How To Be Happy Now

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Films are made about it, books are written about it, scientists study it, countries dedicate funds to it, and it’s the one thing we all want — no, it’s not sex or money, what I’m talking about is happiness! Given its amazing physical, social, and mental benefits, happiness has been found to improve health, relationships, and creativity. So, the pursuit of happiness can only be a good thing. Plus it’s free! So here is how to get truly happy now and to start reaping the fabulous rewards right away.

1. Capitalize on Positive Events

Ask a friend, partner, colleague, or acquaintance to tell you about something good that happened to them that day. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as they enjoyed it. While they are sharing the event, actively listen — that means really listen and be engaged by making eye contact, smiling, asking open-ended questions, and making positive comments. You will be amazed at how natural this feels once you get into the moment. Notice how your encouragement is increasing the other person’s positivity by making them feel cared about — it feels good, right? Not only that, but talking about the event together is also a positive experience which will enhance your relationship. Research has shown that romantic partners who responded to each other’s news of positive events in this active-constructive style reported greater relationship wellbeing and were less likely to break up two months later.

2. Practice Random Acts of Kindness

This involves doing five kind things in one day and then writing about them. First of all, think of the kind acts that you have been the recipient of. Next, reflect on the kind acts you already do. Now, note five acts you want to do and the day that you will do them. When you have completed your acts of kindness, write down what you did and how they made you feel for an extra boost. Chances are you will want to do it again. Research shows this practise makes us feel happier because it makes us think more highly of ourselves and we become more aware of other positive social interactions, which also increases happiness. Note: Do not do the same act over and over again — it will start to feel less special.

3. Practice Forgiveness

We all have hurts and betrayals that we ruminate about at times. Choosing to forgive is a way to release the distress that arises time and time again from the memory of these incidents. However, forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to forget or even reconcile. Instead, it is about changing your attitude toward the original pain so that it can no longer hurt you.

To practice forgiveness, you need to commit to your personal healing, recognize your distress is coming from your feelings and thoughts, remind yourself that you can hope for positive things and work hard to get them, decide to make some positive goals to put your energy into, focus on what is good in your life right now, and change the way you think of the past.

Forgiveness can take some time, but it is worth it. Researchers at the University of Miami found that forgiveness is linked to increased life satisfaction, more positive emotions, less negative emotions, and fewer symptoms of physical illness. The same group of researchers also found that forgiving on one day is linked to higher happiness the very next day.

4. Cultivate Optimism

For this, try the “best possible self” exercise. Take a moment to imagine your life in the future and make it the best you can possibly imagine. Consider everything: career, relationships, hobbies, health, spirituality, and academia. What would happen in your best future? For fifteen minutes, write about what you imagine and be as creative as you like. Research suggests that building optimism about the future motivates people to work towards their goals. This makes the desired future more likely to become a reality. You are not only increasing your happiness in the present, you are also paving the way for sustained happiness down the line. This exercise also teaches you what you want, helps you to restructure your priorities, and increases your sense of control over your life.

5. Savour the moment

Whatever you are doing, be it looking at a sunset, playing with your dog, or eating a piece of chocolate, really be present and appreciate the moment right here and right now. No thinking about anything else. Absorb yourself fully into it and notice what you are seeing or hearing, any sensations such as the breeze on your skin or the feeling of something soft in your hands. Take time to become aware of how you are feeling in this moment. If there is a mood present, what is it? Enjoying the small things in life helps us to build up a beautiful memory bank, and being truly present keeps us content.

So, what are you waiting for? Hurry up and get happy!

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How to Address Employment Gaps in your Resume

Man Celebrating At The Grand Canyon While Travelling

For the first time in a long time, the United States unemployment rate is back on track. At 5.5%, this rate means that more people are getting jobs and more companies are hiring. For many, this is the opportune time to get back to the job search, perhaps after an extended period of not working. There are a variety of reasons to take a leave from the work force, whether you get laid off or leave to serve in the military, have children, deal with family complications, or even to take the time to travel. The questions is: what are some of the best practices to address employment gaps in your resume?

