Would You Rather Go To Mars Or Save Earth?

Almost two decades have been marked by record-breaking hurricanes, floods and heatwaves. It is snowing plastic in the Arctic, our shorelines and marine life are choked and bound in plastic, yet conditions continue to deteriorate further. Since the 2020 pandemic began, there have been an estimated 194 billion disposable face masks and gloves being tossed every month, washing up on shorelines, worldwide.  

Almost 15 years ago, ‘sustainability’ became an overnight household term. From one day to the next, practically every existing corporate company had put in place a sustainability program, recycling bins, dedicated staff and budgets. Never before have the concept and implications of sustainability reached so far, as they have in the last two decades. Yet in the blink of an eye, it has been put to rest with the arrival of Covid-19. 

The long term impact of our day to day actions, on the environment, have been a concern for mankind far longer than most of us realize. As far back as the 17th century, Forestry was the first economic activity where people were confronted with the long term issues surrounding forestry and sustainability.  

Following the USA’s first landing on the moon, in the 1970’s, there was a strong stirring with concerns for the future of our planet. In just a few decades we’ve reached a critical point. Now that we have the resources, tools, knowledge and technology to save our planet, those with the means to do so have turned their eyes, power and wealth towards Mars.

New Frontiers To Fight Over Are In Cyberspace Or Outer Space

In the midst of a global pandemic, China managed 140 launches into orbit. With an exhaustive five year program for their new orbital space station, the retrieval of Martian samples and a Jupiter exploratory mission, for starters. 

India launched its ‘Defense Space Research Organization’ which is charged with finding and implementing defense applications for India’s entire spectrum of space technologies and protecting India’s interests in space.

So far, NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates all launched missions to mars in July, 2020. Always follow the money if you want a glimpse of the future. We are living at a time when the new frontiers to fight over are in cyberspace or outer space. 

We all know where Musks stands when it comes to ensuring the survival of the human race. He is a firm believer that a permanent and self-sustaining presence on Mars is needed, in case earth is left uninhabitable and he has put his money where his mouth is.  

A Martian city is being designed in the Dubai desert, made up of pressurized bio-domes, covered with transparent polyethylene membrane, like those we’ve seen in many sci-fi movies and series. 

So far, NASA, China, and the United Arab Emirates have all launched missions to Mars in July, 2020. Always follow the money if you want a glimpse of the future. We are living at a time when the new frontiers to fight over are in cyberspace or outer space and 2021 promises to be a competitive race for all invested parties.

We were promised a sustainable future, with cars that don’t burn oil, a future where central power stations would be redundant, and carbon emissions, a thing of the past. Where industries no longer dump toxic waste into our waters. We have the resources and the technology to do all this and we are already seeing important changes in the automotive industry.

Surely between climate and marine policy advisors, activists, technology, and science, we should stand a chance of saving the planet, but will this happen? How can this happen when countries, governments, top scientists, researchers, architects, and tycoons are invested in an evacuation program to Mars?

Regardless of the scope, ambitions, and investments being made with this race towards Mars, one thing is clear, Mars represents something other than a solution to our dying planet, and it will permanently alter our world’s geopolitical equilibrium. New powers will emerge. 

Earth Or Mars?

I have a foreboding that sometime soon the planet will be polarized and split into two, between those that believe the future of the human race can only be ensured by colonizing Mars and those that believe we can fix Earth. Which of these two factions would you side with?

Call me old world, but I happen to love planet earth and have intuitively known since I was a child, that it was the only planet I could call home. Sure, like most kids, I had my share of fantasies about space travel, and going to the moon, after all my generation grew up with the space race between Russia and the US and witnessed the first landing on the moon. 

As magical, life-changing, and mind-bending it was to watch Neil Armstrong do his moonwalk, I was grateful we had earth. 

It has been said that Modern man often lives detached from his environment and has long lost the understanding that we are one with nature. Perhaps we don’t deserve this exotic paradise we named earth. Perhaps we deserve to live under plastic domes on a desolate, unwelcoming planet such as Mars?  If so, how will future generations feel about not having had the chance to live their lives as earthlings? In most sci-fi stories, they always want to find a way back to earth, even if it means dying.

If nothing else, at least our stories speak loud and strong about our passionate love for planet earth.  In a world divided by frontiers, race, religion, and politics surely we must be able to identify as earthlings, at the very least.

It is frustrating to see so much money and resources being invested in a space race when these powers could join forces to save our planet. How ironic and sad, to think that all that awaits human civilization, in the near future, is a desolate, harsh planet where people live in bubbles, imitating earth. 

How To Take The Lead As A Newbie Copywriter

I felt compelled to write this article, following my own decision to embark on a career as a copywriter. There are many blog and copywriting gurus, out there, promising to share their trade secrets and help you pave the way to becoming a highly paid copywriter, double and triple the traffic to your blog, or turn you into a famous blogger.

They’ll promise you writing material you can’t buy anywhere or from anyone else and zillions of hours of content and templates, all organized to save you loads of time, and double or triple your blog’s traffic.

There are no shortcuts and no get-rich-quick schemes. The best way to learn to be a writer is by writing, every day and reading what others write. I literally dove into writing overnight. I had been writing short stories, mostly fiction, for my own amusement and for some close friends. About two years ago I left my job of 20 years, in television, and I embarked on a full-time writing career.

How I Got Started As A Copywriter

I took a few grammar and writing tests online, with a couple of agencies. I jumped on board with the first one that let me in, I was eager.

