It is only with the heart that one can see rightly…

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…what is essential is invisible to the eye. (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)

What do you need (the most) now?

If you one day decide to ask people what they need (the most) at that moment, they will probably give you a materialistic answer. I need food, clothes, a new house, car or phone, a vacation or just the money. Few are those who will tell you they need something else, something not materialistic. Just someone to be there for them. Someone to listen to their thoughts and give them a big hug. Someone who can comfort them in a difficult situation, be it when things went wrong at work, the tiredness kicked in and all the frustration came out, or when someone died. These are, usually, moments when we just add a few more bricks to our walls and answer that we’re fine, we just need to do something about it. We need to fix the situation at work, drink more coffee or take care of the funeral.

Yes, we really need to do something. To slow down. To take it easy. To just let the emotions flood us. And ask for help. It’s okay to ask someone to give you a hug (even when you’re not sad, but all the more so, when you are). It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to shout when the pressure on your chest is so intense. It’s okay.

But we don’t do that. We need to be strong. We are taught that doing this means being vulnerable. And being vulnerable means being weak. And weakness is not a cool feature to be added to your CV.  And so we just make the wall taller and add layers over layers on the real feelings we feel. We’re fine.

I’m fine” is one of the biggest lies on Earth. You are not always fine. Sometimes you are. But sometimes you are just agitated, you are sad, you are angry, you are confused, upset and numb. And it’s okay to be like this. It’s normal to be like this. But it’s not okay to pretend you are fine and not ask for help. Maybe others won’t know what to do. Maybe there is nothing to do. But a few words from someone who empathizes with you or a speechless hug can help more than you can imagine.

Humans are not made to live alone. They ache for connection. Shared emotions are what make relationships better. And good relationships are what truly make a human being happy. Ask the elders what are their regrets. Most of them will tell you it’s the amount of time and energy they spent at work or doing other worthless stuff, instead of investing it in the relationships with their loved ones. Nobody says you should not work. Or do some meaningless activities once in a while. But be careful how much you invest in that. It might end up costing you more in the end.

So, why are we so blind to see that we are the only ones who can change something? Because we are not used to this. We are not used to share our needs and ask for closeness. No. You have to be strong. You can’t have such needs.

This started early in our childhoods and was perpetuated later in our adolescence and then adult life. When asked “Why are you crying?”, most people won’t know to give an answer. Or will just say… because I’m sad. We don’t know how to recognize our emotions. We don’t talk about them. It’s a shame to not be always happy.

And the most interesting part about this is that, most of the times, we are the ones to be the hardest on ourselves. We think of ourselves that we need to be strong. We think others will see our vulnerabilities and will not like us anymore. What a silly thought…

However cliché it may sound, the ones who truly like us, will do it because of our flaws, not despite them. Because that makes us human. Because when they see our flaws, they don’t think about theirs that much. We all have good and bad parts. But the idea is to accept them all. Nobody is perfect here. The idea is to open to the ones we love and let them see us, the utterly and truly us.

Put the negativity back where it belongs

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If you are like me, you don’t really know where the negativity belongs. Don’t worry, we will find out together.

What I’m talking about? Well, I’m talking about the negative attitude, words and feelings we keep in our lives and refuse to give away. Those bad things are moving us away from our true selves, from who we can be and what we can do. How? They get in our mind and make a shelter there. The mind is more than welcoming; it arranges a cozy, warm place for the negativity to settle and the negativity takes the chance in a blink.

Our mind doesn’t really know how to be optimistic, so it needs a little help from us. The human’s mind is used to think about all that “what if” situations and most of those are negative. What if you won’t get the job? What if your boyfriend will leave you? What if you won’t be slim again? What if…? Do you recognize that kind of thoughts? Of course you do, you have at least 10 of those a day. But what if I told you that you can reduce that number to 7 then 3 and then 0? Not in a day, but in this lifetime.

Just be yourself – even if it’s not the best self on Earth yet

If you are like me, you are a perfectionist. And, despite of all those ideas that being a perfectionist is a good thing, I tell you it’s not. It is not a good thing to do something and then immediately think that you could have done it better. Maybe you could, but you didn’t have the inspiration, the motivation, the ideas, the feels or who knows what. What if I told you that you can make mistakes? You know what Napoleon, Roosevelt and others men like them said? They said that “a man who has never made a mistake, has never made anything”. And that’s right, because what is a mistake? A mistake is something that happens when you try to do something, but it doesn’t come out the way you planned. But you did something! You did something, you made a mistake, you have a lesson to learn.

