All posts by Jeeva Ganeshan

I am an Indian Sri Lankan American, mother, coder, runner and free spirit. Cinnamon Spirit is my first social column and has been a vessel to transport our thoughts to all who find our content relevant and useful. We hope to be a positive influence on the young and influence our communities to embrace our natural beauty.

February’s brown girl

Our story for February is a heart warming tale of hope and confidence … Ramya Ramana.

For a nineteen year old, she is one of the most put together, socially advanced and aware, passionate young teenager. Read her story in our stories section.

Cinnamon Spirit had the privilege of interviewing Ramya. In her own words …

“Social activists are misunderstood. We are not angry. We do what we do out of love.”

Dark skin foundation – Everything you wanted to know

We’ve had several people ask about foundation that suits our dark skin and warm weather. I tried to put this article together with as many resources as I could find. All links should show up in green.

Keeping in mind that we want to recommend products that do not damage your skin, this is the list we came up with.


First try to figure out your skin type. Normal, Oily or Dry. You can do this by talking to a skin specialist or visiting one of the store locations mentioned below.

  1. L’Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup Cocoa – C8  
  2. Mac Pro Longwear Foundation NC 50 
  3. 4 in 1 Pressed Mineral Foundation by Pur Minerals
  4. Bobbi Brown Warm Walnut Skin Foundation 


If you would like to check on brands and industry ratings on how safe they are… checkout GoodGuide. They rank all brands by  health, environment and society rating, You’ll be surprised at what you may find there.


  • L’Oreal Paris is available at a variety of boutiques in India and other countries in South East Asia.
  • MAC has several locations all over the world. Go to this link and find a city location close to you.
  • Bobbi Brown is available on sites such as SnapDeal.
  • Stores like Sephora and Ulta have been opening outlets in South East Asia and can be resources for advice and experiments.

Always read the ingredients and try a trial size. If it feels natural and you are comfortable wearing it the whole day… it’s for you.


Want to know how to apply foundation? Bobbi Brown has excellent Makeup Lessons. You can start right here



Mindy at the Super Bowl

Mindy and yes confidence is the color yellow.

Super Bowl Sunday is usually the last Sunday in January or the first Sunday in February when the good citizens of the United States sit back and enjoy the most watched game of American football. As the most watched television event of the year, a 30 second commercial slot costs approximately 5 million US dollars.

Nationwide Insurance has signed up Mindy Chockalingam Kaling, an American actress, comedian, writer and producer to star in what’s being called “Nationwide’s Never Feel Invisible Ad”.

Mindy is a brilliant role model of someone who takes what she wants and calls it as it is. This is why America loves her.

That’s right! “Never Feel Invisible”.

Beautiful brown faces at the International Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show is underway in Detroit, Michigan and I had the privilege to experience what’s coming in the world of the motor car.

From production car introductions and concept cars to after market mods. You get to see everything.IMAG1978[1]

Presenting some of these metallic beauties were our brown beauties.

It made me happy to see the number of brown women presenting these vehicles, so I had to make a quick post about it.



A tribute to my hero

We start our stories with my hero of course. My mom.

A true Cinnamon Spirit girl herself,  she should be credited with all the confidence I have and here’s why….

  • Her ability to follow through.
  • Her sense of loyalty, honesty and  fairness.
  • Her sense of excitement and adventure.
  • Her ability to give generously to those who need and be excited about it.
  • Her ability to evolve and grow younger and stronger as the years progress.
  • Her ability to inspire change and progress.
  • Her ability to love everyone and appreciate the beauty in them.cinnamon-spirit-young-mom

When I was as young as eight I remember my mother telling me how beautiful she and my grandmother thought I was. I was way more dark skinned than my siblings. Thanks to mother, I grew up thinking I was super attractive.

Mother was born into a very respected Tamil family in Central Sri Lanka. This community was cultured but fairly primitive in it’s progressiveness. It continues to be a male dominated society. So much so that she was not allowed to pursue an education beyond grade 8.


Our parents were married in 1958 and lived in a joint family household for a period before my father moved to Colombo. Her cultural exposure most likely started in Colombo with lessons in cake decorating, sewing, embroidery and other vocations. She had a thirst for knowledge that 60 years later has not waned.

As most families do, our’s saw plenty of hardship. Death, riots, disease and disappointment but through it all our mother was one constant rock upon which waves flowed.

She took life by the horns and steered us with firm love. 

Her compassion has changed the lives of not just forty of my siblings and their descendants but countless others who she hosted for various reasons.

She has been more progressive than those who were born into power and privilege. Perhaps some of her strength came from the faith my father had in her ability till the day he died. Whatever it maybe, she was a force to reckon with.

When people say I look like my mother, it makes me happy. I hope I can be half as successful as she has been.

