EXPLORE IT, POLISH IT & USE IT

“An ore is a type of rock that contains sufficient minerals with important elements including metals that can be economically extracted from the rock. The ores are extracted from the earth through mining; they are then refined to extract the valuable elements.”

Oops! Why am I talking about Ore suddenly in a week when we are discussing about Talents?

No! I didn’t make a mistake. Talents are like ores. They are hidden within us as the ores are within earth. When we discover our talents at some point of our life we find them in a very crude form. And when we keep refining it we as well as others find it to be very valuable and useful.

I remember I was such a timid boy considering my heath conditions. As I was studying in an Oriya medium school my English was not great. When I was in college I found it very difficult to say a sentence in English. So many times I was embarrassed in the midst of many. And I remember I dared to write a letter in English to my best friend Binod when he was in a different town. And you won’t believe the joy I had that day. But I had never ever imagined that I could speak in English and write articles. When I joined my present organisation I started speaking in English with one of my colleagues almost regularly. She used to help me and correct me every time.

But I would thank my cousin Khristina who really helped me to be confident in speaking English. She only taught me how to chat in yahoo messenger which immensely helped my vocabulary. And I wrote my first article in English for a webzine called Polvero.com which doesn’t exist now. A profile of my own on the web encouraged me a lot to write more. I read, wrote and read more, wrote more articles… The refining process went on… The ore that I discovered had come out as a valuable talent for me to realise it and use it for others. And while doing so I conceived and gave birth to Candles Online.

The talent which was hidden finally came to limelight. Apart from writing I also discovered I can compose music which was explored after my wife came into my life. I also explored that I have a gift of comforting, encouraging and counselling a broken hearted or a person in need of warmth. And the best part is I never keep them idle or unused. I always use them in my life because I believe God gave me that talent for a purpose and if I am not using it then it will be rusted and the purpose of my life on this earth won’t be fulfilled.

Let me tell you a story which is written in the Bible:

A man going on a trip, called his servants and turned his money over to them.  To one man he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, based on their ability. Then he went on his trip. The one who received five talents went out at once and invested them and earned five more. In the same way, the one who had two talents earned two more. But the one who received one talent[d]went off, dug a hole in the ground, and buried his master’s money. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came up and brought five more talents. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you gave me five talents. See, I’ve earned five more talents.’ His master told him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you’ve been trustworthy with a small amount, I’ll put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s joy!’ The one with two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I’ve earned two more talents. His master told him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you’ve been trustworthy with a small amount, I’ll put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s joy!’ Then the one who had received one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you haven’t planted and gathering where you haven’t scattered any seed. Since I was afraid, I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here, take what’s yours!’ His master answered him, ‘You evil and lazy servant! So you knew that I harvested where I haven’t planted and gathered where I haven’t scattered any seed? Then you should’ve invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would’ve received my money back with interest.’  Then the master said, ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the ten talents.

My wife sings well and can really touch hearts with her voice. But she is very hesitant to sing as and when asked or required. I always remind her the above story saying, “If you don’t use your talent which God has given you to touch people then one day it will be rusted and will be taken away from you.”

Friends! Look deep within yourself. Explore the crude ore hidden inside you, polish it, refine it and use it for the best possible cause shown to you.

Stay Blessed!

SOME ARE JUST SO WELL HIDDEN THAT YOU CAN NEVER FIND THEM

It started when I was in Shanghai. My husband was deputed for an on-site project and we were there with our 1 year old baby. Thankfully, my son was that small that I had a lot of spare time for myself. I was searching the Google Baba about some online work from home options, when I found a site which was offering cash prize for some creative writing contest. I thought let me give it a try. I was an above average student, but somehow I used to score top marks in creative writings. Thanks to my English teacher, Madhu ma’am, who always used to encourage me to write in a prolific way.

“That was years back”, I thought, and so was sceptic to participate in the contest. “Participating is more important than winning”, my mind told me and so I decided to write.

The result was out and I was shocked to see my name as the winner. I was thrilled and so started participating in other competitions as well. Though I won many awards and prizes, I stopped writing once I was back to India.

After a couple of years, basically after the birth of my second boy, I was weaving the vicious net of depression in mind, when my childhood friend, my sister Prabhjot coaxed me to start contributing as a blogger. I was hesitant and my confidence level had drained out. But, she reminded me of my hidden talent- my writing! She made me recall the articles and poems I had written and bingo! I started writing again and continue to do so. Writing, which was my hidden talent, is not​ hidden anymore.

In the words of Susan Gale, “Everyone has a hidden talent, some are just so well hidden that you can never find them.”  I am glad I was able to find mine!

