SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My little helper

His favourite place is by my side. Peeping over my shoulders, peering from a gap betwixt my arms.
How much?
What next?
What do I add now?
Amma, Amma, Amma…

Questions and queries are fired at me.
Yes. He is my little helper!
The kitchen is where he likes to be… with me. Giving me a helping hand whether I want it or not! He pulls up a stool and places it right where I need to stand near the stove!

“Can we place this to the left a bit?” I ask politely.
“Ammmmma…I can’t see then” he whines.
I roll my eyes in exasperation, as I try to move the furniture to a spot mutually agreeable by us!

Then the instructions start.
You have to tell me what you want. I will bring it for you is his reasonable request. Which I promptly forget as I reach out for this or that. Not that my kitchen is so large I can’t just put my hand out or up, and get it for myself. But I must heed the little boss.

Cut up with me, he upbraids me.

“I want to get it for you, I want to get it for you” he repeats his litany.
“Ok, Ok, get me the turmeric” I say.
“What’s that?” he asks
“The yellow powder, manjal”, I explain. And wait tapping my right slippered foot in impatience!

So now he clambers from the stool onto the narrow counter and reaches for the neatly lined containers trying to identify the turmeric. I watch with trepidation as this is too close to the stove for me to relax.

“This is red” he says.
“Careful, that’s chili powder” I say, and he jumps back as if I have just told him it is a live snake! It’s quite funny to watch him quickly pass his hands onto the next!

“This is a funny colour Amma, but it smells nice”.
“That’s Jeera powder”.
“What’s Jeera?” is his next question.
So jeera seeds (cumin) have to be produced now, and he runs his hands through them. Examining and noting!

"This says r...a...s...a...m", as he reads the label on the next container.
"Rasam powder K"

"Achoo, Achoo", he follows up with two sneezes as the rasam powder wiggles its way up his nose!

Every container needs to be inspected and questioned. And to his delight there are so many available there for research!

So you ask me did I get that turmeric off the shelf, and did I get my cooking done?

Oh yes! But it takes a while, double time, every time!
I try to be patient, not watch the clock and not shoo him away. But at times I have to and he goes with a disappointed look and an offended tone.
I can’t but help smile at his retreating back, and promise myself, next time. Next time I will let him hang on a few more minutes is what I tell myself. Yet I know its quite a task (multi task!) to do my cooking while he quenches his curiosity.

My little helper.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Light show: albeit a small one...karthigai

I was browsing for some stories about Karthigai, and found a very nice blog. Unfortunately I cant seem to leave comments on blogs which have disabled author verification. Can anyone tell me why and what I must do for that?
Here is the link

Here is another blog, that shares the story of Karthigai

So to my understanding the general consensus is that Shiva took the form of a fire column, in order to show Brahma and Vishnu that God is limitless.

Here is my question...
Then Why do Vaishnavaites( followers of the Protector God/ Vishnu) celebrate this event as well?

This is purely an academic question and does not reflect my religious or spiritual standing. I want to know the stories that Vaishnavaites are telling. All I know is that Shaivites and Vaishnavites light the lamp on 2 different days, and the first is called Annamalai Deepam and the second is Vishnu Deepam.

If any body has a link/ story please do tell.

Interestingly this festival is not only unique to Tamilnadu, where people light lamps on the the first full moon day which falls in the month of Karthigai, there are other communities that celebrate the most holy of all months( apparently)
* Bengali/Oriya do the Kartik puja, a five day celebration to Lord Shiva
* The Pushkar Mela ends on Karthik purnima
* Killing of Tripurasura by Lord Shiva
* Birth of Karthikeya or Murugan ( not quick gun, but the worshipped God!)
* Birth of the Matsya Avatar ( a new story for me!)
* Birth day of Vrinda, a form of Tulsi ( elsewhere a story associates this day with the marriage of Tulsi with the Shaligrama( ammonite fossil stone) form of Vishnu!
* This day also marks the day when Lord Krishna danced the rasa with Radha.
* The sikhs celebrate Guru Purab in this month ( Guru Nanak Jayanthi)
* Jains too consider this a holy month and go on a tirth yatra to Palitana( in Gujarat)

Finally what I liked best was that one link told me the first day is called "Appa Karthigai) because Appams ( the sweet round varieties) are made on that day, and the second day is called "Vadai karthigai" ( Vadai's are crispy deep fried lentil preparations). That so appeals to the foodie in me!!