This is a tribute to my biggest supporter and friend…

Kodainayaki Rajeshwari Ganeshan


Tell your children they are so dark AND beautiful

Parenting and coaching are the most powerful weapons humans have. To effect a human mind to last generations is a responsibility we should not take lightly.

This New Year Cinnamon Spirit encourages all parents living in countries that distinguish between dark and fair to use the following terms of endearment when addressing their children.

You are so dark and beautiful.

Avoid and discourage people saying “She or he is dark BUT beautiful”. There are no buts about it. Those of us who aren’t damaged by society, love our dark skin. I for one would never trade it.

You are dark and beautiful. You are fair and beautiful. You are yellow and beautiful. You are black and beautiful. You are white and beautiful. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

This article is inspired by RohiniMani’s work.

UDD by Yuti Shah

If you are like me… you want to find those unique treasures that aren’t commonly found everywhere. When it comes to clothing, it is especially true. So when I was searching for Indian clothing, my niece introduced me to UDD.

As a supporter of vibrant colors and textures, I find Yuti Shah’s creations fascinating.


Her ability to bring her original fine art to life in every day wear that brings a smile to the  people wearing it is contagious. I guess that is what I admire the most.


Her depiction of animals in the forest …. wonder what this would look like as a mural.


And then … the jewelry.


For more information … follow them on Facebook or Pinterest.

Our definition of beauty …

At the turn of the 20th century, bronzed skin became the new fashion must-have. Coco Chanel famously got sunburn on a yachting trip, which spurred her acolytes to start spending more time in the sun. Doctors of the day began prescribing sun therapy, which was quickly adopted by the upper classes, as were outdoor sports.dark women

We believe the following have always been standards of beauty that will stand the test of time.

  1. The Happy Confident Smile: It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, how thin or thick you are, how tall or short you are, how rich or poor you are …. A smile that says you are happy with being who you are, tops our list.
  2. Sunshine Spirit: The ability to make others smile is someone with the Sunshine Spirit. This is a beautiful thing. It brings about a beautiful atmosphere of well being to those around you and cynosure to you.
  3. Being Fit: Will you be able to run if there were to be a zombie apocalypse? Human beings were meant to lead active lives. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and less time at the doctor’s. Studies have shown that one’s skin glows from adrenalin, so we think this is all around beautiful.
  4. Neat clothes:  We think some energy spent on keeping your clothes straight (washed, mended, ironed) goes a long way in adding clarity to everything around you.
  5. Cleanliness : No matter how beautiful you are, if you haven’t showered and smell bad… forget it. You ain’t gonna be considered beautiful.



Take back your time

This months’s Money magazine had an interesting article on the typical hours a full-time worker spent in the office in America. 50 to 60 hours per week.  I’ve always asserted that one does not have to work these long hours if we are productive during our work hours.

Hope these tips help you showcase your talent at work and put time back in your pocket.

  1. Get your priorities straight: Tackle the most difficult task first. Starting with quick and easy tasks may be tempting but fear of the unknown can delay you getting the main task done and therefore you may end up working late. Try working on it for 30 minutes and going to an easier task for breathers.
  2. Showcase your skills: Tools such as Toggl will help keep you organized and stay on top of all your tasks and projects. They often have reporting capability so you can see how much time you spent on projects as well as step by step details on your progress. This should help with show-casing your talent to and productivity at your next review or daily scrum meeting.
  3. Plug productivity leaks: Turn off email/chat/social media until your break or after work. Smart phones can make you feel compelled to respond to friends and family. Let them know they should call you the old fashioned way if it was urgent. If you need convincing, track the time you spend on messaging and social media.
  4. Learn to prioritize your company email: Checking your email once every 30 minutes should suffice. Learn your email tool well enough to mark it for follow-up. Although it is tempting to respond immediately, not every email requires that, unless you are holding up someone else’s work day.
  5. Follow through: Communication is key to any job because it manages expectations and helps everyone be more prepared. Once you have your 8 hour work day done, communicate your  progress and state of affairs to a stake holder, to make sure the ultimate goal is still on target. If doing this everyday is not appreciated, try to negotiate a twice or three times a week approach.
  6. Take back your time: Be productive and happy doing an honest job for 8 hours and leave! The time you spend with your family, your hobby or interests outside of work, helps you recharge, rejuvenate and recognize how enjoyable work really is.


Her smile is the bomb!

Introducing Ashwini.


Finding one’s style can be a fascinating journey.

We hope everyone has fun with it like Ashwini.

The simple beauty spots on her chin, the bangles, the big bindi on her forehead… they are all traditional styles that she brings together beautifully.

 IMG_20141108_095354[1] IMG_20141108_095222[1]

It’s her glorious smile that adds ten fold to her clothing, hair and jewelry.