Archive for July, 2011

hope

I am nostalgic at times and it is happening right now.

I observe how fast our world changes. Daily.
I observe how stability is an illusion. Daily.
I observe how fickle our economy is. Daily.

Time of transformation

This all reminds me about the transformation years back in Poland, when Poland was to become free. These were the times of illusion of stability, brotherhood and equality. Life seemed peaceful at a surface but it was boiling and steaming underneath. There was a huge desperation for the freedom of expression, freedom of choice and freedom of being.

Even as a child and a teenager I could sense tension, unease and delusion. The parody of various layers in life was ever present. I felt uneasy. I had a strong impression of more important things beneath the surface yet I could not grasp them.

In the late 80′ the change was in the air. The raise of consciousness was in your breath. You could nearly touch it. It was to come.

In the times like this, music helps you to express what seems inexpressible: fears, hopes and expectations. Music helps because it touches you in simple words, tunes or metaphors. Music can be like a sword piercing you fast and deep, straight to your essence of being. It is shocking sometimes but overall, if in effect, you go through a catharsis. You are purified. The emotions are acknowledged and released. There is a flow.

In the times of fears, you only whisper what you believe. Or you keep silent. You are afraid to speak too loud about transformations, as if somebody will overhear it and push things away. You want to touch these intensive feelings in yourself, but you are afraid to face them as if they may not become the reality. Music makes it happen.

One of the songs that kept me hopeful as a teenager was “Don’t give up” by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. It is written at time of a high unemployment in Britain and the unstable economy in the country. It is about fears and hopes, lack of work, being a looser and rejections. But the message is universal and it is strong:

There is a place where we belong.

There is a place for us to evolve and become who we really are.
There is a place for us to live and work, to develop, to cherish, to contribute and to grow.
And this place is a place of friends. Of deep connections.

We can create this place.

And I have played this song back for the last few days. Kate’s vocal is fantastic. Listen to it.

 

Don’t Give Up

in this proud land we grew up strong
we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

 

no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name
but no one wants you when you lose

 

don’t give up
‘cos you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not beaten yet
don’t give up
I know you can make it good

 

though I saw it all around
never thought I could be affected
thought that we’d be the last to go
it is so strange the way things turn

 

drove the night toward my home
the place that I was born, on the lakeside
as daylight broke, I saw the earth
the trees had burned down to the ground

 

don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up
we don’t need much of anything
don’t give up
’cause somewhere there’s a place
where we belong

 

rest your head
you worry too much
it’s going to be alright
when times get rough
you can fall back on us
don’t give up
please don’t give up

 

‘got to walk out of here
I can’t take anymore
going to stand on that bridge
keep my eyes down below
whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river’s flowing
that river’s flowing

 

moved on to another town
tried hard to settle down
for every job, so many men
so many men no-one needs

 

don’t give up
’cause you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not the only one
don’t give up
no reason to be ashamed
don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up now
we’re proud of who you are
don’t give up
you know it’s never been easy
don’t give up
’cause I believe there’s the a place
there’s a place where we belong

 

The double message

What is really curious about this song is the title, “Don’t give up”, which becomes the repeated phrase or the motto. Interestingly, we know that our subconsciousness has difficulty to process the don’ts. (Check out a great explanation by Paul on why negativity turns your subconscious mind against you.) Basically, in order to imagine the lack of something (the don’t) we have to first imagine the exact thing we should avoid. This comes back to the famous “Don’t think about pink elephants!”. Of course you need to think of pink elephants before you can start thinking about everything else. This is the basic knowledge of NLP, i.e. neurolinguistic programming in which values, beliefs and the use of language determine the quality of our lives. Learn more if this is new for you.

So, actually when we keep repeating this very message “don’t give up” in the song, our subconsciousness reads like “give up” , “give up”, “give up”. This means “stop or  “cease making an effort”.

Despite that the song had a very positive effect on me. I felt energized, accepted and powerful. I was a believer in the transformations to happen.

How is this possible despite the negativity statement (don’t)? There are two important observations.

1. Being non-native

If you are a non-native English speaker like me, “giving up” with the added word “up” is not naturally perceived as a phrasal verb with the meaning it conveys. “Giving up” sounds cheerful and positive thanks to the little word “up”. This combination of words suggests progress or improvement. And at first the meaning that one reads in it is of “submissing” [your problem/challenge] “up” [i.e. high to God or a higher authority] [with the faith that it is going to be solved]. So, even though my subconsciousness gets imprinted with “giving up”, I perceive it as a positive message.

