Martin’s TravelAwesome Photo Series #11 – Cuba: A Land of Contradictions & Inspiration

Rum, cigars, old cars, revolutionary history, beautiful Caribbean beaches and coral reefs. Mix it up altogether in and around one island and there you have it, Cuba! It is not a destination I merely ticked off, it is a destination I experienced. By drinking mojitos, smoking Monte Cristo cigars and dance salsa in the capital called Havana (… but I did much more!). An extensive photo report from my trip made in summer of 2011. Continue reading “Martin’s TravelAwesome Photo Series #11 – Cuba: A Land of Contradictions & Inspiration”

Doctors Surgically Removed 28-Pounds of Feces From Constipated Man

A 22-year old Chinese man found himself in the hospital in really bad shape; he was weak and moaning in pain, his stomach so distended he looked 9 months pregnant. He had chronic constipation for most of his life and got to the point that laxatives couldn’t provide total relief from his pain and discomfort.

The patient looked like he was about to burst anytime!

Source: IBTimes
He was sent to surgery and after three hours, doctors were able to remove a massively swollen large intestine filled with feces; it weighed 28.6 pounds or 13 kilograms!

Source: Daily Mail UK
“It looked like it could explode at any time,” said Doctor Yin Lu of Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital.

The patient was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease. It is a congenital condition in which nerve cells were missing in the bowel, which results to chronic problems in movement. Compared to a healthy digestive tract, food and waste stops in affected parts of the colon. The waste or the feces gathers up in the area and causes the large intestine to swell. In this patient’s case, it has turned into a “megacolon,” and if not operated on quickly could result to tearing or perforation and will release fecal bacteria that can cause sepsis.

This could lead to death so the man was lucky to have this operation just in time to save his life.

Source: Daily Mail UK
The disease is rare; it occurs in only 1 out of 5,000 newborns within 48 hours after birth. It can also manifest in older children through chronic constipation, distended belly, and malnutrition. The patient was already an adult when he was admitted to imagine the build-up of waste residing in his colon!

He was expected to recover fully after the operation. His story is a reminder for us all to monitor our bowel movements and keep our GI tract healthy. So if you notice constant abdominal pain and bloating that just wouldn’t go away, a trip to the doctor is a must.

7 Tips to Follow to End Any Argument Peacefully

An argument is never a good thing but sometimes we cannot avoid it, so it’s wise to know a few tips on how to end any argument on a good note no matter what. I cannot stand being angry at someone, and I don’t like feeling like someone is angry at me. I always try to resolve any conflict peacefully, even if the person is irritating and I don’t like them. If you have an argument, here are a few tips to follow to end it peacefully.

1. Keep those bad things to yourself
It’s so easy to say wounding words, such as ‘I hate you,’ ‘Don’t want to see you anymore,’ or ‘You’re the worst person in the world,’ but it’s so difficult to apologize. You don’t have to voice every thought that you have. Sure, you form your own views and have your own opinion, but sometimes it’s better to keep them to yourself. This is one of the most effective ways to end any argument peacefully.

2. Listen
A person who starts an argument is certainly angry. To end an argument peacefully, you will need to let them vent without interrupting them. Sure, you might want to defend yourself, but that will only make it worse. Don’t intensify the anger, and don’t try to win an argument. Take a few deep breaths, listen and then try to speak peacefully.

3. Remind yourself why you love them
If you are trying to end an argument with your partner, I suggest you to think about the things that you really love about them. Keep those things in mind when you argue with your partner, and you will be much more authentic and honest. Remind yourself why you love them, calm down and end an argument peacefully.

4. Treat others the way you want to be treated
When it comes to arguments, we all should remember this saying. In any relationship, you always mirror yourself and your emotions, actions and energies are aligned. If you want someone to be friendly and positive, you should display those qualities and treat that person with respect no matter how angry you are.

5. Use your point of view
When you let the person vent and you finally start talking, use your point of view. Try to speak calmly and respectfully and make sure you are friendly. This will make them less defensive and they will be less hostile. I always believe that every conflict can be resolved peacefully and I personally don’t like to quarrel.

