Do you need inspiration to try again?

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water

Quote by Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time!

Thomas A. Edison

So I guess, we just have to try one more time. It’s not over until we say it is. Do you agree? Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Reportedly he failed time and time again before arriving at a successful result.

I believe trying one more time is easy. Waiting patiently is difficult. What if it never happens? And so we arrive at the question of faith.

You must have faith it will happen. We all must have faith.

Thank you so much for giving me faith!

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!

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.

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.



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!

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.

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.

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.

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.