Friday, December 30, 2011

A fantastic song for this time of year

Just heard this 2010 song by Annie Lennox and thought it was absolutely perfect for this time of year... and going forward in 2012. It's called The Universal Child:

And here are the lyrics, I believe composed by Annie herself, should you be interested:

How many mountains must you face before you learn to climb.
I'm gonna give you what it takes, my universal child.

I'm gonna try to find a way to keep you safe from harm.
I'm gonna be a special place, a shelter from the storm.
And I can see you, you’re everywhere, your portrait fills the sky.
I'm gonna wrap my arms around you, my universal child.

And when I look into your eyes, so innocent and pure.
I see the shadow of the things that you've had to endure.
I see the tracks of every tear that ran ran down your face.
I see the hurt, I see the pain, I see the human race.
I can feel you, you’re everywhere, shining like the sun.
And I wish to God that kids like you could be like everyone.

How many tumbles must it take before you learn to fly.
I'm going to help you spread your wings, my universal child.

I can feel you everywhere shining like the sun.
And I wish to God that kids like you could be like everyone.
And I wish to God that kids like you could be like everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is this what pure joy looks like?

This is about as close as I've seen!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2012: Let's live in a way that does not infringe on the rights of future generations

Recently while working on a translation assignment, I came across some incredible words about the currently popular topic of "sustainable development". I found the words so pertinent to today's situation on planet Earth  that I want them to be the last words on this blog before I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. These words will certainly inspire me greatly as I think about my priorities for 2012.

Permanently sustainable development - or more precisely, way of life - is focused on the search for harmony between man and nature, between society and its environment, so that we come as close as possible to the ideals of humanism and reverence for life and nature in all of its forms and in all time horizons. It is a way of life that searches for balance between the freedoms and rights of each individual and his/her responsibility towards other people and nature as a whole, including responsibility towards the future generations. We should adopt the principle that the freedom of every individual ends not only where the freedom of another individual begins, but also where the destruction of nature begins. Let's live so that in satisfying our needs, we do not infringe on the rights of those that come after us.

JOSEF VAVROUŠEK (15.9.1944 – 19.3.1995) - the first Czechoslovakian Minister of the Environment

Friday, October 21, 2011

Charlie Chaplin's speech in The Great Dictator

Wow, I had no idea Charlie Chaplin had this dimension to him. Also amazing how this speech is so relevant to today...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

10 easy steps to relaxation

Today's online daily published (in Czech) a great 10-step guide to relaxing, so because ability to relax is so important for living a happy life, I am taking a liberty of providing a translation below. I hope you enjoy it and actually find the time to use it :-)
Take a look at dogs - they use as many moments as possible for relaxing. Relaxing the body soon results in a relaxed mind. Try it like the dogs do, experts say!

Pick a calm, quiet place, where nobody will disturb you.

Start breathing as slowly and deeply as possible. The breathing should be calm and regular.

Before you begin, do a few excercise to remove any muscle tension.

Get comfortable - sit or lay down.

Slightly tighten and then relax all body parts, one by one: start with the tips of your toes and continue up to the head and face.

Concentrate on each body part, and think about heat, heaviness and relaxation.

Banish all thoughts that may disturb you: imagine how they are physically floating away.

Do not try to consciously relax your mind, just focus on the gradual relaxing of muscle groups.

Remain like this for at least 20 minutes. Then take a few deep breaths and open your eyes. But remain seated or lying down before you get up. And again think of a dog or another animal: before they get up, they always stretch out thoroughly.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Standing in the light | OdeWire

Interesting insights into human health. Plus a great story of a man working hard trying to make the world a better place. OdeWire does make for inspiring reading!

Standing in the light | OdeWire

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

God doesn't work in mysterious ways. We do. God simply is.

