A Hermits Journey I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence. My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as […]
How do you keep writing when life throws you a punch?
Stress negatively impacts businesses each day. Overworked, overwhelmed employees often feel as though they’re running in circles, never quite getting anything accomplished. Over time, this feeling can lead to burnout, severe job dissatisfaction, and susceptibility to a number of diseases and illnesses.
The positive effects of meditation have been well documented over the years, but time-challenged professionals hardly have time to go to yoga every day. Luckily, you don’t have to take a regular class to put valuable meditation techniques into use in your everyday life. Here are some meditation practices you can bring into your daily stressful situations:
Related: Meditation—Your Way
One of the most useful aspects of yoga for your daily life is mindful awareness. In a meditation session, this involves merely clearing your mind and focusing on the present moment. By centering yourself and thinking only about your breathing and posture, you can move yourself away from the stresses of the day and truly be in the moment.
There are tricks you can employ in your daily life, too, without closing your eyes and sitting still. Try using observation to appreciate the environment around you—as you wash your hands, focus on the feeling of the water as it hits your skin, or as you open a door, truly feel the doorknob. You can also focus on one object to the exclusion of all else to relax your mind, like a leaf blowing on a tree outside your office window or a dust particle floating through the air—anything that provides an appreciation for natural objects.
Raj Jana, the founder of JavaPresse Coffee Company, created a meditative practice through something as simple as grinding his morning coffee. “In this period of mandatory downtime,” Jana explains, “my hands are too busy to text, and I’m too occupied to think.” All of his energy and focus is devoted to grinding the coffee, from noticing how his hands are moving to taking in the aroma of the beans.
Mantras are often associated with the word “om” and are used in many meditation sessions to refocus the mind. But your mantra can be any word you choose. Popular modern mantras include Norman Vincent Peale’s “I change my thoughts, I change my world” and Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Choose a saying that reminds you of your own goals and dreams and use that mantra to quiet your mind and center your thoughts.
When you find yourself feeling overly stressed, find a quiet place where you can clear your mind and relax. In time, you’ll likely find that you can use that mantra in any stressful situation to calm yourself. Your colleagues will respect your ability to remain cool under pressure and react to every situation professionally.
There’s a reason breathing is so closely connected to yoga and meditation. When you take deep breaths, it actually tricks the body into reversing the physiological effects of burnout, such as rapid heartbeat, tense muscles and dilated pupils. Deep breaths slow your heart rate, improve oxygen delivery and lower your blood pressure, effectively reducing the health problems that can result from too much stress.
For best results, practice breathing exercises when you’re alone. When a stressful situation arises, you’ll then be well versed in the art and able to put it to use to calm your mind, even if you’re in a business meeting or facing a hostile co-worker in your office. You can choose from several different types of breathing exercises to find the one that works best for you, including abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation and guided visualization using an online meditation audio tool.
Abdominal breathing—also called diaphragmatic breathing—is all about taking deep breaths, rather than the shallow ones we’re used to, to get oxygen into your body. The goal is to inhale slowly through your nose until your stomach pushes out and then exhale for an equal amount of time. This reduces stress and helps with digestion.
Progressive relaxation is a similar method of pushing your muscles to an extreme and then relaxing them. In progressive muscle relaxation, you tense your muscles up in sections, such as focusing on your neck and shoulders. You then let the tension go and absorb the relaxation through your muscles and body.
Guided visualization focuses on heightening your senses to achieve relaxation. The guidance may ask you to picture a peaceful nature scene, like a waterfall, or a healing light bursting throughout your body. One good tool for guided visualization is the Stop, Breathe & Think app, which offers guided meditations for specific needs, such as sleep or anxiety.
When used correctly, meditation is a great way to battle the many stresses professionals face every day. By practicing these exercises when not in a stressful situation, you can prepare yourself to use them when others are around.
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First of all, consult someone who’s messed it up horribly at least a couple of times. They will offer some mature and very wise counsel, not at all tinged with bitterness and regret. They won’t simply spout generic “good advice” about kindness, understanding and listening; they’ve lived.
