3 Tips on Meaningful Christmas Gifts

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This year the question of where we spend our money for Christmas gifts in feels somehow more important than in the previous years. It is mostly because we can see every day the small shops are forced to close when the bigger ones are still thriving. But there can be also another aspect; we had time to reflect this year and we don’t want to spent money on impersonal items financing other being’s suffering.

I decided to try the other way around and I have some tips if you want to try it too!

1. Local (and global) handcrafters

There is nothing like handmade product when you want to give something really special and unique to your loved ones. And we have perfect tools to support skillful handcrafters all around the world. Since the Christmas are slowly approaching, I’d suggest you find someone local, otherwise you won’t ever know if the present will arrive on time, and check some of the websites made for these small online shops.

I personally have experiences with buying via Etsy.com and Fler.cz and I got beautiful items every time from each of the individual sellers. It is of course good to properly check reviews of other buyers, but you probably already know the drill.

So, just remember – when buying from a big international company, you support their shares, when buying from a small handcrafter, you support their dreams. By buying from small local sellers, you will make people happy multiple times: yourself for supporting an idea with a soul, the giftee, and the seller him- or herself. And aren’t Christmas about making people happy?

Where to look:

Etsy.com – a worldwide platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. You can find real jewels over there.

Fler.cz – a Czech platform that gathers handcrafters and their shops on one place. The site might not be that user friendly, but you can find real treasures over there, exactly as on Etsy.

You will find thousands and thousands of cute tiny shops on these sites. And if you are from another country, maybe dig deeper to find out if you have a local version of Etsy too.

2. Non-profit organizations

There is plenty of those and we all focus on different things, different problems make us go crazy or cry. Because of my background, it is always an environmental problem that makes me sick. And based on that, I support or follow on social media those non-profit organizations that focus on planting trees, cleaning the oceans or protecting animals. For other people, it could be something else – human rights, children in Africa, projects aiming at raising the quality of education in third-world countries or maybe fonds carrying about history heritage and so on.

And those organizations need funding. Sometimes, you will get a certificate, other times you can buy some cute merchandising, sometimes you can choose. I prefer support via merch, especially when it comes to giving presents because I know some people would just not appreciate receiving a certificate about helping others. But, when you find a cute merch which helps to fund a good cause, it is a win-win-win situation for everyone, again.

My personal favorites:

Sea Shepherd – an organization that aims to protect marine wildlife.

4Ocean – an organization that aims to clean the oceans from plastic and other kinds of pollution.

Dogpoint – my favorite Czech dog shelter. By buying products from their online shop, you help them to fund the shelter. Our Bucky comes from Dogpoint and I know personally that people who run the place are kind, caring and selfless.

3. Non-profit organizations that support local handcrafting

Yup, it is a combination of the first two^^. But let’s say you will find an organization whose main aim is to help seniors to have decent lives via knitting socks or handcrafting other stuff. You can buy those later and support the seniors themselves. In Czech Republic, Elpida is one of those projects. You can choose between variety of products that are handmade with love, support a good cause and have a cute, good quality product for yourself and your loved ones (because, let’s face it, you will want one pair for yourself as well^^).

I bet there is plenty of project as these, the only thing it will take is for you to do a little digging. You might be surprised how many good-deeds organizations grew around you and the only hard part for you is to choose which one to support.

My personal favorites:

Elpida Shop – knitted socks by grandmas.

Treecelet – an organization that sells bracelets and other merchandising including water bottles, T-shirts etc. The revenue from the sale is going to other non-profit organizations that focuses on protection and renewing of rain forests. Treecelet also gives a job opportunity to locals who actually create those bracelets for you. So, in this case, we can talk about win-win-win-win situation. And I love it!

.

I will be definitely talking more about these organizations in the future and I hope I will encounter more of these. If your interest isn’t in the field of environmental problems, I bet you will easily find other projects that focuses on problems which you personally see as the most threating.

By supporting those organizations or small handcrafters, instead of buying a soulless item in the mall, you will give a purpose to your money, you will give means to the project you admire, and you will gift your loved ones with something that has soul and has been created mindfully with love.

Isn’t it what the Christmas are about in the first place? 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Ireland Trip: Public Transport in Dublin

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

Everyone who has ever been to Prague has to remember our sweet integrated perfect system of public transportation. For me as a person who usually traveled abroad only by car to sea or with organized school trips it wasn’t always so clear. I heard the scary stories about public transport in the US or in Newcastle from my college buddies but despite that, I still used to take the way everything works here as granted. Well, not anymore after my trip to Dublin.