2. The hope of letting go

On the other hand, another effect comes into a play. When you keep fighting for freedom or you work very hard to solve an important problem, you get tense, overdo it and become fixated on a single path to the solution. The problem becomes then like a hunted nightmare.

At such times, the right way is to stop actively participating in the problem; the smartest choice is to give up. What happens is that you relax and stop forcing things to happen in a limited view you have. You need to leave some freedom and handle uncertainty to allow more space for things to sort themselves out. This is especially important when you did the initial work and the time is ready. Giving up is then about honoring your own feelings, accepting what is and letting go (and letting God take care of events).

And there was indeed the time in Poland when the ground was fertile, the season was right and there was raining. We stopped to fight for a moment. We let things happen and a miracle has occurred. It was a prepared miracle, of course, nevertheless it comes back to the basic principle:

“Focus intensively (prepare the ground) and let go.”

I find it pretty cool. Despite the message my subconsciousness “should” have perceived about giving up and loosing hope, the message has become double powerful. All thanks to my non-nativeness.

On the emotional level, the words sounded positive and energized me, while on the logical level I saw it was OK to stop the fight and let things go. I was reassured that there was a place for me. A place where I am accepted, appreciated and where I belong.

There is a place to live in a freedom of choice.

Yes, I’ve created it!

What about you?

***

Photo courtesy Cobalt123, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

 

This is a guest post by my inspiring friend Bob.

consciouseness 

In the previous post “Is Mac better than PC?” Ela describes her choice for a Mac over a PC and states that this has been “one of my best decisions in life”. Such remarks can be heard more often. It resembles somewhat other statements such as “It was one of the best things that happened to me in my life”.

At a first glance they point to a similar, “best” result, but with very different causes: either internally made or externally encountered.

On the second thought I started to doubt, caused by the fact that Ela supports the quality of the decision by arguments that have to convince us.

Events

During a life almost random events struck me: somebody throws a bucket of water from a balcony just at the moment that I pass the building, or I suddenly win a large amount in a lottery of which I had fully forgotten that I participated. Their relations to the decisions are very weak: I decided to take this particular road at the wrong time, or bought a ticket at the right time. It is difficult to maintain that the first decision is a bad decision and the second is a good one. These are just events that may happen to anybody and have nothing to do with the quality of my decision making.

In other events I am participating more, e.g. when I found the love of my life. I just met her, by accident (?), but was able to grasp the opportunity. It was still an event that came to me from outside but I was able to make the best of it (or at least let it happen :-)). So even for an event that is “one of the best things that happened to me” may hold that it is only good because of my acceptation. Because I embraced it.

Decisions

Decisions are made on crossing points. From a number of clear possibilities, we have to take one, and if we are conscious of all ins and outs it may be considered as a good one. It might be stated that we decided consciously.

What does this mean?

We are aware of the options and try to get an idea of the consequences. And then? Assigning weights and probabilities and feed them to my internal computer? May be it works like that for you, but not for me. I am tempted by some goodies that try to denigrate the drawbacks and dangers. Or my eye is first caught by the dragons and I run for them choosing  the road on which the most friendly one smiles at me hiding its teeth.

The first dragon on the friendly road strikes and I have to fight. There is no escape and I have to live with my decision. The best thing that I can do is that I start to love the decision, the road I took and the dragon that lives there.

I have chosen in my consciousness on the basis of what I observed. At the end these observations fed the temptations and fears that live in my soul. They fought their fight and made the choice. There is no program controlled by me. Is there any difference with events that happen without a clear decision? Is there a difference between the outside and the inside powers that path my life?

Events and decisions

There is not so much of a difference between events and decisions. Both can be turned into good or bad, depending on my ability to live with the consequence. A bucket of water may be turned into an interesting meeting and a price in a lottery may cause me a lot of problems. When I am aware of the choices I have, I may be mislead by the fears and temptations. Again, it depends on my ability to deal with the consequences whether the decision was good.

The best things that ever happened to me and the best decisions that I have made are just the best because I could handle the consequences and was able to give them a positive turn. There can be made long lists of arguments, pros and cons can be faced, but the only thing that matters is whether I like it or not. Decisions are made on the basis of my estimate whether I can live with it. I have to be primarily conscious of myself, of my internal powers and much less of all external facts.