Have Confidence Moving Forward

First of all, while you may minimize the attention paid to the gaps, there is no reason to feel ashamed or as though these gaps must be masked.

Be open in sharing your employment gap. Think about what you did during your time off and frame it to show that while you were not working in a traditional sense, you have improved from the experience. For example, did you do any job training? Have you taken any professional development classes? Did you do any volunteering during your leave? Take time to reflect on the skills and know-how you acquired and frame that into your resume or cover letter.

Be Honest

After looking through countless resumes, recruiters or hiring managers are able to identify when something seems a little fishy. Many sources will tell you of strategic ways to hide your employment history by taking out the months to mask the duration of your unemployment. This is not the case. In fact, a hiring manager will mostly likely be less inclined to move forward with a candidate who appears to be misleading.

The important thing to remember in this is that as you move forward in the applicant process, you will be compelled to fully disclose your work history. Don’t back yourself into a corner where you appear deceptive. Be honest throughout the process.

Show Your Work

Perhaps during your gaps, you took on some temporary jobs, whether you were employed by another or by yourself. Try grouping these together, where logical. This will show that you remained active during a period of unsteady employment. Grouping will also help your skills and assets to be more visible than the job itself. For example, if you worked doing freelance writing while in between jobs, make that a header and list your achievements in that position, rather than listing the companies or organizations for whom you wrote. When it comes down to it, the desirable characteristics in an employee are not shown by where they worked, but by their character, work ethic, and skills.

If you did a variety of jobs, classes, or projects during your unemployment, try making a section header and listing some of those accomplishments. The self- motivation needed for this type of work can reveal a lot about your work habits, which can be desirable. For example:

Maternity Leave, June 2015 – Present

  • Completed online Managerial Leadership Certificate at University of Texas McCombs School of Business during off hours
  • Developed procedures for on-boarding new volunteers at local youth sports organization

Emphasize Skills Over Chronology

In the same vein, emphasize your skills over your employment history. There are several ways to do this. The first is to be sure the bulleted points in your resume stand out and work for you. This means that they should not merely be listing the tasks of your job, but should instead show your specific accomplishments while in a position. Accomplishments are best displayed when they are quantified to prove your skill or expertise in a given area.

Another way to emphasize your skills in your resume is to designate a skills section. A skills section can take the form of a list and should include skills applicable to the position for which you are applying. When listing skills, be sure to include both the full name of the skill and its abbreviated form so it is sure to register in Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS.

Look carefully at the job description to find resume keywords that should be mimicked in your resume. For example, if something like financial modelling is listed several times throughout the job description, be sure to highlight your experiences and successes with it — whether while in a steady job or during your employment gap. Using a tool like Jobscan.co makes it easy to see what those keywords are and maximize their usage. Again, your skills and character are important to recruiters.

Be Positive And Professional

Overall, remember that life happens. A gap in employment does not mean you are not a desirable candidate. Hiring managers ultimately want a good person, one whom they can trust. Focus on the positive and recognize the assets you can bring to a company. Take initiative and always act professionally. Don’t rule yourself out with your own attitude.

Featured photo credit: Stokpik via stokpic.com

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13 Tough But Effective Butt Exercises

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I sit most of my work day. And, while I can’t find any research to prove it, I swear my butt expands and gets flatter from all of that sitting. Most people don’t look at their own butts, but the people behind them do. Whether you think your butt is spreading, getting flabby, is too small or flat, or not, don’t take any chances. Get on board with these butt exercises and keep that view from the rear a nice one!

1. The Hip-Lift Progression

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via Pinterest.com

All you need is a cushioned mat and yourself, so this exercise can literally be done wherever you have a large enough space to fit your mat.

