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Monday, December 28, 2015

The Silver Lining of My Dark Cloud

#TalesOf2015

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.” As it was a prompt from BlogAdda which made me see the silver lining of my dark cloud that was 2015.

The prompt was to share our personal tales of 2015 and end it on a positive note so we could  start 2016, and inspire others also to, with a bright and right attitude.

I've never felt this low towards the end of the Georgian calendar since the Tsunami of 2004 which hit major part of South Asia.

Like all the other years even this year was a rollercoaster ride of emotions, perceptions and prospects, but I suppose the lows hit me a bit more sharply this year and their impending fear plus resulting hurt overrode a large part of the joy the highs gave.

Maybe it was because I've waited long (years) for few things to happen, and now I've lost hope for some of the precious ones, and lost all desire in few of the others. This year even brought to light the fact that what precious little I have in my life, that make my world, are brittle like a dream and my deepest fears are not that improbable too.

I don't want to dwell on their chances or impact as I'm not ready to face any of them yet, and BlogAdda too wished us to look at the brighter side of our year that departs. And for this prompt I'll ever be grateful to this forum because it made me see how bright and beautiful my silver lining actually is.

The biggest gifts of my life have always been my friends. I've met such wonderful people from so many walks of life from the world over in my life, and so many of them have become such dear friends to me that I cannot imagine my life without them. I even began this year with a series of guest posts featuring some of my best friends I made last year- Elly Stornebrink, Judy Yaron, Cindy Ackley, Huma Masood, and Sophie Bowns (though I very regretfully couldn't post the latter two awesome people's due to a major technical cliche).

This year blessed me with the friendship of few more such wonderful personas:
Anna Geller, is an amazing spiritual healer, motivationalist, entrepreneur, and a young lady with a pure and loving heart.

Emilia Previdi, who is an awesome fanfiction author, a hardworking woman and a dedicated wife and mother. Her wisdom and love are a true treasure.

Jeanneclaire Probst, is a celebrated author and beautiful poet, and a person who is so full of love and encouragement that every gesture from her are like antidotes against gloom and negativity.

Ophelia Elise West, is a person who is a natural silver lining seeker. She sees only the good and bright things of every situation, and spreads warmth and cheer around her like sunshine. She is a member of OneWish foundation, daughter of Jeanneclaire Probst, and the definition of inspiration.

Also this year I learnt to improve my writing and tailoring skills, became part of an amazing Facebook forum for she-preneurs Granny's Girls- GYM, learnt few new cuisines and touched new depths of my faith.

So, What Do I Take From 2015? What Did I Learn?

I take with me a renewed sense of self sufficiency that keeps me going despite all odds. I take with me the realization that The Almighty never abandons those who truly believe in him, and the assurance that no matter how low I feel, or lost I become I have friends who are only a click away and always there to embrace me in their warmth of love, wisdom and friendship.

I learnt that it is foolery to invest too much hope in life and dreams. Both are brittle in nature and hurt when their crash. Go with the tide and salvage what you can.

Pragmatism, Wisdom and Confidence are true treasures. Never rely completely on your mind nor your heart. Both are fickle implements and tend to behave with partiality. It's these three treasures that will help you gladiate through life.

Looking at the silver lining helps to clear the cobwebs in your mind and see things in a brighter and lighter light.

Happy 2016 to all!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Fields of Gold Invites You

If I had been asked to write about my favourite Indian city a few years ago I would have, with my naive enthusiasm, gone on a rampage about Bangalore, Mysore, Delhi, Lucknow, or even Kolkata. All of which cities are impressive and unmatched in their splendour.

But now, my heart refuses to dwell on any of this havens when my own Little England spreads before me silent in its appeal, elegant in its appearance, and resplendent in its aura. It has all the makings of a city and I would be doing it a great dishonour if I would neglect it to glorify any other city.

Kolar Gold Fields nicknamed Little England by the Britishers them selves, like a small emerald embedded in the shadows of dazzling pearls in a solitaire, is a nearly 200 year old mining town that has all the points in the check list to call it a city ticked except for its population and greater luxuries.

It has expanded ever since to the minimum requirement of a city's diameter, has its own municipal corporation, is well equipped to meet its needs with infrastructure and technology, and is well connected to the best of all the three states that cradle it.

But alas! Like Pluto in our Solar System, my hometown is doomed to oblivion by the glitter and greatness of its surrounding cities, and declined of its city status courtesy the woes bereaving it and its dim and dark  appearance.

A small land hidden nudged amidst a cluster of enticing mountains, intersecting state borders and beautiful cities. From picturesque scenery to the latest in fashion and trends, you ask it and KGF has it.

What DRIVES this city, is its people. Lovely people with simple living and high thinking. You will find us most acceptable to changes, and adjustments.

Early morning everyday even before dawn you will find youths and adults daring the morning mist and darkness to catch their train to Bangalore and other cities to reach their workplace. World class engineers, doctors, teachers, dancers, musicians, actors, authors, artists, sportspersons, businessmen and talented craftsmen have emerged from this city and are now thriving in their field of work across the globe.