***

Photo courtesy Fe 108Aums, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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The series of posts on decision making

 

mac-vs-pc

Image credit Daniel Bozet, found on the Web.

There are people who are in love with the slick and user friendly designs of Apple products. And there are people who are in love with the inexpensive solutions and a huge software choice for PCs running Windows. As there are no perfect operating systems, each camp will have some points.

What counts for me is my experience.

Mac experience

I switched to Mac two years ago and this has been one of my best decisions in life. I have worked on Unix, Linux and Windows systems for many years, but my best experience is with Mac OS. It takes some time to get used to the Mac philosophy, but once it is done – you are converted 😉

When you work on a regular laptop or a PC you do not see any need for change, especially when you tweak and optimize your machine for performance. And, yes, you can greatly improve the speed on a PC. Perhaps this has also become your hobby so that the part of the PC experience includes the fun of tweaking. However, once you switch to a Mac and go back to work some hours on a PC, you experience a mild shock, to say at least. What you notice first is that Windows is a messy OS. What you notice second is that Windows makes you tired.

What inspired me to write this post is a pattern that has finally become clear to me. There are some days when I develop painful eyes and intensive headaches after a few hours of working on a computer. And there are days I can continue for hours without any sign of tiredness. Well… it turns out that the headache-free days are the ones spent on a Mac only. The other days include working on a PC or both, a PC and Mac.

When I really look into why it is so, I have to bring it back to the great typography, clarity and sharpness of the letters, lines and curves on a Mac and much worse designs of these on Windows. I simply have to strain my eyes while I am working under Windows. Perhaps, it is not surprising why my friends who work long hours on Windows laptops complain about their painful eyes. I can work 10h on my Mac a day and my eyes are fine. I am still fresh by the end of the day. But when I switch to a Windows machine, especially in the evening, I immediately get tired. This is not a coincidence in my opinion but a side effect of a poorer design.

One key reason to work on a Mac

So, my one most important reason to work on Mac is this. I am simply much more productive on Mac OS than on Windows, because Mac creates a platform where I can get things done. Easier and faster.

  • I can work for hours without being tired.
  • The overall design (hardware + software) is user super-friendly.
  • There is no need to constantly tweak Mac for performance or usage.
  • Mac is great while traveling. I easily work on buses, trains or airports.

Note that I do not say that a Mac is better than a PC. The answer depends what you need your machine for. If you are a gamer, PC is your answer. Moreover, Mac is not perfect and there are times when you experience problems with it (e.g. multi-tasking is not good; while you keep waiting for a response from a website, the whole system becomes very slow and switching tasks is slow too). As we know, Macs are also very expensive and the company is somewhat fascist – things have to be the Mac-way or no-way. However, if you are in eduction, a student or a teacher, you can get some discount.

My point is as follows. Time is currently the most precious for me and I want to focus on my tasks. These are research, reading, writing, creating content, connecting to people and some programming. For such tasks Mac is a fantastic machine.

Why working on Mac is better

Below I present a few more arguments why working on a Mac is a better experience than working on a PC. Again, I am talking about a personal experience not about the objective comparison of the machines’ performance or capabilities. I will focus on the few points which I find the most important.

  1. Fast booting times. When you start to use more and more programs on your machine, Mac OS X can start up 2-3 times faster than Windows.
  2. Mac OS is reliable, near-instant sleep and resume. It is a key feature because you can run your Mac for weeks without rebooting it. It saves lots of time.
  3. Good quality hardware; built to last. What helps is that the Mac OS is designed specifically for the Mac hardware. They become one. Hence, they work better together than many of the hardware + software combinations on a PC.
  4. Very clean hardware designs. Few blinking lights on a Mac notebook. Mac keyboards are good to use. I like them.
  5. Neat Mac OS. It is a clean design.
  6. Neat config settings. Nearly all OS config settings are in the Control Panel.
  7. Troubleshooting is easier on Macs than PCs. You need to look for three tools: Activity Monitor which is a Task Manager, Console (which shows all system logs in one place) and Disk Utility (to identify disk integrity issues).
  8. Time Machine – a great back-up facility.
  9. Little need for an additional security system. Even if you start using an antivirus program, it does not hang the machine neither creates conflicts. I had horrible experience with Norton Antivirus on my previous Windows laptop.
  10. Easy file sharing.
  11. Free software developed for Mac is often neatly designed. The programmers keep the standards high.

