Playing to your strengths

Are you playing to your strengths? Read any fashion magazine or tome on self-improvement and you will see scores with advice on how to find the best look to camouflage your figure flaws, or the best diet to shed those last five pounds.  But when was the last time you really thought about your strengths, your pluses, your black column instead of your red?

Darlings if you read DolceDolce, you know that I am not about to suggest you give up dieting, fashion magazines, or any of the rest of it – banish the thought! What I am talking about is a change of perspective.   So much self-improvement advice seems to focus on what is wrong as opposed to all the things that are so right with you.

As a result so many women can only hear the negatives in any conversations about their appearance, health, relationships, or career. It doesn’t matter how many good things were said, how many sincere compliments given, or helpful advice doled out - negative, hurtful sentiments echo in their heads and hearts. It’s sad and it happens to most of us sometimes. But for some it’s a constant refrain.  No matter what is going on in some women’s lives, feelings of self doubt or a sense of being criticized by peers or family causes feelings of unhappiness and depression.  These feeling can be especially bad for anyone when things aren’t going well.

Silence your inner critic
Photograph by:

It’s not a surprise when so many well-intentioned books and articles couch advice and plans for self-improvement in such negative and derogatory terms. Women are taught to banish cellulite, rid themselves of unwanted pounds, and in general how to disguise a veritable laundry list of undesirable traits.

Don’t get me wrong; the “banishing act” can be a good thing. There are many things that I have happily and cheerfully banished from my life including acne, excess pounds, and smoking. But I can honestly tell you that even in my blackest teenage years I never defined myself by any of it - not the acne at its screaming worst or the curviness when it seemed every “cool” pair of jeans was designed for a sylph. I was very lucky. I had good mentors and they taught me better. They taught me to play to my strengths.

It was a lesson has that stood me in good stead in all areas of my life. I truly believe that beauty is attainable to all of us. So are all the other good things in life - love, friends, career, and - if we are lucky - a certain amount of wisdom and peace of mind. But, it may not come easily or all at once. There are plenty of people who are ready to tell you differently. The world can be a very rough place. But at least I have learned to be on my own side.  I have learned to recognize when the inner-critic is on a rampage and drown her in a hot bath or silence her by chatting with an old friend. 

Why make it harder by not playing to our strengths or even being able to see what we already have accomplished? Why let the inner critic have the ruling voice so that conversations are dominated by the negatives instead of being able to hear all that has been said when discussing a sticky issue with a friend or colleague? I am not advocating an end to self-improvement or an honest assessment of what needs improvement -- far from it.

If you feel frustrated with some aspect of your life, maybe it’s not the time to ask what’s wrong in your life but to ask yourself -- what do I really want? What makes me happy and when was the last time I felt really happy?  Why not be the first to see your own strengths and encourage them. Find a way to nourish your creative talent and bring it into your personal and professional life. After all, if you don’t value and applaud the good in you, how can you expect anyone else to. But as importantly, will you hear them and respond when they do? Try it and once you silence that hideous inner critic you may be pleasantly surprised at just how fabulous your friends, colleagues, neighbours, and loved ones have been trying to tell you they think you are. Sometimes it’s as simple as talking it over with a friend and admitting you’d like some validation and applause. Sometimes not playing to strengths can leave the most level-headed women feeling invisible and in need of a bit of attention and recognition.

Darlings, women have come a long way in the world. We have the right to work and be paid quite well for it. We have the right to birth control and choice. We have the right to a safe work place. I think what we can do these days to look and feel fabulous is wonderful. After all darlings, beauty is your birthright, but no one but you can reach out and take all that is yours. Only you can make the most of all the world has to offer. So, if you aren’t already playing to all your strengths start today . You’ll be surprised how good it feels.

Pretty? The bride certainly is, and some might think her tattoos are, too! But, what if she had second thoughts ?
Courtesy of Dr. Tattoff

Out Damn Spot

Out I Say!

Dr. Will Kirby, one of the celebrity dermatologists on Dr. 90210, is the medical director of Dr. Tattoff, a chain of tattoo removal clinics. Dr. Kirby gives us the lowdown on getting the ink out in this exclusive DolceDolce interview. Learn what it costs to get it off and how to do it right if you must, from the doctor who knows best.

