Beauty Meets Consciousness in ALEX AND ANI Designs

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ALEX AND ANI is the next big thing in fashion accessories. The Coastal Odyssey collection has everything you need and more to complete any summer look, sporting some of the most uniquely colourful and breathtaking pieces of jewelry you will find this season.

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What is more, ALEX AND ANI is one of those companies that is striving to make a difference and is a company that you can feel good supporting. First and foremost, all ALEX AND ANI products are crafted in carefully considered U.S. factories and are therefore sweat-shop free and the materials utilized are “sustainable and derived from eco-conscious processes.”

“We create meaningful, eco-conscious jewelry and accessories to empower the light in you. We share a passion for the well-being of our planet, our communities, and our individual paths.”

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ALEX AND ANI embraces “the power of positive energy” as its core company belief. Not only is the jewelry produced in a way that is humanitarian, and economically and environmentally mindful, it also conveys through symbols and design, concepts of energy and meaning: “each design is positively intended to empower the wearer and reflect the unique qualities of the individual. Some pieces carry sentimental meaning; others are talismans of protection, power, or intention.” Ultimately, however, the wearer becomes the designer, in that you choose specific pieces to reflect your own ideologies.

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Finally, ALEX AND ANI is a Corporately Conscious company invested in a business model that takes into consideration “the wellbeing of the environment, the health of local and national economies, and the empowerment of customers.” And to top it all off, they believe on giving back: “we believe in the power of gratitude and giving.”

As part of their mission to spread positive energy through the world, ALEX AND ANI created CHARITY BY DESIGN and is involved in other outreach initiatives. CHARITY BY DESIGN channels resources “into the efforts of organizations that work to improve others’ quality of life.” The purpose behind CHARITY BY DESIGNS is to strengthen charitable organizations through amicable partnerships. CHARITY BY DESIGN “empowers a multitude of non-profit organizations on an international, national, and local level…from small foundations to national associations” and achieves this through in-store events, as well as through creating symbols and designs meant to raise awareness for specific causes. ALEX AND ANI is involved in philanthropy on a corporate level, but produces a platform for their consumers to also get involved with these charitable initiatives through their purchases.

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See the website for more designs and to get more information on the company: https://www.alexandani.com/

 

 

Published in Fusia magazine, May 2015

The Fears and Pains of Transition

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It is an unavoidable truth that life is full of painful transitions. When we are born, we are ripped out of our warm, comfortable, and safe environment, the only existence that we have ever known, and are emerged into a cold, bright, and blinding world. Our first emotions experienced in this new world are fear and overwhelming anxiety.

Unfortunately, this is a natural part of life, and unfortunately every transition that we make in our lives is going to be filled with the same fear and anxiety. The first day of school is terrifying, the first day of high school, the first night in your new apartment living on your own, the first day of university; the list goes on and on. The transition is scary, but it is completely necessary, and when you think about it, the fear gives way to fantastic new experiences. Looking back on how amazing college or university was, would you have really wanted to stay in high school? Absolutely not. Well high school is perhaps a bad example, because NO ONE enjoyed high school.

If we stay in our comfortable bubble the rest of our lives, we may never experience fear, but then we won’t ever experience amazement and wonder either; all worthwhile experiences are achieved through stepping out of one’s comfort zone.

The things in life that shape us and that make us into who we are, they all come through transition and growth. Growth, however, can never be achieved without growing pains. The scariest transition for me has been transitioning from student to career professional. All of the previous transitions seemed to have an air of understanding and structure to them: you know when you graduate high school that the next 4 years of your life (or longer) will be spent at university, if that is the path that you have decided to embark on, and you just have to choose the right university. This is a stressful decision in itself, don’t get me wrong, but it is a decision with a planned out course of action.

