White ceramic mug near black-framed eyeglasses

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Ship sailing in the ocean

Ithaka

by C.P. Cavafy

TRANSLATED BY EDMUND KEELEY

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Lets enjoy the journey.

Any thoughts?

Assorted-colour of sprinkle dots on brown floor

Perfectionism is not Self Improvement

Perfectionism is not Self Improvement. That sounds simple enough. Nevertheless I was caught up in this predicament for years. It is so easy to mistake perfectionism for self improvement.

I knew that something was wrong with striving to achieve this ever unattainable perfection. That this struggle has nothing to do with improvement and betterment. But until now I was not really able to name the distinction.

Progress over perfection

Until I read an article called: Choose progress over perfection. Apart from the obvious hook of the title the article went on to discuss perfectionism. And there I clearly read:

  • Perfectionism is NOT striving to do your best
  • Perfectionism is NOT self improvement
  • Perfectionism IS trying to earn approval and acceptance

The article went on to suggest self-compassion, self-kindness and mindfulness as the cure of perfectionism, but honestly all I needed for my cure was this clarity in stating the obvious. I wasn’t trying to get better. I was trying to gain approval. From others.

Maybe this distinction will also help you. Have you also been lured by perfectionism?

Send me a reply with your story. I would love to read it.

Note: Here are two books mentioned in the article that offer relevant insights to anyone interested.

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  • Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Assorted-color shirt lot hang on rack

10 shopping tips you need to know

Shopping is so much fun, isn’t it? With a friend or alone the prospect of finding the perfect outfit is such a pick-me-up! This post is about making sure we do it successfully, so the joy lasts longer! So there are no regrets when we open the bags at home. Here are the best – tried and tested – shopping tips you need to know!

  1. Make a list. Before leaving home make sure everything you need is on a list. Write it down on paper and take it with you. It will save you. I’m amazed how often I’m in the store and do not remember what I came for. Everything looks so beautiful and useful and necessary. Until I go home and find out that this isn’t what I needed at all!
  2. Make sure it’s right! Right for you right now! Right for your lifestyle and your body type. If it doesn’t look great on you and doesn’t reflect your personality, leave at the store.
  3. Dress appropriately! When you go out on a shopping mission make sure you wear something that is easy to get in and out off. Your task is to try things on, so make it as easy as possible. Avoid shoes with laces and buttoned shirts.
  4. Don’t be afraid to spend on classic items. A good coat, leather shoes and handbags, any material of good quality is worth the money. Consider it an investment.
  5. Spread the cost of an expensive garment. How much is too much? Calculate cost per wear and consider how many years you might wear it. This is particularly applicable when considering the purchase of a coat, or a tailored suit.
  6. Prefer shopping on a weekday, if possible. The stores are far less crowded and the salespeople far less distracted. They will be far more inclined to help you and accommodate your needs.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix and match! Even royals and celebrities do this today. Besides mixing pieces and styles can be great fun. Proceed with caution!
  8. Be honest with yourself. Shop for your body the way you are now. Consider your body type and age and don’t be lured by the wonderful top you could enjoy wearing in another lifetime.
  9. Avoid shopping when in distress. Shopping in a hurry never did any of us any favours. It’s best to wear something old and trusted than run to the stores at the last minute trying to find the perfect outfit. Most likely you’ll end up with something all wrong. And too expensive.
  10. Play it safe. When not sure, go for basic colours like black, white and anything neutral. You can’t go too far off when you stick to the basic palette.
Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

Lit tent and stars in the sky

Event + Your action = Your life

It is a simple equation: E + R = O, meaning event plus reaction equals outcome.

Another simple truth that often we don’t realise. Events do happen. Good or bad inevitably they do happen. They happen like the stars in the sky, in haphazard ways. And you end up with an event in your lap and you have to decide. To decide how to react; what to do about it.

Three options you are really left with. A, to do nothing, just stare, remain idle and still, merely an observer. B, accept defeat which is also a reaction and a choice. C, react consciously and decisively. Make a deliberate choice on what to do about it; on how to respond and what to do next.