6. Don’t try to win an argument
It’s a bad idea to try to win an argument. It’s not a competition and there is no winner in an argument. Keep in mind that winning is not the aim. Your aim is to end an argument peacefully, which means you should talk the problem over and come to an agreement.

7. Silence is golden
Remember that ‘Silence is golden’ and it’s one of the most effective ways to end any argument. Silence is essential when it comes to negotiation. Many of us find an awkward silence uncomfortable, but it’s important for processing feelings and thoughts as well as making a decision. It’s better to keep silence for a while than to say something that can make things even worse.

Sure, it’s not easy to end an argument, especially if the person wants to argue and is not interested in resolving a conflict. But the tips mentioned above can really help in most common arguments. How do you usually end an argument? Share your thoughts with us.

8 Daily Habits of Ultra-Productive People

Have you ever wondered how successful people stay highly productive day after day? The secret of their productivity isn’t actually a secret. They simply know how to manage themselves and when to say no. Ultra-productive people don’t necessarily work longer and they’re not complete workaholics. They simply work a bit smarter than other people. If you feel stuck in your busy schedules, it’s time to make changes, improve your work rut and boost your career. No matter what obstacles block your career path, you have enough power to overcome them. Here are 8 daily habits of ultra-productive people that you can develop today.

1. They do the hardest tasks first


Procrastination is the biggest problem of most people. We often don’t feel like doing the difficult tasks and trick ourselves into thinking that we’ll accomplish them after lunch. The truth is, the most difficult tasks are never accomplished in the second part of the working day. Ultra-productive people know it so they always start their working days with the hardest projects. It’s a lot easier to accomplish easy tasks (or those that inspire you to work hard) at the end of the day.

2. They never overthink their projects and mistakes
Ultra-productive people don’t have time for overthinking. They make mistakes, learn from them and forget about them. They accomplish their tasks and projects and forget about them. They always try to solve their problems the moment they appear. Moreover, they never save phone calls and emails to deal with later. This habit is hard to master but it’s worth the effort.

3. They often say no
Ultra-productive people are not afraid to say no to the tasks and projects that they don’t like or want to accomplish. They often say no to people who ask them for help. It’s not selfish. though. The art of saying no is great and useful. First, because it helps people to do their work on time. Second, because they have more time to relax and do their household chores. Remember, you don’t have to do someone’s tasks regardless of the situation, especially if you have many stuff to tackle.

4. They never multitask
Multitasking is a good thing at times, but it doesn’t help you stay productive during the day. Multitasking is actually a huge productivity killer. When you do one task at a time, you accomplish more than when you are trying to do a few tasks at once. Even if you manage to accomplish those tasks, the quality of your work may be worse. Ultra-productive people strive for better work, which is why they tend to focus on one project at a time.

5. They end their working day by preparing for the next
After a hard working day the last thing we want to think about is the next working day. However, when you plan your next day before you leave the office, you start the next day doing the most difficult tasks, and don’t spend your precious minutes making a to-do list in the morning. Ultra-productive people always end their working day with a to-do list for tomorrow.

6. They prioritize their tasks
When making their to-do lists, successful and productive people prioritize their tasks. They do the most difficult tasks first, then accomplish the most important ones, and if they have some time before the end of the working day, they try to get the less important tasks done. This way, they work productively without exhausting themselves. As I mentioned, you don’t have to work hard to get things done – you simply need to learn how to work a bit smarter.

7. They stick to their schedules
While it’s not always possible to stick to a schedule, you should do it most of the time in order to be more productive. If you hold a business meeting, make sure you keep it short. It’s difficult to stay focused when the meeting is very long and boring. Avoid discussing other topics, prepare an agenda in advance, set a time limit and stick to it. This is how ultra-productive people run their productive business meetings. In case you have any other topics to discuss, do it at the end of the meeting.

8. They delegate
We are not superhumans. Sometimes even highly productive people can be overloaded with tasks. Delegating is an effective way to get everything done on time. If you know that you can delegate some of your tasks to other workers, do it, but only when you really need it. Avoid delegating all the time, or you will end up being highly unproductive worker.

