Thanksgiving and Spinach Madeleine

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I am feeling thankful for so much. Next week, I will celebrate this American holiday in Louisiana…

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and I am feeling thankful for so much. Next week, I will celebrate this American holiday in Louisiana, with my husband’s side of the family. We will connect, we will laugh, we will watch football, and we will eat.
One of the things we will eat, my favorite side dish, is Spinach Madeleine, something akin to creamed spinach with a lot of cheese. This was invented by a lady in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when she had guests over unexpectedly and had to make something out of what was in her pantry… You will notice the 1950s food sensibilities, yet trust me, you can’t argue with the taste.
Add this to your menu for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for a Fall or Winter birthday party. Below is the recipe for this amazing dish, edited (in terms of ingredient availability in Swiss grocery stores, and spice) by Marty, my Louisiana-born sister-in-law who lives in Switzerland.
Enjoy!


Ingredients

Discovering a far-away culture

Last month, I spent two weeks of “business holidays” in China and Seoul. I had a wonderful time, even if it was everything but relaxing, and must admit that I fell in love with China. I think part of the feeling was due to the fact that I realized how uninformed we are when it comes to this fascinating country. Just two examples of what I wasn’t expecting at all: Chinese people are  welcoming once you take the time and heartfelt effort to engage with them; and the country is particularly clean – after the third picture of blue sky, I stopped… as it actually was “normal”.

I also fell in love with the complexity of the country: after these two weeks I have never been more convinced that life is never black or white – but rather made up of billions of shades of uniqueness (or blue, if you look at the sky)!

These considerations set apart, here are the main highlights of my trip there:

  • It is a far-away country, not only due to the kilometers which separate us. First of all, 99% of the people I met during my business meetings don’t speak English; communication, which is the basis of engaging in a trustful relationship, is truly challenging. Then, our culture and traditions are estranged, which makes for awkward moments, but good stories to tell!
  • Dimension is totally dissimilar: when I met one of my business contacts, she wanted to show me some of her franchises. Only two shops, yet seven hours later (more or less a full tour of Switzerland; here though we never left Beijing!), made me realize how dissimilar our sense of distance is. Another stunning example is that in my country and industry, we talk of a “chain” when we have 2-3 clinics and are considered as a major player when we generate over 4 million revenues; every place I visited in China or Seoul had 25 to 40 different locations, each generating tens of million in revenues. It is more than attracting, I must admit; but back home, I doubt that we, Europeans, have what it takes to conquer Chinese clients in their homeland!

rap chine 2

  • Time is money: in their view, it is ridiculous that a Doctor does the consult; they have “beauty consultants” trained for that, leaving the Doctors time to perform the acts and the trainings – where their real added value lies. We don’t work like this in Switzerland; yet I was intrigued by the concept and I am relentlessly thinking of how I could implement this here, without being untrue to our own culture and mentality.

I came home with many business ideas and meetings to talk about, as well as a multitude of personal memories. On this more personal note, my main highlight was seeing the astonishment in my daughter’s eyes. And discovering the card she bought and then wrote, telling me how proud she is to see me work hard for our family business. sasha-et-moi.jpg

 

Be Positive. Be Strong.

I have always loved running and used to run at an average 12km/hour. Until my injury, running was the only for of exercise I enjoyed – and I need to exercise to feel good. Having to give that up (or so I thought) made me feel diminished, and it took me quite some time to overcome that feeling. 

I am known as a positive person and I believe everything happens for a reason. Weirdly enough, eight months ago I fractured my right foot. More important and the physical pain, I was overwhelmed by how vulnerable this injury made me feel. I have always loved running and used to run at an average 12km/hour. Until my injury, running was the only for of exercise I enjoyed – and I need to exercise to feel good. Having to give that up (or so I thought) made me feel diminished, and it took me quite some time to overcome that feeling.

After what felt like an agonizing long time, I finally started exercising again this past weekend: 40km of bicycle, 7km of walk and 7km of running. I finally feel like myself again, especially due to my renewed capacity to run. These months were hard on me, but I learned a lot:

  • Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. I did that for more than 2 months which was much too long! I wasted time and negative energy. The next time I have a setback I won’t let myself feel diminished…
  • Always remember that everything happens for a reason… Try to find that reason, and you will feel much better! This brings me to point 3…
  • Keep an open mind : once I took control of my life again I discovered bicycling and swimming, two forms of exercise I never tried for fear of being bad at it (biking) and a fear of water (which I overcame three years ago) (I was afraid of water until about three years ago). I am learning how to swim freestyle, with my mind focused on a single objective: soon I hope I’ll be diving! I thought I could only run. Now I enjoy three different sports and have a new goal – positive outcomes from this injury.
  • Be humble. Like my sister Ada would say: start with baby steps. Getting ready for 6km of mountain bike or 4km of running puts me in the mood. I know I will achieve more, but a 40km goal to start with is just too much!

