Monday, December 31, 2007

I HAVE LEARNED THAT.......


(We were at the grave of her dad paying our respects last Sunday when this picture was taken by my youngest daughter, Malen -- she aimed her cellphone upwards focusing on a tree silhouetted against the cloudy sky blocking out the sun. How eloquently don't you think does it speak of my heart - our hearts - at this low point in our lives.)

I have been through a lot in life particular this past few weeks wherein I was battered and bruised by anxiety, frustration, discouragement, fear, doubt, failed expectations, unhappiness, loneliness, grief, and sorrow.... name it and I've been through it. Even my faith went diving to the lowest ebb I've never felt before.

I can't hold back time nor tell it to stay at that point I felt so much happiness. Even if I badgered or pushed or bribed or screamed my head off telling it to STOP! STAND STILL! FREEZE! PLEASE!!! It won't, not for me or for anyone like me. Time is cruel and is not moved by tears grief or sorrow. It will do what it does, always what it does so well... and that is -- it moves on, with or without us.

But all that I now look back to with fresh understanding courage and strength. And perhaps even much more wiser as my faith also has found itself renewed. God may have led me through the deep dark valley but He also led me out to the sun and new life. For all that and even more I am so grateful to Him ---a loving God who keeps His promises and answers prayer. To Him who loves truly fully and so well.

If there is something, aside from my family, which helped buoy up my flagging spirit.... it is wonderful friends and beautiful friendships. Nothing can ever equal these in any terms or currency or compliment or riches... NOTHING. They are in a class all of their own.. incomparable and worthy.

Allow me to mention names here who came to my blogs in o3 and blogspot and too left warm messages in orkut. But I will beg your pardon if I have missed some names. It is not intentional. But I know and you know too that the heart is so much better in remembering wonderful people than the mind ever is . So I say with confidence that you ALL are remembered here where it matters most --- in the heart.

Here they are not in any particular order......

sumit, jitu, divya, keerthi, srividya, LP53, niceguy, samyukta, regina, pearl, justcurious, phoenix, indrasish, kamesh, amit, shrawan, amita, lust4life, zephyr, chakoli, thisisme, mini, ramya, sneha, sensitivesmile, virtualscorpio, khalid, joel, and raj.

I say... You are all so wonderful! How lucky and privileged I am to have your friendships, for having you in my life. Thank you so much! I pray that God bless you with tons and tons of blessings for your peace, joy, happiness, good health, success, and prosperity all through your lives.

Love you all!
Ellen


There's more to tell on the subject of life lessons... but let's have it in another post. See you there soon.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

SORROW AND SADNESS




Dear Friends,

May I ask for your prayers? My husband passed away last December 09, 2007 at 2:30AM.

God bless you.
Thank you.

Ellen






Sunday, December 2, 2007

NO ONE ELSE YOUER THAN YOU

Maria (that’s not her real name, of course) only 5’ tall, weighs about 119 lbs, short black hair, black eyes, worry-wart, perfectionist, stubborn, outspoken, multi-talented, conservative, analytical, and reflective. Her life story is quite dotted with disappointments and unhappiness but she’s got spunk which I admire. She lives an hour away from me in another part of the city but we call each other up if meeting up isn’t possible.

Ralph is married, in his early fifties, doesn’t have a regular job, gets by with special projects much to the consternation of his wife, has excellent pr with friends and colleagues but isn’t quite successful in the home and with family.

They are just two of countless other people in my social circle -- Same as with yours and too with theirs. Now why should I even mention these? I’m trying to drive home a point – an essential one.

We see zillions of people around us with distinct features and characteristics. But of course that’s an exaggeration because in our close circle we can only count about hundreds. But in the world outside there are zillions. We’ve been told that no two persons are alike although they seem to be similar but still not the same. So then you, I, and they are distinctly different and separate in our own selves and persona.

I like that thought. It makes me feel very special. Don’t you too?

When you see me do the things I do, talk the way I do, think the way I do, walk the way I do ---- that’s me --- intrinsically genuinely me…Unless I put up a façade, but what for? Why pretend what I am not when being real is a lot more fun and interesting, at least to my point of view. It has nothing to do with being smug or proud or snooty liking oneself --- Although some people can take it to extremes and that’s where the problem begins. The idea of appreciating who I am and what I am makes life simpler and less stressful in a huge measure for myself and for others who move in and out of my turf or vice versa.

When I see myself as who I am --- the whole package of traits and flaws – and understand what makes me tick and still be comfortable with that I think am right on track with good sense. So then I can too appreciate others who may display other traits possibly quite unfamiliar to me and yet which I know do genuinely reflect their own distinct personality of who they are. I begin to learn to allow leeway for unpleasantness or idiosyncrasies of character because that too understandably is also in my own physical set-up. Understanding then takes place and then sets the correct mode in my relationships or dealing with others.

I’m not going to dwell on the idea of changing where change should be, with reference to unpleasantness of character. Let’s leave that for another blog post.

The whole point of this exercise is to highlight how special you are as a person, an individual, a human being, creature, and character. Let nobody tell you otherwise. They have no permission to say that you are not. Neither do they have license to heap words of abuse on your character and person. Defend yourself and stand up for who you are. You are special, particularly in God’s eyes.

You are special, you are one and there is nobody else alive like you. They may copy you or seem to be like you but still they are not you. Get my point? Who else would heap canapés on his pizza or walk in the park bare foot or look through a magazine from back to front? Others may share your taste or preferences but you alone possess your own particular trademark as Mary, John, Peter, Raj, Diwa and so on and so forth.

Because as Dr. Seuss says…..