Every day can be a productive day, if you really want it. Reconsider your daily habits – get rid of those that prevent you from being efficient during the day and adopt those that will make you more productive and successful. I hope these small productivity tips will help you boost your career and improve your overall life. Are you going to adopt any of these habits?

The Art of Writing a Great Resume (Infographic)

When you apply for a new job, your resume could be the ticket to get your dream job. I have seen many resumes thrown straight in the bin and I did it myself too. Why? Because all those resumes were not worth reading. They were terribly structured and presented. And, they did not sound interesting.

The Art of Writing a Successful CV
No employer will want to read pages and pages of resume, so appreciate their time and master the art of writing a powerful resume that will land your dream job.

Putting together a simple yet successful resume is easy when you know how. Here is a great infographic created by Sampletemplates to help you get started in writing a successful resume and ensure you get a better chance of a job interview.

Try to consolidate all the information you want to include in your resume and present it in an appealing and organized way. Remember, your resume must be interesting and easy to digest.If you are going to apply for several jobs, consider creating different resumes, rather than just one and for all.

4 Surprising Benefits of Singletasking

Our society has brainwashed us to think that multitasking is an ability to be admired and sought after in employees, parents and everyone else you can think of. I think that the more we can do at one time, the more efficient we are. However, studies actually show quite the opposite.

Multitasking is toxic for our brains because it goes against the way they are wired to work. You see, our brains can only fully focus on one thing at a time which means multitasking is not efficient at all and actually makes us produce poor quality output.

The answer instead is singletasking. Dedicating your focus to a single task may require you to retrain yourself but it will produce important benefits that are more than worth the effort.

1. Your focus will improve


Instead of jumping back and forth between tasks, you will be able to focus on the problem with persistence and apply complex thinking. Younger generations particularly will benefit from this change seeing as how they are used to watching TV while texting on their phone and playing games.

2. Your stress will decrease
Doing too many things at one time is stressful for anyone because it requires more energy to track tasks. With singletasking, you have your one task at hand and that is the only thing you are focusing on at the moment so all of your energy can go in one direction.

3. You will manage your time better
When you are used to multitasking, you tend to let more distractions in which can push back your timeline. With singletasking, you will be able to figure out the most effective ways to use your time because you will have fewer distractions.

4. You will get more done
You may be thinking there is no way you can accomplish more by doing one thing at a time than you can by juggling a multitude of balls but you would be wrong.

Trying to do too many things at once leads to mistakes which force you to stop and correct them. In the time it takes to fix the things that went wrong, you could have just done one thing at a time and got them all done in less time.

So how do you get started with singletasking? Use as few tools as you can to get the job done. By using simple methods and cutting out distractions, you can fully focus on your task and will be less likely to allow anything to cut in. Then simply do less!

I am not saying be lazy. Continue to work as hard as you always have, just work on one thing at a time. It is like the old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I am not condoning eating elephants.

But I am saying that the best way to tackle your to-do list is to take it one task at a time. I am sure you will find this new way of life have a profound impact on you and those around you.

7 Tips on How to Take Care of Dry Skin

Looking for ways to take care of dry skin? I’ve got some tried and tested ways that work like a charm. I have dry skin and I know how it’s difficult to take care of it. But by now, I have worked out some ways to treat my problem skin to avoid dryness, redness and discomfort. You need to take care of your skin in order to keep it perfect, right? Follow these tips and don’t forget to share yours in the comments section.

1. Keep the air in your room moist
The first rule of a healthy skin is moist air in your apartment. The great thing that will help you to moisturize air in your room is a vaporizer. It is easy to use, you need just plug it in the room and it will do the entire job. Don’t forget to clean and fill the reservoir when necessary to prevent mold from appearing. Thus you will keep air in the room moist and it will be very good for your skin and for the health of your body in general.

2. Products to care for your skin
If you use soap with the smell of fruits or flowers, beware, you may affect your dry skin without knowing it. It means that chemicals have been added to make these products to smell good. Such chemicals can dry your skin badly. So my advice is to choose natural products to care for your skin. They will moisturize your dry skin since they contain no chemicals to dry it.

