Sympathy is a crime and so is empathy, go figure!

Author’s Note: I got a lot of feedback on this article and apparently it’s not the words but the ‘tone’ that the statements were made that was hurtful. Condescending, judgmental, dismissive etc. these are the emotions that infuriate and offend. No one has a problem with genuine emotions, which should have huge doses of respect for the individual if not unconditional love. However, the superior attitude or the ‘know it all’ attitude that most carry around them is what irks most when going through a crisis. Then there is the bunch who when emotionally troubled hate to bump into the ever smiling, flower smelling, diddy singing optimist. They have an emotional range far wider than just happy or sad and they find obsessing only about these two extremes vexing. While I do not understand that, I get it, I really do. We all have the right to feel whatever we do and it doesn’t need to be justified to anyone. My optimism infuriates another and their morose outlook baffles me, perfectly fine, it’s all part of being human. The confusion, the hurt, the misunderstandings, the passion, the trauma and all the drama, that is what is life and such is the journey we are forced to traverse and not always with our consent. 

An 1894 painting by Walter Langley

An 1894 painting by Walter Langley

I was reading an article and I was surprised to find two comments that were listed as hurtful.

“You should pray!”

“Relax, it will be all right.”

The mention was from someone who was facing a personal problem and had listed all the comments that well-meaning friends and relatives had often touted when made aware of her plight, before a doctor was called in for proper diagnosis.

The reason these two comments stirred me is because I mouth them, quite often and it shocked me that people would find it hurtful or offensive. I agree that they are not diagnostic in nature but one comment asks that we seek help from God, the one who raises the dead kind of powerful and the other is to ease the stress and the pain, a sort of don’t be too hard on yourself.

The only way I find it hurtful is if one recommends praying to an atheist and if a doctor quips that one should relax instead of offering proper advice or medication.

I can’t image the opposite to be recommended.

“Don’t bother praying it’s hopeless!”

“Yeah, you’re right that does sound like something is terribly wrong with you!”

Makes me think that maybe when people are that sensitive perhaps they shouldn’t talk about ‘problems’ to friends and family and seek medical counsel instead. You can’t possibly expect ordinary well wishing family and friends to be updated on all the latest medical conditions and ailments. If I have a friend who calls me up saying she has a headache, my first rhetoric will be to ask if she has taken any panadol and my advice to her will be to relax and take it easy. I won’t be mouthing recommendations for an MRI, CT scan or start drumming about blood clots in the brain or tumours. Does my general assumption that things are not catastrophic make me insensitive and rude? Sorry for my optimism.

It brought to mind an incident a few years back. I had met a woman at a parenting session she remarked that her son did not start speaking until he turned two. I told her that neither did my son and we never had any reason to worry. She was offended with my comment, staying that I was ‘not helping’ by telling her that it was OK, her son apparently has an issue that needs to be dealt with. I apologised but I kept shut about letting her know that people only relate information that they experience themselves, what course of action she takes for her son cannot be based on what other people have experienced but instead on her instinct as a parent and on the recommendations of her doctors.

My point being, only you know the depth and extent of your situation. Family and friends can support you in whatever decision you take and can offer advice that they would apply on themselves, they cannot offer medical or legal counsel (unless they are qualified to do so) and it is wrong for you to expect otherwise. If you take a wrong decision because you choose to accept an advice from a friend or relative that was wrong, is it really their fault? In this day and age when the Internet abounds with information, how hard is it to Google a query and come up with all the various issues relating to your condition. To speak to a few friends and base life changing decisions on their counsel is foolish and placing the blame on them for any wrong decisions taken, even more so.

Seriously speaking when was the last time anyone actually did what parents, friends or relatives, recommended? We all know an Aunt Bertha who wanted us to become a doctor or an uncle Jim who felt being a charted accountant was the way to go. How many times have friends told us not to date so and so or to seriously stop doing something, for our own good and yet we have ignored their advice time and time again?

Regarding being hurt or offended, when one faces a sensitive issue everything gets perceived in the wrong light. Even common sense can seem rude and insensitive. If you comment you can get perceived as nosy and if you don’t you get labelled as someone who just doesn’t care. Apparently the rule is only those who have personally undergone that particular crisis has the right to comment.

To all the people who were hurt when asked to pray about a crisis in their life, are you guilty about something? Do you feel that bringing God into the equation means that you are going to be judged or that you are being punished?

Let me clarify, God is love and he does not punish, unless you are a dictator who has killed thousands and often they live long happy lives and people tend to lament, “why is God not dealing with him/her?” Asking God for help does not mean that you are going to get judged or that you have to account for all your sins. All it means is that if all fails, he is always there and he is quite merciful.

To all the people who were upset about being told that all will be well, next time seek out the pessimistic lot, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

In lieu of the new information the aforementioned article has brought to light, my new comment to all queries from friends, family, strangers and everyone in general will be, “Seek profession advice, I am not qualified to comment.”

The hidden truth, are you a seeker?

banner for antonia rapheal blog

 

The hidden truth, flourishing in our neglect, requesting the seeker to submerge in it’s wisdom in order to impress.

