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Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed!

Ridiculously Cute Halloween Costumes: Pet Obsessed! | Cultural Trendz |
Twenty five awesome Halloween pet costumes. Check them out! ~ V.B.   (Click on the image or title above to view original post.)
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Wise Quote

Wise Quote | Cultural Trendz |
Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, Today, 1:37 PM

This is well said.

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Rediscover the beauty of life

Rediscover the beauty of life | Cultural Trendz |

“If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” ~Daisaku Ikeda

As kids, we are beings of wonder. Spending hours inspecting blades of grass, hoping to discover lady beetles, rocking fairy wings or a cape at the shops because we feel like it, laughing for the silliest reasons, and finding unadulterated happiness in special treats, our favorite cartoon, or a game of hide and seek.

As teenagers, we often become too cool to find joy in the simplest things but still manage it hanging out with friends, falling in love with celebrities, and listening to that one song over and over again.

But, by the time we reach full-blown adulthood, those whimsical childhood traits may be as forgotten as an invisible friend.

As grown ups we’re allowed to do all the fun things we spent high school wishing we could do, and yet, we get caught up in jobs we hate, paying bills, sitting in traffic, and sometimes ‘just getting by.’

I know this feeling, because I’ve been there.

And then, one day, I decided it was time to stop for a second and find a way to get back to a time when life was more joy-filled. Rediscovering the beauty of life, instead of focusing on the ugliness, the negativity, or the laborious pains of just getting by.

The Beginning Of Change

Since I was fifteen, I wanted to work in film and television. I did my high school work experience at a post-production company and decided I would work there one day.

I graduated top of my class studying film and TV in high school, I was (and still am) a total film geek, I studied it at university. And then landed by dream job at the company I’d experienced five years earlier.

I could not believe it.

From that point onward, I went from contract to contract working some crazy hours (like 2PM to 2AM shifts for an entire month).

I went through periods of no work between contracts (and, as a result no money), being morally torn between staying true to myself and doing what it takes to butter people up for the good jobs, working on shows I hated, working with people who made my skin crawl, getting praised by my superiors but being ignored by those doing the promoting, and continuing to strive for a dream job that felt like it was never going to happen.

Of course, the perks of the job were fantastic—working with some great people, every day being interesting and unexpected, traveling, and working in what I still consider to be a really fun industry.

But when something stops serving you, it becomes so much harder to see the good from the downright terrible.

This all culminated when I landed the producing job I’d been working toward. Oh, what an achievement! You can imagine my excitement after so many years of working my way up to the job I’d always wanted. The celebration that followed the promotion was…non-existent.

I was earning good money. I had the job title. I was finally getting somewhere. And I didn’t even stop to acknowledge it because all I could see was that I still wasn’t happy.

A friend rang to congratulate me and I didn’t even notice.

I was so overwhelmed by the anticlimax of it all. And that’s when I knew something needed to change.

It’s Time To Do More of What Makes Me (and You) Happy

It may seem like a ridiculous notion to some, but I honestly and truly believe that when you see these habits of what feels like never ending complaining, whining, and frustration then it’s time to make some changes.

Some people are totally cool to accept that this is all there is, but not me. (And maybe not you, either).

When I realized that too much of my time was spent unhappy, I decided to do whatever I could to change that.

I changed jobs as soon as possible. I started working with people who meant the world to me in a role that was much better suited to me. This gave me room to breathe and come up for air after ten years on a career path that I decided I hated.

I started to see what I loved again.

And even if I was still trying to decide what to do, this made it easier to finally be happy. And I became aware of how I could do more of this on an everyday basis.

I set dinner dates with friends on Monday nights to make the beginning of the week oh-so-enjoyable. I took advantage of coffee runs at work and turned them into glorious sun walks. I found joy in the simple pleasure of sitting in the park on the weekend just chatting or reading.

I noticed I was changing. Sure sometimes stress still popped it’s head up and challenges arose, but I was becoming better equipped to handle the unknown because I had simply brought more joy into my life. The unexpected inconveniences became less frustrating, and the simplest pleasures became more obvious.

The power of needing to change allowed me to find ways of doing more of what made me happy.

Rediscover the Beauty of Life

I’ll be completely honest with you: this is not something that just happened to me overnight. I’m still working toward my new career path and finding what I really want out of life. I still get frustrated or upset sometimes, and I still have a lot of work to do.

But something changed the day I decided to take life into my own hands and seek out the beauty of life.

I became more aware.

I started attracting more happy moments and wonderful people to me because I actively sought them out, and what I put out came back to me tenfold.

I seek out the good stuff instead of dwelling on the not-so-good.

And, through this, I’ve learned that the more we search for beauty of life, the more we invite it in. As kids we noticed it with ease, exploring to our heart’s content but, as adults, we sometimes forget to pay attention.

We get caught up with the mundane, we focus on the negative, and we love joining in on a mutual whine-fest with others. But imagine how much we could gain from our day if we took a moment to soak in the bliss of being alive.

Lying in the grass, laughing with a loved one, being recognized at work for doing a great job, swapping out things we don’t like with things we love, acknowledging someone else and seeing their joy, and just embracing the moments that make up our day-to-day lives is the key to finding the extraordinary in each day.

It may not always seem that simple but, I promise, if you’re willing to give it a shot, try it out, and be intentional when seeking out wondrous moments, it will make a significant difference to your life. And, the more you practice, the easier it will be to see.

