*Your Beauty*

Your beauty* is like an exquisite flower  Growing ontop of the highest mountain Peaking at the very height of its power

 

 

Your Beauty is like Art
To where all may see in awe
Entering my heart
You have not a single flaw

Your beauty flows like a river
Following the way of the stream
Glowing slightest glimmer
Only seen in our dreams

Your beauty shines bright
From whom we cannot wait
Glistening in the moon light
Meeting you was considered fate

Your beauty makes us speechless
Unable to say a word
When we are with you, we are sleepless
While we try to talk, it comes out slurred

Your beauty cannot be described
Words couldn’t touch the surface
This love I feel inside
Never can I stop being nervous

You are gorgeous in every single way
Loving you will be my duty
Unable to be kept away
This… is… the… power… of… *Your Beauty

 

‘Happy Holidays’ vs. ‘Merry Christmas’: A twist

‘Happy Holidays’ is meant to be inclusive, but knowing when Hanukkah was (a month ago) would be far more so; this ‘holiday season’ really means Christmastime

Before Omicron directed my social life, I went to a Christmas party. a.k.a. “holiday party,” at which everyone was boosted and outside. It was brisk, but not cold enough to keep friends from being together. The hosts greeted me with, “Happy Holidays,” to which I said, “Merry Christmas,” and held them hostage to my lecture on why I hate the greeting, “Happy Holidays.” I was the only invited Jew. Their flustered faces and stutter conveyed that “Happy Holidays” was to help me feel included. I apologized too late. I had ruined their greeting. How should they greet me? Better yet, if one doesn’t know I’m Jewish, is it offensive to wish me a Merry Christmas? Yes and no. It’s complicated. Here’s what is going on for me.

“Happy Holidays” confuse inclusion with equality. The idea behind replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” is that there are minority groups in America, e.g., Jews, who are not included. “Happy Holidays” makes Hanukkah the Christmas-equivalent. But this is a false equivalence, and it not only does a disservice to Jews, in wrongly elevating Hanukkah to the sacred, but also by diminishing Christmas, robbing Christians of something that is valuable to them.

The argument for the “Happy Holidays” greeting is that because Christians have been imperialistic, and have erased everyone else (including Jews) from American culture, they now need to include us. But does including us demand that Christians must be punished by not being allowed to have anything Christian in the culture anymore? If we want Christians to stop erasing us Jews, Muslims, Hindus among others, does the greeting “Happy Holidays” erase the Christians themselves? Is the general wishing of Merry Christmas an assault against Americans of other traditions or no traditions?

Many Jews in my world wish to hear “Happy Holidays.” Greeting them should have nothing to do with Christmas. They want no association with a tradition celebrating the robbing and distorting of Judaism’s face. For example, a colleague’s dog received Merry Christmas wishes on Facebook. My colleague responded: “My doggies don’t celebrate Christmas, but they would like to wish you a happy belated Hanukkah!” At another spot on the December-Jewish-greeting spectrum, Jews with trees seem fine with Merry Christmas. Like Halloween, they explain, Christmas is a secular holiday. One might say that their celebration of Christmas is old school. It has nothing to do with Christianity.

Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are not similar holidays. Conflating Kwanzaa with Christmas in the US seems misguided. Southern enslavers justified enslaving black people through the story of biblical Ham violating his father, Noah; antebellum southern whites argued it destined black people to be enslaved as descendants of Ham. Crazy, right!?! They justified white Christian genocide in the name of a Jew, brown Jesus of Judah. Ham was also brown, but not Jewish. Sarah and Abraham spark the origin of the Israelites. Hanukkah comes over a thousand years later. It celebrates the re-creation of the fourth Jewish state in 166 BCE, when Jewish rebels killed a lot of assimilated Jews. We don’t mention that when we light our hanukkiahs to bring light into the world. Furthermore, it’s not a religious holiday. Jews do not make religious/sacred holidays out of military victories. Jews thus do not desist from ordinary activities and work on Hanukkah. So, what we should say at this time of year to Jews?

The party hosts said, “Happy Holidays” to be inclusive. However, more inclusive inclusion knows the holidays at the time those around us celebrate. Hanukkah has been over for a month. It is Christmastime in the states, not Diwali, not EID, not Rosh Hashanah, not Bodhi day. It’s Christmas, a US federal holiday. A great majority of Americans from differing ethnicities celebrate it.

Ironically, Jews are now included as a December holiday player, just as I was greeted at a Christmas party with “Happy Holidays.” Chabad (a Hasidic sect) lights an annual hanukkiah on the White House lawn, some Jews have trees, a Fox News host recently said a Christmas tree is also a Hanukkah bush, etc. Is it any wonder Christians and non-Jews think Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas? Let’s stop pretending it is. Let’s wish Christians and atheists who descend from Christianity a Merry Christmas. As for Jews with trees? If you want them, Tu Bi Shvat is coming. And for Jews like me, “Hi!”

Epic 7-day Itinerary To Visit Malta On Holiday

Malta is an incredible island to explore. Nestled right in the Med, it’s is filled with thousands of years of history, stunning bays and the most incredible cities that are just too beautiful to miss. So, to help you get the most out of your trip, we wanted to share our bumper itinerary to visit Malta on your next holiday.

 

Now, you might be wondering if Malta is for you?

Well, let me give you a little snippet of why it should be on every traveller hit list!

First up, Malta (and neighbouring Gozo) is basked in that incredible Mediterranean sunshine that’s just so good. Not only that, Malta is totally chilled and a great place to visit if you fancy a bout of downtime on your trip.

That being said, Malta is also a jewel in the Mediterranean if you fancy a gander around historic cities and ancient sights. It’s an island that can (and totally does) fit with the kind of trip you’d like.  This is why we keep going back, over and over again!

So, as the island starts to safely open up, we wanted to share some places in Malta that you can’t miss.

And, as always, be sure to travel safely. Check your government’s guidance on travel and official information from the Maltese Government on any restrictions that might be relaxed or in place.