How To Do It

  1. Lie flat on your back with arms at your sides.
  2. Knees should be bent with feet flat on the floor; your feet should be about the same width apart as your shoulders.
  3. Using your legs for leverage, lift your entire torso up off the mat.
  4. Hold that position. You will feel your glutes tightening.
  5. Now lift one leg up off the mat and extend it out straight.
  6. Move the outstretched leg up, keeping it straight. You will feel even more pull on your glutes — this is a good thing.
  7. Hold the leg up for a slow count of five, then slowly return it to its original position.
  8. Alternate these leg lifts. Note: When you first begin this exercise, you may not be able to hold the raised torso position for long. This is fine. Slowly lower your body to the mat, rest, and start again.
  9. As you continue to do this exercise, you will be able to hold the raised position longer and will be able to do more of the leg lifts. Be patient.

Benefits

  • This exercise has the added benefit of relieving the tension in your back that accumulates during the day.
  • It also makes the muscles more flexible, which should reduce back pain in the future.

Another variation of this one is to lie with both legs outstretched and your feet against a wall. Keeping those feet on that wall, lift your entire torso up to your shoulders. Hold that position for as long as you can and then slowly lower your body down to a flat position. You will not be raising your legs during this one, but both legs will be raise as you place those feet against the wall. You’ll feel this one in your glutes, even into the next day.

2. The Step-Up Butt Exercise

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Step-ups absolutely work your butt, especially if it is “droopy” (thanks, gravity). These can be done anywhere you find a sturdy chair, coffee table, or bench.

How To Do It

  1. Stand directly in front of the chair, table, or bench.
  2. Step up onto the object with one foot.
  3. Bring the other foot up, but do not set it down on the object. Instead, bend your knee and hold that leg up.
  4. Step back down slowly — this pulls on those glutes just as much as the step up does.
  5. Alternate the leg you use for the first step-up movement.
  6. Once this becomes easy for you, raise the level of tension by holding small weights in your hands — begin with 5 lbs. and gradually increase.

Benefits

  • The stepping up and stepping down backwards will improve your balance.
  • You can also do this exercise a bit faster and increase that heart rate for a cardio workout.
  • If you climb or bike, step-ups help your body prepare for hills.

3. Basic Squat

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via Popsugar.com

There are so many different types of squats! For your posterior, any of the myriad variations will work. You can start with simple, less rigorous types and progress as you toughen up.

How To Do It

Begin with the basic squat:

  1. Stand straight and put your hands behind your head.
  2. Your feet should be apart, about the distance of your shoulders.
  3. Keeping your back straight, lean forward as you bend your knees and thighs.
  4. Don’t arch your back, but push your butt out, as if you were going to sit down in a chair.
  5. Keep your weight on the heels of your feet as you bend.
  6. Slowly raise up and repeat.
  7. Both the down and the up movements should be slow. That movement is what pulls and strengthens those glute muscles.

Benefits

There are some amazing overall health benefits to squats.

  • They will increase the release of hormones.
  • You will have improved flexibility, and that will help reduce future injuries.
  • You will improve your balance.

There are 30 or so variations of squats, all of which will help shape and tone your butt.

4. Squats with Weights

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The steps of this exercise are the same as those for the basic squat, but you will want to add weights incrementally.

How To Do It

  1. Assume the basic squat position.
  2. Hold the weights in your hands with your elbows bent so that the weights are at about chin level.
  3. Keep your arms in the same position throughout the exercise.

An additional benefit to this type of squat is that you will feel more of a pull in your butt and in your stomach as well. Using weight with your squats will strengthen those stomach muscles.

5. Sumo Squat

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So-named because it is the starting position of a sumo wrestler.

How To Do It

  1. Space your legs much farther apart than with a basic squat.
  2. Point your feet outward.
  3. Bend your elbows and clasp your hands in front of your chest.
  4. Slowly bend down, keeping feet firmly planted. You will feel a stronger pull on your butt in this position.

Benefits

  • There will be greater pull on your stomach muscles.
  • This exercise is also great for tightening up those inner thighs — you’ll certainly feel it.

