Travel Photography: Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is known for three things: seamstress, lantern and fusion cuisine – Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, French. While the sleepy town has renounced its bustling port city image, a bowl of plain old noodles still hints its former glory.

See other travel photo: “UnPHOgettable Saigon” (HCMC, Vietnam) 

Hoi An, Vietnam (Aug. 2011)

Hoi An, Vietnam (Aug. 2011)

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Art as Therapy: Color your way to tranquil bliss

Frankly, it is not advisable to take something as universal truth just because the très chic French women are doing it or because the press has picked up the story. But in regards to art as therapy, or as reported by The Telegraph, “French women have taken en masse to colouring book,” New York University (NYU) Art Therapy Director Ikuko Acosta is a believer.

Let’s set aside art as therapy for a moment and explain why coloring books are making news.

As reported, French women have taken up coloring, an activity that has long been associated with (and even reserved for) young children, as a mean to de-stress. Bear in mind, these women are not only vocalizing about the therapeutic benefits of coloring, they have also taken to using social media, such as forming groups on Facebook, to share their works as and even where to buy new coloring books and best crayons.

Art as Therapy was published in GenTwenty Sept. 26, 2014

The controversy is two-folds. First, is the idea — coloring for grown-ups — truly effective or a successful marketing move? After all, by adding words like “anti-stress” or “art therapy” on the cover of these coloring books, publishers have boosted sales tremendously. Second, does art therapy really work? What is art therapy?

Art therapy, can coloring bring happiness? (image credit: grantstreetartworks.com)

To answer my question, I visited Ikuko Acosta, Ph.D at her office at the NYU Department of Art and Art Professions. With over thirty years in the filed of art therapy, Acosta has witnessed the field developed. Citing the Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT) by the New York State Education Department, and Board Certified and Registered Art Therapist (ATR-BC) by the Art Therapy Credentials Board as giant milestones, Acosta said these credentials have given her profession an unprecedented level of legitimacy. Continue reading

First webcam was invented because of COFFEE

Yesterday was International Coffee Day!

International coffee day (image credit: smithsonianmag.com)

Logically, I celebrated by purchasing a darn good cup of specialty brewed latte. I gloated over the fact that I, and I alone, was aware of the exclusive holiday. My euphoria lasted, well, precisely till 9:36 a.m. this morning when I mentioned nonchalantly to a co-worker, “Did you know yesterday was international coffee day?”

“Oh yes,” he answered perkily, “Did you go get free coffee at La Colombe?”

No… I did not know that. I also did not know that McDonald was handing out free small cup of coffee. And no, I did not know Dunkin’ Donut was giving out free medium cup of coffee.

Failed.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed an amusing read from United Airlines’ Hemisphere Magazine (June 2014) on coffee beans. My favorite fact?

In 1991, the first webcam in the world was created at Cambridge University, to keep tabs on the level of an office coffee maker.  Continue reading

Before cuddle app, there was cuddle party facilitator

Post written by Sherry Hsieh, originally published via Stress-Free NYC 

Cuddle Party? For most of us who have never attended a cuddle party, it sounds like group orgy. But it is not.Jamie Garde, a 61-year-old certified Cuddle Party facilitator, defines it as a social event where adults gather to exchange non-sexual touch. Clothes are kept on at all times.

Image Credit: cuddleparty.com

Research shows that touch – a hug, high-five or massage – can reduce pain, lower blood pressure, alleviate depression and increase oxytocins[1]. Getting touched or doing the touching makes us happier and less stressed. A native New Yorker and the oldest of five children, Garde grew up with parents who were not affectionate and she never received many hugs. In 2005, she attended her first cuddle party and enjoyed it so much that she became a facilitator after she got separated from her husband of 16 years in 2007. Since then, she has hosted seven to eight cuddle parties a year.

Plump and rosy, the 5-feet-tall Garde stresses that Cuddle Party is about effective communication. Her blue eyes dances as she lists cuddling positions: the massage train, puppy pile and rack of spoons (spooning in one direction then another). Her favorite is a long gentle stroke with a flat hand.

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Millennials read more than those over 30! (not really…)

Un- or under-employed, and employed millennials alike have been called superficial, self-obsessed (Read GenTwenty column here), but according to a new Pew Research Center study, they have one redeeming virtue. The millennials are reading more than their over-30 counterparts.

I did a little dance when I read this. Despite our proclivity for social sharing (oh selfies), we are after all literary. The sophisticate of our young minds, we…

My euphoria immediately dissipated the moment I read the next line, as reported by Quartz:

Some 88% of Americans younger than 30 said they read a book in the past year compared with 79% of those older than 30.

ONE book. We beat the older generation because an additional 9% of us read one book last year?

Millennials read more than the older generation (image credit: www.theteatalk.com)

Are millennials reading?

If yes, from where and what and how are they reading?

According to a study by McKinsey, a global management consulting firm based in the UK, the average person consume 72 minutes of news a day, and the increase was driven predominantly by people under the age of 35.

Nevertheless, millennials are reading differently. The Associated Press (AP) found that millennials are more versatile as information gatherers, and do not rely solely on newspaper for news. 

They [younger consumers] consume news across a multitude of platforms and sources, all day, constantly. Among the key touch points in the new environment are online video, blogs, online social networks, mobile devices RSS, word of mouth, Web portals and search engines.

Furthermore, according to the same AP study, millennials not want to be informed, but they want information that are relevant and shareable.

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