How happy are you with your sleep?

Enjoying a good night’s sleep is important. Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post has made it her mission to advocate sleeping better. Better quality sleep, more hours. She talks about actively showing more respect for our human needs. She has even created a website Thrive, dedicated to wisdom and well-being. She is very successful in the business world and is not afraid to speak about sleep, meditation, inspiration and personal purpose.

Are you happy with your sleep? I wish I could say yes. Moreover I wish I could do more and sleep more – both on the same day. Every day has 24 hours for all of us. We have to do our best with those hours. It is not often I feel very successful. More often than not, I do have a lot more to do on my list when the time comes to go to bed, when my body and mind stop cooperating with my list.

Here you will find four tips for sleeping better. Sleep helps your body and mind recover from the stress of everyday life. Better sleep is associated with a better mood and a better disposition, even with a better performance at work. For whichever reason, we should probably follow this advice and make the most of our sleep. We cant live without it anyway.

Turn off the lights

Even with our eyes closed, the lights can keep our nervous system alert. Let’s make sure all the lights in the room are off, even the small lights of the electrical devices.

Eat early

According to healthy diet advice it is best to avoid rich foods before bed. Eat something light and healthy preferably two to three hours before bed. This way food can get digested without putting a strain on the body overnight.

Tidy your bedroom

A clean and tidy room can be your haven, a space of peace and calm to recover from the strains of the day. Change your sheets and your sleepwear regularly. Make sure the temperature is comfortable and the air is fresh.

Manage stress

Meditation or breathing techniques can help you lower stress levels and prepare your body for sleeping. Stress should not be allowed in the bedroom, and it is best to avoid thinking about problems before going to bed. Try and concentrate on happy and purposeful thoughts and leave your mind free to dream and relax.

Are you happy with your sleep? Should we really do something about that? Let me know in your reply.

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.

Can we really find the right balance in life?

Everybody talks about work – life balance. It is a popular discussion with numerous answers and different approaches all over the public domain. It is addressed both practically and spiritually.

“Everything in moderation” or “Pan metron ariston” said Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He talked about finding balance in the 6th century BC. Today we still struggle to achieve this. Can we ever achieve the perfect balance? What is it all about? Is it about the destination, or about the journey?

I do believe that finding balance is not limited to the dipole between the personal and the professional. Finding balance is relevant to all aspects of our lives, anything that involves decision making and relations with others. No event is ever all black or all white, hardly ever is someone completely right or completely wrong. We constantly need to find balance and peace in our relationships with friends, colleagues, family, even with ourselves. Perhaps most importantly with ourselves.

Balance is about peace and fairness. A state where all elements have been considered; all the different facts and opinions and feelings.

There are so many opposites to consider:

  • Caring for looks VS caring for education.
  • Working towards goals VS watching TV all the time
  • Being a fashion victim VS not caring about image
  • Being hysterical about how things are done VS being without concern, care, interest
  • Being a liar and a hypocrite VS being brutally honest
  • Being superficial VS taking everything close to heart, being super sensitive

Considering all of the above, it is so easy to give the answer: find the golden rule, the happy medium, the middle ground. Who would disagree? But what does this really mean?

It is so important that we are in peace with ourselves. I strongly feel the need to be in peace with myself, in my effort to be a good person.

  • I want to eat the cake, but be thin as well
  • I want to party all the time, but read all the books as well
  • I want to have a killer career, but never get out of bed
  • I also want a super healthy body, but never set foot in the gym

Easy, huh?

It took me years of conflict, to realize that yes, I can have it all. We can have it all; it’s all about balance. Give and take.

  • Eat cake ever so often and not with each meal
  • Stay in bed longer during weekends and not every day
  • Visit the dreaded gym twice a week, not every day
  • Read the self – development book with all the wonderful tips about time management – even if it is for 15 min in the evening. By the way, 15min is still a lot more than nothing!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be in peace with our inner demons and the unfulfilled dreams and expectations, we all deal with? Let’s just be realistic for a moment, understand and respect the choices that led us to where we are today.

All we want is to be better isn’t it?

I cannot really decide which is more difficult:  peace with ourselves or peace with the others? Peace inside would probably be a good starting point, I think.

We need to explore the middle ground that leaves enough room for both sides.  When others are involved, we need to leave them room to breathe and maintain their self-respect. By all means, set a boundary but be equally prepared to respect the individuality of the other person – no matter what their role in your life.

I believe that the main idea, the underlying principle is to find our own personal position, our own personal happy place, the perfect analogy for our identity, our personality, our choices, our circumstances. To define the person we want to be and treasure it.

I would love to read your thoughts on this. Send me a reply if you would like to share.

How to inspire a teenager. Any ideas?

Well, I need some ideas for teenager inspiration. Can you help?