There is a world within the world we live in, pure and full of wisdom, the one we are oblivious to. We go to work, play, eat, sleep, populate this Earth and generally live a life that is not cognizant of this veiled truth. Like a dream within a dream we fool ourselves into believing that we are truly alive and in that moment, we conjure up tragedies, triumphs, obstacles, emotional crossroads and everything else that our ever-imaginative minds can emotionally create, just to numb the sensation that we are indeed asleep. Death actually is a circuit breaker that jerks us out of this elaborate illusion that the entire human race has collaborated into existence.

Stories abound of this conspiracy theory, the dream within the dream state of mankind’s existence. For though we have wilfully chosen to bury it, the knowledge of it gnaws in the depth of our subconscious. It surfaces ever so often in paintings, stories, myths, and mad ramblings of a troubled soul.

Religions have tried to ease mankind into truth, first calling one to a more evolved living, then renunciation of all worldly pleasures (the truth suppressors) and eventually embracing ‘life after death’ (the circuit breaker). Jesus had spoken these words, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” To fail to see the truth is akin to being dead, asleep to the reality that exists.

Do wish to be awakened?

Being a good human isn’t enough anymore, to be good you have to be perfect.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am a philosophical person and I like to think that I am a good person, but sometimes I seriously wonder if I ‘live up’ to the standards society has placed on ‘good people’. How many conversations have you heard or entered into where the dialogue goes something like this:

 

“Oh so and so is such a good person.”

 

“Really? Do you know what so and so did to somebody? I don’t even have the complete details but I am so judging them!”

 

We are such a judgemental collective lot, to the extent that if there is one feature that connects all races, classes, societies, cultures, countries, ethnicities, personalities, and whatever new classifications the anthropologists and psychologists might come up with, it’s our tendency to judge and label.

 

We might be guilty of adultery but it won’t stop us from calling another person licentious, a con man will be the first to scream ‘thief’ if someone steals his wallet, the man who is on death row asking for pardon won’t consider twice before he reports an inmate for a trivial crime, such is the state of the human consciousness.

 

Talk about a genuinely good person, even a saint and you will find people crawling out of the wood work telling you why they fail to meet that standard. Mother Teresa is a saint, she took in the deceased, the poor, rejects of society, the abandoned, the lepers and for no other reason that to give them dignity, cared for them, fed them and looked after them. That makes her a saint by any definition in any culture or society, right? Apparently not, her greatest detractors, among others are protestant preachers (non-Catholic Christians) who call her a demon worshipper (they refuse to acknowledge the images of Christ and Mother Mary as a Christian tradition). Which makes me wonder the obvious, if everyone is claiming to belong to the light and those who do selfless acts of charity belong to the dark, why is this world going to hell?

 

Every time I walk into the supermarket with my brood of three wild energy tornadoes that physically resemble children, I mentally brace myself for all the judgments. As I accomplish the arduous mission of grocery shopping, I know that everyone probably thinks that I am a terrible mother, someone who lacks the common sense to discipline her children. What they don’t know is that my oldest has borderline Asperger, a birth control failure has led to my daughters being born hardly a year apart, with both parents working it’s a complicated household.

 

The point I am trying to make is that we as a society have a tendency to judge, harshly, we tend to generalise, stereotype and compartmentalise. We have justifications for all our actions but God forbid if someone else tries to do the same. We resort to hurtful slander and defend it as freedom of expression but if a genuinely good person is applauded, we as a society deride them.

 

A good person is never supposed to do anything wrong, past, present or future. Even a parking ticket is unacceptable, how could someone good break traffic laws? Human emotions like anger, frustration, bitterness, etc. are unacceptable, not for a good person. Human errors like hurting someone, being rude, inconsiderate, or just plain wrong will instantly demote you to a normal person.

 

In the rare event that someone does fulfil all this unachievable standards there is always a technicality that you can discredit them on. Are they martyrs or saints? They belong to the catholic community, list all the errors (how the majority in society have decided to interpret certain historical events) made in history by the Vatican and use it to debase them.

 

When did we as a society decide that being good meant to be free of faults or character flaws? Good means that generally a person if given the option would choose a course of action that results in a good deed, someone who does not wilfully do wrong to others, someone who would more times than not seek for an opportunity to help and bless. Those few times that they would do the opposite of good, makes them human, it does not give anyone the right to shame them.

 

In this day and age when even saints fail to meet the standards of the Morden puritan, what hope lies for us mere mortals? The ones who breathe to 10 to calm down and still end up screaming, the ones who swear never to do it again only to find themselves in the same situation, the ones who try every day to get it right but every night retreat a failure, the ones who despite their best intentions still end up hurting the ones they love?

 

There are many great men and women in our history and most of them had character flaws but that doesn’t make their actions any less great just makes them more human and what is wrong with that?

 

To be great means never to give up trying, to fall a hundred and nine times but still rise the hundred and tenth time, to always believe in yourself even if the world is shouting down at you and most importantly to support others in their struggle. As far as mistakes are concerned, in the words of a wise man, it’s not what you did but what you will do about it that matters.

 

Supporting every human out who has fallen and will fall, “Get up and get going! It’s not the end of the world, it’s part of our DNA, it’s a human trait to fall, it’s getting up that counts!”