The education, healthcare and fulfillment of social obligations are top class too. And, that's not all. Such exquisite flora and fauna reside in its jungles, and not to mention the variety of migratory birds that visit through different seasons of the year. A large plethora of tourists flock here only for its wealth of natural beauty and the remnants of the second largest gold mining of Asia.

Whenever there is any problem in infrastructure or otherwise you will find us working toward its solution, but also adjusting to the situation admirably and without much fuss or ado about it.

And we are so welcoming of the changing trends, that you will find us in toe with any other city any given day, but never on the excess side. Suffice it to say, we have found the balance between modern outlook and traditional attires, and carry it with grace.

If we speak of its DESIGN, I have rarely seen a more beautifully planned or well designed city than KGF. Its railway lines is one of the oldest in India engineered by the great genius Sir M. Vishweshvaraiya on the behest of the Britishers who started the formal and large scale gold mining here.

Converting this dense jungle into a habitable township, it is clear even today that a lot of planning and execution by the Britishers went in to making this township.
It's trace still remains giving this city a historical touch.

You only have to step out into the bus station, and you will find everything you need in The Square from jewellery and house decors to hospitals and police station. The railway too is merely a mile away from the main town, and the roads are smooth and straight throughout.

Residential areas and commercial avenues are separated by the main road and the town takes on more modern outlook with every progressing year.

As to its CONNECT, you will have no scruples whatever. From high speed internet to far spread commercial trade, KGF lacks in nothing. Just 100kms away from Bangalore and half the distance from Gudiyattam, and Kuppam, luxuries and benefits that cannot be found here are practically only at arms length from us.

From sightseeing, educational trips to business excursions, we have access practically to everything. KGF is also the main commercial hub of the district with the nearby towns and villages reaching out to it to meet their needs and amenities.

You can find more about this amazing city from this link: http://www.wikipedia.co.in/kolar-gold-fields/

To read my earlier post about KGF follow the link below: Little England in India

To know more about the campaign initiated by Tata motors with the amazing Lionel Messi visit http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

Saturday, November 28, 2015

More For Babies In Your Care

I shared some of the basic tips we need to keep in mind and follow if we wish to keep our baby's skin soft and safe in my previous blog For The Child In Your Care.

Continuing on, I have few more tips for other areas of child care which need to be monitored well for the wellness of our little Angel.

NOURISHMENT.

It is a universal fact that humans get a major portion of their nourishment and energy from food. Also, none can defy that for the first six months from birth, mother's milk is best for the baby.

So, it is vital not just for the mother's health, but also for the baby's proper nutrition and growth that the mother's diet is rich in proteins, calcium, minerals and vitamins.

Make sure the mother drinks enough water, has creamy milk and eats a well balanced meal to ensure that the baby's skin is nourished from within too.

In cases where breastfeeding is not an option, special and strict diets have to be formulated with the help of the physician.

CLOTHING.

Another major source of our protection are the clothes we wear. No doubt we adapt our clothing to comply with the changes in weather and our health. Same goes for the baby too.

Their skin is ultra soft and sensitive. So a layer of soft, clean and mold-free cotton must always be given as the base, as this material is the safest and most comfortable for their skin.
Avoid synthetic material at least until the baby is nearly a year old, and make sure the wool, fleece or whichever extra layer of clothing you choose for the baby is soft, clean, fresh and mold-free.

SUNLIGHT.

Yes, a child has to be protected from the harmful rays of the sun and harsh climatic changes. But some exposure is also important to ensure their also get some natural vitamin A from sunlight and adapt to the climate too.

Few minutes in the warm  morning rays after the dew is lifted is considered safe and vital for the newborns. And when the baby starts walking, allow it a few moments in sun at different hours of the day (after giving them proper protection) under good supervision so they adapt, and their skin builds natural resistance too.

EXERCISE.

Yes, exercise is important. And not just for adults. It flushes out waste from our body, strengthens our defenses, ensure proper use of nutrition, improves blood circulation and gives our skin a healthy and natural glow. Same facts apply for children too.

Newborns must be given some space to move their muscles when awake. Give them light gentle exercises when massaging them.

When the baby starts weaning and moving around on its own allow them at least fifteen to twenty minutes around meals to flex their body. As the child grows increase their play time but also make sure they don't over-exert them self.

SLEEP.

Our body repairs itself amazingly while we sleep. Sleep not only relaxes our senses, and repairs our body, but it revitalises our energy sources, clears our mind, and detoxes our skin.

Same facts again applies to babies. Plus, sleep is favoured to help the child grow up healthy and active. So, make sure newborns get at least 20 hours of sleep in a day, weaning babies get at least 18 hours, and so on. Keep the mark of toddlers up to 3years must get at least 12 hours of divided sleep in a day.

* * * * *

° All facts stated here are compiled from third-person experience, survey and research.

° Blog written in answer to the prompt # SoftestForBabySkin initiated by Pampers India.

° “Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

For Babies In Your Care.

A life so gentle, the first time we take them in our arms our heart surely skips a beat or two.

Their touch so pure and trusting, it is sure to melt even the most brutal of hearts.

Their smile so warm and magical, it makes us forget every woe of our existence.