I invite you to be aware of what you might need to change and seek out possibilities for joy in the coming week.

Find ways to bring the fun in and keep your eyes wide open for special moments or people that can make your life even more beautiful. Or, even better, take time to be grateful for what you’ve already got.

Try it out, see how you go, and then leave me a comment and tell me how it went!

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

"We can all rediscover the beauty of life, instead of focusing on the ugliness, the negativity, or the laborious pains of just getting by."

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You Are The Best Thing

Great Song from the new album Gossip in the Grain from Ray LaMontagne. Click the link or image above to view original video.
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Baby, it's been a long day, Baby!
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Six tips to being happy in the present moment

Six tips to being happy in the present moment | Cultural Trendz |

We all want to be happy.  But we have preconceived notions or beliefs about what needs to happen in our lives before we can be happy.  Maybe we need to get that dream job.  Or we need to have a million dollars in the bank.  Or maybe we need to have the body of our dreams.  Or we need the perfect relationship in order to be happy.

The list goes on. Yes, these things may indeed make us happy. Or then again, they may not.

When we set goals, we also have the tendency, once we’ve achieved them, to replace them with new goals.  So you may find that you still don’t feel happy after you’ve achieved that “big goal” because you’ve just replaced it with an even bigger goal that you now need to achieve before you can be “truly happy”.

But by doing this, we stack the odds against ourselves.  And if we play this game in order to find our happiness, then there’s a good chance that we’ll spend the rest of our lives chasing down the dreams that may ‘one day’ make us happy.

What if I told you that you don’t need any of those things in order to be happy in your life and that you can be happy today?  The key to happiness is learning how to be happy right now, while you work on achieving your goals, instead of waiting until you’ve achieved those goals to be happy.

Here are 6 simple tips that you can start applying today:

1. Practice Daily Gratitude

No matter how bad we think our problems are, you can almost guarantee that there’s someone out there with much bigger problems than us.  You may have heard the saying “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet”. We need to be grateful for everything we have in our lives and practicing daily gratitude is a great way to train our minds to have an attitude of gratitude.

One technique for doing this is called “3 good things”, where every night, you simply write down three things that went well that day and casually reflect on why they happened.  According to a study conducted by Seligman, Steen, Park and Peterson (2005), people who performed this daily exercise for a week, were happier and less depressed at the one-month follow up.

So start making your “3 good things” list today.

2. Be Present Both Mentally & Physically

Whatever you’re doing, make sure that both your mind and body are present.  Don’t eat dinner with your family while you’re thinking about work.  Don’t do work, while you’re thinking about what you’ll do this weekend.  Always be present and let your mind focus 100% on what you’re doing.

If you’re having dinner with your spouse or partner, then try not to think about anything else but enjoying dinner with them.  Even if you’re doing something as simple as drinking a glass of water, you can be present. Enjoy the moment and taste of the water as you sip it slowly.  Try to find at least one situation every day where you can practice being present.

Simply start by focusing on your breathing.  Focus, slow down and appreciate being in the moment.

3. Stop Resisting What You Can’t Control

Stop resisting the things in your life that you can’t control and aren’t the way that you want them to be.  Stop worrying about what other people do or say.  Start accepting things for how they are, regardless of whether you think it’s right or wrong.  Accept it as a fact.

Let’s say that you are frustrated because a work colleague isn’t doing what you think they should be doing.  The more you think about that situation, the more frustrated you get.  You give them feedback.  Maybe you argue with them.  But the situation doesn’t improve or maybe it gets even worse.

So you have a choice — you can keep resisting or you can accept the situation without judgement.  You simply acknowledge it as a fact. There is no right or wrong. It’s just the current reality.  When you do this, the resistance starts to melt away and the negative emotions inside your head and heart also start to disappear.

Identify one situation where you feel you have some resistance and simply accept that situation for what it is.

4. Avoid Negative People & Situations

Another cause of negative emotions and unhappiness are certain people or situations.  You probably already know who those people are — they are the ones who seem to only see the negative side to every situation.  They are often pessimistic, angry, critical and rarely have anything constructive to say.  These people not only create unhappiness for themselves, but they also often drag down others around them by spreading this negative thinking ‘poison’.

If you want to be happy, you have to avoid these people and situations as much as possible.  Unfortunately, that’s not always so easy, since these people are often our friends or family members.  So if you can’t completely avoid these people, then it’s worth planning ahead and deciding how you’ll deal with them in future situations.  The next time you find them being negative, you could either politely tell them that you’d prefer not to discuss that particular topic with them and change the subject.  Or you could try to guide them into more positive thinking by asking them questions such as “how do you think you could solve that problem?”.

Don’t allow negative people or situations to also drag you down into unhappiness.

5. Accept 100% Responsibility For Your Life

If we want to be happy, then we have to stop blaming others for what happens in our lives.  We need to stop seeing ourselves as victims.  I have a family member who I love very much, but she is constantly blaming other people and situations for everything in her life that she’s not happy with.  She sees herself as a victim and feels helpless about changing things.

In order to be happy, we have to take full responsibility for everything that happens in our life.  When we take full responsibility, we take back control of our life and start to acknowledge that our thoughts and actions create the results in our life, not other people or situations.  When we take back control of our life, we stop being victims.  Instead we feel empowered to start creating a better life for ourselves.

Be honest with yourself, are you accepting full responsibility for what happens in your life?

