A WOMAN WRITTEN IN MYSTERY IS WORTH A CURIOSITY TRIP

Since I became a part of the Candles family, I have come to know each and every writer in this family through their writing. Except a few, I haven’t met any of them personally.  Reading the articles written by them gives me an insight into their lives. Usually, their writings are a small window into their minds, the thoughts, and experiences that have shaped them and made them what they are today.

One of my favourite writers in this group is Aastha. Her formal introduction on WordPress goes this way “I am a techie by profession, beginner in writing. Writing for me is the lone time for dwelling through my inner self. I try to be honest and express my true feelings through my writings.”

Well, I don’t agree with the beginner part of it. Her writings have the depth of a seasoned writer. But I do agree with the second line that writing for her is dwelling through her inner self.

I perceive Aastha as a beautiful demure girl. But when I read her articles they seem to be saying – “Be aware… I’m demure but my pen is not…”. This is my endeavour to understand her a bit more through her pen.

Aastha, The family person: I love the way that she has portrayed her bond with her family  – her sister, her parents. The articles like “In an envelope… “, “It’s relaxing and rejuvenating…“, “It is the only doorway to understand someone…” and Imposed pressure to stay strong” give us a peek into her childhood and her khatti-meethi relationship with her sister while growing up, the influence of her parents.

Aastha, the storyteller: Either she has a lot of friends, or she is the type of person in whom people confide easily. Or she is a very good storyteller. Either way that’s what makes her writing appealing. You know for me long and preachy articles with only advice don’t work. An article is interesting when it’s anecdotal. And she gets it bang on with articles like “Wrong decisions or wrong perception” which is the story of Nidhi and her disastrous marriage. Another one is “Use freedom in the best possible way” gives us an account of Ujwala and how she misuses her freedom. Or another very readable article is her counselling talks with Akshay “Holding each other“. Or the virtual relationship of Isha and Kartik so remarkably described in “A Virtual Blessing in disguise“. It’s surprising how she puts across her point without making it sound like a lecture.

The emotional, honest and strong Aastha: After reading her writings I have a distinct feeling that she has experienced a lot of ups and downs in her life. And I am so glad she finds solace in writing and shares her innermost thoughts with us readers. “She is a walking miracle” the story of her sister’s birth who was born with a birth defect and how the whole family coped with it will surely provide a lot of comfort and support to people going through similar circumstances. Another one is her own conversation with her doctor about her being so stressed that she could not even cry – “Sometimes a good cry can cure what a good laugh can’t“. “Ripple effect of Suicide” is a story of her friend Siddhu who committed suicide. I don’t know how you do it Aastha but you bare your heart in your articles and they sure do touch the reader’s hearts.

The funny bone is also very visible in the amusing description of an embarrassing moment (“That awkward moment when…”)

One of her best articles is when she shows her most vulnerable side and explains her feelings of loneliness “Maybe someday I’ll come home to a pair of compassionate eyes“.

Whether or not you understand more about fighting your inner demons and overcoming them in “Adding colour to life is in our hands when personal and professional lives collide” or you empathize with her strength and physical resolve in “The secret behind me being disciplined“, I am sure you will appreciate her honesty in accepting her shortcomings and conquering them in “The journey of finding myself in my own backyard“.

The Knowledge giver Aastha: Not all articles are emotional there are well researched and knowledgeable ones like “Secret sauce to effective education…” about the education system in Finland. Another informative one on her hobby gardening is “In the solitude of trees“.

I can just keep writing on and on. I hope I have been able to decode the real Aastha at least a little bit.  If not, I will just sum it up in her words. In a reply to a question in the face to face section (“I am in the spotlight – Aastha“), this is what she said…

What is the one thing you desire to do during your lifetime?

“There is a strong craving in me to be loved and be understood at a deeper level. It would take another person who really wants to look into me, which is not in my hands. So, meanwhile what is that I can do??? One day, I aspire to be a torchbearer for a change, a positive change that would make this world a better place. I am working on it.”

Hoping it turns out so!

