Stop Burying Your Talents

Have you ever seen a superhero movie? Wouldn’t you want to possess at least one of those superpowers?

I’m a big sci-fi fan and love all kinds of movies about non-existent universes and people with supernatural abilities. It fascinates me to see what human beings can do when we get in touch with our talents and strengths.

There’s one more important fact you’ve got to know about me – I’m a strong believer in the power of human potential. I believe we all have incredible God-given potential which is not realized to the fullest. We might not even know we have it and just live our life from day to day in total ignorance about our hidden ‘superpowers’.

What makes me really sad is that the majority of people don’t use their gifts and don’t work in the areas of their strengths. Can you imagine the world where all people realize their talents and develop their strengths? Just think how happy everyone would be! It’s an amazing feeling when you know you’re using your gifts.

What a beautiful world it would be!

I want to challenge you to think about your own talents, gifts and strengths. If you don’t know, ask your closest friends and family. People around you might help you uncover those gifts. As soon as you find out your strengths, start using them for the greater good, for improving the level of your own life and the life of people around you.

Let’s make this world a better place where everyone is using his or her potential to the fullest!

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Do You Still Rush while Traveling?

img_5136Sometimes I have a bad habit when traveling to new places. I run around trying to capture everything on my iPhone camera which is far from perfect. The desire to save this moment of beauty for future enjoyment is inspired by the magnificence of the view. Although, what I don’t realize it might be worth it to just stop and take in all the exquisiteness I’m surrounded with.

Perhaps, if I remember to enjoy every possible moment, the imprint of it in my memory would be much brighter than the photo. Don’t take me wrong, I admire photographers and their amazing ability to see the world. It’s my own way of rushing through life and its beauty that I sometimes regret.

Not that long ago I came back from the trip to Europe. We visited 5 countries in 10 days and got to see a lot of fascinating places. Unfortunately, I had to limit the number of excursion I went to due to the amount of work that had to be done while being on the trip.  However, it turned out to be a great blessing for me.

I had a chance to take a break from all the sightseeing, go sit at a cafe and enjoy my quiet computer work while observing people around me. My first such experience was in Prague.

jan HusHave you ever been to Prague? The Old Town Square and Charles Bridge create the illusion of being in a fairy-tale. The old astronomical clock is right there, around the corner playing its music every hour. The statue of Jan Hus impresses you with its seriousness and grandeur.

Two in Prague

A group of students gathered in the middle of the square deciding what to do next. Two young men found a place on the ground and placed their beer and food between them on the curb. Their relaxed postures exude freedom and independence.

Then we were in Strasbourg, France. We had a few hours in the city, and I was lucky to find a nice little cafe outside with chairs facing a picturesque bridge. Two young women probably in their 30s were having a glass of wine at a café. They had come there by bikes which means they’re most likely local.

There’s a muslim couple carrying big bags and arguing about something. They had just been to a mall and probably bought a few new clothes. A man with a backpack walked by – he’s definitely a tourist slowly looking around, taking it all in, enjoying the old city of Strasbourg.

After that we went to Geneva and Zurich, then Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. And every city gave me an opportunity to find a quiet place to work while observing people and enjoying local cappuccino or a glass of wine.

22053071_10155717220076613_1973212020_nHave you ever thought why we love to watch other people so much? What is it about seeing them interact with each other that fascinates us so much? It’s incredibly interesting! It’s like real life TV. And every person has a story to tell.

Next time you’re traveling, try not to rush from one landmark to another with a camera, but stop somewhere and simply observe people. Give them a chance to share their stories with you. You will be surprised how much you can learn from and get inspired by those stories. Your life will become richer, deeper and much more interesting.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me, do you travel fast or slowly? What do you like to do the most when you’re in a new place?

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My friend Maia spotted me with a camera in a cafe in Zurich.

What’s It Like To Be Colorblind?

5181903845_121bf85bc4Once I heard Tony Robbins do an interesting exercise with his audience. A few days later I tried it with several different groups too. Here’s how it goes: first, you look around and take notice of everything brown. Then you’re asked to close your eyes and remember everything green or blue. Usually it’s hard to remember what you weren’t paying attention to. You might think of a few green things but definitely not everything because when you looked around, all you fixed your eyes on was of the brown color.