WHAT’S THERE IN A NAME

When I was about 10 years old, my parents and I happened to attend a wedding ceremony at my native place. Owing to the fact that we had visited our native after years, family friends and relatives – old and young were swarming from all directions to my parents. I had seen some of them when I was a kid and I could instantly recognize their face and recollect the names. The air buzzed with greetings and exchange of pleasantries like how it happens in a typical get-together. In the end, when the ceremony was over and it all fell quiet, my mom exclaimed, ‘my, you do remember people!’, at that very moment it dawned upon me that I really am gifted with this quirky but extremely useful talent, and that is remembering names of people around me.  

I catch the name of a person in the first meeting and almost never forget it. When I was in college, it took me less than a week to remember the names and faces of my fellow students in a class of 70. Now when I’ve tread into the real world, I’ve retained the names of my peers and seniors since the very first introduction. And not only that, I could think of countless instances when my friends have come to me asking the name of a senior in THEIR team which they had once mentioned to me but is now evading their mind palaces. I oblige every time.

Remembering people’s names might sound like a trivial feat prima facie, but it has greatly helped me in building my social skills. As the saying goes “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language”. So, nothing warms someone up to you as much as when you address them with their name (with a smile on your face, of course!). It increases your likeability. It makes people feel valued, and this can a long way in building a harmonious relationship with them. Also, not to mention, it reduces awkward encounters by several times. For someone in a profession like journalism or a client-facing job like sales and marketing, this is the best skill to strive for.

I believe I’ve successfully proven that remembering names is a crucial skill. Just think of my elation when I realized that this is the hidden talent I possess!

THE ART OF SPEAKING

Speak of talents, and my mind goes on a scanning spree into the different compartments of my brain. There are quite a few things that I keep doing on a regular basis apart from my daily schedule (which can be categorized as talents), like – writing (poems, articles on select topics, lessons from life experiences and from my meditation of the verses of the Bible), drawing and counselling (apart from my job as a Counsellor).

Talent as we know, is natural. It is not learned. Anything that is learned becomes a skill – which is acquired. We are made to discover our talents by people around us, by circumstances that surround us or we just hit upon a talent out of nowhere. Whatever be the mode of discovery, the knowledge of the presence of a talent always boosts up the confidence. And if it is recognized by people around, nothing better than it!

When I was studying in the seventh grade, there was organized a Debate Competition in our school on the occasion of Independence Day. As I was good in English, I thought to participate. Not knowing what exactly to speak, I sought the help of my father. My father knew the nuances of English well and so he framed a beautifully worded write-up for me. I learnt it by heart and recited it several times by myself and before my mother.

On the day of the competition, I was confident that I would be praised for the content. The time of the competition came, my name was called out and I went forward to face the judges. I started well, but no sooner had I spoken the third sentence that I was stuck. I went blank as to what the next sentence was! I stood there and thought and thought with hardly anything coming to my mind. Somehow I managed to conclude with a line or two and went back to my seat.

I felt so embarrassed because my teachers had expected much from me.

I never showed any inclination for Debate Competitions or public speaking after that (though I often enacted lead roles in plays organised in school, college and church). I loved (and still do) writing, and that was it.

I love my job as a school Counsellor since it involves dealing with people one on one and helping them to see hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Three years back, the HOD of the English Department in the school where I work, asked me to speak at the staff orientation. I refused flatly. No way was I going to speak in front of a 100-odd staff, the Principal and the Management members – most of whom are very senior to me! But, she wouldn’t hear a ‘NO’. She just handed me the book from which the topic was to be taken and walked away.

Left with no choice, I prayed hard for God’s touch and guidance as I prepared for the talk.

The day for the staff orientation came. With trembling legs but with a confident smile, I went up on the stage. Before me, there were four speakers already. I was the fifth speaker and was expecting the patience of the audience to have worn out by then. (Generally, the staff feel that such orientations are routine affairs and don’t show much interest to follow the speaker – waiting impatiently when it would end.)

I started speaking using a Powerpoint Presentation and several video clippings on the topic (which none of the previous speakers had done). God granted me the eloquence to go on effortlessly and I even ended up exceeding the allotted time limit! When I concluded, there was a resonating applause from the audience (which was not given for any of the previous speakers). Thanking God for His help, I stepped down from the stage to the appreciative compliments from the audience. And then the MC applauded from the stage – ‘A Leader is Born’ (it was an orientation on ‘Leadership’). After the orientation was over, I was surrounded by people who said that they were so blessed by the fifth session and were wishing that it would never end.

I had not expected this at all. I had prayed hard that I should be able to speak well enough not to fumble or become blank. But, the response of people overwhelmed me.