6. Be of Service To Others.

One really powerful way to increase your happiness is to focus on helping others.  You can give money to charity — but there are more fulfilling ways of helping others.

Instead of giving money, give your time.  Get involved with a charity or donate a few hours to help with a local community project.  Or just perform small random acts of kindness with no expectation of getting anything back e.g. help a struggling mother dealing with her kids and bags of groceries.  Or buy a coffee for the person standing in line behind you.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, (a professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of The How of Happiness), research shows that almost any type of random act of kindness boosts happiness.  So make a habit of performing at least one small random act of kindness every week.

So if you want to feel happier in the present moment, then start by choosing one of these 6 tips and take action today.  At the same time, keep working on your goals, but don’t rely on them alone to make you happy.  Choose to be happy right now.  As self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins says “there’s a huge difference between achieving to be happy and happily achieving it”.

Omer Khan is a husband, father and creator of the Relax Focus Enjoy blog. He’s passionate about personal productivity and helping people to create more time to do what they love. He lives with his family in the ‘sunny’ Seattle area.  Pick up your free e-book “Recharge Your Life” when you visit Relax Focus Enjoy.


Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Happiness in the now is something my son (pictured above) has no problem finding. He takes great joy in the mundane and simple tasks. I learn a lot from him.

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The power of positive thinking and attitude

The power of positive thinking and attitude | Cultural Trendz |

Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.

A positive person anticipates happiness, health and success, and believes he or she can overcome any obstacle and difficulty.

Positive thinking is not accepted by everyone. Some, consider it as nonsense, and scoff at people who follow it, but there is a growing number of people, who accept positive thinking as a fact, and believe in its effectiveness.

It seems that this subject is gaining popularity, as evidenced by the many books, lectures and courses about it.

To use it in your life, you need more than just to be aware of its existence. You need to adopt the attitude of positive thinking in everything you do.
Positive thinking is a way of life.

The following story illustrates how this power works:

Allan applied for a new job, but he didn't believe he will get it, since his self-esteem was low, and he considered himself as a failure and unworthy of success.

He had a negative attitude toward himself, and therefore, believed that the other applicants were better and more qualified than him.

Allan's mind was occupied with negative thoughts and fears concerning the job, for the whole week preceding the job interview. He actually, anticipated failure.

On the day of the interview, he got up late, and to his horror he discovered that the shirt he planned to wear was dirty, and the other one needed ironing. As it was already too late, he went out wearing a wrinkled shirt and without eating breakfast.

During the interview, he was tense, negative, hungry and worried about his shirt. All this, distracted his mind and made it difficult for him to focus on the interview. His overall behavior made a bad impression, and consequently, he materialized his fear and did not get the job.

Jim applied for the same job too, but approached the matter in a different way. He was sure that he was going to get the job. During the week preceding the interview, he often visualized himself making a good impression and getting the job.

In the evening before the interview, he prepared the clothes he was going to wear, and went to sleep a little earlier. On day of the interview, he woke up earlier than usual, and had ample time to eat breakfast, and then to arrive to the interview before the scheduled time.

Jim made a good impression and got the job.

What do we learn from these two stories? Was there any magic used? No, everything happened in a natural way.

With a positive attitude we experience pleasant and happy feelings. This brings brightness to the eyes, more energy, and happiness. Our whole being broadcasts good will, happiness and success. Even our health is affected in a beneficial way. We walk tall, our voice is more powerful, and our body language shows the way we feel.

Positive and negative thinking are contagious.

We affect, and are affected by the people we meet, in one way or another. This happens instinctively and on a subconscious level, through words, thoughts and feelings, and through body language.

Is it any wonder that we want to be around positive people, and prefer to avoid negative ones?

People are more disposed to help us, if we are positive, and they dislike and avoid anyone broadcasting negativity.

Negative thoughts, words and attitude bring up negative and unhappy moods and actions. When the mind is negative, poisons are released into the blood, which cause more unhappiness and negativity. This is the way to failure, frustration and disappointment.

Positive Thinking Practical Instructions

In order to turn the mind toward the positive, some inner work is required, since attitude and thoughts do not change overnight.

1.  Read about this subject, think about its benefits, and persuade yourself to try it. The power of your thoughts is a mighty power that is always shaping your life. This shaping is usually done subconsciously, but it is possible to make the process a conscious one. Even if the idea seems strange, give it a try. You have nothing to lose, but only to gain.
2. Ignore what other people say or think about you, if they discover that you are changing the way you think.
3. Use your imagination to visualize only favorable and beneficial situations.

4. Use positive words in your inner dialogues, or when talking with others.
5. Smile a little more, as this helps to think positively.

6.  Once a negative thought enters your mind, you have to be aware of it, and endeavor to replace it with a constructive one. If the negative thought returns, replace it again with a positive one. It is as if there are two pictures in front of you, and you have to choose to look at one of them, and disregard the other. Persistence will eventually teach your mind to think positively, and to ignore negative thoughts.
7. In case you experience inner resistance and difficulties when replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, do not give up, but keep looking only at the beneficial, good and happy thoughts in your mind.

8. It doesn't matter what your circumstances are at the present moment. Think positively, expect only favorable results and situations, and circumstances will change accordingly. If you persevere, you will transform the way your mind thinks. It might take some time for the changes to take place, but eventually they will.
9. Another useful technique is the repetition of affirmations. This technique is similar to creative visualization, and can be used together with it.