And their skin so soft and delicate, we actually wish to protect them from all harms.

Babies indeed are a miracle of nature, the most precious gift of the Almighty, and once entrusted in our care the most valuable and serious responsibility.

It becomes our duty to protect, nurture, and strengthen them. Bring them up in the most loving and gentle manner, and make them worthy of being called humans. And this is not just the obligation of their parents, but also every adult in their circle.

I still remember the day my nephew was born and I took him in my arms for the first time. He seemed so delicate, and the way he nestled in my arms... It was a whole new definition of love for me. That day I became one of his protectors and the feeling will remain onto my death.

So, with the winter setting in and another harsh onslaught of weather just round the corner that is not mild even to us adults, the question of protecting the little ones becomes all the more important and trying. The blog prompt by Pampers to share 5 tips to keep babies skin safe was just the thing we needed.

Keeping up with its excellence, and commitment to child care, Pampers brings you the softest ever Pampers Premium Care Pants. Its cotton-like softness is #SoftestForBabySkin and allows it to breathe, thus keeping baby’s skin soft and healthy, and your baby happy.

And I, being a blogger who cannot let such a wonderful prompt go unanswered, have compiled my own set of tips (from experience, survey and research) to help adults in need to ward their young ones in the best possible manner.

* Remember, a baby's skin up to 3 years of age is most delicate and sensitive to its surrounding. The changes in weather and the products we use are are new to them, and it takes time and right amount of exposure to adapt for them. Also, they are completely helpless in protecting themselves, and their natural defences too are rather fragile.

So, The Big Five tips you need to care for your baby are:

SHELTER.

Keep your child protected from direct sunlight, and blisters of winter,  especially for the first six months from their birth. The UV rays, heat of sun (especially from 10 a.m- 4 p.m) and winter chills are too harsh on their skin and may leave a lasting damage. So, keep them indoors as much as possible, and bundle them up tightly when you need to take them outdoor.

MOISTURISE.

Babies' skin tend to dry and chap easily. So, ward them regularly with baby lotions and oils, especially soon after giving them a bath, and when taking them outdoor.

GO NATURAL.

Artificial chemicals and synthetic products are harsh on their delicate skin, and may cause severe itching, irritation and rashes for your baby. So, use natural ingredients, and herbal baby-care products as far as you can help them.

BATH TIME.

We love to bathe our child every day. It is a good habit as long as the weather is not too chilly and the water is warm enough. But REMEMBER THIS, keep the bath always quick and efficient. There is no scope of trial-and-error here, and there are multitude if other ways to bond with your child. Long exposure to water is not favourable to the child's delicate skin and may again cause severe irritation, rashes and dryness to the child. Keep the bath time for less than five minutes, and dry them off immediately.

MASSAGE.

We all have heard of the benefits of good oil massage for the babies, and we all agree to them too. I too subscribe to this thought. Regular massage and proper technique not only aids in muscle growth and building immunity, but also ensures their skin remain moisturised, soft and well protected. Remember to choose your oil wisely- most preferably Coconut oil or Almond oil in general conditions and as base; Olive oil, Mustard oil, or Sesame oil for cold seasons; and Castor oil, Calendula oil, Chamomile oil or Tea Tree oil for hot or dry seasons. Remember to dilute the essential oils with a base oil mentioned above and be quantity wise too.

* * * * *

But these are not all. I have more tips to share. Keep tuned in for my next instalment of For Babies In Your Care.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Inspiration- Judy Yaron

When I first read about the Tata motors blog prompt #madeofgreat, the first person I thought of was my dear friend and mentor Judy Yaron. She fits the slot perfectly, and so I knew I have to write this one in her honour. 

 A loving grandmother from Israel in her mid 60's and an earnest blogger, young at heart Dr. Judy Yaron has a Ph.D inShared Leadership. She is a Pedagogical Advisor (though she prefers to call herself as a Pedagogical Artist), a teacher, an A1 class content strategist, and proprietor of the website for writing solutions-www.cutthecrapsolutions.com.

 

She is also the founding member of the Facebook group Granny's Girls' GYM,which is dedicated to helping she-preneurs create quality content for learning materials, websites and opt-ins as well as to explore and utilise their Gifts and Geniuses, find their rhythm and get their ideas working. She also regularly contributes to several other such forums, and held a senior position in the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project (YALP), an independent not-for-profit educational organisation based on a partnership between Australia and Israel. She has traveled around the globe training teachers to improve the learning of children in need, plan their curriculum and develop learning programs and materials.

 

Born to a highly respected US Navy officer, Zionist and author Haim Gershoni, and a beautiful, talented painting artist Marilyn Gershoni Jung, who immigrated to Israel, Judy takes after her parents amazingly.

A passion to serve, the courage to face any odds, love for everyone, boundless creativity, and a golden heart above all are what makes her so special, and a person #madeofgreat.

She has seen life in all its colours, welcomed every hardship that came her way, and conquered all her problems with a smile, sensibility, self confidence and strength. As straightforward and honest as she is in her opinion, she is never discouraging. She may tell you directly, when she feels that there is room for improvement, but she always treats everyone as equal, with fairness, compassion and respect.

