GOOD LUCK . . . FOR THIS EXAM!

Whenever my husband is really stressed he gets different versions of this dream . . .
It’s his school final exam . . . He is late . . .  And try as he might he is not able to reach on time…

Or he reaches the venue and realises that he has prepared for a different subject and exam is of a different subject…

The most hilarious one is that he has prepared himself completely to cheat in the exam but in the examination hall he cannot find the parchees (the small chits of paper used for copying). Next day morning we have a hearty laugh on the struggles he faced in his dreams. This way or that he says my struggle with exams is not getting over even decades after I have given my last exam.

There is another one . . . If everything goes well the question paper is out of syllabus.
I believe it’s the same with life. It’s an exam but the syllabus is not provided so the questions are always out of syllabus and we have to use our thoughts and experiences to ace it.

Another quote that Google gave me and I completely agree with is –
Life is the most difficult exam..
Many people fail because they try to copy others
Not realising that everyone has a different question paper..
Yes we all are giving a different exam, fighting mini battles at different fronts. Winning some and getting wounded by some. That’s how life is!

I once commented to someone that my life is pretty ordinary nothing extraordinary in it. Its like a straight path. I had this fairy tale notion that it should be like a wave with crests and troughs. Of course at that time I had been thinking only about the highs and not the lows. And life took my words literally with only a minor change. My wave began with trough rather than crest and I hit rock bottom. About two and a half years ago my husband lost his job and that taken for granted salary at the end of each month suddenly vanished. Since then it’s the biggest exam we have ever faced as a couple. During this time we have had many new experiences – struggling to keep a business afloat, looking for a job, fallout with friends, worrying about the big expenses cropping up suddenly in life. I was not prepared for this at all. I have led a rather sheltered life till now. Worrying about money was never on my agenda. Okay, we were not millionaires but there was enough to go buy. Looking at others I used to despair. Why am I facing these hardships while others are enjoying? (looking at your FB newsfeed its very easy to assume that everyone is having a gala time in their life). 

It took me some time to come out of my self-pity but then I realised that its not only me; each and every one of us is giving an exam. Only his or her question paper is different. They may not be struggling in the areas as us, but they are surely fighting the battle on a different front.

These exams / struggles / troughs do change you. I think I am a more confident person now. Gone is that scared girl who used to turn to her father and now her husband at the first sign of problem. I think I can handle things better. Even though the peak of my crest is a long long way away. I really think that at least the ascent has begun.

Wishing Good Luck to everyone for this exam…

P.S. : Since we are on the topic of exams just wanted to share that we as a family are entering that crucial year when both my children would be facing a Board exam at the end of the coming year. And all of us who are familiar with the Indian education system know how stressful it can be. So, keep my kiddos in your prayers and send your good wishes.

TAKE IT WITH A PINCH OF SALT

Advice is very common and most of the time free too, right? We have no shortage of advice regarding anything under the sun. Every second person is ready with a set of advice for you! I am the 7th (6 Candelians have already given you advice this week 🙂 )

Don’t worry, I am not going to bug you too much but yes, I would like to share some virtues (I choose it to call it virtues and not advice) which I find very useful and I try to practice it.
1. Cry if need be:
Yes, it is alright to cry! Irrespective of the gender one must cry once in a while because it releases all the pent up emotions which slowly poison the state of mind. All that matters is that after you are done crying, wipe off the tears, gather yourself and take on the big bad world.
2. Laugh till your stomach aches:
When was the last time you laughed till your stomach ached? Ever seen a child laugh? How pure and innocent laughter is? As we grow up, we somehow tend to forget this kind of laughter. We are often done just by smiling and many times we don’t even do that. I know, life can be hard but don’t let it take a toll on you. Find a way to laugh the real laughter, you like rolling on the floor types.
3. Express Gratitude:
Most of us lack at expressing gratitude, don’t we? I consciously practice this virtue and I see it’s a ripple effect. I thank the auto driver every day, I thank the shopkeeper each time he drops the groceries home, I thank the postman when he delivers my mails, I thank the delivery guys from shopping portals each time they deliver my order. Thank your colleagues, thank your team at every available opportunity and you would be amazed to see the difference what a small thank you can make.
4. Appreciate:
It is very easy to blame others but very difficult to appreciate. You never know what effect one compliment may have on someone! Make an effort to appreciate others, talk about their good things. Appreciation is a great motivator
5. Accept the Failure:
Failure is a part of life. And it is absolutely okay to fail. It is okay to fail at something others are able to do very easily. It is okay to never be able to do something. It is okay to scoreless in an exam and it is okay if you do not have a high paying job. None of these things define you in entirety. It is just a part of you. No failure is worth enough to give up life for. No failure is big enough to slip into depression. No failure is big enough to break relationships, provided, you are able to accept it with grace.
Taking your leave with a very motivating quote from Harper Lee (Author of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’)
“Many receive advice but only wise profit from it”

TAKE IT, IT’S FREE

Yes, it’s free and doesn’t have a price tag either. It comes without asking and flows in when you don’t even want! Sometimes, it really helps in distress, but sometimes it becomes a pain to even listen to it. Pronto! You still racking your brains guessing about it!