Be proud. Every step is a step, even the baby ones. Celebrate them all. And keep going no matter what.

La beauté de rester un enfant à jamais

Ce jeudi, c’était le 1eraoût, la fête nationale suisse et bien que j’aie trente ans, je l’ai vécue comme un enfant de cinq ans. Je ne me souviens pas, étant petite, avoir fait des feux d’artifices le 1eraoût. Premièrement j’habitais en ville, donc difficile de faire ça sur le balcon au milieu des immeubles et deuxièmement j’entends d’ici mon père dire : « c’est dangereux ! ». Mais mon mari me raconte que passé le 25 décembre, lui et son frère n’attendaient qu’une seule chose : le 1eraoût, pour pouvoir faire des feux d’artifices dans leur jardin. Cette année nous avons fêté le 1eraoût chez mon beau-frère qui a maintenant deux garçons de cinq et huit ans et, grâce à ma belle-famille, j’ai découvert combien incroyable peut être une fête nationale.

Je n’en reviens toujours pas. On a commencé par allumer des pétards dans une petite brouette, ça pétaradait de partout comme des pistolets au Far West. Puis il y a eu les Vésuve, des volcans miniatures crachant des étincelles de plus en plus haut pendant un temps infini, comme si le Vésuve lui-même était en pleine éruption. Enfin sont arrivées les fusées – les vrais feux d’artifices – et le bouquet final. Les dernières étincelles fusaient dans l’air avant d’exploser en couleurs et en sons. Excitation totale mélangeant émerveillement, appréhension et fascination. Je ne sais pas qui était le plus excité : les neveux de mon mari ou moi-même ? Et je n’arrive toujours pas à croire que toute cette magie, c’est nous qui la produisons…

Je me suis rendue compte, ce soir-là, combien c’est important de rester officieusement un enfant lorsqu’on devient officiellement adulte. Non seulement cela nous permet de continuer à être fascinés par la vie : ce qui semble être un rien pour un adulte nous fait rêver et nous rappelle la chance que nous avons d’être sur cette terre. De plus, lorsque nous sommes fascinés, nous transmettons ce sentiment tout autour de nous et cela fait du bien aux autres aussi. On rappelle ainsi à ceux qui auraient un peu trop grandi que la vie est belle et que si l’on regarde bien, chaque jour on a de quoi avoir des étoiles pleins les yeux.

Alors, restons enfants ! Et ceci même si certains n’ont de cesse de nous répéter qu’il faut grandir !

21 jours

“Dry January” et “dry July”; j’ai testé 21 jours sans alcool. Je recommande à tous cette expérience qui fait un bien fou au corps et à l’esprit!

21 jours

Pour la première fois, en janvier 2019, je me suis proposé le défi personnel de traverser 21 jours sans boire d’alcool. Une amie m’avait parlé du concept de « dry January »,  l’idée étant qu’après les « orgies gastronomiques » souvent bien arrosées de décembre, on met son foie au repos le premier mois de la nouvelle année.

En me renseignant sur le concept, j’ai appris qu’il faut 21 jours pour changer une habitude. J’aime les chiffres, les équations et les challenges ; j’en ai donc fait mon affaire.

J’ai rempli mon frigo de bière sans alcool, de Schweppes et de bitters pour avoir le choix d’une boisson attrayante en rentrant du travail. Je ne suis pas beaucoup sortie durant cette période, mais les quelques occasions d’afterwork entre copines n’ont pas été difficiles à gérer. Une fois lancée, je me sentais de plus en plus forte et heureuse de vivre cette toute nouvelle expérience.

J’ai commencé à ressentir les bienfaits de cette démarche dès la première semaine. Mes nuits étaient plus sereines et mon sommeil plus profond. Même en ne dormant que 6 à 7 heures – ce qui ne me suffisait pas auparavant – je me sentais reposée le lendemain au réveil.

Au bout de deux semaines, ma peau était plus lumineuse, et mes rougeurs sur les joues et le menton s’étaient estompées. Le matin je remarquais mon visage moins gonflé, surtout au niveau des poches sous les yeux. En revanche je n’ai constaté aucune amélioration de mes sensations de jambes lourdes. Ma fragilité veineuse à ce niveau-là doit être héréditaire. Je n’ai pas non plus perdu de poids – non pas que je le souhaitais ! Mais on parle souvent de la teneur calorifique de l’alcool.