Don’t set expectations – at all

Generally, when people make mistakes, the others blame them. And that’s somehow understandable, if the others have set high expectations. But that’s not all. The one who made the mistake blames himself too and most of the times he’s harder on himself than others would’ve been. And that’s not understandable. You are allowed to make mistake, but you are not allowed to be so hard on yourself. If you don’t cheer you up, then who you think would do that?

Do the shift

So, how not to be that hard on yourself when something bad happens? First of all, try to shift the negative feelings into positive ones. Instead of saying “It is a nightmare”, try saying “It is a challenge”. Instead of “It’s stressing me out”, say “It’s OK, I can deal with it”. Instead of “My kids are driving me insane”, try “My kids are challenging me”. Instead of “You don’t have what it takes”, say “You will do great!”. You get the idea.

By doing that, you don’t run away from your problems, how many may be tempted to think. You just diminish the effect a bad situation may have over you. Your mind is used to criticize and it won’t stop if you don’t teach it how to. You have to teach your own mind how to not be that harsh on you and, instead, to be more supportive.

Something you can do to help your mind doing the shift is to change a little bit the environment where you are spending most of your time. For example, at your office you can make a panel where to put positive thoughts and quotes. At home, you can put post-its in some places where you spend most of your morning routine, like the bathroom and the kitchen. Write on them encouragements to cheer you up when you feel down. They also can give you a boost when you already feel good.

Write down “You can do it!”, “You’re good at it!”, “You are powerful!”, “You are beautiful!” and also some specific ones “You will get the promotion!”, “You will get a new job!”, “You will find a partner who’s best for you!”, “You can run 10 km today!” and the list could go on with anything you want and makes you feel good.

So stop criticize and start admire yourself!

Save the planet?

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For some time now I think about “saving the planet”. It seems like a very clear mission we have here, to save the plant. But, you know, I think know the planet will be just fine without us. The planet doesn’t need to be saved. We need to save ourselves from us. We need to save the planet from us and for us.

OK, maybe Earth needs our guidance to thrive, but that should be the best guidance, in order to really benefit the planet. Just take a look at what we’ve done since we appeared here until the present moment: we’ve changed the way the weather works, which leaded to global warming and loss of biosphere integrity; we’ve polluted the places we’re living in to the point that they are no longer livable; we’ve transformed once green, fertile areas into desert; we’ve let metal encroachments creep into the soil. And this list could go on and be more detailed, but there’s no need for it.

Researchers all over the Earth spent time trying to find out what we did to this planet and how we could save it. They’ve discovered that changes of the last 60 years are unprecedented in the previous 10.000 years. 10.000 years of relatively stable climate and a significant accession of human civilization.

This was possible because the urban population has increased sevenfold since the ‘50s and the need of energy and food increased exponentially. This thing leaded to a growth of primary energy use by a factor of five, an amount of fertilizer of up to eight times higher and a quadrupled amount of nitrogen entering the oceans.

We couldn’t see the impact we had on Earth until recently, but the researchers saw it and warned us that all of these changes are shifting the planet into a “new state” that is becoming less hospitable to human life. Thing that brings me back to my thoughts – the planet doesn’t need us. I think we should re-think the way we live and the way we are doing things here, on Earth, because who knows if there is any chance for us to find another planet suitable for human life?

Have you ever thought what would happen if all the humans would disappear from Earth? Of course, the first years could be terrifying, but after 10.000 years, the only proof that humans were on Earth would be the Chinese wall, the Rushmore Mountain or other rock structures.

I’ll let you with this short video clip that explain better the idea of human extinction and Earth revival and with the hope that a shift, no matter how small, will happen in your life.

 

Get clean energy from dirty grease

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The clean energy subject is not a new one on the market and not even on this site, because this thing became a real need these days. What I want to talk about now is the clean energy we can get from used cooking oil, that thing we throw away every time we fry something, because we don’t want the next food to have the taste of the prior. Well, did you know that by throwing away 1L of used cooking oil, one million liters of water are contaminated? Me neither! On contact with water, the used oil forms a thin film which stops oxygen to reach the creatures and plants in water – and this is something we could avoid, if we collect the used cooking oil and recycle it.

A few years ago, a 10 year old girl from Ocean State of Rhode Island learned about the effects fossil fuels could have on the environment and the fact that if we continue that way, her entire state could become anunder ocean state. So, she came up with a plan to prevent it.

The little girl and her friends started a project whose purpose was to not let their state go extinct because of what we, people, are doing. They launched TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel) with a simple and yet ingenious approach: they asked restaurants for used cooking oil. The restaurant were going to throw it away anyway, so the kids helped them to get rid of that and the environment to get healthy.