 

Hypocrisy and its different shades.

The Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

Mona Lisa detail mouth

Mona Lisa detail mouth (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Apparently it’s the smile that is hauntingly beautiful.

I was reading the local paper and chanced upon an article that upset my inner peace. It was an intelligent man’s diatribe on how dumb and annoying the common John and Jane, he prefers the term ‘mouth breathing morons’, inevitably are to the cultured. It was an eye opener, I always thought of myself as reasonably intelligent and cultured, apparently I am not for I do not share his views and he is the spokesperson for that elite group.

What is their heinous crime that offends him so? Their inability of ever being able to produce ‘an original or interesting thought’, if you were expecting something more criminal like murder then we think alike. A mental note to steer clear from him during my writer’s block days or when I haven’t had much sleep from nursing an ill child, the ‘stupid’ crimes I would commit on those days would probably have him call for the guillotine.

His ultimate peeve is when these people bypass great works of art in their single-minded focus towards celebrated classics like the Mona Lisa, which according to him isn’t the best. An act worsened by the fact that these ‘mindless idiots’ then resort to taking pictures of this work of art, why should you when you get better resolution pictures form the internet? Here I was thinking that capturing an image from my camera would somehow create a personal connection with a thing of beauty that is a joy forever, sorry John Keats I must have misinterpreted your poem.

He has great contempt for people taking hilarious (not to him) pictures where they pose as if their support is the only reason the monument doesn’t come crashing down. The lack of humour is because it has been done way too many times before; apparently it has to be an original idea to be hilarious. Have to remember to trash that ‘been there done that photo album’, I can recall a multitude of original idea violations.

I must be very simple-minded, like the Johns and Janes for thinking that if something annoys you, look away. If I were standing in the Louvre appreciating a masterpiece it would not heighten or lessen the pleasure I get from a great work of art if others did or didn’t share my sense of appreciation. In fact it makes me dangerously suspicious that this suave man might be guilty of his greatest irk, not truly experiencing all that life has to offer and instead being focused on what the rest of the ‘sheep people ‘ are doing, albeit in a different context.

I had read somewhere that if we were to make a list of all the attributes that truly irritated us, we would invariably end up with a very accurate description of ourselves, at least of how we are perceived by others. This extremely intelligent but highly irritated man is obviously guilty of being preoccupied with stupid acts, the banal are guilty of these acts while he obsesses about them, two sides of the same coin.

———-

By Antonia Rapheal
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Toning your body versus losing body weight- You decide.

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Spring is here in Adelaide and the pressure is on to look good, again! Winter fashion is very forgiving for the less than ideal body type, which is about 95% of the world. By ideal I mean what the fashion industry defines as ideal, super slim or what the fitness industry defines as ideal, super muscled. For the less than super, myself included, spring and summer can dampen that yippee ya yee jingle  you feel like doing when you see the almond blossoms and smell the sweet jasmine scent in the air.

While I am all for a healthy lifestyle I am not buying that perfect body hype. As my hubby very vocally puts it, “A woman’s gotta have curves!” Yes ladies, I am blessed. As I wolf down my quinoa and roasted chicken salad and eye my yoga mat, I strive for a well-balanced outlook on physical beauty. Sparkling eyes, shinny hair, smooth skin, gorgeous smile and an infectious personality represent beauty for me. As opposed to a gaunt frame, hollowed cheeks, spindly arms and skinny legs.

I do yoga to tone myself, as I believe that a toned body is way sexier than a skinny one. You can be a size zero and still have jiggly arms, but a size 12 with a firm body is amazing! You need food to provide you with the nutrition for strong bones, healthy organs, muscles and stamina; you can’t get all of that with just iceberg lettuce. My fitness parameter? If I can run for an hour with my kids in the park before getting tired, I consider myself fit.

A positive body image is so important and not just for physical health. Your outlook on life needs to be positive and healthy, a negative self-image can destroy not just your mojo but also your life. An energetic outlook makes you want to accomplish more, achieve more and in turn makes you feel great, the opposite can lead to depression that can ruin marriages, friendships and even careers.

I consider myself lucky as I grew up with very positive role models and a very healthy affirmation of beautiful. Strong confidant women with fulfilling lives who made an impact on society were the hallmark of an ideal woman. Marie Curie, Bertha Von Suttner, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Martina Navratilova, Mother Teresa and the list goes on.

marie

Today most young women when asked whom they admire fervidly exclaim, ‘Kim Kardashian.’ While I can appreciate the business ingenuity and drive of Kim Kardashian and hold no grievance against her, a role model?

Perhaps my outlook on life is different because I grew up under the wings of a very intelligent and independent woman, my mother. She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who was also an aspiring inventor and a village beauty who hailed from a prominent religious family. The untimely death of her father led to their fortunes being stolen by malicious relatives who took advantage of her mother’s illiteracy. She thumb printed away their home, land and business to her husband’s conniving nephew. Scared for life, granny made sure all her children, nine of them would be educated.

