INDEPENDENCE IS MY DREAM

NOTE: Excuse me if you find this write-up similar to “My Bucket List” but nevertheless it’s a part of that list.  And most importantly don’t draw any serious inference from the title for I am leading a blissful life.  And before you get sneak peek into my dreams here’s a small story that I want to share with you all:

In the year 2017, I met a stranger on my way back home after picking up my daughter from crèche. He approached me and asked me if I could just walk down the street with my baby and cross the VILLAN. Yes, you read and heard it right, I said Villan as I was accidentally offered a role of extra in a Flemish serial to be aired this year,  Undercover (name of the serial).  Yet no clue when I mean which month and if I will be seen or not, that was special to me as I earned for the first time after my marriage.  That was petty but was MINE.  I lived my otherwise so far elusive dream that day.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We had to do four to five re-takes (I was perfect in walking though).

My Independence – Financial Independence has always been my dream. I have mentioned it so many times before as well.  I did enjoy that before getting hitched in wedlock. From taking petty odd tuitions to being an executive in a financial institution; from meager 1K to 30K+  per month in Indian currency and I had it all.  As the digits changed, as they ascended they gave immense pleasure. The increasing purchasing power in hand did boost up my confidence in being an equal supporter and contributor in the family.  Evolving standards of living did mark their presence felt in our merry times, felt fortunate and blessed.

Now after almost a decade of apparent unemployment (don’t miss to read between the lines) and reading innumerable times “We Regret To Inform You” I still yearn to live my dream once again. Though I am blessed to have a roof over my head and a comfortable life with no dearth of any sorts I have realized it was not the amount in hand but the role and the place in the set up that mattered.  The sense of being equal and being able to contribute makes a whole lot of difference, that’s my opinion though.  Nevertheless, that would take away nothing from millions of housewives working 24×7 to make things work and keep the flow intact for the family and I am an active member of this section.  Trust me, ladies, we are doing absolutely great!

But my longing for a job (my dream but not a dream job, will talk about it in another write-up) is not about just money only, for the Belgian Tax System suggests me to cool off my heels at home. For me it’s about my identity, interaction with the world outside, new learnings, regaining my confidence, enhancing the horizon of knowledge and more importantly it’s about one’s preparedness for the uncertainty that lies ahead in life. When life throws lemons at you, you be ready with your apparatus to make lemonade out of it 😂.

You can safely call me materialistic but my experience says that a pay cheque in your hand is not ONLY about purchasing power but it’s also about enhanced confidence of being an active partner when it comes to running affairs of the household; it’s about equally able to question as answerable you are; it’s about giving your family/partner an assurance that they are not alone in their journey; it’s about better preparation for future ( as said by the richest man Warren Buffet two streams of income are always better).

And this is what I suggest to my near and dear ones – strive for financial independence to ensure stability in the long run for economics do have an impact (if you know what I mean).

So I won’t stop dreaming about living my dream with and for my family. Though a lazy bug I am, I will surely work out a way to the realization of my dream one day – Hopeful and Willing too.

Anyways I  won’t mind facing the camera again 😂😂😉 (that’s called being over-ambitious and fantasizing).   Any suggestion on this path of dream realization is welcomed.

TRIUMPH IN FAILURE

 

Wings, I had wings

To soar high without any attached strings.

 

Dreams, I had dreams

To be the cream in the midst of creams.

 

Goals, I had goals

To touch many parched souls.

 

Ways, I knew the ways

To move on ahead along the coasts and the bays.

 

Steered, through every winding road I steered

No hill, valley or desert I ever feared.

 

Pinnacle, yes my aim was the pinnacle

To reach there, I needed a miracle.

 

Efforts, I put in hard and smart efforts

And I was offered all available supports.

 

Changes, alas there arose changes

In the contours of life’s ranges.

 

Questions, many questions

Gripped at all times the head and heart.

 

Faith, in God strong faith

Was the anchor while the river was in full spate.

 

Alone, never did I feel alone

Remembering always that God is still on the throne.

 

Own, never would He forsake His own

In hopelessness I would never bemoan.