I met Judy a little over a year ago on Facebook via a blogger's forum Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Our friendship was instantaneous.

Having spent years trying to find my space in the world of writing and failing one too many times by then, I was ready to give up everything, accept failure and lose myself in oblivion. But on Judy's insistence I decided to give the forum's month long Daily Blog Challenge a try. And her first comment on my first blog under the Challenge proved to be my anchor against my inner storm and a leverage to keep trying onto the end.

In consequence, I completed a very successful Challenge, improved my writing skills by degrees, reached international readers, and made some truly precious friends from around the world. Judy has always been by my side ever since providing me the much needed moral support, advice, counselling and career guidance. She has helped me find new avenues and learn from every new experience.

 

Judy Yaron for me is the definition of true friendship, perseverance, and wisdom. A woman #madeofgreat, made for great, and someone I will always admire and look up to from the bottom of my heart.
 

* To read an exclusive guest blog post of Judy Yaron on my blog site written earlier this year and have a glimpse of her visit the post "To Become an Ultra Orthodox"

* To understand better how special Judy truly is read one of her latest blogs- Don't you just hate it hate it hate it when people take take take?

 

* To know more about Tata motors campaign #madeofgreat with the amazing footballer Lionel Messi visit  http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

 

* You can know more about the YALP organization from their website. www.yalp.org.au/

 

* And here's a chance for my readers to win big. Amazon Voucher worth Rs.750 to be won for the best comment on this blog post which answers the question "What do you think of Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi?".

My Inspiration- Judy Yaron

When I first read about the Tata motors blog prompt #madeofgreat, the first person I thought of was my dear mentor and friend Judy Yaron. She fit the slot perfectly and I knew I have to write this one in her honour.

A loving grandmother from Israel in her mid 60's and an earnest blogger, young at heart Dr. Judy Yaron has a Ph.d in Shared Leadership. She is a pedagogical Advisor (though she prefers to call herself as a Pedagogical Artist), a teacher, an A1 class content strategist, and proprietor of the website for writing solutions- www.cutthecrapsolutions.com.

She is also the founding member of the Facebook group Granny's girls' GYM which is dedicated to help she-preneurs create opt-ins, explore and utilise their Gifts and Geniuses, find their rhythm and get their idea working. She also leads several other such forums, and is a member of the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project (YALP), an independent not-for-profit educational organisation based on partnerships between Australia and Israel. She travels around the globe teaching special courses to children, helps schools plan their curriculum, and helps anyone in need.

Born to a highly respected American military officer, reformist and author Haim Gershoni, and a beautiful, talented painting artist Marilyn Gershoni Jung, who migrated to Israel when Judy was six years old, Judy takes after her parents amazingly.

A passion to serve, the courage to face any odds, love for everyone, boundless creativity, and a golden heart above all are what makes her so special, and a person #madeofgreat.

She has seen life in all its colours, welcomed every hardship that came her way, and conquered all her problems with a smile, sensibility, self confidence and strength. As Straightforward and honest she is in her opinion, she is never discouraging. She may tell you directly when you are at wrong, but she always treats everyone as equal, with fairness, compassion and respect.

I met Judy a little over a year ago on Facebook via a blogger's forum Ultimate Blog Challenge.  Our friendship was instantaneous.

Having spent years trying to find my space in the world of writing and failing one too many times by then, I was ready to give up everything, accept failure and lose myself in oblivion. But on Judy's insistence I decided to give the forum's month long Daily Blog Challenge a try. And her first comment on my first blog under the Challenge proved to be my anchor against my inner storm and a leverage to keep trying onto the end.

In consequence, I completed a very successful Challenge, improved my writing skills by degrees, reached international readers, and made some truly precious friends from around the world. Judy has always been by my side ever since providing me the much needed moral support, advice, counselling and career guidance. She has helped me find new avenues and learn from every new experience.

Judy Yaron for me is the definition of true friendship, perseverance, and wisdom. A woman #madeofgreat, made for great, and someone I will always admire and look up to from the bottom of my heart.

* To understand better how special Judy truly is read one of her latest blogs- Don't you just hate it hate it hate it when people take take take?

* To know more about Tata motors campaign #madeofgreat with the amazing footballer Lionel Messi visit http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

* You can know more about the YALP organization from their website www.yalp.org.au/

* And here's a chance for my readers to win big. Amazon Voucher worth Rs.750 to be won for the best comment on this blog post which answers the question "What do you think of Tata Motors' association with Lionel Messi?".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brand New Start


Those of my regular visitors who have read my blog onmy twelve most loved novels will recognize Sophie Bowns as the author of Teddy, from the concluding blog - Last but not the least.

An upcoming and promising author from England, Sophie has two charming e-books to her credit- Azure, and Teddy released last year, and her next venture- Defeatist, in progress. You can find her and her works at Amazon. com's author's page:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sophie-Bowns/e/B00NHO75EA

Some of the best things I adore in Sophie Bowns is her sweet and down-to-earth demeanour, her simple and in-depth writing style, her natural charm, and her talent to transform any prose, scene, and occasion to poetry.