Life is full of surprises, we know that by now. And one thing is absolutely certain, that things change! As I was growing up, I used to think nothing would ever really change. I don’t know why I believed that so firmly.

About a decade ago, the dialing codes in my area were changed. When I first heard of that, I thought it was impossible. How could the telecommunications company change all those numbers? I thought the numbers  would simply stay the same. Needles to say that the numbers did change; at least twice since then. I was so surprised when this first happened. And I was also surprised when Internet arrived at my house. I still remember the sound of the connection the modem made. Loud and strange and it clearly signified that something new was arriving in the room. Obviously I also thought that the mobile phone idea would never catch on…

Today I am a huge fun of connectivity and new technology. I love learning about all the new things that are entering our lives like Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning and Big Data and Internet of Things and so much more. I love all that. I love the tools they provide for change. Because change is here. It always was, and it always will be. I know that now, and I welcome it.

 My only concern is that my children, and all the children, appreciate what is happening. It is important they know that things change, and they need to be ready for it. Strong and prepared and actually looking forward to changing. Not in a bad way but in an exciting way.

And that is why I need your help! How do we motivate them? How do we explain the necessity for readiness? I strongly believe that they need to be inspired, to fall in love with the prospects of our times.

They can instantly communicate with everybody everywhere and learn and play and share and participate. How do we inspire them to enjoy that and not take it for granted? To live their life to the fullest? How do we inspire them to learn, and then learn some more so that they can play an active part in forming their future?

I so want them to be in charge of their lives. To be ready and strong and decisive. To claim their identity, their autonomy, their dreams. No limits, no restrictions in terms of growth and development. Oh, I so want children to grow strong and powerful. To know that it’s up to them to build the person they want to be. To know that they can, and they must. To know that this is their privilege and their destiny. To claim the power to determine their choices, use their successes and their failures to pave their path to their happiness.

Any ideas?

The most boring post ever

How to take on an interesting subject and kill it with blandness.

I did the research, read the articles, expressed my view. And then, I managed to lose it all inside my words.

I am referring to my previous post on Teenagers and New Technology. What should parents do? The one I published three days ago.

It is a well thought, well crafted piece of writing. I did the research on both sides of the argument, expressed views clearly, included my opinion. I discussed a popular topic in a structured way. It had everything going for it: new technology, teenagers, parents, research, inspiration.

On a topic that all parents care about, I managed to write the most boring piece ever. No wit, no character.

The wonderful part of the teenager’s interview is nicely hidden in the middle, and my personal take nicely tucked away near the end.

One has to be a really good friend to read it all. And that’s an important lesson for me. A lesson on writing. A good theme is not enough. Good research and structure are not enough. Sometimes following instructions can be catastrophic. It can potentially remove all spark and seasoning from your writing. And this happened to me.

I want to thank the one person in Greece and the one person in South Africa who read my post; though I cannot be sure whether anyone read it in its entirety.

It basically said, that our primary concern as parents should be to inspire our children to live a full life. To trust that by the time they are teenagers they can – to a certain degree- evaluate and appreciate things. That they want the best for themselves too. I wanted to say: “Let’s empower and inspire our children! Let’s listen to them.”

I would also like to thank again the teenager who answered my questions and promise that this disastrous attempt will function as a lesson for all my future writing.

All I can do now is promise to you and to myself that I will try to improve every day!

All the best to all!

Teenagers and new technology. What should parents do?

Mobiles and applications are part of our daily lives. And they are part of the lives of teenagers. According to research 95 % of teens own a smartphone. What are we, the parents, supposed to do?

Worrying studies

Clearly some worrying studies have been made public and a lot of scientists warn us about the dangers of online exposure from a very young age. Famously, both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free. According to the article in Business Insider both technology giants chose to minimise the exposure of their children to the newest gadgets.

 And that is something to think about.

Nonetheless there is also several recent studies suggesting that smartphones are not necessarily bad for teenagers According to information in Nature International Journal of Science  “Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all”.

The main concerns include the negative effect on attention and memory. There are claims of reduced attention spans, reduced reading levels and avoidance of demanding tasks.

Keeping colourful notes with the help of a smartphone. Smartphone on the paper.

On the other hand, connectivity facilitates communication with friends, family, teachers. It also empowers access not only to entertainment, but also to libraries, museums, and educational platforms. Teenagers contemplating their future can visit University sites, private companies and government bodies. They can do their own market research, be it for finding the right University or the right outfit.

After considering both research and experience my point is: inform them, respect them, inspire them!

Recent controversy

In the New York Times the article The Big Myth About Teenage Anxiety caused a lot of controversy and a lot of negative responses. Recent data however tend to validate claims that the next generation is not doomed.