I will be brutally honest. The pay sucks and it is often difficult to get inspired by the client briefs. Although that could have been a personal setback, due to my bout with writing fiction, I made an exerted effort to stick to the task at hand, which was to learn the trade. Client briefs can be totally incoherent, inexistent, or exhaustive. Guess what, it’s the perfect boot-camp experience for any newbie copywriter.

Your Toolkit As A Copywriter

No matter where or how you decide to embark on the copywriting train, make sure you’ve done your homework and honed your skills before you enter the arena.

You must have polished writing skills, know how to write powerful headlines, and have an awareness and empathy for user experience and marketing. After all, copywriting needs to reach the niche needs of consumers.

Every sector has its own language, at times quite technical. It is imperative that you be able to swiftly grasp and synthesize the basic concepts you are to communicate in writing and do so in a way that elevates the brand and user experience. The tone and language you use need to be in sync with the topic, the client’s brand, and demographics.

Copywriting takes on different forms, from copy for advertising, websites, blog posts, UX writing, landing pages, brochures, product descriptions, and reviews, lead magnets, white papers, and more. Do some research and study these different formats. Do get familiar with SEO writing techniques as most web content requires this. Read as often as you write.

Set Goals For Yourself As A Copywriter

You need to set goals for yourself. My goal, starting out as a ghostwriter online, was to get promoted to a higher tier of writers, where I could access high-paying assignments, I gave myself one month to reach my goal. If I could get over 40 five-star reviews and recommendations, I could make it, and I did. There’s something to be said for setting a goal.

In order to achieve this, I needed to get some repeat customers. I managed to secure three loyal clients, who gave me first dibs on their requests. In one instance, it was the client who contacted me after reading the first article I had written. I also tried to pick clients with multiple assignments and write at least two articles for them, this was a good way of starting a working relationship with that particular client. In this manner, I secured two more loyal customers. They were very pleased with the two articles I had written and asked me if I would be interested in writing all of their content.

I love baptism by fire. What I mean to say is, I enjoy learning on the go and under the gun, so to speak. I perform well under pressure. In those four weeks or so, not only did I manage to get promoted to a better pay rate, the most important accomplishment was writing article after article, day after day, for three different clients, whose businesses, brands, and messages had nothing in common.

As a writer, I spend 60% to 70% of my time researching and 30% to 40% writing. Writing 40 articles covering the ins and outs of any topic can be an education in itself. Having a couple of websites where you get to write all the content, is an excellent addition to your portfolio. A writing portfolio and client reviews will give you credibility as a copywriter.

Build A Track Record As A Copywriter

As I mentioned earlier, the pay sucks, but that shouldn’t matter when you are starting out. The reason being, if you are a newbie copywriter, chances are, you have no track record. You’ll need to build a portfolio and get reviews and recommendations. This is the only way to build credibility and gain trust from prospective clients.

This is exactly what I did, working on a poor paying platform, for a couple of months. I wrote for numerous clients, until three of them became loyal clients. They were very pleased with the writing and the turnaround time so I got an exclusive, which also pays a higher rate, although that was not where my motivation lay. My goal was to reach further, one step at a time and move off the platform.

For my first client, I wrote the web content for a Generic Viagra online store, all of it. From the About Page, to disclaimers and a mountain of product reviews. I learned everything there is to know about erectile dysfunction, every possible treatment available, and what works best for whom. It was an interesting assignment, which definitely put my empathy and writing skills to the test. The five-star reviews from this client were abundant and seriously complimentary. His astounding reviews were, in part, what helped me secure my next two loyal clients.

For the second client, I wrote numerous blog articles, as a call to action, designed to attract local online businesses, to their marketing services. I gained a wealth of information researching the material, which in turn proved useful in marketing my own small business. I received excellent reviews both on the writing platform and LinkedIn, and was tipped generously by some clients.

For the third client, I completed a package of 40 articles with a call to action, for an aesthetics clinic’s website. As a result, I now have in depth knowledge of any and every procedure which can be performed on any part of the human body. Laser treatments are trending for anything from hair restoration to vaginal rejuvenation. You may be laughing right about now, or not. The fact is, the client has since offered me an exclusive long term blog writing contract for which I get to name my price.

What To Expect Starting Out As A Newbie Copywriter

Yes at first the pay is sad, but the paybacks are plentiful. You need to have realistic expectations and work your way up. Once you have what it takes, I call it ammunition, then you’re ready to play with the big guns.

To date, I have written articles promoting procedures, treatments and cures for every possible condition that ails humans. Following a mountain of DIY’s and product reviews, spanning from power tools to sex toys, I took a break and whipped up a few Bios for artists. I needed to change flavors. Then I moved on to wellness, which was a booming industry, following global lockdowns, due to COVID-19. Sex, as always, is a heavy contender in the virtual arena and maintains its poll position, so I took an assignment masquerading as an article on eroticism but was in fact a detailed review on different porn platforms. I was flabbergasted at how much porn has changed since blockbuster days. Wrote a couple of landing pages for online Cannabis dispensaries in the USA and Canada and these made me wish I lived there.

I enjoyed the variety and I find it keeps me fit and interested, as a writer. It’s almost as though I’m exercising different muscle groups, depending on what I’m writing about. It’s like wearing different hats and speaking different languages. You don’t need to go about it this way. You may be an expert in a certain area or prefer writing for a special niche and that’s a great way to go about starting your copywriting career.