3. Use oils
There is the perfect thing that can moisturize your skin very well. I’m speaking about oil. You may know that different natural oils are used in cosmetic products you are using to care for your skin. But do you know that you can use any natural oil as it is? Choose any oil you like, there is wide variety of them. The most common is the olive oil, but you may find that coconut or rose petals oil is more to your liking. Just rub the oil into dry parts of your skin and you will see the results in no time.

4. Use lotion on damp skin
Treating you dry skin with lotion whenever needed is a very good idea. But it will be way much better if you apply your favorite lotion to the damp skin. Put it on after the shower and when your skin is a bit dump and it will absorb the lotion deeper. This will make it easier for your lotion to cope with the dryness of your skin. And you won’t have to worry about discomfort that dryness brings.

5. Drink more
There is nothing that can hydrate your body better than water. “Drink more water” – that is what you hear from everyone. Everybody, from famous dieting experts to your couch in your local gym advise you to drink more water as it is very good for your body. But you need to know that it is equally good to your skin too. Do you want to see your skin shining and hydrated? So, do drink more water!

6. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet
You heard a lot about benefits your body has from fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables full of vitamins and minerals, they contain antioxidants, and they are able to hydrate your skin. So, by adding fruits and vegetables to your eating plan you can keep your skin hydrated. Plus, you will get plenty of essential vitamins.

7. Reduce the temperature in your shower
You may like a hot water, but your dry skin won’t tell you ‘thank you.’ When a hot water runs over your skin, it sucks the moisture out of it, leaving you with dry, bright red skin. A lukewarm water is perfect for dry skin. I don’t also recommend using a cold water since it’s not good for your dry skin as well.

There are plenty of ways to care for your dry skin, but these are the most effective. How do you treat your dry skin?

7 Pros and Cons of Becoming a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants have become a highly popular freelance job for many people. A virtual assistant is hired as a freelance worker who works from home and can provide a variety of services.

Most of the services that are offered are office-type jobs like checking and responding to the client’s emails, data entry, file management and more. As with any job, there are pros and cons to consider when you are looking at being a virtual assistant.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
Pros of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
Like any other freelance job, being a virtual assistant provides you with some of the best perks any job has to offer. Some of them include:

1. Be your own boss


Who doesn’t want to become their own boss? Especially, millennials. Freedom is everything, but we have to pay the bills. One of the biggest attractions to working as a virtual assistant is that you can be your own boss. You can set your own hours, your own pay, and the services you provide without being told otherwise.

2. Work from home
Another attraction to this job is being able to work from home. Many people are enjoying raising a family and working from home at the same time. Becoming a virtual assistant is one job that allows you that opportunity. If you live alone or if you are an introvert, this is a huge perk for you.

3. Do life the way you want
As the boss, you can live your life the way you want without worrying about taking time off or taking sick days and upsetting co-workers or employers. You can choose to take a client or not. You can choose how your job intertwines with your family life and make it work best for you.

4. You can choose the benefits you want
You do not have to sign up for health insurance that costs an arm and a leg for your portion or for your co-pays. You can take leave whenever you want. You can take leave for however long you want to take it. You do not have to wait for a year or more to receive vacation time.

Cons of Becoming a Virtual Assistant
Working from home as a virtual assistant has its downsides as well. Although the pros outweigh, these three cons are definitely worth considering:

5. Be my own boss
Being your own boss can be great, but it can also be a burden since you have full responsibility for the entire business. You have to take care of all the little details that a business requires as well as perform the tasks you have been hired for. It can be a little daunting.

6. Chores
Sometimes working from home can be a huge distraction. Life happens, and it happens a lot at home. Children get sick or do not take their naps. Appliances break or pipes leak, and you still have household chores to do on top of the work you are doing for your business.

7. No company paid benefits
The company paid benefits are a nice thing to have, but when you work from home as a virtual assistant, you do not have those luxuries like 401k plans, paid leave, paid insurance, retirement and more. You are responsible for all those benefits rather than a company paying for them.