THERE IS NO ONE ALIVE
WHO IS YOUER THAN YOU"




Sunday, November 25, 2007

TODAY SHOULD BE OUR MOST WONDERFUL DAY


I had a cousin who would give me that stern look whenever she’d see me laze around the house, her house by the way (I stayed with them in the city while I was job hunting) savoring the moment. But of course the chores were all done (my share of the day’s routine) and it felt good that there was nothing left to do after. But she just couldn’t take it seeing me so content and happy with the moment enjoying myself. She may have thought me quite weird perhaps and in the same manner I thought she was weird too for not appreciating her day comfy and worry-free.

Well, okay I wasn’t always like that. It was some wisdom which came to me a bit later through my struggling years. I used to be the kind who would fret and worry over the slightest mishap or teeny-weeny irregularity in the day. Always was anticipating doom or catastrophes to happen and never could believe that there was something good in the day to celebrate or be happy about. Nor had the right to enjoy that either.
Can you believe that? Gee, I must have been difficult to live with – difficult for others, difficult to myself. Either way you look at it was one sorry losing game.
What made it even more unappealing (to put it lightly) were the people around me. They made me feel that life should be spent scurrying to-and-fro in pursuit of ambition… that I had no right to ease up a bit and smile while struggling for the coveted goal. They made me feel bad not to be working ASAP and guilty that I sought respite briefly from struggling to rest my weary heart and bones. Their idea of success was lopsided as I later on learned -- a lofty title, a juicy job offer, material wealth, membership in exclusive clubs, driving a big car, owning a house with 5 -6 bedrooms. And that it doesn’t matter if you have to work yourself dry to the bones doing it. Yes, I know that too is success – material success. But mom, I remember, told me long ago after my graduation that whatever it is that I so love doing and is good at -- is called success. And that being successful on my own terms is more satisfying than one based or built on other people’s standards
.
That sure helped me see things in a better light and eased the burden of proving myself in the shortest possible time pronto. I then learned to sit back and relax, to enjoy family and friends, to celebrate occasions, to seek out the good in the day and every day, to like just being me and alive, to appreciate my achievements big or small, to look around me and savor the lovely things of nature, to romp around with my pets, and to be grateful to a magnificent God who made all these happen.

"If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year. 
 Today should always be our most wonderful day." -- Thomas Dreier

Wow! Get a load of that quote. I like it. I think that would effectively remove the feelings of guilt most people have in wanting to enjoy life – today. C'mon, do it -- enjoy your day TODAY! It should be our most wonderful day. Everything that is worth doing is in our today, not tomorrow or next year. When you do it over and over and over --- soon you will have made for yourself 365 WONDERFUL days. And so much more! :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

LIFE ONE STEP AT A TIME

Those years when I was a struggling fresh-from-school kid armed with nothing but my dreams, life became another school – a school of hard knocks. Knocking on company doors and trying to keep my neck above the swirling waters of a difficult life at the same time was no easy task. Most times I felt that everything just stood still --- perceived no movement no matter how much I tried. It was more like progress got farther and farther from my grasp and the hurdles just got bigger and bigger. The goal more elusive than I thought it was.

Until one day, I learned to step back (well, I was feeling miserable and close to giving up) and decided to take a good long hard look at how I was doing with my perceived feeble efforts. Only then did I finally get to see that I was doing some progress after all, small as they may have been in part and portions, but progress it was. Progress! And those small advancements or movements added up to one big achievement that finally got me to the top closer to my goal.

A ladder, whatever its kind and size, has rungs or steps we put our foot on alternately to get to the top. Such too is the so-called ladder of life. It is the ladder of life we’re climbing with our dreams, ambitions, and aspirations and we do it one step at a time or one rung after the other. And if you’re smart, you will step back once in awhile and check how you’re doing. You’ll be rewarded with the fact that you have made progress as you see yourself higher and farther from the bottom rung you started with.

So this is what it means, that without losing sight of your goal you take on the hurdles one at a time, one step at a time, and one day at a time. You can’t bunch them all in one big duffel bag and strap it over your back and trek down the road less traveled with its weight, so to speak. It will surely wear you down even before getting half way down the road or up the ladder of life. You’ll be giving up sooner than you should you’ll soon enough discover.

Learn to be kind to yourself. Pushing yourself too hard will only serve to dry you up quickly and sooner. Pace yourself and give yourself credit for whatever you have accomplished, big or small. Don’t let distractions or problems derail you – keep on track, move slowly but surely. One thing at a time is the way to go.

"If you're climbing the ladder of life, you go rung by rung, one step at a time. Don't look too far up, set your goals high but take one step at a time. Sometimes you don't think you're progressing until you step back and see how high you've really gone." -Donny Osmond

So what's your story. I'm sure you have one to share :-) Let's hear about it.


Monday, November 19, 2007

WHEN GOD TAKES YOU THROUGH THE FIRE, IT'S FOR A REASON


It is quite strange that when stuck in a serious difficulty and you feel that everything around you has crumbled down and you think that you don't have it anymore to make it through...... that God stubbornly nudges you forward whispering in your ear ' you can do it! ' Somebody tell me just how can anyone come out of the same situation I found myself in a week ago? Mentioned the situation in the previous blog. Have you ever created something out of nothing?? No? I have... proudly I can say that I have. It's nothing new cos many have done it before me with the same amount of success or maybe perhaps even more. It's neither weird stuff cos we read it in the papers or hear it in first hand experiences narrated in group chats among friends. But this I'll tell you, there is only one hope and one truth that you should ever know.. the rest are simply embellishments to it.

This is that if you believe in a god --- rejoice that you do! Because this one God you believe in is your sole savior - protector - shield - defense - healer - provider in every or all of the challenges of your life, big or small. When everything else fails, God is there. When your own strength in which you have always took pride and confidence in also is no comfort or refuge --- God moves things and people to come to your rescue and relief.