My mother grew up with an innate distrust of people and made it her life ambition to learn all that she could, after all knowledge was power. As children she forbade us from watching cartoons or movies, it was just documentaries and books for us. We never had cable and there were no magazine subscriptions, except for the odd National geographic and readers digest.

mariec

For entertainment we would sit together in the living room and hear stories about my parent’s lives, funny anecdotes about our ancestors, family history and family legends. My father had books from his travels and I grew up in the company of Dale Carnegie, Napoleon hill, Edward De Bono, Ben Sweetland, and offcourse encyclopaedias.

Our childhood mentors determine not only our outlook on life but also our perception of self. As I hear the music from my children’s playroom I realise that soon my little girls will need more than fluffy unicorns to help them develop a sense of self. Their positive affirmations will need to come from real heroes, everyday men and women who live fulfilling lives with purpose.

mother

Christians are smashing metal songwriters? Really?

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I have a thing for Gregorian chants, my kids tend to roll their eyes and then flop themselves on the sofa when they see my cds come out, and you can do the same as this post is centred on that topic. Now that blog etiquettes (warnings) have been dispensed with, this is what I would like to ruminate about.

“As a metalhead I must say, The Christians are smashing metal songwriters!”

I burst out laughing as I read this comment which was in response to the translation of a 13th century Latin Catholic hymn, “Dies Irae”- Day of wrath.

The translation of this glorious hymn goes something like this…

Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending,
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!

Oh, what fear man’s bosom rendeth,
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth.

Full translation can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dies_Irae

Metal songs, not that I listen to any or that I even vaguely claim to posses any knowledge of the genre, are known to be powerful, intense and even demonic, hence the raucous laughter when reading a comment stating that Christians are great metal songwriters! Humour aside it drove home a very startling fact that often tends to be missed, there is fine line between right and wrong. Religion, I speak for the catholic faith but I doubt that other religions differ greatly, is about peace and love. Turning the other cheek, loving your neighbour as your self and most importantly loving your God with everything you have, mind, body and soul.

Yet, how many righteous religious wars have we fought? How many inquisitions, hangings, and witch burnings have we condoned? How many dark secrets have marred many a religious institution? A quick history lesson makes you sing the song of the black eyed peas, “where is the love?”

A religion of love and peace, where the son of God himself and many of his apostles thereafter, chose to surrender themselves to torture and death rather than speak one evil word of anger or hatred, yet we the disciples of that order have perpetrated war and murder in his holy name. Aren’t we the ones who are truly lost? Is it any wonder that today bystanders declare us ‘similar’ to a genre that is often associated with darkness?

Many Christian friends have asked me why I don’t evangelise, spread the word, and generally talk of my intimate relationship with the God. How can I? How do I explain that I ‘see’ all that is wrong and yet choose what is right? That there is so much that I do not understand, so many questions that I have no answers to, numerous mysteries that plague me night and day, and yet in the knowledge of him that matters most, my lord and my God, I am calm. How do you explain that which is too enigmatic to even define as a question?

The simple truth is you can’t find God without bumping into the devil first. Trust me when I tell you that Adam and Eve had no true realisation of God until they listened to the devil. Due to the unfortunate way the human mind, soul and brain works, we can’t truly understand or even recognise the truth until we are first convinced of that which is false. The proverbial other side always looks greener, and until we cross over and see for ourselves, like the famous doubting Thomas, we will never truly be convinced.

The Israelites when crossing the dessert were not impressed by the supernatural column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night, the manna from heaven was too bland and the parting of the Red sea, old news. Christians, priests, nuns, deacons, preachers, like their predecessors tend to get lost in the dessert and the world only hears of their doubts and failings but not of their journey home. So to all the sceptics and watchers, rejoice when you hear of the lost for that’s when the shepherd goes out looking for his sheep and who knows you might just catch a glimpse of him.

That’s the beauty of Christianity, even when you are truly lost you are actually closer to being found, that’s the Christian paradox, only those who are truly lost can be saved, everyone else is just pretending to be found. Fear not if you are one of those who has never crossed the line or have been true to the faith since birth, God has not forgotten you. Life with a lot of help from the devil will visit you, will shake your world, will bring you to your knees and then from the depths of your darkest despair when you call out, the light will shine.

Now you know why I don’t talk of my faith but only smile and say, “Your time will come, hang in there!”

The Art of healing: Hoʻoponopono

life quote

Hotmail delivered an email by a troubled soul I no longer consider as friend, refer to my emotional rant in the article ‘A can of worms’. Technology amazes me, how you can still receive emails from a ‘blocked’ person is one of the wonders of modern society. In this instance however, gratitude is the order of the day.

Her email, as always, was a forwarded email that goes by the subject line: “I’m sorry” and “I love you”.  I must be the only dyslexic in the world who just can’t resist reading a well-written email, even if it is from someone I have officially blocked from my life. What can I say? We all have our quirks; curiosity is mine.

This particular email was so intriguing it warranted a post, for those who are familiar with my musings you know that I rather stay silent than write for the sake of writing, yes all you social media marketers, I am guilty of the number one SMM no-no. I have never been one to conform and my viewpoints are different at best but never run-of-the-mill.

Hoʻoponopono is the ancient Hawaiian belief system that offers cures for a world steeped in pain and sickness. According to Wikipedia, “Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.”