 

Take a look, below, at our bumper itinerary to visit Malta on holiday. Oh, and with all our itineraries, feel free to add, take out or follow exactly the places we’ve mentioned – it’s your holiday after all!

Have an amazing time.

Day one: Valletta

 

As far as Mediterranean cities go, Valletta is a gem to visit!

Unlike other large capital cities in Europe, Valletta is not too big to get overwhelmed and not small enough to get bored. In fact, I’d say it’s perfect for a few days exploring.

After arriving, be sure to take a wander to see the Grandmaster’s Palace and the gorgeous Upper (and Lower) Barrakka Gardens. These are stunning first thing in the morning and a great way to stretch your legs before a day head.

For a sugary pick-me-up, head to Amorino (on Republic Street). Here, you’ll get to sample some of the best gelatos in all of Malta. Trust me, you’ll go back for seconds.

In the afternoon, take a gander around the centuries-old Casa Rocca Piccola in the heart of Valletta. Throughout the day, you can join a guide and take a peek into a classic (and affluent) palace that’s too gorgeous to miss.

Before sundown, pop into St. John’s Co-Cathedral which’s stood pride of place in Valletta since the 1500s. It’s so beautiful and a great way to see some of Girolamo Cassar works. After all, he’s one of the islands most famed architects.

Feeling peckish? Head into the gorgeous cobbled streets and pop into Noni (on Republic Street) that fuses Maltese dishes with a modern flare. Their tasting menu is so delicious for an evening treat.

Day two: Valletta

 

One thing I would say is that you should give Valletta at least one full day to explore (though, we prefer a more chilled two-day trip). That being said, if you’re short on time, you can easily pack in the main sights in Valletta in one day; especially if there are other spots on our itinerary to visit Malta that you just don’t want to miss.

For a morning galavant, head for a stroll around the Grand Harbour area where you’ll get some fantastic views across the bay. Plus, you’ll be easily able to partner up a trip to Fort St. Angelo that has historically protected the city. You’ll need to factor in around 2-hours to fully explore the fort; so plan ahead and arrive nice and early.

For dinner, book a table at Rampila; you won’t be disappointed, especially on their terrace. We had the traditional Maltese Aljotta broth for the first course and loved it! 

Day three: Mdina

Nowhere is ever really that far in Malta, which means it’s a great island to traverse and stay at all the Maltese gems. That being said, don’t feel the pressure to keep moving hotels or accommodation each night, you can easily do day trips to all the spots in Malta and stay anchored in one hotel for the whole trip. It’s entirely up to you.

Anyway, where was I… Mdina!

Okay, so Mdina is probably my favourite city in all of Malta and one spot you can’t miss for a day trip. It’s around a 25-minute drive from Valletta and totally easy to visit by car, taxi or tour depending on what you’d like.

Once you’ve headed through the iconic Mdina Gate, be sure to visit the iconic cathedral that overlooks the whole city. It’s stunning and the Baroque architecture dates back years!

That being said, if you fancy going back further in history, get yourself over to Domus Romana; a Roman house that was built around two thousand years ago! It’s a relatively small museum which means it’s a perfect 30-minute visit.

Oh, and don’t forget to grab some of the world-renowned Mdina Glass. It’s so beautiful and you’ll find it all over the city.

Getting hungry? Get yourself over to Grotto Tavern, their gnocchi is so delicious and the restaurant is so unique within a grotto itself.

Day four: Western coastline and beaches

After three days of city-living, it’s time to take in some more of that gorgeous coastline of Malta. So, pack your swimming gear, slap on that sunblock and get ready for a snooze on the sand.

But first, head over to the Blue Grotto, which’s around a 25-minute drive from Valletta (and 15-minutes from Mdina). Once here, you’ll need to get yourself on one of the small boats that’ll whisk you right within the Blue Grotto itself. That being said, if you’re not fancying the boat ride, head to the ‘panorama’ viewing area that’s perfect at sunset.

The views are stunning.

Afterwards, for a little time in the surf, head over to Golden Bay that’s north of the Blue Grotto. It’s a popular spot for sun-seekers and the kind of place that’s great for a morning dip (or evening stroll).

The views are stunning.

Afterwards, for a little time in the surf, head over to Golden Bay that’s north of the Blue Grotto. It’s a popular spot for sun-seekers and the kind of place that’s great for a morning dip (or evening stroll).

If it’s a dip you’re after, pop over to St. Peter’s Pool that’s on the coastline near Marsaxlokk. Here, you’ll get to have a little paddle in the gorgeous Mediterranean waters and bask in those views across southern Malta. Just be sure to watch out for choppy waters and only go for a swim if it’s safe to do so.

Now, we found it best to rent a car for coastal days. Though, if you don’t drive, fret not; there are oodles of different touring companies that you can book and include on your itinerary to visit Malta. 

 

Day five: Hiking around near Popeye Village

 

It’s not every day that you can say you’ve rambled across an island, but it’s quite achievable in Malta, especially from Għadira Bay to Popeye Village.

After a morning dip at Għadira, pop on your hiking shoes and head off for a ramble around the area.

The walk itself won’t take you long at all (though, you can take in some detours). We checked out the Red Tower that’s just shy of the bay itself (around a 40-minute hike).  It dates back to 1649 and is lovely to see, especially for views.

After heading to the west coast, get yourself over to the totally quaint and picturesque Popeye Village. It’s the historic film set for Popeye’s film that was shot back in the 1980s.

It’s well worth a gander for an hour or so and totally worth including on your itinerary to visit Malta; even if you haven’t seen the film.

Finally, for a great view of Popeye Village, head along the coastline road opposite the bay. The views across the cove is gorgeous from here and you’ll get a great view of Popeye Village itself. 

 

Day 6: Gozo

Just shy of the northern shores of Malta, Gozo is a smaller island that’s totally worth the short ferry ride to explore! In fact, it’s a perfect day trip when visiting Malta.

