Mars sounds delightful

I am a staunch catholic, brought up in a Muslim country of parents from two different countries with friends from an assortment of religion, language and race. I am in a sense an International individual, I don’t hold any nationalistic views and the world is my home. I am more globally aware of different cultures and races than most of my peers and I am at ease in any country irrespective of its world status. I have no overt stereotyping apart from the belief that paedophiles, sexual predators and murders need to be put away.

Growing up in a cosmopolitan land with friends who fasted, prayed and behaved very differently than me made me not only tolerant but also appreciative of the human fabric. Having a church to go to on Fridays made me thankful of the kindness of the Muslim rulers and the daily blessings we always invoked for them in church made me understand that tolerance was a two way street.

There is a lot of talk about how people need to be rooted in their own culture, how cross culture adoption is not ideal etc. I beg to differ, my mom is a keralite, Indian and my father a refugee from Myanmar, I do not have a mother tongue, as the primary mode of communication for my parents was English. That is the language I grew up learning and speaking, in school I learnt Hindi and Arabic and friends taught me Urdu, Farsi and Swahili. Not one to learn languages I soon forgot all except English and rudimentary Hindi.

However, I never forgot the culture, the accents, the traditions, the views, the prejudices, I absorbed all, assimilating it in my mind and developing an understanding of ethnicity and more importantly appreciating it. I remember asking my mom as a child that if Jesus was the way, the truth and the life, what about all the other religions would those who follow it ever make it to heaven? She read out what St. Paul had said, that for those who did not have the law if they followed what was right and did what was pleasing to God, they would indeed make it to heaven, for the law was written on their hearts. We were Catholics because we weren’t so good and needed the love and mercy of Jesus to save us.

If only I could see that kind of love and tolerance in today’s world, there wouldn’t be such arguments about building walls, keeping immigrants out and turning away the destitute because they didn’t belong geographically. Nationalistic pride and self-preservation has made us hardhearted and xenophobic. We have forgotten what it means to love, to be kind and most importantly to be human. We fall to our knees in times of crisis but when given the chance to show mercy we turn away, it is no wonder that our societies are turning cold; crime is on the rise and hatred an all time high.

We talk of colonising Mars for we have already given up on planet Earth, we talk of peace but perform acts of war, we talk of winning hearts without really believing that the enemy has a heart and we raise awareness about all that is wrong in the world without celebrating all that is right.

We talk but we don’t reach out, to the elderly neighbour struggling to take the garbage out, to the homeless who shivers in the icy cold wind, to the orphan who has turned to drugs and to the family member who could use a kind word.

Perhaps the view on Mars would indeed be pleasant.


Life is not a Fairytale

Web of life, intricate, complicated, intertwined

Web of life, intricate, complicated, intertwined

I heard an inspiring speech by Elif Shafak on Ted talks where she says that if you want to destroy a human soul all you need to do is surround it with thick walls, she then extends this analogy to state that if our inner circle is our mirror image then we to run the risk of being trapped in our cultural cocoons. The result is a shrivelled human spirit lacking the dynamic vibrancy that fuels our progress.

This thought lingered with me for days, and I pondered over the deeper consequence. As I was brewing my coffee and I watched the hot water hit the coffee grains and saw it foam and coagulate and then separate to rush where the water took them and I saw a pattern emerge. The wafting smell of fresh coffee excited my soul and already I could taste the creamy deliciousness I knew would be the end result.

I had a revelation; we are like the coffee grains, identical until fate and life decide our path. We aggregate towards likeminded people but life ultimately decides our destiny. We bond, break, separate and ultimately give forth our essence that is the nectar of humanity. Of late I have been wondering about my life, why has it been riddled with troubles and aches and the only positive aspect is that it has made me compassionate. I have become less judgmental, less critical, more grateful and more passionate about life. In hindsight if I had to learn these great lessons only by having my heart ripped over and over again then so be it.

Our lives are not a quest for comfortable living, happily ever after is a myth, there are no prefect lives, only fleeting moments. Life is a journey of self-realization and no it is not of your choosing, you may run to the mountains and hide away in a cave but through the howling winds and cracking stones, nature will touch your soul.

