WITHOUT COMMITMENT NOTHING WILL HAPPEN

Looking back at my life, I can assuredly say that I have made mistakes because of my fear. In one of my earlier articles, I have expressed how fear for something new holds me back sometimes, it could be moving to a new place, taking up a new job or going on a new adventure. While some of these examples were only causing a little setback or slight disappointment, there were other big-ticket items that were affecting my contentment of life. When I realized I am falling behind than where I ideally should be in life, there was one question that I had to find the answer for, “What is that one thing that is different than earlier?”. When I say earlier, during schooling or university time and even during my first few years of job, I did not have this feeling of missing something. Did I change, if so, what is the change? 

The analyst in me needed to roll the sleeves up. I started with something very basic. I asked myself, these questions. “Am I where I wanted to be?”. “If this is not where I should be, do I have the right skills to move to the next level?. “What should I do differently to progress and make an impact on my own life? and so on.. While I was going through the list of questions, one particular question caught my eye, the second question (In teal color above). Many times when we do interviews, we don’t look for candidates who have all the required skills to perform the job. We only look for candidates who have the right attitude to learn on the job to be able to perform their duties. We even ask them questions about their personal lives and their choices to see if they are really committed to serving their duties. There it is, that was what I was looking for – the reason for my delayed success is my fear of commitment. I have always been a hopeful person, and my wishes are very discreetly defined. If I have these two in place, then the only thing that is required is commitment. I won’t say I have commitment issues, but I do have a fear of commitment.

I always check if I am eligible to take up the commitment and if I can perform my responsibilities to fulfill the task I would be committing to. This holds good for both personal and professional fronts. Unfortunately, in life, nothing comes with a guarantee or warranty, so, it is almost impossible to anticipate what the future holds for us. With the unknown, making the commitment has a lot more to do with our beliefs. Let me give you an example to explain this.

While working with an NGO, I came across an interesting man. Both the man and his wife are from joint families, so, they are very much used to living with more than 10 people in the same house. They never wanted to have their own kid, but to adopt one. When it was time to choose the kid they want to adopt, they chose a disabled girl. The girl is paralyzed down below her waist and needed special care. They thought since they have a big family, it would be much more apt for the girl to have so many people who can be there for her all round the clock. The girl settled into the family and was happy. Two years later, the wife was diagnosed with colon cancer. As the medical facility was not available in their town, they came to Bangalore for treatment. As living expenses in Bangalore are relatively high, the husband and wife only moved to Bangalore. Their hometown is almost 20 hours journey by train. After 3 months of fighting with cancer, the lady started to fear that this may be the end of her life. She wanted to spend more time with their daughter. Neither the girl nor the woman was in a position to travel often, so the father brought the girl to live along with them. He is the only one who has to take care of the girl now. On one side he might lose his wife to deadly cancer and on the other side, he has to be at home to help the little girl out for most of the time. When they adopted the girl, this was not the life they imagined for the little one. He has been doing this every single day for more than a year now. He could do this only because he is committed to both his wife and their daughter.

When I compare my problems with something like this, I find them very trivial. Is any decision I am going to make cost me my life or harm anyone? If not, then why am I scared to make a commitment? During childhood, a plan is almost set to us by someone else, and we only need to do our best in learning the same. When it comes to life, we are committing ourselves to the plan we make and that was my main drawback.  I lead a team of almost 25 people at work, and I know how a lack of commitment affects me. If one cannot commit themselves, the probability that they are going to ensure deliveries on time is minimal. Would I be happy to have such a team member? If I continue to nurture such behaviour what I would experience is dysfunction.

At home and outside, we form the team(s). Some times it is only two people that share the responsibility and some times it is more than two. Even if one of them is not committed, the task may not be accomplished or would be accomplished with diminished quality.

When we are committed we put our plans to action and that leads to success. In the process of being committed, we gain fulfilling relationships because one can trust us with their eyes closed. Commitment is the most important stepping stone to success. I believe if we are committed we will always find a way to make things work.

“Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.”