Do you know that everything belongs to God and that he can use all of it for your concern or welfare? Do you know that everything are simply instruments in God's holy hands and can be sent out to do what he wills at any time of day or night? Do you know that not all your brilliance or titles or knowledge or intelligence or power or wealth can work out the miracles you would one day desire for yourself or your loved ones? Believe me, that day will come to everyone as it did to me (fact is, my family and I are 'veterans' lol). :-)

If you don't know that yet.... you'll be in for some tough lessons. Lessons which will lead you to your own spiritual growth and maturity. Oh but don't let that intimidate or overwhelm you. But I'll tell you honestly it can be scary and lonely. Although the process could leave you bruised in your heart and soul... it's all for a good cause -- God's good cause for you!

You see, God wants his children to grow and to enjoy a deep relationship with him, not just the morning and evening prayer kind of relationship. He wants to take you to a point when you can comfortably share your joys and sorrows with him unembarrassed and fearlessly. He doesn't want to be on a pedestal with you simply looking up and honoring him... he wants to be right there beside you journeying with you through this short speckled life on earth. He wants you to receive him as a Father Brother and Friend.... and all other roles you may want him to be in the varying challenging moments of life and living. And the only way to make you come to that privileged point --- is to make you experience the process leading to it.

Like gold is passed through the fire to polish it, you and I will go through difficulties to hone our faith and trust in him. Be assured that we will come out at the end of the tunnel shining in our true light and glory as pure gold does after the furnace.

God bless you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

YOU CAN BE GREAT

A man isn’t if he doesn’t have at least one burning desire or dream or ambition in his heart. Without it you simply exist and not live as you should.

I have a dream, it’s a tiny one kept here in my heart. It’s been there for many years and maybe many more I don’t know. But what I do know is that this tiny spark within keeps me focused on one bright hope that someday I may yet have that dream come true. So my everyday becomes a trek towards it. But there are no illusions set on that journey because I know very well that it’s not a smooth paved road I’ll be traveling on. I’ve been told that all roads leading to one’s dream is always beset with stones, gravel, steep hills, thick bush, and strange creatures lurking on the side. Of course you know that I’m referring to the difficulties and hurdles one usually come across on that road less traveled. But that’s okay; I will take it one stone, one hill, one bush, and one strange creature at a time. It may hurt me some and may even be coming out of it much battered and bruised but… as long as I keep my feet standing above ground and not buckling under, I promise that I will be slugging my way through and up. Time? Oh I don’t know for how long but even if it would take all of my life working towards a dream, you will still find me there throwing my best punches till the sun sets so very tired of me. :-)

You see, life is primed for making things tough for us. Primed but we know for a definite reason and we’ve taken this up in earlier blog posts. But if we learned our lessons well and take the bull by its horn, tough times certainly can’t hurt us. We remove its capacity to hurt us by taking charge of our life instead of meekly following behind hanging on to its tail.

There are many I see around me doing the good fight. They trudge on in many diverse roads and in creative ways that would shame a lazy bum simply content watching on the sidelines. And if that wasn’t enough, these unproductive dark creatures would taunt or belittle the efforts put in by those who strive and struggle to make their dreams come true..

I’ll put my foot down on that one. Don’t let those types block you from taking that road and making good progress. But remember too not to fall into the trap of reacting to them on that same turf they’re operating on – negativity. Better yet stay clear out of their way; leave them where they want to stay and where they belong in their own dark realm of unenlightened understanding of life’s rules and laws, one of which is that ‘in life you move with the flow of the universe… or be left sorely behind’. And if you have the mind for it, use their negativity to fuel your fire or drive to push you farther and faster towards your goal. Funny but sometimes it works that way – a slight irritation can push you out of there quicker in a way working to your good advantage.

And to those you make it through to its successful end… great job, great YOU!

“Keep away from those who try
to belittle your ambitions.

Small people always do that,
but the really great make you believe
that you too can become great.”
(Mark Twain)


Sunday, November 4, 2007

STOP AWHILE TO ENJOY HAPPINESS


Let’s try something which many of us tend to overlook. Think about this… don’t we often complain how unhappy we are – how miserable, gloomy, forlorn, sad, wretched, heartbroken, hopeless, or bleak life is? Well, I do. Yeah, maybe it’s normal and everybody goes through something like that sometime. But...

Imagine yourself going about your day with a long face or a boring expression or with a lifeless look in your eyes… and… your feet feeling like a ton of bricks. Have you noticed too how you are affecting those around you or people who happen to cross your path in that day? Notice what comes out of your mouth when you talk – negative static and unenthusiastic talk? Sense people slowly steer themselves away from you or put in a marked distance between you and them?

Unhappiness causes all that. But unhappiness is not the cause of your feeling that way. You don’t say that you are that way because you are unhappy. But rather that you are unhappy because something going on is not right with you or in your life and this in turn is causing you some misery.

That something may be failed expectations, disappointments, loss, grief, broken promises, betrayals, or even a status quo where you had hoped there would be some movement or progress.

But it’s not healthy.

The thing that we should note is that we have full control over it. Two things we can do --- one is to stay or wallow in misery and the other is… to decide to pluck some bits of joy in our midst or from within ourselves.

Life does not offer us a basket of difficulties alone believed by most of us. But it offers us a good mix of both joy and sorrow. It’s right there in the same basket. All that we must do is learn to do some picking for stuff which would make us happy. You’ll be surprised to know that often those things are the trivial bits around us which we often ignore or neglect –

a lovely sunrise, a poignant sunset, the cool drops of rain, intriguing cloud formations, the deep blue skies, a bud transformed into a beautiful flower, a statuesque tree silhouetted against the sky, tree tops dancing in the wind, gurgling waters flowing merrily down the stream, a baby’s small fingers clutching your thumb, the deeply lined face of a bent elderly woman smiling at you, the gentle hearts of good friends, the love of your family, the adoring eyes of your sweetheart, a rainbow in the sky, or God’s treasure of blessings pouring down into your day and life -- And many more.