Enfin, dès la troisième semaine je ne ressentais déjà plus l’envie de boire, même en sortant pour un apéro ou un diner en famille.

Le plus surprenant a été la confirmation de cette « règle » des 21 jours. Mes habitudes ont réellement changé, de manière très naturelle. Alors que pendant des années je consommais un à deux verres de vin tous les soirs, après ces 21 jours je n’en avais plus l’automatisme, ni l’envie. J’ai recommencé à boire quelques soirs par semaine, en bonne compagnie, et pour une occasion sociale.

Mon mental a également bénéficié de ce jeûne. Chaque jour j’ai perçu ma force et ma confiance en moi s’accroître. Je me suis sentie rassurée, et en ai tiré autant de satisfaction que de fierté et de gratitude envers moi-même. Une belle palette d‘émotions positives qui sont toujours les bienvenues !

J’ai réitéré l’expérience le 1er juillet, lors du passage à la seconde moitié de l’année, accompagnée de l’énergie dépurative de la nouvelle lune. Aujourd’hui nous sommes le 21 juillet, et je bois une evian aromatisée à la framboise en écrivant ce blog. La différence cette fois-ci est que je me suis permis un écart pour fêter mon anniversaire. Sans regret ! Je sais à présent que j’ai la force et la volonté nécessaires pour changer une habitude qui ne me convient plus ; et mon objectif est la maîtrise plutôt que le contrôle. Je continue d’apprécier les saveurs et la chaleur d’un bon vin, ainsi que la frivolité festive d’un cocktail de temps en temps.

Blog 1 The-Polla-Sisters

 

 

Tips to a (serene) move

At one point in my life, I moved five times in six years… so I had to master the art of managing a move efficiently. Thursday, I did it again 🙂
Here are my tips for a successful move

At one point in my life, I moved five times in six years… so I had to master the art of managing a move efficiently. Wednesday, after five without a move, there I was again, packing boxes, preparing to move the next day. I was excited, and overwhelmed – which I still am three days later… But the new home is so worth-it!

Here are my tips for a successful move:

  • Timing is everything: Don’t start packing too early… I started about two weeks ago, and it was soon enough. Living in boxes isn’t that much fun (except for my cat)! Don’t wait until the last minute either. Even if you don’t feel like you have a lot to pack, believe me, you have more than you think! Packing all-nighters are no fun (speaking from experience).
  • Make sure you keep the weekend before you move commitment-free, appointment-free, completely free. This way, you can focus on packing.
  • Be organized:
    • Pack boxes by theme – the kid’s room, parents’ room, kitchen… don’t mix everything together, or you will go crazy unpacking!
    • Write details on all boxes – not just “kitchen” (how many “kitchen” boxes do we all have?) but “glasses & silverware” etc.
    • Being organized helps the movers, and you want the movers to be your friends. They will be grateful and happier to help you if they know where each box goes – rather than having to ask you for each one of them! This time, feeling creative,  I decided to name each room in my new house and put a note on each door with the correct name. You can also color code if you want.
  • Have takeout food the night before your move… so you can pack everything except for your coffee mug (and/or champagne flutes) for D-Day. And make sure you have a bottle of champagne or rosé wine – or anything you like to drink when you are on the verge of having a nervous breakdown – in the fridge, and a couple plastic cups. At some point, believe me, you’ll need it!
  • Finally, if you’re into clothes and feel like changing on a whim, or because of crazy weather fluctuations, pack a small carry on with clothes for the day of the move. That will also enable you to easily change for dinner, since everything will go so smoothly you’ll be able to go out for a nice celebratory dinner!

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Summer

Today is the first official day of Summer, the longest and one of the most magical days of the year. Summer vacation is on my mind, as I leave tomorrow for two weeks of rest and relaxation…

Today is the first official day of Summer, the longest and one of the most magical days of the year. Summer vacation is on my mind, as I leave tomorrow for two weeks of rest and relaxation…

Here are our four favorite summer destinations.

Roxane:

The island of Reunion, where I spent my honeymoon. I love islands because they usually combine hiking and the ocean in one single venue. Born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland, I have always had water (Lac Leman) and mountains close to me, making both an essential component of my well-being. On vacation, I look for the same combination with the addition of sun, heat, sand, beaches, and waves. I love to be active and hike in the middle of nature and could never spend all day lying on the beach tanning (you know, my dad’s a dermatologist…). But when it gets too hot, there is nothing like ending the day by having fun in the ocean. The true luxury for me is not having to drive hours between the hikes and the ocean but having everything close by.

