It Felt Love #MondayMusings #1000Speak

It Felt Love #MondayMusings #1000Speak

It Felt Love

How
Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its
Beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its
Being,
Otherwise,
We all remain
Too
Frightened.
-Hafiz

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After a car bomb ripped through his Baghdad neigbourhood, Karim Wasfi, the conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, sat on a stool amidst the rubble and played his cello. Here is an extract from his interview by Al Jazeera :

So the act of playing the cello was the opposite to the act of detonating a bomb?
Yes. Creating life, basically. I don’t want that to turn into an inevitability of the situation in Iraq: death experienced on a daily basis. No, I want to do the opposite. Life is experienced on a daily basis. Even though we don’t experience normalcy. When things are normal, I will have more responsibilities and obligations. But when things are insane and abnormal like that, I have the obligation of inspiring people, sharing hope, perseverance, dedication, and preserving the momentum of life.

How did people react to you when you started to play?
They loved it. Soldiers cried. They kissed, they clapped, they felt alive, they felt human and they felt appreciated and respected, which does not surprise me.

Would you dare to do something like this? I’m almost certain I wouldn’t be able to.

Maybe life is calling us in smaller ways to stand up to injustice, fear, superstition.

Perhaps life is calling us to be authentic – to risk opening ourselves to the light and in doing so bring meaning to ourselves and others.

Could life be calling us to risk being unpopular for the greater good?

Is life calling us to open ourselves to feel the pain, the heartache, the fears of others…..To be men and women of compassion?

Is life calling you to open to the light? #MondayMusings #MicroblogMondays #1000SpeakClick To Tweet

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Also linking to 1000 Voices for Compassion and Mackenzie Glanville’s post and Mel Ford’s #MicroblogMondays.

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Pic credit : Rose Image from Shutterstock

The Blessing Of Trees  #FridayReflections #FTSF #1000Speak

The Blessing Of Trees #FridayReflections #FTSF #1000Speak

Audrey Hepburn said of herself : “I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” She certains sounds like me, except the part about the ‘long’ walks!

My latest fascination is taking pictures of trees. There’s something so majestic and beautiful about them. And capturing, on my small camera, tall trees against the backdrop of the sky, bring me great joy.

When it comes to blessings, I naturally think of trees.

Today I’m celebrating the blessings of trees, as I share with you the photographs I’ve taken from my walks over the last few months in Secunderabad and Goa.

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” ― E.E. Cummings

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”
― E.E. Cummings

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.- Kahlil Gibran

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky. – Kahlil Gibran

 

trees are sanctuaries
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. – Hermann Hesse

 

To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots.- Richard Mabey

To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots. – Richard Mabey

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. – ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Trees are your best antiques. – Alexander Smith

The trees are God’s great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.
~Leonora Speyer

Perhaps the biggest blessing of trees, as I wander around is what Candy Polgar said:

Alone with myself
The trees bend to caress me
The shade hugs my heart.

 

What captures your heart when you go for a walk?

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Linking up with :

#FridayReflections with Write Tribe and Sanch Vee and responding the prompt : Take your camera for a walk and write based on one of the photographs you take.

Finish The Sentence Friday with Finding Ninee and the other lovelies – Rabia Lieber, Lisa Witherspoon and Michelle Grewe for the prompt: “When it comes to blessings…” or Ten Ways I can bless people… or Ten Ways I am Blessed…

August is Blessings month for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, so I’m happy to join Yvonne Spence and other bloggers to share my blessings.

 

Happily Imperfect #MondayMusings  #1000Speak

Happily Imperfect #MondayMusings #1000Speak

In a world where botox and plastic surgery are so easily on offer, I sometimes wonder why we can’t just be the way we are.  Who tells us that we need all these things to look beautiful? Who tells us that our nose is not ‘perfect’? What is a perfect nose anyway? And does fixing our nose or other parts of our body make us feel happier about ourselves? Perhaps once our nose is ‘perfect’, we might need a matching ‘perfect’ mouth!

Living in India, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked, “How many children do you have?” and when I answer that I have none, I don’t know whether to laugh or yell when people commiserate me. Who says that having children makes every woman’s life perfect? 

I remember questions being asked when I was single until my forties. “When will give us some good news?” (a standard idiotic question in India to be interpreted as ‘when are you getting married?’ or ‘when are you having a baby?’). I’d love to respond with, “I can give you good news right now. I’m enjoying my work and am fine being single.” And they’d respond with a smirk which said”As if!” Who says that having a partner makes one’s life complete?

Happily Imperfect

But beyond all these are the times when we allow our notions of perfection to stop us from being happy.