Since I made appams yesterday, I am contemplating the vadai angle today!!

But one thing is apparent to me after all this research,Humans are such seekers of celebrations, nothing derogatory please...just that we can and do find reasons to make our lives a big festivity!!

here are some pictures from my light show:

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whats your Weekend story?!

Weekends are my favouritest!!
1) Most Saturday's Husband is at home;). Though children go to school, I love to have that extra person at home...told you I am a people's person.

2) I schedule most of my story telling on weekends...that's when most children are free you see

3) We eat out at least once, its become a norm now.

4) Its the time I plan all creative, fun, out of the house things.

5) I clean the house. I don't know why I do this. Not that I work a full job on week days but I tend to keep my big cleaning for weekends, a habit I have from when I needed extra help and that would be available, I guess, only over the weekend!

6)Catch up with family. All long distance calls!

7) Make that new dish I've been wanting to for some time! Of course I tend to skip this when we eat that meal out!

8)Read the newspaper in a leisurely way. A lot of exchange of articles happen, as I point out what interests me and He points out his. Usually there is a pattern here, as he points out some major issues happening in the world, while I point out some tiny quirky thing happening in some corner of the world!

9)The children have full freedom to bicker, fight and make up with their weekend parent (Dad). Every weekend we have an episode. Father swears he doesn't know how/where the children have picked up some habits, and so applies himself to it's correction. Which usually ends in a lot of drama and dialogue. So Mother has to intervene with all good intentions of appeasement, only to realise, things would be well ( very well) without this other dimension!

10) I en cash on the partner's availability and keep all my discussion, thinking for these two days, as He can only exist in these 2 zones (Home and Office) independently and not together! So week ends are Home time and so our Boat sails smoothly on!

So share with me your Weekend Stories. The mundane and the exciting...the normal and the abnormal...what makes your weekend?!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

More conversations...

Here are some more words that I carry with me...

Very few thoughts spring from self produced data, much less self produced preferences. The mind is filled with reactive thought- thoughts that spring from the experience of others.

For example ( he says, and I love this) is our root thought about money. That it is bad ( it's great to have money, how can you not benefit from it?!). So we run around and lie to ourself and tell yourself we don't like money which becomes rooted in our thoughts.Which in turn prevents us from honestly reaching for it.

From early childhood I remember these words echoed in my ears and the negativity associated with money. Frankly money is not the root of any problem it is only how we use it that can cause problems.
Unfortunately these very thoughts about money makes it difficult for me to turn into an entrepreneur and I have to deal with many internal issues when it comes to charging clients/people for my sessions.
You see; we are raised thinking, asking money ( albeit for a good cause )is wrong. This may seem a little atavistic to the modern reader, but it surely exists in me as a conditioned learning. So reading here, words to effect that say we need to recreate new thinking about money and its presence/ value in our lives, is a tremendously liberating idea. One that is congruent with the questions that I have been asking myself.

A small point that I make here is that personally having chosen to walk an uncommon path, that is Special Education when I was 21, again it was assumed that I was in it for my highly developed sense of social responsibility and altruism.
Not at all, I always wanted to make money from whatever profession I chose, yet the struggle was doubly difficult as the challenges in India to make these jobs lucrative is very high. Unless one also supplements with house calls and tutoring on the side.
Yet now having moved on and found my calling and passion in Stories, I am faced with similar challenges as people assume that a job that gives me so much of happiness must be shared free of cost!
Asking and taking money for something that you love to do and that which you do very well is very much your fundamental right!
(I am not there yet....will get there!!)

So now you see how I have been blown up and away by a sea storm of words, a conversation that echoes its wisdom in my ears.