Lately I've been hearing the term "God works in mysterious ways" a lot. Or maybe I've just been noticing it a lot. At any rate, I started pondering this and suddenly realized that I don't think God works in mysterious ways at all. I believe that God simply "is", does his thing, and lets us do our thing (within a given set of physical and spiritual laws). And it's us that works in mysterious ways. It's a partnership that keeps the world (in a broader sense) going forward. And in this partnership we attribute a lot to God, which we should actually attribute to ourselves. Perhaps it's a self-defense mechanism of trying to reduce our own responsibility for the almost infinite power that we really do have. Brings to mind Nelson Mandela's famous quote: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

And by the way, do you know how Mandela's quote continues? How about this: " It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


Powerfull stuff, that can sometimes be confusing. So what should I do, people sometimes ask. If I may offer a piece of advice that I got from a native American woman shaman, how about: "When in doubt, choose love". That always seems to work out well in the long-run...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A big lesson from my eight month old son on perspective shifts

A couple of days ago I was doing the laundry while I was home alone with my now eight month old son Tobias. He was awake and in full activity mode when the laundry finished. He loves observing whenever we do something he hasn't seen before, so I placed him in a child seat from which he could watch me take the clothes out of the washing machine and put them on the clothes drying rack outside. I was a bit tired and in a bit of a rush, so when I noticed that in spite of carefull inspection before putting the clothes into the washing machine, a paper tissue had somehow gotten into the machine and of course ended up in hundreds of small bits all over the wet clothes, I got quite upset inside. So trying to hide my anger, I started to whip the clothes around one by one in order to get the paper bits off. And whadyaknow, Tobias started laughing as he thought it was something fun to do! Boy what a shift of perspective that was for me! I started laughing too and pretty soon it really was a fun thing to do! And in a couple of minutes all the bits were gone and I thanked Tobi for the big lesson he taught me - I can shift my perspective like that any time I want!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The top 5 regrets people have on their deathbed

Wow, another super powerful article I just came across at Here's the quick summary of the top five regrets people have on their deathbed:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

And my wish is that all of us allow at least a little bit of all of the five wishes above into our lives!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

An interesting presentation about how sitting may actually be killing you...

Fascinating stuff - sitting may be killing you!

A short presentation that I came across by being a fan of Dan Millman on Facebook. If you don't want to go through the entire (but short) presentation, just know that it's a good idea to interrupt sitting whenever possible and stretch, walk, do jumping jacks, whatever, just to get the blood flowing again. The human body simply wasn't made for sitting...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Messages to healthy women - what they would have done differently before their cancer

The strongest stuff is sometimes found in the least likely of places, which was definitely the case with this powerful article. I saw a fragment of it on my friend's refrigerator, and ended up googling it down to a Czech fashion magazine. The article discusses what female cancer survivors would have changed in their lives now that they know what they know. I found the article so captivating (and important!) that I took the liberty of doing a fast translation into English and posting the result below. But as a quick summary, here are the common themes:
  • sleep, rest and relax more
  • don't put so much on your plate
  • spend more time with family
  • start putting yourself first
  • do not neglect ordinary illnesses (listen to the body)
  • don't be such a perfectionist
  • learn how to say "No" more often
  • and probably above all, like yourself more!
So basically nothing new, radical or surprising. How many times have most of us heard this stuff before? But are we doing it? Will we really need to experience a serious illness or crisis before we really do this stuff? Why is it so hard to actually listen to advice like this? As I have struggled with these issues as well -- and I believe that I have made lots of positive progress on them thanks to fabulous teachers -- I hope that through my blog I can provide some information and inspiration for how to actually begin with this stuff. Or how to get even better at it. Because I truly do believe that taking these messages seriously is extremely important!


Eat lots of vegetables, don’t smoke and exercise regularly -- we already know all that. But what would fifteen women really have done differently than before when they found out they have cancer? We asked them. It’s clear to them now.
Author: Marianne, Dana Mertová | 19. 02. 2009

Sleep and rest more
“I wouldn’t get so stressed out about every little thing or human stupidity. Lots of people can really hurt you mentally and actually get a kick out of it. 
I would also sleep at least eight hours per day and rest if I had just gone through a difficult time at work. It’s good to ‘turn off’ for some time and just do what you enjoy, take a walk or spend time with the family.”
Iveta, 37

