MY PHILOSOPHY Progress never came from doing the same old thing over again. Tame girls never changed history. Being confident is not a trait; it is a learned skill. So my guiding principles are to be authentic, continually feed my curiosity through learning and new experiences, and dare to take chances. My solution to never having regrets is to take advantage of opportunities, deal with the risks, and be confident that no matter what, I can handle the consequences of my actions. That's how I strive to live my life, from Romania to half way across the globe to the United States, from environmental engineering to jewelry artist and entrepreneurship.

CRISTINA'S CHILDHOOD - Born in Romania in a family of artists (mother was custom tailor and father a designer), I grew up alongside my parents creating! I remember being fascinated by the transformation of fabric, wood, metal, and paper into usable and often wearable objects. While other children were playing with regular toys, those materials and tools became my favorite playthings! At times, I preferred my parents' company to that of other children and I ended up spending innumerable hours imagining new things and figuring out how to use my hands and tools to bring them to life.

THE ENGINEERING YEARS - I blame it on the rigidity of the communist education system, the fact that I liked equally both sciences and humanistic school subjects, and the confidence that I could graduate with just about any college degree I wanted that I ended up with a degree in power engineering. The complete absence of the prejudice that a career in a technical field was not suitable for a girl surely played a role. So when I moved to the United States at the age of 29, it seemed natural to get a master's degree and to go ahead and build a rewarding 20+ year long career in environmental engineering. And alongside that, I supported my life partner to build a successful indoor rock climbing business.

THE ARTIST - The decision to convert a jewelry-making hobby into my future profession was hard but not one that I have ever regretted. While I have retained some tenuous connections with engineering consulting, I generally spend my days creating new jewelry designs, playing with fire, bending metal to my will, and capturing gorgeous gemstones in delicate settings. I continue to learn new techniques and experiment, but also work diligently at perfecting my craft. And if I truly pay attention to what is happening, I receive confirmation that for me, the best way forward is not to dream of the life I want to have, but rather to remain open to whatever opportunities open to me and be ready to take the risk and jump. Because the wondrous ride I've enjoyed so far in life quite exceeded anything I could have imagined.