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Slowly, but surely, the kid’s idea was adopted by local restaurants and by the community, which involved into the project. The biofuel created by the little “company” was used to warm the homes of families in need, because a good deed comes never alone.

Here is the little group who came up with the brilliant idea and how it evolved over the years (because yes, it evolved!).

Well, if a group of children could set up and make work a project that big, involving a community, at least we could start collecting used cooking oil and give it to them (someone near you) to recycle it.

If you are from Romania, you could contact Uleiosul and tell them to come and get the oil you used and want to throw away. So, besides the first benefits like no more clogged pipes, we help the environment to become cleaner and healthier.

 

Be a conscious consumer

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All the people in the world have something in common. You know what it is? We all eat. Either is some simple rice, some sophisticated recipes, a hamburger, a pizza, a soup or some seafood with veggies, we all need that food to live. But are you a conscious consumer? Do you know what you are eating?

According to Wikipedia, food is any substance people consume in order to get the nutritional support for the body. It could be from animal or plant origin and should contain essential nutrients such as fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. So, now we know what the definition of food is, theoretically. But do we feel it practically? I mean, is every substance we eat good for us, in terms of nutritional support?

The purpose of this article is to make you stop a little from gobble with those chips and take a look at the big picture about food. It is the first article of a series, because here, at WEB APE, we think everyone needs to know more about what we are ingesting.

Some time ago, the well known chef Jamie Oliver showed the world how McDonald’s burgers are made and tried to convince the people to not eat them anymore and the company to not produce them in that way. He explained in several television shows, interviews and even documentaries what the thing we ate and belived is hamburger actually is. To put it in few words, the fatty part of beef is “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and then used in the filling of the burger. “Basically, we’re taking a product that would be sold in the cheapest way for dogs, and after this process, is being given to human beings.”, says Jamie.

After that, he started a big campaign to (re)educate people about food, to make everyone become a conscious consumer and inspire them to cook again, instead of choosing the ‘easiest’ and ‘fastest’ way of fast-food.

Besides the obvious example of fast food, where everyone knows about its effects on the human body, or at least some of them, there are other ways we are fooled to believe that what we eat is good enough and don’t have to worry about it. Let me give you a common example. How many times you were at a supermarket and bought fruits or vegetables, thinking they are definitely the best choice for your health? Well, many times, I would answer, because I wasn’t a conscious consumer until a short time ago. And I think most of you can relate.

But the bad thing about fruits and vegetables is that they are not as they should be: natural. Some of them are genetically modified, some are covered with suspicious things such as wax, but all are served to us as the healthy choice we have.

The idea is that nowadays, not even the vegetables are the best for us. I mean, those I mentioned earlier, the most common in the supermarkets, not all of them – so, this is one of the reasons I think it’s important for you to become a conscious consumer, to know more about the food you’re buying.

For example, take an apple. At the supermarket, it will shine more than one at the market sold by the farmers. Why? Because those at the supermarket are covered in some kind of wax meant to increase shell life and to make them look better to attract people. The good part about it is that you can get rid of that wax pretty simple if you let the fruit in water with vinegar (3 part water, 1 part vinegar). You can use vinegar to remove bacteria and fungi from fruits and vegetable bought from supermarket and also for those that were kept in the fridge for a long period. So, you now know a solution for that particular problem. But there are more.

What I wanted to do was to give you that first impulse to give another look on the package and choose what you KNOW is good for you, even if it’s not that good looking. And also to think twice when you want to skip the cooking part in favor of fast-food. Cooking is fun, do it that way!

 

Living plants to energize your living

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A while ago, there has been a big fuss, and you may have probably heard about the air pollution problem in China, and the fact that they’ve started to buy clean air in bags. But that’s not the subject of this article. What I want is to get your attention on other benefits the living plants have for us, besides the clean air.

There is a start-up in the Netherlands that came up with a great idea for generating clean energy continuously. They developed a way to use living plants to make that happen. How is that possible? All that is needed is a light source, carbon dioxide, water, and a field or patch of living plants. This is great news for people in isolated regions who don’t have access to electricity!

The company that thought of it is called Plant-e and made a real purpose in showing the people how easy it is to bring electricity even in the most isolated areas. The system they’ve invented works best in wetlands or watery fields like rice paddies and doesn’t matter if the water used is not good for drinking or even polluted. This is good news, because the fields that are not good for agriculture could be used as power sources.