Rachel:

Sailing (pretty much anywhere). I wake up every morning grateful for my life and all the beautiful places I have had the privilege to visit. Yet the one place I dream of when I think of summer vacation is a sailing boat. Whether I’m alone with my fiancé, or with my daughter, or with friends… I am never as free as on a boat. Right there, admiring the sunset or the sunrise, I feel surrounded by my version of ultimate luxury: time, beauty, and space. 

  • Time takes on a different dimension, a different meaning, on a sailing boat: it flies at a very different pace – very slowly most of the time until suddenly something happens… 
  • I feel goosebumps whenever I recall the beauty of nature. Whether you snorkel or enjoy a solitary sunrise… the beauty of what surrounds you never leaves you indifferent. 
  • Space is the third magical ingredient, just as paradoxical as that of time: the boat is small but the sea immense and its grandeur never fails to surprise you. 

The moments I have spent on a boat are amongst the fondest and most serene I have. I cannot wait to go sailing again. 

Cyrille:

Italy. When I set foot on this land so dear to my heart, I instantly feel at home as much as on vacation. I could write a whole book about the reasons why… here are just a few:

  • Fruits and vegetables actually taste like they should.
  • There is at least one beautiful Piazza adorned with flowers and a fountain in the center each village
  • By just walking around, eyes wide open, you see the equivalent of ten art and history museum collections.
  • The language is heartwarming and melodious.
  • The concept of Aperitivo is so much more than having an after work drink…

I must say I have never had an unpleasant experience in Italy. And to be totally honest, there are 3 factors that definitely work in my favor: I am half Italian and I have learned the language; I have blond hair and blue eyes (through the eyes of Italian men, it makes you feel like an angel, a queen, a jewel…); I am a “Mamma” of an adorable boy (all Italians love kids, and all mammas are greatly respected).

Me:

The Cyclades. We started going to the Cyclades when I was little, thanks to my maternal grandparents who decided to live there for a couple of years (because my grandfather was a professor of Greek language and philosophy), and to me, this remains the most magical place on Earth. The sea is salty, cold, and clear (like Roxane, I need to be near water). The island is quiet and calm, and time takes on a different meaning (like Rachel, I need a change of pace). The food is authentic and mostly from the island, grown in the gardens behind tavernas (like Cyrille, I crave the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables).  

What is your favorite summer vacation destination?

We want it all!

Part of our vision when my sisters and I created Forever Boutique was to address the wishes of those who want it all… champagne & detox; career & family; busy & tranquil; aesthetic medicine & natural results. And I can definitely relate to that kind of woman! 

Part of our vision when my sisters and I created Forever Boutique was to address the wishes of those who want it all… champagne & detox; career & family; busy & tranquil; aesthetic medicine & natural results. And I can definitely relate to that kind of woman!

Balance is one of my core values and needs. In all aspects of my life I seek a subtle equilibrium, and more precisely one that enables me to enjoy the 3 facets of my being – the mother, the woman (by that I mean the lover & friend) and the professional. The treatments that we selected at Forever Boutique are what we call « lunch-time » beauty procedures: quick, non-invasive and super efficient. Thirty minutes for a wow effect that makes us look radiant, relaxed and fresh, in spite of our busy lifestyles.

We created our beauty menu as one that provides happiness to everyone. Whether you want super plumped, Hollywood-style lips or a natural sexy look; whether you want a smooth forehead or Botox that remains super light; whether you want a deep-cleanse or a chemical peel for an instant glow; we adapt our treatments and product concentrations to your needs.

Another way I find balance in my life is by alternating intense and productive schedules with moments of tranquility that replenish my inner energies. This summer, for the first time ever in my life, I will be moving to a house located outside of the city center. This will be a new environment for me, as I grew up downtown Geneva, where the hum of city life and crowds filled me with positive vibes. I will now discover the bliss of coming home to a quiet garden and the feeling that I am on vacation.

As for my champagne routine, I balance it with weekly workouts at my local gym … Sweating it out on the treadmill heals my mind and body!

What about you ? How do you find balance in your life ?

180 seconds to save the world

How would I change my world in 180 seconds? To that question, a very simple answer came to me: I decided to ban plastic bottles from my home. This is my personal first step.
What will yours be? 