Don’t be just a “good girl”
“I realized that my life is only my own and my decisions have the same weight as everyone else’s. I can always say my opinion, even if the others don’t like it. Before, I tried to act like a ‘good girl’, but I only suffered as a result of this. I also try to delegate more duties to my family. Not to grandmas and grandpas, but to my children and my husband. And, strangely enough, they are handling it patiently. But unfortunately I have to say that we realize these ‘truths’ only after we experience an illness. I would have never thought like this when I was healthy. Too bad.”
Věra, 33

Don’t put so much on your plate
“I would have chosen my tasks much more carefully and I wouldn’t have put so much on my plate. When you get the needed perspective, you discover that it doesn’t make any sense anyway. I also easily absorbed stress and nervousness from my surroundings. So today I am a freelancer, I work at home and that’s ideal for me. I am calm, focused, and I decide what I will do and how and when I will do it.” 
Eva, 53

Don’t cry over spilled milk
“Today I know that life should be taken seriously, but with reserves. Avoid stressful events and search for all positive things that excite us. Don’t cry over spilled milk and search for joy and satisfaction.”
Jarka, 65

Start putting yourself first
“Before my illness, I subordinated my life to my handicapped daughter who is in a wheelchair. Personal life and interests went aside. I lived in permanent stress whether everything would go well, whether my daughter wouldn’t get ill, whether I would be able to take care of her. I knew that I had to slow down and start thinking about myself, but I didn’t know how to do it.”
Marta, 51

Do not neglect the flu
“I would never neglect ‘ordinary’ flus, colds or other illnesses. It’s not heroism, but risking one’s health. Illnesses should be spent in bed. And I would definitely not smoke -- I quite before my first chemotherapy. And I don’t miss it.” 
Ivana, 54

Don’t rush 
“I didn’t smoke, I ate healthily, did sports and had a great man beside me. So where was the mistake? I didn’t want to notice fatigue -- hooray to events, sports, job, household work. Flus, colds, but mainly constant allergies -- I didn’t pay attention to any of them. If I could turn back time, I would listen much more to my body and what it’s telling me. Now I spoil myself, never rush, continue eating healthily, and I’ve also learned to rest and not stress out that I am behind on some things.”
Klára, 34

Don’t be so demanding
“What I would have done differently:

Above all: I would like myself more.
I would say “no” more often and I would not back down.
I would work on healthy self-confidence.
I wouldn’t be so anxiously precise, conscientious.
I wouldn’t take unfulfilled expectations so seriously.
I would learn how to make decisions that are unpleasant and uncomfortable for my surroundings.
I wouldn’t be afraid of radical solutions.
I wouldn’t be so demanding of my family and friends.
I would free myself from the words ‘I have to’.
I would learn to rest more…” 
Hana, 54

Learn how to cry
“The first thing that I had to learn was how to receive help -- and not feel badly. Then I learned how to cry. I finally allowed myself to do it. There simply came a moment when it suddenly went by itself. At first I was really upset and I complained to my psychologist, who asked astonished: And you don’t normally cry? Suddenly tears started flowing like a current, there was no stopping them, and it was a great relief.”
Jana, 57

Don’t be afraid of cancer
“Above all, I wouldn’t lose a single moment sitting somewhere in a corner scared that I could get cancer.
That is why I advise all women to regularly self-examine their breasts, have their mammogram or similar medical check-ups, live life to the fullest and take life as it is.”
Jana, 21

Think about what you eat
“I came to the hospital as a smoker and left as a non-smoker. I also do not avoid the opinions of alternative medicine, so I learned that an over-acidic body is a breeding ground for cancer, and conversely, that cancer cells cannot grow in an alkaline environment. It is in the interest of people’s health to reassess the foods they eat.”
Eva, 68

Don’t be so responsible 
“Only today am I able to assume the ‘it’ll work out somehow’ stance. I don’t consider it as irresponsible as before, but I do try to do my best so ‘it’ works out as best as possible. Before my illness my excessive feeling of responsibility was a frequent cause of unpleasant stress (and now I know that this was unnecessary).”
Zuzana, 47

