WHAT IF…

There comes a time in your life, where you like the things the way they are ..but what if things were different? What if going back into my past, I’d change something really HUGEand that in turn makes me lose everything I have today?

What can I say – my TODAY is far from perfect! But then if I have to look at my life in the other way, I look at my life as

“What if my life turned out just the way I wanted it?” I can only begin to imagine

A frequent passing thought.. and at the end of it, I say to myself ‘Thank Goodness’. You think I’d know myself really well, and what I’d be capable of, if I had to have it my way!

A few right choices, a couple of right connections and a whole lot of the sly factor,I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing or living in the place I’m living. I would be – well.. Unrecognizable! I wouldn’t be ME. Actually I would be Me, but a different kind of Me – not many of who would like me too much.Image result for time machine

Working in top management

..lording over hundreds of employees working under me

..changing cars with changing trends

..a house that comforts me in every way, needless to say – money would never be an issue.

..married to a woman who looks after my every need – I wouldn’t need anything else would I?

Wouldn’t that be a nice world to live in? Pretty superficial I know but still a very comfortable one, who’s complaining!? I wouldn’t, nor would you – Trust Me! 

Let’s start from where it all truly begins, no.. no.. not birth, but MONEY  The start and End to life. While its all good to have emotions like love, happiness, joy & satisfaction in life, the truth is – that’s not what is enough, we need HARD CASH! and a little extra of it never hurts. I am always on the other side of the fence when it comes to finances, that said, the limitations keep me down to earth and always in check. It helps me understand the value of holding on to something that helps me (with the right purchases) in giving myself a better quality of life.

A story dad would often tell my sister and myself when we were younger. He was Bank manager – Bank of India, Jamshedpur and in a position where he called the shots on many of the things that happened within 4 walls. Often customers would ask him “Sir, aapka ghar ready ho gaya Goa mein?” (which loosely translates as Is your house in Goa ready?) in other words if he could get the ‘papers passed’ or ‘the work done’.. faster or you know…, he would be rewarded handsomely… and that in turn would help in building the house faster. The honest man that my dad was, he never took the bait – and of course the rest is history.

He built our home on Love, Honesty and with every drop of sweat spent at the bank working his ass off (hard work) Life wasn’t as easy as some of us have it now. So while I may personally not have anything to change for myself, or for anyone else in my family, I would like to have seen, what would life have been… you know just if…

Every one of us has an ‘if’ in our life – its normal to have that thought. Some time in my life, I did too.. (not any more)

Maybe you’ve been hurt, maybe you’ve lost someone dear to you.. and we all wish that we could start over or go back and change it all

… but that’s life, we just have one shot at it! Besides, it’s all steps to growing up. We understand that everything we do has consequences.

Life isn’t FuN and games, its way harder to deal with that we can ever imagine. However, life goes on – and everyday gives us a chance to start afresh.

There’s a saying that goes “The apple does not fall far from the tree” if that was my dad many years ago and he has no regrets on how his life panned out, I am his son and while my life has not had the same straight upward curve that his has been – I’m still happy how I’ve turned out.. a little wonky, very unpredictable and pretty average. I’d still give it my best shot and hopefully – some day ‘dad would be proud of me’.

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THE INVISIBLE INFLUENCES

A couple of months back I was at the OB-GYN, waiting for my turn. There were almost 20 women already waiting, so I thought it would take time before I would be called in. I took out my phone to continue reading the book I started. Few pages into the book, I was pondering on the idea of the author when a girl in her mid-twenties walked in. 

Receptionist: Good morning Mam!

Her: Good morning! I need an appointment with OBG.

Receptionist: Name mam

Her: Abigail 

Receptionist: Number of weeks or gestation period?

Her: 28 weeks

Receptionist: Age mam

Her: 26

Receptionist: Married mam?

Her: Unmarried 

Receptionist: (Little hesitant, she asked again to reconfirm) Unmarried mam?

Her: Yes

By now, everyone’s eyes in the room were fixed on her. I slipped back into reading my book. I was called for my checkup and the doctor ordered for a scan. I was seated at the waiting area of the radiology wing when Abigail approached me and almost snapped with the question, “Would you mind if I sit here?“. There was a dose of anger in her face. “Sure“, I replied. 