The other articles at this website, about the power of concentration, willpower, self-discipline and peace of mind, also contribute to the development of a positive mind, and are recommended for reading and practicing. ~

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What is the heartbleed encryption bug?

Heartbleed has the potential to be one of the biggest, most widespread vulnerabilities in the history of the modern web. Based on the post by Christina Warre...
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De-stress in just 10 minutes

De-stress in just 10 minutes | Cultural Trendz |

For all the times you need to cool down fast


We've all had intensely stressful moments in life where you find yourself wishing that wine came in those convenient six-packs of juice boxes with the pop-in straws. As genius as that may sound, getting sloshed before an important meeting or moment in your life probably isn't the most intelligent choice. So how do we deal with stress in a calm and productive way? Yoga is constantly hailed as the golden ticket to instant stress relief, but a full-blown class doesn't always slide effortlessly into your crazy schedule. And unfortunately, there's no one pose that can talk you off the edge once you're precariously dangling. Don't worry, there's a surprisingly simple solution: meditation.

You've heard it's praises (like these six benefits of transcendental meditation), read the statistics, and yet the idea of sitting with no thoughts is as stressful as the current circus residing in your mind. Here's the good news—I don't want you to clear your mind. I want you to focus it. Let's try to focus it away from the stressors and onto something concrete that will bring us back into a safe and peaceful reality. And did I mention this will only take 10 minutes?

Step 1: Find a quiet place. I know this isn't the easiest request, but try to find a room where you can shut the door. If that isn't an option, grab some noise canceling headphones, earplugs or whatever you can get your hands on. The key is making sure you get 10 minutes of uninterrupted peace.

Step 2: Turn off the electronics. Yes, all of them, even your cell phone. (Don't even think about putting it on silent—you know you'll check it.) If you can't escape from your computer, at least close the screen or turn off the monitor. You want to nix any possible distraction.

Step 3: Find a comfortable seat. Traditionally, mediation is taken on the ground in a cross-legged position. This isn't always comfortable so you can prop your bottom up on a pillow or even sit in a chair or against a wall. The goal is to keep the spine long and avoid any slouching. Think chest lifted, shoulders back, chin slightly lifted without any strain in your neck. Rest your wrists on your knees with the palms facing up. It may help you focus to use a mudra, a traditional hand gesture to aid intention. For instance, you can bring the index finger and thumb together on each hand.

Step 4: Let the meditation begin. There are many meditations to choose from out there, but I'm going to offer up a slice of my favorite: Isha Kriya Meditation. The entire ritual calls for three parts, one that includes chanting. Since that probably won't fly in all locations, I'll be focusing on just the first part, though I encourage you to explore the rest of the meditation on your own. (You can learn more about Isha Kriya Meditation here).

Once you're in a comfortable seat, close your eyes. Take a few moments to slow down your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose keeping your mouth relaxed and your lips slightly parted. As you inhale, think to yourself I am not my body, and as you exhale think I am not even my mind.  Continue to repeat these thoughts to yourself, attaching them to each breath. Take the time to breathe fully without any rush. Keep your internal focus on the spot between your brows (this is called your third eye). Repeat these thoughts and breathing for several minutes or until you feel your body decompress. I deeply recommend that you learn the entire mediation, but this is a beautiful start.

Step 5: Absorb. Here's why this particular meditation resonates with me so much: I find myself stressed and overwhelmed on a regular basis, whether I'm being bombarded by work, emails, requests, or people. When I take the moment to sit and do this meditation, it reminds me of who and where I am. It's easy to get caught up in how I look, how fit I feel, that post I just saw on Instagram, or even how my pants aren't really lifting up my assets the way I hoped. Thinking I am not my body on repeat reminds me that I am not defined by my looks. My body does not represent my success or livelihood. My beauty lies in my heart, my confidence and my actions. I will not attach my success to a number on a scale or a reflection in a mirror.

Thinking I am not even my mind makes me laugh every time, because once I come to peace with my body, I realize it's my mind that gets me into all the trouble. It tells me to second guess myself. Am I enough? Is there someone better at my job than me? Could I work harder? The next thing you know your mind has woven a web so thick that even the strongest elven sword couldn't cut through it. Don't let your mind tell you stories. That's all they are. Forget the story and remember your soul. Count on what truly matters to you and not the clutter that's shoved in front of your face. Embrace the big picture and go from there. Every time I do this meditation, life comes into perspective and I can breath again. I hope it helps you, too.

Kathryn Budig is a jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women's Health Magazine, Yoga Journal contributor, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam's Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale's The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga. Follow her on Twitter; Facebook; Instagram or on her website.

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How to master matzo ball soup: Bon Appétit!

How to master matzo ball soup: Bon Appétit! | Cultural Trendz |

There’s a science to the perfect matzo ball soup. Here’s how to master the key components, from the pillowy-light balls to that rich, golden, rejuvenating chicken broth.

Every Great Ball Begins with Schmaltz
If you’ve never cooked with chicken fat, you’re in for a treat. Schmaltz lends an incomparable flavor and luxurious texture to matzo balls—butter and vegetable oil can’t compare. And don’t worry about wasting any extra; you can use schmaltz in plenty of other dishes, too. There’s a reason schmaltz belongs in your matzo balls and your fridge: Most brands render theirs with onion, lending an irresistible essence to whatever you pair it with. Use it to roast potatoes or to give a rich flavor to sautéed greens.

