The day I quit smoking

3-excuses-for-smoking-1Today is a special day to me. Nine years ago, I did myself a favour and quit smoking. For good. I thought I would never make it. The so-called addiction was consuming me, and all I could think about was smoking. But I had to stop, I had no money of my own, my boyfriend hated it and we were fighting all the time, and most importantly, it was seriously damaging my health. I was diagnosed with asthma and chronic bronchitis and developed hay fever, which wasn’t helping. I was sick all the time.

How to quit?

I tried patches, didn’t work. I tried the gums, didn’t work either. I tried nicotine-free cigarettes, those were really weird. They smelled and tasted like weed and would arouse everyone’s curiosity in the high school yard (yes, smoking was allowed in my high school). So I couldn’t stop smoking but I had to. Then, I heard about a book by Allen Carr called The easy way to stop smoking and about how people were quitting overnight after reading it. I bought it. Best decision I had ever made.

The easy way to stop smoking

Allen Carr explains very clearly that you experience two kinds of cigarette addiction: the physical one, that is insignificant, and the mental one, what he calls the Big Monster. It’s basically all in your head. You don’t actually need to smoke, and (according to another great author named Rob Kelly) you’re not even addicted. It’s just a bad habit you have. You think you’re addicted and you think it’s going to be hard to quit, that’s why it’s hard.

First, Allen Carr makes you want to quit by listing all the negative aspects of smoking. Then, he gives you the tools to quit for good. I’m not going to go into details here (because I don’t remember them to be honest, it was a long time ago!) so if you’re curious, buy the book! The book is not a fun read, it is deliberately repetitive!

Another important point: there’s no limit to how many times you can read it! It doesn’t work the first time? Read it again, and again! I read it three times and I finally got it. Thanks to the book, I felt empowered to stop and I believed it would be easy, and so it was. I chose the first day of my summer holiday and I think that helped break the routine. I quit overnight and never ever smoked anything that is smokable again (ok, I smoked shisha once)!

Smoking is such a bad decision to make (let’s face it, you waste your money on it, you’re damaging your health, it smells bad, it decreases your appetite, it’s bad for your skin, and so on), that to protect you and remove the guilt attached to it, your mind makes you believe that you’re addicted and you can’t help it. But the truth is, you CAN help it. It is not easy to admit, but once you acknowledge that, you have the power to change things. And let me tell you: the sense of achievement you get in return is so worth it. I feel so proud of being in control that I insist on celebrating this special anniversary every year, just to remind myself of how big a deal it is. And as I heard some say at the time, if I can do it, you can do it!

 

So take back control and quit smoking NOW!

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If you want direct support, you can also find a consultant and attend sessions. There is no shame in trying and failing. Just experiment and find what works best for you.

I wish a happy smoke-free life to you all!

A.

 

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Imperfection is beauty

beauty-myth-322x235We usually all agree on what a beautiful woman is: a model, an actress, a princess. They are made beautiful for us and we believe that we will never get there, that we will never be as beautiful as they are. This is all a deception, an illusion. Beauty is not a perfect skin, a flawless face, a flat tummy, a hairless body. Nor is it make-up, beautiful clothes and expensive jewellery. This is all fake. Do you really think those models we see on the cover of magazines or those actresses at red carpet events are real? Even they don’t look like them in real life. Being confronted to perfection on a daily basis, from a young age, can have a dramatic effect on an impressionable young girl. She will want to look skinny, get bigger breasts, wear designer clothes… leading to depression, low self-esteem, anorexia, bulimia…

But who’s responsible? Everyone is trying to meet a need: model agencies, designers, magazines… Fortunately, some people are willing to change things: Stella McCartney only wants size 10 models, Vogue finally banned too skinny models from their pages, and brands like Dove expose what real beauty is. We spend so much time and energy on what isn’t right about ourselves that we forget the most important. For years, all I could see on my face was that my nose wasn’t right, overlooking the rest entirely… We are so harsh when it comes to how we look. For those of you who haven’t seen it, check out the Dove video below, it is quite powerful!

 

Your mind is a pharmacy

The truth is we don’t need expensive products and fancy clothes to feel and look pretty. All you need to do is feel good about yourself and you’ll look good. You’re much more beautiful when you smile than when you frown, don’t you think? Being positive will really have an impact on your health and on how you look. Don’t we say that a woman in love is glowing?! If you don’t believe me, check out the other Dove video below:

 

Impressed much? Now let me show you what real beauty is to me. Flaws are part of nature and should be celebrated.