This particular email made references to Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients without ever seeing them, by improving himself. Total responsibility, the belief that everything in your life is your responsibility and not in a guilt tripping depressing way but in an uplifting empowering way.

I am not completely sold on the technique or the results, nor am I convinced of the authenticity of the claims, however what I am intrigued with is the underlying empowerment message. Yes, I am a sucker for inspirational, motivational and downright simple common sense. As a catholic, I can totally resonate with, ‘prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness’.

For the longest time however, I always thought that all the above were for your own mental health. As a proponent of, ‘You have the power to change your past’ I found it quite interesting that I, me and myself encompasses the universe.

The question, ‘what have you done?’ being posed to the parents when any child was ill, really struck a nerve. The fact that one out of my brood of three is perpetually ill might have something to do with it. My counsellor, as my son might have Asperger’s, is always drumming the circle of parenting principles, one of her favourite being, the solution to all behavioural issues with children is to spend more quality time with them. To rejoice in them and delight in them, kind but firm is what every parent should aim for. Screaming, yelling and generally loosing it is my modus operandi, but Libby and I are working on that.

Apart from the fact that if you are at peace with yourself, everyone around you will also absorb that calming presence (a kindy teacher who is confident and calm always has her class attentive to her), the ability to heal others by taking responsibility for them mentally, seems to make a lot of sense. In this world where everyone is harping on their freedom to curse, insult and abuse, a message of peace, harmony, forgiveness and most importantly responsibility might just be what we need in these troubled times.

To heal the world, our community, our families, by first healing ourselves, makes a lot of sense. Every troubled teenager, criminal and war monger needs to be taken responsibility for, we as a community need to step out of our shells, our private little perfect worlds and embrace the troubled, lonely and even the criminally insane with love, forgiveness and acknowledgment. Distancing ourselves form the problem doesn’t make it go away, doing something about it does.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we all make a beeline to the prisons and hospitals; that would be nice, however what we can do is stop this mental demarcation of them versus us. Total surrender and total responsibility, at least mentally for starters, who knows we might just change the world and save it while we heal and love ourselves.

family quote

Rejection is the new measure of success.

REJECTION

I was reading an article about rejections, Dr Seuss, the beloved author of children’s picture books was rejected 27 times. Just before he lost all hope, an old friend agreed to publish it and it sold 600 million copies. Two things come to mind, one that success is difficult and you should never give up; secondly, the decision makers (editors, publishers etc.) need to find a different line of work.

I have always been a writer and as a child I believed that one day I would see my works published. My educators seemed to doubt my supreme faith, luckily I was never one to blindly confirm. As a dyslexic I can understand their reluctance to envision me at some book-signing event. In retrospect, I must be the only dyslexic who wants to be a writer and loves words; I mean they rarely stay still. However, blessed with an overactive imagination it’s hard not to pen the echoes of strange worlds and capture the spirit of the glorious characters that abound in them. Dyslexia is why you have spell check, and why you enlist the help of friends and family to edit and proof read, not a reason to give up your passion.

For those who have been following my blog, you would agree that my take on life is anything but stereotyped. Some see a glass half full, while others lament a glass half empty, I however rejoice on the glass fulfilling its role and the fact that my thirst can be quenched.

My biggest grouse is with the naysayers of life, the judges, the evaluators, the critics etc. we all cross paths with them eventually to get the joy sucked out of our lives. These qualified analysts claim to have God’s ear, and hence the supreme confidence with which they declare you not fit, not good enough, not appropriate, will never succeed, will never amount to anything in life etc.

They are predictable and spend their lives demanding that we, the free-spirited, conform to their rules and reasoning. How do you pigeonhole creativity, passion, and talent? “Too different and silly” the unanimous reason for rejection is what makes the books of Dr. Suess so loved.

How many stories have we heard, of successful entrepreneurs who disagreed with the experts only to start their own common sense line that took them laughing to their banks? What we need is a little bit of Edison in our lives, ‘I haven’t failed 500 times but I have found 500 ways that don’t work’, this is how I remember the quote from childhood but today Google reports it as 10,000 times. The moral of the story still holds true, never give up and don’t listen to the naysayers. Rejections are the hallmark of the greatest achievers; the one commonality being they never accepted it.

 

Makeup is a woman’s right not a gender privilege.

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Applying makeup is more than just a fashion trend it’s part of being a woman. For far too long women who love makeup have been labelled as superficial and by a fanatical few as dissolute. As a girl I grew up with a mother who shied away from makeup and was the ultimate ‘au naturale’. A devout catholic prayer warrior she was more like a nun than a woman of the world.
I on the other hand loved to paint my nails, face, dolls and once even attempted to beautify a calf in my granny’s farm! My mother unlike all the other religious stoics who tend to shame girls like me, encouraged me saying, “If you’re gonna paint yourself try to do it right!’
Yes, my mother had an extremely unique modus, a sincere matter of fact style that didn’t involve any sugar coated nonsense. For me she was the ultimate woman, she did whatever she liked out of choice, no fear propaganda or social norms that she felt obliged to adhere to. There was only one person to please and that was God, if her actions would shame her in front of her creator then that was all the deterrent she needed.
Which isn’t to say she wasn’t flawed, a lot more than others because she was transparent, she never felt the need to hide or pretend and so was always pointed at. A great learning model for me because it taught me that there is no pleasing anyone and there is only one who truly matters and he is on my side. Armed with that knowledge and conviction I can proudly inform you that I have battled some of the worst traumas one can possibly face in life and you know what? I’m still standing strong, bat ready to face whatever life can possibly throw at me and I do it in style! Fingernails painted and makeup on, I am ready.
So you have a colicky baby that doesn’t let you sleep through the night, an illness that drains the colour out of your face, personal crisis that makes you crawl into a corner and bawl your eyes out, who says you need to look the part. I know I don’t and if you want to it’s ok, I respect that.
I grew up loathing pity; I hated if anyone felt sorry for me, and did all I could to look strong and confidant even if I was falling apart inside. Makeup empowers me, I may not be able to make my baby sleep through the night but I can sure hide those dark circles. Life doesn’t have to win all the rounds.
According to research people have been painting themselves since the beginning of time, it’s a way of establishing control and reinforcing one’s identity. No wonder the first thing most religious dictatorships do is to ban cosmetics. Strip a woman of her right to celebrate her individuality and establish her identity and you have a broken, lost soul ready for manipulation. Allow only women in the sex trade access to cosmetics and you subconsciously reinforce the idea that a woman’s beauty is only for male pleasure.
A research by Dr. Richard Russell, a psychology professor at Gettysburg College, sates that the only way a face gets classified as male or female is by facial contrasts. Women tend to have lighter skin, darker eyes and lips than men. No wonder that the basic elements of makeup consists of foundation, mascara and lipstick. All we are trying to do is stress our identity, we are female and we are beautiful.
For all the opponents of cosmetics I ask, “Who are you?” 9 times out of 10 we all reply with reference to our gender. This is who I am, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a writer. I don’t love makeup or fashion but they are an integral part of my life, I brush my teeth and I apply make up. I am a woman, why shouldn’t I do what I want and look how I feel inside, which is beautiful? There are days when I want to look plain and ordinary, and many, many more days when I want to look gorgeous, why shouldn’t I?

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Is it superficial to enhance your feminine attributes? Do you do courses to enhance your trade? Do you eat right and exercise to look fit and healthy? Do you dress well because you feel good about it? Do you get a haircut and groom yourself to look polished? Most importantly do you smile when you look at a beautiful person? I do and I like to be that beautiful person too.

 

Perception, it’s all in the mind!

Every drop makes an ocean

Every drop makes an ocean

Richard Bach had written in his book Illusions that ‘You’re always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past’. As an 18-year-old I never quite understood what he meant and I shelved it as one of those mystical sayings that are so deep that you float! Today 18 years later I have finally understood what he meant, or in Richard Bach’s words, I already knew it, I just happened to remember. It finally dawned on me that your past is just a memory, yes the events were real and many times painful which is why some events are etched in our memory like stone, which even the waters of time cannot erase. I always thought that forgiveness, like our Lord Jesus preached could change our past and present and definitely our future. Perhaps this is what Richard Bach was trying to imply in different verbiage?

Apparently not, imagine any event that shattered you emotionally (dramatic effect) or even a simple one but something that created a ripple effect in your life. For a bit of drama, imagine Spiderman (yes I love spidey, this is the second time I have mentioned him in my posts.) he chooses a path of the vigilante because a criminal he refused to stop ended up killing his uncle. The latest version spins a new tale in which the criminal was not the killer but an out of luck dad trying to save his critically ill daughter.  Has his past changed? YES.

For a less dramatic version imagine a little girl whose best friend steals her favourite doll then lies about it. She grows up with trust issues and turns into an introvert, years later when she moves to college her parents renovate her room. One of the builders hands over a dusty old doll that they found when moving a heavy wooden cupboard. This little girl is shocked at the discovery and yes her past has changed. Hopefully she makes up with her friend and overcomes her trust issues.

The point I am trying to make is that reality is how you and I define it. The exact events have nothing to do with it. What might seem like absolute, irrefutable truth can in fact be a lie and vice versa. The only permanent feature is our own interpretation of the events, which then translates into emotions, giving rise to either good or bad memories. These memories then shape our personalities, our beliefs, our ideologies and invariably our present, which soon becomes our past.

Lets look at natural childbirth, it is considered as the most physically demanding and painful experience in life. Yet, since the beginning of time women have happily volunteered for it and in many cases undergone more than one in their lifetime. Why? If only the ‘real’ facts were to be taken into consideration, which are intense physical trauma, excruciating pain, copious amounts of blood, loud screams that can curdle your blood, need I go on? For the record, I had three elective caesareans, and in no way lay any claim whatsoever to these multitude of brave women. The entire concept of childbirth is looked upon as a very natural and even beautiful process involving the birth of life through the selfless love of the mother.

Perception, is the difference between trauma and celebrated; routine and ghastly; torture and edification; not reality. So next time life, an event or a person breaks your spirit ask yourself how does nature trick mankind into forgetting the pain and glorifying the end and do the same. Go forth and change your past into whatever you want it to be!

Google

Gangnam style is it the harbinger of doomsday?