I am talking about ‘Advice’ and in this article, I am going to give you the same from my bag of experiences.

1. Don’t neglect your health. I agree that for every teensy-weensy problem, rushing up to your physician is a complete no-no. But, if the problem persists for more than a couple of days, please don’t risk. I once did the same by neglecting my mild backache and had to spend more than one year to get it back to normal. The next time I had lingering pain in my head, I didn’t wait for more than a week and consulted the physician, who got my MRI done as the pain wasn’t going with the medication given. Thankfully the headache was only because of the accumulated mucus in my sinuses. 

2. Don’t let anyone’s negative thoughts weigh you down. I know its difficult, especially if people with negativity are present in your environment, polluting your mind. They may be your colleagues, so-called-friends or relatives. When it’s impossible to change your surroundings, wear a mask. Yes, neglect those who don’t make you happy.

3. Do the things you like. Try to do the things that you wish to do, that make you happy. Don’t wait for the right moment. Of course, if finances are involved, you need to post your plans, but otherwise, don’t wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow is ambiguous, and life is too short. That doesn’t imply that you don’t save for tomorrow!

4. It’s ok to be selfish sometimes. This advice is especially for the moms. We get so much involved with our kids, doing round the clock job that we don’t get time for ourselves. Whenever we succeed in doing so, we feel guilty about being selfish and thinking about ourselves. Trust me it’s completely normal to feel that way and there’s nothing to feel remorseful about it. Taking time for yourself = being happy = happy mom = happy home!

MY PRINCIPLES, MY ADVICE

We people have no time to care for others. But when it comes to giving advice, we are always ready. The reason could be varying. One can get advice at any point of a life such as when the person is sick or when the person is moving to a new place. Even if we don’t know the other person, still we can’t keep calm without giving advice to people. 

Well, I too count myself into it. And so here I am to give my advice to my readers:

Believe Yourself: 

You are what you think of yourself. No one in this world knows you better than ‘you’ and, therefore, you need to believe in yourself. Your caliber is hidden in you and will shine only when you allow it to come out. The moment you stop believing in you, your caliber and talent disappear! Sometimes, people might feel, you can’t do a job because you have incapability. Still, you do the job. Why? Because you do not stop believing in you and that is your biggest strength. 

Love Yourself:

Love is one of the most beautiful feelings in this world. Not a single human can remain untouched by love. But that doesn’t mean you need to have someone with whom you can have a romantic relationship. Before falling in love with someone else, love yourself. Pamper yourself. Do things that make you happy and lively. Let your smile spread like a cool breeze. If you can’t love yourself, you won’t be understanding the true meaning of living and you won’t be able to love someone else. 

Eliminate Toxins From Your Life:

Every single person in our lives comes with a purpose. The purpose can be to love you, or to befriend you, or to make your life hell! Yes, there are people who love playing with someone’s emotions and feelings. They will come into your life and will pretend to be a well-wisher but at the same time will stab you in your back. They won’t be happy in your good and will find ways to drag you down. So, why to entertain such people in your life? If you think a person is making you upset and fills you with negativity, just ignore them and avoid meeting them without any second thought. But don’t keep grudges or hate them. Help them when they need you, but maintain your dignity and distance. The world is already full of toxins. Do not add more in your life. 

Live For Your Dreams:

Dreams are the reason we start to believe in ourselves. It is the thing that makes us aware of our talent and capabilities. It is a motivation for us to go ahead in life. So live for your dreams. Do what you can do to turn your dreams into reality. You have got one life therefore, make sure to make the best out of it. Once you start to work for your dreams, you get a step closer to your dreams. 

Motivate Others And Become Productive:

The aim of our life should not be to fill our stomach only. It should also include the motto of motivating others for something good. Let people know what they are capable of. Life is not when you breathe and earn for yourself. Life is when you help others to do something productive and meaningful. Become the reason for someone’s happiness. And that is when you will be able to say that you lived a life.

This five advice are my principles of living. I like to maintain my principles and work accordingly. It makes things easier for me. 

So live your life by believing and loving yourself, eliminate the toxins and help others. 

5 POINT ADVICE

While the word ‘advice’ in itself, when given for free…is not appreciated from friends and family, the same advice coming from a professional, seems more authentic.