Sink or Swim
Buoyancy is a hot-button issue when it comes to matzo balls. Some people like theirs to float; others prefer sinkers. While ours do sink, they’re far from leaden. Their lightness doesn’t come from leaveners like baking powder or egg whites, though; it’s because we rest the matzo mixture in the fridge for at least two hours, where it hydrates and expands.

How We Roll
Ask us, and the perfectly sized sphere is somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball. Also: Be gentle when shaping your matzo balls. Heavy hands will make them compact and overly dense. “Leavening ingredients won’t matter if you don’t handle your matzo balls properly. Pack them tight and you’re packing more mass into volume, thereby increasing density and making them heavy,”says Larissa Zhou, food scientist for Modernist Cuisine.

Simmer Down
Matzo balls should never be poached in chicken broth. (They’ll release starch and turn an otherwise clear broth cloudy.) The proper method: Poach them in a separate, very salty pot of just-simmering water. Think of your matzo balls like sponges; cook them in under-seasoned water and they’ll turn out bland.

Get the Recipe:

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

How to master the science of making homemade matzo ball soup. One of my faves! #yummysoup

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Internet security key flaw exposes a whole load of private data

Internet security key flaw exposes a whole load of private data | Cultural Trendz |

Most internet security holes, even the bigger ones, tend to be fairly limited in scope -- there are only so many people using the wrong software or visiting the wrong sites. Unfortunately, that's not true of the newly revealed Heartbleed Bug. The flaw, which affects some older versions of common internet encryption software, lets attackers grab both a site's secure content and the encryption keys that protect that content. As such, a successful intruder could both obtain your private information from a given site and impersonate that site until its operators catch on. Since the vulnerable code is both popular and has been in the wild for as long as two years, there's a real possibility that some of your online data is at risk.

The good news? There's already updated software available that protects against Heartbleed. However, the scale of the bug may leave data open to theft for a long time to come -- many sites will have to patch up their infrastructure, and there's no way to lock down content if someone steals it. Codenomicon doesn't know if hackers are exploiting the bug, so it's hard to measure the real-world damage. If the exploit is as widespread as it sounds, though, you may want to keep a close watch over your internet accounts until it's clear that the danger has passed.

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Video: Digital devices and children

Video: Digital devices and children | Cultural Trendz |

Children are currently spending more time with technology than they do in school or with their family.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Click on the link or image above to watch this interesting video discussion. 

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Today's Style Secrets

Today's Style Secrets | Cultural Trendz |

We're keeping an eye on the red carpet, the It girls and the fashion bloggers who are innovating. Check back daily for the style how-tos.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

These ladies are on point!

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Eyes + Passion

Eyes + Passion | Cultural Trendz |

So true.

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21 of the most beautiful Japanese cherry blossom photos of 2014

21 of the most beautiful Japanese cherry blossom photos of 2014 | Cultural Trendz |

The delicate pink sakura, or cherry blossom, is associated primarily with the culture of its native Japan.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Gorgeous and peaceful.

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Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring | Cultural Trendz |
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Love to see signs of spring in nature even. There is hope for Spring weather as many parts of the country, we are still experiencing some very cold temps.

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Poor Leadership – by Anna Johansson

Poor Leadership – by Anna Johansson | Cultural Trendz |

No ship can set sail without a captain, and the same is true of businesses. Without the right leadership, a business will almost certainly fail even if the best possible employees are on hand. There’s a reason leaders in organizations get paid the big bucks.

Sometimes it’s the wrong fit, someone leaders get burned out and don’t step down or sometimes the leaders had no right being there in the first place. Still not convinced? Take a look at these five businesses that were destroyed because of poor leadership. They might still be active and flourishing today if someone else was at the helm.

1. Netflix

Who had the bright idea to split Netflix into separate paid services? The leadership, of course, and it was to detrimental effects. Netflix had the potential to take over and revolutionize the video industry, and in fact that’s exactly what it did when it took down Blockbuster. Nobody saw RedBox coming or the popularity of paid online streaming like Hulu Plus – including Netflix – until it was too late.

2. Blackberry

Remember when Blackberry was the ultimate status symbol, and nobody could fathom having any other type of smartphone? Blackberry has a history of nepotism, which often leads to poor leadership. The company also promotes people from within based on tenure rather than on skills and potential to actually lead. When competence isn’t the primary reason for a promotion, a company will surely sink.

3. Enron

This may be an extreme example of leadership gone corrupt, but it happened and is likely happening (perhaps on smaller scales) at other companies today. A number of Enron executives were found guilty for a variety of charges and are now serving long prison sentences. The takeaway lesson here is that they got away with it for years, and corrupt leadership caused financial ruin for hundreds of people.

4. Citi

Vikram Pandit simply didn’t have what it took to save Citi, which is why the company is now in bailout and basically owned by the government. He’s an example of a leader who should have never been put in the position, and should have had the foresight and courage to step down before taking down everyone else with him.

5. Merrill

Stan O’Neal wasn’t popular to begin with, and his incredible cost-cutting tactics earned him plenty of enemies. However, as the CEO of Merrill, he also became an ouster and he was in charge when Merrill had the biggest losses in nearly 100 years. He was then caught trying to merge with Wachovia behind the board’s back.