6. Deep Squat

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Once you have the basic squat mastered, you can make it harder by adding more weight.

How To Do It

  1. Stand in the basic starting pose for a squat.
  2. Hold a single weight (8-10 lbs. or more) with both hands.
  3. Squat as deeply as you can, but do not rest the weight on the floor at any time.
  4. Again, lower yourself and raise yourself back up very slowly to get the most benefit.

Benefits

  • You will find that your outer thighs, your abdomen, and your butt will all benefit.

7. Single Leg Squat

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via MuscleandFitness.com

Here’s one you can do at the office all day long, every time you get up and down from your chair.

How To Do It

  1. From a sitting position, extend your arms out in front of you.
  2. Straighten your back.
  3. With both feet on the floor, raise one foot.
  4. Rise to a standing position, slowly.
  5. Squeeze your butt cheeks as you rise.
  6. Try not to lean forward — the more you do, the less pull on those glutes.
  7. Sit back down in the same way you stood up — back straight and still holding one foot up.

Benefits

  • This exercise requires good balance. If you don’t have great balance, you will when you master this squat.
  • Posture is improved if these are carried out several times a day.

And while you are sitting in that chair all day? You can continue to work those glutes if you take just a few seconds to squeeze them every hour or so. You can do the same thing while driving your car or watching TV at home. All of those squeezes will really tighten things up over time.

8. Barbell Squats

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via OxygenMag.com

Adding weight to squats increases friction, and increasing friction tightens and tones faster.

How To Do It

  1. Perform a basic squat.
  2. While in the squatting position, pick up your bar with your hands about shoulder width apart.
  3. Slowly rise to a standing position with your bar held at your shoulders.
  4. Raise the bar above your head until your arms are fully extended.
  5. Bring the bar back down to your shoulders and slowly squat again.
  6. Repeat this until you are feeling some pain. Over time, the number you can do will increase, as will the amount of weight you can lift.

Benefits

  • You will tone and strengthen your abs, as well as your upper arms and shoulders.

9. Single Wall Leg Lunge

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via WomensHealthMag.com

While this exercise works many muscles, it is especially good for the butt. It can be done with or without handheld weights, and the only other thing you need is a wall.

How To Do It

  1. Stand with your back to a wall.
  2. Raise one leg behind you and place the ball of that foot on the wall. Place it as high as is comfortable for now. As you gain flexibility, you will be able to raise that leg higher.
  3. Push off the wall and lunge forward, keeping hands on your hips and the ball of your foot still firmly planted on that wall.
  4. Alternate legs.
  5. Do 2-3 sets a day and you’ll see great results in just a few short weeks.

Benefits

  • If you are looking for a way to tighten those upper thighs, this is it.
  • Your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and core will all get a great stretching workout, and that stretching increases their flexibility.
  • Your balance will be improved.

10. Plie

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via Popsugar.com

Remember those ballet lessons as a child? Well you probably didn’t know then that those plies were one of the best ways to keep your butt tight and toned. As you can see from this image, this is similar to the sumo squat because the legs are far apart. However, from there, things are different.

How To Do It

  1. Stand next to a barre and grab it with your nearest hand. If you have great balance, you can try this without the barre.
  2. Put your free hand on your hip.
  3. Keep your back fully straight — looking straight ahead will help.
  4. Spread your feet as wide apart as you are able.
  5. Point your feet outward so your knees follow in that direction.
  6. Raise up on your toes and squat slowly, hold, and then slowly rise back up. It is the slow movement up and down that really tightens and tones the glutes.

Benefits

  • You will be strengthening your calves, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs, giving them more flexibility.
  • This is a great exercise for posture.

11. Floor Jacks

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via Popsugar.com

Remember the jumping jacks you used to do in PE class? Maybe you still do them for their aerobic benefits. Here is a great variation of a jumping jack on your tummy that will tighten up that butt in no time.