They will know that, in certain instances, it’s better just to get out and not think about the other person’s feelings; it’s thinking about their damn, stupid feelings the whole time that’s landed you in this decade-long misery-fest. If this is your case, just pack your stuff and do your thinking later. In the end you will both be glad. (See? Very sophisticated.)
If, however, it’s you that’s the scoundrel – you’re having an affair or have just “gone off” someone nice who seems to love you – try not to be too much of a twit about it. It can be really shameful to be on the wrong side of this one, and shame can push you either to be dishonest or to try to redistribute the blame.
Don’t attempt to convince yourself, and especially not your mutual friends, that the other person isn’t exactly a paragon of partnerhood either. Of course they aren’t, nobody is, but that doesn’t mean you have to highlight their flaws in order to make yourself feel better. Then again, there’s no need to make a massive show of self-flagellation. A touch of stoicism will do just fine. Take them out to dinner, take their feelings seriously, and let them shout at you a bit if they want to.
It’s awful to leave someone who doesn’t want to be left, but it can also be awful to stay with them. If you let them go, you will at least be giving them a chance to find someone else who is actually capable of loving them. And when you hear, 20 years later, that they are living in Brooklyn with their partner and child, you will almost cry with happiness.
(At the same time as wondering, self-indulgently, whether their romantic good fortune has made it possible for them to forgive you at least a little bit. Wow, Anouchka, you really can’t let go of the idea of being a “good person”!)
Come to think of it, kindness, understanding and listening might have been quite a good idea, at least if you’re the scoundrel. There’s nothing more stupid than acting out rather than trying to articulate yourself.
It’s got to be kinder to say you’re unhappy than to sleep with some passer-by (whom you then marry). The problem is that, when you start to talk and listen, you often find you can’t help liking, even loving, the other person – and that makes it very difficult to abandon them.
The one advantage of dumb acting out is that it can at least give the abandonee an opportunity to hate you. If you’re absolutely sure that leaving is essential then why spend loads of time trying to make it possible for them to continue to think well of you? This could even be considered a little vain. Attempting to do something horrible to someone in a polite way is inherently problematic. (Just look at the government.)
While there might be a free-floating cultural ideal that tells us to try to be on good terms with everyone at all times, sometimes this just isn’t possible. Of course there’s no need to be nasty for the sake of it, but neurotically trying to be perfect can be time-consuming and messy. Some breakups take years.
There are people who can, apparently, bring about the ideal disunion, but if everyone expects to do the same they might find themselves having a lot of very long, sad and frustrating conversations when they could have been out enjoying the sunshine. But, then again, sunshine gives you cancer and serious dialogue can make you more humane and insightful.
It’s hard to feel good about ending a long-term relationship, even when it’s ultimately for the best. Not only are you choosing to throw yourself into the void, but you are also chucking someone else in involuntarily. Whether they are an angel, a devil, or even just an ordinary human being, you might feel dreadful about what you’re about to do to them. That’s not a sign that you’re making a bad choice, it’s just a register of the fact that you do still care about them. So that’s nice.
On a more practical note, if you’re married to someone who does properly terrible things, consider divorcing on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour rather than waiting two years and calling it irretrievable breakdown. (But do bear in mind that it’s probably unwise to be too idealistic about divorce courts; #freetiniowens.)
It’s so common for these things to be lost to history; the perp wants to go about their life as usual, find another hostage ASAP, and pretend none of it ever happened. Or if it did, it was just as much your fault as theirs. This sort of whitewashing can leave you with a disconcerting feeling of unreality. Possessing a legal document that acknowledges what actually went on might help.
Having said that, if you’ve stayed in a long-term relationship with someone who’s demonstrably bad news you’ve probably lost your mental coordinates enough to find it difficult to fight for justice or recognition. If so, re-read the first paragraph, pack, and don’t forget to throw cress seeds on their sofa on the way out (or seek other good revenge advice on Mumsnet). It’s more important to be out than to be “right”.
As you can see, this is all very considered and impartial. Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s you (but don’t ever actually say: “It’s not you, it’s me”, obvs). And now I think it’s time for me to finally get round to doing that thinking.