(Dedicated to @aastharao)

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SHE HAS INFLUENCED ME

“TEAM” is always a mixed bag! Isn’t it?
Indeed, our Candles team is such a bag! We have approximately 50 odd writers from different corners of the world. Each of us is of a different personality, some of us are very jovial – some of us are very playful – some of us are extrovert yet a handful in our team are just of the opposite personality – they are reserved – introverts – talk less YET all of us love and understand each other’s differences. In this bunch of good souls, I got to know a lady who speaks less, thinks creatively, very matured and a lady of wisdom. She is also an avid webzine writer and a professionally trained Counselor. If I would ever recommend any lady to learn on Personality Development, then I would recommend her to this lady of our Candles team. I met her only once but her personality has really influenced me. Presenting before you the lady I found with inner beauty – our beloved Rajnandini Sahu😊

Among many virtues in her, let’s take our cup – How She Writes and What Does It Reflects About Her? 

“A good article not only presents values and information.

It also represents the character and the belief of the author.”

Indeed, being a reader, that’s how I always evaluate my authors ‘flipping the other side of the coin’ and critically analyzing their belief. Because in the world of endless voices and teachings on morals, ethics, and principles, at the end of the story all that we look for is reasoning and internalizing the values that we take away. In the long run, that’s what our life output will be. The deeper sense of reading is shaping of our inner man. 

Being a reader the first thing that always affirms my belief in Rajnandini’s article is – it is purely ORGANIZED and always has a Logically Constant flow of thoughtsExperimental Capability and has Relevance.

Some of her articles have truly marveled my heart and affirmed my belief in her sharing. Let’s take a couple of glimpses of hers’:

THE BRAND CALLED WOMANOn 2017 International Women’ Day week, she published this article. Often in such presentations, we take the track of Racism to race along. But Rajnandini was exceptional, she presented womanhood from God’s viewpoint and alongside didn’t dirty her hands by throwing mud at manhood. She was soulful in presenting the beauty of togetherness rather than playing the blame dice and uplifting feminism.

RECOGNITION FOR A PURPOSEWe all look for the recognition of our work but recognition becomes evident when our work is well articulated. And each of her articles is always presented with utmost clarity. Undoubtedly, she is gifted with the art of articulation. 

THE EYE – THE LAMP OF THE BODY: Often articles come with flamboyant captions but the presentation seems disjointed. It seems like the author is scrambling for thoughts. Being a reader and meticulous observer of her articles, I always found Rajnandini being keen in the logically consistent flow of her thoughts in every of her article. In the 6th paragraph of this article, she has beautifully canvased Eye as the Lamp and how evident it is to believe.

APOLOGISE, IF YOU HAVE ERREDI always believe reading to a reader is exactly like looking at a mirror. We look at the mirror to bring perfection to our face, so is the true reading. As the reader reads, he realizes his flaws in life and internalizes the alterations. Being a reader, I found that in this article of hers.

In the world filled with so much of imperfections, how can someone pen with fineness?

Well, the 19th century American Author, Madam Helen Keler said,

“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments

as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations

because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness”.

Almost all of Rajnandini’s articles are finely tuned to the Biblical values. I am quite sure that’s what makes her words evident to the reader’s life, as she formed the habit of going to the Bible at all times.

It reminds me of the Bible verses,

The Word of God is like a mirror that shows how duplicitous our life is!

It is indeed the lamp to our feet and light to our path to a life with perfection

(Dedicated to @sizzlybizzly)

PERFECT EXAMPLE OF LIMITLESS CREATIVITY

Close to 7-8 years back, I was going through a period of distress in my personal life. Writing greatly heals me so I started my own blog for which I wasn’t getting any readership. I started browsing looking for platforms where I could publish my blogs. I came across an interesting article on Wrytestuff.com (another blogging website like Candles online). The article spoke about how connecting with God really helps. Since I was going through a hardship, I found the article really helpful. I posted a comment on the article thanking the author for bringing some inspiration in my life. Along with this, I too registered myself as an author on wrytestuff and started blogging endlessly.