She joins us here on my page today on my request, to share with us her thoughts on New Year in her own unique style. Thank you Sophie for making our first New Year together all the more special.


* * * * *

THE GUEST BLOG BY SOPHIE BOWNS ON WHAT NEW YEAR MEANS TO HER:

The end of 2014 was painful to behold, it succeeded in breaking my heart; I welcomed 2015 with open arms, embracing the brand new start. New Years are about moving forwards, but we must not forget the past; I intend to cherish my memories, and dwell on good times passed. Remember to take one day at a time, who knows what tomorrow will bring; Surrounding ourselves with people we love, for happiness comes from within. - Sophie Bowns

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Specimen of a Zit


Like every other Indian young lady, even I wage a daily war with pimples. I cannot indulge in some funky make-ups, my favourite desserts- gulab jamun, and cheese cake, stay out in the sun for long, shop in dusty/traffic areas, or skip a beauty routine, and I always need to stick to my diet and regime to keep my face spotless and sparkling.

So forget frequent partying, long drives, trekking into the wild and heights, those tempting make-up trends and all the fun things in the world. In short, I too can never live my life free and dauntless. But one incident that really had me in tears and cost me dear happened very recently.

It was my cousin's wedding last winter and I had a live interview for an airhostess' job just two day's later. I could miss neither as the bride-to-be was my favourite cousin, almost my soul sister; and I had put a lot of effort and dedication to reach this juncture work-wise too. It was only a matter of proper planning and time management and I was an expert in it. But one disaster turned it all topsy-turvy.

We all know how grand and gala big- fat-indian-weddings could get. This wedding was no different. Throughout the whole preparation and arrangements my diet went flying out of the window (though I swear I tried to keep it under check as much as I could). The shopping in heavy traffic, the quick-bits of street-foods, staying up late in the nights, the damp weather, the heavy make-up that went to hide all the stress and tiredness evident on my face, and hardly any time for all the beauty-care I usually pamper my skin with, were only biding their time to unleash their terror on me. Add to them all the oily, masala and irresistable platter of mughlai and indian cuisine on the menu everyday for every ceremony lined back to back. I was rendered defenceless.

When the first Big day arrived, I woke only to be greeted by these tiny tiny pink and proud zits mocking at me in the mirror. I could have screamed but the panic and gloom that hit me only had me eyes welling with tears and me hitting the shower to scrub them out and praying it was only a nightmare.

Half an hour later when I could dare look into the mirror again, I was spic and span like a fairy-tale princess, but with those nasty pimples still rooted strong and prominent to give me my reality-check.

My next prompt plan of action had me attacking each one of the tiny intruders by pinching them out and dabbing the spots with cotton buds dipped in rose-water. I felt I had won my battle and went back to enjoy the wedding for the relief seemed immediate and satisfactory. But it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. By noon, after my cousin was wed and we all had had our lunch and were preparing for her fare-well, my skin started itching really bad and people had even started for those dark red spots on my face. Those nasty pimples were back with a vengeance. They had now doubled in number, and taken a killer-red hue than the innocent pink that they were in the morning. Now there was nothing I could do, than surrender to become immortally pimple laden in the wedding footages, and earn the title "cousin with those big red pimples" by all the beauty queens and aunts on the groom's side.

I let my mother tackle the problem after that to atleast salvage my interview. The pimples reduced, but refused to disappear completely and those that complied left tell-tale scars behind. Of all my charms, my facial features could not impress the interview committee.

If you have learnt from my mistakes, visit these links below for some really amazing info and tips on zit-management: bit.ly/GPABlogLinkIndiBloggerActivity andbit.ly/GarnierPureActiveNeemWebsite

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Challenges For New Year

In July last year, I did a two-poem take on Being-Friendly Challenge. Those of you who can recall will probably also know my inspiration behind it. Those of you who haven't read them yet, you can easily locate them by clicking on the "being-friendly challenge" link in the labels section under this post.

And it is with great pleasure I present before you all today, the inspiration behind the whole idea- the candid, caring, compassionate, and lovely Cindy Ackley.

A cancer survivor, and a most-dedicated licensed Massage Therapist living in Mesquite, Texas, she shares her life, experiences, and warm thoughts with the world, in her web-page www.lifeisbeautifulandhealthy.com. I love her every post, but if I have to pick my favourites, they are
Don't Give Up! Dreams Do Come True! (for the sheer joy and magic it imparts).
and
A Blessing In Disguise (for all the interesting aspects I learnt about life across the globe).

Full of motherly instincts, and love, care, and concern for all, she is one of the most amazing and inspiring personage I was blessed to meet last year. She graces my page today, to share with us what she and 2015 have set out for each other.

Thank you, Cindy for obiging to my request and adding this special touch to our first New Year together.

* * * * *

The guest blog by Cindy Ackley on the new changes and challenges 2015 brings along for her.

New Challenges For New Year

Every year on January 1st, we make resolutions or declare changes that we would like to accomplish. Sometimes these changes are self inflicted things like starting a new diet or healthy habit. More often than not, these changes are good for a few weeks or a couple of months, then we are back to our old ways.