 

Shine, for His grace shall on me shine

And not let me sorrowfully whine.

 

Hope, indeed I have a blessed hope

That I would in darkness never grope.

 

Victory, awaits me sweet victory

To bring an end to this journey’s story.

MY DREAM OF BEING A WELL-KNOWN DANCER

I just love to step into my dancing shoes – literally and figuratively. Dancing makes me happy and confident. It is one of my so many passions and since I was a kid, I wanted to be a well-known dancer. Now let’s define ‘well-known’, it has a different definition for each person and for me, the definition kept changing over the years.

I never had any formal training in dance, so quite soon in my life, I realized that I won’t go far with this ambition. Did I take any formal training? No, because I was busy with life and always had my hands full of something or the other. When I started working in GE Bangalore right after college, I was absolutely delighted to know that they had a dance group. They had multiple different events all throughout the year enough to keep this dance group on its toes. In my 8 years stint in GE, I have done at least 15 or so performances. Some of them were repeats but yes, those were performances. I loved that time of my life. Late evening and weekend practices, learning those new moves and always eager to teach coaches. It was a fun loving group which gave me a lot of friends.

However, there were some consequences of being known as a “dancer” at my workplace. When I left GE, I knew for sure that I would never mix up work life with my dance life. The two don’t blend well together because at my workplace I want to be known for my work. So, I joined Philips with a clear goal in my head that work would mean work alone. At the same time, I also conceived my son which meant I had practically now no time for a dance. Being a new mom took a good amount of toll on me.

Still, I did not give up. I took up Zumba when my baby was just 4 months. And the first time I did Zumba, I came back crying because I realized how stiff and heavy my body had become to even think of dancing ever. Slowly and gradually, with years of Zumba training – I could sustain more than an hour of the session. I even had the ambition of becoming a Zumba instructor myself – but gave up looking at my fitness levels.

Where am I now with my dream of being a well-known dancer? Well, people at work still know that I dance well (though I am not known for it). I still do Zumba but limited. I sometimes try to practice on my own in my bedroom on some Bollywood numbers. Recently, I choreographed a couple of dances for kids in the apartment and performed myself also in a group. This was done on Ganesha chaturthi last year. A few years from now when my son grows up enough, I can probably take up dance classes for kids or maybe even adults. I would definitely do something about it, just waiting for the right time. I hope that I don’t stay this busy with my life all my life to pursue this dream.

REGRETS HAVE NO VALUE – THE END

“Is there anyone in your life?”

She mulled over the loaded question while her mother looked at her searchingly, and in typical motherly fashion, where only mothers can guess what their child is going through, she prodded cautiously, “Why do I see regret on your face?”

She was jolted out of her reverie by Maa’s astute observation. Am I so transparent to her? But aching as she was to shed the deluge from her eyes, she gulped it down. Maa shouldn’t see me break down. It won’t be good for her.

“Regret, yes Maa, because I can’t find a prince charming yet. Maybe I’ll die a spinster with a few hundred cats,” she joked while faking a laugh.

“If that is meant to amuse me, it doesn’t. I’d like you to find someone like Diana did. Find a good man. I know why you hesitate to marry. Beta, not every marriage turns out like my own. Look at Diana….” the twin exertion of talking and worrying produced a fit of coughing in Maa and she immediately curled up in pain on the bed.

“Maa please don’t exert yourself for me. I know what you’re saying is right. I know you’re concerned about me but please, don’t worry. I’ve managed just fine till now and I will even in the future. Maybe when the time is right, I’ll find my Mr Right. Besides I have you now,” she smiled while she handed Maa a glass of water, plumped up her pillow and made her lie back down. “Just rest for me, please. Before I leave, I’d like to see you back in your own home and standing on your own two feet.”

A frail smile graced her mother’s face and Nina felt satisfied, no, content in the knowledge that her broken home was repaired at last. She didn’t care if she spent the rest of her life as a spinster, she had prepared for that eventuality for the past many years. But now she knew she won’t die lonely with her regrets. She had the love of a family, the love of a parent. And love does not have to limit itself to a love between a man and a woman. Love came in such varied forms. She knew she’d be just as happy with that kind of love because up until now she had nothing and no one.