Finding balance

The challenge is finding balance between the dangers and the opportunities offered by new technology.  A very interesting viewpoint is presented in the article Online Presence for Future Pathways published in Education Technology Solutions. And there is also some very interesting information in Psychology Today discussing how Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus. The article claims that the effect doesn’t have to be neither positive nor negative. It can simply be altering. Seems to me, it is our responsibility to tip the scales towards the positive.

Teenagers are now forming their identity, fighting their battles and trying to make sense of the world.

In my effort to be fair and open minded I decided to interview a teenager, present her answers and really consider them.

Interview with a teenager

  • Her reasons for using the smartphone are:

“I use it to communicate with friends, and connect with others, mainly on Instagram.

“I also like listening to music and shopping or simply browsing outfits!”

  • On guidance about moderate use she responded:

We know! I know, and my friends know! You have to trust that we know, and we think about it. We don’t want to end up stupid either!”

  • When asked about parents’ reactions she said:

They are usually right, but not always! Sometimes they are too strict. All the things they think about; all the things that make them worry so much are not necessarily true.”

  • Would you consider not having a mobile phone?

“It depends. When I’m with friends I don’t care. But not permanently. If I’m occupied with something I don’t care.”

  • How do you picture life without a mobile phone?

“ … ”  no sound, I guess this is beyond imagination.

  • Finally, what she would recommend parents tell their children:

Better to explain things to them, rather than simply set strict rules.  You want your phone more if it’s taken away.

What do we do?

The use smartphones is often causing conflict and controversy leaving parents speechless and baffled. What do we tell our children?

We cannot ban the use entirely and live them stranded in a deserted island. For them the phone is an extension of their identity. An identity currently under formation.

On the other hand, we cannot entirely endorse it.

Clearly, we need to find this magical balance. The right balance!

Striking a balance is not easy. The issue is quite sensitive for them … it is their connection to the world.

Moreover, a long discussion is not really a good idea. Teenagers are not known for their patience and their dialectic abilities. They are passionate, and they want quick answers. They want direct messages without much analysis. And that is probably better for parents too. Analysing a controversy with a teenager can be frustrating for both parties.

Epilogue

We love them and since we love them, we need to remember to respect them. Listen to their point of view without pulling rank. It is our responsibility to engage them in real life connections, to talk to them, to guide them and inspire them. Adolescence was never an easy time, not even before smartphones.

 Let’s entice them into living a full life.  A real-world life full of experiences and love and exploration.

What do you think? What approach would you recommend?

Let me know in your reply below.

Learning HTML. Balancing the technical and the creative.

Hello, friends!

So, I’m in this Blogosphere now, trying to make sense of it all!

When I started blogging I thought best to enrol to a course about Blogging and Writing for Online Audiences. Towards the end of it my tutor advised me to learn to code in order to improve my outcome. Well, I do want to be good at this so I decided to learn HTML. My tutor promised this will help!

This blog post is about Learning HTML

I did some research on the subject and without much difficulty Google revealed various options. Step one was to explore those options and find the right one for me. Coursera, edX and HarvardX offer courses and so does Codecademy and Code First: Girls and many others. I plan to revisit the subject as I go along, but for now I decided to start with Codecademy.

Outline

In case you didn’t know HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and it basically structures the content of the web page. There are all sorts if elements and tags and attributes to help you do this.

There are many little coding signs known as elements and tags and attributes used for

  • signifying headings
  • defining and displaying text
  • creating numbered lists and bullet point lists
  • adding images and videos
  • creating tables
  • creating links with other web pages

html on black screen

Creating web pages

All the little symbols have their places

At the beginning it takes time and your fullest attention to get into the meaning of this. The tags, the attributes, all the little symbols have their places. Every little detail needs to be in the right place otherwise the whole thing will not work. Precision and clarity are major priorities in this environment. The language has a very logical structure, but after each section it is absolutely necessary to do the practical exercises so that everything sinks in.

It is quite meticulous work, which requires a genuine interest in how things are done behind your screen. Computer language is quite unforgiving. From what I understand, this line of work requires a great sense of collaborating with colleagues. A set of fresh eyes seems like the only way to rectify things and improve them.

I am still smiling every time I press the RUN button and run my code! I can’t wait to see what happens. The way I look at Web pages has changed so much now. I can imagine people in their offices preparing all those beautiful presentations on black screens. And then pressing the RUN button to see what they created, to see how it looks like.

Finding Balance

Professional developers also need to find balance. There is a constant struggle between writing content that has a sound structure and content that plays by the rules set by search engines. It is important that parts of text can be found easily. That is the name of the game in today’s Internet. No point writing marvellous content if nobody is ever going to find it and read it. Text needs to be divided and tagged and marked with keywords, so that search engines like Google can actually find it and bring it to the user!

Professionals would refer to this as balancing complexity and targetability. They need to balance a sound structure with targeted content and create a page that is a joy to read.