This year my challenge is a bit different. I have found myself with an empty nest after my youngest daughter has decided to move in with a friend from work. My husband travels a lot for work and I am "home alone"! This year I will be discovering how to maintain my healthy eating habits and cooking for one. You may laugh, but this is really a challenge for me. I have always loved cooking and enjoy serving my family healthy dinners. I have always enjoyed the way that they rave about how delicious a meal that it was.

I am learning how to shop for one. I have already thrown out more produce than I actually consumed. Produce stands and Farmers Markets have things prebundled in baskets or bags and there is no way that I can use it all before it goes bad. I suppose I could if I ate the same thing everyday. That is way too boring! It is difficult to find a place that will sell you one handful of green beans, one handful of carrots, one half a bundle of asparagus and the list goes on.

On the other hand, this empty nest syndrome does have some positive advantages. There is much less laundry and house cleaning to do. There is more time for gardening. There is more time for just doing whatever I choose to do. Which may or may not get me into trouble! It could make me lazy or I just might write a novel. Time will tell.......

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Worth The Effort

I shall always remember 2014 as a very eventful year. For so many things (good and not so good) happened at once during the past year. It practically passed like a whirlwind, took me by a storm and transformed me into an entire new being. On the whole, I'm grateful to The Almighty for everything and carry no regrets, grudges or anything as such.

But one event that repeated itself twice, and honestly took even me by surprise, was rather pleasant in itself, and left me with gifts of a lifetime.

The event: Tapping my inner potentials.

Why so surprised?
Because on both the instances I did not have the least idea that I was capable of such feats.

The first of it occured around mid-year, one morning as I was discussing a point with Amrit Sinha, a wonderful author, poet, and friend of mine. He is amazing in creating english haiku, and I still wonder as to how or what made him so confident that even I had the talent. I had not even thought about it, and he asserted he could clearly see it in my writings.

Nonetheless, his confidence in me, and the challenge of writing haiku in itself, had me give it an earnest attempt. I did make mistakes, and he was also so good as to correct and guide me.

But what do you think! It was 'love at first attempt' for me. I may not be so good for now, but it's become my passion and one day even I may be awesome at it.

Here's a new haiku I made:

New Beginnings

a new dawn beckons
all those asleep, lone, and lost;
it's new year, my friend

(You can read the other haiku's I have written, by following the link "haiku" in the label section of this post.)

The second such instance happened to me just as 2014 was wrapping up.

The end of old year, also means the end of the season's holiday for kids. My 4 year old nephew too was no exception. Studying in lower kindergarten, he too had his lot of pending homework to complete, get ready to don the uniform and go back to school once back home. Being more as his friend and playmate, I felt it my moral duty to sit with him and help him complete the lot.

Now, as neither he nor my sister would let me write in his book, I sat with a book and pencil of my own, and competing with him to finish his hindi lessons by racing each other to self-set milestones of three times or four times the letter. Thus adding a bit of fun along the way.

And just like that, out of the blue this idea struck me as to why not try doing it with my right hand. As most of you ,my friends and who have read my Blog "The predicaments of being a left-handed", know I'm a left-hander, it was quite a herculean task for me. This is how it turned out:

(You can see the difference in both hand's writing by the wavering in the later written units.)

I was ecstatic with this discovery, and when I questioned my own mirth over it, the answer was prompt and clear in my mind:

"It is because I'm not abandoning my natural talent. I shall always pride myself as being a left-hander. But ambidexterity is a rare gift, and when I have the potential, why not master it!"

As of this day, I can write different languages, do simple chores, colour and draw designs with my right hand moderately.

Monday, January 12, 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox

Today I welcome a very precious friend of mine, who has grown really close to my heart in the few months that we've known each other.

Judy is a Pedagogical Artist (Pedagogy is the Art of Teaching) from Israel. She is one of the most amazing, and vibrant personalities I have ever met; who derives such deep wisdom from simple everyday experiences. Her daily posts -to teach and to delight - always leave us with lesson for life and a smile to brighten our day.

You have to read her posts on her own web page www.cutthecrapsolutions.com to actually know what I mean. Her posts
War is a Good thing (which deals with how minds and hearts can be manipulated with words),
and
Don't Take It Away From Me (a post I've read over and over again),
are closest to my heart.

Thank you, Judy for honouring my request and gifting us this wonderful blog to make our first New Year together more special.

* * * * *

Guest blog of Judy Yaron on what she plans for 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox

As fit for the time year, people around the world are making their New Year resolutions. I’m not into New Year celebrations, but I can’t help jumping on the NY Resolutions bandwagon. These are mine:

• Drink more water, starting my day with warm water and lemon. • Learn to cook Indian food. • To become more Ultra-Orthodox

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Let me explain #3.

Many years ago, I worked as a teacher-trainer in a religious community in the south of Israel. My teachers and I came from opposite worlds. They were Ultra-Orthodox: extremely pious Jewish women, devoted to their faith, who live their lives according to strict laws and commandments. I, in turn, am what you might describe as culturally Jewish. I take deep pride in my heritage; holidays are a time for family celebrations; but other than that I conduct a purely secular lifestyle.