There are three main conclusions I want to draw from this exercise.

1. How we see our life.

Some people live their life seeing only brown, grey and black colors around them. What’s even sadder, they constantly blame others for that or even the whole world for lacking bright colors.  It’s easy for such people to see the negative and the wrong, to notice failures, faults and problems. On the other hand, it’s hard for them to see the good in people. It’s terribly difficult to notice opportunities, potential and success.

I hope it’s not about you. I pray you learn to see the silver lining in every cloud. It might not be easy at times, but as soon as you open your eyes and choose to see the bright colors, you will see them.

2. How we live our life.

Another important point is that we hurry through our life and forget to notice the beauty. We fixate on the wrong things. We worship productivity and strive to be achievers of this world. Is that what life is all about? Unfortunately, there are so many people around us who spend their days working from 9 to 5 and hate their job. They get up every morning counting hours and days till the weekend or vacation.

Let me ask you something, do you remember the color of yesterday’s sunset? Or all you can remember is the screen of your computer, the colors of your TV or the glare of your smartphone?

     3. How thankful we are.

I once saw the video of a colorblind dad who received a birthday gift – the glasses that let him see colors. When he put them on and saw the color of his kids’ eyes for the first time he started crying. And I started crying with him. This man has never seen the sky in all its beauty. His world was different from mine, but suddenly everything changed. He saw what he had never seen before, and his heart was filled with gratitude and joy.

How often am I thankful for the ability to see the world in all its colors, the way it meant to be, the way it was created? My mom is a diabetic and has lost almost all her eye-sight. Her one eye is completely blind, and her other eye can only see 5%. And she is thankful for these 5%! She can at least see something, and she is incredibly thankful!

What can we do about it?

  • Let’s try to see the good in people even if they hurt and wronged us.
  • Let’s count blessings every day and see the opportunities in every challenge, trial or drawback.
  • Let’s slow down in the craziness of this world and enjoy the beauty of our life.
  • Let’s never take anything for granted and be thankful for every little thing.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me in the comments what is hardest for you – to see the good in people or situations, to stop and notice the beauty in our hectic world or to always be grateful? What’s most challenging for you?

Should You Train Your Body to Need Less Sleep?

pexels-photo-271897Why do you think the topic of sleep is so popular nowadays? There are books and researches, articles and blog posts, infographics and videos on this topic. Everybody is ready to offer an opinion. Everyone seems to know so much about it.

I’ve been experimenting with my sleep for several years now. About two years ago it became particularly crucial for me to have more hours in a day. I’m a full-time missionary who is also teaching English on the side and owns her own business. Three full-time jobs demand a lot of time, that’s why training my body to sleep less became a new challenge.

What To Remember

If you think you can just decide to sleep less and start your new life easily, you’re in for a big surprise. Unless you’re one of very few people with gene called hDEC2, it will be pretty hard to retrain your body. You may function pretty normally one or two days, but soon sleep deprivation will kick in.

Also, there’s one very important fact to remember – we all need at least 7 hours of sleep. Every source I’ve read shouts loud and clear that 6 hours of sleep or less is not enough for our body to function normally during the day. Therefore, if you normally sleep more than 8 hours, it’s probably a good idea to train your body to sleep less. Otherwise, learn how to be more efficient during the day, and make sure you get your 7 magical hours.

Sacrificing your sleep won’t help you to be more productive. Your brain won’t generate creative ideas or solve intellectual problems on the level you want it to. Your body will lose its strength, so you won’t perform serious physical tasks as well as before.

pexels-photo-359989What To Do

Here’re a few tips I can give you based on my own experience:

  • When reading various books and articles, listening to other people’s advise, always keep in mind that we’re all different. If something worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.
  • Increase self-awareness by understanding your personal sleep-cycles, best night and morning routines and the amount of sleep you need.
  • Experiment with the number of hours you need to feel rested. Allow yourself to wake up without an alarm clock a few nights in a row.  Keep record of the time you went to bed and woke up to learn how many hours of sleep are ideal for you.
  • Don’t stay in bed after you wake up. Majority of people are lazy by nature, that’s why we may allow ourselves to keep sleeping when our body doesn’t need it anymore.
  • Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s more natural for our bodies to prepare for the night after it’s getting dark outside. On the other hand, the sunlight helps us wake up naturally. A lot of processes in our body are connected with the amount of sunlight we receive during the day.