While Mac OS is not the fastest operating system, it wins for functionality, pleasure of working (=healthy eyes too) and ease of use. Knowing that no OS is perfect, I can live with the imperfections of a Mac and sacrifice the speed for the gain in my overall productivity and joy of working. There is nothing to compare with being fresh and getting things done.

Choose Mac as your next computer. Luckily, the choice is not extensive: iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or Mac Pro.

Addendum

If you however want to stick to regular notebooks, one of the sturdiest and best functioning notebooks are produced by Asus. I definitely recommend them as my experience has been fantastic. My new twitted friend is convincing me that the best laptop combination is Asus + Ubuntu Linux OS.

Ubuntu is free, easy to learn and has a number of great features. It is fast and a well-designed OS. If you are money tight, and both speed and performance are your concerns, then Asus with Ubuntu OS may be the solution you are looking for.

Check it out.

 

In addition to preparing green smoothies, I use both my blender and juicer to make other drinks or raw food meals. The cool part is that the raw food recipes are usually super easy to follow. And the final results are often delicious.  Recipes for a perfect smoothie and raw ice-cream are below.

Three simple summer bliss recipes

1. One of my favorite smoothie is my Perfect Bliss smoothie, which is heavenly tasty. The great part is that any blender will do the job.

Perfect Bliss Smoothie
1 ripe papaya
1 ripe, large banana
1 teaspoon of raw honey
3-4 cups of buttermilk

Raw honey = unpasteurized honey, which is not your regular honey from the shop. Look for raw honey in a health food shop or buy online.

2. I also love raw ice-cream which is made from raw ingredients and no milk. The super simple recipe for a perfect ice-cream is

Banana ice-cream
3-4 ripe, large bananas, frozen

 

Banana-mango ice-cream
2 ripe, large bananas, frozen
1 big mango, frozen

Take frozen bananas and mangos and process them in a auger juicer. That’s it. The result is your banana or banana-mango ice-cream. What the juicer does is to make it really soft and get rid of frozen water crystals. You may use a blender as well but the result is poor.

3. Another delicious recipe for raw ice-cream is presented by the Green Smoothie Girl. Check it out!

Enjoy!!!!

 

Green smoothie is an energizing drink made from blended fruit, raw leafy greens and water. It is a simple way to eat high-nutrient vegetables with joy and ease. You can also prepare raw green soups which, in addition, include non-starchy vegetables and/or herbs.

Please read previous posts on how to make a green smoothie and choose a blender. Here I will present some tasty green smoothie recipes. Have fun experimenting and design your own recipes.

Best green smoothie recipes

1 cup = 250 ml (8.5oz)

For the apples I often choose the Golden, Gala or Fuji kinds. My favorite pears for smoothie is Conference.

Balance-me-out
1 large mango
1 cup kale
1 cup water

Yammy berries
2 ripe bananas
1 cup blueberries  
2 cups spinach
1 cup water

Perfect day
1-2 ripe bananas
0.5 avocado
2 apples
2 cups of spinach 
1 cup water
See point 1) below.

Morning kick
2 peaches
0.5 pineapple
1 cup spinach
5 romaine lettuce leaves    
1 cm fresh ginger root
0.5 cup water

Parsley love
1 large ripe banana
1 apple  
1 cucumber
1 cup fresh parsley    
1 cup water

Energize-me
2-3 cups papaya
1 big apple
2 cups baby spinach 
1 carrot, chopped (optional)    
0.5 cup water

Rocket-me
2-3 mangoes
2 cups rocket leaves
0.5 cup spinach
1 cup water

Delightful
3 cups papaya
3 cups flat parsley
Water not needed
Refresh-me
2 cups pineapple
1 cup blueberries
2 cups watercress
0.5 cup water
Kale-Watermelon Detox
1 banana
1 carrot, chopped
1 orange
2 cups watermelon
3 cups kale
1 cup water

Parsley-pear passion
4 pears
2 cups parsley
1 cup water

Coriander detox
1 cucumber
1 small avocado
1 stalk celery
0.5 lime, juiced
1 clove garlic
2 cups coriander
0.5 cup water