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HONEY! I LOVE YOU…

Honey Glazed Walnuts ?? Yes, yes. Heard you. They are delicious and healthy. But so are honey glazed chicken, honey glazed carrots, sriracha and honey glazed broccoli. Browsing these recipes is like food porn, watching the ingredients bring the dish to life while salivating almost makes me full sometimes. If one has to ask me what is that one versatile ingredient that you would want to experiment with while cooking, my answer without a doubt would be honey. It can be added to any vegetable or meat to bring that twist. Have you tried honey with a bitter gourd? If you love bitter gourd, you should try this. 

My morning routine starts with a glass of warm water with honey and lemon.

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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

It gives the required kick to the morning. Lemon is refreshing, and the honey helps boost energy.  For many years of my life, my morning beverage was coffee, but once I replaced it with lemon and honey water, I saw dramatic improvements in my health.

Honey acquires its characteristic taste depending on where the bees collect the nectar from. If the honeycomb is an area where Neem plants are more, one could easily taste the bitterness in the honey. 

Honey improves our immunity, which helps us fight a lot of diseases. Are you anemic? Have a tablespoon of honey a day, and you would see improvement in your hemoglobin levels. Honey also is an excellent remedy for cough. Honey was considered a medicine in ancient times, and in India, it is still part of many home remedies. A mixture of honey and ginger juice helps heal sour throat. Honey has antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart diseases, and in some cases, can heal wounds. 

I was watching a food show a couple of days ago where they said that honey is not recommended for infants less than a year old. I was curious to know if this is true because, in our households, we do give honey to newborn babies. After some reading on different websites, and this is what they say, “Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.” So, let your kid be of a year old before you start giving honey to them. 

little kid looking at homemade pancakes with berries and honey on table
(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Do you know how to check if the honey you are using is authentic and not adulterated with sugar? Take a bowl, add a tablespoon of honey into the bowl. Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl and gently swirl the bowl. After a few rounds of water on the honey, the honey would look something like a honeycomb. If the honeycomb shape is not formed, you can be sure that the honey is not pure. This amazed me when I tried it. Honey is so versatile, can get along with any food item, helps us stay healthy and all of this while maintaining its own authenticity. This is so important for us humans to understand from honey, honey bees, honeycomb or I must say, the honey-making process all in all teach us to be selfless, have a meaning for life, help others and be kind without losing our own self-identity. 

The glob of precious honey that I had poured into my mouth at Ace’s was the life’s work of hundreds of bees, a unique floral ode collected from thousands of blossoms in a poetic foraging ritual – Holley Bishop

I AM DISAPPEARING

Cynthia: Hey, why are you staring at me? 

Lucy: You look beautiful.

Cynthia: Thank you! 

Lucy: You seem so happy. 

Cynthia: Aren’t you happy? 

Lucy:  I don’t look beautiful as you. 

Cynthia: What has beauty to do with happiness?

Lucy: No? See, so many people come to visit you. They are amazed by your beauty. They take lots of pictures of you 😦

Cynthia: You would have seen many who admire my external appearance. Have you encountered anyone who cares for me? 

Lucy: Oh! But why?

Cynthia: Yes, people are interested in their recreation but never think of what can be done to preserve us. 

Lucy: No? 

Cynthia: Well, no.  They aren’t even bothered if I am going to be extinct. Many of my fellow species have already become extinct. 

Lucy: Then I am the one who is better off here. At least some people are interested in giving food and accepting me as their family. 

Cynthia: Yes, you are lucky. 

Lucy: Most of our habitats are being occupied, I hope they stop doing this. 

Cynthia: Yes, sorry, Lucy. I cannot do anything for you. 

Lucy: Yes, you can. Please be happy

Are you wondering who Cynthia and Lucy are? This is their picture together. 

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(Image Credit – Pixabay.com)

From the moment I saw the picture, there was only one question on my mind. When was the last time I saw a butterfly in Bangalore? Except for parks, I have never seen them otherwise. I remember during childhood, so many caterpillars and butterflies were taking rounds in our garden. Now, we don’t have them. It is sad, the first thing I thought of is the butterfly extinction when I saw this picture. 

