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.

How about you do your best right now?

What is it going to take to realise that life is now, and you better do your best now!

Do your best every minute of every day. Don’t wait for another moment, another time, another day to do your best and be your best because that clearly means one thing: that now you are not at your best. That another day, another time you can do better and be better. And can you really?

If you can, why not now then? If you can, simply do it now, today. Or just give up on the illusion of the perfect tomorrow and the perfect super-hero you, when you have the energy and the strength and the time to do everything perfectly. To do everything as you imagined you could. But apparently can’t right now. Why is that? I have one suggestion to make today: if you want something done differently, do it differently.

If you want to be a different person, be a different person. Now in this moment.

Because life is now, and the best version of you today, is who you are now. Not whatever idealistic dream you might have about another life, another you. You are never going to wake up and be able to do everything as you dreamt about. No matter how many hours you sleep at night, you are not going to get up one day and make everything perfect. This simply isn’t happening. So you might as well start now. Start right now, within this perfect moment.

Like that little girl who wants to wear the fairy-princess dress the moment she’s got it. She doesn’t want to wait for the perfect party, and the perfect company and the perfect day. She wants to wear it and enjoy it right now. And she’s right. And while we might want to be a bit more logical, and save the perfect dress for the perfect occasion, how about we enjoy this moment right now. And do our best and be our best right now?

Raise the daily standards if you have to. Why not? Our choice. We choose who we want to be. All I’m saying is, do it now!

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.

What is the Internet of Things? How you can benefit

What is Internet of Things really?

Simply put, it is things connected on the Internet.

What a surprise!

And by things, I mean devices. Already more devices than people are connected to the Internet. According to research by Cisco 50 billion things will be connected to the web by 2020. When world population is around 7.5 billion.

Just to impress you even further, it is estimated that IoT will add 1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years (Cisco). Interesting, huh?

IoT is here and it is already affecting the way we live our lives and the way businesses function. It is about time we all understand the term, grasp the challenges it poses and appreciate what the future brings.

I believe it is important that all citizens of our world know about the recent technological developments, understand their basic functionality and make the most of them.

It is through this technology that our world is going to become even more efficient and even more rewarding.

How does it work?

Internet of Things is not about devices and data. The main aim of this technology is the collaboration of elements with a purpose: to find a solution to a problem. An IoT strategy offers a holistic approach to problem solving.

This web of things involves three main elements:

  • devices for collecting data
  • clouds that store data
  • software that analyses data and turns it to meaningful information 

What is Internet of Things used for?

As depicted in the graph below, the top three markets are smart city, industry and buildings. Not far behind we see cars, smart energy, agriculture and health services.


Graph: IOT Analytics 2018

At home IoT applications include:

  • light bulbs
  • smart-fridge
  • security
  • per feeding
  • energy monitoring

In buildings there is applications in:

  • lighting
  • security
  • structural integrity
  • energy consumption
  • occupancy
  • emergency alerts

In transport there is applications in:

  • smart parking
  • public transport
  • shipping and supply chain

In health IoT offers applications for:

  • monitoring the elderly
  • caring for patients more efficiently
  • remote diagnostics
  • bio wearables
  • hospital hygiene

Not to forget the smart cities and the general industry where applications include:

  • waste management
  • maintenance
  • utilities smart grid
  • augmented emergency services

What are the benefits?

IoT is expected to add 1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years. How is that going to happen?

The potential of this growth is driven by four parameters:

  • Improved performance of existing processes
  • Reduced costs for energy and maintenance
  • Innovative services
  • New revenue streams

To be more precise and give you a better idea of the IoT potential here are some examples:

•         In smart buildings it is expected that huge savings will be generated simply by lowering operating costs and reducing energy consumption.

•         In smart cities, savings are generated through efficient waste management as well as innovative management of parking spaces. Citizens will be able to find and reserve the closest available space and local authorities can implement demand-based pricing.

•         In the health sector there are devices for monitoring patients, people with disabilities and special needs. There are motion detectors and sensors that can immediately notify for help if someone has had an accident.

Challenges posed by Internet of Things

As with every significant development, this technology poses challenges both to organizations and governments. They include:

  • Technological standardisation which is still fragmented
  • Rapid innovation which poses significant challenges to governments
  • Appropriate governance of holistic approaches
  • Security, privacy and compliance

According to Samsung’s Open Economy document, more than 7.3 billion devices need to be made secure by their manufacturers by 2020.

Organisations have valid concerns about security, privacy, transparency and compliance. This is a challenge for businesses that function within IoT but one that is addressed by technology giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon Web Services and others.

Human creativity

Hopefully I was able to convey the meaning of the term Internet of Things without the use of overpowering terminology. I really do admire the fact that IoT is created with intention and that each application serves a specific purpose. Each time it is tailor-made to provide a solution.