To be honest, I don’t have much to compare the public transport in Dublin with, except to Prague, so maybe in comparison to other big cities, it wouldn’t be bad at all. We experienced some misunderstandings already at the airport but who didn’t, right? Let’s start from the beginning.

Before our trip, I examined the options we had. I wanted something universal that would save us some money and allow us to use different kinds of transportation should we need it. I found that you can buy the Leap Card for 3 or 7 days and that it should let us use trams (luas), Dublin bus and even a rail. I said “Hallelujah!” and we decided to buy it so we needn’t be worry if we, for example, get lost (which never happened, but who could have known?^^).

After our plane landed, we bought the Leap Cards and a coffee and found ourselves a nice connection to our accommodation in a quarter called Drimnagh, finally found the proper bus and went in. We were so surprised when the driver, who didn’t even know how to speak English, tried to explain to us that the Leap Cards are not valid for this kind of the bus connection!

Okay, never mind. We left the bus with the sum we already spent on the bloody Leap Cards in our minds and found the proper Airlink bus where it was okay to use the Leap Card. The connection was kinda longer, but we didn’t mind as we were already tired from the travel. Then, another drama started.

From our evening wondering where the hell did we ended up after getting off the bus.

We knew we had to get out of the bus at the beginning of red luas line, The Point stop. What we didn’t know was that the driver will announce the stop after we passed it. So, we missed it, got off the bus one stop later and had to walk back. And we didn’t even know how to cross the streets since the frickin cars were going on the other side! We knew this is a thing in Dublin, but our brains weren’t ready for it. We dragged Janča’s superheavy bag back to The Point and hoped for the Leap Card to work properly on the luas.

So, what do you need to know before going to Dublin? Not every bus is same, I’d say. We are so used to our integrated system of public transport in Czech Republic that it didn’t even cross my mind that this might be a problem. The Leap Card was really helpful and after few walks throughout the city I managed to navigate us to luas stops if needed. It is just good to know that the Leap Card is not completely universal as Prague’s Lítačka which you can use on everything.

Eventually, we managed to get ourselves to Drimnagh and we found the accommodation, but we were rather exhausted.

Luas. Source: Wikipedia.org

Luas are a nice way to connect the city center with its peripheries and suburbs. But in comparison to Prague’s metro, these are super tiny and don’t go that often, resulting in really packed trams during the morning and evening rush hours. On the other hand, you can at least see those parts of the city which you won’t have time to properly explore.

Also, don’t mix the directions, especially if you are used to trams and cars driving on the right side of the road as we are. Trust me, it can be really confusing!

The Ireland Trip: Staying in Airbnb in Dublin

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

To be honest, we waited with booking the accommodation for too long. And as I have already said, we wanted to go on budget. That made the last-minute city-center accommodation offers out of the option for us. And therefore, we needed to dig deeper to find something nice, cute, clean and affordable. I know, our demands were not exactly simple. But we got lucky.

We found a perfect match on the periphery of Dublin but still on the red tram line in a quarter called Drimnagh. It was supposed to be around 30 minutes by tram from the city center and that felt completely alright for us. Neither one of us wanted to stay in the center anyway. So, we booked it for five days. The host Angélique was always on the chat to answer our questions and we simply couldn’t wait to be there.

From my experience, Drimnagh feels like a nice suburb full of brick terraced houses everywhere. We didn’t know much about the neighborhood and I still do not have an idea about possible criminality rates there, but from our experience, it is a lovely place with normal to lovely folks living there. This last sentence might sound awkward, but it links us to one of the stories from our Ireland trip.

One evening, right during the evening rush hour, when we took a fully crowded tram to get us back to Drimnagh, one of the passengers realized we talked Czech. She was also a Czech, so she engaged a conversation with us. At first, we thought it is kinda nice to meet a fellow countrywoman in such a big city, but then she asked us where we are staying. We told her and she was, well, slightly terrified and told us to be careful there. It felt so weird because our experience with that suburb couldn’t be more different! So, we decided not to give a shit. And we had no problems there whatsoever.

We stayed in a cute tiny garden house with even tinier bathroom which we had just for ourselves. There was just enough space for us to fix us a warm drink in the morning and eat a snack or cold diner. It was maybe the first time I realized that as a vegan in unexplored area I could probably use a proper kitchen on my next trip but just for the couple of days we spent in Dublin, this was completely sufficient. It was cute, cozy and for these few days, ours.