This was the new beginning! I have spoken at many more orientations and conducted several workshops for staff, students and parents of students and been the MC at functions (at my  workplace and at other places).

It was a hidden talent indeed!

Something which had never been given enough attention to be nurtured, sprang up in due time.

And there is no turning back. Now, I neither feel embarrassed nor shy from public speaking (of course, with a bit of preparation).

I am grateful to God for using my workplace to help me discover this latent talent and resolve to use it for the sake of His glory.

It is never too late to uncover the talents that lie deep down you. If you are a person who hasn’t discovered your talent yet, get to the task right now. It’s never too late!

THE MAGICAL ART OF DECORATING PAPER WITH INK!

“Why do you write your notes with ink pen ? Don’t get used to the habit of writing with ink pen, if water spills or if book gets drenched in rain, you would loose your notes” – that was the suggestion of a concerned dad to a 9 year old…

In schooling, we are allowed to use pens to write our notes from 3rd grade. I didn’t like giving up writing with pencil, but had to, because it is mandatory to use pen. I often used to feel this rule is quite silly…

Once I’ve used my dad’s ink pen, and instantly fell in love with it. I have an obsession for ink pens. If I have to make notes, I would do so only with ink pen. My dad tried a few times to get me out of it, when he realized that’s almost impossible, he started gifting me ink pens. The flow of ink – it’s magical, control an ink pen gives –  it’s awesome. I have a huge collection of variety of ink pens…

Is writing with ink pen a talent ? Well, may be.. The journey to the discovery of thou art, how I nurtured it to become better is what I want to share today.

In most of the competitions I took part in school I would either be winner or runner-up, for which we are awarded a certificate of appreciation along with the trophy. I think it was in my 4th standard, while I was on the dais holding the certificate posing for a picture, my eyes fell on my name written so beautifully on the certificate.

I grew curious of how the name would have been etched ? What would have been used? It was written in old English style, I didn’t quite like the style. My handwriting style is italic. I wanted to do something matching my italic style of writing with this. I was going sleepless not knowing how to learn it.

Our school corridor used to have benches at designated places, and I had my favorite one which faces a hill. I would sit there everyday with my certificate, a white paper and pencil. I started learning it with pencil because I didn’t know how it was actually written. Using the tip of the pencil and the side of it, I tried replicating it. A lot of trials, yet it was not looking as beautiful as it is on the certificate, at least not to my satisfaction.

On one evening, one of my teacher gave me a box that is gift wrapped. I insisted that I won’t take it. After sometime, I gave up the argument with him to accept the gift. Can you guess what the gift was ?? – An ink pen with 5 different types of nibs !!

“These are the nibs used for calligraphy”, said he, I asked him in return, “What is calligraphy ?” He smiled at my innocence, said “The madness with which you are trying to replicate whats on the certificate, that art of writing is called Calligraphy… You have an apt handwriting, skill and patience, let me help you out”

He is the one who wrote those certificates. He taught me basics of calligraphy, nib lines, italic writing, the stokes up and down, spacing, rules to follow, free hand calligraphy. Due to his guidance, I learnt calligraphy in a very short time. Once I am back from school, I would fill my beloved pens with different colors of ink and start writing … Calligraphy in general can be done with pencil, water colors, paints or ink …

Writing as such is very good for brain. Sometimes I don’t want to use my phone, laptop, keyboard but plain pen and paper. My hands get itchy at regular intervals making me crazy to write, literally write… My ink pen only can bring the orgasmic feeling to my fingers …

Some talents within us are not known to us, when we get exposed to certain elements we feel it. It interests us, sweeps us of our feet, nothing else in the world seems important to us than doing that, never let go of such craziness, try it …

I have attempted painting, sketching, singing, crochet, sewing and many more.. While I am proficient at none, I have never stopped doing what interests me. I observe, I reverse engineer, youtube articles, means doesn’t matter, I have to learn it someway. I would not let the talent I have go vain, I make handmade gifts which would have personal touch.. 

 

calligraphy2

 

FOODICTED

Out of all the pleasures in the universe, there is a pleasure that stirs up my senses, refreshes my insides and satiates the hunger bubbling in me literally. The pleasure that is derived from the joy of cooking and primarily the love for food found its way into my heart a very long time ago when I was just stepping into the shoes of my teenage self. That I was a big-time foodie was known to me much longer than ever but I became a food addict when I discovered that the path to food heaven lay in learning the tricks of the trade of cooking. Initially I was of this thought that I would cook only to fill my belly but gradually I just couldn’t figure how this guilty pleasure became a passion. I would call this definitely a hidden talent as not many people are aware of it except a few of those who have got a taste of my handiwork.