The scale of the benefits is mind-blowing, and I am most impressed by the potential for change in our world. Positive change.

I feel it is our duty to learn as much as possible about those developments, to be prepared and make the most of them at home, at work, in our community.

It is for our collective benefit that we have to make the most of all those technological advancements.

Human creativity has been moving us forward for centuries. This is yet another step!

I would love to know your thoughts on this. Are you also excited about IoT? Send me a reply and let me know.

In how many ways can you say something?

Have you ever tried this?
Expressing the same idea in many different ways.

Writing down the same idea in many different ways is a first for me. Each time with a different aim in mind. This was part of a learning exercise for an online writing course, and I found it very interesting and very revealing. I never thought I could say the same thing in so many ways. Let’s begin.

The original viewpoint

Self-discipline: the ability to make yourself do things you know you should even when you do not want to. However difficult to achieve, it is an important attribute of successful people.

Moving towards the reader

Making yourself do what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it, is commendable. Self-discipline is definitely aiding you in your road to success.

Moving away from the reader

Self-discipline is a commendable ability. Doing whatever necessary despite not feeling like it is difficult, yet necessary to succeed in any field.

Moving against the reader

Self-discipline is not exactly your strong-suit, is it? Well, no surprise there! It isn’t easy to do something when you don’t really feel like it. Success in life can come without this self inflicting discipline. I get it.

Push: suggest, advise, reason 

Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do the things you should, even when you don’t want to. It is often difficult but it is widely recognised as one of the main attributes of successful people.

Push: state expectations, evaluate, reward and threaten

Self-discipline is clearly expected of you at this stage. Your performance is clearly depending upon that and high marks will only derive from such an approach. Failure is imminent without this type of commitment.

Pull: listen, disclose, empathise

I know it is difficult. Self-discipline can be such a challenge, I know. I’ve been there. But I also know that it is necessary. It really makes a difference at the end if the day. It’s the only way to become the best and succeed.

Pull: identify common ground and create a scenario

Self-discipline is the way. I know, I’ve been there. Within this predicament it is absolutely necessary I’m afraid. Only by doing what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it at all, you are going to excel and succeed. But it’s worth it. Joining this team is going to be an amazing experience.

What did you think of this exercise? I’d love to read your thoughts on the different types of expression. Do send me a reply below.

I would like to thank my tutor Philippa Davies for this course and for all the feedback she sends me.

How to organise your office and take charge of your life

Organising your tasks, whether at home or at the office, is so much easier these days. Paperless is the word! It is about time all those task management applications enter your life and remove clutter.

Desperately looking for your notes a few minutes before an important presentation can be disastrous. So is looking for a file while your boss is on the line. Today there are so many meetings, phone-calls and distractions during the day. Every day. It is imperative we take charge of all tasks, plan and organise them and keep them on track.

Organising makes you more efficient. It improves time management and enables you to free some time and concentrate on what really matters. So, here are some useful applications for you to consider:

TODOIST: https://todoist.com/

Google Keep: https://keep.google.com/u/0/

Evernote: https://evernote.com/

ToodleDO: https://www.toodledo.com/

AnyDO: https://www.any.do/

Wunderlist: https://www.wunderlist.com/

There is lots to choose from according to your individual needs and lifestyle. And they are mostly free. Usually they offer a basic version for free and charge a monthly fee for some more specialized upgrades. You can seriously take charge of your life and control all the information at work and at home.

What to look out for in Online Courses

Continuing Education in the digital age.

Are online learning courses worth the effort? Yes!

I have enrolled in quite a few during the past couple of years; some free, some quite expensive. Here are the main elements to consider irrespective of the topic:

  • Video. Courses without video are boring. No matter how dedicated you might be, they are really difficult to follow. Completing them was a struggle each time. Video is helpful even if the tutor isn’t charismatic on camera. The experience is particularly enjoyable when the tutor has an interesting presence. This was the case once and I would repeat sections just to hear them explain it again!
  • Tests. Yes tests, even automated ones, help a lot. At first, I thought they were pretty basic and boring, but actually they make you re-think the content, process the information in your mind and thus learn it better.
  • Personalised feedback from a tutor. When an online course offers that option, it’s the best! Ever since a joined such a course for the first time, I decided to never pay for another one again that doesn’t provide this service. Personalised feedback from your tutor is really helpful and their comments can be really inspiring.
  • Peer feedback. That is the next best option. Peer feedback is useful and interesting, especially if a lot of participants are involved. It is nice to find out what others think of your work, but clearly not as useful as the opinion of an expert.

I have to admit I am addicted to online courses! It is so easy to learn new things from the comfort of your own home. The cost is minimal, and you can usually make whatever time allowances fit your schedule. Learning new skills is exciting and refreshing and I sincerely recommend it. Most of the courses are self-paced and can be adjusted to the busiest lifestyles. Even 10 minutes a day or an hour per week can make a huge difference.