How To Do It

  1. Lie flat on your tummy — a mat is a good idea.
  2. Raise your arms straight out above your head.
  3. Spread your legs to about the width of your shoulders.
  4. Raise your arms and head up at the same time that you raise your legs up.
  5. Keep your toes pointed.
  6. Now, do the jumping jack movement with your arms and legs. They should remain stiff and straight at all times.

Benefits

  • This exercise strengthens and tones the inner and outer thighs.
  • Your upper arms and shoulders will be stretched and your flexibility will increase.

12. Quadruped Hip Extensions

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via OperationShape.com

This exercise has been shown by research to give you the most “bang for your buck” on that butt. In terms of tightening and toning those muscles, nothing could be better.

How To Do It

  1. Get on all fours.
  2. Palms should be flat on the floor and arms straight.
  3. Keep your head straight and in line with your spine.
  4. Raise one leg as high as you can, keeping the knee bent. Hold it. Bring it back down.
  5. Repeat with the same leg several times before moving to the other.
  6. Variations include adding weight to the inside of the knee, or using a band around the ankles to create more friction.
  7. Another variation is to raise the leg to the side, like a male dog who is peeing, and raise that bent leg up and down slowly.

Benefits

  • As you raise each leg up, you will also be pulling on the hamstring.
  • If you raise the leg to the side, you will strengthen and tone your inner thighs.

13. Rear Raisers

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via Prevention.com

This exercise is specifically for that saggy butt.

How To Do It

  1. Assume the same position as for the quadruped hip extension.
  2. While in that position, move one leg across the underside of your body so that the foot is pointing in the opposite direction of the side it came from.
  3. Extend the other leg straight back, keeping it off the floor. Hold.
  4. Raise that outstretched leg up and down slowly, tapping your toes on the floor and then raising back up.
  5. Squeeze your butt cheeks each time you bring your leg up.
  6. Remember not to arch your back.

Benefits

  • The leg that is outstretched and moving will have its hamstring stretched.
  • The lower back muscles are also stretched, giving them great flexibility. With flexibility comes fewer episodes of back pain.

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How To Have The Mindset Of A Champion

Champion

There are stark differences that distinguish champions from others.  Some may specifically attribute talents, physical capabilities, and intellectual competencies to those who are champions. I argue it is their mindset that sets them apart from others, not their physical and intellectual talents.

Anyone can develop the mindset of a champion through practice and action. You can even start today!

I have compiled the top 7 characteristics and principles of champions that will pave your way towards a champions mindset.

1.  Champions have a strong belief in themselves or in a higher power

Some champions attribute their success to their strong belief in themselves. They whole-heartedly believe they are the best at what they do. They also believe they are going to achieve what they set out to accomplish. On the other hand, some champions believe their higher power is guiding and carrying them to success. It is their higher power that has provided them with the necessary talents to be a champion.

Without this strong belief, either in themselves or in a higher power, the champions mind cannot exist.

2.  Champions are eager students

Champions never stop learning. No matter the profession, champions strive to digest as much information as possible. They essentially have a beginners mind. They look for opportunities and information available to them that will better serve their purpose in achieving success. Champion athletes and entrepreneurs know they have the ability to continue to cultivate and craft their abilities through knowledge and practice. They have a strong passion for continuing their education, which in turn affords them a mindset that seeks continuous growth.

A champion will strive to be the best at what they do, regardless of natural ability, they know by continuously learning about their craft, they will better serve themselves and their goals. Champions do not have self-limiting beliefs. Instead, a champion believes challenges and continuous learning opportunities are essential for their future.

3.  Champions are mentally tough and resilient

The mindset of a champion is flexible and strong. Champions harbor the ability to cope with setbacks and obstacles, but they also have the strong will to succeed and overcome any failures that come their way. It is their strong belief in themselves or a higher power that keeps them mentally adept and resilient. Champions realize the greatness they seek will not come easy and they know they will face obstacles and set-backs.

Champions know they cannot be positive all the time, but they are committed to be absolutely engaged in life. When the going gets tough a champion will take charge and full responsibility for improving their skills and motivation.