Butterflies do not need much from us. They have their own enemies in the form of birds and insects. All we need to do is not dwell on their habitats. Another reason why butterflies are dying is the use of pesticides. Fruits, vegetables, and nectar are the main staples for butterflies. The use of pesticides is causing genetic changes in the produce, that butterflies could not survive on them. During summer, when the temperature crosses 40 degrees Celcius, butterflies cannot fly. They lose their capacity to fly. If you see a butterfly in your balcony or garden, during such time, provide water and some corn for them to eat. They cannot survive otherwise. Butterflies are very beautiful, and future generations would have to only read about them in books if we do not become responsible. Hope to see lots of colorful butterflies coming season.

BLEND IN IS WHAT THEY SAY …

I cannot stand snakes. I hate them so much that even a picture of them makes me sick in the stomach. Lizards are very close in resemblance to snakes, but I somehow developed an interest in them. I might have been very young when I started reading articles and watching national geography documentaries. They can stick to any surface and crawl. Lizards are very interesting to me 🙂 

Lizards are the most common species on earth, found at every possible place including our houses. Antartica is an exception. They live in rain-forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, and even on trees and shrubs. There are more than 6000 varieties of lizards. Of all these, I am very fascinated by Chameleons. Chameleons are the variety that changes color in a jiffy. pink, red, orange, green, blue, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. If you won’t get scared of watching lizards, then please watch this.  

There are certain interesting facts about lizards. Broadly, lizards are characterized into three color groups. I believe they are yellow, blue and brown/black. Each of these colors means compassionate, playboy, loyal. Interestingly the females mate with the species that are low in number in their vegetation to prevent extinction. By doing this, they preserved all three species successfully for the last 200 years. 

Lizard is the species which has the highest tensile muscle among all living species. It’s their tongue. Like snakes, lizards also smell with their tongue and do not have ears. To catch the prey, lizard lets out a small portion of its tongue to smell the surroundings. Once it finds the prey, it releases its tongue at a speed of 225mph. I would recommend watching that in slow motion 🙂 Lizards come in various sizes. The ones that are larger in size are the ones considered to be harmful to humans otherwise lizards are harmless. 

I can go on and on writing about them, but, let me tell you a funny encounter with lizards. I am not sure if it’s funny because it is going to have a sad ending. End of last year I went on a holiday for two weeks. By the time I returned home, there were not one, not two but three lizards in my kitchen. I was not scared when I saw them, somehow it felt very weird to be cooking in the kitchen where lizards are moving freely. How many days can I go without cooking? I had to find a way to get rid of them. I have no idea how to get rid of them. What’s the one thing that usually saves us? Google. Yes, I started googling to find out how to get rid of lizards. There were several remedies like peacock feathers, camphor etc. After failed trials for two weeks, I had no option but the forcefully send them out. I cleaned up the entire kitchen counter, placed back all jars into the cabinets. I tried using the broomstick and duster, but it was another failure.. 

Unable to find out any remedy, I contemplated if I should kill them. This fight went on for two days. I had no clue how to kill them either. Trust me, I tried various cleaning solutions, sprays possible. At last, what worked was cockroach spray. It worked but I had to see the lizard suffer. The tail portion of the lizard separated from its body and just like octopus tentacles it was moving even after it was separated for more than a minute. Trust me, it wasn’t easy killing those. I couldn’t sleep for a few days but I had no other option. 

If any of you are petting a lizard, please excuse me for killing them. I feel sorry for them as well. As much as possible I am not going to do this again. From next time I would be careful to not let lizards than having to get rid of them later. Any ideas for this would be appreciated. I like lizards but I don’t think I would ever pet one. Though what I could learn from them is to adapt to situations around. It makes a lot of sense considering how bad the world around is now-a-days . Either we should stand out or blend in. By this, I do not mean that we have to do bad things to fit in. Lizards only do that to not get noticed and become prey to their predators. 

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” 
― Raymond E. Feist

DO NOT CONCEAL YOURSELF

We’ve got a new teacher for English when I was in grade 10. It was only a few months left for our public exams, so most of us were worried how the new teacher would be. She was slim-built and had a squeaky voice. She had an interesting way of teaching which made a lot of us happy because our earlier teacher was not so good. Once I noticed that she had some bruises on her hand during our catch-up session in the teachers room. When she is on the dais and delivering her lecture it is difficult to notice those cuts because she had a fairly dark skin. The marks were not distinctively visible from a distance. This repeated 2 -3 times in the six months she taught us. Our schooling ended and we moved on with our lives. 