 

Departing from Cirkewwa, you’ll get across to Mgarr Harbour in no time at all. From here, you’ll get to explore all across Gozo and take in some key spots along the way!

One spot you have to visit is Il-Madonna ta’ Pinu, a basilica and shrine that’s as beautiful as they come. Although the basilica isn’t as old as some other sites across Malta and Gozo, it’s still just as iconic.

 

Afterwards, pull out your swimming gear and drive over to the Blue Hole for a dip! It’s a natural swimming pool that sits just shy of the collapsed Azure Window and is well worth seeing as you follow our itinerary to visit Malta.

 

Oh, and don’t forget to grab a bite at The Boathouse in Xlendi Bay.

 

This is the kinda spot that’ll satisfy any seafood craving; especially with their mouth-watering fresh lobster!!!

 

Day 7: Mosta

 

Before departing Malta, there’s one final (and totally lovely) spot to visit. Mosta!

Only around 20-minutes from central Valletta, Mosta is perfect to see on your final day along your itinerary to visit Malta. Even if you’ve only got a few hours before your flight, be sure to take a gander.

Now, one of the things that make this city so special is the Rotunda of Mosta; a massive basilica that’s actually based on the Pantheon in Italy.

Once you arrive, you’ll soon see why it’s such a special spot, especially with it housing one of the largest, unsupported domes in the whole world!

If you’ve still got time, take a wander over to the Ta’ Bistra Catacombs that’s just shy of the city centre. You’ll get to see a heap of historic catacombs that are pretty unique to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

When I feel you love me

When I feel you love me

The stars are calling, the night passes
the day I’ll live won’t fade away
I’ll change the world just for you
It’s impossible, but not for me
I wanna hold you close
Under the rain
I wanna kiss your smile
And feel the pain
I know what’s beautiful
Looking at you
In a world of lies
You are the truth
My love! When you love me
I feel strong
I’ll save you wherever you’ll be
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
Nothing is above me
I’m shining like a candle in the dark
When I feel you love me
I wanna make you see
Just what I was
Show you the loneliness
And what it does
And my tears are already far away
everything is easier if you’re here
Oh baby
Every time you touch me
I become a hero
I’ll make you safe
No matter where you are
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
nothing seems too much
I glow even in the dark
When you tell me that you love me
Without you, the world can’t turn around anymore
Only your love can save me
My love! When you love me
I feel strong
I’ll save you wherever you’ll be
I’ll bring you everything you ask for
nothing seems too much
I glow even in the dark
when I feel you love me
You love me
When I feel you love me

 

 

8 Health Benefits From Having More of Them

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Benjamin Franklin

“One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.” – Robert Brault

There are many famous quotes by famous and influential people about rising early in the morning.  But is there any strength to these quotes? This article talks about 8 benefits of being an early riser.

Early mornings for some can be a drag, and let’s be honest here, there will always be morning’s especially when it’s dark outside that all you will want to do is pull the covers over your head for an extra 5 minutes.

With so many benefits to waking up early, from enhancing your productivity in school or work, to being better able to stick to a diet plan to having more energy levels and better mood, it’s easy to see why many famous people swear by it attributing to their success, Richard Branson for example says he wakes at 5 am each morning.

Knowing this it is hard not to adopt this way of life to your daily routine. So let’s talk about some of these benefits and how to become an early riser.

1. Positive Outlook

According to studies early risers often tend to go to bed early as well, which means they are more likely to get the 7-9 hours recommended sleep for adults.

Sleeping the full amount regularly is said to help lead towards a healthier body and mind,  which in turn has its own benefits, so it is easy to see why early risers may be less stressed and have more positivity in their lives.

2. More Energy

More rest equals more energy, plain and simple . If you get into the routine of rising early and retiring to bed early you are more likely to have a better sleeping pattern which leads to being more energetic throughout the day, helping you accomplish your goals and tasks in a faster and more productive manner.

3. Body System Reboot

Regular sleep is important for your general health.  Not only does a full night sleep help to drop your blood pressure, helps your muscles to relax and repair, your breathing to slow and your body temperature to drop, but studies show that T-cells, which are the white blood cells that help to fight infection, tend to drop when you get a full night’s sleep. This is your immune system rebooting itself while you rest.

4. More Time to Exercise

After a busy day’s work, you can be both mentally and physically exhausted and the last thing you want to do is head to the gym or go out for a run. You make promises to yourself you’ll go tomorrow, only to have the same thing happen.  Early risers have the benefit of being able to fit their workout in, before the madness of the day takes over. This also helps to kickstart the body and mind which will energize you for the day.

5. Become more Organized

Sometimes the saying “Not enough hours in the day” springs to mind.

We fall asleep thinking about all the things we are going to get done the following day, whether that be at work or at home, or both. Then something throws us off, we sleep in, forgot something on the way to work, or get delayed in traffic and our day seems to spiral after that.

Being an early riser means you can get a head start on the day and helps to kickstart your day off to a good start.

By planning and laying out some goals and tasks to accomplish the previous day can help you be more organized and make use of that early start.

6. Healthier Eating

No time for breakfast? Grabbing something quick and easy on the go while you

run out the door? Sound familiar? Rising later doesn’t give you the much needed time to break the fast from the night before and prepare a sustainable breakfast that will set you up for the day.

Recent research has found that late sleepers generally consume approximately 248 more calories than those who rise early. They tend to only eat half as much fruit and vegetables and twice as much fast food as their early riser counterparts.

7. More Productive

Your brain tends to be the most alert in the morning, so why not use that time wisely to focus on important tasks un-interrupted while the rest of your house and world sleep.

You tend to make better decisions and think more clearly in the morning, then at any other time of day.

Starting the day early also improves your concentration which means you can accomplish those goals and tasks that you set out the night before. It also means that by the time you get to work, you are fully awake and properly acclimatized to the day meaning you will be more alert during those peak hours.