Once you leave the beautiful, comfortable bubble of academia, however, you enter the ‘real world’ and NOTHING is planned out. There are no papers to write, no midterms, no comfortable categorizations and divisions of your time and efforts. There is just you and the world, and unfortunately for us Millennials, a job market right in the middle of an economic recession. In my university bubble I felt competent, positive, and like I would be able to do anything with my life. Now, after three years in the ‘work-force,’ I feel qualified for nothing, skeptical, and completely unsure of what to do with my life. This transition is scary and painful and I am just shutting my eyes and breathing through the pain, like when you get a foot cramp and know that there’s nothing that can alleviate the immediate discomfort and that you just have to go through it and wait for it to be over.

This sounds all so depressing and jaded, but I assure you that it is not. And here is why. When we are in a moment of growth and transition, we tend to look behind at the comfort that we have lost and focus on the immediate discomfort of having no frickin’ clue what we are doing and where we go from here, but we don’t often acknowledge what we have gained. I have been stressing myself out over trying to figure out my life and where to go from here, but I haven’t stop to acknowledge the beauty in my fear. I am staring at a blank wall with absolutely no plan, no answers, and again…no frickin’ clue, but why is that such a scary thing? Why do I need to know where I am going? And what is more, why haven’t I noticed the potential of this blank wall? In school I thought that I could do anything with my degree, so why has the ‘real world’ stripped that assurance from me? Maybe a blank wall with no answers is actually a blank canvas with infinite possibilities. Maybe the fact that I don’t only have one answer or one possibility means that I can do anything that I want to do. Maybe having no frickin’ clue means having the freedom to create the most beautiful painting on this blank canvas.

The fact that I have no idea where to go from here really means that I can go anywhere and do anything. Who doesn’t want that kind of freedom? Who doesn’t want that ability to make their life absolutely everything that they have ever wanted it to be? As Millennials, we sometimes tend to get overwhelmed by too many options that it becomes a daunting task to pick the right one. However, generations before us did not have the luxury of options, especially women, so we should remember what a blessing it is to have no clue, but still have the liberty to figure it out.

Instead of complaining in my sometimes overwhelming confusion at the cross-road of “what the heck do I do now” and “where on earth do I go,” I have decided to pause and realize the beauty in this moment of transition; I plan to acknowledge the complete freedom to create absolutely anything.

 

“Complaining is passive and powerless. Creating is proactive and powerful”

Paul Angone, 101 Secrets for your Twenties

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Published in Fusia magazine, May 2015

Nepal Earthquake Relief Fundraiser

KATHMANDU, NEPAL - MAY 16:  A Nepalese woman carring her child walks past the collapse building in Sankhu village in, Kathmandu, Nepal on May 16, 2015 following the second major earthquake. The second major earthquake hit Nepal on May 12, 2015 as the country recovers from last month's devastating earthquake, in Nepal. (Photo by Sunil Pradhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sunil Pradhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Stories of the April 25th and May 12th earthquakes occurring in Nepal have flooded the news over these past few weeks. Tragedy has been everywhere we look and the blatant needs in Nepal are obvious and unavoidable.

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“More than 8,500 people have died as a result of the back-to-back earthquakes” (Time Magazine).

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The death toll continues to rise and daily more and more homes crumble. The Nepalese people are in need of urgent help. So the question to be posed is, who will help them?

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For me, the answer is simple. It is all of our responsibility, as human beings, to stretch out a helping hand to the rest of human kind. It is so easy to see tragedy and feel empathetic; however, when the pictures on the TV screen turn to other news, so goes our concern with it. I am guilty of doing this as well. However, in this face of tragedy, I am reminded that:

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

John Donne

If indeed any other human beings suffering affects me, diminishes me, then what am I doing to help those in need? How am I being ‘involved in mankind’? When I see a need, do I passively observe, or do I do whatever I can, even something small, to get involved and help?

This question was considered by some amazingly talented musicians in Toronto, working with Small World Music Centre, to create an unforgettable evening of music on May 25th to raise funds for Nepal earthquake relief.