Epilogue

I really do feel that people of the coding tribe genuinely want outsiders to get into their world. Most of the courses are clearly presented in an appealing way and I can tell a lot of work was required behind the scenes to arrive to those products. Thank you guys!

I feel eager to use my new skills. And I’ll start with this post. WordPress provides access to the HTML environment behind my post so I can play around with those elements for practice. So, in case something is not really functioning properly in this page, you know whose fault it is!

I am grateful to modern technology for enabling me to send my message to you; to communicate with people in faraway places. To me that is valuable.

I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Learning HTML.

Send me your reply below with your experience and your suggestions. I’d love to read it.

Art + Balance + Act = Bow

Art + Balance + Act = Bow

Yet another take on colourful art. This time it is a bow.

This is as much about symmetry as it is about balance. Do you like it?

Abstract art - black bow in blue background

Balance and symmetry in blue and black

Symmetrical red and yellow bow in balanced design

Balance and symmetry in red and yellow

 

Let me know what you think about my bows! I am currently learning coding, so when I know how to do this, I will make the colours change continuously! Which might take me a while…

Let me know what you think.

Abstract Balance Art

Here is my visual take on Balance. A seesaw in life’s playground going up and down in a continuous effort to find balance.

Do you like my art? I would love to read your feedback.

If you like it, I’d be happy to send the image to you to use anyway you like. I don’t mind. Just ask for it in your reply below or use my contact page.

Abstract seesaw using blue and pink

From one thought to another and back again

Abstract form of seesaw using blue and yellow

Back and forth, up and down

How to wear black successfully. Five tips you need to know.

I’m not here as a fashion expert, but rather as a friend. I’m not here to determine trends, nor to echo the voice of the fashion giants. I am here to summarise the basics for you, and make you realise that exuding style is easier then you think.

Forget the extravagant suggestions of the glossy magazines. We both live on Earth, both legs firmly on the ground. As I said when I talked about our community we are leading busy lives with other priorities. I know. But I also know that fashion and style can make you feel good; both as a professional and as a woman. Never too late to do this. You can, and you must allow yourself this luxury. The luxury of making conscious choices.

The luxury of identifying your perfect style and expressing yourself through your choices. It’s not vanity. It’s self-respect and you deserve this. And this is the purpose of my posts, to guide you to the right direction for yourself. I am not suggesting you suddenly ignore your responsibilities at work or at home and run around buying clothes. I am merely saying it’s important to find the right balance between your responsibilities and your right to nurture your personality. So have no fear. I am here to give you quick tips about the basics without the intimidation of the fashion experts.

Well, black is a fashion must, isn’t it? Everybody knows that. Safe choice!

Especially in relation to French style and that je ne sais quoi, black serves a purpose. Fashion editors and designers all too often wear just black.

Nothing more popular than LBD, the Little Black Dress. There is no book or magazine that doesn’t mention this. And a black suit, coat, pants …

However, for the amateur wearing black is not as easy as it sounds. It is all too easy to end up looking drab, neglected, boring or like a grieving widow. There are a few elements that require special attention and make all the difference.

1. Sharp tailoring

The outfit has to be the right size. The stitches need to stand straight on your shoulders, the neckline hanging closely around the neck, the trousers defining your legs. Too tight and you are not comfortable, too loose and it’s a sad look.

2. Well groomed

Don’t even think about wearing black without immaculate hair, clear skin and neat manicure. Black makes every detail stand out, so make sure you are well groomed and don’t forget your teeth. Clean, white teeth guarantee the best smile. This simply requires the regular visits to the dentist twice a year, and a consistent care of your skin. Expensive treatments not needed, but that’s another post.

3. Red lipstick

It goes fantastically well with black. Makes the right contrast, exudes femininity without being too much. Red lips and a colourful outfit can be risky but red lips and black dress is just the epitome of style. If red lips are not your type, still apply makeup that defines your femininity, your eyes or your lips. I’m sure you know the rule about not emphasising both at the same time. Do either.

4. Be careful with your accessories

As always, shoes, bag and jewellery can make or break the whole look. To be on the safe side, choose shoes and bag that are also black. But you could go for a bold coloured bag that would make the look pop. In that case, choose jewellery that is minimal or none at all. Alternatively go for a big bold necklace and keep all else plain.

5. Be careful with textures

Not all black is the same. The fabric matters. Silk, cotton, wool, velvet, synthetics, they all reflect light differently. When combining materials and textures check them beforehand in natural light. To be on the safe side, also check them in strong artificial light to make sure a thin fabric doesn’t turn too revealing under the unexpected light at night or day.

Treat black as a canvas for your beauty and your style. Make sure you always present the best version of you. Love yourself, your style, your choices!  Wear black with confidence and as always, don’t forget to smile!