 

Conclusion

So, the answer to our big question ‘Should you train your body to need less sleep?’ would depend on the amount of hours you sleep now. If it’s more than 7-8 hours, definitely try to retrain your body. Too much sleep can be as dangerous as too little of it. There’re only 20% of people who need more than 8 hours of sleep according to BBC.

At the same time, if you sleep 7-8 hours every night, enjoy it and learn how to use the rest of the day more efficiently.

 

 

 

Why Breaking a Habit Is So Important

Do you have more good habits than bad ones? Name three habits that you would like to get rid of right now. I could name five of them easily!

Most of us are dukes of habit, and it’s normal. Habits help us perform tasks that don’t require a lot of thinking. However, sometimes they become our enemies. When we do too many things without consideration, we don’t leave enough room for creativity. Our moves and our behaviors become predictable, and we don’t give ourselves enough food for new ideas.

If you want to train your creative muscle, it’s time to break some of those habits. They might be absolutely harmless, like taking a certain route to work, or sitting at a certain place at your dinner table. Nevertheless, try to change your standard way of thinking and doing things. Allow yourself to acquire new habits and adopt changes into your life.

Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Listen to a different radio station
  • Go to a new coffee shop
  • Choose a different kind of tea or coffee
  • Eat something unusual for breakfast
  • Go to a restaurant that you’ve never been before
  • Pick a newspaper that you’ve never read before
  • Try a new recipe
  • Go for a run instead of biking
  • Bike instead of going to a gym
  • Take up photography, dancing, pottery or any other new hobby
  • Try learning a new skill every month
  • Change your morning and evening routines

There could be more options, but I am sure you got the idea. The most important thing is to break the habitual cycles that block creative way of thinking. Try to change just one thing tomorrow, I dare you! 🙂  And then tell us which one you changed!

 

To Sleep or Not to Sleep, That Is The Question

150513194606-01-better-sleep-exlarge-169It’s not really a question, whether we should sleep or not. A lot of research proves that sleep is extremely important for being able to function normally during the day. However, the biggest question for me is – how much and when.

Should I sleep 7-8 hours like Arianna Huffington and many others suggest? Or should I sleep 5-6 hours like many successful entrepreneurs claim they do? When should we go to bed and when is it better to wake up? There are so many controversial opinions, and all of them seem credible. How can we choose the right answer for us?

As a matter of fact, having read a lot of articles and books on productivity, I can say that everything is individualized. We all should experiment and find our own perfect magic number.

How much?

In fact, in the last two years I’ve been experimenting with sleep and got interesting results. It seems my perfect number is 6.15 – 6 hours, 15 minutes. Presumably, this is the amount of sleep that my body needs to feel rested and wake up energized. Several experiments showed that sleeping even a few minutes longer made me groggy and tired. However, there were cases when I slept 5 hours 15 minutes or 7 hours 15 minutes, and the result was also not bad.

When?

Another question arises – when should we go to bed and wake up? I think it depends on your schedule. Some people can go to bed early because they are home after 6. For others (like me) it’s impossible because we come home from work after 10. In the same way, it’s hard to state one perfect formula for getting up in the morning.

Another set of my experiments proved that going to bed before 12 am helps to sleep more efficiently. I wake up more rested than after going to bed at 2 am, even if the amount of sleep was less.

Conclusions

All things considered, we can make a conclusion – every person is unique. You should try to experiment and find your own formula of efficient sleep.

Share with us in the comments below what is the best time for you to go to bed and wake up. How much do you usually sleep? Is it easy for you to get out of bed?

How to Become a Marathoner

TUK_2301Have you ever wondered if running a marathon or at least a 10K is for you? I want to assure you – yes it is. If you think you can’t do it, I have good news for you, my friend. Anybody can do it with enough motivation and training.

Almost 6 years ago my friend encouraged me to run a marathon. “No way!”, I said to him then. Little did I know that one year later he would be meeting me at the finish line of my first marathon in rainy Venice.

So, what do you need to run your first marathon? I will share 5 most important points with you. In the same way, you can apply them to a half-marathon or any other race. As a matter of fact, it’s much wiser to start with an easier race than 26 miles. So, let’s dive in.