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The simple pleasures of dining alfresco are a well-worn topic at this time of year: it is hardly news that food tastes better in the open air, even if it is more likely to be our appreciation, rather than our perception of flavour, that is enhanced by the novel surroundings of a cliff top, a sailing dinghy or even a park bench.
Indeed, although the rustic romance of un déjeuner sur l’herbe has inspired writers and painters for centuries, the picturesque results tend to be heavily seasoned with artistic licence. No wasps hang around the fruit basket in Manet’s painting and nary a seagull dive-bombs the bread and cheese as Virginia Woolf’s fractious family finally make their voyage to the lighthouse.
If the Famous Five’s tinned sardines ever leaked fishy oil all over the rug, I don’t remember it, while Renoir’s boating party seem bizarrely untroubled by the distinct possibility that the small dog on the table will upset their wine glasses.
These are fantasies of alfresco life, but in truth Mother Nature is a cruel mistress who doesn’t give a fig for your carefully laid plans or meticulously sliced cucumber sandwiches – which is why it pays to come prepared for all eventualities. Here’s a guide to dealing with a few of the challenges likely to crop up as soon as the words “it’s a lovely day!” leave your mouth.
Surprise! I’m vegan
These days, most special diets are easy to cater for with a little notice – but when someone texts on the day to inform you they have gone plant-based, or gluten-free, it can be tempting to reply telling them to bring their own bloody lunch. Before you do, count to 10 and channel Yotam Ottolenghi: a Middle Eastern feast will keep everyone happy. Big bowls of hummus or baba ganoush, paired with a salad of roasted or barbecued veg and some falafel or vegetable fritters are sure to go down a treat with omnivores, too – add pitta or other flatbreads to bulk it out, then finish with fruit and meringues or damp, sticky polenta cake. Most of these are gluten free and can easily be made vegan too. Failing that, almost all supermarkets carry a wide range of free-from products – and everyone likes crisps, right?
Who invited them?
Even the most committed animal lover might be hard-pressed to welcome our flying friends to the feast – but if you are eating outside, a certain insect presence is inevitable; to be fair to them, it’s where they live. The best way of deterring wasps and bees is thought to be to trap the first inquisitive scout before it returns to the nest weighed down with ketchup and alerts 250 of its nearest and dearest to the free buffet going on in your back garden. Avoid setting up camp close to ponds or the standing water beloved of mozzies and midges; instead, embrace the fresh air of a breezy hilltop – most flying insects hate both wind and smoke, which is a great excuse for a barbecue or a campfire.
The crunch of sand between the teeth may seem as inevitable a part of eating on the beach as a stiff wind and a Mr Whippy for pudding, but there are ways to reduce your silica consumption. Go for food such as wraps, filled baguettes and oranges that can be eaten straight from their wrappers (see below for eco-friendly options) with minimal contact with the gritty environment. Make sure you rinse your hands, preferably with fresh water, before you even think of unpacking anything, although even a bucket of sea water is better than nothing.
Obviously, sun is welcome whether you are planning a barbie in the back garden or a celebratory drink at the top of a mountain, but it can be problematic keeping food fresh in the heat. A good rule of thumb is to choose dishes from warmer climes: cured salami and ham are more robust than poached salmon or coronation chicken, just as parmesan, manchego or feta will do better than cheddar or stilton in sunshine. (That said, if you are eating at home, or can keep them flat in transit, bries, camemberts and their ilk come into their own after a few hours outside the fridge.) Crunchy carrots and radishes and Mediterranean veg are preferable to leafy greens, and vinaigrettes tend to hold up better than mayonnaise in high temperatures. If you are making sandwiches ahead of time, consider replacing the butter with avocado mashed with lemon juice, or a soft cheese.