Champions are aware they are their own worst enemy.

4.  Champions have mastered their minds

Champions have cultivated a practice of mindfulness. This means they have been able to tap into the ability to live purposefully in the present moment. They continuously bring their attention to what is happening around them, rather than being fixated on failure or successes of the past and future. This mastery requires keen focus and the ability to push aside any emotional baggage that will hinder them from achieving their goals.

A champion does not allow limiting beliefs or destructive self-talk to discourage them from their path of greatness. They have mastered their mind in a fashion that only allows for emotions and thoughts that serve them to achieve their goals. Champions are mindfully aware of the noise between their ears and know when they have mastered their minds nothing can get in their way.

“Who is in control of your mind? You are.” – Aubrey Marcus

5.  Champions do not give up – they are committed to success

“Fall down seven times and stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

Champions do not give up. Their strong belief in themselves or a higher power motivates them to continuously push through adversities and failures. They have cultivated a mindset of commitment to their success and are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to achieve their goals.

We all know that pro-boxers are some of the hardest working athletes in the world. You know why? Rather than asking, “How long should I be training for every day?” They ask, “How long can I train every day?” You see the difference?

This mindset which is rooted and committed to success is so strong it cannot be influenced by anyone or anything.

6.  Champions have a strong relationship with their bodies

Regardless of occupation or profession, a champion has a strong relationship with their body. Champions know their body inside and out and respect and understand the needs of their body. They are aware of what their body needs in order to grow as an individual towards being a champion. They are aware of their nutritional and physical needs and the need to continuously improve their bodies.

They are mindfully aware if their body is out of tune, they will not be able to operate at a high standard which is required to achieve their success.

7.   Champions have a powerful team supporting them

Behind every champion there is a team. Whether it is friends, family, coaches, or mentors, there is someone helping the person become a champion.

No matter the profession, champions enlist the help from others that can provide them with greater insight and experience to assist them along their journey to success. The champions team are people who can offer an outsiders perspective, experience in the given industry, and connections to propel them forward along their path to greatness. A champion chooses to surround themselves with people who believe and support their goal by continuously motivating them and providing positive feedback.

To be great you must surround yourself with great people.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the seven characteristics of champions. You can start working on your champion mindset right now. See if you have covered all of these aspects on your journey towards successes.

Remember, these characteristic do not apply only to athletes, they apply to everyday life, your career, family, and personal development towards a champion’s life.

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Step by Step Guide to Becoming a Professional Calligrapher

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Calligraphy is a visual art, but one which is dedicated solely to the creation of text. It is in high demand in niches such as wedding stationery; font and logo design; and even for the creation of inscriptions and historical documents. In fact, as we move towards a world where ever increasing amounts of text appear online, the handwritten word seems to be more highly celebrated than ever before.

The History of Calligraphy

The word calligraphy is formed from two Greek words, ‘kalli’and ‘graphy’ which, in turn, mean beautiful and writing. Calligraphy has been widely used in both Western and Eastern traditions and with such a rich heritage it is unsurprising that this art form is still so sought after today.

The Tools of the Trade

The tools of calligraphy have evolved through the centuries. Originally stiffened paint brushes, wooden pens or even large feathers were used. While contemporary calligraphers still sometimes choose to work with the traditional tools, they also have a wide range of specialised pens and markers available to them.

Calligraphy as a Career

Many professional calligraphers initially start out on a part-time basis. The easiest way to begin your career is to set up as a freelancer for hire. You can then advertise your availability and work on a project by project basis for companies and private individuals who need your particular skill-set. Check out this guide on how to become a professional calligrapher.

With the rise in popularity of the handmade arena, and the blossoming of websites such as Etsy and Folksy, you can also create products which feature calligraphy and offer them for sale. Bespoke items, such as wedding invitations and family tree wall prints, can sell particularly well and at a premium price point due to the craftsmanship involved.