We set goals, create bucket lists and make promises to ourselves. All that is fine. It keeps us dreaming. It keeps us focussed. Sometimes, these very things can keep us from being happy.  Why? When we fail at achieving them, or can’t keep up with our goals, we start to beat ourselves up, calling ourselves names, labelling ourselves ‘stupid’, ‘useless’ and ‘losers’.

We cannot be happy until we accept that we are imperfect. It’s as simple as that.

Happiness is a direct result of self-acceptance. Ask me, I know. And what is self-acceptance if not compassion towards oneself.

As Brené Brown says so eloquently  “….. living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

I love this story and must share it with you today.

In the perfume shop show window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign, which read: Do you suffer from freckles? 
“What does the sign say?” ask Pippi Longstocking. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.
“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?'” said Annika.
“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”
She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her. “No!” she said decidedly.
“What is it you want?” asked the lady.
“No,” said Pippi once more.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.
“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi. Then the lady understood, but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”
“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”
She turned to leave, but when she got to the door she looked back and cried, “But if you should happen to get in any salve that gives people more freckles, then you can send me seven or eight jars.”
(Pippi Goes on Board (Pippi Longstocking) by Astrid Lindgren)

 

happily-imperfect

We cannot be happy until we accept that we are imperfect. It's as simple as that.Click To Tweet

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March 20 is celebrated as World Happiness Day. Find out more and download Happiness Resources from the Action For Happiness website. The #1000Speak effort for this month is looking at the connection between happiness and compassion. Check out more posts on the linky.

 

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Click on the image for Happiness Resources

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Wise Compassion #MondayMusings #1000Speak

Wise Compassion #MondayMusings #1000Speak

A year ago, Lizzi Lewis set off a storm with her post titled, We all need the village. It resulted in a movement called 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, which saw hundreds of bloggers writing through the year on the subject of compassion, listening, etc.  On 20th February, the movement celebrated its first year and bloggers are invited to add their posts on compassion.

As I began to think of the subject of compassion and kindness, I thought about how sometimes our compassion can be misplaced and might actually end up doing more harm than good. Let me give you a few examples to explain.

A woman has an alcholic husband. He drinks, goes around well-dressed on a fancy motorcycle and doesn’t do a stroke of work. With two young children to support, the woman has to work hard. How does the man finance his habit? His wife buys him alchohol every day as he cannot do without it. Is she being compassionate towards her husband? Or is she enabling him to be a drunk and sponge?

A friend lives beyond her means. She’s maxed out her credit cards and now wants to go shopping for what you know is something she doesn’t really need. She asks you to loan her some money and starts to cry when you don’t give it to her. How can you bear to see your friend cry. You reach for your wallet and hand her the money. Compassion, friendship or enabling behaviour?

Wise Compassion or Idiot Compassion

I like the distinction made in Buddist teaching between wise compassion and idiot compassion. ‘Idiot compassion’ was termed by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. His disciple, Buddhist nun and author Pema Chödrön, explains idiot compassion: It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s what’s called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering.

Wise compassion sees a genuine need and tries to respond in the best possible way. Idiot compassion is giving people what they want, mostly because you feel uncomfortable with their pain or discomfort. It is a selfish sort of reaching out because it is done to make  you feel comfortable and is the easiest option. Wise compassion may not always make us good and might require us to move out of our comfort zone to truly make a difference.

Let me end today’s musings with a story as told by Max Lucado.

A lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline received oil once a month to keep his light burning. Not being far from a village, he had frequent guests. One night a woman needed oil to keep her family warm. Another night a father needed oil for his lamp. Then another needed oil to lubricate a wheel. All the requests seemed legitimate, so the lighthouse keeper tried to meet them all. Toward the end of the month, however, he ran out of oil, and his lighthouse went dark, causing several ships to crash on the coastline. The man was reproved by his superiors, “You were given the oil for one reason,” they said, “to keep the light burning.” Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His

Let’s remember, that compassion too is a gift that we must use wisely.

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We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
– Marcel Proust

 

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A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

Today, I’m happy to have Evelyn Mann sharing a grateful journey here today. I happened upon this inspiring woman on a blogging forum and knew that I just had to get her to share her family’s journey on Everyday Gyaan.

Thank you for being so willing to share your story, Evelyn. You inspire me!

Evelyn Mann is a special needs mother raising her son in sunny Florida, USA. Her son has a rare form of dwarfism called Thanatophoric Dwarfism Dysplasia. And though, this is a lethal form of dwarfism, her son has exceeded all expectations and is now ten years old. You can follow her on her website where she shares insights on raising her son.