You may ask how this works and how the electricity is produced. Well, it’s based on natural processes: while the electrons are harvested from the soil, the electricity is produced while the plants are growing. Of course you may think that this is too good to be true, but it is really not the case. The system used by Plant-e is pretty simple: during the photosynthesis, a large portion of the organic matter generated is actually excreted by the roots into the soil. That organic matter is then consumed by the microorganisms living in the soil, which release electrons as a byproduct of this consumption. From that, the next step is quite intuitive: when you place an electrode near the roots, it then becomes easy to harvest this waste energy and turn it into electricity.

Of course that this is not an intrusive process and the living plants are not affected during the process, in fact, they continue to grow normally, while providing a constant source of power day and night.

The only bad part about this is that it’s not done yet, it’s a process under development, but a prototype green roof utilizing this technology is already being developed and tested in the Netherlands.

The team at Plant-e is positive about this new idea and hopes to make that happen as soon as possible. Until now, the energy they had acquired was enough to power a cell phone, but the purpose is to make as much energy in order to sustain a regular house.

Source: www.plant-e.com

A book that you can drink after reading

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You’re in the office, in front of your laptop, describe to me what you have on your desk or, better, let me guess: a notebook, a pen, some sticky notes, a banana, some tea bags, a hand cream (if you’re a girl), a little Darth Vader or Batman (if you’re a boy), your cup of coffee and some water to drink. Is that even close?

If you live in a developed country, the glass of water on your desk or your nightstand is something common, nothing special. But if you live in a third world country, the situation would be completely different. There are about750 million people around the world who don’t have access to clean water. You know what that means? That’s 1 out of 9 people who can’t enjoy a glass of clean water after a hard working day. Not to mention the fact that a person should drink about 2l of liquids per day and the doctors recommend starting the day with a full glass of water on an empty stomach.

But, besides the hydration factor, the lack of clean water leads to a lot of deaths from diseases caused by bacteria in water. The good part about it is that those diseases are preventable.

That’s what Dr. Theresa Dankovich from University of Virginia was trying to do for some years – finding a way to prevent the diseases caused by bacteria in water and give clean water to those who need it most.

When Dr. Dankovich met the guys at Water In Life organization, she realized there really is a way to do what she imagined. They thought about a book that can save the lives of many people, a book with special pages, The Drinkable Book.

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The pages of this book are coverd in silver nanoparticles (from here the orange color of the pages) that kill 99.9% of bacteria like typhoid, cholera, and E. coli – the most common bacteria that lead to deadly diseases.

These pages serve as a filter and all you have to do to enjoy clean water is to follow three simple steps: first, you tear out a filter, then you slide it into the custom filter box and pour contaminated water. After that, what comes out from there, is totally safe to drink.

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This project has also an educational part – on the pages of this book is printed information to educate people about safe water habits, things that we, from the comfort of our office or home, take for granted (like keeping trash and feces out of water area, for example).

And that’s not all! It costs only a few pennies to produce this book, it is sustainable, a filter can be used for 30 days and a book can provide someone up to four years of clean water – what could you want more?

The future is here, all we have to do is allow it to be a part of our lives.

 

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYTif9F188E

Photo source: 1, 2, 3

F.A.I.L.

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It’s that time of the year when you start making plans and think about how your life should look at this moment or a moment in the future. So, you know you should start doing something to make those plans come true, but there is something that keeps you away. That is fear, the fear of failure, to put it in a few words. But what you don’t know is that you don’t F.A.I.L., you just take your First Attempt In Learning.

I remember myself a while ago. I was bored with what I was doing, so I thought about learning something different, something cool. I stopped on web design. I started to search the Internet for some inspiration, because I didn’t know where to start, and so I found codecademy and started from there with the basic html. That basic was something completely new for me, a girl with aspiration to be a writer, so a dreamer and a bohemian type of girl. I saw that as a challenge at first, but then, when I saw it was more difficult than I imagined, I started to doubt the decision I made.

I gave up then. I thought it wasn’t for me, so I needed to find something new to learn. But the Universe wanted to give me a lesson, because anything I started on, I found excuses to give up. After some time, I became frustrated and started to ask myself what was going wrong.

That was the moment when I realized that every time I start something, I eventually become overwhelmed and think I will fail. I didn’t know either, back then, the meaning of this. I was that perfectionist.

Now, I think a big part of you could relate to this story and I think you are on the way to find out what is keeping you from meeting your goals. It’s either the fear of failure, or of what others will think, or that others are better than you, or that someone else had that idea first, or that it’s too late to start something new… and the list could go on. You have to find out what is keeping you back and cut it.

You can only learn if you don’t stop practicing. Don’t let the fear scare you!

A pep talk is always nice, so I will leave you with a few inspirational words from Jim Carrey.