“Is it so difficult to not make me feel awkward? Why can’t you do your own stuff and not concentrate on others?” – she said in a tone which was screaming frustration.

“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to. Abigail, right?”. She nodded

“Abigail, you are feeling awkward because you noticed us glance at you when you said you weren’t married. I understand that it might be difficult for you to go through the process of birthing being unmarried. In a conservative society like India, heads are going to turn every time you say you are unmarried with this baby bump. By now, you have made a decision to go ahead with the baby, so, the only thing you should do is to get accustomed to these stares.”

She was staring at me with a puzzled face

“I am not judging you. In fact, I don’t know how you ended up with this pregnancy. This pregnancy could be a result of someone not keeping their promise, or you are having an IVF, or you are the receiver of an unconsented sexual encounter. Whatever the reason may be, personally I appreciate that you stood for your baby. There is a lot more for you to handle apart from these stares. Don’t give too much importance to what we would think or say. Am I going to help you during your delivery? No. Would I be taking care of your kid in the future? No. Do you think if you would ever cross my thoughts again? Maybe.  Am I your family or friend? No.. then, why should you care about what I think? Abigail, I don’t want to be harsh on you, but straight to the point, please stop consciously noticing other’s behaviors.”

“Are you saying it’s my fault?”

“It is not about one’s fault. Not about what is right or wrong either. When you made a decision, you should be prepared for the consequences, good or bad. Whatever your path may be, there would always be people who dislike it or criticize it. If I were you, I would think about ensuring a safe and secure future for my kid. The rest should be taking a back seat at this point in time.”

She smiled and I moved on with my scan. I never saw her again. I hope she is doing fine and had a healthy baby. 

It is not just Abigail who thinks about what others would think or behave when we do certain things, all of us do. Many think that only when we are doing something that does not fit into the “rightness” of society we tend to change or modify our decisions. In fact, these invisible factors are influencing us every day, they would continue to do so if we allow them to. 

Consider a situation when you are out for dinner with friends or family. When we are placing an order in a round-robin fashion, if anyone before us chooses the same dish as we have in mind, we tend to change our choice. This is often because we think it hinders our individuality. We do not buy shoes or clothing we see are being worn by many others. 

One more example could be choosing our next vacation spot. Many who follow others on facebook or Instagram, choose their vacation spot that is different than others in their social network. Somehow, we like to say that we visited a place no one else did. Constantly, we are conscious of our decisions. 

As far as I am concerned, I give the least importance to what others or society thinks. I believe society does little when we are in trouble. If we have a very caring society and family, we wouldn’t be so worried about our decisions in the first case. So, why give so much importance to what others think? Why should we base our decisions on their thoughts? We should always do what is best for us but do not hurt others at the same time. 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

– Dr. Seuss

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.”

FIVE DUMPLINGS FROM MY BOWL OF COUNSEL

As we peregrinate across life’s meandering pathways, certain facts come alive to us – some that have been passed on by wise people of the yesteryears, some that trusted elders have shared over generations and some that we ourselves discover. While all such pearls of wisdom do not come in a one-size-fits-all garb, there are certain generic overarching ones that are meant to be the guiding lights for everyone’s feet.

There are five such messages that I would like to share with the readers of Candles Online – those principles that I myself strive to practice and profess at all times seeking strength from God.