Nostradamus_by_Cesar

There is a new doomsday prediction floating around cyber space, which has arrested my attention. After the Gulf war way back in 1991, Nostradamus had been revived by doomsday predictors and it remained a hot favourite especially after 9/11 when one of his predictions that

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees latitude; 
Fire approaches the great new city

(The two brothers will be torn apart by chaos was an imaginative interpretation of the actual text), piqued the interest of many.

Gangnam style follows suit with a Mayan prediction that the world will end on 21/12/2012, A Nostradamus quatrain that predicts the world will end when

From the calm morning, the end will come When of the dancing horse The number of circles will be 9”.

The translation goes thus, Psy of Korea, the morning calm; the end, Mayan prediction of the end of the world 21 December 2012; Gangnam style, the dancing horse; 1 billion views, circles will be nine. Needless to say that the previous prediction post 21 December 2012 is now that it has begun, with dead fish washing up ashore and with North Korea declaring war is eminent, they have believers.

As a kid I was intrigued by predictions and end of the world predictions, I remember making a bucket list of sorts to do before I turned 24, because the world was supposed to end in year 2000. Well into 2000 they said that because of a numerological error it would be 2012, today is 2013. The rapture did not happen, no rain cheques for all the people who sold/donated their possessions and are sitting alone in a cave somewhere.

The most intriguing aspect of all these predictions and the ones that will come after they have long been forgotten, is that each one claims to have predicted or base their theory on a line of reasoning that HAD predicted all that has happened. See the funny part about this logic is that it doesn’t take a genius to manipulate data (alphabets in to numbers, numbers into alphabets, vague quatrains of Nostradamus’s predictions etc.) to read into what has happened. The future is another ball game altogether.

Tell me what will happen tomorrow without disclosing it to anyone else and if it does, you’ll have a believer. The irony about predicting the future is when you disclose it you tend to influence it into happening, and that is NOT the same as predicting it. If anyone should know about the ludicrous aspect of predicting the future, it is me. I am a mild psychic of sorts and ever since I was a child I could see into my future in bits and pieces but nothing clear enough for me to make sense of until it happened. I still made the very mistakes I had been warned about making and just because I evaded one didn’t mean I escaped it all together, complicated is the least that I have inferred. The truth is that the future is not set in stone, it is a result of a multitude of choices that we make. Each choice leads to a multitude of options and just like the fluttering of a butterfly on one side of the world can cause a hurricane in another (do not agree with this notion but the underlying principle is correct) the collective choices of the entire planet weaves our present.

A beggar child that begs for alms moves the heart of a man rushing to work and because he stops to check for loose change misses his bus, that explodes a few seconds later. As he escapes his death he goes home a reformed man and starts to spend time with his family, more importantly his troubled daughter. With this extra attention and unconditional love of her father this child, who was earlier destined to fall into drugs and quit school, grows to be a renowned scientist and discovers a cure for cancer. Millions are saved, but they wouldn’t have if that beggar child had not stopped that man on that fateful day. Incidents like this abound in our lives that make us take complete detours in our life. Very few detours are as obvious as in the story mentioned above.

Every time we click accept on an FB friend request or the opposite, we have changed a timeline. As a writer every thought that I pen down and every post that is read changes mindsets or reaffirms one, fate is challenged. Many of the stories I read as a child has shaped me into the adult I am today. Would I be the same adult with the same thoughts and ideologies if those great writers, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austin, J.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Roald Dahl, Rudyard Kipling, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, etc. had failed to pen even one of their legendary works?

How I bring up my children is a direct result of a conscious decision made by every one who has influenced my life starting from great literary writers, to teachers who instructed me, my role models who inspired me, my parents and even the insignificant billboard I happened to read.  The list is endless, every kind gesture, rude encounter, heart break, failure, achievements etc. shapes whether I turn right or left at the next cross road of life. This is just me, there are 7 billion more out there who contribute in some way or another to the fluid, dynamic, concept we call the future. Then how can one be so blasé to claim that they can predict the future? How more foolish are we to believe such a claim?

Body Acceptance struggle, the sad tale of every woman.

Fighting for what you believe in!

Fighting for what you believe in! Stand up for yourself!

 

Women tend to be their worst enemy and what a formidable enemy we make. Nature has made women beautiful and strong, when used for the greater good blessings abound, however just as every coin has two sides, so does the strength of women. As mothers we are nurturing and kind but as adversaries we can rip the very foundation of a fortress.

It is rarely the boyfriend, the husband, the father, the brother, the son or any man who calls you fat and worn down. It’s usually your rival, mother, sister, girlfriend or daughter, not to forget the woman you meet in the mirror and the voice in your head. It’s not the image of the handsome ripped male in the magazine that makes you self-conscious but the gorgeous flawless bronze goddess.

So why are we so brutally critical of ourselves and the ones we love? Why do we expect so much from our children, our husbands, our lives and ourselves? There isn’t a single woman I have come across in my life who doesn’t live with some form of regret and as mothers we drive the longest train of guilt. There isn’t a single woman I know who is truly happy with her body image, whether she is fat, thin, slim, athletic or drop dead gorgeous, it doesn’t matter, she will always find herself too fat, too thin, to lanky, too muscled, right eye bigger than the left or with a big nose!