For a few weeks, I did not get a reply on that comment. I was checking it quite regularly because I really wanted to connect with this author. I almost thought this guy must be some established author, maybe too arrogant to reply to a petty comment on his article. But one day he replied and to my surprise, it was a very warm and friendly reply. He mentioned that he was away and had not logged into this website for certain reasons. He too became regular with his blogging and we started following each other quite regularly. Wrytestuff had certain assignments for the writers, I remember waiting for his article so that we could talk about it. There was no WhatsApp those days, so we used to chat over Facebook and Gtalk.

Needless to say, we had endless discussions, debates, generation of new ideas and fun together. One thing led to the other and I contributed to Candles for the first time on his request. At that time candles was a printed version. I was very surprised to see his dedication over getting Candles printed and distributed as much as he could in his personal capacity. Eventually, in July 2015, candles online was born. And he catered to it like a baby. Right from designing the logo, bringing up the website, hunting for writers, keeping the writers family close and connected, basically being a great leader to Candles – he did everything. I am so glad that I am connected to him as a friend.

Just like his first article gave me strength and inspiration, even now I browse through his articles when I am looking for strength. Often I have tried to analyze what it is about his writings that I am so attracted to. I have realized that he is God loving person, he draws his strength from his belief in Jesus. I have always been a non-believer, non-religious person hardly ever resorting to prayers when I am in distress. His articles mostly talk about his belief and love for God. The kind of person I am, sometimes I also used to find his articles a bit irrational (usually when my super logical mind takes better of me). However, almost always I find his articles very soothing and comforting. I wouldn’t say that I have started believing in God now but something inside my belief system has shaken after knowing him for so long and working with him.

As a friend, I know what his hardships have been, but the article “Reinventing self is finding joy in our hardtimes” really brought tears to my eyes. I realized how one person’s belief can help him pull through even in worst of times. My hardships may be different than his. My ways of searching for comfort are also very different than him. But there is connect that I feel when I read this article which is very comforting. There are many more of his articles that define his concept of God so clearly. And even though I don’t have a strong belief, it helps me a lot to get going during hard times. When I am lost in this chaotic and super confusing world, his articles gives me that ray of light that I know if I follow I would be taken care of. This is enough to pull me up together and move on.

On a lighter note, he also writes good humor. Among many of his light-hearted articles, my favorite is “How on earth am I in the midst of babies”. This one is really funny and I like the way he manages to bring out humor even in the situation that was painful for him. The way he has told his tale in this article is very simple and funny.

It is not just the articles but the way this person brings out the creativity in each of us with his great ideas and close to perfect execution of these ideas is commendable. He initially came up with face 2 face interviews, a great way to connect with different people and bring them in the spotlight for our readers. My favorite interview is “Kalpana Vogeti – A woman who believes in smiling from within” To extend these interviews he even came up with an idea that all writers must interview each other and that resulted in a week of Spotlights named “Discovering Self”, this makes me feel like closely knit family of writers who are quite daring to bring out their lives in open for the world.

A few months back, he started the story relay – this concept turned out to be a great hit among the writers and readers. We started with the story “What is Home?” However, my favorite is “The Road to Home”.

To keep the readers (and writers) engaged, he also started with FB Best Caption and Charlie’s Wish. Needless to say, this man’s creativity is limitless. He is not only a great writer but also a great leader and an awesome friend. I am so glad to be the part of this team which is no less than a family headed by our dear Charlie. His name is Chiradeep and he is often referred to as Boss or Charlie in our group. He is the glue that keeps this family together and Candles burning forever.

(Dedicated to @chiradeepnf)

A SPRING IN HER STEP SPEAKS OODLES

An adroit writer, an ace homemaker and a doting mother gifted with nimble fingers for expressing the brimming creativity within her – be it by way of painting or craft skills, a brilliant smile and sanguine temperament that promises to add buoyancy to a weary day – this is KALPANA VOGETI, the writer I’ve virtually met in the blogging platform of Candles Online.