Years ago my first cooking stint began in my kitchen where I was preparing for my final Home Science practical examinations, the final accomplishment of which I am still proud of. I passed with flying colours and praises alike thus giving me a boost to explore the possibilities in the world of food if at least at home. I started with collecting recipes for all kinds of cuisines and dishes and there were times when my dear mother brought out my talent in front of people visiting our house by entrusting me with responsibility of the kitchen along with my sister. There were innumerable things that I didn’t know about and which were impossible to learn just by looking up recipes. I learnt a great deal from my sister including the cooking time, standing time, and which ingredient goes with what, and the art of making the perfect round chapatis and a lot more. The basic knowledge is always an igniting factor which stays inherent even if you experiment with your cooking.

The art of cooking is not easy to master. One needs to be aware of the texture, the palate and the technique of cooking to be a forerunner. Lately I have shifted my focus towards baking which is again a higher form of art. I feel mesmerized by the smell of baked goods and therefore the venturing into this field. Again it involves science, perfect measurement of ingredients and time. Well, there can never be a perfect baking or cooking if there is no love involved. To me, cooking is an expression of love. The cook brings soul to the recipe and that is how it transforms into a piece of art. Learning about different styles of cooking, different cuisines and ingredients has really helped to create praiseworthy dishes. I get high just by seeing the food in my pan change its colour and exhibiting the fascinating aroma. The joy that I see in people when they bite into the dish that has been made gives me a delight that has no bounds.

However I have not been able to channelize my energy in this direction because of professional pursuits and there is a dire urge in me to go forward with what I love more than what is ideal. I nourish this dream to serve happiness, love and peace in bowls and platters but I still need to prepare and learn a lot to make that happen.

I believe in this statement that no one is born a great cook but is made by doing. You may burn yourself, cut yourself … yes that has happened to me several times but it is by failing miserably that you learn to rise up. Cooking to me is more than ingredients, recipes and cooking it is more about harnessing imagination, empowerment and above all creativity. Well I would like to thank my forefathers for discovering fire which is indeed one of the best things ever discovered. It has made my life worth enjoying! But besides playing with fire I am learning the freezing technique as well. A time arrives when all you want to do is what you are mostly interested in. Finding out what you are passionate about and tremendously staying interested in it is what makes you a go-getter. You truly need some TLC for yourself if you need to contribute the same amount to the masses. Let not your talents stay put in your closets and as far as budding chefs and cooks like me are concerned I would leave you with this dialogue from the movie RATATOUILLE, “Anybody can cook, but only the fearless can be great”. Bring it on!

TRUST AND DISCOVER

“Your talent is God’s gift to you.

What you do with it is your gift back to God”

It becomes harder to believe, as you constantly grew-up hearing, “you’re good for nothing” and your emotions compel you to believe – “you are scum”.

        My career scores are average!

I have no idea about art and music!

I’m not good looking!

I’m not good in sports!

I don’t know how to pen thoughts!

Even a bull is better than me…

Somewhat this was my journey from “tween to twenty”…

Until you get a turning-point in life you can’t discover the new road and can’t experience how well you can drive!

After getting to the turning point, I met many new people in life. Some were better than me… some were just like me… some were not better than me.

It was the evening of 12th February 2015. I was in a malady and so was my friend with hers. As she shared her situation, I tried to encourage her though it was quite tough then. Our chat ended with a note from her – “okay… I will… You are really a champ dear… I know you are not in a good state but still you are encouraging me… thanks.”

As you comfort others in affliction, God will comfort you through!

It’s tough but POSSIBLE. Be courageous and know that God is with you when you walk through the valleys of death and the high seas of life.

I love to inspire people with morning messages mostly from the Bible. But I didn’t know that, I could even write!

It was 10th January 2016. I meet the Candles man “Chiradeep Patra”. While on our way back from church, he asked me, ‘what do you love to do?’ One of my replies was, ‘I love to share my life with people and love to inspire them with good morning quotes as most of them are away from me.’ Immediately he offered me to write for Candles Online. Though it was a good offer, it was like jumping into the river without the knowledge of swimming. I just prayed, took courage and said, “let me give it a try” and I wrote my first article – “How Good Is Our Mask Of Pretence?” Now inspiring people through writing has become a part of my life. I feel ungrateful to my Highness without doing the part of this heavenly task daily.

You might not have a bag of talents but trust me, “He has fearfully and wonderfully made you in your mother’s womb and has ordained your days. He has assigned you with a purpose. Trust him just as you are, take the courage and be passionate to invest your hidden talents for the heavenly cause.” (The Bible)