Her mother looked like she was dozing off, so she kissed her forehead and tiptoed out of the room, where the doctor found her and gave her the welcome news that Maa was recovering well and would be discharged from the hospital soon.

A week went by when Maa was eventually discharged and in the midst of family and in the comfort of her home, she got better in no time. Meanwhile, Diana and her husband never once let Nina feel that she was an outsider. Her nieces were always vying for her attention, but what made Nina most happy was that her mother, it seemed, wanted to spend all of her waking hours with her, like she wanted to make up for all the lost time. So did Nina. So they happily indulged each other in small excesses of family life that are born out of love and affection for those we care for.

While at the same time she and Nisha had become more than mere acquaintances. Their frequent phone calls and Whatsapp chit-chats from time to time revealed to Nina how warm-hearted Nisha was. She had come to care for Nisha a lot in a short span of time and it was all owing to how open and kind Nisha was.

“You have to come to Bangalore first and have dinner with my family before you leave for Kolkata, or else I won’t talk to you ever again!” Nisha had commanded Nina and though it came as a surprise to her how quickly Nisha had begun to exert herself in their friendship, this was the most endearing quality of Nisha’s – that she was so trusting and trustworthy. Nina promised her she would come.

The day of her departure from Mysore was a teary-eyed one. Maa kissed her cheeks profusely, there were never-ending hugs and solemn promises that Nina would try to shift her place of work to either Bangalore or somewhere closer to Mysore so she could come and visit Maa and Diana as often as possible. Throughout the drive back from Mysore to Bangalore, she only thought of how bright the future with her family looked. It seemed she had found peace and love at last.

When she arrived at Nisha’s plush apartment, after checking into her hotel room for the day, she received a warm welcome from Nisha and her daughter, Myra. She couldn’t shake the feeling that Myra resembled someone but she couldn’t remember who, that is till ‘her’ Ankit walked in and she realized that Ankit was Myra’s father!

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Time froze as they stood looking at each other. A part of her told her that she shouldn’t stare at him like so because he wasn’t ‘her‘ Ankit anymore, but it was as if her eyes had a mind of their own. They would not stop staring with open longing, regret and sorrow at him.

His own eyes spoke volumes about how he still felt. It seemed the passing years had taken their youth from their faces but the effect they had on each other had not faded.

Nisha was bewildered, offended as well, as a married woman should  be who finds her husband openly gaping at another woman. She cleared her throat and addressed her husband, “Ankit, this is…”

“Nina! Nisha this is the Nina I told you about.” He looked at his wife guiltily, while Nisha clapped a hand over her face in horror.

Nisha’s reaction to this information made Nina realize just what her presence must be doing to this otherwise happy family. Regaining her senses, she stammered, “I… I’m so sorry. I… had no idea she… she was your… I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t be here at all. I’ll leave right away…” and she began to retrace her steps to the elevator, but a hand stalled her.

It was Nisha’s.

“No please, stay. This wasn’t your fault. This isn’t anyone’s fault. You had no way of knowing. And besides, what does it change? You liked him and he liked you but that’s in the past. The future is that you and I are friends and I don’t see any reason why the past should have any effect on that.”

Oh god, why is she so sweet and simple minded? Nina wished Nisha would rebuke her, tell her to leave, tell her that she wasn’t welcome in their cosy lives, but instead Nisha wanted to be friends. What kind of woman is she?

“No please I can’t. I won’t…”

“You will.” Ankit’s voice boomed out from behind them, “Because otherwise, you’ll break Nisha’s heart. And because you owe me an explanation.” His voice may have been gruff, but there was a hint of hurt in it. Nisha tugged at Nina’s hand and after much cajoling, Nina came back to their apartment.

There was an awkward moment when neither knew what to say or where to look but then Ankit turned to Nisha and asked, “Can I have a moment alone with her, if you don’t mind?”