What I most admire about Kalpana is the way she brings out the best in her in even the most trying circumstances. Though I don’t know a great deal about her, from the little I know, I can vouch for her abilities to tide through testing times.

As a writer, she is versatile, vocal, meaty and inspiring. There is a gentleness in her articles that surfaces to me as a reader.

COME WALK IN MY SHOES FOR ONCE! This post of hers rates high on my all-time favourite blog list. In this post, she writes about the challenges of parenting sharing slices from her experience, especially the pressures as the mother of a special child and how she copes with them. As a Counsellor, having dealt with many children with autism and the phases that their parents go through, I’ve seen the toughness of the practical life – parents breaking down, giving up and losing hope. I’m sure deep within she has been through these episodes time and again, but has risen with renewed vigour to make the best of each day – for her family and for herself. Though the path is rugged, I pray for God’s constant strength to you all through.

STOP PASSING THE BUCK – This is a second favourite, which was originally published in her own blog. In this piece, she very aptly points out how each one is responsible for corruption but easily passes on the responsibility to others. Too much finger-pointing, but no self-ownership. In fact, this is why corruption thrives despite many assessments and controlling agencies being in existence world-over. A much-needed article for the times!

SOCIETY CAN YOU MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS PLEASE – And here’s my third favourite where she addresses the issue of people poking their noses into everyone’s business – especially to aggravate matters that need not be, but refusing to raise a voice when it is much needed. If people can’t speak up when it matters, they need not speak up when they are uncalled for. She has very nicely brought out an unpleasant reality that we all live with and are part of, at times.

Kalpana’s articles are from the heart – wise expressions of experience and thought.

Let me also tell you that of all the bloggers in this group Kalpana has been one who has got the highest views and comments more than once. Speaks of her Midas touch!

Scoot ahead Kalpana – Candles Online adores your presence and your readers appreciate your skill.

God bless you to help make a difference through your inspiring articles!

(Dedicated to @world4womencom)

YOUNGER TO ME YET WISER THAN ME

Candles Family have a special place in my life.  There are things that I can share with family members of “this” family rather than my “that” family.  I mean it with all the integrity I have 😊.  And among my lovely family members, I found a cheerful friend who is playful in his words, teased by us a lot 😁, an active participant of all the discussions and a person whose wisdom is reflected in what he writes – meet my friend Avinash.

Why I like him? Because he thinks I am a star writer and never ceases to drop in a comment on my posts 😂😂. Well, that was a lot of boasting, kidding and a selfish reason by every means of it. But this isn’t the reason, trust me. As a reader I found his write-ups to be very soothing, providing guidance amidst darkness for he clings, perhaps holds tightly to the word of God always. His words reflect his sheer belief in the path shown by the almighty.  N-number of times he shared his life experiences where his belief got him to the shore. Those moments are pure bliss as they hand over me a note of hope.  After all hope and love are what we need to steer us through. And Avinash has them in abundance.

As I was going through his posts, one article is of close resemblance to my own experiences (one very latest as my son left home only and thankfully to be found soon), click here for the same: REACTION ON THE 11TH BIRTHDAY EVENING!!!

Mothers behave the same no matter to which generation they belong to 😁. And he understands that very well.  Apart from articles whenever we talk one to one, his demeanor is that of a sweet supportive friend.  Time and again I fail to keep up with my pace to read and respond to articles but that never discouraged him from sharing his work with me. And on apologizing to him (I am a “Sorry” Woman as my friend Chiradeep says) Avinash drops one message to sum it all “No worries, I understand” and that keeps us going.

He once posted a photograph of him with a little child selling stuff in a bus. That showed his humane side. When people of his age are more concerned about merry making he is striving to do his part in making a difference with his little gestures and sensible articles.  His wisdom and belief amaze me. I wish I could draw at least a fraction of that.

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Once again I would like to extend my thanks to my extended family for giving me such a sweet friend for life whose words are a great guide to me in the time of need.