From Medical professionals, Counselors to Life Coaches – everyone has advice to offer. What makes me then – as a blogger not to do the same?

So here goes – I am going to try and keep this very simple.

  1. In the hustle bustle of life that we live in – traffic, people chatter, fire crackers, hawkers are some of the sounds we hear on a daily basis. But amidst all of that, if you are able to hear the music of another person’s heart, take the risk, enjoy the dance and spread the happiness around. Trust me, the music is like of no other.
  2. While ‘Verbal Communication’ may be the best way to get the message across to people – However, always REMEMBER the words you stitch together are powerful and saying what you mean is as much crucial for self-confidence and the way you portray it to the world, else words are just letters put together without meaning.
  3. The ‘Emotional Injection’. Infuse that in every sentence you speak. Speaking with emotion conveys much more than what an otherwise normal conversation would contain. Invest in people. Be BOLD, AUTHENTIC and VULNERABLE, most of all be yourself.

    “We’re all human and emotion unites us”

  4. The ‘2 Ear 1 Mouth’ Rule. Listen More, Speak Less. Life has become more of a “You have a problem, I have a solution” situation. Sure you do.. but maybe that’s not what I need right now. I just need someone to listen to me? Getting into someone else’s business is delicate, but if they themselves want to share, we can surely LISTEN for a change. Can’t we? Some people just need to talk. At best, we can listen with a SMILE.
  5. Give 89%. The 11% is for your understanding that sometimes it is perfectly OKAY to be a bit selfish, to place your needs first, or stand firm on something. Be it in your relationships, at your work place or trying something new.

Giving advice is a privilege and it should never be taken for granted, and the above 5 points is my small contribution to the ever-growing list.

Let us also not forget that the sole purpose of giving advice is to help someone.

Is it just me who thinks that Counselors are on the rise in India? Or is it just that the number of problems have escalated? If the problems aren’t too BIG, I’m sure you’ll find your answers/solutions in reading Candles Online. We’re never short of it. 

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!

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE – A SLOTHFUL SINNER OR A DILIGENT WINNER?

sloth

No matter how cute a Sloth may look, being one is not good. In fact, the Bible describes it as one of the deadly sins. What’s wrong in being a sloth, you may ask. To that, I will say, there is no right or wrong, just the consequences. If you choose to be a sloth, you will shape your life likewise.

Sloths are arboreal mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforests of South America and Central America. They personify the laziness. Thus, a person who is lazy and reluctant to work is called as a sloth. There is an age-old idiom “As you sow, so shall you reap.” How true is that! If you act lazy, do not put in efforts, wash your hands off the responsibilities then your life is going to be dull, non-progressive and boring. Success will be miles away from you.

On the other hand, if you are diligent you can go places. Observe any successful personality. The virtue that will stand out is diligence. Again, I would like to remind you of an old age idiom “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.” The hard work and perseverance of these people are what differentiates them from sloths. Their willingness to consistently pursue the hard-work and effort is what makes them a winner.

Having said this, let’s talk about the practical aspect of practicing this. I will be lying if I say I am totally diligent. I am not! And I can guarantee that even you are not! We all tend to be sloths, don’t we? Let me share my personal experience. I am a new mother and a full time working professional. I survive on a 4 hours sleep a day through the week, I travel 40 km every day and I pour in endless enthusiasm to entertain my son after coming back from work only because I want to make up to the time lost working in the office. Apart from this, I cook, I clean, I do social gatherings. We all do that, don’t we? And you will agree that the only thing that gets us through is diligence. We are able to do it only because with do it with a lot of vigor, we put in immeasurable efforts, we pay attention to every minute detail and we have tremendous ability to adapt to the changing demands. And this pays us big time, doesn’t it? The big fat pay cheque at the end of the month, being a hero in the eyes of our children, and being a very stable and strong support to the family is what we get in return. Just imagine how life would be without these tokens of love, trust and (materialistic as well as non-materialistic). appreciation. However, in my case, all this holds true from Monday to Friday. Come Saturday, I will usually be a total Sloth. I wake up late. I some times don’t cook, I laze around the house, I procrastinate many household chores. Yes, I do that. And it is natural, isn’t it? After all, I am a human, I get tired, my body needs rest. An this will be true with more or less everyone.

So you see, the same individual is a sloth as well as diligent. The challenge is to where to draw the line. It is very easy to get used to a lazy lifestyle, but it is very challenging to step out of the comfort zone and discipline yourself. Being sloth is alright, but only to the extent of being one just to rest and rejuvenate. We all need that change, but mind you it must be a temporary change and not the lifestyle change. We must bounce back.

I echo Benjamin Franklin’s words: “Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloths make them.”

So, what do you want to be, A slothful sinner or a diligent winner? The choice is yours!