In December I had the privilege of being chosen as one of the 100 business leaders who represent the future of Romandie in Switzerland (Forum des 100 event). This past Thursday, I attended the annual event organized by Le Temps to celebrate those who are selected. I was happy to meet other entrepreneurs and had the amazing opportunity to listen to conferences and roundtables on the urgency of an ecological transition.

I heard David Hochschild who chairs the California Energy Commission, speak. He shared the state’s positive experience regarding its ecological transition: transformation can be a source of wealth creation! Paul Bulcke from Nestle had the courage to speak on such a controversial subject for the company; and without surprise, he was questioned and challenged on the responsibility of agribusiness multinationals in plastic waste polluting our oceans. Marco Simeoni, who founded Race for Water, a fabulous Foundation that works on water and ocean preservation, was particularly strong in his questions and challenges. I was myself deeply moved by what this successful entrepreneur has worked on and created following the sale of his business. His message resonated in the mother, CEO, and woman in me.

At the end of the day, I was left with one question: in 180 seconds, how would I change the world? I have many ideas, of course. Ban plastic. Rethink low-cost travel. Change consumption habits. Inform ourselves better. Stop taking everything for granted…

I was discussing this with my sister Cyrille, and she suggested that instead of changing the world, I should start at home. She asked: how would I change my world in 180 seconds? To that question, a very simple, clear, immediate answer came to me: I decided to ban plastic bottles from my home. This is my personal first step.

What will yours be?

The Polla Sisters are (sometimes vs. always) Superwomen

Cette dernière semaine j’ai été plongée dans les chiffres, les statistiques, notre mission et surtout la mise en scène oratoire. Ma conclusion de ce sprint : la préparation est à peu prêt aussi intense que l’exécution de la prestation. Mes quelques “tips” de survie…

Cette semaine était celle de mon Conseil d’Administration (synonyme de grand stress, donc). Sans faire exprès, j’ai rajouté la veille un workshop d’équipe de trois heures, et le lendemain l’équivalent, mais avec notre équipe médicale. Comme si cela n’était pas suffisant, j’ai entre deux dîné avec des investisseurs potentiels et rencontré un groupe d’apporteurs d’affaires chinois… sans compter tout le reste bien entendu. Quelques jours donc plongée dans les chiffres, les statistiques, notre mission et surtout la mise en scène oratoire. Ma conclusion de ce sprint : la préparation est à peu prêt aussi intense que l’exécution de la prestation.

Au crépuscule de cette semaine, je me suis penchée sur la manière dont je survis à ces journées plus intenses :

  • Premièrement, je me rappelle que les semaines de ma sœur aînée (Ada, CEO de Alchimie Forever) ressemblent toutes à la mienne ! J’ai également une pensée pour ma petite sœur Roxane qui fait des journées de 12 heures à l’hôpital. Ces deux exemples me permettent sincèrement de prendre un peu de recul et me rappellent la chance que j’ai d’avoir une équipe relativement large et donc de bénéficier au quotidien de soutien.
  • Ensuite, je m’appuie sur mes plus fidèles collaborateurs ; je me prépare avec eux, revois mes présentations plusieurs fois, jusqu’à ce que je me sente (presque) totalement prête… mes parents m’ont toujours martelé que le succès provient à 90% de travail, contre seulement 10% de talent ou de chance.
  • J’échange beaucoup avec mon conjoint, et m’ouvre tout particulièrement dans ces moments de stress à ses idées, ses éclairages… il me permet de prendre de la hauteur. En parallèle, j’appelle mes sœurs ou leur écrit et relis plusieurs fois leurs messages de soutien et de confiance, si précieux.
  • Je limite l’alcool le soir au cours de ces périodes (je me réserve pour après! Avec si possible une bouteille de Tignanello), et dans la mesure du possible essaie d’intensifier le sport, pour m’assurer que je reste complètement alerte et aussi reposée et positive que possible. Surtout, j’essaie vraiment de me discipliner à dormir au moins sept heures par nuitblog
  • Je prends du temps pour m’habiller en fonction des rendez-vous que j’aurai et fais particulièrement attention à mon apparence : l’habit ne fait pas le moine, je vous l’accorde volontiers. Mais à certaines occasions, cela aide vraiment à se sentir moine !
  • Enfin, j’écoute de la musique, et si possible je danse juste avant ces moments impactant pour mon entreprise. Je choisis toujours une musique entraînante et qui m’inspire puissance et maîtrise. Cette semaine j’ai écouté Natural de Imagine Dragons quasiment en boucle…

 

Et vous, comment faites-vous pour vous sentir comme la « superwoman » que vous êtes ?