SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stories to Tell in Crisis




Floods are natural and have happened and are happening in other parts of the world.
This particular flood in Tamilnadu and especially the one which has hit my home city of Chennai and neighbouring locales may have happened due to many man-made or natural reasons...what we can now see is only destruction and desolation, lives lost, families separated, livelihood annihilated and people having to reinvent themselves all over again.

What stories can we tell people in Crisis?
What stories do we tell when children face a Crisis?

But before we Tell...we need to Listen...and listen deeply.
Listen to the pain and anguish
Listen to the fear and frustration
Listen to the confusion and uncertainity
Listen to the disappointment, sadness, yearning.
Listen to the guilt and blame
Listen the anger and irritation
Listen to the rage and fury
Listen....

Then... tell them Stories...
for yesterdays sorrow is today's story and tomorrow's sorrow is a future story..

I found a lovely link to how people and community healers took to helping the people in flood affected Indonesia. They are used to floods but not used to water rising so rapidly without warning. 

http://mcccanada.ca/stories/healing-after-flood-indonesia


So what stories can we tell:

Tell stories from your own Life
Tell a Folktale
Tell a Myth

Tell stories that reflect Hope
Tell stories that reflect Change and passage of Time
Tell stories that reflect Loss and despair
Tell stories that lead to love and laughter...letting go
Tell stories that question the Choices we have

Here is a link to Healing Stories Alliance, which has some wonderful stories to share when we are in Crisis.
http://healingstory.org/


I especially like two stories
Yama and Yami and how yesterday was created and how Yami learnt to cope with the loss of Yama through many yesterdays...
http://healingstory.org/how-night-came-into-being/

I also liked the story by Sri Ramakrishna, where a weaver shows us that we need to dance with both hands, and even if one hand is holding on to whatever it is...then we cannot find complete joy
http://healingstory.org/dance-with-both-hands-free/


Studies have also shown that sharing real life stories of Survival and Courage of people who faced similar situations has the maximum impact on those who have been traumatised.

I personally feel, we need to tell and share more personal stories, for they are real and tangible, and so lived and felt.

I am still looking for stories...
Perhaps you would like to share some of your stories 
I leave you with a poem...


It Takes Courage 

Author Unknown 

 http://www.inspirationpeak.com/cgi-bin/poetry.cgi?record=116



It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live. 




Friday, October 23, 2015

Mullah Nasiruddin and his Wisdom are tales to be shared anywhere


Looking for a story to fit into the theme of 'Change' I came upon Mullah ' s stories.
The last line is such a clincher for me.
Do we really know who we are or is the soul clothed by a story called Personality...ahhh..this makes so much sense to me!!
Read on:




Who Is Who
There is a beautiful story about Mulla Nasruddin:
He had gone for a pilgrimage to Kabba, the Mohammedan holy land. And there were millions of pilgrims – because it is expected by the Mohammedan scriptures that every Mohammedan, at least once in his life, must go to Kabba; otherwise he is not considered to be a real Mohammedan.
So even the poorest Mohammedan sell their houses, sell their ornaments, their land, everything, because at least once in their life they have to go to Kabba. So every year there is a great gathering. All caravansaries are full, all hotels are full.
Nowhere was there any vacancy, and Mulla was very tired. He clung to the feet of the manager of a hotel and he said, “Whatever you can do…but there must be some place in your big hotel, and I’m so tired – walking in the desert for miles. Just have mercy on me!”
The manager said, “I can understand your trouble, but all the rooms are full. Only one room can I manage to smuggle you into, because the man who is staying inside is snoring so loudly, he will not be able to know. You go silently and sleep. At least till morning that man is not going to wake up, and even if he wakes up, he will not find me. In the morning we will see – somehow we will persuade him.”
Mulla went in; the room was a double bedroom. The man was snoring, so the manager left him there. And Mulla lay went on the bed with his shoes, with his cap, with his coat, everything – just as he was when he entered the hotel. Naturally it was very difficult to sleep with his shoes and his hat and his coat, and it was hot – Saudi Arabia is the hottest place – and on top of it all, the snoring man was by his side. He was snoring so loudly that even if you were at ease you could not sleep.
Mulla was tossing and turning – his tossing and turning woke up the man. And the man watched in the darkness of the room to see what was happing. Slowly, slowly he could see that Mulla had his shoes on, cap on, coat on…and it was so hot. He could not resist the temptation.
He said, “Listen, in the first place you have illegally entered my room. I have booked the whole room, for the simple reason that I snore so much that if somebody else is there he cannot sleep. And if he cannot sleep, then he creates trouble, and then I cannot sleep. But you kept silent for so long and suddenly you started tossing and turning. I opened my eyes; I said, ‘My God, again another person!’ But forget all about it – it is midnight, where will you go? But why do you have your shoes and cap on?”
Mulla Nasruddin said, “There is a problem. The problem is that if I take off my shoes, and my cap, and my coat – and in fact I am accustomed to sleeping naked, and unless I am naked I cannot sleep – if I take off everything and go to sleep naked, you are also sleeping naked. That is the trouble.”
“But what is the trouble? I am sleeping naked, you are sleeping naked.”
Mulla said, “You don’t understand. In the morning, how am I going to recognize who is who? Just to keep my identity, I was keeping my hat, my shoes, my coat. That way I will be certain that there is no problem: I am Mulla Nasruddin, this guy is somebody else. But both a naked…”
The man said, “I will suggest one thing to you, because this way neither you can sleep nor I can sleep.” And the man also thought that this was a strange type of man, who thinks that if he is naked he will lose his identity. He said, “Just before us, a family must have stayed in the room, and their child has left a doll. So what I will do is I will tie the doll to your feet, and then you can sleep perfectly well. In the morning you can see that the doll is on your feet, so you are Mulla Nasruddin.”
Mulla said, “I’m so grateful to you.” He dropped all his clothes, and the other man found that doll in a corner and tied it to the feet of Mulla. The man was laughing all the time inside, thinking “I have never come across such a man.” And then he had an idea in the middle…when Mulla was snoring, he changed the doll. He tied it to his own feet and went to sleep.
In the morning when Mulla looked at his feet, he jumped out of his bed, ran out of the room, naked, shouting, “One thing is certain: that man is Mulla Nasruddin. The problem is: who am I? Can anybody say? Can anybody recognize me? Where is the manager? He had seen me in the night, perhaps he can recognize me.”
Your personalities are nothing but dolls tied to your feet.



Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Sizable Story


Yaaaaaay! I yelled a sound that came from the bowels of my stomach. But on that rainy day walking back from the school, I could only feel frustration and helplessness of knowing that a stranger had grabbed my breasts and had deliberately violated my personal space and my sense of self. I was helpless and still feel deeply affected by what happened that day.

My breasts you see grew faster than I would have liked them to and by the time I was 11years old, I had sizable ones as compared to my friends. I was the only girl in my gang with a bloated chest and hairy underarms who struggled to hide it in my swimming costume, while all my gang happily splashed about, chest less and hairless!

Buying the correct Bra was another nightmare. My mother with her sense of fashion insisted on cotton and cheap. I could not come out of that for a long time; and even now I still struggle with it. I drool over all the fancy Bras that have come in the market, but cannot get myself to buy them!

I delved into this most fascinating subject when I birthed my first child. New beginning; new feelings and of course New Clothes! I shopped and there is no greater joy than to shop for an eventuality that promises you an exploration of new possibilities.

Let me cut the rambling here: I mean I shopped for bras to facilitate easy feeding and in that process and in retrospect as I share this with you I also realise how well the Saree/ Blouse is designed for this!

No book, no person, nothing can capture what a woman goes through as she feeds her baby…
“The baby is not getting enough. You are not producing enough milk, because you eat so poorly”
“She is not sleeping well, look you just fed her and she is up for another feed”
“You know, I had no such problems, in fact I would always overflow”

Words that tormented me… someone who was already riddled with hundred complexes about her breasts. My inadequacies compounded as I struggled to feed a reluctant baby. My anxiety and the baby’s inabilities went into a vicious cycle.

So I started eating like a pig, in order to milk like the cow I was expected to be! Garlic boiled in Milk, even betel leaves by the dozen, did not help much by ways of solving my problem, nor I must say, did the Breast pump.

I fought the panic and anxiety alone, shutting myself into a world of self-inflicted doubt and self-condemnation. I was a Mother; this had to come naturally for me right? But sorry to say I felt most unnatural while feeding my baby, I disliked it and at one point, even hated it; hated the feeling of having something latched on to me, tying me down, curtailing my freedom, hated the constant struggle to meet the baby’s hungry demands and my own sense of inadequacy. Hated that I had to sit in one place for hours together, with no guarantee that at the end of it we both would come out satisfied…

 Ahhh… how I wanted to escape breast feeding, and the only thing that kept me going was the benefits it had for my growing baby.
I have come a long way from there.

 I had a second chance at being more skilled and competent with my second child who I handled with more understanding and insight…. 

