More podcasts I like

A year ago I did a post about my favourite podcasts. I still really enjoy listening to them. In the meantime I discovered three new podcasts.

The Bright Sessions (link)

The Bright Sessions

This is my favourite podcast at the moment! Every episode is a session in which Dr. Bright talks with one of her patients. The patients are not “normal” people, they all have some kind of supernatural ability. The characters are amazing! It is very interesting to hear about those abilities and how the characters struggle with them sometimes. The podcast also has two LGBTQIA characters: one of them is asexual and another is still questioning his sexual orientation. By now I listened to almost all episode, but every two weeks a new episode is released. All the episodes together form a story, so if you are interested, start at the beginning.

Slow German (link)

Slow German mit Annik Rubens

In a month I am going on vacation to Berlin! As preparation I practice German. I did learn German in high school, but since I never use the language, I forgot a lot. I like Slow German, because the podcast teaches me both the language and interesting facts about the country. In every episode a subject regarding Germany is discussed in slow German. The topics vary from historical persons like Sissi and King Ludwig II to holidays in Germany.  The episodes are short, only 5 to 10 minutes. You can also find the scripts, so you can read along or look up words.

Myths and Legends (link)

Myths and Legends

The host introduces this podcast as “original tales behind legendary stories.” It turns out that the original is often better than the popular tales you know! The podcasts tells the story behind fairy tales, the Knights of the Round Table and other legends. I only listened to a few episodes, but my favourite at the moment is 4-Mulan: A Likely Hero. Mulan was actually not insecure at all! She was trained by her father and so good nobody even questioned her gender.

What are your favourite podcasts? Tell me in the comments!

Climate change 101

Today is an important day: Earth Day. This is a day on which thousands of people take action for the environment. You may not have heard of Earth Day, but I am quite sure you are aware of climate change. You probably know it has something to do with higher temperatures, droughts and floods. Maybe you also heard about the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. Perhaps you already know climate change is an important subject. But you may not know why. Or you just want to learn more about it. Than this post is for you! I have collected some interesting stuff about climate change. I hope this will help you understand why it is important and how you can help to save our earth!

Before the Flood (2016)
In this epic documentary Leonardo DiCaprio goes on a journey to witness climate change firsthand. Everything is very well-explained, and Leonardo DiCarpio also gives solutions that could help to stop it. Before the Flood shows the threat of global warming, but also gives hope for the future. It is one of my all time favourite documentaries!

Screenshot Before the Flood
Screenshot from Before the Flood

TED talk – The case for optimism on climate change | Al Gore
It is important that influential people like Al Gore battle climate change. As a politician he talked a lot about the subject, made two movies about it and is vegan himself. In this informative TED talk he explains why we have to change and that this is totally possible.

TED talk – How we’re growing baby corals to rebuild reefs | Kristen Marhaver
I love TED talks, because you can learn so much in only 20 minutes. Especially the videos about lesser known subjects are interesting, like this one about coral reefs. Kirsten Marhaver told me about a consequence of global warming I wasn’t aware of.

Sustainable baby steps
This website already helped me a lot, and still does. It is the place to be for people who want to live a more sustainable live, but do not know where to start. The site explains why it is important and which steps you can take. It can be as easy as buying a reusable water bottle!

Reduce Footprints
This blog gives simple ideas to reduce your ecological footprint. It is no longer updated, but still has a big list with challenge to live a greener live. The footprint they are talking about measures the quantity of nature that is needed to support you. The problem is that humanity uses more natural capital than Earth can renew. You can measure your own ecological footprint with the Footprint Calculator.

Happy Earth Day! And remember:

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do little.
Do what you can.”
– Sydney Smit

My top 3 favourite podcasts

A few months ago I discovered the existence of podcasts. Just like books, podcasts can have lots of different subjects. But contrary to books, podcasts can be listened while doing something else. (Technically that is also possible with books, but not always a success…) Podcasts make doing the laundry or other household chores far more amusing! Just install an app (I use Podcast Addict) on your phone or listen via Google Play or iTunes.

For a while I wanted to write a post about podcasts. The Broke and The Bookish happened to do an audio freebie for this Top Ten Tuesday. So the ideal moment to write about my favourite podcasts!

1. Podcastle (link)

podcastle

Every week PodCastle publishes two amazing fantasy stories written by a variety of writers and read by various narrators. I like the fact that lots of different themes and characters are included, main characters can be black or queer and are sometimes even animals. My favourite is Podcastle 413: This is Not a Wardrobe Door. A story inspired by Narnia, written by A. Merc Rustad and read by the full cast.

If you rather listen to science fiction, Escape pod may be more your thing. This is a sister podcast of PodCastle.

2. Clarkesworld (link)

clarkesworld

Actually Clarkesworld is a magazine, but a lot of their science fiction and fantasy stories can also be found in audio form. They have longer stories, some are more than two hours, but most take around half an hour.