8. Helps your Skin Look Healthy

Our skin tends to look its best in the morning after a full night’s restful sleep. And being an early riser means you can take advantage and take your time to make sure your skin looks its best.

People who wake up early also tend to have regular sleeping habits which help to ensure that your skin gets the proper time to rejuvenate itself.

Getting into the Routine

Ok, so we’ve outlined some tips on how to be an early riser, but how do we start getting into the routine, while also getting enough sleep. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Start slowly.
  • Try waking just 15-30 minutes earlier than usual at the start. Get used to this for a few days, then cut back another 15 minutes. Keep doing this gradually until you get to your goal time.
  • Allow yourself to go to sleep earlier. You might be used to staying up late, but if you continue to do this while trying to get up earlier, sooner or later one is going to give. And if it is the early rising that gives, then you will crash and sleep late and have to start all over again. Try going to bed earlier, even if you don’t think you’ll sleep and read while in bed or mediate for a few minutes to help relax your mind. If you’re really tired, you just might fall asleep much sooner than you think.
  • Don’t have your alarm clock next to your bed
  • This is an important one, if it is within arms reach, the temptation is there to just reach out and hit the snooze button or worse still you could end up just turning it off.
  • By having your alarm clock far from your bed, you will have to get up out of bed to shut it off. Then, you’re up. Now you just have to stay up.
  • Open the blinds or curtains and get out of the room as soon as you turn off the alarm
  • By doing this you are less likely to talk yourself into getting back into bed, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Do not rationalize. If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
  • Have a good reason for setting that alarm:
  • Set something to do early in the morning that’s important. This will help motivate you to get up and do it. Once it is done, you’ll be awake and ready to take on the day.

Take advantage of all that extra time

Have a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. Read a book, Watch the sunrise or meditate. Don’t wake up early, to wander around and not make the most of your time. Find something that’s pleasurable for you, and allow yourself to do it as part of your morning routine.

Getting up early has many benefits for both your body and your mind. The hardest part is convincing yourself to do it, and then getting into a routine of getting up early every morning. If you start implementing these tips you will soon see that it gets easier and eventually you will find that your body starts to get used to it, and you end up waking even before your alarm goes off.

 

 

19 Beautiful Islands In Greece You Have To Visit

Greece is one of those countries that you’ll never get bored of visiting. With thousands of little islands and the gorgeous mainland, it’s a place that just gets better with every trip. That’s what makes a trip to some of the most beautiful islands in Greece a necessity.

With stunning islands like Kefalonia, to the big (and gorgeous) islands like Crete – each one has its own particular charm, mountains of yummy Greek food to devour, and plenty of stunning beaches to take a dip.

Oh yeah, and if you’re looking for someone to carry your luggage whilst you’re there, just pop me a message! I’m already itching to go back. Ha! 🤣

Take a look of 19 of the very best and beautiful islands in Greece you should visit this year. You’ll love it!

1.) Santorini

 

Yeah, I know… I’m probably starting with the most obvious of Greek islands, but with good reason. I’m pretty sure Santorini is the most famous and possibly the most beautiful islands in Greece.

With its clifftop villages and amazing views, it’s one of the unique Greek Islands that has been massively shaped by a volcanic eruption a few thousand years ago. Legend has it that the island is actually the home of Atlantis which was devoured by the sea quite a few millennia ago.

Whatever the case, you’re going to love it. Make sure to try some of the tasty dishes on the island and explore some of the prettiest sites to see once you’ve arrived.

2.) Mykonos

Mykonos is a stunner of a place, especially with all the little coves and quaint towns (that are soooo picturesque).

Make sure to wander around the cobbled streets of Mykonos Town, head over to Delos Island on a Kaiki (small boat) and visit the monastery of Panagia Tourliani. Oh yeah, don’t forget to see the island’s famous windmills too! They’re gorgeous at sunset.

For a tasty bite, head over to M-eating for some of their freshly caught sea bass. It really is one of the beautiful islands in Greece you should explore.

3.) Corfu

Perched on the west side of Greece, Corfu is one of the larger northerly islands you should definitely visit.

Now, there’s a common misconception that Corfu is all about package holidays and boozy lads nights out. This couldn’t be further from the truth for the majority of the island. Yes, there are a few areas that cater to the party crowd but the vast majority of the island is so gorgeous and the ideal spot for us travellers to explore.

Make sure to visit the dramatic Cape Drastis, visit the Vlacherna Monastery and see the stunning canal d’Amour.

4.) Crete

Crete is, without a doubt, the largest of the beautiful islands in Greece you should visit.

The best thing about Crete is that there’s so much to see, meaning you can easily justify a week or two just on the island itself. Heck, go for a month if you want!

Whilst you’re exploring the island, head over to Spinalonga Island to see the historic fort, take a boat to the isolated Greek village of Loutro and ramble around Balos Lagoon. You’ll get some epic views.

 

5.) Rhodes

Rhodes was the first ever Greek island I’d ever visited… and what an introduction it was. whilst you’re there, hop over to the village of Lindos, see the Acropolis and the medieval sites within the old town itself.

For some of the tastiest dishes, pop into Ta Kardasia if you’re hankering for some authentic Greek food. They make the best moussaka in all of Rhodes.

6.) Amorgos

Part of the Cyclades island group, Amorgos is one of those islands that’s a little off-the-beaten-track, especially compared to places like Santorini.

The best thing about Amorgos is that you can literally spend your trip on ‘island time’, chilling out, gorging on the fresh seafood that arrives every morning and seeing the stunning sites like; Hozoviotissa, the monastery on the cliffs.

For the best appaki chicken, head over to Chora and the restaurant of TranzisToRaki. Just make sure to arrive early, or be prepared to wait for a table. This place does get busy with locals and visitors alike.

7.) Zakynthos

Perched within the Ionian Sea, Zakynthos is one stunning island to visit. With places like Navagio Beach, the Blue Caves and Porto Limnionas, you’ll be spoilt for choice in places to explore.