It’s clear that poor leadership is poison to a business. However, keep in mind that it’s also important for everyone in a company to be invested. Many of these disasters could have been prevented if the leaders weren’t blindly trusted and given the keys to the kingdom. It’s a two-way street with both leaders and subordinates being held accountable.

Figuring out and strategizing leadership is something that should start in a business plan when a business is just beginning to stretch its limbs. Failure to plan and not having SOP in place are triggers for poor leadership, but it’s just so easy to skip over these steps in the early stages. Business owners too often think they can get around to these kinds of details later, but later never seems to come. Perhaps if more startups focused on streamlining management protocol, foundations would be sturdier.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

There are plenty more examples of poor leadership. The most egregious error by far, however, is not holding leaders accountable or supporting their efforts. Don't be surprised when employees leave.


For what you tolerate will continue. People will treat you, the way you allow them to treat you.

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My Chick Bad Remix

Music video by Ludacris performing My Chick Bad Remix. (C) 2010 DTP Records, LLC
Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Show me the Monday! #Baddest

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A positive attitude

A positive attitude | Cultural Trendz |

By Remez Sasson
Positive attitude is the cause of success and happiness.

A positive attitude helps you cope more easily with the daily affairs of life. It brings optimism into your life, and makes it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking. If you adopt it as a way of life, it will bring constructive changes into your life, and makes them happier, brighter and more successful.

With a positive attitude you see the bright side of life, become optimistic, and expect the best to happen. It is certainly a state of mind that is well worth developing.

Positive attitude manifests in the following ways:

    Positive thinking.
    Constructive thinking.
    Creative thinking.
    The motivation and energy to do things and accomplish goals.
    A attitude of happiness.

A positive frame of mind helps in a lot of ways, such as:

    Expecting success and not failure.
    It makes you feel inspired.
    It gives you the strength not to give up, if you encounter obstacles on your way.
    You regard failure and problems as blessings in disguise.
    Believing in yourself and in your abilities.>
    You show more self-esteem and confidence.
    You look for solutions, instead of dwelling on problems.
    You see and recognize opportunities.

A positive attitude leads to happiness and success and can change your whole life. If you look at the bright side of life, your whole life becomes filled with light. This light affects not only you and the way you look at the world, but it also affects your whole environment and the people around you. If this attitude is strong enough, it becomes contagious. It's like radiating light around you.
The benefits of a positive attitude:

This might seem like a repition of the above, but it helps to make this message clearer.

    It helps you achieve goals and attain success.
    It brings more happiness into your life.
    It produces more energy.
    Positive attitude increases your faith in your abilities, and brings hope for a brighter future.
    You become able to inspire and motivate yourself and others.
    You encounter fewer obstacles and difficulties in your daily life.
    You get more respect and love from other people.
    Life smiles at you.

Negative attitude says: you cannot achieve success.

Positive attitude says: You can achieve success.

If you have been exhibiting a negative attitude and expecting failure and difficulties, it is now the time to change the way you think. It is time to get rid of negative thoughts and behavior and lead a happier and more successful life. Why not start today? If you have tried and failed, it only means that you have not tried enough.
Simple tips for developing a positive attitude:

    Choose to be happy. Yes, it is a matter of choice. When negative thoughts enter your mind, just refuse to look at them, substituting them with happy thoughts
    Look at the bright side of life. It's a matter of choice and repeated attempts.
    Choose to be optimistic.
    Find reasons to smile more often. You can find such reasons, if you look for them.
    Have faith in yourself, and believe that the Universe can help you.
    Associate yourself with happy people.
    Read inspiring stories.
    Read inspiring quotes.
    Repeat affirmations that inspire and motivate you.
    Visualize only what you want to happen, not what you don't want.
    Learn Learn to master your thoughts

Following even only one of the above suggestions, will bring more light into your life!

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

I believe that both positive and negative attitudes are learned behaviors that becomes habitual. It is extremely difficult to be positive all the time but a negative can be turned into a positive. This is not an easy feat. It wakes great energy, focus, and self awareness to turn things around. Everyday is a new day and offers new opportunity.

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Adorable mom pics: 10-month old baby + rescue dog

Adorable mom pics: 10-month old baby + rescue dog | Cultural Trendz |


Not such Tokyo-based mother Aya Sakai's photos of her son and their French Bulldog, have I seen such a cute pairing like this! Meet Zoey and Jasper. Lifestyle photographer Grace Chon recently turned the camera on her 10-month-old Chinese-Korean baby Jasper and their 7-year-old rescue dog Zoey, putting them side by side in the most adorable portraits you'll see today. What led her to start a series? "I've always dressed up my dogs in silly costumes, so naturally when I had a baby I started collecting some hats for photos," Grace tells us. "One day, I put one on Zoey and I had the epiphany that baby hats look ridiculously adorable on dogs too! My sister had the brilliant idea of sitting them side by side in a photo. The response was immediate and I just kept going with it. I love my dogs fiercely (I'm a crazy dog lady through and through!) and it was really important to me that my dogs have a great relationship with Jasper. Zoey has exceeded my expectations as a big sister and I'm so glad I've found a fun activity that involves both of them!"

Though you wouldn't be able to tell in these photos, Zoey, the dog, is very shy. The story about how she came to live with Grace and her family is heartbreaking but comes with a happy ending. "She had a difficult start in Taiwan as a rescue dog," Grace explains, "she was born in front of a store and the owner washed her and all her siblings into a gutter. A schoolgirl walking by witnessed this and scooped up all the puppies and carried them home, with Zoey's mom following her all the way. She contacted Animal Rescue Team in Taiwan and they prepared the puppies and mom for adoption in the states.