I-want-to-recover
2 pears
2 small oranges
2 cups kale
0.5 lemon, juiced
0.5 cup water

Soup Gazpacho by
Victoria Boutenko
3 large tomatoes
1 large avocado
2 stalks celery
1 red bell pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch basil
1 cup kale
1 cup water

Thai Soup by
Sergei Boutenko
2 cucumbers
1 large avocado
1 lime, juiced
3 cloves garlic
1 cm raw ginger root
1 cup kale
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 cups water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy greens from plain to strong

Leafy greens vary a lot in flavor and taste. My personal scale from mild to strong is:

  • baby spinach (the mildest)
  • spinach
  • dandelion leaves
  • romaine lettuce
  • flat parsley
  • lettuce
  • bunched parsley
  • grape leaves
  • kale
  • chard
  • rocket leaves
  • watercress
  • dill
  • basil
  • coriander (cilantro)
  • sorrel (the strongest sour taste).

So, if you want to start as blend as possible, start with spinach or romaine lettuce. I love strong tastes so I am happy with watercress or coriander. However, I notice that my kids are not so keen on smoothies with such strong tastes. I love the greens soups as well, but again, my family likes them less.

Basic guidelines

  1. Green smoothie: 60% fruit + 40% leafy greens.
    Use bananas, avocados or mangos as a base if you want a good texture and a satisfying drink. Some raw foodists claim that avocado (that includes fat) does not combine well with sweet fruits and it is the best to combine it with leafy greens, non-starchy vegs or non-sweet fruits. Do your own research or experiment.
  2. Green soup: 60% vegs and fruit  + 40% leafy greens.
    Use and mix basic fruits (apple, pear) and non-starchy vegetables. These include:
    • broccoli
    • brussel sprouts
    • cabbage
    • carrots
    • cauliflower
    • celery
    • chicory
    • cucumber
    • eggplant
    • kohlrabi
    • leeks
    • onions
    • parsley
    • peppers
    • radishes
    • summer squash
    • tomato
    • turnip, or
    • zucchini. 
      Cucumber, celery, summer squash or zucchini mix well with nearly any fruit.
  3. Use frozen fruits such as mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries or other berries. Bananas and avocado can be frozen as well. Frozen fruits work well in green smoothies and are often cheaper than the fresh ones.
  4. Drink your green smoothie on empty stomach and leave some time before you consume a meal afterwards (say 40-50min).
  5. Eat your green smoothie, i.e. chew every sip. Keep every sip of green smoothie in your mouth for a while so that the enzymes start their work to aid digestion. It is for the best assimilation of the ingredients.
  6. Add sprouted beans, or other sprouted seeds for additional nutrients. It is an easy way to power up your nutrients intake. And more importantly, the greens you are adding are alive.
  7. Add little or no water if your blender can handle it. Start with blending fruits first. Then add leafy greens.
  8. Use coconut water to juice from fresh fruits instead of water.
  9. Drink maximum 1 liter smoothies daily. I am not a strong advocate of drinking only smoothies or juices although there are people whose diet constitutes of only that. I believe that we are given teeth for purpose and it is important we use our teeth daily as well.

Mild detox is possible

Please start with one smoothie a day and with small amount of leafy greens. Build it up.

Green smoothies contain high levels of nutrients, enzymes, fiber, and some protein. They are known to remove toxins from your body. Kale, coriander (cilantro) and parsley are especially good for this. It is therefore common to experience some mild side effects that may include headache, or a general fatigue, aching, pre-cold symptoms (sore throat, feeling chilly, running nose, body aches), changes in bowel movements (perhaps diarrhea), rashes or acne breakouts. This happens within the first week or two weeks after you start drinking green smoothies daily.

Persevere as these side effects will not last and you will soon feel great. I personally experienced some cold symptoms.

You need to actually rejoice when you notice any of these side effects while drinking green smoothies. It proves leafy greens are doing their job. Soon, the daily smoothie will contribute to an increase of energy, little or zero sweet cravings, increase in energy, healthier skin, regular bowel movements, and a more regular digestive system.

Surprise yourself and make a green smoothie today!

***

If you have some questions or concerns concerning green smoothies, please consult a nutritionist, or better expert (high-) raw foodists such as Angela and Matt MonarchDavid WolfeGreen smoothie girl, etc.

 

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