I now view my relationships, my core values, and my being self with greater regard than I ever did before.
An awakening you may say.
A period of restlessness and questioning.

With that I sum up my review, albeit a hotch potch, a haphazard statement of thoughts and words. The essence of the book I believe is here in 3 pieces for you to savour, while the main dish awaits you in any book shop.
There are 2 more conversations, but I believe I am not yet ready to pick up a sequel, it may mar the feel that I have for the first.

Well like I said before...I will wait for it to find me.....!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Say More: Conversations....


Never do anything in a relationship out of a sense of obligation. Do whatever you do out of a sense of the glorious opportunity your relationship affords you to decide, and to be, Who You really Are.

Can you feel the impact of these words?
When we don a martyr role, or for that matter victim role, we are constantly telling ourselves we have no choice.
But we do. We have a choice to Be, to Do and to Say, and in the saying being Understood.
The reality in this is changing the want to a have. Take what you want from the world, don't leave it at a wanting, Have it!

Thought- word- deed . You create a thought, express it and follow it up in action.
Oh! How difficult this appears to be for me! Most of the time I have a thought, and I cant find the words to express it let alone follow it through with an action.
Now the author says this is not the only way to do things. Another way is to commit the act, then say the words that you want to have new thoughts about.

Sounds complicated?
Personally this is my greatest challenge. I usually keep my thoughts to myself, especially if I know it is not congruent with what my partner thinks or does. I don't have the same problem when I operate with children, but in most of my adult relationships I have this auto shut down, which keeps what I think to myself.
Now as I start expressing my thoughts, in the manner in which I feel is congruent with my true self. I feel at peace....yet I know this new me does not rest easy with others who see me say and do things, in a way that I have not done before!

I can say I love to celebrate, have fun and party!
I can say I love to be with people!
I can say I am crazy, irrational, emotional!
I can say I have a flaming temper!
I can say I love to blow steam and then bask in its aftermath, to think why or what made me behave in that way.
I can say I don't like to be calm and measured all the time!
I can say I am Peace and Chaos rolled in one!
I can say I love arguments and irrational logic...that's fun to work with. That's why children are fun!
I love the love/hate we have in a relationship! Especially with children....
I love negativity as much as positivity, for in both there is learning. Yet I want to be with positive thoughts always.
I love to have my thinking challenged.
I love to rethink all my thoughts and not rest on any old thought! To reinvent and recreate new thinking every day!

I know that all this to translate into a functional world is my greatest dream and challenge!

Conversations with God

Ok, I've never done a book review before. Only shared my stories and thoughts.
A book review you would or could point out is also a story, but, with the undiluted author in it.
I am a questioner and most of my learning happens when I question, discuss, argue, express, debate, discuss. Yet I can clam up if I find my co-debater is not interested, has no opinion or is just not that type.
That's when I go look for a book.

I don't go much for self help books. There is a bit of a hypocrite in me. Its not that books don't have answers for me. Not at all, in fact as I have mentioned before I go to books for a lot of my inner wranglings. Yet I find it difficult to pick up a book under the "self help" category and stick through with it.

Men are from Mars was one, Monk who sold his Ferrari(I did go back to this book recently and actually read it, back to back).

That makes me understand myself and my reading habits:
a) The books I read or I stick with is greatly dependent on my frame of mind at that particular period in time.
To elaborate, it simply means I have to really want or feel the need for a book and if I read it then, I can internalise what it says.

b) I read fiction in 24 hours.

c) I am still not ready for non fiction. Husband is prodding me to read Black Swan.

d) I can read 2 or even 3 books at the same time ( I have a cousin who did this when we were in college and I used to scoff at her attention deficit!). But now I find this a very engaging way to move between different thought worlds.

So now I am here to share with you the fact that I am paralleling between Eat Pray Love and Conversations with God.

The first is a very new age Self Help /Autobiographical read, while the second is is a book with its first edition in 1995!

Yet the message from both is so uniquely same and relevant to me, that I was picking up one book for a day, dumping it, then the other for a day and dumping that....Finally Conversations won and I finished it like a swimmer who holds his breathe for the last lap and presses forward for the win.