Have you ever stopped to enjoy these things? There is no reason to be unhappy for long. Maybe you will for awhile as the unpleasantness of that something is touching your life, but not for long because you can change your attitude towards it and turn your negative feelings into one of wise tolerance and acceptance and understanding. This will help you see things in a much better light and even feel appreciation for the presence of good and better things in the midst of misery. Happiness therefore is already there for your easy picking, if you would only stop awhile to see it and enjoy it.

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness,
not because they never found it,
but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.

William Feather

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WALK BESIDE ME AND BE MY FRIEND



Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-Albert Camus
-------------------------------------------
Let me tell you this tiny story.

Things were getting into high gear as teachers and students alike were preparing for the big day. Yet Mari was sitting by myself in the auditorium staring into space away from it all, her friends were out on the campus grounds rehearsing. Her mind was set on not joining in the graduation rites the following week as she didn’t know if she could get over her disappointment thus she chose to be alone in her misery.

‘Penny for your thoughts’ Bernie spoke as she plopped down beside Mari who didn’t see her coming. Bernie was short for Bernadette. Mari didn’t reply nor looked at her.

‘I know how you feel.’ She continued. ‘Okay, He cheated in the finals; everybody knows that. And the teachers unfairly and wrongfully, out of respect for their colleague, his father, looked the other way. Apparently it was his dad who leaked out the paper. And now his son the jerk is declared valedictorian, a prize which belongs to you. Our friends know that too.’

‘But you know what -- he’ll always be cheating for the rest of his life. That makes him one big loser no matter how you look at it. While you if you beat this will be moving on to bigger challenges and will beat it just as well with flying colors. That makes you a winner in every aspect of life’s game. That sure is unbeatable in anybody’s book, especially in mine!’ and she smiled her usual lopsided smile.
‘C’mon, let’s join the practice - ‘Will race yah!’
 
Mari wiped her tears, jumped up, and ran after her chum. ‘Not if I beat you first!!!’

End of story.
------------------
We get many kinds of friends in our lifetime – irregular friend, occasional friend, absentee friend, fair weather friend, business friend, college friend, career friend, professional friend, online friend, and many more. Friends too may be simply passing through, stay awhile, be fleeting, or perhaps remain with us much longer but definitely they can’t stay on forever. All these affect us in many different ways. Friends undoubtedly shape our lives and our responses to it by their mere presence. Some wield influence too making our lives better or worse by it.

Many summers come and go along with people who have filled it with joy, fun, and laughter. But almost all of them have faded away with the years, hasn’t it? Not by anyone’s fault but simply because that’s the way life is. Everything comes and goes just like time does.

I value friends and friendships. I do not belittle every effort big or small by anyone. Such effort, I believe, is a display of character and soul. The fact that a person goes outside of himself to offer his hand in friendship is truly incredible. It is a selfless gesture or act because he thinks nothing of the possibility of being ignored or rejected or snubbed. That possibility is real, you know. Many of us sometimes don’t know how to handle friendships or its offer. I could guess that maybe it’s the fear of getting so close to a person – the fear of having a stranger get to know you better, flaws and all – the fear of getting hurt by failed expectations, yours and the other person’s -- the fear of baring your soul to another.

But if we dwell on those fears, we will indisputably miss out on a lot of good things which real genuine friendship can bring – the courage strength hope and inspiration lent us to carry on through life’s trials, the beauty of nature and life which a friend would point out to us and which we would have missed if he didn’t, the fun and camaraderie of togetherness, the dogged loyalty to stand by you through thick and thin against popular opinion, his wisdom in speaking up when needed or in keeping his mouth shut when all that you need is affection and comfort. Such are the treasures and tons more (others could add to that list) which good friendships can undeniably bring.

Come, won’t you walk beside me and be my friend. :-)

POTENTIAL - THAT'S WHAT WE ALL HAVE

The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world." -- Roger Williams


How does that look to you? Mr. Williams believes that in every person lies ‘potential’ -- A potential that should work not only for you but for others or the larger world as well. Beautiful, isn’t it? Let me tell you a story.

My friend though, who isn’t in my regular company of crazy loony passionate life-loving ladies, likes to call it ‘crap’ (a favorite expression to her). She has a 17 year old son who is close to dropping out of high school – skipping classes, bumming around with odd friends, and defying authority – that she expects him to end up a big pathetic good-for-nothing bum for life. She has two other children who are doing quite well on their own and she’s so pleased with that, obviously.

I’ve met the kid on occasional visits to their home. Yeah, he does look strange with his odd-looking clothes, tattoo on his arm, and spiked orange-streaked hair. But you know what – he’s good at the computer! So I took the chance and asked him to work out something for me with my project. There I sat with him for two straight hours as he taught me the intricacies of that particular software which befuddled my brains before I met him. At the end of the session, I looked him in the eye (beautiful eyes like his mom) and told him ‘You’re good!’ He smiled and there I saw a hint of a glimmer in his eye – a very pleased and happy glimmer.

Back in my house, I couldn’t take the kid out of my mind.

While I was there sitting beside him at the computer as he went through the process of setting up my project, I noticed how clear he was in his instructions and teaching – that he didn’t miss a point which he thought I should understand and learn well. He firmly engaged me in the learning by making me do some tasks while he watched. Truth is, I was enjoying the whole thing, it was fantastic, in fact! He was a good teacher and apparently knew his stuff well.


So I had an idea.