Since I started my journey, only a few months back, I have secured two copious copywriting assignments on my own, one of which is a long-term assignment, and I get to name the price for both jobs. By my standards, it’s a notable accomplishment, as a newbie copywriter. My secret? Keep it real.

Keep It Real And Take The Lead

If you choose to start copywriting, via an online writing platform such as iWriter, Upwork or fiverr, you should know the competition is fierce but don’t let that get in your way. Not everyone is as good a copywriter as you are, remember that!

Any unoriginal or plagiarized content is immediately rejected. You may write a 1500 word post for a blog and it might get rejected, even though it is an authentic original piece, without you even getting a chance to rewrite. If this happens have a look and see what, if anything, you could have done better and move on to your next assignment.

Sometimes the briefs are misleading or lacking the necessary information. You’ll need to reach out and consult with your client. Maybe their title or the subheadings they’ve requested are not effective. If so, you need to take the lead and propose alternatives that will knock their socks off. Your client will appreciate your genuine interest, commitment and professionalism. This is how you can secure loyal customers for yourself as a copywriter.

The request for written content, whether it is for social marketing or to populate websites, has increased exponentially. The subject matters are infinite and cover every topic imaginable and unimaginable.

If you are serious about being a writer, then you need to write. No one can give you or sell you a magic, out of the box solution that will turn you into a famous, high paid copywriter or blogger, in a short time. It comes with practice, diligence, discipline, and passion. There are plenty of opportunities, to get started, if you are willing to do the work, keep it real and take the lead.

Becoming an accomplished writer is similar to forging a blade. A blade needs to be tempered through repeatedly heating, hammering and folding it, until the blade is fine, strong and sharp. The process can be demanding and laborious, if you want to secure your place amongst the sharpest of writers.

Why You Need A Brand Toolkit For Your Business

A brand is not your logo, a brand is a brand ambassador for your business and speaks on your behalf. It represents your company’s culture, image, reputation, and what it stands for. Your brand identity and your brand story are intimately connected. They are the emotional links and the lifeline between your company and your prospects. 

A brand kit is a customized kit, designed to assure that your brand identity is consistent across all social platforms. If you run an online business or use social media to promote your business online, your brand identity needs to be consistent across all your social media profiles. You will require banners, images, covers, features, posts, stories, and ads, and although social media platforms require different formats, your content should always be in line with your brand identity.

Designing an ad, or a post on Facebook and slapping your logo on a picture won’t cut it. In order to keep your brand identity alive and make sure people recognize you, you need to have consistent branding, which includes graphics, style, design, color palette, and fonts.

Below are some examples of a brand toolkit I designed for a client who is opening an online store specializing in high-quality truffles and all-natural truffle by-products, such as condiments, oils, and sauces.

The client is a truffle hunter, who lives with his hunting dogs, in Italy. He wants to distinguish his products and brand by making a connection with people who demand excellence and this means unadulterated products that are 100% natural.

His product line is small, selective, and top-quality. In designing the elements, I took these factors into consideration. The choice of colors and the brushstroke for the logo name were not casual choices. The irregular symbol next to the logo has an organic feel, reminiscent of the irregular shape of truffles. The customized toolkit reflects the brand identity the client wishes to build and promote.

A brand toolkit gives clients ready-made templates where images can be placed and this can make all the difference. Whether you are a small or large business, the same rules apply when it comes to brand identity and consistency across all platforms. Need help with your social network posts, covers, banners, and ads? A customized brand toolkit will boost communications and save you lots of time and grief. Contact me for a free consultation.

Is Pornography A Valid Vehicle For Our Sacred Erotic And Sexual Expression?

Storytelling is the most powerful tool of communication we have, so it’s no surprise that erotic stories and art can be found, worldwide. These have been with us from early engravings in rock and have lived on to become a favorite theme in adult videos.

Erotic stories are a celebration of human sexuality. Practically every civilization has left a legacy of erotic art and stories, from the earliest civilizations onward. Exquisite examples of ancient erotic art can be found in Japan, China, India, Ancient Greece and Rome. Through art, sculpture and literature, to modern day erotic videos, humans have been recording erotic tales.

With the advent of photography, the first erotic images came to life, in London’s Victorian era, and the world has never been the same since. The fascination of the forbidden has always been a motivator and it was no different with erotica.  

Is Pornography An Evolution Of Earlier Expressions Of Human Sexuality?

Photography put into question the moral ethics of such images and a fine line was created between erotic art and pornography. To this day there is still a lot of confusion between these two. Is pornography simply an evolution of earlier expressions of human sexuality? Some high profile erotic video makers, such as Carrol Lee, argue that in order to remove the negative connotations associated to the term ‘pornography’ it should be reclaimed so as to represent a more contemporary view on human sexual behavior.

With the internet, we witnessed a global explosion of erotic content, from the 1990s on. Some would say the internet was originally fueled by pornography.  Nowadays, with a few simple keystrokes, you can access erotic content from any part of the globe. A long shot from mail-order days and VHS rentals. 

This in itself clearly indicates we have come a long way and we no longer live our sensuality as a forbidden, sinful pleasure.

Who And What Are Erotic Videos For?