We differed in our dress, our food, and the way we spend our leisure time, but that never came between us. Even our dissimilar beliefs in a higher power, our personal relationships and how we raise our children were never an unsurmountable barrier. For many I was the only secular person they had ever had a real conversation with, and so I became a window to the world beyond their town and way of life. As women we loved to talk and share our lives. We would talk about anything and everything.

One day I had a question of a religious matter and approached the principal of one of the schools, where I worked. He happened to be a rabbi, and we too often spent time discussing the ways of the world. When I posed my question he gave me a curious look. “You realize I’m not religious,” I reminded him. He then turned to me and said,

“Perhaps between you and the Almighty, you are secular, but your kindness, compassion and acceptance of others are Ultra-Orthodox.”

To become Ultra-Orthodox

Today I welcome a very precious friend of mine, who has grown really close to my heart in the few months that we've known each other- Judy Yaron.





A pedagogical expert (pedagogy is the science of teaching) from Israel(though she prefers to call herself an artist instead), Judy is also one of the most amazing, and vibrant personalities I have met; who derives such  deep wisdom from simple  everyday experiences, its always leaves us with a lesson for life and a smile to brighten our day.

You have to read her posts on her own web page www.cutthecrapsolutions.com to actually know what I mean. Her posts
War is a Good thing (which deals with how minds and hearts can be manipulated with words),
and
Don't Take It Away From Me (a post I've read over and over again),
are closest to my heart.

Thank you, Judy for honouring my request and gifting us this wonderful blog to make our first New Year together more special.

* * * * *
Guest blog of Judy Yaron, on what she plans for 2015

To Become Ultra-Orthodox



As fit for the time year, people around the world are making their New Year resolutions. I’m not into New Year celebrations, but I can’t help jumping on the NY Resolutions bandwagon. These are mine:

• Drink more water, starting my day with warm water and lemon.

• Learn to cook Indian food.

• To become more Ultra-Orthodox

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Let me explain #3.

Many years ago, I worked as a teacher-trainer in a religious community in the south of Israel. My teachers and I came from opposite worlds. They were Ultra-Orthodox: extremely pious Jewish women, devoted to their faith, who live their lives according to strict laws and commandments. I, in turn, am what you might describe as culturally Jewish. I take deep pride in my heritage; holidays are a time for family celebrations; but other than that I conduct a purely secular lifestyle.

We differed in our dress, our food, and the way we spend our leisure time, but that never came between us. Even our dissimilar beliefs in a higher power, our personal relationships and how we raise our children were never an unsurmountable barrier. For many I was the only secular person they had ever had a real conversation with, and so I became a window to the world beyond their town and way of life. As women we loved to talk and share our lives. We would talk about anything and everything.

One day I had a question of a religious matter and approached the principal of one of the schools, where I worked. He happened to be a rabbi, and we too often spent time discussing the ways of the world. When I posed my question he gave me a curious look. “You realize I’m not religious,” I reminded him. He then turned to me and said,

“Perhaps between you and the Almighty, you are secular, but your kindness, compassion and acceptance of others are Ultra-Orthodox.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015: A Brand Spanking New Year

Joining The Ultimate Blog Challenge forum is one of the best things to happen to me. It not only gave my writing a new platform, but also some wonderful people as friends. One of them is Elly Stornebrink.

Our friendship clicked almost instantly and on a spur, yet she is so special to me, like warm sunshine on a cold winter day. She's so full of life, energy, ideas, and love for everyone.

A resident of North Vancouver, British Columbia; a social activist , and a blogger by choice, Elly is also a visionary of a co-creative children choir. You will be amazed by her interest on various topics such as world traditions, sufism, vedic chants, music, dance forms, human psychology, philosophy, life, celebrations, nature, and so on.

Here are some of her amazing posts I have read in her own blog page, www.xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca:

World Suicide Prevention Day and Suicide Prevention Week (which has one of her most favourite photos that she took).

In Honour of National Tree Day (where she hugs a tree with a heart shape in it. She considers herself to be a tree lover and treehugger!)

She's been so wonderful as to agree to guest blog for me here today, to make our first new year together more memorable. I welcome my dear friend to my humble blog page and thank her for the honour.

* * * * *

The guest blog by Elly Stornebrink on what New Year means to her:



2015: A Brand Spanking New Year

Image courtesy: www.gettyimages.com, photo by Julie Fairman

Imagine a picture of a newborn baby being spanked as initially happens when a child is born (to ensure they are breathing of course, denoted by their crying).

2015 is a brand new year, a clean slate, a time for fresh beginnings.

What would you make of it? Rather, what would you like to make of it, this year, this coming year? How would you like it to be? What do you foresee or like to foresee?

As I write this, this comes to mind: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This is how Charles Dickens starts his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

From (t)his most famous passage and first lines (paragraph) of this book, we read:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

There are always “best” and “worst” or “good” and “bad” times, though all are man-named adjectives.

Considering the passage above however, we can contemplate and imagine what we envision for ourselves, if not for the world. For after all, aren’t we like the domino effect: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domino_effect - affecting each other with our thoughts, words, and actions? The penguins in the movie, Penguins of Madagascar – what can I say, I love animated children’s movies! – illustrate this well near the beginning of the movie. Sometimes, perhaps many times, we may tend to forget this.