On that weekend, Sunday to be exact, I invited his mother to lunch at a favorite restaurant at the mall. It was the place to go for a perfect plate of ‘seafood pasta’. Indeed. We emptied our plates savored every bit and ended up quite sated and content. Of course a good meal is always punctuated with a good hot cup of coffee—cappuccino for me natur’ly.

Midway through my coffee, I asked ‘How’s Raul?’

‘As usual he didn’t come home last night. Some gig somewhere at a friend’s house’ She muttered exasperated under her breath.

‘You know, he did well with my project. The kid knows so much more than you give him credit for.’ I said quite frankly as I put my cup down.

‘Indeed!’ She replied shrugging her shoulders and sipped her coffee.

Now if there is something which easily gets my goat - it’s a parent who does NOT appreciate her child or children. You see, there’s so much good forming in those young minds to start with (God made sure of that) and if given the chance will develop and mature into something so grand and amazing. But it has to be helped along – Now who else to do that but one’s mother or father. Parents! Funny but we often lose sight of our main role in our children’s lives -- to shape or mold them to their fullest potential. We are stewards of our children. Our function is to lead them to discover their true selves – their best selves and armed with it allow them to carve out their own niche in this world. Our expectations for our children should be aligned to this and not be dictated by our own selfish hopes motives and dreams. Our children are not extensions of ourselves. We shouldn’t expect them to make our old forgotten dreams come true or live them for us. It’s unfair to impose or heap this burden on their young shoulders. If any dreams should come true now that they’re much older – it should be theirs.

‘Now you listen, and listen well.’ I said to her firmly and pointedly. Although caught by surprise (I could see), she sensed that I was serious and so slowly put down her coffee and gave me her full attention. Well, I thought, there’s hope for this mother yet.

“Your son is not what he appears to be, believe me. But he just does not know how to put that across to you because you have already pre-judged him -- You believe he is no good because he acts differently apart from your other children. This makes him think that you don’t love him at all… that you’re playing favorites.

C’mon, give him a break. See him in a different light. Believe in his potential and help him bring it out to the fore. Help him with something he can believe in and make something out of. Lead him to things which will hone and develop his God-given talents. Help him get back on track again and confidently show to the world that he’s not the odd man out but the best man in.

No one else can do that for him – not his friends, not even his teachers. It’s you who can. So get yourself down to the task pronto… before you lose him, truly lose him one day.”

She was about to say something but then her phone rang. She answered it, and while the other end was talking I could guess, she took a brief look at me... stayed in that moment for a second….. Then loud enough for me to hear she spoke…

“Wait for me, Raul. We have something to talk about. Hey, how does pizza sound to you?”

Then she smiled, put down her phone, and turned to me “Garlic & cheese pizza - his favorite!” and brushing away a tear whispered…...

“Thank you” And headed straight for Pizza Hut across the hall.

PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE

Impatience – I see it everyday, in the man waiting in line at the bus ticket window, in the boss who’s calling for his staff to submit their respective reports pronto, in the mother who yells at her young kid having a loud tantrum, in the customer who’s waiting for the sales clerk to get back with her shoe size, or some other episode like it somewhere else you look. And yes I do see myself in it or other similar situations in my day. Funny thing too is that I think it’s not me but the other person as the one at fault and causing much of my annoyance.

Oh yeah I remember like Mom used to say ‘Honey, it’s easier to point the finger at someone else rather than point the finger at yourself.’

But I countered with ‘Mom, I wouldn’t be this irritated if they would simply do their job right!’

And do you know what she’d say to that? ‘Nothing always goes the way you like it -- Maybe sometimes but not every time. Things can go crazy somewhere there and you just have to learn to deal with it.’

‘Things can go crazy…’ Yeah, come to think of it, how sure are we that the ticket machine won’t jam on this particular day, or that an employee would get the flu on deadline day, or that the kid is sick or something, or that the sales clerk got buried under heaps of shoe boxes as it got accidentally knocked down in the store room? We’re never sure that everything will work 100% all of the time, that things will always be there when you need it, that people will be at their top energy levels 24/7. That’s not the way things work out. Things can and will go crazy, like it or not.

‘..learn to deal with it’ Okay, maybe we can try for some bit of creativity to this perennial dilemma in our lives. How bout…

-take a book along to the bus terminal, read it while you wait for your turn at the counter machine

-setting a pseudo deadline for your staff to work towards, maybe just a day or two off from the actual deadline thus giving a margin for replacements to fill in for ‘no show’

-do the cooking or other chores at a set time before the kid is fully awake, and keep your bonding time with him strictly your time with him with no interruptions

-while the sales clerk is in the stock room, browse through the other shelves and check out the shoes you’d like to buy next time or something which might interest your daughter, or call up the maid at home and check if she finished with the ironing.

There will be other interesting ways one can think of or devise to downplay impatience or maybe crush it to smithereens. Anything that will get your nerves and blood pressure cool and steady or give you the chance to be nice to the people around you is worth the investment in patience for. It will be worth all that effort.

And if still that doesn’t work, raise your eyes to the heavens and pray “Lord, grant me patience!”

Patience is the ability to idle your motor
when you feel like stripping your gears. (Anonymous)

DON'T STOP LEARNING

If there is anything which succeeds to exasperate me at any time is the utter refusal of someone to learn. I’m sorry but I just can’t understand why some people when coming up to a certain age or point in their lives would simply give up on learning. I can’t believe that some people would be content with what they already know or have learned and wouldn’t care to learn anything else new anymore. This does not refer to scholarly pursuits although that too is a very good idea. What I’m driving at is the learning or to put it this way… the gaining or acquiring of new wisdom - information - facts - understanding - insights - perception or self-knowledge as we go through life.