This is more likely to be a problem in the UK than sun, sadly – but all is not lost if the forecast begins to look grim; one of the best picnics I have ever eaten was consumed in the very damp shadow of a dry-stone wall on Scafell Pike in December. As on a beach, choose foods that can be eaten straight from the wrappers, and avoid soft bread or delicate pastry: you’d be surprised how water-repellent a pork pie or scotch egg is compared with your average loaf of sliced white. If you are taking advantage of a brief break in the clouds to picnic, pack a waterproof layer to protect the rug, and your bottoms, from soggy grass. If the forecast looks similarly grim for a long-planned barbecue and you cannot fit the grill under cover, or prop a well-weighted umbrella over it, then go for dishes such as jerk chicken or ribs, which can be cooked in advance and then finished off either on a grill or a hot pan, depending on how the sky is looking, or choose recipes that work in the oven as well as on the barbecue.
If you are planning to eat a few hundred yards from your own kitchen, I probably do not need to tell you that a tray will come in handy. For picnics at distant beauty spots and barbecues on the beach, however, it pays to consider the very unromantic question of logistics. Some foods travel better than others; exquisite Parisian pastries will not look quite so pretty once they have been carted up a hill, but a sturdy British pie with a hot water crust could probably be kicked up there without much damage. Hard cheeses, cooked meats, boiled eggs and crunchy pickles are all good choices, as are soft things such as hummus or potato salad, which won’t mind being shaken about a bit. If you must take ripe tomatoes or stone fruits, then wrap them in newspaper as carefully as fine china, and put them in storage boxes. Cold drinks can be happily decanted into Thermos flasks full of ice.
One of the chief pleasures of picnics in particular is their simplicity: unless physical necessity demands it, this is not the time for tables and chairs. Much lovelier to lounge about on the grass, sand or a sun-warmed rock and feel at one with nature as you shovel Pringles into your gob. In reality, all of those surfaces can be prickly, damp or downright spiky – so if you can manage to lug along a stout, preferably waterproof rug as well as the food, all the better (a sheet of plastic, or a few large Ikea bags, underneath an ordinary rug, does the job just as well). If you are planning to sit for a while, you might also like to suggest each guest brings a cushion as head support for an eminently sensible postprandial nap, and consider bringing a parasol as a sunshade: though a hat apiece is considerably easier to carry. Proper cloth napkins not only give a picnic an air of sophistication but are much more useful than paper ones, which tend to disintegrate at the mere sight of mayonnaise – and, of course, they are endlessly reusable, as well as handy for wrapping any crockery, glasses, boiled eggs and so on.
As above, if you are eating away from home, keep it simple. Go for finger food – crudités and dips, burgers, hot dogs or samosas – and all you need are napkins to wipe your hands afterwards, although a bottle opener is sure to come in useful at most British picnics, as will some beakers. (Unless you want to be lugging those around yourself, ask everyone to bring their own – it will save on the washing up too.) If you are planning to barbecue away from home, invest in a small portable grill rather than wasteful disposable ones: some models are hardly more expensive, and you will be able to enjoy them for many summers to come. Barbecues will never be the most eco-friendly option of course, but you can also help by fuelling them with sustainable British lumpwood charcoal.
Naturally, this should be kept to a minimum – principally for environmental reasons, although aesthetically there is little to spoil the simple elegance of a picnic like outrageous amounts of plastic wrap strewn across the rug. This should not be a problem if you are making the food yourself: there are plenty of good eco-friendly options out there, from sandwich wraps to Indian tiffin boxes, which are not only reusable, but far easier on the eye than tin foil, and a lot better at their job as well. Unless you are feeding the 5,000, you may prefer to decant condiments and seasonings into small jars (I collect tiny jam jars from hotel breakfasts for the purpose), though always leave dressing salads and sandwiches until the last minute, if possible, to minimise the risk of things going soggy and slimy in transit.
In theory, without all that rubbish to deal with, this should be relatively painless: box up any leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, then sluice out dirty containers with water if it is available and going spare, and roughly dry with the aforementioned napkins before packing away. It’s always a good idea to take a couple of bags for any disposable packaging and recycling you do manage to accumulate, and if you are likely to be somewhere without water, a few damp flannels in a waterproof washbag will be invaluable for cleaning hands and faces before you release any trapped wasps, shake out the rug and head home, smug in the knowledge you have done your patriotic duty by the great British summer.