Not the exact scene I am thinking of in this movie trailer, though at the :13 time mark you will see a mini-version of what I am speaking about with three of the penguins: https://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_embedded&v=BjfID263ViI. Now imagine this with all the penguins (which does occur in the movie by the way)! That is what I am referring to, on a larger, grander scale.

About five to 10 years ago, I came to realize that resolutions do not make sense as they don’t generally work. See my post regarding this and similar words that we commonly associate with and utilize near the beginning of a new year: http://xpressyouressence. blogspot.ca/2014/12/out-with-old-in-with-new_31.html

I have come to learn that possibilities, like a vision, hold a lot of weight. That is, in having a sense of hope, for example, as a possibility is powerful.

As you may know, words do matter. What we think and say have a profound and deep impact upon not only our lives, but also on others.

What do you (fore)see as possibilities for 2015? What would you hope for yourself and mankind in a heartfelt, compassionate way?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

An epitome of humanity

On this day (12th of the islamic month Rabbi-ul-Awwal) as the first burst of dawn hid behind the dark veil of last moments of night, a widowed young mother gave birth to a son- her only child, who was named Mohammed, and who was destined and prophecised to change the course of humanity and bring light of knowledge and wisdom in a time when darkness of ignorance, arrogance, hypocrisy and dominance was widespread.

Islamic world celebrate the birth anniversary of this great legend as Milaad-un-Nabi on this day every year (which falls on 4th of january, this year).

Prophet Mohammed was born at a time and in a soceity where a perpetual war of supremacy and dominance raged betwixt the local tribes of Arabia; the teachings of the preceding prophets were manipulated, abandoned or forgotten under the lures of money, power and self-indulgence; the weak and helpless were abused, ill-treated and oppressed; women were reduced to mere domestic objects, female-infanticide and slave-torture was rampant; and atrocity was the way of life of the strong and influential.

He grew up to earn the titles like the Truthful One, the Honest One, The friend of all and The Respectful one, even before his prophethood was revelled upon all. And when his prophethood was revealed, he did earn enemity from the oppressors and way-laid (many from his own kith and kin), he faced en-masse hostility and heart-breaking ridicules, and even lost many of his beloved ones.

But he had a divine duty to perform and never faltered even for once. He reciprocated stones, swords and swearings with a smile, forbearance and forgiveness. He answered every challenge and tests of his opposers and doubtsters with alacrity and precision. He sacrificed willingly, endeavoured relentlessly and taught with utmost love and patience.

When he did go to war it was as a last resort, in compliance of the Divine commandment and to safeguard human values and the lives of those who trusted him. And he never ill treated the war survivors who surrendered to him.

The Treaty of Hudaiwiya and The conquest of mecca are classic paradigms of human-rights and how to treat even our enemies with leniency and respect. He taught the virtues of patience, love, mutual co-existence and kindness.

He even set examples of secularism by often accepting invites and himself inviting people of other religions, passing unbiased judgments in any dispute that was brought to him, visiting and helping the poor, sick and needy, maintaining friendly contacts with all he could and appreciating his followers who did the same.

He lived a very ordinary lay-man life void of any luxury or indulgence, but his life is a treasure-trove of inspiration and wisdom. He fulfilled his divine obligation and- as The almighty Allah states in the Holy Quran that those who live to fulfill his divine will (prophets, martyrs and saints) never die, they only bid adieu to worldly existence; They remain alive even in their tombs- even Prophet Mohammed lives in Medina and reaches out to those who call unto his guidance and aid.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The newness of New year

The English calendar has taken another roll and it is new year across the globe wherever the gregorian calendar is observed.

I remember as a child New year was no less than our birthday for us. It was all about new clothes,  new accessories, lots of sweets and candies, the last day of school vacations and lots of fun, games and wishes.

A few years yonder as little girls and boys, it gained more priority. What with all the new year plans and resolutions, and heedings from teachers and parents to make this occasion an opportunity to excel, improvise or change for better. Lots of resolutions were made and broken, lots of goals were set and accomplished/abandoned, and lots of promises were made and kept.

As we grew into teenagers and our avenues and dimensions expanded, group resolutions and plans were made, diaries and notes kept, memories were captured in words and images and greeting cards and gifts exchanged. New year became a time to let bygones be bygones, reconcile differences among friends and mend broken hearts.

image courtesy: www.gettyimages.com

This ritual continued more or less unaltered through our college years, and then suddenly, stealthily all definitions changed as life changed gears, and new year plans, resolutions, exchanges and all seemed childish.

But the joy and hope of new beginning remains and my wishes on new year are more heart-felt and sincere. New year means new endeavours, new interests and renewed hope and confidence to me.

And I have planned a whole month dedicated to bring in the new year, connect the past with the future and glorify the gifts given to us and the inspirations that enlighten us. There would be a very special dedication to a wonderful legend, few expression of talents, and a very unique series of guest-blogs spread across the month from some really wonderful friends I met last year.