Look at human history, the stories of the common man and the glorious prince; they all collide at the point of birth, love, friendship, betrayal and ultimately death. The love felt by an innocent farm girl is no different than that felt by a celebrity, love is love, how we express it and where we find it will differ but not the raw emotion of euphoria. The pain of betrayal is no less if you are a commoner or no more if you are a warlord.

Read the stories that writers have penned down through generations, the ones steeped in truth are often the most interesting and very often they never have a happy beginning and almost always have a tragic end. However the protagonists learn life lessons that are illuminating and often heart wrenching. There are no happy endings, there are just lessons, there is only life.

TED Talks – Elif Shafak

The truth about pain


I was chatting with a dear friend about the unbearable pain that almost breaks you, crushes your soul, the pain that is inflicted by a loved one. It is the by-product of the oldest sin in the history of mankind, the sin of betrayal. There is a sacred bond that is formed when we love someone, give them our trust, our love, our time, our respect, and most importantly the keys to our heart.

Then when they sadistically hurt you, the one they should have protected, nurtured, supported or simply loved back, it breaks your soul. What kills slowly and seeps poison into your being is the nonchalant way they behave after literally crushing your soul, to nail it, the quip “Ohh for the love of God stop making this into another one of your dramas.”

With one sentence they disregard your right to feel, to ache, they question your right to be loved, respected; marginalising you with an unfeeling stone. However, you are not a stone, no matter how they justify it to themselves, no one deserves to be hurt and then told that they have no right to feel wronged.

I can go on and on about the pain, the hurt, and most importantly how unfair it is. Most of the inability to forgive and bitterness comes from the deep-rooted feeling that, ‘it is not OK, I’m not going to forgive and let it go because it is not OK to do what was done.’ Forgiveness isn’t about the other person; forgiveness is actually about letting go. It’s about not torturing yourself over and over again but about letting the pain go. Being at the receiving end I know the desire to hold onto to the pain, after all what proof is there about what was done and heaven forbid seeing you free from pain your perpetrator gets the green signal that it turned out all fine so its OK, no it’s not OK, never will be.

What we fail to realise in our naïve attempt to punish the wrong doer is that seeing us squirm in pain, and watching us torture ourselves daily, gives them a sick sense of accomplishment. They have power over us, and by one act they can control our entire life, every action we take will bounce off from their malicious betrayal. Whether we love again, trust again, be happy again will all depend on how badly they hurt us, why give someone evil that power? When that realization hit me, I learnt to let go, reading the bible verse, ‘Vengeance is mine’ helped me, there was someone all powerful who knew what happened, doesn’t need proof and he will deliver their comeuppance.

However, I wonder if there is a more to it than what meets the eye? I remember seeing the movie Matrix and feeling a sense of déjà vu, somehow I could totally relate to the concept that we are all prisoners, trapped in this illusion that life is what it is. We are all programed to follow the rules, comply with the laws of the social construct but the gnawing truth was something sinister. While I don’t advocate the possibility of AIs controlling us to use us as an energy source, what I do find possible is that the world is lying to us about our purpose in life and the pain is a wake up call.

What if life isn’t about going to work, earning money, getting married, starting a family, becoming successful, what if all this is just to keep us busy from discovering the real purpose of our lives? The pain would serve as a disrupter, to jar us out of this fantasy world that we live in and realise that all is indeed not what it seems. Life isn’t just about procreation, about hollow successes; it’s about discovering our inner self.

There are many things the bible speaks of that lends to this line of thought. It is written we are made in the image and likeness of God, we can tell a mountain to uproot itself and throw itself into the sea, we can heal the blind, mute, sick and even the dead. The living who are not seeking the path are referred to as dead. We can do all these things and more but only if we defy the worldly construct. Akin to Neo changing the matrix to suit his imaginations because it doesn’t truly exist.

Every religion in the world talks of the devil who seeks to deceive, we are told to defy the logic of the world and seek a higher purpose, and to those who truly discover the light, the power to distort reality is given, we call it miracles. The Hindus have often referred to the glitter of this world as MAYA, an illusion. Buddha tried to give us a path that we should follow letting go our desires and explaining to us that pain is a result of desire that is worldly.