Except of the two little spiders I had to take care of and owner’s cute and innocent cat that almost made Janča go crazy, we had 100% privacy. The only thing we didn’t count on was a fact that we had to go through our hosts’ house to get to the garden but we never had a problem with that either.

Houses in the city center.

I can only recommend staying further from the city center in Dublin, especially if you manage to stay close to the tram (luas) stop. It is definitely cheaper, and the suburbs are more peaceful and quieter. On the other hand, if you are planning to go to the bars and go crazy for the whole and every night, the center might be a better option for you. The only disadvantage of the periphery is that you always have to take the luas. And when you want to go home at the same time as the rest of the city, you might stand on someone else’s foot for almost 30 minutes.

But let me tell you more about the public transport in Dublin next time.

The Ireland Trip: Remembering the First Time Flying

So, it has been a whole year since two broke (and broken) friends wanted to visit Dublin on budget. The life has shifted for me upside down since that, twice, actually, and now I can finally live my happy life. I realized this morning that despite the wonderful trip with one of my best friends to this charming country filled with magic, I never wrote a thing about how it actually felt to be in Dublin, to walk above the Cliffs of Moher and to actually taste a cider in one of the most famous pubs in the world with Irish musicians playing in the background (and foreground, damn, they were pretty loud!^^). 

And when is the better time to dive in than in the moments we only dare to dream about being able to travel again, freely? 

So, let’s jump in, shall we?

The trip with my friend Janča was special to me in advance for several reasons. First of all, I never flew on board of a plane. Second, I never went anywhere abroad just with my friends. And third, just a few months before the trip I regained my freedom after years after I had quit one long, energy- and soul-consuming relationship, and in Dublin I was supposed to taste the real freedom for the first time. Also, Janča is pretty badass so there were no doubts that this vacation is gonna be epic.

Everyone was asking me if I am scared of flying. Maybe that was the only logical explanation to them for a 27-years-old girl who never flew anywhere. The answer is no. I am not scared of flying although the procedures you have to endure on the airport felt always too complicated to me. So, I guess I was always slightly scared because of the bureaucracy and I knew that flying for the first time would be much more comfortable with someone who knows what to do and not with someone who never flew too and who would have to be forced to go with me in the first place (ehm, ehm, you remember that relationship I mentioned above, right?^^).

I was so lucky that this wish could come true thanks to Janča. Not only she is an experienced traveler and seeing new locations is her true passion, she also used to work at the airport back then, so she knew and understood everything perfectly. And not only that, she was willing to explain everything to me, the traveling noob by her side.

Thanks to my friend, I didn’t have to worry about much, the controls were smooth, and she always knew who is going to want to see what. It felt crazy to me, but she was obviously on her own playground. That is why I was able to enjoy the flying part itself, of course, sitting next to a window so I could stare outside on the clouds beneath us for the whole time of the flight.

The experience of flying felt unbelievable. I remember I wrote on my Instagram: “The take-off feels like falling in love. This shimmering in your stomach that can be addictive. And all those objects you see as the plane gets above the clouds – other planes, clouds, cities, rivers and wait – is that a sea? Where did the impossible sun go? You are almost touching the edge of the universe here.” See? Incredible.

When we started to land down and I saw the lights of the city in the dark, I felt extremely lucky for the whole journey I had to take to get myself into this moment (still unaware of my personal journey ahead, but ignorance is a bliss, ain’t it?). I remember also feeling totally disoriented as I didn’t even know from which direction we came. 

It was a funny experience.

Positive Diary #21 – Books on demand

22nd November – Our bedroom and my study room, for purposes of studying, writing and now working from home as well, in one seems to me pretty cozy. As I have already said in one of my previous diaries, I live in an old house which is far from perfect, yet for years it feels perfect to me. In my study room, there is all I could possibly need. Lots of table lamps for darker days like these, cozy bed with lots of blankets and cushions, two desks for being active when the inspiration kicks in and tons and tons of books to get inspired in the first place.

So, let’s talk about those precious wonderful books today!

What are books to me? Ever since I started to write, or even before that, when I was only an eager reader, I saw books as tiny portals through which we can jump into other worlds and other people’s lives and that just felt awesome. I loved books as a child, and I read deliberately. It had also some taste of rebellion against the unwritten rules of my peers since reading was already back then seen as boring and too time consuming. I was so proud to be one of not so many who had their pass to local library, and I loved my label of a bookworm. Reading at that age gave me so much! 

Some time has passed and we, as students at high schools and later at universities, were told which books to read. It was also slightly implied to us which books are not that elevating. It is not like anyone would say – you read those, you are rubbish, but it definitely felt like it. And also, reading the recommended books takes more time then reading the books you actually like, so it somehow shifted my attention, took my time and deprived me of my love for reading for a while.

