the way i look, the way i present myself will take me nowhere. The only thing i have to get me through this is the squishy material between my ears. I know some of you are rolling your eyes, but this was a revelation to me. I had finally learned again, to use my brain.
P.s. hard finals usually mean damn good teachers. Dean Sefcik is among the elite, and one of the best teachers I've ever had. Find those hard professors. They will push you and mold you into grand things you never could even imagine you could be. Don't ever let schooling get in the way of you education, go for the hard class with a lower grade. Once you're out of school, you wont remember what grades you got, let alone care. Promise.

7. Don't forget to talk to yourself once in a while

Ever been in one of those classes where you don't know the name of the person sitting next to you, and it's already a week from the final? The failure to communicate is even greater than ever now that we don't even communicate with the most important person: ourselves. In the acting series at the drama school (if you are still in school, take it) We would do exercises where we would ask, "hey Danielle, this is yourself speaking. How are you doing today? How are you feeling?". As we all embark into work life, being lured by money and expense accounts, frequent flier programs and hotel points, don't forget to truly sit down and ask yourself what you're feeling, and what your heart really wants.

6.Seek only the best

Don't ever start at mediocre, or half's easier staying at the top than it is getting there, so never settle. Go for gold. Never settle.

5. You will use calculus again at some point in your life

Maybe not actually perform calc, but the general understanding of how it works and how to apply it to certain situations is helpful, especially stats. Even in economics. If all else fails, you can use it at the bar in a knowledge contest against bankers who think you're stupid. Ask them for the derivative of 2x^3. I did this in London. Hysterical.

4. Become the man of your dreams

There is something called the cinderella syndrome, the feeling that a woman is so stuck (in her life, situation, position) that women yearn to be rescued (emotionally, financially) by a man. Men, friends, family, even yourself will at one point or another disapoint you, but I learned that there is a lot of goodness in people, and most importantly in myself. In the end, only I can rely on myself to be happy, to provide shelter, to feed myself, to make a difference in my life. Rescue yourself, doesn't mean that your hero won't come along. He will. But until then and even AFTER then, live your life.

3. Read.

Tim Ferris, of 4 hour work week fame spoke about a student who wrote for advice from Warren Buffet. He wrote back: "read, read, read". Reading extends your ability to think dynamically and expands your depth. I am a different woman because of books like The power of Now, The Prophet, Gourmet Nutrition. Go to a used bookstore. Breathe in the wisdom.

2. Travel.

I thought I was well traveled before I went to college. I was well jetsetted...but not traveled. I went to Cyprus for a program with the American University of Beirut and American University of Cairo, and two weeks of intense debate and study on the tension of US and Arab identity later, I had chemically reacted to be someone completely different. I am now part Lebanese and part Eygptian. GO travel, but travel to learn...plan to learn something!

1. Be passionate about what you do in life

You live once. I know there is an economic crisis going on..but this is good, turmoil is good because it will and has shaken us up to think what is really important! Shake yourselves of the golden handcuffs and when you wean yourself off the desperate thoughts of losing that much money, think... well, now what? What do i really really want to do in life? This is my chance. Go. Play. Fall in love, make that dream bakery, go become a salsa nut in Argentina. GO GO GO!!! Your life awaits you.

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
- President Abraham Lincoln