It is unique to say the least.

I am now a convert in terms of my Thinking. I go around telling myself "I have" and "I am" and try desperately to wipe away the "I want" phrases. If you cannot understand what I am saying then go for it. If you cannot identify with what's written, at least you will appreciate the manner, the style and the conversational, chatty tone.

Neale Donald Walsch is truly a gifted writer having a way with words. An uncommon dialogue indeed.

The book in fact has been lying around our house from 2006, and once again I can only say this, I always feel a book finds me and not the other way around.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Children's Day Special

Children's Day
The best time for storytellers!

I got super busy doing back to back telling sessions for kids. Sunday and Monday were packed with 3 story sessions and a workshop!

Telling a story where there is no defined space is a little tough. I feel a little vulnerable as I cannot guess or get a feel of who is watching me. Other wise it was great telling at the Bangalore Book Fair for Pratham books.The story was a lovely one about a Himalayan Bear called Bhabhloo Bear's Adventure.
Check out the write up on the Pratham Blog

My other super session was at an orphanage for which I was invited/sponsored by a friend who runs a library. Kannada not being my language for telling, I was not so sure, but my friend had done her homework well and it turned out the children could understand English very well. The children have switched to English medium just last year but I can tell you their understanding was excellent. It was a story called Mohini and Bhasmasura. A wonderful tale of courage and fearlessness shown by a young girl of 10.
I felt quite honoured to do this session for a group who really enjoyed the story and the message behind. I wound up that session by giving all the children a book mark with courage and confidence as the message on it.

Tolkein and Rowling tell stories with magic but for me Telling stories is magic!!

Check out the photos.





Friday, November 5, 2010

Phew! Thanks!!

It was PTA time and my daughter had prepared me well.

I know that Spellings and Handwriting are her nemesis. I keep telling myself, I need to work on her spellings.
...well...not done anything about that actively yet!

I land up at school and march into her class. All the parents too are seated at the desks waiting like school children for their report card!

I take my seat like a good Mom and start chatting with a fellow parent and friend. The usual cribs and complaints are exchanged and I wait expectantly to be called for (my) report card!

Yes! My number is called, and I hop, leap and jump to take the report.
A's and A+ flash at me. I smile and shake my head indulgently at the spellings and handwriting column.

That is when the teacher points out a section of the card that needs to be filled out. A box that asks for strengths and achievements.

Achievements; hmm...I contemplate on that. Children nowadays are Mini Achievers. Awards, Certificates, Prizes. Is that how I can feel proud of my child, or make the school proud?

As far as I am concerned my daughter is an achiever, she participates in every possible competition that comes her way, whether she gets a prize or not. That's not something I have taught her, that's who she is, and add to that the fact that she really doesn't care if she wins or not. She can come away and tell me"I had fun". ( Ok...truthfully...sometimes I do fret, that attitude is never going to get her a prize!...but that's the Type A in me!!)

Strengths; hmm...again I stare at her. There have been many occasions when I have drawn strength from her. Her unconditional and amazing display of affection and love for me keeps me going. I have wondered and asked her "Why" many times. She gives me a beautiful smile and says "Because"!! A word with infinite meaning and no meaning at the same time! That's her.

So what do I write about her strengths?

She is looking over my shoulder.

I feel a little apprehensive and time seems to slow down as both of us look at each other. She expectantly and me nervously. I am not joking.

Beads of perspiration form on my upper lip and I stare once again at the paper. I know what I am going to write will have a tremendous impact on her and this is a moment in her childhood that I am never going to forget.

What do I write?

I tentatively write; "Team Spirited".

She looks at me with a question on her face.

Then I quickly pen the words "Independent Thinker".

She breaks out into a smile.

I sigh with relief!

I know it is/was impossible to write my thoughts in that minuscule space given. Choosing the apt words is the most difficult task and then choosing the words that reflect her best.

Phew! I came away feeling grateful for this experience. Grateful that in such moments, a divine power literally guides our hand!!
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