A long while.

It was only until this year, when I rediscovered my passion for reading. I jumped back into one of the urban fantasy series I stopped reading years ago, ordered all of the pieces I missed and dived into the frantic story of werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters and faes. But that’s not all. I finally ordered some of the books from brilliant Neil Gaiman whose books I always only borrowed from a library, and some other books about wiccan sabbats. I went berserk with buying new books this year and I don’t regret a single penny.

Books are elevating. No matter what you read, if you read enough. Through books, we can widen our perspective, feel what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes or visit places we only dare to dream of. 

When we are kids, we built our world around everything we process. Adding imagination and empathy via reading is immensely enriching

And when we are adults, reading a good story can take us beyond our day-to-day life and help us to rebuilt or adjust our lives according to our deepest wishes. Nicely written historical book can explain to us problems which we are facing today. And half-forgotten philosophical essays can remind us of different perspective and approaches.

I love books. 

I love reading. 

And I love how these can make us better human beings. I cannot be more grateful for a fact that we live in a system and an age, when we can have whichever book we want on demand and we do not have to worry about persecution for reading anything.

It is for sure one of our beautiful freedoms we should take advantage of more often.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When you sleep, my light-bearer

The pen is slowly gliding along the paper and there is so much I would like to tell you. The pen is slightly scratching the thick paper of my notebook, fire in the fireplace is mildly fading away and there is a candle, flickering on my table. She is like you, her light is chasing away demons and bad dreams, creating a world of our own, world in which there is only you and me and nothing else matters. I can hear your repeating breath after breath and my heart rejoice with every beat of the one of yours.

When I was a little wicked girl, my mom already used to tell me: “Be careful what you wish for. Your wishes can always come true.” If I knew how powerful these wishes can be, I would have wish for you a long long time ago.

.

It’s a full moon today. The Moon is discreetly glancing in through our open window. As if he was checking whether everything is, after ages, still in a way it should be. He greets the light of a candle, he greets the light of yours, and continues his journey through out the night sky. The house breaths out heavily, the fireplace is slowly cooling down with sinister noises and our cat lazily stretches her body. Our whole world is sleeping, although it is celebrating continuously for months.

Maybe that wishes made during the summer storms, wishes with deepest appeals and inner need in mind have their own unmistakable strength. Maybe magic exists after all and we are the living prove of its existence. How else could you explain we met in such a convenient times? How else could you possibly explain our untangled confusion of troubles of which there is only a bittersweet memory left now?

.

Water drops started to dance on the dormer-window pane. Neither one of us remember a year as rainy as this one. The whole world is upside down but the nature is trying to lull us to peace with her beautiful illusion of going back to her ancient and perfect rhythm. I love to let her, after all it was always her who comforted me, made me go in awe and made me happy. You have joined her last year. And now, not only my happiness feeds yours but this beautiful illusion gives me the feeling that it feeds her as well. Her, the one we could never survive without. Our connections to the whole universe seems almost tangible.

Maybe that wishes whispered in a summer storm to the rain drops only led to the plans, plans led to action and action led to you. Whatever it is, that made my wish come true, whether it was magic, universe, faith or maybe just the two of us, knowing we belong together, it was the happiest event of my life.

.

After I will blow out the candle and close the door to our bedroom, I will cuddle up to you and think about how lucky we both are. I will listen to your symmetrical breath and finally be a slightly mad that I cannot fall asleep as fast and perfect as you can.

At the end, I will finally fall asleep as well. With the knowing that only next to you I can heal all of my deep wounds. Only next to you, I don’t have to change to be whoever my surroundings just need. You need ME, exactly the way I am. You accept me with all my whims, imperfections and gifts and you are not trying to curve me or break me into someone or something else.

You are the greatest gift of the universe without even knowing it.

You are my shelter and home, freedom and support, you are everything I ever wished for.

Only with you, I can dance with the wolfes and don’t have to feel guilty about it.

.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Follow the Song of the Wolves

Flash of light above the landscape that went dark a long time ago. The song of the wolves accompanies you, as if it was determining your destiny. The terrain underneath your feet is changing from moss cover into stones, from stones into boulders, from boulders into steep valleys and from valleys into sharp rocks.

As you stand on the last boulder, your foot slips aside and you are falling, you are falling and your warmth, your light alongside with you.

Your fall is ceased only by the bottom of a valley itself.