To my mind when God created us He created us complete but it doesn’t stop there. Complete yet not perfect. The ultimate goal set for us is to someday be with Him in our final home where everything is perfect. So then being in an imperfect state as we are now and to be worthy to enter heaven’s doors, we must go through the process of ‘refining’ -- a constant shedding of old useless layers and the growing of new ones. The sole intent of which is to transform us into the perfect creatures we were meant to be. But you know what? God didn’t plan to do that all by Himself. How do I know that? It’s putting one and one together, meaning don’t we always find ourselves up against a constant barrage of challenges in life which always draw out from us a myriad of reactions decisions perceptions? These in turn define who we are and what we can become? So seeing the potential in the midst of all that misery makes me think that surely it’s there for a reason and somebody is directing the whole show. Thus using our free will to respond to each and every situation is undoubtedly our participation to God’s plan – He being that someone directing the whole show! Thus we’re in this together – God and us.

We must do our part in our own transformation. How do we do this? We learn and learn… and learn some more. The process is something like this…. LEARN, UNLEARN, RELEARN. We learn all that life has to offer us– experience, lessons, education, instruction, mistakes, 0coaching. But whatever we find in those things which do not serve or contribute to our well-being and growth – things which only serve to hurt and harm us, we must shed or unlearn it – run it through serious thinking, discover what does not work, go back to the basics. So we start relearn things again but in a much better light and understanding than what we had before and with this new learning grow higher into knowledge maturity and wisdom. If you think that the process ends where it ends, it does not. The learning continues all through our lives with each new step taking us closer to our goal until we finally reach our destination. All of life is learning. So don't stop learning, it is a task but a joint undertaking with your God. You will come out of it fully rewarded, that's for sure. That's God's plan for you all along.


FIND WHAT YOU TRULY LOVE TO DO

Do you know what it is that you love to do? This ‘something’ which gets you either stuck or glued to it day in and day out or won’t leave your mind long enough for you to be stuck in another thing or gets your heart thumping hard with excitement each time you think about it. I am sure that you do. Even if you were working at a job which gives you so much satisfaction and pleasure there is still that something which if given the chance you would rather be doing. Not because it is more lucrative but simply because it is what you love.

Sometimes you hear of men and women leaving wealth, business, jobs, perks and privileges behind and instead follow what they think and believe is their true calling.. And for the many diverse excuses and reasons forwarded, it still boils down to only one – a love for doing what they do.

"The secret of happiness is simple: find out what you truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. Once you do this, abundance flows into your life and all your desires are filled with ease and grace." -Robin Sharma (The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari)

I like that quote lifted from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. The summary in essence and condensed form was forwarded to me by a good online friend, Tejbir. The pursuit of happiness is generally on everybody’s table of aspirations; every effort one creates of thought word and deed is geared towards that goal. But not every road leads to happiness and more often not to the kind of happiness that would matter.

So what kind of happiness does matter? That’s simple. It’s the happiness which emanates from the very core of our being – at the core where only the genuine intrinsic true authentic feelings and intent reside. Where everything is true and genuine, every good thing that will come out of it will be the finest in satisfaction passion effort motivation and result.

To get to that point, one has to find what he truly loves to do in his life -with his life. It’s a search which for some may take a whole lifetime --- A serious search which will lead him to question his purpose or meaning or reasons he grew up with. But for the person who finds it early while he can, he will have acquired for himself all the precious time he would need to pursue it. This in turn will ultimately lead him to achieve something grander or higher for himself and not only will it derive for him greater pleasure happiness or meaning but may possibly redound to benefit a greater number of people too – indeed a wonderful prize for truly loving what you do.


Friday, October 26, 2007

FAILURE TO BE PERFECT - IT'S STILL SUCCESS

We are so focused on the destination and not so much on the journey, aren’t we? When translated into the pursuit of dreams, we aim so hard for success and for the prize at the end that anything less than that won’t make us happy. Really! For instance, two friends equally talented, educated, trained, hardworking and smart seek the same goal or success, but the first guy gets it while the second one does not – do you think that the second guy is less successful than the first one?

By every criterion set down by the world, the first one rates as big success. That’s by the world’s standard which recognizes the man who achieves what he has set out to do as the winner.

But I wouldn’t deem the second one a failure either because he did just as much as the first guy, was highly motivated, worked hard for what he wanted, had put in his best effort, spent the same sleepless nights toiling over papers, bleed his brains dry over problems and working out possible solutions, poured over books relevant to the task, and tapped a network of friends and peers picking brains where he decently could or allowed to. He was as tough fearless and dogged as the first guy. The same true mark of a winner and yet --- he still didn’t make it. Tough luck!

And so struck by his defeat he crumbles. But if somebody near him could and I wish that he would… I would tell him to give this guy a good kick in the butt! --Figure of speech, of course. But in my book, he is as much a success as the one who got away with the prize. Why?

Because I’m looking at 'effort' --- and the person who makes it happen. A person who stands his ground in the midst of battle, who wouldn’t buckle down when the going gets tough, who gives his utmost best to the task, who never gives up the fight down to the very end, and who fearlessly takes up the challenge and competition – that’s the stuff successful people are made of, win or lose. And I’ll bet that if given another chance he will be up front throwing his punches once more.

So what if he missed on some things that he should or could have done, failed to be perfect in the chase and suffered because of it. But he gave it his all --- his best shot. This should make him proud. Isn’t it that we are told to give our best shot to everything that we do in life? Well, he did just that and in my book – that is called success – regardless if he reached his goal or not.

And so does Fran Tarkenton think so who has this to say…


"Success, in my view, is the willingness to strive for something you really want. The person not reaching the top is no less a success than the one who achieved it, if they both sweated blood, sweat and tears and overcame obstacles and fears. The failure to be perfect does not mean you're not a success."