Jesus showed us the way, the truth and the life, he told us to hate this world and to love only truth. Know the truth and the truth will set you free.


We are all broken that is how the light gets in – Ernest Hemigway

In Defence of technology

There has been a lot of talk about technology, how it has taken over our lives, how we rather txt someone than talk to them, and I admit I have been guilty of some of the rantings. Especially when it comes to my children and how they can’t ‘live’ without their i-pads and literally turn deaf when on it.

virtual social network

connect with the world in real time

Yesterday, South Australia had the worst storm in 50 years, a cyclone no less. We were without power, as transmission towers were ripped from the ground, for almost 5 hours and during that time we were thrust back into time, a pre technology era and it opened my eyes to the reality that is technology.

As the winds lashed our home that glowed with candlelight, the temperatures dropped forcing us to huddle together under blankets, the smoke from the candle began to trigger my son’s mild asthma and I had to switch over to emergency torches, I still kept a few candles burning in strategic places.

Kids being kids demanded food, I reached out to my fridge and with ninja stealth took out eggs, milk and butter. We have a gas cooker so in no time a good meal was prepared; the dancing candlelight was very forgiving towards the mess I made in the process. As I washed the dishes in the icy cold water I remembered that our water heater though it ran on gas, needed an electric spark to get it going.

My mum called and we spoke for a while, she lives down the street and I was grateful that the mobiles were working. She spoke of how she missed heating up the wheat bags in the microwave, how it was getting cold and the battery-operated radio was keeping her company in the dark. She too has asthma and can’t use candles so was grateful to the emergency torch that ran on batteries.

The D-day coastline in Normandy, France

She told me that she spoke to her friend and had advised her not to use camp stoves or light up the barbecue without good ventilation, not an option in this freezing weather. Her neighbour who needed oxygen had to have the ambulance take him to the hospital as the oxygen dispenser was electrical and his spare oxygen tank wouldn’t last the outage. They had called the ambulance using his mobile, as the landline phone worked on electricity.

As I sat in the dark and saw the candles dim I wondered how long until the electricity was back? As if an answer to my silent prayer the mobile buzzed with a message from the SA power Networks, electricity would be restored by midnight. Messages from friends all over the world streamed wishing my family and me safe. There was a lot of banter about marriage, dance lessons, kids’ exams and they all kept my mind off the fact that I was in a blackout state facing the worst storm in five decades.

My brother was forwarding me snippets about the outage; there were people from other states making fun of our outage. One tweet read, ‘Well I suppose one good thing about this SA power blackout is at least Adelaide’s nightlife won’t be affected at all.’ There were fears that the water supply might be disrupted and emergency services were being stretched to the limit as all vehicles were running low on gas.

When electricity was finally restored the mess as well as the smoke from the candles astounded me, I had to open windows to vent it out and as I could switch on the heater the cold was no longer prohibitive. I vacuumed, loaded the dishwasher, put the toys away, wiped the tables, sorted the laundry and messaged all my friends and hubby that we were safe and the worst was over.

The truth is Technology makes our life so much better, safer and convenient. People use it for medical purposes so that they can live independently without being a burden on family and friends; we use it to power our homes, hospitals, and emergency services. We use it to spread awareness about social concerns, diseases, potential hazards, and acceptance of people with differences to name a few.

Does it get abused? We are humans if there are ten helpful things one can use an object for then we will find that one way with which we can cause harm, it’s our nature so yes it gets abused. It isn’t technology that is bad, it’s our innate nature to turn everything good into something not so good. Give a child a crayon expecting him or her to be Picasso and they decide to chew it. Shall we throw out all the crayons and rant about how it is leading to teeth discolorations, potential poisoning from ingestion of colours and not to mention the mental anguish of a mother trying to get colour out of a toddlers teeth?

Yes social media poses risks to privacy, a tool used by Paedophiles, a means for cyber bullying etc. but it also helps a mother like me alone with three kids during a state-wide blackout to feel connected, safe and loved.

finger family

to be safe and loved

Dr. Google and why he upsets me so

Woman having cold sore throat drinking tea

Manipulators can drain your energy

It’s a cold balmy morning and as I open my inbox, Quora decides to educate me on ‘How do you quickly recognize a manipulative person?’ Now why Quora decided I needed that bit of information is quite an interesting topic and maybe ‘Google’ does indeed know?