You lay there for a while, breathless, and everything seems lost. The wolf song in distance sounds different suddenly. It sounds confused. Lost. The song transforms into whining. Then stops completely.

Your light is dying, flickering as a flame of a candle in a wind.

The silence is hovering over the landscape. Frightening. Suffocating. Oppressive silence.

A blackbird shall never sing again, a bee shall never buzz again. You shall never hear her songful laughter again.

Sun shall never come up again. You shall never see the carefree smile which made your heart melt and your soul know it founded the long-lost mate.

The last wolf calling cut through the silence of a night. It should sound desperate, it should sound moving, yet the power of it cannot be resisted. One of the wolves got closer, almost within your arms reach, and he sings, sings for the last time. About hope, about trust… about home.

Then suddenly loud BUM! is heard and you draw air into your lungs.

A victorious wolf song is heard from a distance. Again. From all of the possible directions.

Your light blazes again. Not that strongly, but it blazes constantly and tirelessly.

You are standing up.

Those shadows you are surrounded with are watching you but with the light by your side they won’t dare to attack you.

Straight shoulders. Unyielding pace. Constant rhythm of your steps. No matter if you are heading up towards the clouds or steeply down into the valleys, nothing about the rate of your steps changes. Together with the wolf song you are getting closer to with every single one of your steps, they create an immortal symphony.

No one cares about the darkness around you anymore. No one cares how many demons in the dark is planning to make you their dinner tonight. As long as your light has something to burn for, no one in the world cares about them.

With every single wolf you encounter, you feel your destiny is closer and closer. She is almost within your arms reach.

Then suddenly, you approach glade at the top of one of the mountains. It is surrounded by giant boulders standing in a circle and there is an iceberg right in the middle of it. You approach it. Your light is drawn to it as if it knew far more than you or me will ever be able to grasp.

You kneel, speechless. You are not thinking about what will happen if you won’t succeed. It’s not the right time for that and you won’t allow for shadows to get this chance.

You look into the face of a woman trapped in the iceberg. A warm memory of her laughter, happiness, kisses and touches; her truth, compassion and even burdens which she carried with her and was scare to share with you because she didn’t want to lose you, runs through your mind. Your light flares up with radiant flame. Shadows abandon the circle. Finally, there is only the two of you and your warm, shiny, dazzling light coming out of your old immortal soul.

“Come back to me,” you whisper gently, as if you were already whispering into her hair. Then, you ease your posture and let the light enter into the iceberg.

The light implodes and leaves you completely blinded by the glaring blaze magnified by the ice safe case she has built around herself so tirelessly. After that, the light fades out completely.

You fall towards the earth. You are not dead, not yet. But it doesn’t matter. You did everything you could.

Shadows, demons and monsters are crawling back to you, immediately. The world has lost its light, its sounds. No one will ever hear your voiceless cry. You are drowning in an ageless never-ending darkness.

You did everything you could. Even more. And failed. Her demons won’t have mercy on you.

BAM, you can hear finally, a mighty sound resembling thunder echoing over the landscape. The shadows freeze, petrified. BAM, you hear it again. In a distance, a wolf is singing a song. The shadows gather on the edges of the stone circle.

With the third mighty beat of her heart, your light inside her iceberg starts to burn hot again. As potent as never before.

With the first outburst, the ice cracks. With the second one, it explodes and disperses to all directions, yet you are miraculously spared of its destruction. And with the third one, the world explodes.

.

When your eyes finally get used to the light, you suddenly understand. Everything. The night that was said to never end ended. A bright day, white as a new list of a paper, took its place. And she is standing in front of you. In all her beauty. Shaken, yet happy.

“I think I have something that belongs to you,” she smiles bashfully, and she holds your light in her stretched arm.

You feel you can finally smile again. After what felt like a thousand years. “I will take it,” you reply after thinking it through shortly, “but only to hold it, to bear it for you every day.”

You hug her, as if it was both for the first and for the last time. “I will never let you go again,” you whisper into her hair affectionately.

She holds you tightly with her hands firmly winded around your neck and pushes herself towards you as if she would never want to let go either. “Please. Never let me,” she answers.

8 Tips on How to Improve Your Efficiency

We all have our dreams, some of us have even ideas or even better, plans on how to achieve them. And for some people, it simply seems like the most basic and easy thing to do. Sometimes though, after we are done with the mundane responsibilities of everyday life, we don’t have enough energy or time left to dedicate it to activities which bring us personally joy, satisfaction and a feeling of self-realization.