Nepal Concert Fundraiser- May 25th 2015
Featured artists are: Autorickshaw, FreePlay Duo, Vandana Vishwas, Bandana Singh, Amely Zhou 周嘉麗, Dorjee Tsering, Justin Gray, Debashis Sinha, Pushpa Raj Acharya, Sheniz Janmohamed, and Anand Rajaram.

These talented artists are donating their time and energy to present a ‘pan-Asian program of superb sounds,’ and through the creation of exceptional music, they hope to provide a glimmer of hope through musical solace, a wonderful act of humanitarianism, and provide a platform through which to raise much needed funds for Nepal.

All proceeds will go to the UNICEF Canada Nepal Fund, providing emergency healthcare in Nepal’s hardest hit regions and all donations will be 100% matched by the Government of Canada.

Why not support this wonderful night of music for a most worthy cause?

You can find more info at:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1595633127390229/

http://smallworldmusic.com/small-world-music-centre-shows/

 “The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet….Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places….We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

– J.K. Rowling

 

Published in Fusia magazine May 2015

 

Freiburg, Germany

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Since my coming to Deutschland, I have been told that I simply must see Freiburg, as it is one of the most impressive cities in Germany. Everyone told me that it is incredibly beautiful and well worth the trip. I had the opportunity to accompany some friends who were headed to Freiburg for a wedding. So while they were all inside eating wedding cake, I was wandering the streets of Freiburg, enjoying the sunshine and some authentic Italian gelato. Yes, I definitely got the better end of that deal. After close observation I can report with authority that the city did indeed meet all of my expectations, and then some. From the view of the city centre afforded from the Schloßberg, to the actual city centre itself, Freiburg is well worth seeing.

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Freiburg is one of those cities that it is impossible not to fall in love with. It is one of the most southern cities in Germany, and proudly boasts that it is the country’s sunniest and warmest city. It is also situated in one of the best possible locations: it is in the centre of the Baden wine-growing region. Which is an entry point for Germany’s infamous Black Forest, and is only a 30 minute drive to the France border, an one hour drive to the Swiss border, and a four hour drive to the border of Italy. When you can live in Germany, but have breakfast in France and dinner in Italy, you are definitely situated in an advantageous location to experience the best that Europe has to offer.

Indeed, other European influences are evident in the cities architecture and atmosphere that make Freiburg an incredibly unique German city. First and foremost, there is a distinctive medieval layout that has been preserved, along with the iconic Freiburg Münster cathedral, the Historisches Kaufhaus and the Martinstor, which is one of the original city gates. All making Freiburg home to some of the oldest architecture in Germany.

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There are also semblances to Italian architecture that give the city a European flare beyond the traditional German city.

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All throughout the city centre are small channels of water called Freiburg Bächle that are so unique and really impressed me because they were unlike anything that I have yet seen. Apparently these channels were created to provide a steady stream of water for fighting fires and providing water for livestock. Although there is a common misunderstanding that they were originally created as a sewage system; however, even in the medieval ages there would have been strict penalties for polluting these channels. In their contemporary setting, these channels of constantly flowing of water, diverted from the Dreisam, function as a natural cooling system in the summer time and pleasantly fill the air with the gurgling sound of running water.

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These Bächle have become so entrenched in the city’s identity that they have given way to a famous Freiburg saying, that a tourist who steps into a Bächle will marry a Freiburger. And indeed you can always tell who the locals are because they step over these channels seemingly without even realizing that they are there, whereas tourist without fail will step into them at least once. So the saying has been adapted to “when you visit Freiburg you will marry a Freiburger” because the stepping into a Bächle is inevitable. However, I can proudly say that throughout this short trip I managed to keep my feet on dry land.

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If you are ever planning a drive from Germany to France, Switzerland, or Italy, I would definitely recommend heading through Freiburg and stopping for a leisurely walk around this beautiful city. You will be very glad that you did.

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Published in Fusia magazine, May 2015