Few years later, I accidentally met her in a mall. Yet again, I noticed bruises on her hands. I asked her if we could have lunch together. She sceptically agreed for lunch, we took one of the corner tables at a restaurant. We ordered food and were talking about other students from our class. The food arrived, we had our lunch and that is when I asked her about the bruises. I admitted I noticed them earlier too. She seemed surprised. “Mam, I understand you may not be able to share it with me. I hope things are not as bad as they seem. Please Mam, do something about it. Talk to someone. I have a feeling you are hiding your pain from everyone around you and that is surely not going to help much“, before I could finish, she started to cry. That was the first time I had some one elder than me crying before me. I didn’t know what to do. She paused a bit and said, “Aastha, life isn’t what we think it is. My husband is abusive but I don’t speak about it because if he decides to leave me, then my son would be the most impacted one. So, I keep it to myself”. She left and I never met her again.

Hiding is something we all do. During childhood hiding is for the sole purpose of not getting scolded for our mischief, but as we grow it is mostly because of the fear of being judged or misunderstood. If we observe carefully we would see numerous examples. But, is hiding good? Well, it is a very broad question. Obviously, we do not want to share every information of our life with every other person. We have close pals and not so close ones. Mostly our close pals are the ones who know the most because we trust them. There are certain times in our lives when we feel not to share some particular part or an episode of our life with anyone. Trust me this only works if that information cannot cause harm. Like in the case of my teacher, there are many men and women who fall prey for abuse. Especially in these situations keeping what happened to ourselves in no good. I can vouch for this because of my own experience. 

I can give a million reasons why I haven’t shared that I was suffering with my parents, friends or anyone. No matter how much I convince myself that what I did was fine, I know it is not. More and more I buried myself, the more people did not care. Usually when people hide, most of them expect someone would come and help them out of the situation. Unfortunately what happens is the opposite. If you want to hide, the world will let you do so and forget about you. No one would come to help you unless they really care and of course if you had someone who really cared may be you would have opened up? Is that what you are thinking? May be.. but this is a vicious circle, that has no ending. Do not blame yourself for the abuse or embarrassment. We have to speak for ourselves when in need. Hiding under the shell does not bring anything good. It is like a closed container which would never see light unless someone makes an attempt. 

Some wise man told me, “If you have decided to hide something, you should take full responsibility of the consequences and should have the courage to fight alone“. This is very true. Say, someone is in an abusive marriage, only if they share with someone, they would find solace, help and most important of all someone who can vouch for the suffering if need be. Most of the cases that are pending in the court regarding abusive marriages take a long time only because no one ever knew about that. It takes time for Honorable Court to do justice. Hiding information from our loved ones is called protective buffering. Though it might help in short run, it only creates stress and distress in the long run. 

This week we are going to write on various aspects of ‘hiding’. I am sure each one of us are going to present a unique perspective of hiding. Keep reading… 

IT IS THE ONLY DOOR WAY TO UNDERSTAND SOMEONE…

Me and my sister have our own worlds. We always had our respective friend circles and very little overlap. We talk, crack jokes, and have a lot of fun time. Irrespective of the comfort we have with each other, we seldom share important events of our lives. My mom talks for hours with her sisters, and always says that me and my sister don’t talk as much. My sister’s reply is an epic one, “Amma (Mom), we do not need to talk as often or as much as your sisters talk. Our bonding is stronger than your bonding with your sisters..”. Few months back when I went home, I noticed that my sister was dull. All her friends were getting married, so, she is left with very few with whom she can talk. I started chatting with her, send news articles sometimes or just listen to her complaints on my parents 🙂 She started to open up and share few things with me. I cannot replace all of her friends, but something is better than nothing.