E + R = Our life

It’s our choices that will determine what happens next, what the outcome will be. The one thing we can control is how we react, what actions we take in response to any event good or bad. Some times even a good event can be diminished by an ill considered reaction. And clearly many bad events have been salvaged due to thoughtful and considerate actions.

We need to remember that A, B and C are all our choices. Doing nothing is also a choice that equally determines an outcome. I vote for thoughtful reaction every time. Paying attention to all the details, considering all the options, choosing a course of action that leads to a desired outcome. Wrong choices are also going to be a part of this process but still, making the effort is what counts. Any person in action mode will find it a lot easier to reconsider and adjust the strategy.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? How do you perceive events? I’d love to read what you think about that. Share in a reply below.

Photo of underwater

Don’t Quit

by Edgar A. Guest

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit…
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow…
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out…
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

What do you think? Have you ever been close to giving up? What happened? Share your story in a reply.

Silhouette photography of person against sky full of stars

Time for some optimism and faith

Following a couple of heavy posts I feel it’s time to talk about optimism and faith.

Life has a habit of throwing things at you when you least expect them; things you never imagined. Despite the fact that you spend an incredible amount of time thinking about worst case scenarios and doom and gloom. Those stories never materialise. Others do. The ones you never thought of.

At what time in our lives do we get to realise that? When does our intellectual yet primitive brain accept the fact that fear generated from our own thoughts isn’t really helping? That the stories our mind plots to warn us and protect us, are themselves the source of stress and unhappiness?

Protect us from what? How? Have you seen the stars in the sky? Or the pictures of the universe that NASA publishes ever so often? What is each and everyone of us but a dot in the sky? The Earth itself is nothing but a dot in the sky.

If there is one thing we can master, that would be our mind, our thoughts. Maybe. Outside events are haphazard and unpredictable and random and good and bad. Anything goes. But our reaction we can control. Only that. Our actions, our decisions in response to whatever life throws at us. Good or bad.

And when its bad lets remember to put faith in the mix. Faith hat we can make a wise decision, faith that things will go well at the end. Faith that yes we can determine the outcome with our actions, faith that there is a new day coming tomorrow and the sun is definitely coming out. NASA said.



Tree silhouette in dark forest

IF

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Yet another inspirational poem for my post today. I hope you like it. I hope it helps.

Do you know of a poem conveying the same feeling but referring to a woman?

Which poem is your favourite? Share it in a reply.

Thanks!

White and black sailing boat.

Invictus

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 

This post is the poem Invictus by Willliam Ernest Henley. He was an influential British poet who died in 1903, at the age of 54. He wrote this poem in 1875 and 144 years later his words speak to us all.

I would love to read your thoughts on those words. Mine? I just needed to remember that I can be, and that I must be, the master of my fate.

Computer screen on and open laptop on the side.

New ways to protect data now and in the future

Hi friends!

This is a brief post dedicated to the most impressive news I have read in a while. As you know I’m interested in new technologies like the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence etc. Boundless connectivity amazes me. It enables us to communicate seamlessly regardless of geographical positions. It makes existing technology far more efficient and cost effective.

But there is one risk: failing to protect all that data that new technologies collect. This is the main concern of all sceptics. Rightfully so. However, as an enthusiast and an optimist, I always felt that issues of security and privacy will eventually be adequately addressed. And they are. Even more so than I thought.

Today I read that researchers at Cambridge University  are successfully using quantum mechanics to protect sensitive information. Apparently they use particles of light, photons, to protect encryption keys from hackers. In case of an attack, their quantum state changes thus eliminating valuable information.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, I also found out in the same article about quantum computers. They are like the computers we know but their function utilises quantum mechanical phenomena like superposition and entanglement. Quantum properties are used for the representation and structure of the data, and quantum mechanics for performing operations with that data. Google, IBM and others are already working on that.

Clearly the future holds many more impressive developments. Thankfully, for any risks posed on one end there is counteraction on the other to prevent fallout. I’m actually looking forward to seeing all this happening.

What do you think about it? Are you concerned about newfound threats or are you thrilled about human ingenuity?