When you consider becoming a virtual assistant, be sure to really take the time to think about this freelance job and weigh the pros and the cons as you make a decision. Make your own list of pros and cons too and see how it would work for you and your family.

7 Excellent Ways to Get Rid of Bad Speaking Habits

It can be rather difficult to find a person who has an excellent speech without any flaws. Usually we have a lot of bad speaking habits that may cause different problems at work and in our everyday communication. That’s why we should work hard in order to eliminate certain errors from our speech. First of all, you need to discover your bad speaking habits and after fix them. If you are not a perfect speaker, you should spare no efforts to improve your speaking skills. These tips given below will help you sound fluent and eloquent. Try to practice them regularly and you’ll avoid undesirable mistakes in your speech.

1. Record Yourself
When I studied at the university, one of my professors always told us that it was necessary to record ourselves before giving a speech. I should say that method really worked. At first, I was surprised to find out that my voice on tape sounded absolutely different, not like in real life. Every time you hear your own speech you’ll be able to reveal your errors and you will not repeat them in the future. By practicing this technique you will have a nice opportunity to control your speech and it will motivate you to work at your speaking patterns.

2. Correct Your Grammar
It should be mentioned that grammar is one of the major aspects that influence our speaking habits. You can’t be a successful speaker if your grammar is poor. So, I would advise you to work on your grammar as much as possible. Perhaps, it will not be perfect, but you will manage to correct some mistakes. You should keep in mind that learning grammar is not an easy process. To succeed in it you need to spend a lot of time and to be patient. People who have correct grammar always sound well-educated. It’s up to you whether to master the basic grammar rules or to have bad speaking habits.

3. Consider Your Slang
Every language of the world has its own slang that usually varies depending on the area. As a rule, slang has a negative impact on language in general and on your speech in particular. Surely, it doesn’t mean you should completely erase slang from your vocabulary, just make sure you minimize its usage. By being persistent you will get rid of this bad habit in no time. Your results will be much better if you communicate with those who don’t use slang frequently.

4. Try to Avoid Fillers
To my mind this is one of the greatest mistakes we should avoid while speaking with others. Listen to the people who surround you every day and you will be amazed to hear an enormous amount of fillers in their speech. Definitely we must remove these harmful words from our vocabulary by all means. Very often you may use fillers without realizing it. Fillers don’t have their own meaning and if you omit them you won’t break the main idea of your speech. Such words as “like”, “well”, “ok” and lots of others are called fillers. We mostly use them when being nervous and unable to control our emotions. At such moments, we don’t pay much attention to what we are telling. I should admit that this bad speaking habit is really hard to cope with, but it’s possible to do that.

5. Cut out Cursing
If you can’t speak without cursing it’s your personal decision and you should understand that it will never make your speech better. People who don’t have cursing in their vocabulary are more pleasant interlocutors. Give up cursing and everybody will see that you are an intelligent and polite personality who respects others. There are some situations when you should forget about this sort of language. For example, it will be a bad idea to use cursing in the office or at the university because you are to be respectful and show your politeness at these places.

6. Be Careful with Your Pronunciation
Once you have decided to fix your speaking habits, you must be ready to work hard on your pronunciation as it is one of the key aspects that are necessary to develop your language skills. If your pronunciation is wrong you are expected to make more writing mistakes. It is typical of most people to write words in the same way as they speak. Accordingly, it is reasonable for you to observe your punctuation errors when you write. Learning the basic rules of punctuation is the most effective way to figure out what is right and what is wrong.

7. Improve Your Accent
Accent is something special that can tell much about you. For instance, when you go to another town you may even sound ridiculous there and everybody will understand that you are not a local. Do you have a strong accent? Then you need to take pains for correcting this speaking habit. Look for some extra help if you want to make progress soon. The Internet is an incredible source of information for you. Here you will be offered a great deal of useful recommendations.

Most of us have certain bad speaking habits and there are plenty of reasons due to which we should improve our speech. If you work hard on your speaking skills, you will eventually reach the desirable effect. What are the most common mistakes you make in your speech? Which of the above tips do you consider to be the most effective? If you have any other ideas, tell us please.