DD: Why do most people decide to have a tattoo removed?
Dr. K:  One of the most common reasons a person removes his/her tattoo is a  break-up.  In this day and age, it has become en vogue for a person to get
their significant other's name tattooed.  Inevitably the relationship ends,
and the only thing remaining is the tattoo.  It's a constant reminder of
failed love.  People also commonly remove their tattoo(s) for professional
reasons.  That cartoon character tattoo that seemed hilarious in college may
no longer fit the professional image the person is trying to create.
Also a lot of people just change.  They outgrow the tattoo and want to
see it gone. 
DD: Do you see mostly men or women at Dr Tattoff?
Dr. K: The majority of our patients are women - approximately 65 to 70 percent.  Men do not seem to mind their tattoos as much. I think it just follows the general trend that men are not as concerned with their appearance.
Before and almost-after Dr. Tattoff does his tattoo-deletion magic. The patient still has a couple of treatments to go, before the last faint traces of the original ink-work vanish.

DD: How long does it take to remove a tattoo?

Dr. K: The treatment itself is very quick.  For a small tattoo, the process
typically takes only a few seconds.
DD: Is it painful?
Dr. K: The procedure is uncomfortable but tolerable. Obviously, people's thresholds are different, but most people say it's akin to rubber band snaps against the skin. 
DD: Is it expensive to remove a tattoo or tattoos?
Dr. K: It costs more to remove a tattoo than to get one. Price really depends upon the size of the tattoo.  That said, Dr. TATTOFF has standardized their
prices at $49 a square inch, so people know what to expect before they start
the process.
DD: How long does it take to remove most tattoos?
Dr. K: It takes multiple sessions to remove a tattoo.  The number of treatments depends upon several factors including the location of the tattoo, the colors used, the age of the tattoo, and the body's own immune system.
DD: Do tattoos fade naturally over time?
Dr. K: Some tattoos fade slowly over time.  However most professional tattoos are not likely to disappear without laser tattoo removal treatment.

DD: Can tattoos hide skin cancer or other problems?

Dr. K: Unfortunately they can.  A black tattoo could potentially hide a melanoma.
Dr. Will Kirby
DD: Why did you decide to open Dr. Tattoff?
Dr. K: Tattoo patients are some of the most appreciative in all of the medical
field.  We all make mistakes when we are young, and you hope that those
mistakes don't haunt you later in life.  With laser tattoo removal, we now
have the ability to erase mistakes that were once permanent.
DD: If some one really wants to get a tattoo do you have any advice?
Dr. K: Make sure you are getting something that you are comfortable with and if at all possible, use black ink instead of colored ink.  Black ink is faster to remove.
For more information about tattoo removal, check out Dr. Kirby’s website at
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Ever  wonder how you would look after a celebrity stylist worked their magic?

Starting May 27th, The John Frieda Collection Salon Tour is on the road. Top celebrity hairstyles will be transforming real women’s hair before their eyes. Visit the John Frieda See For Yourself Mobile Salon on location in many cities in the U.S. to experience the techniques and products used to transform A-list celebrities. Led by celebrated stylists and John Frieda Collection Creative Consultants Serge Normant and Harry Josh, the expert team will be providing free consultation and styling.  Every client at the salon will receive before and after photos taken to highlight her dramatic transformation. To find out if the mobile salon is coming to your town 

An eye patch eve
Johnny Depp would envy

Osmotics Anti Wrinkle Vitamin C Patches are a sticky solution to the very tricky problem of how to keep chemically unstable Vitamin C stable as it transfers its anti-oxidant benefits to the delicate under-eye area. Everyone knows that once pricey Vit C creams and serums turn brown, they have lost their effectiveness.

There are two of these little patches in each package. When you pop them on, they transfer their healing benefits for up to 10 hours - yet another good reason to get a good night’s sleep. The patches are not cheap at 12 for $48, but a good option if you are prone to leave the cap off products or not use them until they get too old and lose their efficacy. They are also excellent for travel.

Spray your troubles away

If you crave a way to slow down without actually stopping during your busy day, you will love Borba Atomizer - Linen, Face & Body Reviving Mist. It’s an antioxidant infused mist with manogsteen and grape seed extracts. It’s safe to spray on your skin and fabrics. 

Borba also has Vitamin E, pomegranate, and coconut extract. It’s calming, hydrating, and smells divine. The nozzle won’t spritz your neighbours in a confined space and cause an incident, so it’s safe for decompressing even in a tight spot - like a line at the DMV or ministry of transportation. At $21 it’s a VIP upgrade whenever you need one in a little silver can.