USE UP YOUR TALENTS

There isn’t a person born on the face of the earth without talent. I will say that emphatically and would bet my life on it. Because no matter how dull boring bland lackluster or perhaps weak a character might be, I believe there lies within a spark ability capacity or flair that would set him or her up better than others, in some special way.

Absolutely nobody has the monopoly on talent because when God created people, he made sure to equip each with his or her own ‘tool box’ and that tool box is packed with an array of tools meant for every particular problem that would crop up in a person’s life. The other name for these God-given tools is ‘talents’. Now a person may have a dozen tools or talents inside the box or maybe just one but numbers don’t matter. It’s what you have and what you do with it that does.

When we speak of talent, we often associate it with creative talent in the arts and performances, business flair, academic achievements, and the like. All these are well and good. They have its uses to make life both interesting and easy for self and others.

But what about the ordinary person next door, who has no title to his name, can’t rattle off a list of achievements, invented nothing, can’t sing and dance, no hobby to show off, and lives a quiet everyday life. Do you think that God also gave him his own ‘tool box’?

The answer is YES but his talent does not comprise those things which can be displayed to the whole wide world in tangible ways. Rather it’s right there within himself. Now you probably think that I’m talking my head off this time, but no. It’s when he shares a bowl of sugar with a neighbor who’s run out of it or when he volunteers to watch somebody else’s kids while the mother runs to the clinic with a sick child, or when he takes out his hammer and restores a broken fence for the old lady living across the street, and many other seemingly ordinary things commonly taken for granted by many of us.

So what is his talent? It’s this-- the gift of sympathy, compassion, kindness, generosity, attention and care, understanding, charity, perceptive, concern, thoughtfulness, consideration, love. His talent is the selfless giving of himself to others – using it to help others get on with their life or help lighten their way from hardship to ease, from despair to hope, from sadness to joy, from fear to courage.

He gives of himself unselfishly with every opportunity that presents itself day after day seeking no honor or recompense for his effort. He has no illusions of greatness and considers these things as quite normal and ordinary as eating his regular meal of rice and fish. He does very well with his own tool box of talents, don't you think so too? :-)

You know, this could very well be our hope…..

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I ould not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me." -- Erma Bombeck


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BUT I DON’T HAVE THE TIME!

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." -H. Jackson Brown

Ah! This quote is closest to my heart because that used to be my fallback line ‘I don’t have the time!’ and of course nobody would believe me. And you know what – they were right! Everybody is given the same number of hours in a day and you can make it idle or busy as you want it to be. It’s the same number of hours yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


Let’s see this.

I had a job that was both challenging and interesting. As the years moved along I soon found myself wearing different hats on the job. People moved up, a few left, and the company went into diversifying its business. So there I was with my hands full with the nitty-gritty details of memos, correspondences, prepared daily-weekly-monthly-quarterly-annual sales reports, in-house trainings, seminars to branches and to the dealers network, handled dealers’ complaints, ran them through the process, followed through till the transaction was consummated, and publish the monthly company newsletter (there was no newsletter staff to speak of then). At home I was wife and mother to my family. Most times my mother role took the bigger part of my time as the children were growing up needing more of it than hubby did who was also busy with his own hectic life at the office. Too I was a daughter to a widowed and aging father in the province who needed care and attention. It was tough sailing but come to think of it some other women with my same circumstance managed businesses on the side and maintained regular workouts at the gym. Now that’s a good one. I would have done the same too if only I had thought about it then. And others more heard of were in congress, or painting master pieces, or writing books and novels, or doing other great things that took up thousands of minutes each day… but it all got done! Because there was always time to do it. The 24 hours God gives to one day is enough to finish anything in that allotted span of time when managed wisely.

Do I hear objections? But of course there will be objections particularly – from someone who may be tackling his projects clumped into one huge batch - one big muddled mess and wants to finish everything ASAP. This is the exact ground or condition on which ‘but I don’t have enough time’ would thrive on.

Things come to us at a varying degree of importance and urgency, don’t we all know that ---a life saving fact, if you ask me. I think that one can adapt oneself to the different levels of magnitude or substance of each matter while working toward a goal or goals. A person does not have to feel pressured in doing everything in one sitting or with one sweeping stroke or with constant high energy– which isn’t possible all the time of course. Instead one may possibly do little on some things and then do so much more on others and yet still come out quite productive on those concerns.

Companies don’t crumble because of that; I know only too well that they do things in a manner that fits into a time table beginning with one day. Goals and projects are finished that way. Fortunes are built that way too. Great people in the history of the world have used that same wisdom in pursuing their inventions, missions, master pieces, goals and dreams.

It’s just learning how to reign-in a bit or go full throttle to what the hour or day asks of you. But you don't need to waste energy on something that doesn't need it. Besides, you can always have the time you need if you really want to.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

WHEN WE THINK GOD SAYS NO

My friend has this to say to that (the title), quite emphatically. It was a topic brought out over lunch – the usual monthly meeting with the ladies.

He has constructed His replies to fall into two defined categories. One is ‘Yes’ – and the other is ‘No’. Answered prayers fall into the first one and the second one is just what it is – a ‘No’ -- Period.”

I nodded my head and continued munching on peanuts (another of my favorites – roasted, unsalted, unfried). The thing is my friends aren’t at all convinced seeing me as non-committal and quiet as that. Always my silence is interpreted as ‘brain activity’? Ugh!! How absurd! I often find myself just simply ‘watching’ the conversation – enjoying it, not thinking …and actually liking it so much. Lols Goofy ladies all! (But they’re a wonderful bunch, these ladies and I love them.) Sienna eyed me suspiciously to which putting on an innocent look I try to dodge with a...

“Hey, these peanuts are good, so where’d you get them?”