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I like to live in the moment and enjoy smelling the roses. I try to find the positives in life. Why not? It can lead to a good health outcome as a result. Well, there is some data that supports that notion. Not entirely sold on it, however. But I do personally believe it. It’s like that song Live in the Moment by Portugal The Man notes:
“Ooh la la la la la
Let’s live in the moment
Come back Sunday morning
A lie, oh well
When you’re gone; Goodbye, so long, farewell
Actually, I am not too sure that those lyrics mean. Why do songwriters have to be so mysterious with their meanings? I suppose I understand a tad bit from my own poetry writing experience. Many times my meaning is only known to myself and I enjoy seeing how others treat my words like a blank canvas and add their own meaning to them. But, speaking of words let me get back to living in the moment. I like it. I enjoy it.
But I understand that we also need to anticipate future needs, desires and expectations. And, I am struck by how so many people do not do so. Many will justify their lack of future preparedness by noting that they believe in living in the moment but that is just not an excuse. You have to anticipate being hungry at night and have a somewhat stocked fridge. Well, of course, if you live in New York City you can always run out and find something open. But you get my point.
I came across this quote, and book title by Bestselling author Harvey Mackay, “Dig a well before you are thirsty” and was struck by how true and real it was. If you love hiking and the immediacy of it, you still anticipate being thirsty and bring a canteen, water bottle or, if you are like me, a soda. You are not likely to assume that someone else will supply you with water to quench your thirst or that there will be drinking stations along the way.
I did see an episode recently of the soon-to-be-cancelled Life Sentence wherein a main character was going hiking and completely didn’t anticipate needing water. He was completely a live-in-the-moment guy who was trying to impress a girl. He was also a guy who was basically treading water in life who had put much of his life on hold or rather hadn’t moved forward very far in life. I am not too sure that is completely adaptive.
The book by Harvey Mackay was about networking in the business world. But, the principle holds true for life overall. It does amaze me how people often do not think through the consequences of their actions or inactions. So, let’s do Carpe Diem and dig wells. That would be a full, maximized life.
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Getting better results doesn’t happen by having a magic bullet. There are no magic bullets. Better results come from having a long term perspective and working diligently to make things better now and in the future. We need to have a process for growth we can rely on, not just a quick fix.
Quick fixes usually make things better just for a moment. But looking good is not the same as being good. Looking good is on the surface. It’s superficial. We want to actually be good and continue getting better. Ultimately, we want to help students succeed for the long term, not just for today.
Lots of educators are working tirelessly every day to try to make sure students succeed. They are trying to be as productive as they possibly can. They’re putting out fires left and right. They’re dealing with urgent problems. They’re attending workshops to learn new ideas. And trying to implement new ideas.
But many feel like they’re spinning their wheels. And it’s no wonder.
In the busyness of everything that’s urgent, it’s really easy to neglect the importance of growing. Are you really examining your own growth? Are you looking inward? Are you developing greater self-awareness? Are you reflecting? And most importantly, are you really investing in building your own capacity?
Schools need to create environments to support educators in the process of growth. We must make sure professionals are given time, encouragement, and opportunity to build their own capacity. Leadership needs to support growth, not just demand productivity.
We focus lots of energy on problems. But how much time are we focusing on how we can become better problem solvers? Too much professional learning seems to try to “teacher-proof” the instructional process. It turns educators into implementers instead of initiators. And that’s clearly not professional learning. I believe professional learning should actually help people grow as people and professionals.
One of the best strategies for solving problems is building capacity for solving problems. Everything about your school can be improved as the people in your school grow and learn together, all of them—students, teachers, everyone. The best way to improve a school is for the people in the school to be focused on improving themselves. The entire school becomes a dynamic learning environment.
Here are 5 ways you can be more dynamic in your learning and build your capacity for solving problems:
1. Listen Before You Act
As we get input from our colleagues, mentors and PLN, we can grow into problem-solving before we rush into problem-solving. We become more like the people we spend the most time with. Spend more time with people who are growing and who are capable problem-solvers. Soon, you’ll be stronger too.