"I went and picked up Zoey at LAX and the rest is history. She can be very afraid of new things, so I was surprised how much she took to wearing clothing. I know it sounds crazy, but I think it builds her confidence when she wears clothes. She does a happy dance when the props come out and she loves posing for the camera! Typically when I work with dogs I have to use a lot of treats to keep them motivated, but Zoey doesn't need any of that. She'll sit still very patiently and pose until we're done."

Jasper, on the other hand, just exudes happiness. "Jasper is seriously the happiest baby ever," says Grace. "He's been smiling for photos since the day he was born. When he was younger and I would share photos of him, people would always ask if he was actually that happy or if I was just catching split second smiles. He actually is that happy! He's used to smiling when the camera comes out and loves photo time. The entire shoot takes less than 5-10 minutes (I shoot really, really fast!) so once we're done it's off to crawling and exploring again."

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Such cuteness!

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Is Twitter becoming the new Instagram?

Is Twitter becoming the new Instagram? | Cultural Trendz |
If a picture's worth 1,000 words, perhaps it's no surprise Twitter is looking more like Instagram. We look at their increasing similarities.




And if you are one of the 241 million users of Twitter, you may have noticed that there are a lot more pictures on the site than there used to be. In other words, people aren't using their 140-character limit just for words anymore. They want to put photos in to make their points. Same thing is happening on Facebook.

Alexander Howard has written extensively about social media and collaborative technology. He's a fellow with the Tow Center at Columbia Journalism School, and he's with us from Washington. Welcome to you, Alexander.

ALEXANDER HOWARD: Great to be here.

HOBSON: Well, is Twitter becoming more about the picture than the words?

HOWARD: Well, I don't think Twitter will entirely escape the words. They still matter. They frame what someone is trying to say. There are still many places in the world where people may text to tweet. You can still do that through SMS if you want, something I discovered recently when I was in the White House basement and needed to get tweets out but had no data connection.

But there's no question that pictures are becoming a bigger part of the network, particularly if you're using Twitter's clients or other clients like Tweetbot, which is what I use, that show the pictures inline, which is to say you see the pictures when you log in. And in many cases, if you have a mobile device, a lot of social networks are much more image heavy. They show up as, you know, big, glowing rectangles on the screen of your smartphone, on your tablet. And they immerse you in a way that perhaps a line of text would not.

And Twitter itself has reported that people engage much more with a tweet that has a picture in it. That means they favorite it, they reply to it, they retweet it. And there's every reason to think that it'll become, I think, an important way that people continue to express themselves in every social network, not just Twitter.

HOBSON: Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, maybe it's people's way of getting around 140 characters.

HOWARD: That's a great point. And, in fact, here in D.C., I often see many people in the media who will snapshot a statement from the White House or the government official or any corporation, and then will put the picture of all that text into the tweet. So in effect, instead of having to jam many, many statements together, they might be able to get three or four paragraphs into a single tweet with then the text in the tweet acting as metadata for people to understand what it is they look at if they click on the picture or if they're just simply seeing it inline.

HOBSON: Do you think that Twitter is responding to Instagram or Twitter users are responding to their experience on Instagram or what?

HOWARD: Well, there's no question in my mind that Instagram's mobile first success caught a lot of people's eye. Whether it's in San Francisco or places around the rest of the globe, the fact that Instagram launched as just an app - there was no Web presence at first - and did so well and offered a certain level of intimacy, you know, in terms of the feeling of it where you're just, you know, scrolling through pictures with a very minimal amount of text, that was an attractive experience to people. And obviously, it was compelling enough that Facebook decided to acquire them along with all the data that they're generating because, remember, each one of these pictures may have location data behind it or other kinds of metadata, which makes it useful for a company to tap into.

And Twitter, from all we know, was interested in Instagram as well. They decided not to buy them and to go in their own direction in terms of hosting pictures themselves. I think it would be reasonable to say, however, that Twitter's product people are looking at other kinds of apps and services and seeing what they're deploying and whether those features might make sense for them to add themselves.

HOBSON: And does it open the door if Twitter is becoming more about photo sharing? Does it open the door for somebody else to come along and do what Twitter had traditionally done, which was 140 characters of text?

HOWARD: Well, you know, if you look back at 2008, 2009, there were hundreds of different services trying to do what Twitter did. And some of them offered more space. Some of them offered more features. If you can do something better that solves a problem for a user or is more engaging, there's plenty of space to do that. The challenge is there's a network effect always. So why are people in a given space? What brings them back there? Is there something there that they find useful? If another service can provide that, then great. If you look at the, say, success of WhatsApp, for instance, that clearly solves a problem across time zones. People can easily exchange messages without burning up their text messaging allotment or paying a lot.

There are many other services, which allow more ephemeral sharing of media. This kind of idea of direct social, where you're sending a picture to someone which goes away or that's anonymous. That's more intimate. And, you know, if those are better options for someone than the kind of much more public experience of Twitter, then they'll use that instead.

HOBSON: Now, I'm imagining some sort of a mash up between Twitter and SnapChat where your tweets disappear after a few seconds. I guess we'll have to wait and see if that happens.