Of course, most of us travellers to the island will definitely want to see Navagio Beach, meaning there’ll be lots of boat tours to get to the beach itself.

The waters really are stunningly blue and you’ll get some of the best views you could wish for. As a popular spot, expect it to get a little crowded but it’s a must-see spot whilst you’re on the island.

Don’t forget to visit the nearby Marathonisi Island, too.

8.) Kefalonia

Another gorgeous spot in the Ionian Sea, Kefalonia is one of the beautiful islands in Greece you should definitely visit.

Make sure to visit the historic hilly capital of Argostoli, explore the stunning Melissani Cave and visit Myrtos Beach too.

Although you’re not allowed to swim in Melissani Cave, you can still take a boat tour of this stunning place.

It has to be seen to be believed.

9.) Lefkada

Lefkada is one of only a handful of beautiful islands in Greece that is reachable from the mainland by road. Nestled just off the coast and connected by a bridge and causeway, it’s a really special island to visit especially after exploring the gorgeous spots in mainland Greece. You’ll find it’s quite a bit quieter (with visitors) than lots of the other Greek islands, too.

Spend your days taking a well-earned dip at Porto Katsiki and gorge on all the food at Basilico Restaurant (in Nidri) who cook the best-grilled calamari.

10.) Paros

Nestled in the Aegean Sea, Paros Island is about 80 km north of Santorini. Spend some time in the Old Port of Naoussa, take a dip at Kolymbithres Beach and gorge at the Markakis Restaurant (in Piso Livadi).

You really won’t find a more authentic Greek taverna.

11.) Andros

Andros is quite a mountainous and dramatic island you will want to visit. With a whole heap of mountain ranges and rugged coastal villages, you’ll definitely find Andros a throwback to times gone by. For a gorgeous, sandy beach, head to Agios Petros. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to explore some historical sites make sure to visit the Monastery of Panachrantos.

Also, if you want to feed your inner explorer spirit – pop down to the dramatic Cave Foros. It really is a stunner.

12.) Milos

Pretty close to Crete, Milos is a stunning little volcanic island that really reminds me of Santorini – especially with the dramatic covers and cliffs.

One of my favourite spots, especially for a little chill time is Firopotamos. It’s a great place for a dip. For dinner with a view, pop into Ergina Restuarant. You won’t be disappointed.

13.) Antipaxos

Antipaxos is a tiny little island with only around 20 people living on it, so expect a warm welcome! One of the easiest ways to get to Antipaxos is from Paxos Island itself (which is about 2km away) which is a pretty easy ride as long as you can rent a boat.

Now, the island really is tiny, so you might want to consider a visit for a day trip, especially in the summer months when the beaches and scenery are just too good to miss.

14.) Syros

Syros is a popular little island for city dwellers in Athens to head to for a little break and it’s easy to know why. This is a gorgeous island to explore. Wander around the narrow streets of Hermoupolis, see the pretty Apollon Theatre and head to Allou Yialou for some typical island food.

15.) Inouses

Inouses island is only about 3 km from mainland Turkey and is tiny in comparison to islands like Crete but that shouldn’t stop you visiting. The island is totally beautiful! You can even rent a boat and skipper and visit Pasas for a day trip too.

Just make sure to take lots of supplies like water and grub. It’s great for a little getaway.

16.) Lesbos

Lesbos is one of the beautiful islands in Greece you have to make time for. I mean, where else can you explore Molivos Castle, see a petrified forest and visit an Ouzo distillery (in Plomari).

For a pretty place to eat (with tasty food), head to Tropicana (in Molyvos) where they serve the best-roasted lamb and plums.  You’ll love it.

17.) Skiathos

Skiathos is one of the smaller Greek islands that’s great to visit for a relaxing break. After spending your days relaxing on Lalaria Beach, pop over to Il Kastro to watch the sunset and gorge on all the delicious Greek food in one of the hundreds of little tavernas.

The Windmill Restaurant (in Skiathos Town) is stunning if you’re looking for a special dining experience.

18.) Kea

Often forgotten by many visitors to Greece, Kea is a charming little island that’ll whisk you away to a more down-to-earth and local experience.

Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Lion of Kea. Don’t worry though, he’s made of stone! 🦁

19.) Symi

The colourful house of Symi is as picturesque as they come and easily up there as one of the beautiful islands in Greece to visit.

Quite a bit away from the white-washed houses of Santorini, Symi is a colourful affair filled with oodles of charm that I know you’ll love.

11 Gratitude Books To Remind You To Be Thankful Daily

In my continuous pursuit of happiness, one thing that people emphasize time and again is a feeling of gratitude. These days, the science behind gratitude and the general public are starting to get the idea that gratitude for things in life is actually a good thing. With life going by so fast, taking some time to slow down and express some gratitude is always nice.

In light of all this, I’ve gone out to look for some of the best books revolving around gratitude. These books do more than show us the benefits of gratitude. In fact, these books are able to help us bring a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and wellbeing to ourselves too.

Before diving into the list, here is the sort of criteria I looked for in books about gratitude. Considering how sizable the self-improvement industry is, you can use these criteria to determine other books beyond this list:

  • Easy to apply lifestyle – Expressing gratitude is not a difficult process, however, the benefits and day to day transformations can be hard to spot for those looking to get into it. The books we are suggesting today go to great lengths to outline the benefits and what you may experience when practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Science-based – With the extensive amount of research done around gratitude at this point, many authors should be taking the time to do research.
  • Insightful – Gratitude is more than a feeling. It’s also a mindset shift. Not only will this make you a more thankful individual, but it should also give you more insight on yourself as you make changes to yourself every day.

 

1. Words of Gratitude

Written by Robert Emmons, he is one of the most influential professionals in gratitude research with several books and articles published on this topic. This book is written in sweet spots of many people, between academic areas and intimate ones as well.