  1. Love all – Two heavy weighted promising words, advised with ease but need to conquer too many battles of the mind to attain fruition. Love is an attribute instilled in the human heart by the Creator who is Love. Because God is Love and He has created man in His image, there is always the yearning inside every soul to love and be loved. No exceptions to this! Think for a while, when you want your desire for love to be fulfilled by people around you, isn’t it also imperative that you strive to fulfill the same desire in others? However, we tend to cage love within self-drawn boundaries. There are times when this seems best. Think of someone by whom you have been hurt. Doesn’t it seem impossible to even think of loving that person ever again? But, this is what God expects of us. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It is no big deal to love those who love you and care for you. (Well, actually even this is falling short in the world today!) But, to love those who hate you, seems to be an other-worldly attribute that is too hard to think of. This is where human strength and understanding need to tap on God’s strength to show the same grace to others that He shows unto us day by day in spite of our iniquities.
  2. Increase your latitude of acceptance – Each of us has a different set of values, thoughts, attributes, beliefs, and lifestyles. What is commonly observed is that we find difficulty in accepting anything that doesn’t match ours. With rising intolerance in the world around us, differences are projected as reasons for exclusion. Affinity is often defined by similarities. However, it is prudent to note that God has created each person differently, blessed each one with certain strengths and weaknesses and put everyone together. God is not foolish in His design. He accepts us as we are and loves all! He causes the rain and the sunshine on all without discrimination. If the Creator doesn’t show the disparity in His love and acceptance, who then has taught us to differentiate and segregate? Do spare a thought about it in quietness. The only areas of non-acceptance and non-compromise ought to be sinful ways – because sin is against the nature of God. Let us accept people with differences and learn to love them. Love permeates barriers of all sorts!
  3. Strive to know the truth – Children are taught values and mannerisms by parents. And, they carry them forward. That is how customs and traditions are born and sustained generation after generation. This is what makes each family, each culture, each race unique and different from others. While imbibing what is passed down to us, it is important to know things for ourselves as well. In a day and age of rampant consumerism, commercialization, and digitization, many mindless practices are in vogue. To top it all, every action is rationalised. To give an example, last week I came across ‘July 29 – National Lipstick Day’. Well, nothing against wearing lipstick; I too wear them. But, something called National Lipstick Day seemed to be a bit too much (my personal view). As I researched into it, I didn’t find much reason for the day’s observance. We are part of such and many other beliefs and practices. It is essential to know the truth behind all things before following, observing and aping anything that is passed down to us or is being practiced around us.
  4. Prepare for failure – With loads of motivational videos, self-help books, and success mantras, everyone is eager to conquer peaks. While there is absolutely no problem with this, it is also prudent to realise that failure is an inevitable part of life. We all fail in various areas of our lives. One may be a successful entrepreneur but fail in managing relationships. Another may be a doting wife and mother, but fail in finding employment. Failure in one or more life areas doesn’t make one complete failure. Once we understand and prepare ourselves for this, no failure can bug us. No matter how many times we fall, we will rise up again. But, we need to be prepared for failure so that we can cope with it when required. This is where many of us fall short leading to undesirable consequences. Think of the many people who have grown bitter because of the refusal of a love proposal or the many youngsters committing suicides by the years because of examination failures or unemployment. While we cannot evade failure, loss, rejection – these are never the endpoints of life.  The preparation to accept failure has to start as early as in childhood when a child is refused chocolate or a toy or permission to go out and play on occasions as and when parents feel the checks and balances necessary. This is when children learn to accept ‘no’ while understanding that nothing else changes – their parents’ love remains intact.
  5. Guard your tongue – Though the tongue is small boneless part of our body, it has the power to build lives and to tear apart others. Words have immense power. So, the wagging tongue needs to be controlled. Many an unwanted word has caused widespread damage in all ages. Avoid gossip, slander, backbiting, lying, false accusations, abuse, dangerous plotting and blasphemy. Let each word that comes out of our mouths enabled by the tongue be words of edification, encouragement and prudent admonition.

Each of these points is one that I have learned at some point of time in my life. These are not mere lofty idealistic advices. No matter to which part of the world you belong to, I’m sure that with a little thought you will agree to each of these.

Stay tuned for thirty more words of advice from the Candles Online writers!

WRITING IT DOWN SEEMS EASIER…

“I need to say something.. but I don’t know where to begin”

“Why don’t you just write it down then?”

“Yes, I think I’ll do JUST that”

Sometimes, it just easier to write your feelings down than express it verbally in front of another person. Besides 8/10 times the other person isn’t even paying attention to you. Writing and subsequently reading gives us the time to ponder over the words written, the emotions attached to it and brings out one’s most vulnerable side to the people who matter the most (something that a person does not feel comfortable doing in public)

So, the other day when I was asked to give my opinion on a particular question:

What is that one thing that makes you feel that you should let others know about it by writing it down?

I didn’t have to think much – it was always going to be ‘feelings’. I’m sure for most of you, it would be the same. It need not be in the exact words of how your mind is playing it out for you, but in the form of poetry, a drawing, a rant or a simple 2 liner which when you read – it isn’t just the words that you read, but the meaning behind it that a writer/blogger/friend/lover is trying to portray through it.