Thanks to the long-term home-office I can so far enjoy, I had the opportunity to experiment a little bit and find out how to deal with the never ending and nerve wrecking exhaustion which I had to fight with during the everyday time race of pre-corona days. And I learned many useful things which I’d like to share with you right now!

First of all, I have to admit that under different circumstances, I would probably not try out several of those tips. I would lack time and energy for that and that means my will to try and stay with it would not be strong enough. Although working remotely from home can have it’s drawbacks (for others, I still haven’t found any), you definitely save unimaginable amount of time, which you can later invest into a proper rest in the first place and self-improving in the second. So I have to actually thank for this list of activities, which help me to get things done through out the day, to the extra time saved from commuting to Prague every single day.

I guess everyone of us is trying to find ways how to not feel so tired all the time, how to handle more and more throughout the day, and simply put, how to become those superwomen and supermen the modern society wants us to be. And so we try this here and that over there. What I realized in the last couple of days is that in order to succeed, it is essential to follow all those habits at once. Like, at the same time. All together.

Some of them might seem overwhelming at the beginning, as you’ll see, but you can jump onto those step by step. I know that everyone is different and things can work differently for each of us, but even if this list would help only to one person, I have to share it with you.

So, are you ready? 

1. Tall glass of water in the morning and water intake

It’s gonna be the first thing in the morning you’ll do. Maybe even before you manage to open your eyes properly. Our bodies are truly dehydrated after the whole night and a glass of fresh water in the morning will help you to start your blood circulation and get up from the bed easily.

Prepare a bottle or a glass of water to your bed area, right before you put yourself to sleep The closer, the better. This way, you can ensure to drink it indeed immediately, not with the “right after I got to the kitchen”, “right after I finish my coffee”, “right after I brush my teeth” nor even “right after I catch the bus” thoughts in your mind.

No, drink it as soon as you wake up. Every morning. And watch the miracles happened.

And of course, with starting the day as brightly as this, don’t forget to hydrate properly throughout the day as well!

2. Try to say NO to caffeine

I know, I know. Coffee means so much to all of us. It is a morning ritual, a means to wake up, a social contract, a reason to stretch out the legs on our way to the corporate kitchen and even a moment of tranquility when we can stop worrying. And the taste, the smell of it! I know. I like coffee, too.

But despite all of that, I have to say I stopped drinking coffee with a big excitement a I am never planing to go back to its seductive taste and smell. Never. Why? Sometimes, it’s just nice to realize than even though something is super nice and awesome on the surface, inside it can do more harm than good. And that was exactly my case with the coffee.

After I stopped drinking it two months ago, it was impossible to not notice the difference in how I feel in my body and I realized just how many problems I was dealing with was intensified or even directly caused by excessive intake of caffeine.

All of that despite the fact I would call myself a responsible drinker of coffee. I rarely drank more than two cups per a day and always tried to drink my later coffee in the early afternoon hours in order to prevent it to mess with my sleep regime. Nevertheless, all of my insomnia and impossibility to fall asleep was probably linked just to drinking coffee. And that was not all.

Same as any other person alive, even I had my ups and downs throughout my life and from many of those experiences I sustained scars and bruises which make me anxious and cause panic attacks even to this day. But after I stopped drinking coffee, I battle them noticeably less. Everyone who has ever suffered from those knows that this is priceless!

And the last but not least, after you will overcome your first week or two (depends on how big addict to caffeine you are), you will feel by far much more rested, energized and ready to deal with everything the day will bring to your plate.

This might seem like the hardest step from the whole list but I swear to you – it is really worth it!

3. Intermittent fasting

This is one of the latecomers I started with only a few days back but I can already feel the difference. Intermittent fasting means that you yourself will set up a time “window” during which you can eat whenever you want and for the rest of the day, you fast. The recommended times for the beginners and women are 10 hours of eating and 14 hours of fasting, however it is possible to get tough and eat in ratio 8 : 16. I know even those who eat only once per a day!

Since I am not as tough with myself as I would like to be, I chose the path of the least resistance and follow the regime 10 : 14. Because I’m rather night owl than a sparrow and still like to go to bed in late hours, I start with a breakfast at 10 AM and I have to manage to eat my dinner before 8 PM. I am used to having breakfast everyday right after I wake up, so waiting for the first meal is probably the least pleasant part. However, it is not as hard as anticipated. Considering I still work from home, it could be more difficult under the different circumstances.

And what are the results? I don’t crave junk food that much. It also eliminates night looting of pantry and generally, one eats less because there is just not enough of time to eat everything. I have more energy throughout the day and usually, I don’t get exhausted that easily. That means I can start writing even after work, which would have never been an option before.