If you’re looking for a book that has ample research but also explains itself in simple language, give this book a read.

Written by Robert Emmons, he is one of the most influential professionals in gratitude research with several books and articles published on this topic. This book is written in sweet spots of many people, between academic areas and intimate ones as well.

If you’re looking for a book that has ample research but also explains itself in simple language, give this book a read.

 

2. The Psychology of Gratitude

Another book that Robert Emmons worked on is The Psychology of Gratitude. He and Michael McCullough assembled this book for those looking to delve further into the theories, philosophies, and evidence surrounding gratitude overall.

This book pulls various perspectives and fields. It provides such an in-depth look into gratitude that many describe this as a necessary book if you’re ever planning to get into positive psychology. That said, you don’t need to have a background in it to understand this book.

Another book that Robert Emmons worked on is The Psychology of Gratitude. He and Michael McCullough assembled this book for those looking to delve further into the theories, philosophies, and evidence surrounding gratitude overall.

This book pulls various perspectives and fields. It provides such an in-depth look into gratitude that many describe this as a necessary book if you’re ever planning to get into positive psychology. That said, you don’t need to have a background in it to understand this book.

3. Thanks!

The last Emmons book I’ll talk about in this post is Thanks!. This calls back to the Words of Gratitude book he wrote where there is a bit of gratitude research while also giving different perspectives.

This book pulls from psychology, religion and anthropology before offering a call to action to cultivate gratitude in your life. The angle this book is taking is more along the lines of understanding how gratitude can create a life-changing addition to your life as well as tactics to use it in your life.

4. A Simple Act of Gratitude

 

Written by John Kralik, this memoir provides a personal look into gratitude and how it can change someone’s life. In this memoir, John Kralik talks about an all-time low point in his life to make it into a happy and flourishing life.

How he went about it was through the simple act of writing down thank-you notes to himself. After doing enough of those he had an epiphany:

“My life would become more manageable if I spent all my energy and focus on what I do have in my life rather than what I don’t have.”

That epiphany sent him on a journey where he devoted an entire year to writing 365 thank-you notes, once per day. Every time he did that he noticed profound changes in himself and wrote all about them in this book.

If you’re looking for a simple book to see gratitude in action, this is a great pick.

 

5. The Gratitude Diaries

A New York Times bestselling book has a mixture of the books discussed so far. The core focus of this book is revolving around one woman’s efforts to stick to her New Year’s resolution of being more grateful and optimistic – similar to John Kralik.

At the same time, the book delves into plenty of academic research and backs up findings with evidence-based findings like the Robert Emmons books.

This approach Janice Kaplan takes is nice as you’re getting the best of both worlds. All wrapped up in a book that you can casually read thanks to the informal and accessible tonne.

6. One Thousand Gifts

Many great gratitude books stem from personal exploration as these help us to better understand gratitude. Ann Voskamp’s book – One Thousand Gifts – is no different as she shares her personal transformation around her new habit of writing down specifics of what she is thankful for. In the book, she refers to these as “gifts”.

She argues that jotting these down on a regular basis will allow us to notice the smaller details in our lives. Based on her own transformation, it’s hard to argue with that logic.

7. Living Life As A Thank You

Written by authors Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons, this book drives home that whatever you’re given in life, even if it’s bad, saying thank you for these can change your life. This book provides a gratitude plan for those looking to delve into gratitude and also to help them understand how gratitude can improve the daily feelings of compassion, hope, and love.

8. The Little Book of Hygge

Pronounced as Hoo-ga, the idea of Hygge has Danish origins. It loosely translates to a feeling of community, well-being and coziness. The author – Meik Wiking – writes about Hygge as a way to introduce this concept and how people can incorporate this into your life.

And it’s not like these are very difficult to achieve. According to Hygge, things like taking breaks, and being present are easy to do. They also aren’t that much of a stretch to the ideas and benefits that we get when expressing gratitude.

9. The Gifts of Imperfection

Brené Brown has written all kinds of books over the years on a variety of topics. One in her wheelhouse focuses on gratitude. To Brown, she outlines ten guideposts that are designed to inspire people to live a wholehearted and authentic life. She argues that by living your life in this way, it’s easier to accept, show compassion, and cultivate gratitude in your life.

10. Everyday Gratitude

For those looking for quick bursts of information or something very easy to read, picking up a copy of Everyday Gratitude could be an option. The focus of this book is revolving around quotes from influential figures plus reflections and practices for viewing life as a gift. This is great for those who aren’t too keen on knowing the inner workings and want to experience gratitude first hand in a faster way.

11. Gratitude

The final book we’ll share is one written by Oliver Sacks titled Gratitude. Even though he didn’t do any research in the gratitude field, his essays and the multiple books he’s published since the early 1980s made their marks on many people.

Based on his essays and books it’s clear that Sacks was a man filled with gratitude. Even when he announced to people that he had terminal cancer in January 2015, he had this to say:

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude.”

This book consists of four essays that were published in The New York Times – one of them being the essay where he announced his illness. This is complemented by his partner’s words and photographs of the last few years of his life.

If you’re looking for a thought-provoking and heart-wrenching book that looks at the entire cycle of life, this is your best option.

Final Thoughts

In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to lose ourselves or forget about feeling grateful in our lives. These books teach us and remind us to slow down and take notice of the small things in life.

Many of these books also stress why that is so important to do in the first place. For those looking to hope into the world of gratitude, you can’t go wrong with picking up any of these books.

 

6 ways to promote professional growth during the pandemic

In times like these, it can be easy to feel as though you’ve run out of options for furthering your career. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has forced many young entrepreneurs to feel as though they need to slam the breaks on their journeys, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Today, many business people are simply looking for ways to make ends meet, but those that have managed to gain their footing should be looking one step further. Developing the right professional skills now can help you fend off against potential downturns later on — an invaluable opportunity for many.