In the world we live in today, people do not like to leave written proofs of anything – let alone a heartfelt confession, a genuine love letter or a greeting card. It is really hard for the youngsters of today to actually experience what feelings the written word could evoke (which in comparison to the spoken word ..a lot lot more), rather than just speaking and letting it out of your system- more a moment of shock than anticipation to the other person.

It was way back in college that I had written an article on the local newspaper, in appreciation of my teacher, who I thought was the nicest person back then. (if you know me personally, there isn’t a long list of people who fall in the ‘nice’ category) I could have gone up to her and told her that, but I decided to write it down, have it published on the daily newspaper and present it to her in person. She was my psychology teacher.

While you might say, speaking it out is faster and more convenient, Yes! I agree. But there’s a reason why some people resort to simply writing it down. (Blogger v/s Vlogger – a debate in itself maybe?

If you don’t believe me – reach out to your phone, click on the whatsapp icon and read through some of the message you’ve received (even some of the forwarded ones) would that person ever say something like that to you in person? Highly unlikely! People just do not understand (lack of understanding skills or time – no idea!) but are quick to react, and of course the most important factor that I think most of us fail to recognize is knowing that we are afraid of being judged, when comments like these are ready to be thrown at you.. you’re too emotional – – – get a grip on yourself woman – – – aren’t you a softie – – – man up!

Writing rather than speaking in person, provides a sense of security. and a more well balanced, well thought out, outcome!

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.

honey2
(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

WHY I DON’T HAVE THE LIFESTYLE THAT I WISHED FOR!

A few years ago, I was asked to leave the present job to join a better one which was to fetch good money and was in my home town. I didn’t choose money but chose the place where I am now. I always feel that I am not greedy and I don’t have love of money. It might be true; I don’t have love of money in my present condition though I earn very little in comparison to the world around me. But sometimes I wonder and wish if I get an award of a crore rupees from nowhere then what will I do with it? I dream and wish to buy a few apartments for my immediate family members and rent out the rest as my future earnings. I will gift cash to my sisters and a few that I will keep in my wife’s name as a fixed deposit. And the rest of the money I will spend lavishly on food and travel. I am a good boy; I don’t drink or spend on women. Huh!

So, if I am given money at a given point of time then I might spend it lavishly. I have the human desire of enjoying life and just because I don’t earn or don’t have the ability to earn, I tend to feel that I don’t have that desire of money – this is not very true. My lifestyle would have been different than how it is now if I would have more money or wealth. I might not have led a bad lifestyle because of the wealth but I would have definitely taken the pride for having that wealth.

Money! Yeah, it does play a vital role behind someone’s or a family’s lifestyle. We take the decision to follow a certain lifestyle depending on our financial stability.

I always love to be peaceful person – a reconciliator and a calm person. I don’t like to confront people face to face and get into unnecessary arguments. My personality and my character traits make me follow a particular lifestyle. But sometimes I feel like retaliating and hitting back those who wronged me. At that time, I wish if I would have been a person having the physical strength and muscle power then I would have taught people good lessons. My lifestyle would have been different.

It is not only about my attitude or character, but my good health or muscle power would have determined a different job for me altogether and so also a different lifestyle. There are so many things in life I am either restricted or unable to do, all because of my health condition. But if the case would have been different then I would have done everything that I only can wish today and I am sure that would have allowed me to lead a different lifestyle.

So like money and wealth, physical strength and good health do play a vital role in determining someone’s lifestyle.

You might ask me if I feel sad about it. Yes, I do sometimes if I think humanly, but that sometimes is very small in comparison to how God let me lead a particular lifestyle in front of all the odds. I understood one thing very clearly and that is how I was commanded by my God – “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”

I make sure at the end of the day to check if I have fallen short of the standard or the lifestyle I am supposed to live up to despite my shortcomings and vulnerabilities. I believe God asks of us to adopt certain lifestyles for a purpose. And I acknowledge it wholeheartedly. I understood, ‘Why I don’t have the lifestyle that I wished for.’ It is better for all of us to understand so.

So, friends! Get ready for this week, reading about different lifestyles our writers lead and what they had or have wished for.

Keep reading, keep leaving your valuable feedback…

Stay blessed!