4. Few minutes of dancing to feel woken up

As I already mentioned, I am a night owl. Waking up and getting out of the bed is probably the most painful thing in the whole day. No wonder that sometimes it is not without the effort to actually be in a good mood after such a torture. I personally feel like a purple minion from the Despicable Me 2 movie. Or at least I used, before I employed all of these tips.

So, how to deal with it? It’s super easy to read how important morning exercising is. What is not that easy though is a question: how to actually exercise, right? If you make yourself a breakfast in the morning, doing your make up, cleaning or doing whatever, you can play your favorite music and dance a little bit into its rhythm. Few minutes of dancing next to a kitchen units and the world is noticeably more colorful!

5. Waking up regularly at the same hour

This one is a habit still in progress. Yet I already know that in those days I manage to wake up between 7 to 8 AM, I manage to do more during the day and I am simply more satisfied with myself then on other days.

Many of the famous people did follow this rule as well: they used to wake up not only regularly but early as well. You simply get the feeling you made the best out of your day. It feels nice to tick off several of your tasks right before breakfast.

6. Meditation

I write about meditation a lot. People who have never tried it can’t probably understand it but those who has their experience with mindfulness and meditation, they know what I’m talking about.

It is one of the simplest method how to quickly (it can take you from only a few minutes of mindful breathing to several tens of minutes, depending on a program) and effectively (you feel the difference right away and it lasts) reduce stress and regain power to come back to solving the problems you need to solve. Or back to the dreams you wish to follow.

At the same time, meditation has never been as accessible as it is now. No matter if you go for a mindfulness app (I can recommend Calm, even just its free version can make miracles) or one of the countless guided meditations on YouTube, you are on the right path.

7. Eat healthier and mindfully. The same goes for alcohol

We know this already, you might say. Of course. But I am not a fan of tough diets and restrictions, I believe in the golden rule of moderation. One simply needs to listen and follow the needs and requirements of his or her own body.

It doesn’t matter if I talk about the almost comatose tiredness after I polish off the whole vegan burger with fries or about that night full of ciders and youthful neon colors of a city night life. It is good to take a lesson from how you feel after those adventures. It is pointless to forbid something to ourselves. It is just nice to sometimes decide to skip some of these foodies in order not to feel tired, wearily or useless afterwards.

8. No Facebook or news before you fall asleep (cause you won’t)

Many of the tips pointed out earlier will help you to find a better way to sleep. Same as this one. Maybe you don’t even follow any social media and you don’t really care about what is happening in the world. Good, you are the lucky one. But for me as a chronic insomniac was this an extremely dangerous habit.

Many of you surely know this story too: you can’t fall asleep, minutes are slowly running away and your eyes keep opening. So you tell yourself: “Sure. I can take a look on what is new on Facebook (Instagram, BBC News, anywhere). It can do no harm.” In the best case scenario, you’ll end up giving warm hearts on Instagram for hours, in the worst case scenario you will get upset or scared from reading the world news and commentary section right bellow them. As a result, you waste hours of your life usable for sleep (or something overall more constructive). And instead of putting you to sleep, this activity will only make you feel even more awake. You put your phone aside and start from the beginning.

If you have hard time falling asleep, there is several techniques you can try (right after you say NO to caffeine and sweets before bedtime). You can listen to an audio book or a story from your phone, Spotify, YouTube or the already mentioned Calm with its sleep time stories should do the trick. Another option is to play relaxing music or the ambient sounds of nature – as kids, we used to listen to the sounds of storm or the running river on a CD. Now I find sounds of the sea waves wearing down the shores the most relaxing. Meditation and deep breathing work awesome as well.

But my most favorite thing to do right before I fall asleep is imagination, making up my own stories. You can go anywhere, do whatever you want and meet whoever you desire. And while doing that, comfortably drift away.

What helps you the best with your efficiency? 🙂 Comment, like, share and see you soon again!

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

When you visit Prague for the first time and you usually have only limited time, the schedule is somehow very easy to figure out. There is the Charles’ Bridge and astronomical clock to see, trdlovník or svíčková to taste and beer or Becherovka to get drunk with. No problem with that, it just works like that when it comes to fast traveling.

But! For those moments when you have more free time to spare, when you are slow traveling, when you move to the city in order to live and work here, or when you simply get stuck here as an expat in Prague due to the infamous coronavirus, you could (and should) discover there is so much more to see. And that these places are way better than the usual touristy places.