Kickstarting professional growth, however, is always easier said than done. If you’re looking for a way to take your career to the next level, try starting with these tips:

1. Find a mentor or a group

Even in the calmest of times, it takes a village to raise an executive — nowadays, you’ll want as much support as you can get. Your drive and skills play a major role in determining whether you succeed, but so does the support of the people around you. Cultivate relationships with mentors and join professional groups to find like-minded people who can help you get through the bad times and celebrate the good. Deliberately growing your network puts you in contact with a variety of smart people who can provide you with advice and recommendations at different stages of your career.

“Support from a network is one of the most critical aspects of professional success,” says Ritch Wood, CEO of Nu Skin. “You might make it on your own, but your chances of success increase dramatically with a network of support at your back.” People are more active online than ever, so simply reaching out on LinkedIn or shooting someone an email is a great place to start.

2. Read stories of successful people

“When I was in my early 20s, leadership development was not a blip on my radar,” says Marcel Schwantes, founder of Leadership from the Core. “It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much transformation could come from reading.”

People are always saying they’d read more if they had the time, and now more people have the time than ever. Get yourself in the right mindset by reading books written by people who have achieved the same goals you have set for yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking business books only feature enterprise CEOs — you can find books written by and for all kinds of people, from retail frontline workers to executives and everyone in between. Set a reading goal for yourself, grab a few works by people who inspire you, and start with chapter one.

3. Talk to your boss about your vision

“Your boss may know you do a great job, but her plate is probably completely full with her own obligations,” says Job Success Lab founder Lea McLeod. “If you’re interested in a new promotion or assignment, ask!”

As many businesses find their very foundations in flux, consider this an opportunity to carve out a new opportunity for yourself. Take some time to prepare materials that back up your case for a promotion, then schedule a conversation with your boss to make it happen. If you haven’t quite earned a shot at the next level, have a talk with your boss about what you need to do in the upcoming months to make your case. Check-in regularly to ensure your progress does not go unnoticed.

4. Start an active hobby

Endless commuting from the couch may sound good on paper, but your brain needs more activity in order to function properly. Give it the fuel it requires by staying active, outdoors if possible. If you aren’t naturally inclined toward athletics, try something less competitive, such as hiking or yoga. Whether you want to join a digital fitness group or go at it solo, it’s the activity that matters. Remember, your goal is to become a more well-rounded person.

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, found scuba diving to be the perfect escape from his everyday grind. “Learning something entirely new, without the pressure of it being directly correlated to my career, refreshed my mind and helped me think of things differently,” says Wong.

5. Learn when to unplug

As the lines between home and office become more blurred than ever before, unplugging has become an absolute must. “Time spent away from work should be time to unwind and recharge,” says psychologist Kurt Smith. “But if you’re constantly checking work emails on your cell phone, you never let your brain turn off and you risk getting burned out.”

To achieve your professional goals, you must be ready to give 100% when you’re on stage. That means you can’t maintain a slow burn of semi-work status when you’re off the clock. Be fully present when you’re on the job, but unplug completely when it’s time to punch out. Your performance will improve thanks to your more effective, more sustainable schedule.

6. Attend a digital conference

“Networking is only awkward and difficult when you approach it entirely cold without any shared context, values, or ways of entering a conversation,” says Zak Slayback, networking advisor and author. “Choose an event with a shared, value-driven context and you’ll find that networking and connecting with new people becomes considerably less awkward.”

As conferences the world over are canceled or postponed, some organizations are filling the gaps with exciting digital events. Those who take the time to attend these conferences will be those most dedicated to their paths in life, so they pose a great opportunity to connect with people who can help you along your journey.

Just because the world seems to have stopped turning doesn’t mean that your career has to as well. By honing in on the aspects of your life that could use the most attention, you’ll emerge from the pandemic a more well-rounded professional than ever before.

Is Your Social Media Content Attracting Leads? 4 Ways to Bolster Your Strategy

Digital marketers often identify social media as one of the best forms of , but it can often feel like we’re just going through the motions. If the  isn’t attracting leads, what good is it? It’s likely you just need a quick boost in strategy to make sure your content is appealing to your  and getting inbound requests and messages.

In fact, 90 percent of social media users have used the platform to communicate directly with a business before. So if none of your customers or followers are reaching out to you, it’s a telltale sign that something should be changed. Ideally, you’ll post a picture or video with a robust caption that offers value and the floodgates will open: direct messages, likes, comments and queries should start coming (or even just trickling at first) in, proving that your content struck a chord and inspired action. Not there yet? Here are four ways to bolster your strategy to attract those leads.

Related: Content Marketing Secrets for Every Social Media Platform

1. Focus your content on interesting stories

How much does your content dive into stories? They don’t have to be your personal stories. Stories of past clients, stories of other inspiring entrepreneurs or even folklore stories can be used to establish your point. Stories of other people who just went for it and found massive success are powerful too. It helps readers or viewers imagine themselves in the shoes of the story’s protagonist. These stories can be shared in captions or in the post itself through videos.

Lenney Leong is the founder of Get Customers. He’s had success creating video content around stories, with over 7.2 million views and counting. He advised me to make sure you engage from the start. A long, roundabout story will do little to draw viewers in. “Set the stage for the story from the first sentence, or by the title of the video,” Leong noted. “Be straightforward so people know they should stay engaged throughout the storytelling and know what to expect.” Leong has garnered many inbound conversations as a result of this storytelling. And it’s worth noting that videos perform best on , seeing 49 percent higher interactions.

2. Do a poll asking what type of content people want most

Instagram has many interactive features in its Story functionality. Use them! If you feel like you’re unsure what your followers really care about, utilize the poll to see for sure. It’s possible you’ve been creating content for something they’re peripherally interested in, but they are really curious about how you created your product’s landing page or how you scaled your company one year in. Instagram influencers and bloggers swear by the functionality, especially because it can have surprising results. You may think your followers want one type of content when really they want another.

Be open to what you haven’t yet considered. In addition to the polls (where followers can choose one of two options), also use the “Question and Answer” functionality so people can submit, in their own words, what they most want you to talk about.