The archive is huge, and I have only listened to a few podcasts, but I adored Cat Pictures Please. This is a short story about artificial intelligence with a personality, written by Naomi Kritzer.

3. Happier with Gretchen Rubin (link)

happier-with-gretchen-rubin

In this podcast Gretchen Rubin (you may know her from The Happiness Project) and her sister Elizabeth Craft talk about how to be happier. Every week the two sisters discuss a topic that is often identifiable. I like how honest they are in the podcast by showing that they are just humans who make mistakes too. My favourite episode was Podcast 70: What’s the Best Advice You Ever Got?

Next to this longer episodes, Gretchen Rubin starts every week with a small advice. For example I May Not Be the Best, But I’m Probably Not The Worst.

 

The importance of Earth Day

The importance of Earth Day

Did you know today is Earth Day? I wish I did not have to ask this question. A day on which people take action against environmental issues should be far more important. Not only deserves our planet its own day, it is also necessary. Here is why: climate change is real, it is probably caused by humans and proceeds at a very high rate. Without doubt you have heard about the consequences: higher temperatures, rise of the sea level, melting of sea ice and glaciers, and more extreme weather. But these consequences are not only something for the future. They are happening right now. On photos you can actually see how a lot of glaciers have melted in the last hundred years.

One of the most important actions taken against climate change was the conference held in Paris last December. 195 countries adopted an international climate agreement. Today most of these countries will be represented in New York to sign the Paris Agreement. One of the key goals is to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius between now and 2100. This goal can only be reached if all countries work together, and every one of them will significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

For a long time I asked myself: What difference will make a reduction of my own greenhouse gas emissions? Of course I cannot limit global warming on my own. But I believe every individual can make a difference. By making a change, you can be an inspiration for other people to make the same change, who in their turn can inspire more people. I think it was Mahatma  Gandhi who said:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Here are some things you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Eat less meat and dairy products. Livestock is responsible for half of all human-related emissions. Cows produce methane that is far more destructive than carbon dioxide. Furthermore, for the land that is necessary to cultivate animal food, thousands of acres of rain forests are destroyed. If everyone would have only one meatless day per week in the United States, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
  • Choose more often for public transport or your bike instead of your car. Or use an electric car. The burning of gasoline releases carbon dioxide, after all.
  • Buy more organic and sustainable products. Companies make products largely based on the wishes of their consumers. So if more people ask for products that are environment friendly produced, I believe companies will act according to this wish. By buying sustainable products, you also reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If you buy, for example, a recyclable bag, less materials need to be transported and processed to make new bags.
  • Choose green energy, like wind power or solar panels. Renewable sources of energy produce less carbon dioxide.

 

Six tips for better to do lists

To do lists can be very useful. Making a list helps me to release stress if I have a lot to do. When written down, tasks always seem less daunting than in my head. To do lists also encourage me to be more productive, because it feels good to check off an item. But if you do not use them in the right way, to do lists can have the opposite effect. When you are never able to do all the things on your list, to do lists can be rather discouraging. In this post I share some tips that helped me to make better to do lists.

Six tips for better to do lists

1. Choose a place to write and keep your to do lists
I used to write my to do lists on a whiteboard, and erase the items I had done. Because my whiteboard hung above my desk, the list was a good visible reminder. I also liked how the whiteboard became emptier as I did the items on my to do list.

Using your phone is another option. You can choose a simple notification app or an app  made for to do lists with extra functions. Apps can give you the possibility to set reminders, synchronize with google calendar or share lists with family and friends. Another advantage is that you probably carry your phone always with you, so your lists are always nearby.

At this moment my favourite place to write and keep my to do lists is a notebook. I use a notebook in pocket format with lined pages. But you can also buy a notebook that already has check boxes. The advantage of this method is that you can look back at previous lists. I also prefer to write instead of type my lists. I recommend to try out different methods yourself. So you can find out which one works best for you.

2. Choose a time period
You can keep a to do list for one day, one week, one year or for the time it takes to finish a specific project. Of course you do not have to choose one. Every morning I make a to do list for the day. But in January I also wrote down some goals for this year. When I write my daily to do list, I always try to think of what I can do today that will help me reach my goals at the end of the year. So it can be useful to keep to do lists for different time periods.

3. Choose a type of to do list
Usually I just include everything I want to do in my daily to do lists. But it can be useful to make separate lists for work and leisure time. You can also keep other lists, like a to-be-read-list, a travel wish list or a content calendar for your blog. Although more than one is useful, too much lists can be overwhelming. Of course you have to define for yourself what “too much” is. For me this is when checking off items becomes a goal itself instead of a tool. But I know that some people enjoy to document everything in their life. So this is very personal.

4. Choose realistic tasks
It is important to pay attention to the kind of tasks on your to do list. It sounds  obvious, but I always list tasks I am really going to do. Be realistic, and do not expect that you will also clean the whole house after a long day at work. It is quite discouraging if you are never able to check off all the items on your to do list.