Do the erotic stories we share and pass on serve a purpose beyond voyeurism or entertainment? They can be a resource for couples wishing to reignite their love lives or to learn new ways of pleasing each other. Erotic stories can enhance our lives. These can help us open up to new ways of living our sexuality.  No matter how classic or unusual your tastes may be, there’s something for everybody. There are so many platforms to choose from, and the selection of online content so rich, it is practically intoxicating. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Similar to how a picture or video of a tasty grilled sirloin steak and baked potatoes can make you salivate and feel hungry, an erotic video can stimulate and titillate your senses, excite your imagination and make you hungry for some healthy fun. Your skin will flush and your heart rate increases, as your bodily senses are awakened and your sensual self comes to life.  

Sex is as important as air, food and water for human sustenance. The veil of shame and taboo, which religions have tainted human sexuality with for centuries, has been lifted in many cultures. Without this oppression, we can freely explore and express our individual sexuality and preferences without any stigma.

The list of online adult entertainment websites spans a truly vast and diverse landscape. 

Tube Sites

Tube sites are essentially porn video sites using an interface similar to YouTube and these have lots of freebies you can watch. Three top contenders in this category are XVideos, PornHub, and XHamster

Live Cam Sites

Live cam sites offer a one on one live cam experience. At the top of the list, you’ll find Jasmin, Bongacams, and ImLive

VR Sites

Technology has turned video into a sensory experience with the application of virtual reality. The technology has been around for approximately five years. Special equipment is required, although the prices have dropped since these first appeared. If you want to try VR sites, check out Brazzers, The GF Network, Reality Kings or Digital Playgrounds.

Feminism And Pornography

Feminism, in great part, shaped how women perceive pornography. Since the 1970s, feminist preoccupation with pornography adopted widely differing positions, either for or against, with little middle ground. In the past two decades, we have seen a lesser interest from feminists with regards to pornography, as their focus shifted to other more pressing issues, such as economic justice, violence against women, LGBTQIA rights and constitutional equality.

The accelerating and far-reaching effects of the internet, as well as the indisputable fact that sex is a commodity, has spawned the creation of women’s porn/erotica as a distinctive alternative to men’s pornography. In fact, feminists themselves, have noted and highlighted the ways in which cybersex can facilitate and provide opportunities for identity-bending, with users being able to assume different roles and characteristics, such as gender, age, sexuality, race, and physical appearance. Other benefits have also been noted, such as improved access to sex education, ‘safe’ sex, a unique opportunity for the sexual empowerment of people with disabilities and an array of opportunities for women to produce and distribute their own representations of eroticism.

No matter which way you toss and turn it, the adult entertainment industry continues to flourish, and has become a valid industry with talented people on both sides of the lens. They even have their own Oscar night, it’s called AVN Awards, to recognize achievements in the adult entertainment industry. 

Humans are complicated and creative and so is our expression of sexuality, which is reflected in the endless assortment of contemporary erotic video genres and as far back as Paleolithic cave paintings, the oldest surviving examples of erotic art. Erotic storytelling, helps us realize that there are others who also enjoy the same type of sexual play we do. It connects us to our own sexual nature and gives us the opportunity to be accepting of our own sexuality, as well as that of others. It is an occasion for mature consenting adults to freely explore the vast realm of sexuality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help If A Loved One Is A Hoarder

Living with a hoarder can be treacherous and devastating. You will find yourself having to pave your way around mountains of clutter, that keeps growing day by day. Hoarding is a disorder. Those who hoard not only find it practically impossible to part with anything that comes their way, they also collect and take home any junk they deem to be valuable by their standards.

All surfaces, from the floors to counter spaces, will be cluttered with useless junk, that no one in their right mind would remotely dream of keeping, such as dated newspapers, complete and incomplete crosswords dating back 20 years, used toilet paper roles, outworn clothing, envelopes, old calendars, expired foods, expired flyers, little packets of condiments, sugar and salt from every restaurant outing, outdated coupons, empty containers and so on. In most cases, nothing of value is being hoarded. There are also cases where animal hoarding occurs, contributing to an unhealthy, nefarious environment.

The detrimental effects of hoarding, on the quality of life, are overwhelming and devastating. Studies indicate that hoarding affects over 6% of the population in the USA. That is a whopping 19 million Americans. These are reportedly conservative estimates.

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder which can range from mild to severe. Living with a hoarder, is a depleting, confusing, frustrating and hazardous. Finding a clean surface to work on is impossible. You will spend most of your time moving stuff around, trying to carve out a small space for yourself, in the mountain of junk that your home has become.

Hoarding makes day to day life impossible. If your loved one is a hoarder, you will discover that nothing is sacred, not even your bed. Hoarding creates a chaotic and unhygienic living environment, which takes its toll on healthy relationships and is not conducive in creating a safe and suitable environment, in which to raise children.

Hoarding gets passed on from one generation to the next. If your children spend years picking through clutter on the floor, to dress for school, there is a pretty good chance they will become hoarders as well. The old heredity versus environment debate, points heavily at environment being the key factor. Studies to date have not given any real indication that hoarding is genetically inherited and hoarding symptoms are found to start during childhood.

I was raised by an obsessively clean and organized mother, who prided herself on the indisputable fact that her floors were so clean, you could eat off them. My mother hated knick knacks and opted for a minimalist home environment. Any useless gifts that made their way into our home, were promptly hidden away, only to resurface temporarily, when the person who had gifted us was expected for a visit.

I was still in college the first time I discovered what hoarding was. I was visiting a young couple in their new home. When I stepped inside the door, I was stricken with horror at the sight of their toddler crawling through dirt and piles of garbage, which littered the floor and every surface of their home. I never visited again.