Learning Calligraphy

Calligraphy is open to anyone who wants to learn to master the skill. The joy of the art form for most people is that it is so accessible to learn and can be pursued in any small pockets of time you have available, for little cost.

Calligraphy Qualifications

There are no set qualifications or degrees available in the field although if you wanted to pursue it at a higher education level you could do so as part of a visual arts degree. As this article also highlights many people who gain an interest in calligraphy do so after learning about ancient alphabets during their study of history.

Finding a Calligraphy Class

Calligraphy can be learnt from books; online classes; or from any of the many workshops or classes which are held up and down the country. It is also an art form where you can be continually learning something new and this can expand your opportunities if you choose calligraphy as a career.

Payment & Your Portfolio

The salaries of calligraphers will vary widely depending on the projects you get hired for and how in-demand your skills are. That’s why continually expanding your knowledge and experience can be a big boon. Also it is a wise idea to build a wide ranging portfolio over time so you can demonstrate your ability easily to new clients. Nothing speaks louder for a calligrapher than the pen they have already put to paper.

Working as a professional calligrapher is a very flexible occupation and can be done on a full-time basis or fitted around other commitments, such as paid employment; care for dependents or even education. It is also a skill which once acquired can be used throughout your career.

With so few barriers to entry; little initial financial outlay needed to take up the skill; and ultimately so much to gain from reaching a professional level there is very little to stop you. The biggest factor in becoming a professional calligrapher will be your love of the art form; your desire to master it; and the hours of practice you are willing to put in.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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DIY: Create Your Own Toiletries

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Americans are looking for ways to get all-natural products that can do cure your ailments, protect your teeth, give you lifelong beauty or make you healthier. Are you one of them? Do you like to tackle do-it-yourself projects? Do you have DIY ideas and run with them? Than, you’ll want to know how to create these personal care products yourself.

DIY Toothpaste

Here is the recipe. You need ¼ cup Redmond clay, ⅓ cup boiling water, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 3 teaspoons xylitol, 2 teaspoons peppermint extract and and ¼ teaspoon salt.

What do you do?

Mix clay and salt in a bowl. Then add boiling water. Mix well with mixer. Add remaining ingredients and mix all well. Store in airtight container. Eliminate store-bought toothpaste. You can use a jar and a butter knife or spoon for putting on your toothbrush.

Clay can remove toxins, according to scientific studies. It also has medicinal properties. Clay won’t harm you if swallowed. It also is used when people have upset stomachs or a way to absorb radiation. Store-bought toothpastes have harmful ingredients, according to some groups. Homemade toothpaste can reduce waste or toxins in the environment.

DIY Deodorant

Get these ingredients: baking soda and water.

What do you do?

Put baking soda into a small plastic container.  Add a small amount of water. Just enough to make a smooth paste. Apply a small (emphasis on “small”) amount to underarm area. That’s all.  And if it dries out, add a bit more water. Even if it gets really thin it will still work as the deodorizing properties of the baking soda are still there. It really works.

You want to avoid aluminum, which is found in store-bought antiperspirants. Some studies have linked aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists think aluminum enters into the brain through either the lymph nodes. Other ingredients might cause cancer, according to American Cancer Society.

DIY Hand Sanitizer

You need 4 oz Aloe Vera Gel, 1/2 Tablespoon Witch Hazel, 1 Vitamin E Capsule and a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil.

What do you do?

In a large bowl, whisk together the witch hazel and aloe vera gel. Poke a hole in the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents into the mixture. Whisk in. Add five to 10 drops of lavender oil. Pour into a 4 oz squeeze bottle to use. You should use a dark bottle if possible to ensure stability of the lavender oil.

This is easy to make and leaves your hands softer and germ-free. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t make your skin softer. In fact, they can dry your skin. Witch Hazel extract is an all-natural product that is known for its astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anesthetic properties. The gel from the aloe vera plant is naturally moisturizing. Don’t use the blue or green type. Lavender oil also has antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It also smells nice. The addition of the vitamin E should help keep the product stable.