Don’t smoke
“I didn’t stop smoking even after my cervical spine surgery. Today I know that it’s just a bad habit. I definitely wouldn’t deal with my stress and problems using this ‘vice’. Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, even though life is not without its problems.”
Dana, 73

“If I would have met myself years ago, I would have said: Relax, the world will continue even without you. The only thing you should and can change is your own life. So go for it, while you have time! Today I try to be aware of what is really happening, what is and what is not important, how I am really feeling and therefore who I really am.”
Pavla, 40

Go see a psychiatrist
“If I were to give advice to someone, I would say that they should handle difficult life situations with an expert, psychiatrist, even at the price of taking medicaments. I would also watch out for genetic burden in the family. I would also like myself more.”  
Jana, 67 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"If" - by Rudyard Kipling

Just had to post this well-known and awesome poem that gives me tons of inspiration whenever I need it (and has even more meaning for me now that I have a four month old son...). Also took the liberty of highlighting my favorite parts -- specially the part about triumph and disaster has to be some of the greatest poetry ever written, IMHO:


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!

         By Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).

Monday, February 21, 2011

The battle between the two wolves in our minds

Many of you have seen this very short story before, but I just came across it again this past weekend and thought that it's worth mentioning again. It has a way of popping up at the right times in my life, and I certainly benefit greatly every time I see it:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes
on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 wolves.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride,
superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his
grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The art of making a little Sunday every day

While researching the Czech word "usebrání" for a translation project, I came across a delightful article in Czech called "The Art of Making Sundays". The article mentions an old grandmother from Moravia who used to say that "Everybody should make a little bit of Sunday everyday." I was captivated by the introduction, so I started to read on...

She didn't mean Sunday as a metaphor for being lazy, for doing nothing; she meant Sunday as a special day for cleansing the soul from routine, thoughtless moments that can settle on the soul until they suffocate it. Sunday from the perspective of that grandmother from Moravia was a sort of wise spa that is applied to the soul and washes it.

And it's good to find a little bit of such a Sunday in every day. A little bit of time when the soul rests ABOVE its regular worries, when it tries to look at things it did not notice before. Looking back can also be looking ahead, as a lookback frequently brings wisdom, ideas, protection (like a driver looking into the rearview mirror so that he can drive forward more safely...). Sometimes a little bit of Sunday can be enough.

But this little bit of Sunday won't happen by itself. We have to make an active effort. And it may turn out that if we do make this effort to make a little Sunday every day, we'll be able to see that this isn't a world doesn't give enough, it may turn out that we'll see that we're also living in a world of overlooked gifts...

Anyhow, how about trying living one week with a little bit of Sunday every day? Sounds good to me...

And for the sake of completion, it turns out that the Czech word from the first sentence means something like "contemplation, inner contemplation reflection, self-reflection, recollection...". Quite fitting :-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The three keys to health

I was just going over the many notes I've made over the past several years on human happiness, and I found Dan Millman's "Three Keys to Health" as some of the most important stuff I have ever come across. The notes are from one of Dan's seminars I attended in Prague a couple of years ago, which was definitely a good investment. I mention them here because there is a direct link to happiness - it's much easier to be happy, when we are healthy!

So here we go with Dan's three keys to health:

1) regular moderate exercise: stretch, move, breathe - your body is designed to move and needs it! People today move much less than people in the past, when physical work was much more the norm.
2) well-balanced diet: is different for everyone, we all need to find what is right for us - trust the body!
3) enough rest: getting enough sleep (ideally while its dark outside), relaxation, fun...

I'll close today's brief post with another thing Dan likes to say: "it's simple, but are you doing it"?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homeopathy A&E - hilarious spoof

Must admit I've never heard of them, but this is a funny spoof. Apparently it comes from the fourth episode of a series three of 'That Mitchell and Webb Look.'

For the record, I am for homeopathy, but only as practised by medical doctors in addition to their "standard" practice. In fact, I would only go an "alternative" practitioner if he/she has a completed medical (or similar) background. But that's just cautious and conservative me...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making things fun can lead to positive behavior changes!

So somebody in Sweden wanted more people to take the regular stairs instead of the escalator next to them. Here's how they did it: