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!

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!

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!

CREATE THEM, NURTURE THEM AND THEN… PUBLISH THEM

Around 18 years ago, on one of the nights this happened!

It was 1:10 am and I was sitting at my study table lost in my thoughts staring out in the blackness outside my window. It was quite some time since I have had a look at the watch and when I saw it – I was shocked.

“Oh my God, it has been almost an hour since I did anything constructive. What the hell am I doing wasting my time before the important Maths exam tomorrow?” I felt my heart racing and I quickly checked how much revision was still pending. I realize it is going to take at least 2 more hours which means I cannot sleep before 3 am. And the exam was at 9 am. Less than 3 hours of sleep before an important exam. Phew!!!

This used to be my situation almost every time I studied before exams. So, the question why was I wasting my time when I had so much study to be done. What was I really doing with my book open in front of my eyes, holding a pen but just staring in the black night – thinking? It was day-dreaming.

I was in a habit of day-dreaming anywhere and anytime. But what I dreamt about was something that’s always been very personal to me. I usually dreamt about some stories. Those day-dreams were something like a movie that’s running in my head with the difference that I am not watching those but I am actually the main character of the movie. Those movies sometimes were related to me being the topper of the class and most preferred student by all teachers. Sometimes the stories were around me solving some mysteries. There were also stories in which I would fight with some goons to save somebody’s life and people would call me “super-girl”! Well you get an idea – I was a teenager then.

It was some time during my 9th standard when I decided that I will write down my day-dreams (these weird stories that cooked in my head). And I started to do that. To my surprise, when I would write the stories down – they would turn out to be much better than what I would have thought of. Good thing was that I could read those stories any time without forgetting and actually could build upon them.

It was an interesting time – I had made a few characters (all of them had some part of me). I would make them do whatever I wanted in those stories. I would make them travel places, solve world problems, be courageous and strong. Most of my characters would always end up contributing to the world in a big way. Some of my characters were also scared of the world, some would just end up committing suicide.

In front of the mirror, I used to spend hours and hours enacting a particular character of my story. Because I just had to know how would she/he feel when a particular situation comes up.

I don’t have all those write-ups (only a few). I couldn’t maintain those because I usually wrote in my notebook, at the back of my school work etc. If I could just go back in time – I would love to preserve those little treasures.

This is how the story-teller in me was born. I love writing but more than that I love writing fiction. I love creating those characters and weave their lives up. I love wondering how a particular character would do in a certain situation. I love making these characters my best friends – these people in my head that I can talk to and understand. These people comfort me, they understand me and they even guide me. Some of them are really personal and I might never publish them to the world. But there are many of them who are ready to come out in the world so that people can also know them.

I was busy writing my own collection of short stories couple of years back. After my son was born, this project took a back seat. Someday I believe I will have them published. Though one of my stories has been published in a book named “Your’s lovingly” and few of them got published on webzines (including Candles).

For now, I enjoy creating stories for my son who loves listening a story from me before his bedtime. He loves to listen to them under the moonlight just like I loved creating them.