Furthermore, ‘clean the house’ can be one item on your to do list, it can take the whole day to do it. It works better to split up a big task like this. If you are able to check off an item when you have done a part of the task, it will encourage you to continue.

5. Keep focused
When I have too many items on my to do-list, I am also not able to check off all of them before the end of the day. Therefore my daily to do lists never have more than 7 items. This maximum number of items works good for me, but you may be able to do more or less things in one day.

The last three weeks I have tried the app Fabulous. This app gave another useful tip to keep focused: when you have written your daily to do list, choose the three most important tasks. Write an “A” behind the task that you need to finish before all the other tasks. Than an “B” behind the second most important task, and an “C” behind the third priority. This method is a good way to avoid procrastination. Because you start with the most important task, instead of the easiest.

6. Reward yourself
Do not forget to make time for your hobbies! They could function as a reward. Knowing I can read after finishing task A, I will be more motivated to finish the task. But do not be too hard on yourself. Even if you did not do everything you wanted today, relaxing is necessary. Your hobbies definitively deserve a place on your to do list.

What to celebrate on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. Maybe in Europe or the United States it seems no longer necessary to think about the rights and achievements of women. Feminism exists quite a long time. You would think that men and women have the same rights by now.

In reality women are paid just 79 percent of what men are paid in the United States. Also in European countries women earn between 29,9 and 3,2 percent less than men. In politics still far more men than women are found. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom becomes almost empty if you would take out the male members of Parliament. Only 2 women, and 21 men were running for president in the United States this year. Rape victims (women as well as men) are still accused of provoking the rape themselves.

Enough reasons why feminism is still important. Fortunately gender equality notably improved in the last 100 years. This is the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And to tell which women’s right activists you admire. Here is my (by far in-exhaustive) list of women who did and do some great things for gender equality:

What to celebrate on International Women's Day
On the top row: Malala Yousafzai, Susan B. Anthony and Wangari Maathai. On the bottom row: Coco Chanel, Aletta Jacobs and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Malala Yousafzai (1997)

Malala was only 11 years old when she started to campaign for education rights. Therefore she was shot in the head by the Taliban. But Malala survived, and continued to fight for girl’s right to education. She also wrote a book I want to read.

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

This American woman dedicated her life to the fight for women’s rights. She campaigned for women’s right to vote, for equal education opportunities regardless of gender and race, and she advocated for women’s labour organisations.

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

She was the first women in Central and East Africa who earned a doctorate degree. In addition, Wangari was a women’s right and environmental activist. She was, among other things, chairman of the National Council of Women of Kenya, and she founded the Green Belt Movement. This environmental organization empowers communities, particularly women, to conserve the environment and improve livelihoods.

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

As fashion designer she popularized a new kind of fashion, so women no longer were obligated to wear skirts and corsets. This may not sound really important, but I am glad that I can wear whatever I want.

Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929)

This Dutch doctor was the fist female student that successfully finished university. She also fought for women’s right to vote.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977)

Definitely listen to her TED talk about why we should all be feminists. I already written about how one of the books by this Nigerian writer is on top of my TBR list. Her amazing TED talks are one of the reasons.

I like to see more posts about International Women’s Day! So leave a link in the comments if you celebrate the achievements of women today.

Quotable quotes

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Most people collect something. I know people who collect stamps or book marks. Some people even collect pencil sharpeners or tea bags. I have a (relatively) small book collection, and I also collect feathers and lucky dolls. Next to that I collect something that is not a thing: quotes. The reason why is maybe best explained by a quote:

“We cling to music, to poems, to quotes, to writing, to art because we desperately do not want to be alone. We want to know we aren’t going crazy and someone else out there knows exactly how you’re feeling. We want someone to explain things we can’t.”

– unknown

It is strange how a person who does not know me, sometimes describes my feelings better than I can. Feelings seem more usual than we often think. It is comforting to read that I am not the only one who feels a certain way. Therefore it depends on my mood which quote is my favourite. When I feel sad I usually want to read quotes that make me happy. When I feel lazy I need quotes to motivate me to do what I need to do. I believe quotes are most powerful when you read them for the first time. But I do want to share a quote with you that helped me when I once felt really miserable, and maybe you have not read it yet:

“Stop minimizing and discounting your feelings. You have every right to feel the way you do. Your feelings may not always be logical, but they are always valid. Because if you feel something, then you feel it and it’s real to you. It’s not something you can ignore or wish away. It’s there, gnawing at you, tugging at your core, and in order to find peace, you have to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. You have to let go of what you’ve been told you “should” or “shouldn’t” feel. You have to drown out the voices of people who try to shame you into silence. You have to listen to the sound of your own breathing and honor the truth inside you. Because despite what you may believe, you don’t need anyone’s validation or approval to feel what you feel. Your feelings are inherently right and true. They’re important and they matter — you matter — and it is more than okay to feel what you feel. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, convince you otherwise.”

– Daniel Koepke