I have personally witnessed a situation where hoarding affected an entire family and ended in divorce. The two children, who grew up with a mother who hoarded, have both become hoarders, to their father’s dismay.

As a young woman, living in Toronto, I found a job at a local shop which sold maps and atlases, amongst other travel items. My job was to attend to shipments. On the first day I entered the premises, the stench which hit my nostrils, catapulted me into a cleaning frenzy, organizing and tossing away everything, which by my standards, classified as garbage. I distinctly remember filling up endless bags with half empty, take away containers. Some of these had been around so long that I saw an array of hairy mold specimens I never knew existed. I was not expecting to be rewarded for my hard work, but I certainly was not expecting the reaction I got, when the owner came to close down the shop, at the end of the day. It was inconceivable to me that anyone could be displeased, let alone angry, about a super clean up job. I had no idea what I was dealing with and my best intentions were apparently misplaced.

Because hoarders have a strong attachment to the items they collect, they can be quite opposed at accepting any help or throwing away anything. Often times hoarders are in denial and truly believe there is value in what they are accumulating. Compulsive hoarding can’t be resolved by simply cleaning out the house.

Look at it this way, if you were dealing with a drug addict or an alcoholic, would you resolve their problem by simply tossing the drugs or alcohol? The underlying problem needs to be addressed, otherwise the cycle will simply start again. Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent can become seriously distressed, even depressed, refusing any further help. There are things you can do to help a hoarder return to some semblance of normality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help Treat Hoarding

  1. Find and join a local support group or team up with a coach to help sort and reduce clutter. Remember that relapses can easily occur if the right steps are not taken 
  2.  Challenge the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs regarding the items they keep and try to make a pact for them not to pick up more junk each time they head out of the house. 
  3. Develop a plan to prevent any future clutter.
  4. Self-help books, support groups, individual talk therapy, medications and group therapy have been known to help hoarders get internally motivated to change their ways
  5. Returning to a normal life is a life long challenge for a hoarder. Staying in treatment has proven to decrease the chances of a relapse.
  6. If someone close to you is a hoarder, be certain to acknowledge that they have a right to make their own decisions at their own pace. To develop trust, do not throw anything away without asking for permission first.
  7. Be empathic and remember that everyone has some attachment to the things they choose to own.
  8. Make an effort to understand what importance, if any, the items they hoard hold for them. This process will assist the hoarder to gain a new perspective.
  9. Encourage and motivate them to come up with solutions to make the home safer, such as moving clutter away from doorways, halls and stairs.
  10. Team up with them, don’t go it alone. Never argue about whether to keep or discard an item; instead, through constructive communication, attempt to discover what will help motivate them to discard and organize the environment. Perhaps the promise of a social life? Together, you could organize a dinner at home with friends, to motivate them.

Through empathic communication you can help a loved one recognize that hoarding actually interferes with their core goals or values, their quality of life and their family’s wellbeing. These steps will assist them in paving their way back to a healthier lifestyle.

Why Sleep Is More Important Than Food

Have you ever stopped to think how much of your life you spend sleeping? The average lifespan, in 2020, according to surveys, was 79 years. Of those 79 years we spend an average of 26 years sleeping. For those who are light sleepers and have trouble getting to sleep, add another seven years, which are spent trying to fall asleep. To sum it up, we spend an average of 33 years of our lives in our beds.

The terror of sleepless nights is a grueling reality many are faced with. Tossing and turning, unable to switch off that internal chatter, falling into a dizzying loop, as the night slips away from us.

Do you ever have nights when it feels as though you have forgotten how to fall asleep? The harder you try, the further away sleep seems to be? You are not alone. Insomnia is a commonly reported sleep problem. Insomnia symptoms include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or both. Approximately one in seven adults suffers from chronic insomnia and one in three people, in the USA, reportedly use prescription sleeping aids.

Collateral Effects of Insomnia

Humans can go up to three weeks without food whereas we can only manage, give or take, one week without sleep. The collateral effects of sleep deprivation can literally destroy us, slowly crippling us, sucking the joy out of life. Like a leaky faucet, our life energy is being drained away, one drop at a time, with every sleepless moment. The collateral effects of insomnia can be debilitating, putting our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing at risk.

  • Loss of long and short term memory
  • Mood Changes – irritability
  • Inability to focus, be creative or solve problems
  • Weakened immune system, leading to frequent illness
  • Accident prone
  • Daytime chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Instability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

Sleep is essential to keep our central nervous system functioning properly. During a night of normal sleep we go through four to five sleep cycles, which are in turn composed of individual sleep stages, broken down into two categories: rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non REM sleep.

Breakdown Of Normal Sleep Cycles

The first three cycles of sleep are non REM sleep. The first stage is short, and this is the time we spend dozing off and transitioning into sleep.  The second stage is when the body and mind slow down as we settle into sleep. The third stage, is often referred to as deep sleep. This is when the body goes into recovery mode, and slows down further. During this stage our overall brain activity also slows down.

The fourth stage is REM sleep. During REM periods, brain activity shoots up to levels very similar to when we’re awake. During REM we experience our most intense dreams. Both breathing and heart rate increase during REM sleep and most of our muscles are paralyzed. This might sound frightening, however this paralysis is what  keeps us from acting out our dreams. In fact some people suffer from sleep paralysis issues, which is topic unto itself.