A Grateful Journey: The Power Of One Mother’s Story

Grateful: My Marriage, A Honeymoon, And A Child

I am extremely grateful to be blessed with a wonderful husband. When I was thirty-seven years old, I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever find someone. My prayers were answered when I met my husband and we were married just a few weeks shy of my thirty-ninth birthday. He was worth the wait.

We went on a tour of waterfalls for our honeymoon and thus began a marriage full of love and hope. Not long after, we found out we were expecting my first child. Joy and excitement was tempered by frequent occasions of extreme sleepiness but that soon went away.

Grateful: For God and The Spark of Life

The day arrived for us to find out whether our child would be a boy or a girl. Only to discover, our child was growing slower than expected. Yes, we were having a boy but was he healthy? Time would tell.

After many meetings with doctors, we were told our son would likely not live past birth. We heard the words from the doctors but our faith in God glued us together, trusting in Him to work it all out. And so, on a summer day in August, our son came into the world very much alive.

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Grateful: For Doctors & Nurses, Specialized Equipment and lots of prayer

For six months, our son struggled to be stable enough to leave the hospital and come home with us. We had a team of doctors and nurses providing around the clock care with specialized machines to help our son. My motherly emotions were on a roller-coaster of ups and downs but through it all, I prayed and trusted God for our son’s outcome.

And so, on a cold day in February, our son came home to twenty-four hour nursing care and two very jubilant and loving parents.

Grateful: A Wish and Prayers

We soon learned how to care for our son’s special needs. This required learning how to care for a tracheostomy and a feeding tube; one to help him breathe and the other to give him food and water. Coupled with managing his ventilator, it was a very steep learning curve.

My instincts as a mother were especially strong, not allowing our son to venture out except to the doctor. I didn’t even want to take him to the park. So this went on for a few years. Then, when my son turned three years old (already far exceeding any doctor’s expectations) we received a wish.

The Make-A-Wish foundation, an organization which grants wishes for medically fragile children, sent us to see the dolphins at Sea World in Orlando. Like a bird being pushed out of her nest, I was being encouraged to show my sweet son a world other than doctor’s offices and home.

And so, on winter’s day in February, we were driven by limousine to Orlando for an amazing holiday provided by the gracious kindness of the Make-A-Wish foundation. On this trip, I prayed much and learned how to travel with my special needs child which would open doors I’d never dreamed of.

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Grateful: Coming Full Circle

Another miracle happened when my son comes off his ventilator. A dream I never expected to happen. I’d hoped, yes but dared not dream such things were possible. But with God, nothing is impossible.

So, two summers ago, we travel to Niagara Falls. From the tiny waterfalls of our honeymoon to one of the largest, we distanced many miles by road to see this wonder. Standing by this impressive feat of nature, I look at my son and am in awe. In awe that we are in this surreal place, far away from home (1,932 kilometers), with my special needs child. I’m struck by the mist of the falls making rainbows in the air and a child that was never expected to live now experiencing this natural wonder.

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Grateful: A Way of Life

As we live our lives raising our miracle, I’ve come to be thankful for things once taken for granted. I’m extremely grateful for our health. Though our son has special needs and is considered medically fragile, I see him as a stable, happy, full of life little boy with a smile that melts hearts. And for that, I am grateful. For us, being thankful is a way of life.

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What are you grateful for, even in the midst of what is considered trying circumstances? You may not have a special needs son, but we all can choose to be grateful even in the face of difficult circumstances. That is how we overcome, yes? We overcome together, through the power of our stories. I’d love to hear your story.

 

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Linking in to the #1000Speak for Compassion post. This month’s theme is gratitude.

The Spirit of Abstraction #1000Speak

The Spirit of Abstraction #1000Speak

Without harking back to the ‘good old days’, because it’s entirely possible that the media brings us stories that would otherwise have been lost, but does it seem to you that we have all become much more insensitive to the suffering of others?

The Spirit of Abstraction?

Gabriel Marcel in his essay “The Spirit of Abstraction as a Factor Making for War’ coined the term ‘spirit of abstraction’. What it means is the practice of seeing people as functions rather than as human beings.

I see that at work when

Economic inequality. Gender inequality. Racial inequality. We see examples of these all around us.

How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.

Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. – Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium

We need to replace the spirit of abstraction with a spirit of compassion today!

Where do we begin? How do we change the hearts and minds of people.

As with every movement for good, change begins with the individual.

Compassion begins

  • when I reach out to a family member and ask how she is doing.
  • when I pay fair wages to the people who work for me.
  • when I realize that the maid needs some days off.
  • when I smile at a stranger.
  • when I pay for a stranger’s meal.
  • when I speak out for someone who is suffering.
  • when I contribute to a poor child’s education.

Compassion begins with me today!

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Today I join the 1000 Voices for compassion.