There is a lot of power in communication, well, effective communication. Communication is not just about talking but listening too. I feel listening is more important than talking. I have been craving for someone who can listen and understand my feelings. The main problem I faced is there are many people who are just hearing to what I say. There are many who ask me questions for the sake of asking or for courtesy. For example, someone might ask me regarding my work. If my response is positive, they would say, “good“, if my response is not so positive then it would be, “every where it is like that” :-). Further to this there would be no more discussion about work. This is a very trivial example. For someone who cares, my expression of problem would make them check back on me. It is a rarity to find such people.

Imagine your kid waiting for you to return from work. He/she would have a lot to speak with you about how their day was. Their world is small and all they are asking for is some attention towards them. Unless we listen, we cannot understand how their thoughts are changing. The more we remember about them, the more they feel connected to us. Teeny tiny details of their friends are very important to them. Hearing is not at all sufficient when dealing with kids. 

I am constantly finding it difficult to express now a days because I am not sure if the other person is hearing or listening. There is always a thought if they are judging me. Some people do not let me complete my sentence and say, “I understand/know what you are talking about. You don’t have to explain it“. I wonder how they know what my feelings are. Feelings are distinct from person to person. To truly understand what the other person is talking about, we should have the patience to listen. 

This habit of interrupting or ignoring what other person has to say is not confined to personal space but also prevalent in professional spaces as well. Undermining what the other engineer has to say is a common phenomena I noticed at work place as well. Sometimes, it feels like plain arrogance which is making them immune to other people’s ideas. It can also be demeaning and demotivate anyone from expressing further.

Listening is an art. It is time consuming to listen but trust me it is a worthy investment. There are a lot of people yearning to be listened. It can be anyone around us. Having a listening ear towards their problems is all they need. Listening requires us to give undivided attention. Listening improves our compassion too. All of us cherish those friends who are there with us through thick and thin, and the only way to achieve that is to listen, listen and listen. 

Poor listening usually leads to problems in relationships. If we do not listen, the chances are two people would fall apart and eventually may not feel the need to talk. This can sometimes lead to separation or dissolving of otherwise good relationship. Effective communication is possible only if we listen. Without a self-centred agenda of biases, judgements, advises we would be extending our empathy when we listen. 

“It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias.” 
― Criss Jami, Killosophy

WHY WE BELIEVE IN THE UNBELIEVABLE?

I am born on the 13th and couple of years ago it happened to be on a Friday. One of my friend was teasing me on the week of my birthday saying coming Friday is the 13th and considered very unlucky. He said that the whole day, and finally was tired when I wasn’t really considering that bad luck. He was just making fun of me. But honestly there are people who consider 13th bad luck to a great deal. Some tall buildings don’t have 13th floor, some airlines don’t have 13th row, some corporates do not make any announcements on 13th, so on and so forth. I don’t consider myself bad luck or have a worse life. Sure, there are problems but who doesn’t have problems in their lives? Likewise, number 4 is considered bad in some Asian countries because the pronunciation is similar to word ‘death’. 

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It amazes me when I see people following certain superstitions. There are a plethora of superstitions. We would have seen many around us touching wood, or say ‘touch wood’ to prevent a confident statement from bringing bad luck. Is redirecting bad luck so easy !? Saying bless you when we sneeze is said because the assumption is that by sneezing we are expelling evil. Fingers crossed – this one is very popular. Starting from students to sports teams we see people standing fingers crossed while waiting for the result for good luck. Itching hand, twitchy eye are considered good luck as well.

 

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Seeing our face in a broken mirror, crossing a black cat, walking under the ladder, combing hair at night, cutting nails at night, sweeping the floor after sun sets, spilling pepper, singing while cooking might leave you single for life are all considered bad luck. If we bite our tongue then someone is thinking about us 🙂

These superstitions are our beliefs which have been around us for a long time. Most of the time we follow them without even thinking if that is going to help or not. Irrespective of what we do, what science says is if someone believes in a certain superstition, they feel better when they follow it. It might cloud their judgement to make some irrational decisions but still keeps them at peace. However, if they forget to follow, then it causes anxiety. They would be worried if anything bad might happen or link whatever bad happens to that particular superstition. 

Common superstitions are still alive today. We never know what can bring good luck to and why miss it? :p Do you refuse to walk under the ladder? Do you worry if a black cat crosses your way? Do you have any such superstitions and follow them? 

“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.” ― Alice Walker