REM sleep is necessary since it stimulates areas of our brain that are essential in learning, making and retaining memories. “According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a study depriving rats of REM sleep significantly shortened their life span, from two or three years to five weeks. Rats deprived of all sleep cycles lived only three weeks.” 

During REM sleep, our brain exercises important neural connections. These are key to mental and overall well-being and health.

What Can You Do To Overcome Insomnia

  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Cut out caffeine – if you are not able to, then save it for mornings only
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
  • Relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath before bed are helpful
  • No heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime
  • No electronic devices before bed
  • Exercising regularly, preferably during the day as opposed to prior to bedtime
  • Reduce your alcohol intake

Creating a comfortable, relaxed environment for yourself can help you wind down. Is your bedroom cluttered? Give it a good clean and remove all paper and or work related stuff from your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a temple, a place where you can safely leave your body behind as you journey into deep sleep.

Are you easily awakened by noise and/or light? If you live in the city and suffer insomnia, then noise is most certainly a contributing factor to your sleepless nights. Sleeping with earplugs and an eye mask can improve the quality of your sleep.

Hi-Tech Gadgets To Combat Insomnia

Science and technology have provided us with many drug free alternatives for dealing with insomnia. Hi-tech insomnia gadgets provide a wide range of methods, from guided breathing exercises, to electrical brain stimulation, that help overcome insomnia and solutions for sleep apnea. Not all of us suffer insomnia for the same reasons. For some it’s noise, or anxiety, while for others it may be issues with breathing, such as sleep apnea.

You will find Hi-tech gadgets designed to intervene and target specific insomnia related issues. I myself, have had issues with falling asleep. I tend to be high strung and very sensitive to noise. I have found a very simple solution to help me fall asleep. A free App which gives me a choice of sound effects to fall asleep to worked wonders for me. They offer sounds of splashing waves, soft rainfall or thundering rain, white noise, nature and animal sounds. My personal favorite, which works for me every time, is the sound of a crackling fire, with crickets in the background.

If you suffer from sleepless nights, or have trouble falling asleep, consider a non prescription solution. We all know that pharmaceuticals often fix one thing at the expense of another. Long term use of prescription drugs, as a sleeping aid, can lead to serious side effects, including addiction, undermining your health and wellbeing.

The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

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The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

In the year 1878 George Eastman won the world’s attention with his gelatin dry plates. These would replace the clunky and messy wet plate photography which still prevailed at the time. Dry plates could be exposed and developed as needed, whereas wet plates, which necessitated a coating, had to be exposed and developed immediately.

The story of the Kodak Eastman company reads like an epic trilogy, covering the rise and fall of an empire. From the start, Kodak were pioneers in their industry. They introduced innovative products for photographers and film makers for well over a century.

  • In 1903 Kodak introduced their Non-Curling Film, which became the standard for all amateur photographers, for almost three decades.
  • In 1928 Kodak revolutionized the motion pictures industry with their 16 mm KODACOLOR Film. This was the first microfilm ever on the market.
  • In 1929 Kodak once again kept abreast of developing technologies by introducing their first motion picture film, for the emerging sound motion pictures industry.

Kodak enjoyed its position, as industry leaders in their sector, for over one century. In the early 80’s Sony released their first electronic camera. Digital photography, although it was in its embryonic stages, had already shown the potential to catapult the entire industry. An industry that could literally wipe out Kodak’s established, film-based business.

In the race against advancing digital technology, Kodak had roughly ten years to adapt. Something which proved to be difficult for the 131-year-old company, whose core business had been selling film. Despite all their best efforts, by 2008 Kodak was in trouble. Around that time Citigroup provided Kodak financing of $950 million to keep them afloat.

The world was left speechless, when Kodak ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2012, leaving its legacy business and selling off all its patents. It was the fall of a giant and it reverberated throughout the business world.

How could a colossal company such as Kodak have taken such a fall? In 2012, in an article entitled How Kodak Failed, Forbes referred to Kodak’s demise as a “staggering corporate blunder.” Kodak had entirely missed the opportunity to gain a foothold in the digital landscape, which ironically was a technology that Kodak themselves had introduced. Kodak’s strategic failure was heavily criticized, as Kodak’s film based business legacy was being ravaged by digital photography.

Kodak was not the only company that was unable to bridge the gap, during the digital transformation which rapidly replaced older technologies. In fact, Kodak is one of the numerous companies which met a similar fate. There was Xerox, who invented the photocopier and Motorola with their mobile phone. Let’s not forget Sun Microsystems who were behind the Java programming language and another giant, IBM. We can look further and find Olivetti, HP, Nokia, and Blockbuster, just to name a few. All of these companies failed to adapt to the new technology which had swept across the globe and forever altered the way people worked and played.

Regardless of all the other giants who fell, with the advent of digital technology, Kodak has been used as an example of failure. No company had been as successful, with their continuous breakthroughs and innovative products. They had monopolized the market with low-cost professional solutions for decades.

It was not for lack of trying that they failed since Kodak did invent the very first digital camera in 1975. It came with a digital cassette recorder, which was the modern-day equivalent of a memory card, back then. In 1991 Kodak unveiled the DCS 100, this was the very first commercially available digital SLR camera, designed with professional photojournalists in mind.

So what went wrong? How could a giant like Kodak fall? Kodak failed to develop the potential inherent in digital technology. Perhaps they were too slow or started too late. By the mid-1990s the market was already saturated with digital products that were extinguishing Kodak from the picture.

