A king had a boulder placed on a roadway, then hid and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way.

Some of the kingdom’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many of them loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear.

Then a peasant came along, pushing a cart of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant set his cart aside and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

Then he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king, explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances.

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Some studies have suggested that drinking too much coffee can cause stiffening of the arteries, increasing the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke. However, a new study from the British Heart Association, reported that drinking 3 cups of coffee or more a day is no worse for arteries than drinking a single cup.

Researchers studied more than 8,000 people in the UK, some of whom drank 1 cup of coffee or less a day, others who drank 1 to 3 cups, and a third group who reported consuming up to 20 cups of coffee a day.

All participants were given extensive tests and the findings appear to show that drinking 3 cups or more a day doesn’t significantly increase artery stiffness compared with consuming just one cup.

No one is recommending having 20 cups or more per day! However, if you do enjoy a cup or two maybe even three per day, you should not be at any additional risk of heart issues.

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Creativity may seem as if it springs from nowhere, but the truth is, you’ve got to work at it. Here are three tricks from the Creative Boom website to get your imagination into shape:

1.  Develop a ritual. Don’t just sit around waiting for ideas to strike. Train yourself to think creatively by developing a routine. A painter might set up his or her paints and pencils, doodle for a bit, then start on a new work of art. Other people take baths or showers before getting to work; some focus on simply making the perfect cup of tea. Whatever you do, make creativity a deliberate habit.

2.  Look for bad ideas. Looking for the perfect solution often means sorting through imperfect ideas first. Instead of focusing on what will work, start by figuring out what won’t work. Generate bad ideas and analyze them to find out why they’re bad. You may be able to eliminate the flaws and find the diamond underneath. (You’ll also get rid of your fear of failure by embracing the worst ideas you can think of, knowing you’ll eventually find something better.)

3.  Think like a child. Children have no assumptions or preconceptions about how the world works. To tap into your inner child, remember the kinds of ways you used to play when you were young—and then do them. Fly a kite, build a sandcastle, make paper airplanes, play a game, or whatever strikes your fancy. You’ll loosen up your mind and see the world in a different light.

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Drawing can spur your creativity and you don’t have to be a Picasso. Just try some of these games with your friends, from the My Modern Met website.

The Exquisite Corpse. In this game, developed by the 20th-century Surrealist artists, one person begins a drawing at the top of a sheet of paper, then folds it over or covers it up so only a bit of the bottom is showing. The next person continues the drawing, folds it down, and so on. Unfolding it to reveal the completed drawing should produce surprises, laughs, and even some ideas.

Paper Telephone. One person writes a short, descriptive phrase on a piece of paper, then passes it to the next person, who then draws a picture based on the phrase. The next person looks only at the picture and then writes a phrase or sentence describing it. The following person then draws a picture of that phrase, and so on. By the end, the final picture and the original phrase may have nothing to do with each other.

Blind Contour. In this exercise, you and a friend draw something around you, but without looking at the paper—just the subject of your drawing. Keep your pen or pencil on the paper at all times. You might be surprised at what you see.

Scribbles. One person scribbles on a piece of paper, eyes closed. The next person has to turn that doodle into a drawing. This forces your mind to make sense of nonsense.

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I’d love to offer you one word today, courage. It was a mere two years ago when we found ourselves in unprecedented times. And now, look at where we are and how far we’ve come. Things are less scary and more manageable all because we adapted.

When a person does not have courage, it’s impossible to adapt because, to adapt, one must be willing to be uncomfortable. And if we flashback two years ago… uncomfortable we were!

At first, the adjustment felt unattainable, but then, at a certain point, things normalized. We stayed home, connected with loved ones in innovative ways, taught ourselves how to cook, and learned how to navigate new technology. It wasn’t easy, but we figured it out. Some people think courage means running into a burning building, but to me, it just means walking towards the unknown. Two years ago, the entire world had to be courageous at the same time. We had to be willing to do something we had never done before, and we also had to be willing to be wrong and try again.

We are not completely ‘back to normal’, but we have adapted to a new way of living, I want to remind you of your courage. For some of us, the courage was in helping others and being on the front line, and for some of us, the courage was leading our team while working remotely for the first time. Whatever courage means to you, embrace it.

With Gratitude,

Gino Pezzani

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Valentine’s Day celebrates love and happiness, and although real life offers plenty of true stories with happily-ever-after endings, many of us look to literature for inspiring tales of passion’s power.