2. Think, Don’t React
Better schools are built on better thinking. Take the limits off and look at issues from all sides and as objectively as possible. Emotions may say one thing, but careful thought may lead you in a different direction.
3. Test Ideas and Solutions
We can become better problem solvers when we are open to trying creative solutions. Generate lots of ideas and test them. We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Try a slightly different approach. Try a radically different approach. And see what works. Sometimes a massive change is needed.
4. Make Time for Learning
The most successful people make time for learning, not just doing. Benjamin Franklin, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates all follow the 5-hour rule. At least five hours a week should be dedicated to learning something new. Always be learning.
5. Look Within, Reflect
Self-awareness allows us to examine our own thought process. When we take time to reflect, we learn more from our experiences and the experiences of others. Without reflection, we are constrained by our bias, blind spots, and habits. We won’t grow as problem-solvers unless we acknowledge the areas where we need to continue to learn and grow.
So what’s your reflection on these thoughts? Are you making time to learn and grow? Are you only focused on being productive (checking off your list each day)? Or, are you also focused on building your capacity? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.
By: Dr. David Geurin
Ever since we reached towards the stars, and as a civilization, made our way upward — ever since Buzz Aldrin took communion on the moon — an awestruck human populace has often looked down the horizon of space travel, and wondered: Great, now how can we get drunk up there? And now, we’ve got an answer.
Australian brewery 4 Pines Brewing has teamed up with engineering firm Saber Astronautics Australia to develop a stout called Vostok Space Beer. They’re currently crowdfunding a brand-new type of bottle, too. Both the bottle and the brew in it are designed for consumption in space that could turn the cold, empty void into one endless, extraterrestrial party.
Mind you, this comes just days after Australia announced a new space agency. Coupled with this news, ‘seems like the country’s working hard to win the only space race that truly matters: Getting sauced, well beyond the confines of our atmosphere.
The idea behind designing a beer bottle for microgravity was to make the drinking experience as familiar as possible. Rather than relying on a squeeze bag, astronauts will be able to drink straight from the bottle thanks to surface tension — which will keep the beer clinging to the glass — and a sort of wick that will draw beer from the bottom of the bottle up towards the neck.
The beer itself is less carbonated than normal, meaning there’s less of a chance of a big bubbly mess in the middle of a space station, but also enough for the drink to still taste and feel like a beer, according to Space.com
Still, there are more hurdles facing space beer aficionados than just designing a vessel for the stout. We don’t really know how drinking in different levels of gravity will affect people’s tolerance or typical alcohol metabolism, but these are the kinds questions that the brewing and engineering team hope to research if they receive funding (and good luck getting that incredible job). But truly: While Chris Hadfield’s videos of him playing an acoustic guitar and singing aboard the International Space Station (which, currently, is a designated dry area) might present spaceflight as a tranquil vacation, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Having drunken space-sailors on deck could make matters worse.
All of this goes without mentioning the fact that interstellar beer runs would be, once your supply runs out, expensive and difficult (the beer has to come to you, basically, and unless you’ve got the cash to launch a satellite into space to beer someone, you’re outta luck). It’s why Russian (and Anheuser-Busch) scientists have conducted experiments to see if hops and barley can grow in space.
Currently, NASA astronauts are forbidden from drinking alcohol, though there were eventually-scrapped plans to send sherry as part of an astronaut’s meals in the 1970s. Russia, however, has had fewer restrictions and even recommended that their astronauts drink cognac from time to time. You know, for their health.
But even if the ISS isn’t about to install a minibar any time soon, 4 Pines said they have received some interest from space tourism companies who might someday want to let people enjoy a cold one while bouncing around on a parabolic flight. But until that happens, you’re just gonna have to do it the old-fashioned way, and pregame.
The post Drunk Astronauts: This Beer Is the Beginning of Zero-Gravity Drinking appeared first on Futurism.
@_saraheiseman_When he is already aware of what you want, need, or deserve in the relationship and he doesn’t feel he can give it to you, do not hope that he decides to step up and do those things for you. If he wanted to be that person, he would be doing it on his own,…