(Dedicated to @avinashdas)

A SMALL SEED SOWED CAN ALSO PROVIDE COOL SHADE TO THE WEARY PEDESTRIANS

(Click the image to read the original post)

September 16, 2016, was the day when this lady commented on Candles Online for the first time as a reader of this blog. Her younger sister, Prabhjot asked me to encourage her to join Candles Online and this comment gave me the opportunity to initiate my conversation with her.

FOUR days later on September 20, 2016, I got the opportunity and I would like to leak a few things about the initial conversations that we had the very first time. I hope that won’t upset her.

All she had about herself was negative – “I am not as talented as my younger sister…”, “I am more of the laidback sister…”, “Let’s hope I can put up a decent article”.

But I am a person who never leaves people in negativity. I kept on pushing her and motivating her till she wrote her first article on Candles Online – “LET’S TWEAK OUR CUSTOM A BIT“. That day she actually tweaked her own custom of being a non-writer and became a writer, unknown of that very fact herself.

I would like to confess that her first article of 281 words which I thought of inflating it a bit by adding few more words before publishing made me think about my selection a bit at that moment, though I usually don’t lose hope on someone. But guess what? Kuljeet Saini became the most loved writer on Candles Online who left everyone with a thought to ponder upon starting from her second article on Candles Online – “DRESSED TO KILL“. That was a hilarious yet very powerful article. She got 11 votes on that particular article. Usually, votes are from anonymous readers so 11 is a very good number. That day again I patted myself again with a smile and in my heart, I thanked Prabhjot for bringing her sister in.

The article which stamped Kuljeet as my ace writer (though I don’t rate or rank my co-writers in any manner) was – “MY AFFAIR WITH THE GREEN EYED MONSTER“. She never looked back again. Her articles never lacked feedbacks. She was highly appreciated for her write-ups which were from the first-hand experience, written wholeheartedly and absolutely relatable.

Another special skill of Kiljeet which really makes her my favourite is her ability to give very catchy Titles to her all the articles. It was only on one occasion I had to give a title to her article otherwise she herself does that every time.

As a person, she is an adorable character with a pleasing personality. She is very warm and cheerful. I am sure whenever she speaks she brings a joyful vibe to the other person as she does to me whenever I speak with her over the phone. In our group, she is lovingly called as – Killjeet instead of Kuljeet. As a writer, she reflects her true self in her articles and never shies away to confess her own weaknesses. That’s one quality which I love about her so much. She is always open to healthy discussions about life and God.

Now, I remembered our initial conversation once again as I am concluding this article… She said – “I was not as talented as my younger sister“. I have a smile on my face now as I realized – She was right that day. She isn’t talented like her sister. But her talent was different and very special than everyone else. Her beginning as a writer was delayed and small yet her write-ups provide comfort as cool tree-shade for weary pedestrians. She is an asset for Candles Online.

In closing, I am happy to have her in my team, may God Bless her and let her write more such fabulous articles till the end.

(Dedicated to @kuljeetsaini )

MY RESPONSE VALIDATES MY LISTENING SKILLS

Have you ever wondered why we have two ears? Usually, people say – “so that we can listen more and talk less.” That’s alright but that’s not the reason why we were created with two ears on both sides of our head. We have two ears so that we can understand the direction of the noise, our hearing ability widens, clarity of what we hear increases, the strain of loud noise is reduced or divided between our two ears. And to help our ears to listen more effectively we have got two eyes as well, which help us to see, read, understand and focus on the person and his expressions. But sadly, despite having two ears and two eyes we often fail to listen to others.

I have heard many telling me that I am a good listener, but a few others from my close bunch think, that I am not. So, when the topic of listening came up and I started weighing my art of listening, I found a few startling facts about myself.

Following are the findings:

  1. I am patient enough listening to a stranger.
  2. I am very calm and have listened to someone who’s angry, has control and authority over me.
  3. I am impatient to listen to something which I have heard repeatedly from a person many times.
  4. I am irritated and don’t like to listen when I am exhausted and tired.
  5. I am impatient and don’t like to listen attentively to a person who’s under my control and authority.
  6. I ask my family members and close relatives to wait.
  7. I listen to the person who interests me more over others.