However, this post is not about that it is about, wait for it, my objections to the article. No, I’m not a troll, I’m not one of those who have to find fault with everything kind of person but read on and hopefully you’ll see my point.

Let me start with the title, quickly; now I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever had the unfortunate experience of encountering a manipulator but let me clarify there is nothing quick about spotting a manipulator. It often takes years of damage to one’s self esteem, soul, heart and mind to realise that it wasn’t your fault; you were just being manipulated. A con artist is easy and quick to recognise but a manipulative person who has weaved himself or herself into your fabric of life, not so much.

Manipulators are sneaky, in the sense you get this gut feeling that something is amiss but you can’t pin point exactly what. They are so good at turning everything into your fault that you can hardly take a stand, after all they are always the victim and you are made to feel guilty about it. Nothing quick about spotting that, it often takes years of emotional and mental turmoil and a tipping point, an illness, or some other catastrophe to get you to finally realise what’s going on.

What’s worse is that most successful emotional and psychological manipulators have a home court advantage. They either are your family (parent, sibling, spouse, child, in laws etc.) or in a position of authority (employer, senior, etc,) You get the point, they can’t be easily ignored and they often bring along social obligations that they use to their advantage.

So needless to say when I find an article that says, “If a person is too nice or caring, suspect them.” I cringe. I take personal offence to this generalised statement; doubt good people on the off chance that they are manipulators? I now realise why some people have given me the cold shoulder or responded rudely when all I wanted to be was kind and helpful, they have been getting this kind of advice!

While I understand that being in the snares of a manipulator is one of worst experiences imaginable, hardening your heart and suspecting everyone you meet is hardly the solution. For me this advice is akin to someone saying I’m going to sit in this cold dark room because something bad might happen to me if I step out. Yes, nothing bad can happen to you but neither will anything good and that isn’t living it’s existing.

“If they make you do things, that you don’t really want to do, but you do them anyway because of them then you are being manipulated.”

I’m a mum I make my kids to do things they don’t want to do all the time but it isn’t because I’m manipulative it’s because vegetables and fibre is really good for them. A jacket no matter how unfashionable is a must if it’s chilly in the garden. Going to school no matter how boring is not an option it is mandatory, period.

The article was hardly a comprehensive account of what it stated in the title. All it did was offer swooping generalised statements that I felt caused more harm than good. If you truly are in the clutches of a manipulator or suspect someone of being a manipulator this article is not to be read, instead advice from a psychologist would be more appropriate. The truth is manipulators work by eroding your confidence, making you doubt yourself, guilt tripping you into every situation, it is a sad slow process that begins with gaining your trust, isolating you from anyone who might help you see though the manipulation or support your self worth.

Here is an example of what it’s like with a master manipulator as posted by Eden Strong for

Manipulation always starts with guilt. If he can convince you to feel guilty for your actions (even when you’ve done nothing wrong), then he knows you’ll be more willing to do what he says. “I mean sure, I guess dinner was OK. It wasn’t what I was hoping for and I would have rather done something different but I guess as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. I love you and it’s important to me that you are happy, even if that means setting aside what I want.”

See what he did there? How he turned that around you? On the surface, he makes it seem like he’s a loving boyfriend but spoiler alert: guilt is not love.

While this isn’t as good as going to a professional psychologist or counsellor for advice it paints a fairly accurate picture of a manipulator. A half page article with generalised statements does more harm than good, and this concept of posting advice about anything and everything under the sun after reading a few articles by other equally unqualified people is what is wrong with the internet today. Dr. Google has become the go to professional for advice, and Dr. Google is filled with quacks that want to raise their ranking on sites like Quora by posting as many articles as they possibly can with blatant disregard to the repercussions of their actions on impressionable minds. It takes 5 likes on a post to get people to trust the nonsense some people pass off as advice.

What I find ironical is that this blogger is doing exactly what a manipulator does, “Manipulators may appear selfless and helpful. It’s because they conceal their intention, ambitions and desire for power.”

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.


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.


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.


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.


Christians are smashing metal songwriters? Really?


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

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.


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.


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?

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!