My favourite courses in terms of presentation and interactivity were with Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and Udemy. Courses offered by edX are very varied and always useful.

The topics I study about are creative writing and grammar and style. I have also attended courses on blogging and online writing as well as digital marketing.

Browsing through the options I am amazed by the abundance of options that are available today. So many areas of knowledge, such horizons in our fingertips. I am grateful for this wonderful technology that brings learning in my house. Thank you!

I’d love to know about your experience with online learning. Have you started or still thinking about it? Send me a reply and let me know.

My Inspiration for 2019: Judith Kerr

A creative woman at the age of 95

Most of this post is an excerpt from my Diary, from the pages where I tell myself how to plan my future. New Year’s Day post is dedicated to true role models and genuine inspiration.

A few days ago, I read one of the most inspiring articles ever. The interview of a lady at 95 who still writes or draws for two hours every morning so that she feels that the day “isn’t wasted”! I love Judith Kerr. She’s lived a creative life and continues to do so. She walks to the river for inspiration, she enjoys wonderful meals at the Savoy. Clearly, she has a mindset of usefulness and productivity. And she started writing and drawing in her forties. Which is excellent. Which means I can do this too.

That is what I dream of for myself. A full life where I forever create something useful, have a distinct reason for waking up every morning and lead an interesting life. She is active and alert and optimistic and quality driven. That is my role model. A 95 years old lady who still produces work and eats lobster at the Savoy while being interviewed for the Guardian

I love her energy, and the fact that she is happy about her grandchildren living in Rome, because that gives her an excuse to go to Rome. She loves that when they come to London they are excited about visiting places. I love her spirit, her mindset, her point of view. I love that she is alive and finds sincere and deep beauty in everything.

I want to become such a woman. A creative person, in peace with myself, in peace with my creativity and my desire to be useful. So, I too want to create something beautiful, and useful and interesting. I want to be that person that is calm and creative and respected and enjoys life and actively creates beauty! A person that has something to contribute to the world.

I’m so excited about Judith Kerr. That she exists is testament that I can make my dreams come true. That it is possible and feasible and real. I know it isn’t going to be easy. I don’t want it to be easy.

I wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR full of LOVE and INSPIRATION!

I’d love to read about your inspiration. Send me a reply and let me know.

What do you think about good manners?

On being polite

Today, with two teenagers in the house, I felt the need to write this post about good manners. It is all about respect; self-respect as well as respect for others.

This is my monologue to them, my preaching and my effort to help them lead a happy life. 

This is also a good exercise, forcing me to clarify my message. Find the right balance between yesterday and tomorrow and express myself in a way that is clear, precise and contemporary! If it isn’t, they are never going to bother with it.

This is my effort to define the boundaries within which freedom and personal expression can really flourish.

Prospects, reasons and aspirations

I want my kids to behave appropriately every time. I want them to know the right thing to do even if they choose not to do it -occasionally!

"Good vibes only" written in the sand

I dream of a world where people respect each other even when they disagree. A place of honesty and integrity where there is no need for pretension, no desire to force personal opinions upon others.

Today people are often rude and disrespectful for no real reason, just because it is trendy to challenge the rules, authority, the government, the law, other people. Some object to good manners and politeness because they consider them too old fashioned and restrictive.

OK, there is an ambiguity as far as politeness is concerned. Politeness can be an act of conviviality and respect, but it can also be an act of hypocrisy. A set of rules which dictates that one is always pleased to meet someone, to find them interesting; that one has a pleasing demeanour  in every setting. A model behaviour for every social situation can be daunting.

I want to argue that freedom lies within the walls of respect, within the rules of society which are there to express our need for order, to protect us from chaos and give us the space to express ourselves without fear.

I aspire to convince my children that being polite is not old-fashioned but instead it is necessary for progress. For our development at a personal level, as well as our advancement as a society. According to Steven Pinker in his book The better angels of our nature good manners have led humanity to less violence and thus more progress.

Identify the reasons for being polite

In our modern society we get to choose. We get to choose our identity and our standing within our community. There is room for everyone and everything. One can find a group of peers in any setting, be it elegant and polite or completely vulgar and disrespectful.

My main concern is that there is awareness. Awareness and choice. It is imperative that every person makes a conscious choice bearing in mind the reasons and of course the anticipated outcome.

Behaving politely in any environment not only portrays you beautifully within the group of people but it is also effective in creating partnerships and alliances; in finding support and thus progressing.

What is life and happiness if not acceptance and support?

My dearest child, you need to be polite so that people see you, the real you, and are not thrown off by bad manners and lack of respect.

Everybody wants to feel respected and valued. Everybody deserves to be respected and valued.

What do you think? Do you value politeness or do you find it hypocritical?

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!