Some say that Kodak failed to recognize the transformative power of digital technology. Kodak kept investing in film and older technologies, whereas a more winning strategy would have been to embrace digital technology full-on. Kodak had the know-how and experience to once again be a leader in the new and exciting digital landscape. They made their move too late. Their business was already in decline and they were trailing so far behind their competitors, they no longer stood a chance.

Why Video Is Essential For An SEO Friendly Website

BENEFITS OF VIDEO ON SEO

Over 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. People watch over 1 billion hours of videos, daily, on YouTube. These numbers alone speak loudly. Recent trends have clearly demonstrated that the use of video on company websites has become an industry standard in SEO. Simply put, Video Search Engine Optimization refers to the use of video in order to rank higher in search engine results and drive more traffic to a website.

A well produced short video, that shows people what your company does, will get far more attention and results, than a text driven message ever will. Videos allow people to consume more content, faster. A video on YouTube will extend your Brand’s reach to get you the customers you want.

YouTube continues to capture audiences’ attention, because streaming video is the most versatile and profitable digital marketing tool available. A well produced video can tell your story in less time. Grab peoples’ attention. Showcase your product and services. Explain how your company works and build trust. Showing people what you do as opposed to telling them, will give your business a kickstart.

Since the dawn of language, storytelling has been a culture building phenomenon. Marketing is storytelling. The internet has revolutionized the process of storytelling. You could say that the Internet is video. Two years from now it is entirely probable you might be watching, instead of reading this post.

Benefits of Video For Your Brand

Now that Brand storytelling is all the rage, it isn’t going away anytime soon. The most efficient way to tell your story is to produce a video. When you are browsing through a company website, what draws your attention most? If you can choose between a text driven page, describing the company’s missions, goals and so on, or a video, which would you choose?

Using video to tell your company’s story is more likely to peak people’s curiosity and interest in your product. Video gives your company a more organic online identity. Video gives your company a face. Authentic storytelling is a powerful medium, which creates connectivity. This also explains why websites and pages showcasing videos have outperformed traditional text driven websites.

People only retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and 70% of what they hear and see. In an age of information overload, it is vital for a business to produce content that meets consumers expectations and the content better be engaging and easy to digest, otherwise consumers will just move on to the next. YouTube’s streaming video platform can catapult your marketing strategy to a whole new level of performance. The use of videos in SEO has proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they yield results.

If a picture can tell a thousand words, ask yourself how much a one minute video can reveal. In a world where success is literally measured in seconds, a one minute video stands a far better chance of engaging your customers, long enough, to make a purchase. When people stop to watch a video on your website, they will stay longer on that page. This will signal to Google and other search engines that the content on your website is relevant and interesting enough to capture people’s attention. The longer they dwell on your website, the better for your rankings, which in turn will grow your online business. This in a nutshell is how video benefits SEO.

Including videos on your company website will help you rank higher in search results and it is the only way your business can hope to rank in Google’s first page results, because Google loves rich content. Consumer video consumption has risen exponentially and as a result, search engines have increased the ranking factor of video on landing pages. This practice will only increase in the near future, which is why including video on a company website has become increasingly important, to boost ranking on search engines.

If you are just now considering using videos on your company website, you could start with a company overview or an About video. Below is a list covering the video genres used for online marketing.

ONBOARDING VIDEOS

These videos show clients how to get started. They help them understand your culture and create a bond with your company. Onboarding videos are an excellent way to help companies hire because they provide prospective new talent an opportunity to get to know your company culture and how you operate.

COMPANY CULTURE VIDEOS

Company culture videos can assist in creating a sense of community, promoting company values, best practices and missions. They also make your business more attractive to candidates, if you are hiring.

PRODUCT VIDEOS

Product videos demonstrate the benefits of your products, inspiring people to buy and they make your product pages more SEO friendly.

TUTORIALS

Show and tell videos can be used on a product page. Depending on the type of business you run, these tutorials could be part and parcel of your onboarding video. Tutorial videos are perfect for YouTube, where potential customers may be searching for tutorials related to your product, service, or industry.

TESTIMONIALS

Show your potential customers that you are trustworthy and qualified. Interview real customers on camera. Testimonials instill trust in potential customers, because people tend to empathize and respond more positively when hearing a testimonial from one of their peers.

EDUCATIONAL

Educational, webinar-style videos are an occasion for you to showcase your expertise and drive new traffic to your website. These are also helpful with video SEO.

A well produced video will inspire people to take action. There are clearly costs associated to video production and marketing. You may be tempted to produce your own video, which these days is simple enough. A cautionary message though, better no video than a badly produced video. If you have the time, there are plenty of blogs and videos on YouTube, that will show you the ropes and the do’s and don’ts. Your other option is to hire a professional.

The increased demand for marketing videos has given birth to a whole new online platform of digital marketing services. These companies help businesses with their online presence. The advantages of having a professional on board are several. Aside from the technical know which they bring to the table, there is another important ingredient. A digital marketing expert speaks the language. Video, like any other form of communication, has rules and exceptions. Depending on how these are applied, you can either make it or break it. This is what a typical breakdown for a product video looks like:

  • A Hook
  • Video Introduction
  • Delivery
  • Bonus/Offer
  • Call to Action

A digital marketing expert can help you define and build your brand, and most importantly create a digital marketing strategy that will give you results. They have the know how to target traffic to your website that will convert. With Google constantly changing their algorithms, SEO is hard to control, and this in itself makes hiring a digital marketing expert a wise investment. People have high standards when it comes to digital content and the competition is fierce.