Flattering, definitely!

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Flawless…

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Absolutely wonderful

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Everything we see, everything we’re told, helps build a wall of misconceptions about ourselves and we need to break that wall, brick by brick. I think it’s important to educate our younger peers and help them realize that what they see in magazines and TV shows is not real. What happens when you strive for perfection and never get there? You’re miserable. My breasts won’t get bigger, my nose will never be small and cute, my hair has no volume whatsoever… That’s just the way I am, that’s how nature made me. Today, I accept that, and everyone should do the same. There is no one like me, just like there is no one like you, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

A.

My quick and funny encounters with movie stars

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Celebrity… It is a strange concept. We’ve all been fascinated by someone famous at some point… What makes us blush and say “Oh my god, look who it is”?! I’ve been there, several times!

auteuilI walked past the very famous French actor Daniel Auteuil on the Champs Elysées when I was a teen and I just had to stop him! Which I did… I had just enough time to say “I want to be an actress, could I have a picture?”. This nice man was in a rush, he took my hand, apologized and said good luck!

 

elijah woodI sat for two whole days a few seats away from Elijah Wood on the set of the Oxford Murders in 2007 and all I said to him was “Could I get a picture?”, which I did!  I was so focused on getting a picture with him that I completely disregarded John Hurt for two days… only afterward did I realize who he was! For the record, shooting a film is not glamorous at all, I’d even say it’s a bit boring, Elijah Wood was playing crossword puzzles in between takes…

 

Keira-Knightley.-Pirate-au-coeur-meurtriI walked right past Keira Knightley on Tottenham Court Road in 2008, she was with boyfriend of the time Rupert Friend and she looked so beautiful as always, I couldn’t help but staring! She was pouting, obviously.

 

 

love-actually-andrew-lincolnAndrew Lincoln (Love Actually, The Walking Dead) walked in my shop during the summer of 2008! He looked around and walked out to go next door!! Argh

 

Gerard Butler Getting Into His Hybrid Mercedes-BenzWalking down Perry Street in NYC (Perry Street will sound familiar to the Sex & the City fans) in the summer of 2009, my friend and I arrived on the set of the Bounty Hunter. I walked past Gerard Butler without realizing and only saw his back. End of story.

 

 

s bakulaMy dear colleague Leah got me a ticket to see a play called Terrible Advice starring Scott Bakula at the Chocolate Factory in London a couple of years ago. You know who he is, right? You surely remember Quantum Leap (or Desperate Housewives maybe?!) He took his shirt off on stage and I can tell you he looked very hot for his age! He came out for a chat after the show and was very nice.

 

diane-kruger-and-chanel-ribbon-headband-galleryYou might know that Diane Kruger speaks fluent English and French… She was dubbing herself in Benjamin Gates when I was an intern at France’s largest dubbing company (Dubbing Brothers) and I met her in the ladies toilet… She looked at me and said hi. I said hi back. How exciting. (I didn’t take a picture, I believe it would have been weird.)

 

 

10393824_10152462226596438_206343846907763363_nI had the pleasure of meeting Kristin Davis after watching her perform in Fatal Attraction at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London last month. She said I was sweet and replied to my tweet, she made my day!

 

 

 

Ok, I have to admit, this isn’t the most elaborate post… I’ll do something deeper next time, promise! 😉

A.

Portuguese gems

Hi peeps!Algarve-Alvor

I didn’t get back from my trip to Portugal empty-handed… Like every year in Algarve, I find some beautiful jewellery at a ridiculously low price! So I won’t brag about how I went to the beach every day, had the most amazing food, took a picture with a dolphin or the fact that people congratulated me on my Portuguese! (Ok just a little bragging!) Today, I would like to show you some of the gems I got for as little as 3 euros!

For years, all I wore was earrings, all sorts of earrings, all the time, of all colours and shapes… But I’ve been into necklaces this past year. The seaside of Algarve is filled with jewellery stalls, there is so much you don’t even know where to look and what to get. Here’s what I brought back this year.

Pink necklace, 3 euros (you can spot my beautiful work of art in the back!)

IMG_0912White, blue and green necklace, 3 euros

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Blue necklace (my favourite!), 3 euros

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Silver, gold and copper bracelet, 7 euros

IMG_0916White stone ring, 6 euros

IMG_0921Snake double ring (I’m in love with this ring!), can be worn on either hand, 6 euros

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No need to lose your shirt to get beautiful jewellery, just head to the south of Portugal 😉

Happy Sunday!

A.