Dolce Health tip

The worse thing you can do for allergies, acne, or spreading a virus is to touch your face. Instead, get into the habit of giving your face a spritz, such as Borba or Evian. Or, buy an empty mister and use mineral water - so good for your skin and sinuses. Look for a super fine sprayer at a pharmacy or online so the mist won’t disturb make-up or sun screen.

Bliss is just a spritz away. Think about adding a few drops of tea tree oil or your favourite essential oil to the mineral water and customize your escape in a bottle. Om shanti bliss - spritz!

You don’t have to shine

to be in the spot light

The lovely, warm, lazy days of summer can be a mixed blessing to those with oily or combination skin, as the hot and humid weather can bring on shine and breakouts. Biopur from Biotherm can help mop up the oil spill without turning your skin into a desert. Products intended for “teen” skin are often far too strong for oily skin, and cause redness and irritation. Biopur uses a combination of saponin water, which is a natural astringent, with copper to unclog pores and “matte” the skin. Pure thermal plankton from the sea helps to soothe the skin. Biotherm tested the products on women who had sensitive as well as oily skin, which is important as many “oily” skin products cause irritation. Well-priced, the line includes a moisturizer that won’t shine, and the cornflower blue packaging looks elegant not medical.

Sensational entertaining

can be a snap!

Recently, I had a wonderful afternoon shopping with a delightful friend. She shared her discovery of a Middle Eastern market and we were able to stock up on wonderful, tasty treats from its well-stocked shelves. My friend suggested we put together an impromptu cocktail party from our purchases. In minutes we had each put together a platter of cheese, spreads, olives, and breads. Add to that a shaker of cocktails and we all passed a delightful evening with very little effort, thanks to her shopping savvy.

Most cities have a selection of ethnic markets where you can stock your pantry and freezer with instant party provisions. From a Middle Eastern market look for cans and jars of stuffed grape leaves – try the Cedars brand, imported from Turkey. Canned hummus and baba ghanousch are quite good, especially with a dash of good oil and lemon. Baba ghanousch is a spread of roasted eggplant and toasted sesame paste and spices. It’s rich and delicious. If you have never tried it darling you are missing a treat! Spicy or mild Avjar is a blend of roasted red peppers and eggplant. It’s so tasty you have to be careful not to eat the whole jar. A selection of olives and peppers are good to have on hand, as are jarred marinated artichoke hearts.

Fresh flat breads can be frozen and then taken out and toasted at parties.

From grocery stores, get the traditional salsas, both red and green as well as chips. Different fresh tortillas can be frozen and then grilled with cheese and chilies for quesadillas.

A selection of pates from France is available in cans from gourmet shops. There are also tapenades and many types of canned fish. High quality tuna and sardines from Europe can be used to make quick canapés and tapas. Canned fish is a common ingredient in tapas. And don’t forget to look for jars of good quantity Italian pickled vegetables called Giariniera, if you like it spicy.

Don’t forget to keep a selection of water biscuits, Melba toast, rye crisp as well as good breads in the freezer. Good gourmet shops now sell fabulous quality, ready-to-bake baguettes that are foolproof.

Any combination of these ingredients will be enhanced with the addition of fresh lemon, lime, good olive oil, and good vinegar.

Simple and spontaneous

We have fallen in love with Sorelle Paradiso Extra Virgin Sevillano Olive Oil  (Certified Organic). It’s buttery and distinctive flavour perks up everything it’s added to from fresh cut tomatoes to baba ghanousch and lemon.  A little goes a long way.

The key to making this work is to buy what you like and keep it in stock. Having a selection of beer, wine, and perhaps the makings of a few classic cocktails lets you be spontaneous in your invitations for summer fun. So darlings have a lovely week and shine your light. Remember play to your strengths and tell your inner critic to hush up. You are fabulous and you deserve to get the best out of life.  Planned spontaneity can take all the stress out of entertaining. If you start stocking up your pantry and bar with tasty treats and lovely libations, you’ll be ready to dazzle your friends with your effortless hospitality whenever the mood strikes. It’s going to be a lovely summer darlings; get ready to enjoy it and have very sweet week.  

Remember: please sign-up to DolceDolce if you haven’t already. DolceDolce is free! And forward us to all your friends. Because life should be sweet

Gracey Hitchcock
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