Perfect Spots in Prague: Vrtbovská zahrada (The Vrtba Garden)

This might come to you as a surprise, but I learned about this treasure hidden right in the heart of the city from my American best friend whom I was so lucky to meet through an exchange buddy program during my studies. She had a professor at Charles’ who probably knew Prague perfectly and recommended her this Vrtba garden, which I of course never heard of before, right next to Malostranské náměstí. She asked me if I’d like to join her and the journey began.

The first part of the adventure with Vrtbovská zahrada is actually the effort you have to make to find it. It’s hidden almost perfectly, and no big ugly sign will scream on you, so it might to take you several walks along the busy Karmelitská street before you actually notice the entrance. Inconspicuous doorway will take you right into the block of recognizable baroque buildings of Prague’s center. In the main hall, you will pay an admission fee, which varies between 80 to 100 crowns, depending on whether you are adult, senior, junior and so on, you know the drill. 

And then, you can finally enter.

I was so surprised to see such noble beauty can sprout in the middle of a city I used to think I know. Although I prefer the untamed beauty of wild nature, this was (and still is) worth seeing. The garden stretches more in height then width and this simply adds more uniqueness and a dreamlike touch to the actual experience of discovering the place itself. You rise, level by level, up up up, until you see the city from an angle you have never seen it before from. And it’s breathtaking.

The Vrtba Garden is, like most of Prague’s gardens, best to visit during the spring, summer and autumn time, since it stays closed from November to March. It’s unique position in the middle of the city center, ability to stay hidden, like a secret whispered in the wind, and relatively low admission fees make this a perfect spot, whether you want to run away from the world or just to see another nice corner of it.

Positive Diary #20 – How I started to run

Running. Everyone is running. Running is the new black. 

It seemed to me like one of the signs of successful people, no matter what they were successful in. I always wanted to run but my efforts every time got me before I even started. Therefore, I also admired people who run, it’s simple: if they can overcome this suffering and sustain this pain for so long, they definitely have the stronger will then I do. And then, you know how these thoughts can spin around your head and create a personal picture of yourself, where you seem to be not focused, not strong enough and not dedicated enough. What is more dangerous, when those thoughts start to pour into other dimensions of your life, into your beliefs of your own capabilities and into your self-esteem in general. It takes more than that, of course, but it can be one of those doubting sources for pour thinking about yourself. Yeah, self-doubt is almost like my guilty pleasure.

So, you can easily imagine my surprise, when I got some nice equipment (a watch, actually) and a proper partner, and I gave it a try. And it worked. I was able to run along my personal training program and I didn’t want to die after that. Moreover, after the run and a shower, I felt as energized and powerful as almost never before. How is that even possible?

Like in many other areas of my life, I see part of the answer to this question in my own perfectionism. And stubbornness. I always thought that when I go out and aim to run, I should run for the whole time. Even for the first time. And when I had to slow down to walking so I could catch my breath, I perceived that as a weakness, as something given and unchangeable. My first and almost immediate response was: “Okay, I’m not good enough. I should stop making a joke out of myself and stop with this nonsense.” And of course, I used my stubbornness for making me actually believe that and never try it again. I could have use it to become better in running, actually, but that would be a totally different person.

I basically needed someone kind to explain me, that even running needs time to learn it properly and that my body needs training to adjust in order to reach my goal, which, let’s admit it, wasn’t exactly unreachable. Last year was one of the hardest ones, but also the luckiest one, because I have actually met this kind person and fallen in love with him. Sportsman by his heart and soul, dedicated runner. He introduced me to this idea slowly (he recognized my stubbornness too, haha) and I started to wonder, really slowly: Should I give it another try?

Another observation I made in this matter is, that you need two things: an authority to follow in your training and a way to see how you progress. I found this on a recommendation of my kind one in sport watch from Garmin. Not only they can show you how you improved physically (like how fast you run or how was your heartbeat during different stages of the run) and help you to improve your sleeping cycles or stress management, these can tailor you a nice running plan to help you accomplish your goals. For me, someone who never run properly before but prefers to not to ask anyone for professional advice, this is just revolutionary. And suddenly, I have my authority and progress, peacefully resting literally within reach of my arm.

After two weeks of running, I dare to say – running is awesome! It is good for your body, for your digestion, skin, muscles, posture and everything, but also for your soul, because you can feel super energized afterwards, have this sense of accomplishment and notion that you did something right for yourself. I start to feel my knees though, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to not to have to stop with it. Hopefully, a proper pair of shoes and a right technique will do the trick.

How about you, do you like running? Do you hate it? Any tips for hurting knees? 