DIY Body Wash

Ingredients include 1 Tbsp shea butter, 1/4 cup aloe vera gel, 3/4 tsp guar gum or 1 tsp xanthan gum, 3/4 cup soap base (I used Dr. Bronner’s Castille, unscented), approx 25 drops of orange, lemon and lime essential oils.

What do you do?

Melt shea butter over low heat. Add aloe vera gel and warm together with the shea butter. Add gum and stir well with a whisk. Add the soap base. Mix well.  After blending, your wash will be quite foamy but it will settle in a few hours.  After the mixture has cooled, add essential oils. Pour into container of choice.  A funnel comes in handy here.

You can reuse containers and reduce waste, save money, and reduce the number of harmful chemicals in your system and the environment.

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7 Common Habits That Badly Hurt Your Immune System

Your Immune System

Immune system is your body’s “fight club” which defends you from unforeseen and present health complications, if any. In simple terms, this numero uno defense mechanism is programmed by nature to protect you from falling sick. However, “old wires don’t last long,” as they say, so does your immune system. The biggest factor? AGE. Having said that, few of us commit some lifestyle mistakes which speed up the process of immune system weakening as we age.

If you don’t want to age your immune system faster or stay bed-ridden and eventually die with some lifetime or chronic disease, you would want to discard these 7 bad habits.

Specific medications

If you’re a frequent consumer of chronic pain relievers, your doctor would have considered the effects on your immune system and counterbalanced with other medications or shortened the term. However, if this is not the case, you’re certainly weakening your defense mechanism compared to one who takes pain relievers occasionally. Pain medications like steroids and NSAIDs can damage your intestinal lining and cause leaky gut syndrome, which is characterized by increased intestinal permeability. As a result, infections and undigested particles of food can make their way through the intestinal wall and into your body, which then stresses the immune system and decreases its ability to function properly.

Antacids

Antacid is used generally to neutralize stomach acidity. People normally pop in an antacid when they suffer from gastritis or acidity or a burning sensation in stomach. But antacids primarily pose danger to your gut and its lining where most of the immune cells reside. They disturb your stomach’s pH level, leading to risk of infection due to improper sterilization of food. Moreover, they cause vitamin deficiencies, making your immune system starve for essential nutrients to stay healthy.

Antibiotics

If you’re a frequent sufferer of urinary tract infection or any other chronic infection, taking antibiotics could be unavoidable for you. But you can always ask your doctor for alternative medications and probiotics to ensure you don’t fall short of good bacteria which may get killed by antibiotics along with bad bacteria.

Detoxes

The more popular they are getting these days, the more people are suffering from nutritional imbalance, which is certainly bad for immune system health. Juice cleanses did catch the limelight of detoxes, however, they are friendly to your defense mechanism if kept in moderation. Restrictive diets, comparatively, deplete certain nutrients or overdose them, reason why you should have a complete diet that provides different nutrients to your body.

Too much alcohol

You don’t need an explanation for this. Binge drinking puts a brake on the production of white and red blood cells in your bone marrow, which enfeebles your immune system as a result. Keep it to two drinks while going without drinking for a few days together.

In loneliness

Researchers have studied loneliness to be a factor for change in the immune system. 20% Americans are chronically lonely according to a study by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which is quite serious as it increases the risk of disease. Loneliness is a psychological issue which may not necessarily result from absence of people. Community events, therapy and as simple as regular communication can help control loneliness, and boost your immune system.

Frequent trips

If you travel to different destinations quite frequently, your immune system is always taking guard to fight off new germs and bacteria which are not otherwise found in your routine environment. This is very tiring for your immune system, as well as deranged eating and sleeping habits and different pollutants. Try to be on your normal routine as much possible and beware of any water or food cautions when traveling.

If you’re sick every other week, it may well be an indication of weakened immune system, and any of the above seven reasons be the culprit. However, besides discontinuing them, you should seek appropriate treatment from your physician.

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