And the findings can go on and on… But this contemplation helped me to understand my status regarding “listening” to others which made me understand that, “Listening” is a character when a person is inherently a good listener and it is an art to be learned over the years when a person can train himself or herself to listen to people and their hearts deliberately but effectively.

I concluded after a thorough introspection that, I have an inherent character of empathising with people, so I listen to them yet, I still have a lot of training required for myself to help me listen to the people carefully, skilfully and effectively.

Now, the next question popped up in my mind is – ‘how to rate my listening skills?

I feel there are exactly three ways how I can rate my own listening skills…

  • Feedback from the one I am listening to (the vulnerable one, the one in need, the counselled, etc.)
  • Feedback from the one who stays along with me almost all the time (my spouse, friends, colleagues, etc.)
  • Feedback from my inner being as I am the best person to know whether I have listened carefully or not

If you ask me regarding the basis of those feedbacks, then my answer would be they are based on my responses or the way I respond to the persons need an ear. Yeah, my each and every response to the one who shares his/her heart with me validates my listening skills.

Let me explain it little elaborately as under –

  1. Listening attentively: This is a very basic stage of this subject of listening. I think we all understand this very well. Our postures, our eye contact, and our interest in the matter or the person are important when we try to listen to someone in need or sharing. Paying attention needs time, patience and lots of compassion. Sreepriya and Kalpana came up with a lot of beautiful scenarios to validate what I want to say here. They gave instances explaining how our not being attentive to someone can jeopardize things around. My response of being an attentive listener validates my skill and lets me pass stage one.
  1. Listening to the emotions: This is not a situation where we will just get two chairs, one will speak and another will listen. We have to listen through noises, through fits of anger, shouts and even sobs. When people are upset, angry, frustrated, disappointed or hurt, their tendency is to discuss their feelings with others so that they can get a release from their anguish which has been clouding their hearts and minds for a long time. The scenario can be anywhere, within the family or professionally. However, if we simply look at them and shrug or respond by giving advice or by telling them what they did wrong, they won’t feel any better and will probably feel worse after sharing their hearts with us. Because all they want us to validate their feelings by conveying that understanding to them, showing our sympathy or empathy; by letting them know that we are with them listening to them lovingly, without being judgemental to their feelings or behaviours. Here, my response of decoding those shouts and noises and venting explain my skills. Am I bouncing back or absorbing everything to give the hurting comfort? Am I annoyed with the hyperactive person I am talking to or considerate enough to allow myself to be a punching bag for him or her to punch till he or she feels better? Joseph, wrote a touchy article to support my point. (NOTE: Emotional validation is the process of learning about, understanding and expressing acceptance of another person’s emotional)
  1. Listening to silence: Trust me, this is the most difficult one. Many times, I have heard the loud noise of silence which I tried to understand without listening to it. Sometimes, I don’t get to hear the person weeping or talking hyperactively or even shouting or venting at me but all he or she does is to remain absolutely quiet or silent… I become clueless yet, I try to invade into that silence and listen to it. All I can do is just notice as Aastha did about her sister. She noticed carefully to find the reasons behind her sister being dull and depressed. Though, I agree that this is possible when the bonding is strong. It is not easily done when two people are strangers to each other and doesn’t have much scope to see each other for a longer period. This is possible within a home scenario or between best friends etc. mostly. So, the more I listen to the silence of other people by noticing well, the more skilful I am. Noticing well is my response to someone’s silence.

Nevertheless, at times, I find myself very helpless when I am unable to listen and understand clearly about the person I care and do everything possible to listen to him or her. When someone doesn’t allow us to listen to him or her, it becomes difficult to listen. But I remind myself – God starts working from where I stop. Both Rajnandini and Avinash spoke about listening to God carefully as it is very necessary when we are weary and tired.

So, how do you respond when you have someone in front of you to listen carefully?

Keep thinking and keep reading…

Stay Blessed!