“Why would I? I trust you and her unconditionally.” Nisha smiled up at her husband and then, without a word, without a glance back, went away to another room, shutting the door behind her, leaving them alone in the spacious living room that felt too small because of the suffocating silence that inundated it.

Ankit began, “How have you been?”

She smirked and shrugged, “As you can see, I’ve been good, I guess. And… you?”

“I think you can see too.” His lips smiled but his eyes didn’t.

Nina sighed. Yes, she could see he was very happy and led a blessed life. Till she came around with her sorry self, dredging up memories of a sad past. She felt like a useless piece of furniture that needed to be discarded.

“You’re very lucky you have her. She’s a great lady – warm, loving and accepting. She trusts you so much,” she looked down just then because she couldn’t stand being stared at by his searching eyes.

“I know. But you never did,” he accused and her head shot back up to his eyes. But he wasn’t done with his assault, “You never gave me a chance. You never told me why? And today I want you to tell me because I don’t think I’ll ever have closure unless you tell me why.”

A tear rolled down her cheek and she swiped at it with an irritated hand. She didn’t need any more embarrassment, but God, it seemed today her body was not under her own control. “Why?! Why indeed! Maybe because I didn’t want a marriage like my parents had. Because I didn’t want a broken home. Because I wasn’t sure if I could survive after suffering another heartbreak…”

“You thought I would walk away from you just like that? Nina, you never trusted me or my love to give yourself up to me…”

Yes!! Yes, I couldn’t trust you Ankit, because I didn’t trust myself! I didn’t want you going through what my father did. I didn’t want to be a mother to a child who grew up in the fear of being rebuked, beaten and abandoned. I didn’t want to turn into my mother!” She was crying openly now, uncaring whether her mascara and kohl ruined her face or not, or whether his neighbours heard.

“So this was why you rejected me? Because you couldn’t trust yourself to be better than your mother? Bad families do not run in the genes, Nina! Love, togetherness, effort, sacrifice…trust, that’s what makes a happy family.”

“Yes, I know that… now. My sister has a wonderful family of her own and I know now that broken homes can be mended as well. And you… look at your own family. It’s beautiful, just what you deserve! But it’s too late for all that now,” she looked past Ankit to his home, his happy abode, his life, and then with the solemn understanding of someone who has come to terms with their loss, she said, “I love your wife. She’s the perfect partner for you that you deserve. I think it was destined for you to marry someone like her who had no issues with trust. I wish you two all the luck in the world and I want you to know that I’ll never, never, never bother either of you again.”

Alarmed, Ankit said, “But why can’t we be friends? Nisha is not the sort to bear grudges, Nina. She likes you immensely…”

“And so do I but I can’t live with my regret staring me in the face everytime I see you or her. And neither of you deserves that kind of burden. We can’t be friends!”

She started backing away from him and he opened his mouth again to say something but Nina cut him off with a staying hand, “No Ankit, there’s nothing you or Nisha can say to convince me that staying friends with you will be of any good. I’ll only cause problems if I stayed. I was the past, she’s your present and your future, and the past has no place in the future, Ankit. So please don’t stop me. I won’t be stopped. I’m so happy that you’re happy, believe me, I am and I’ll always pray that you stay this way with your family. Farewell.”

Clutching her handbag to her heart like it was her lifeline, she hurtled down the stairs. Ankit called out to her, but she didn’t answer. Then Nisha called out to her, but she didn’t turn back. She knew what she had to do. She knew her place and it wasn’t as anything or anyone in their lives. She knew what she had found back in Mysore. She knew there would be no happiness for her unless she let go of the past. Her past had only regrets and regrets had no value. She had vowed she won’t lead a life of regrets anymore and she knew letting go of this regret was the right step into the future.

Onward she went and never looked back.

 

THE END

 

Image Source: CC0 Creative Commons at Pixabay.

FAILED YET FAMOUS

Today is a day of celebration for Candles Online. This post will be the 700th post of Candles Online. It’s truly a milestone and the timing is absolutely appropriate for the occasion with a concluding day for the topic ‘Celebrating Failure‘.  