1. Motivation

If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything without motivation, you know how hard it may be. You could force yourself, but it won’t last long. Eventually, you will say to yourself – enough, I’m done with this. Motivation is what keeps us going. It’s like fuel for a car or power for a computer.

Find your motivation. Would you like to lose weight and feel more confident about the way you look? Or maybe, you have been running for years, and now you feel like it’s time to take it to another level? Perhaps, you’re like me, and you need an upcoming race to motivate you to run every day. Whatever it is that drives you, use it for your benefit. Take advantage of it and let it motivate you to start preparing for your first marathon.

Strangely enough, but my decision to run that first marathon was motivated by the desire to show my boyfriend that I can. I was also desperately trying to connect with him and running was our common interest. Paradoxically, we broke up two days after the race, but I am still thankful to him for inspiring me to run a marathon. It was an incredible experience and honestly, it got me addicted. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line and hearing the cheer of hundreds of people you don’t even know!!!

2. A race planned

Frankly speaking, I am not a very disciplined person. I always strive to be one, but it doesn’t come easy. So, getting myself out of bed and out of the apartment to go for a run is a constant struggle. There’s one huge motivation that helps me get into running clothes and get out of the door – a future marathon or a half-marathon.

My friend Debbie and I love traveling to different cities and countries to run races. It’s our way of seeing the world and experience new cultures. Moreover, it’s a great motivator for me – if we have a race scheduled, I know I have to train for it.

LGC_5132Therefore, after you got your motivation to become a marathoner, you need to plan a race. First of all, check if there’s one nearby. Probably, there’s a marathon or a half coming up in your own city. Otherwise, look through possibilities to travel within your country or even abroad. Believe me, it’s going to be a fascinating adventure for you and those you’ll be traveling with.

 3. Training for a race

As soon as you have a race scheduled, it’s time to start training for it. There are lots of different training plans for beginners. If you can’t find anything decent, message me, and I will send you the plan I was using for many years. It’s doable even for those who don’t like to run much, but would love to finish a marathon.

Training for a race is extremely important even if you don’t care about the result, but only hope to finish. Your legs and your whole body are most likely not used to such extreme challenge. You need to train your muscles, your core and your legs so that on the race day you can endure pain and fatigue.

Don’t try to run without preparation. You might be able to accomplish it, but the consequences will show themselves much later.

4. Clothes

When I first started running, I didn’t think much about clothes. I grabbed the first thing that looked like it was for fitness, put it on and went out. Later, when my milage started growing, I realised how crucial it was to wear the right shoes and the right clothes.

For instance, if you run in a cotton T-shirt or shorts made of natural fabric, you might have bloody wounds on your skin after 40-60 min of running. It turns out to avoid chafing you should run in clothes made of wicking material. It will absorb moisture and won’t rub your skin creating sores.

Similarly, you should be careful with what type of running shoes you’re wearing. A lot of people try minimalist shoes nowadays. I am a big fan of my 4 mm heel drop shoes – they are light, easy to run in and have helped me avoid injury for 5 years already. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to clothes and shoes. So, I might write a separate blog just about that. The story of my experiment with “barefoot” running is worth telling.

5. Food

When you’re preparing for a race, it’s very important to watch what you eat. First and foremost, fat, greasy food should be avoided. It’s bad for us even if we’re not going to run a marathon. Next, you need to make sure you have a balanced diet – protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, necessary minerals and vitamins.

TUK_2108Also, when your race day is approaching, it’s important to train your body to eat the same food before the long run. In this case you will know what to expect when you have the same meal the evening before your marathon. Usually people try to eat carbs (pasta, not greasy pizza) the evening before and something light in the morning. A piece of white bread with jam or honey and a banana for breakfast have worked miracles for me.

Another thing to remember is fuelling during your marathon. If you’re going to run a 5K or a 10K, even a half-marathon, you might be ok without any food during the race. However, if you plan to run 26 miles (42 km), it’s important to have special energy gels or bars along with you. Don’t forget to try them during your training. Your body should be used to them and not surprise you with sudden cramps at the race.

Bringing it all together

In conclusion, running a marathon is an incredible adventure that is totally worth our efforts. When you cross the finish line, the feeling of relief, accomplishment and personal victory will be a great reward for everything that you have to endure.