I do want to ask you about one other thing, Alexander Howard, which is last month, during the Academy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres shut down Twitter, at least momentarily, when she tweeted this picture that she called it a selfie - although it was not really a selfie, it was a group of people - from the ceremony. And ever since then, that phenomenon - I'm calling it the groupie - has become very big on Twitter. People are taking pictures of groups, right?

HOWARD: It's happened more. I mean, look, there are very few platforms for getting an idea or a service out than the Oscars. The phenomenon of people taking pictures of themselves in front of things, though, is something that's been around for a long time. And it's really a form of self-expression. It's perhaps more native to people who have grown up with these devices.

But if you look back a couple of weeks ago, there was a picture of young Colin Powell, you know, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who took a picture of himself as a young man. And, you know, there's others - George Harrison and lots of other folks who've been really capturing themselves at a given time in a given place. And it's not just a moment, but it's an expression of that person, of the thing - of the story they want to tell about themselves to the rest of the world.

Now, the difference perhaps in our moment is that we have powerful smartphones connected to the Internet and social networks so that moment can be shared with so many more people in that - in the moment and commented upon and re-shared, et cetera. You know, if you think about what the Internet is to humanity at this point, it's a mirror. It shows the best and worst of us.

And the phenomenon of turning the lens on yourself is really a way of storytelling. It's best understood that way, as an expression. And if you're doing a group picture, well then that's an expression of being social of here are the people I'm with. You know, there's a phenomenon of selfies with Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate, governor, you know, where you're capturing a bit of yourself with a historic figure.

And I think that's something that we'll continue to see over time. Maybe the idea of a groupie or selfie will lose some of the buzz, but the dynamic of telling the people connected to you something about yourself using that picture that's worth a thousand words, you know, I think that's going to continue for a while.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

Love this discussion on the use of social media and photography as a form of self expression. Taking solo or group pics captures a moment in time that has value and meaning. It is an interesting dynamic that tells a story.

As Alex points out in this NPR discussion, the phenomenon of turning the lens on yourself, i.e. capturing selfies, is also about story telling and it isn't something new.


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Why we all benefit when we give each other the freedom to choose

Why we all benefit when we give each other the freedom to choose | Cultural Trendz |

“You must love in such a way that the other person feels free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve read a lot of articles about loving without attachment and respecting other people’s choices, but it wasn’t until one day that I truly got it. And I will tell you what happened to me that day.

My boss and I have a very special relationship. He is the boss that everyone would want to have. He appreciates me for my work and for everything I do. He thinks that I am a great kid. Every time he has the chance, he praises my results and he shows his confidence in me and my work.

One day, I decided to go to a job interview at another company. I wasn’t planning to leave; I only wanted to see what other companies have to offer. And I told him about it.

His reaction was a complete surprise for me: instead of thinking of himself and offering me everything just so that I wouldn’t leave, he told me, “Andrei, go to the interview, and if you think that’s better for you, then go.”

It was obvious for me that he wasn’t okay with me leaving. He loved my work and he wanted me to stay, but he understood something: the most important thing is for me to be happy. And that made the difference.

He was thinking of me instead of thinking of himself. It was a breakthrough. Instead of forcing me to stay and granting everything so that I don’t leave, he offered me a choice. And choice means freedom.

It meant that I got to compare. I got to see what others have to offer and then choose what is right for me. And of course, when I get to choose, I choose what makes me happy. So I went to the interview, realized that my current project was better than the new one, and returned to work with new forces.

A few days after this, I was at home, remembering the whole scene when my girlfriend called and she told me that she was thinking of going on a trip for the weekend.

We hadn’t seen each other for a while and I had made some plans for us for the weekend. But she was thinking of leaving and she wanted to know what I thought about it.

The first thing that popped into my mind when she told me this was: “No! Tell her not to go! We have plans!” But then I remembered how my boss had reacted. I wanted her to be happy.

I wanted her to be able to choose what was right for her. I wanted her to have a choice, as I had, because I understood that choice means freedom. So I told her to go despite the fact that I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to be with her.

There are two things that I learned from these experiences.
Letting go gives people a choice.

My boss thought me an important lesson: think about what other people want and need instead of only thinking about yourself.

When someone wants a thing that is in contrast with what you want, there are two choices of action. The first is convincing the other to do the thing you want. This path empowers you. You will be satisfied, but the other will not necessarily be happy with it. By following this path, you take a risk by thinking that you know what is right for the other one. And you might fail.

But there is another path: presenting your choice, but supporting the other’s choice. This path is more beautiful and more powerful because it empowers the other. You may or may not get what you want, but either way there is no way to failing.
Choice means freedom.

Freedom is a thing that we all desire because ultimately freedom brings happiness. Freedom means being able to compare the situations—the benefits and the drawbacks—and choosing what is best for you.

As much as we all want to be free, we have to understand that others have the right to be free, as well.

They say birds are a symbol of freedom. If you look at the sky and watch their flight, you will understand why. I’ve never seen a bird dragging another one around the sky. Yes, they might fly one near the other, they might eat and sleep near each other, but that’s it. If they choose to drag one another, neither of them will be able to fly and they will both fall down to the ground.

It can sometimes be difficult to respect other people’s choices because it conflicts with our ego. But, we all want the freedom to choose what is right for us. And everyone benefits when we all choose to give it to each other.

Vilma Bonilla's insight:

"We all want the freedom to choose what is right for us. And everyone benefits when we all choose to give it to each other." ~ Wise words. Very a