Unfortunately, it was such a pathetic attempt to ward off imminent questions. That didn’t work cause true enough, the ladies fired off their questions one after the other as you’ll see later. They’re not just goofy but also curious, inquisitive, and a pain to my enjoyment of food. Oh! For elusive peace when all I want is to enjoy my food.

“I’ll get us more peanuts” smiled Sienna knowing that it was going to happen anyway and headed for the kitchen.

“And while you’re at it, bring out the popcorn, too”, chimed-in the ladies giggling.

“Frankly, ladies…” I began and which made them behave in their seats. Now THAT is funny! Lol

“I don’t have the cut-and-dried answers to your questions. You have to figure that out yourself – like experience and reflection and away from that bowl of peanuts?? --MY bowl of peanuts, by the way.”

“Awwww..” objected Marcia with her Angelina Jolie pout lips.

“Oh okay, let’s take your questions instead” I relented knowing I could never get out of this one anyway.

“Shoot!” chimed in Liza batting her glorious eyelashes - not fake, real ones. How I often wished I had those to my own thin sparse ones. Anyway, here goes.


What are our own expectations in prayer?

With the wisdom brought down through the ages, we have been taught to understand that we are being passed through life’s furnace of trials by every unpleasant experience or difficult situation. But despite that ancient wisdom passed on to us by our mothers and the generations before her, still we fail to grasp this truth fully and completely. Ever wondered why we continue to rant, rave, cry, fume, despair, rage, or wither in desperation whenever life throws its hard bricks at us?

And true to our very nature, we view Life akin to a hot cup of instant coffee – instant gratification so to speak i.e. instant fixes, happiness, success, remedies, victories, etc. This mindset is simply carried over to when we pray. It’s a habit that sticks like glue. So we expect God to answer our petitions pronto in the manner we want it, when we want it, how we want it. For instance, foremost up in our mind would be the thought that this time God is wrong to make us wait. He cannot possibly say NO because we are in a situation wherein any kind of blessing would be appreciated … And that means ANY. Thus we would adamantly insist that God shouldn’t say NO to our prayers. Some say that is Faith too, but let’s shelve that for another table of discussion.

Further, we believe that delays to our prayers would mean dire consequences for us or the person we’re praying for. The situation, to our mind, demands immediate relief attention or aid. So there could possibly be no reason to withhold this from us on the premise that we are ‘not ready’ – ‘cause being in an urgent dilemma is just the structure for receiving immediate help.

But the truth is that opting for the fast and easy way out is a sure-fire way of failing – EASY IS NOT ALWAYS BEST AND GOOD, as you will find out in time.

How do we stand with God in prayer?

We are precious in God’s eyes -- that is so true; every little thing which concerns us concerns Him too. But the real thing, as your Sunday teacher would tell you, is that foremost in His mind is bringing us all back home together with him someday. That we be with our one perfect God and Father in our heavenly home. Note the word ‘perfect’. And note too that we are undoubtedly -- ‘imperfect’. We stand before Him as imperfect and flawed creatures although in spirit we are in the image of God.

Foolish flawed creatures that we are (stupid at times), we always forget one significant thing when we pray --- God is love and mercy. This defines His answers to our prayers. His great love for us makes Him take into consideration our human weakness and vulnerability – such frail and imperfect beings - Tender and easy to break and such big slobs in handling or taking a downright ‘No’ or any other form of rejection. Ah! --The folly of the human ego and pride. Knowing this therefore He handles us with utmost care and loving attention and when He has to -- soft-pedals His ‘NO’ to our prayers. I can see your unbelief to that. But it’s true because it’s not the way humans do with a flat absolute outright “NO”. Behind God’s seeming “NO” is a gift of love wisdom and divine understanding. His NO isn’t meant to hurt or harm you but rather simply said, it means God as saying ‘Not yet, child’ to your unanswered prayer. “You’re not yet ready for my blessing. Let’s do some work together first.”

When are we ready for God’s blessings?

First we have to go through a process which is far from pleasant, if you ask me. Ask anyone about that and they will tell you that getting God’s approval often brings out the other camp which continually works for our sure downfall. So God’s ‘NO’ is for the greater part a nudge in the direction of our growth which ultimately will lead us to victory. He says ‘no’ when He sees that we need to develop strength of character, wisdom, or increase in spiritual power. He pushes us to change from being weak to strong, from being scared to brave, from being hopeless to a can-do attitude – a process that we should go through, no excuses. What better environment for growth than the environment of difficulty. Yeah, a gem (growth) underneath an ugly wrap (difficulty).

But I remember how Mom would stress one other truth – When these things happen to us we are called NOT to be complacent with that idea that there is indeed a process going on. Why? Because the job is NOT ENTIRELY His, nope --it requires our ACTIVE participation too. We are supposed to RESPOND for our part in active obedience, comprehension, patience, humility, trust, and faith. God wants us in attendance and participation to the work He is trying to do in our lives. He wants us to get INVOLVED in our own learning. Because it’s more meaningful that way, you know; God+us -- together through the fire. Our OBEDIENCE AND TRUST sets the ground ready for blessings to flow in.

Irrespective of how long or how short the period of learning will take us, this I do know --- it effectively opens up the avenues for receiving the benefits therein almost immediately. The blessings pour out upon us from a God who is mighty pleased by our transformation. Without a doubt, it is the aligning of our will to His will which works out that miracle. And not only do we get answers to our earnest petitions but so much more happens for our joy – we become blessed far beyond measure. And that happens not in the time frame we have set for prayers to be answered but in His time – which can be instant, in a few minutes to an hour or maybe tomorrow but who cares about time? The miracle is just waiting to happen – and fantastically we are co-creators of that miracle. God+us through the fire, remember?

When we think God says NO… truth is, it actually means “NOT YET, my child, because we have to work out some things first. The rest will be easy, TRUST ME."