Or so I think. But frankly, even now when I think back and see them eating food with their own hands, I send a silent Thanks to the Lord above...and gleefully smile to myself….for this is Freedom!!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Helpless - a personal story



Feeling Helpless comes easily to me. I am the one standing in front of the ATM machine, frustrated and actually thinking the ATM hates me, because every time I swipe the card, it says…not recognized, insert again! 

It’s like a default feeling…

There was this time in high school. Its pouring in Chennai, one of those rare events that would make us all run indoors, instead of running out and enjoying it...typical madrasi, (It was still Madras to me, and the jobless Politicians had not yet gone on their name changing frenzy) …and I was returning from school...I could barely see…and had removed my glasses…so partially blind…drenched…walking from the bus stop to my home….I felt a painful grab….yayaaay…I yelled at this guy who had the gall to grab my breasts and just move on…while I stood petrified and helpless…my stomach churning with disgust and revulsion…I turned and walked back home…somehow feeling as if it was my fault…

My breasts you see grew faster than I would have liked them to and by the time I was 11years old, I had sizable ones as compared to my friends. I was the only girl in my gang with a bloated chest and hairy underarms who struggled to hide it in my swimming costume, while all my gang happily splashed about, chest less and hairless!

Here is another on my Helpless laundary list – Breast Feeding

No book, no person, nothing can capture what a woman goes through as she feeds her baby…
“The baby is not getting enough. You are not producing enough milk, because you eat so poorly”
“She is not sleeping well, look you just fed her and she is up for another feed”
“You know, I had no such problems, in fact I would always overflow” said my well wishers
So I started eating like a pig, in order to milk like the cow I was expected to be! Garlic boiled in Milk, even betel leaves by the dozen, did not help much by ways of solving my problem, nor must I say did the Breast pump. Yikes…let me out of here…Can I just do the bottle?

But then that comes with sterilization, hygiene and correct mix of formula…

 I actually inflicted myself with that torture a second time…even though the feeling that I always carried with me on that experience isone of sheer futility, that I had to sit in one place for hours together, with no guarantee that at the end of it we both would come out satisfied. The constant struggle to meet the baby’s hungry demands and my own sense of inadequacy played havoc within me...

The last time I ever felt helpless was when I heard the silence on the other end of the phone. My Mother had dropped the phone in midsentence…because she was unable to speak…because the pain was unbearable…and till that point I did not know how much she suffered.

In the summer of 2012 my Mother was diagnosed with 3rd stage colon cancer. She and we were looking at a death sentence. But my father, the incredible man he is, refused to allow himself or her to be pulled into the blackhole of despair. To such an extent that sitting in Bangalore I would get cheery replies to all my questions.
"Oh! She is doing Great!...Responding well…we are trying A, B, C &D therapies…Don’t worry…she is going to be fine…so I lived in my bubble and they put on a Brave act".

So when she dropped that phone ...this was around November… I listened…to that silence with a sinking heart…What am I doing here in Bangalore?

I took the Shathabdi the next morning…and I can tell you that is the best decision I took in my entire life…the one I am most proud of. I entered the house and saw her seated in the arm chair…

She raised her head and looked at me…and I saw the pain in her eyes…I seriously don’t know who felt more helpless at that minute…

But I moved closer to her and did something I have never done…my mom was a minimalist…frugal in the demonstration front, so the max I have done is kind of give  a half hug…you know…around the shoulders because, that’s how we were in my family…except for my Uncle…this Big man, who used to embarrass his mother to bits by giving her bear hugs…

But on that day…I actually put both my arms around my mother and hugged her to my chest. She was seated and her head just reached my chin…and I felt her being  pour  into me…all her pain and struggle for the past 6 months…seemed to flow into me…along with that my Mother’s strength…too flowed into me…My Mum , slayer of cockroaches, catcher of snakes, Brave Honest and Hardworking woman, passed on her inner self to me…

Silently leaning on me...she seemed to tell me…Its time…for you to be strong…time for you to take charge…time for you to be a Mother to me…and for once I knew I had the strength to support her. I felt strong and calm. Calm in the knowledge that I was there as long as she needed me to take care of her body and soul…

I said I love you ma…
Another first for me…

And for the next 2 months…I combed her hair…she hated that chemo would make her loose her hair…
I pressed her legs…I helped her bathe, get dressed…fed her…and spoke of everything under the sun…
And mostly allowed her to lean on my chest….like a child on a mother’s shoulder…but here our roles were reversed…
She passed away on January 5th 2013…and the last words she said to me where Sowmya…I have no regrets…

Now that my Husband is posted to Delhi…learning to use the ATM is like a Life skill I have to master…so coming from a space  calm and courage…now when I face the ATM machine  I smile at the camera…and sometimes even wink…