Related: 3 Keys to a Highly-Effective Content Marketing Strategy

3. Host a Q & A on Facebook or Instagram Live

While using the story functionalities is a great way to glean some initial insights, it also depends on what your viewers are doing when they flip through your story and if they currently have the time, interest, or energy to engage. “Another great way to bolster your content strategy is to host a Q&A on Facebook or Instagram live,” says Sarah Lefebvre, CEO of Localiz. “Followers may be more likely to submit questions if you’re going to answer in real-time, and you can tell by the questions or  that you’re getting as you navigate different topics what is resonating the most.”

Even better — since only a fraction of your audience will tune in for the live, you can use the answers you gave and strategies you talked about in future posts. Save the video, take notes, and convert into posts of their own. Now that you know for sure it’s something people are interested in!

Related: How Your Business Can Capitalize on Facebook Live

4. Make sure you have a call to action in every post

Finally, it sounds so simple but is often overlooked. Make sure there’s a call to action in every single post! It doesn’t have to be the same every time, but use something like, “Message me if you’re interested,” or “Follow me for more content like this.” Even asking viewers to comment with a watermelon emoji if they are also looking forward to summer drives engagement and lets you know who is paying attention to your posts.

Without a call to action, people simply don’t know how to engage. Be clear, state what you’re looking for, and give plenty of direction to viewers and followers — all of which leads to a direct message conversation or whichever KPI matters most to your business.

If you use these 5 phrases, you aren’t as empathetic as you think

Are you accidentally a dismissive listener?

Dismissive listening is the opposite of empathetic listening. It says “I want to fix you” or “I want to fix your problem” instead of “I hear you, what do you need?” While empathetic listeners are able to determine what a conversation partner wants or needs, dismissive listeners tend to be less charismatic in conversation and can be seriously holding back their relationships by leaning on inefficient (and generally less empathetic!) listening skills. As a result, they tend to be less effective leaders, mentors, parents and friends.

The good news: Dismissive listening isn’t a personality, it’s a practice. It can be corrected. The first step is diagnosing the situation. If you use any of these phrases, you may be engaging in dismissive listening. Keep reading to determine how you’re leading conversations down the wrong road — and what to say instead.

It’s worth noting that these critiques don’t apply to conversations that open with someone asking for advice or feedback. Instead, they apply to more subtle, open-ended conversations where empathetic listening is required.

1. “Aww! Don’t be upset!”

If someone comes to you when they’re upset about something — from missing out on promotion to experiencing a difficult life event — countering by telling them not to experience their feelings is reductive and dismissive. While you’re a kind person and want to see them happy again as soon as possible, asking them to simply not be upset may make them feel guilty for bringing it up or feel like their emotional experience isn’t valid.

What to say instead: I’m listening. That sounds hard.

This phrase reconfirms that you were a safe person to have this conversation with and validates their feelings. It also allows them the space to lead how the conversation progresses.

2. “What if you try this?”

Most of the time, people are approaching you with a conversation — especially a conversation about a problem at work or at home — to vent and have their experience validated. You’re a nice person and you want to help, but leading with unsolicited advice focuses the conversation on fixing the problem from your perspective instead of on how the problem is affecting your conversation partner. That’s dismissive of their experience and can lead them to feel frustrated and not heard.

What to say instead: I want to help. How can I show up for you moving forward?

Saying this allows you to take action and offer help without inserting your own solutions or opinions into space where someone hasn’t asked for them. If they want help, they’ll tell you how you can engage. Or, they’ll tell you they just needed you to listen.

3. “Oh! You should read/listen to this…”

Similar to the above, this well-intentioned phrase offers unsolicited advice — and shallow advice, at that. If someone is approaching you with a difficult experience — from a layoff to getting into a serious fight with a friend — they likely know where they can go to get advice. We all have Google on hand. Unless they ask, don’t offer those options up. It’s a bit deflective and insinuates their experience can be reduced to a problem that can be solved via educational podcast or inspirational memoir.

What to say instead: I want to help. How can I show up for you moving forward?

Instead, focus on their experiences and how they see you fitting into the larger conversation, if at all. Chances are, they just wanted to vent or wanted you to offer a real piece of wisdom. They’ll let you know!

4. “I totally get it. One time…”

While sometimes you really will get what your conversation partner is experiencing, most of the time, you won’t. We all live individual lives, complicated by our personal experiences, identity dimensions and personalities. While this phrase feels empathetic when you’re saying it, it may feel reductive or just plain wrong to the person on the other side. It also centers your experience over theirs. It’s best to proceed with this route only if you’re asked for similar situations or what you learned from them.

What to say instead: It sounds like you’re saying… Is that accurate?

Instead of assuming you understand what they’re experiencing, repeat back to them your impression of the situation. It centers them, reinforces that you’re listening and helps them progress the conversation in the direction they’d like it to go.

5. “You’ll be fine!”

If someone comes to you with a problem or difficult situation, telling them that it will all work out isn’t just invalidating, it’s not very helpful, either. You’re a nice person and you want to be encouraging and optimistic, but these words reduce the complicated experience someone might have and also deflects the conversation instead of allowing them space to talk through those emotions. This kills your credibility as a listener.

For example, telling a direct report that’s anxious for a presentation that they’ll be “totally fine!” is likely to kill their confidence coming to you for encouragement in the future. Similarly, telling a friend who just got laid off that they’ll be “totally fine because they’re so talented!” makes them unlikely to come to you with complicated, hard situations in the future.

What to say instead: It sounds like you’re saying… Is that accurate? How do you think it will impact you moving forward? How can I show up for you?

To avoid being reductive, reconfirm with someone how you think they’re feeling and how the experience is impacting them. Then, ask how you can help. This centers their experience without reducing it, shows interest in how they foresee the experience continuing to impact them and allows you to expertly diagnose what they’re expecting from the conversation.