We are harshest with respect to our body image, we chastise ourselves, shame ourselves and always focus on our failures, never on our strengths or our gifts. We keep asking what’s wrong with us and why we can’t do this or that; we never look at what is so right with us and how we managed to this and that, despite everything.

It is time we stood up for ourselves; it is time to defend and cherish all that is beautiful within. No we won’t get proud and conceited if we appreciate the good, great and wonderful within us. We only get that way of we say that we are the ONLY ones with that trait and everyone else is without or lacking. Universal love and acceptance is the true way forward. Let us dream again and sprout wings to fly to heights far away from regret and guilt. In the immortal words of Sister Corita Kent, “Maybe we are less than our dreams, but that less would make us more than some Gods would dream of ”.

Halleluiah! White smoke from the Sistine chapel. Viva il Papa!

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

849508-white-smoke-pope-electedYou don’t have to be a catholic to realise the significance of white smoke bellowing from (atop) the Sistine Chapel. The Roman Catholic community has been blessed with a new pope (266th pope), Pope Francis. The bells of the basilica pealed across St. Peters square and the devout  crowd jubilantly chanted Viva il Papa (Long live the Pope in Italian).

ARGENTINIAN Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first of many; He is the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, the first to hail from Latin America, the first non-European pontiff in 1000 years and the first Pope Francis, though technically he can’t be called the first until there is a second pope Francis.

Pope Francis appeared on the balcony to be greeted by a deafening roar of joy by the crowd that had been chanting Viva il Papa for over an hour after the smoke was sighted.

“You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth. Thank you for the welcome,” he said before thanking the former pope Benedict, blessing the city and all the men and women of goodwill.

Thousands of miles away, I could not help myself beam with pride when the following facts were made to light, as I sipped my morning coffee. Pope Francis is known for his humility, his belief in social justice and for living a simple lifestyle. As Cardinal of the Catholic Church in Argentina, he passed on the right to have a chauffeured limousine and instead used public transport. Instead of a bishop’s palace, he lived in a small apartment and reportedly cooked his own meals.

These are indeed exciting times for a catholic, for the first time we have a former pope (pope Benedict) to guide us and a new pope (pope Francis) to lead us, a double blessing, Viva il Papa indeed!

931220-pope-francis-who-is-he-graphic

Pope Francis

Pope Francis


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world-news/new-pope-jorge-mario-bergoglio-to-be-known-as-pope-francis/story-fndir2ev-1226596864238#ixzz2NSxNUklE

Perfection is Ugly!

You knew

You knew (Photo credit: James Broad)

Hug

No, that’s not a typo, it reads exactly as it should. Beauty is imperfect, natural and spontaneous; everything else is just the opposite. Perfection comes out of an assembly line from a lifeless machine, each product exactly like it’s predecessor. A masterpiece is unique, has soul, its flaws make it even more valuable and it doesn’t get better than a human being.
Show me anyone and I can point out a million faults but what always intrigues me are the quirks. As a writer I am always seeking out the nuances that distinguish a character, my heroes are always the least brave and the dysfunctional. The only common trait they have is the willingness to learn from their mistakes.
It was probably a self-absorbed writer who remarked that creative people are like God, breathing life into ideas and colours. As lofty as the comment is you can’t deny that artists share the mindset of God. We celebrate the flawed, the broken, the lonely, the meek and the humble. There is always so much depth in the songs of the broken hearted and the mirth of a man well versed with misfortune is heart warming, not to mention inspiring.
So what’s with the fascination with perfection that has got the world all twisted? Why does beautiful only mean flawless? When did our definitions get so limited and shallow? Why should handsome only mean muscles and a defined jawline? When did acne which meant that you are now officially a teenager, become a symbol of shame? Freckles used to mean cute but now a concealer promises to hide it. People on the heavier side used to be known as jolly and large hearted, today even Santa is a size zero. When did we get so insecure that being natural meant foundation, lip-gloss and mascara?
The human mind and heart are instinctively tuned to beauty, the real kind. All the bright colours, the glossy lips, the darkened eyebrows and the bronzed cheekbones are so perfect that after a while they begin to look ugly. Have you ever had a friend who always wore glasses and then switched to contacts? Do you remember seeing them for the first time and remarking that they looked different and that you liked them better with spectacles? I have two beautiful little angels and they love to play with my makeup, they climb on chairs, reach for my lipstick, colour themselves silly and then run to me asking, pretty?
No, a compassionate heart, a genuine smile, a hearty laugh, kind words straight from the heart, soulful eyes; these are the things that are pretty and warm my soul. Masking all that with paint in a bid to be perfect is what kills the human spirit. I am not against makeup, in fact I love to experiment but I can step out with out any on and not feel uncomfortable. I apply makeup because I like it and not because I am defined by it. It saddens me that there are some women who are uncomfortable in their own skin. Who told them that they are not beautiful or that beauty only means looking perfect, all the time, and every time? Like a wise person once said, you maybe one among a million but for that special someone you are one in a million. That person will find you beautiful even when your hair goes grey and wrinkles cover you entirely, because beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. Try to remember that when you look into the mirror next time.