If I look back, I find myself sad and sorrowful two years back when Candles Online was not in the picture. The printed format failed to stay afloat. All my dreams had sunk in the deep sea. But now… we have been inspiring many around the globe, over 130 countries approximately. Candles Online had faced failures a lot of times yet it has become famous among many. It is still growing day after day because of some very committed people along with me and also because of God’s grace. 

I am going to let you watch an incredible video of 25 very famous world personalities who had failed in their lives or were considered failures by people initially, yet became world famous personalities afterwards. 

Be encouraged and never quit…

Stay blessed!

IT’S TIME TO PARTY NOW… I FAILED ONE MORE TIME !!

“I feel so lost Aastha. I did work hard, so many late nights, many iterations of refinement, many tries, I see no success. This is my dream to be able to make this venture work, trust me, I gave all that I could. I don’t know what I can do differently to make this work. The final option for me is to quit my job and fully concentrate on my venture, but that would push me into complete crisis in terms of finances. What do I do?“, this is what he said holding my hand, with tears in his eyes

My friend is quite matured, is very well aware of the risks he was taking. He was prepared for the struggle that’s gonna last long and yet, he wanted to do. I consoled him for then since it was already late in the evening, but promised to meet him the next day. I opened up my laptop, reviewed all his work for the past one year, took my notes, came up with some ideas, but most importantly, I see that he is upset, very much with himself, that required to be treated before anything else.  

What is a failure ???

I am not asking about failures that lead to tremendous successes .. Plain, simple failure , what is it ?

Being unable to achieve ‘something’ that we wanted is failure, it can be big or small. There is a lot of stigma that we have put around failure, which is causing us not to see the good it has brought. Failure is a milestone, it tells us what we did right, what we could have done differently and most importantly what can go wrong. Our assumptions are often invalidated during turbulent times, we are not prepared and hence we do fail. If you think about it, failure is just feedback; it’s simply showing you what’s not working so you can find out what will work.

Failure isn’t bad, then why do we feel so devastated, lost and depressed when we fail ? Sometimes because it has implications on the stability of our life, career or finances, hence it inadvertently makes us feel bad. But many times, the effect is not so huge. Even In such situations where the impact is less, we tend to feel sad, where in being more happy would make us feel better.

When I was going through a training, I got to know that there are companies that celebrate failures, they throw parties and give away awards for those who failed. I was not very surprised by the concept itself because, even at our homes, irrespective of how good or not so good the kids perform in education or sport they are given some goodies. So we are actually not taught failure is bad or we shall never fail, however we inferred this understanding from the how the world perceives failure. I asked myself, “what do I do when I fail ?” Surprisingly, nothing. 

Oh, that’s not a good sign. I thought of celebrating failures. I will treat myself with the most exotic flavor of ice-cream. As I started doing this often I realized, I started liking the phase of failure, it relieves me off being upset faster and let’s me think more clearly.

We made the conscious decision of what we chose and due to uncontrollable factors which caused the failure. There is always a second chance, a better thought, a different way of looking at things. Even when we think differently, we may not succeed, we may end up failing many times, but every time we fail we are only getting better at what we are doing , more wiser and are a step closer to success. So, let’s celebrate our small success, that’s the better way of calling it, isn’t it ?

CELEBRATING FAILURES

We all celebrate success. We throw a party, call up friends and family or go out for dinner or a date, or if we’re alone, we let our hair down and unwind with a drink or do something we have been wanting to do, that helps us relax. Some pious folks pray for their achievements and do poojas or make an offering to their Gods. While some lucky ones celebrate by going out on a vacation!

Celebrating success is a natural outcome of our happiness and achievement. It’s a way of rewarding ourselves for our hard work.  But what about celebrating failures though? Do we ever give a thought to that?

‘Why?’, you ask. ‘What’s to celebrate in failures?’

Good question! I’ll ask you a question in return, “What does failure teach us?”

It teaches us that we need to do better. It teaches us patience, humility. It teaches us the value of hard work and how to wait for the right opportunity. But most importantly, it teaches us not to give up!

With so many good lessons to teach us, how can failure be bad?