Once your video is ready to be showcased on your website, remember that videos need to be optimized for SEO and this can be tricky, if you are not in the know. A simple solution is to embed videos on your website, from your YouTube channel. There are numerous optimization strategies to give videos a higher chance of ranking on YouTube. YouTube SEO can help increase important metrics like follower count, brand awareness, website visits, and revenue. The video description you use on YouTube should be clear and concise. Be meticulous in your description of the video your are uploading. Include a call to action in the description. The copy you enter will be read by search engines and anyone who finds your video online.

Make sure you pick an appropriate image to use as a thumbnail, when uploading your video to YouTube. This is the image that will show when the video appears in a search. The image you choose to use as a thumbnail should be clear, in focus, compelling and relevant to the content of the video.

Video will increment your company’s visibility on Google, resulting in an increase in your website traffic, conversion rate, and revenue. The benefits of video in SEO derive from the simple fact that no other content type online has the viral potential that video has demonstrated so far.

  • YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any broadcast or cableTV network
  • 64% of users are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video
  • Conversions may increase by as much as 80% with a video on your landing page
  • Visitors spend 88% more time on a website that includes video
  • Video gets more sharing and other interaction on social media than any other type of content

Why should you consider using video? Because video offers a rich sensory experience which lures people, and there’s a fairly good chance your competitors are already using video.

Astrology A Tool For Self Evolution

Astrology has been with us for almost 2500 years, dating back to Babylonia. It has been used as a divinatory tool, by educated and powerful men and women, for centuries, including Theodore Roosevelt, Einstein and Carl Jung. To this day Astrology has maintained its fascination and is considered a viable pseudoscience by many outstanding and high profile contemporaries, from politicians to some of your favorite movie stars.

Many people believe Astrology to be the sun sign astrological forecasts in their local newspaper or those crafty blog posts they find on their google feed about which signs will have the worst year and who will get rich and who will find the love of their life. It’s all bogus. There is no one size fits all.

Many might not willingly admit to reading their astrological forecasts, in their feed or local paper. Personally I would not admit to taking advice from a small column astrologist hired by my local newspaper.

Many fail to understand the utility of Astrology as a tool for personal evolution. It goes far beyond some form of witchery that predicts your success or demise in love, money and life. When each of us comes into this world, the exact time and location of our birth determines our individual birth chart. Our birth charts are as unique as our thumb prints.

The Birth Chart

Your Birth Chart is a snap shot of your potential as a sentient and intelligent being. It can be translated into a diagram which depicts the positions of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and all planets. It shows how they were positioned at your time of birth and as seen from your place of birth. This includes astrological aspects and sensitive angles, which tell us about the relationship between planets in a chart at the time of a person’s birth. The word horoscope has its roots in the Greek language and stands for ōra and scopos meaning “time” and “observer”.

As time flows and the planets keep moving, they create a new picture, as the moving planets make aspects to the planets in your birth chart. These are called transits and progressions and are used to determine the nature and quality of time in your life now or at any given time.

Your Birth Chart is a toolkit you have been given to work with, in this lifetime. Whether you choose to use this toolkit and how you use it, will determine future events in your life. In other words, you are the master of your life. Astrology is not destiny, it is not a message carved in rock.

There are those born into a life of luxury with all the means provided for them. They need never worry about where their next meal, job, or lovers come from. It would appear their lives are superior to yours, until the day shocking headlines reveal this person to have taken their own life. Many successful people take their own lives. Why is that? Is it possible that the toolkit they were given was never opened, because the conditions in their lives, made it difficult or because they assumed they had everything they needed already?

There are those who set their toolkit aside and polish every piece like a valuable collector would, alas never putting these tools to any use.

Astrology can pave the way to self-awareness and taking responsibility for our own destiny when properly used. Beware of those that promise you the world. The world is yours only if you are willing to pick up that toolkit and get to work on yourself.

Where To Start With Astrology

Astrology is a language that can be interpreted into layman’s terms. A good Astrologer will know how to properly translate your chart, transits, or progressions. A good Astrologer will familiarize you with your toolkit and how to use it, in order for you to overcome challenges and help you become the best version of yourself.

If you only want to hear great things about yourself, then don’t get an astrological reading. If you think that a reading is going to give you a quick effortless out of the box solution, then you’re in for a disappointment. The only way to grow past your less-performing self and leave behind unpleasant character flaws and dispositions is to face these. Only when you are prepared to take a good and honest look at yourself, can you finally shed that old skin and begin making positive constructive changes in your life.

If you are curious and want to know more about your Birth Chart and how Astrology can be a tool for your betterment, there are a few very valid and reputable websites you can consult. My absolute favorite is Astro Dienst, and as far as I am concerned they are the real deal. They have been operating for more than three decades. They boast some of the heavyweights of Astrology on their eight-member team, such as Liz Green and Robert Hand.

These guys are serious and you can get some free stuff, by entering your birth data, however, I recommend you consider their professional readings. At a reasonable cost, you can get some valuable professional readings, which you can either download in PDF format or have printed, bound, and mailed to you as a book.

I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer to deal with professionals that have a good record of performance, whether I need a plumber or an astrologer.

Astrology is not magic. In the hands of the right person, Astrology can be revelatory, inspirational, and motivational, helping you pave the path to your better, higher self.