Romeo and Juliet. Teenagers from feuding families meet, fall in love, marry, and ultimately end their lives rather than live without each other.

Odysseus and Penelope. Penelope remains faithful to her absent husband for 20 long years; Odysseus persists in his quest to return home after the Trojan War. Both overcome temptations and obstacles to be reunited at last.

Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. Charlotte Brontë’s classic 19th century novel tells the tale of a young governess and a gruff, lonely landowner with a dark secret. But love triumphs in the end.

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On Valentine’s Day, love is all around and for one day people are encouraged to express love with flowers, chocolate and cards of all shapes and colors.

The best part is... you can be super cheesy, enthusiastic, or deeply sentimental. Valentine’s Day is your excuse to let your feelings fly.

But how well do you know the feelings and preferences of the people you care about most?

We have all heard of the golden rule, which says, “give love the way you want to receive love;” there is also a platinum rule, which says, “give love the way they want to receive love.”

Some people like to hear the words, “I love you,” some people prefer a hug, while others are happiest with gestures of love. There are 1000 ways to say, “I love you!” without even using words.

Valentine’s Day is not just about how you show love, but with whom you show love. Look around and notice who else needs some love today – hint, it doesn’t have to be a romantic partner.

Maybe it could be one of the greatest sources of unconditional love and attention - pets! Is there an animal shelter nearby that needs a dog walker or cat cuddler? Or perhaps taking the day to pursue your own hobbies and interests as an expression of self-love.

Giving love isn’t something that should be limited to one day in the middle of winter. Valentine’s Day shows us that we have the capacity to share the love for more than one day.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Gino Pezzani

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Of all the creatures that came to the watering hole, Frog was the only one that did not have a tail. The other animals taunted him over it, making him feel inferior and ugly. So Frog visited the Sun God and asked him for a tail. The Sun God granted Frog his wish on the condition that Frog watch over the Sun God’s special lagoon. Frog agreed. Soon a terrible drought seized the area, and the Sun God’s lagoon was the only watering hole available for many miles.

Creatures from all over the land came to Frog’s new home in need of water. But Frog was very full of himself with his new long tail and his powerful position as keeper of the only watering hole. His sense of entitlement had mushroomed, as had his self-esteem. And because he had never forgotten how the other creatures used to tease him, he turned away every animal from the lagoon without giving them so much as a sip. After a while, word of Frog’s antics reached the Sun God, who decided to verify this behavior firsthand.

He found Frog swishing through the water, gleefully flaunting his tail. As the Sun God approached the water’s edge, he heard Frog shout, “Whoever you are, move along! This water is not for you! This special lagoon is mine to do with as I please —because I am the most beautiful of all creatures.” Angered, the Sun God exiled Frog and cursed him for the rest of his days. Now, every spring Frog is born a tadpole with a long tail. As he grows, the tail shrinks until it disappears—to remind Frog that the only reward for spiteful and arrogant behavior is the loss of things one truly cherishes in life.

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It’s never too late to get started on success in your career, or in your personal life. The Ladders website offers these tips for moving forward:

Start small. Don’t set too many big goals for yourself. Instead of eating healthy at every single meal, start by vowing to eat just one nutritious meal every day. Increase only when you get used to it.

Read more. You’re busy, but stop making excuses. It should be possible to carve out 20–30 minutes a day to read something new and different. Find a business or motivational book to read at lunch or just before you go to bed. 

Get high-quality sleep. You need six to eight hours of sleep every night to maintain good physical and mental health. Establish a nighttime routine that helps you drift off to dreamland. Go to bed at the same time every night, don’t eat right before bed, turn off the TV for at least half an hour before bedtime, and try meditation to relax.

Start the day right. Identify your most important priority for the day and start with that. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment and confidence that will help you press on through the other tasks ahead of you.

 Exercise regularly. Like sleep, exercise is good for the body and the mind. Instead of trying to tackle long, tough workouts... start on a plan you can stick to - like fifteen minutes every other day.

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How did the Groundhog Day tradition start? Many historians believe that it’s related to Candlemas Day, a medieval celebration that falls on Feb. 2. An old sailor’s saying from English lore states:

"If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter is gone and will not come again."

Another possible source for the belief may be that the first official day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere’s western lands comes almost seven weeks after Feb. 2, while under the early Julian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16— exactly six weeks after.

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