You may counter by pointing out that it feels bad when we fail. Sometimes the failure is a huge setback to our attempts. Yes, it does feel bad, specially if it’s happened to you more than once for the same thing. Most of us take failure very seriously. We become depressed, enraged, desolate, hopeless and withdraw into ourselves. It’s normal to feel that way when we fail.

But say, if you were to enjoy your failure, would it do you any harm? Say if you couldn’t pass an important test that you were preparing for, would it be so bad if, after failing, you throw away your sour mood and declare, ‘Oh, so what?! I’ll try again. Harder!’ And then you proceed to call out your friends for dinner, and your friends tell you the same thing, ‘You’ll do better next time”. And you will! Because you have already made up your mind to try harder again. That serves as positive reinforcement for your brain, the party and your own will to try again. It sends your brain the signal that you do not take defeat as a full stop to your attempts.

Positive reinforcement is a Psychology term that roughly means being awarded for a certain kind of behavior. We frequently use this in everyday life to motivate ourselves. Even organisations have long been using this to motivate their employees to aim higher and get better results. An example is how you tell yourself while slogging for your exams, “Just this one week and then I’ll have all the time in the world”, or how a dog is trained by giving it a treat for good behavior. The benefit of positive reinforcement is that we condition ourselves to perform better in order to get that reward, till it becomes our habit to perform better.

This is what celebrating failure does to you. When your brain looks at failure as a reason to celebrate, it conditions itself to not give in to depressing thoughts and instead looks for that rewarding incident/thing that reinforces its will to strive harder, while enjoying the process of trying again.

Celebrating failure need not come only in the form of a reward or a celebration. You could choose the way you want to celebrate differently than the usual connotations of ‘celebrating’. You could meditate, or try a new activity, or try another way of achieving the same goal. You could tell yourself, ‘Regardless of whether I succeed or fail in this attempt, I will do a certain thing to enjoy myself’. Remember, enjoying yourself while you strive to attain something is as important as making the effort itself. Otherwise the task will seem tedious, and you will be inclined to fail more because of mental tiredness than actual lack of capability.

The aim of celebrating failure is NOT the celebration itself;

It is to overcome the depression of failure and the fear of failing again. 

Do the following when you feel you’re becoming depressed over your failure – 

  1. Stop blaming yourself.
  2. Think of things to calm yourself down, like meditation, or a movie you like, or a hangout you like to go to.
  3. Surround yourself with people who support you; don’t drive them away.
  4. Look inwards and identify the reasons why you failed.
  5. After you have identified the causes, decide to either avoid those causes the next time, or try harder to overcome them, or plan another route.
  6. Now go ahead, have a blast. Chances are, by the time you come to this step, you will have already overcome your depression.

Our failures are our means to be a better person. They teach us to strive harder, be smarter about our choices and they teach us that success is not an easily earned thing. Think of all those achievers in history who have had successful lives – M.S. Dhoni, Rafael Nadal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Aishwarya Rai, Gita Phogat... Do you think they never faced failures, flops, being shunned by someone, being called ‘inadequate’? But they didn’t stop at their failures. They treated them as lessons and went on to the next project they had. They did not dwell on their past and their mistakes. If they had given up and succumbed to depression, we wouldn’t know their names today.

If you are still not convinced why celebrating failure is better than mourning them, click on this link and watch this inspirational video by Elizabeth Gilbert, the Author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘, who talks about how she overcame the fear of writing a book that wouldn’t match up with the success of Eat, Pray, Love, while also discussing how she overcame recurring failures to become a successful writer. I love it when she says, “I love writing more than I hate failing at writing”. That is why she couldn’t give up on writing in spite of her failures, because writing was ‘home’ for her. That is real passion for your work!

Remember, the most difficult part of overcoming failure is the attempt to overcome it. Celebrating it helps in making it easier for you to overcome that fear.

Let not failure defeat you.

Let it be a stepping stone to your next success.

I’ll leave you with the words of the great leader Winston Churchill,

 

Success consists of going from failure to failure, without loss of enthusiasm.

 

Pradita Kapahi