Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax


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From Zero to Hero in 6

This post is long over due. February was a busy month. I had a couple of interviews and had this feeling that I was really close to snagging a job. But that phone call I was waiting for never came. One day I was wondering if I should do the substitute training course to get a job at the school district, when a recruiter called. She felt I was a good fit for the job (yeah they all do and once they’ve forwarded your resume they forget all about you). So she said I needed to do an editing test. That perked me up as I recalled getting my first job straight out of university after doing an editing test. The last job I landed when I was in India also happened after a series of tests.  I had some good test-taking skills, I figured. Interview skills? Now that was a different ball game all together.

I cleared this editing test and was to do a phone interview and a face-to-face interview. The phone interview got scrapped (whew!) but I still had to do the face to face. The recruiter told me it would be an hour-long interview and that gave me the jitters. I practiced for it as well as I could but I knew from past experience that you can’t always be prepared for every question. You have to be able to think on your feet and come up with something impressive even if you never encountered that particular scenario.

I had three people tossing questions at me randomly. Some were questions I was prepared for and some were not. The interviewers were friendly and did their best to make me feel comfortable. When they were done 40 minutes later (I don’t know if I would have lasted an hour!) I was taken on a tour of the office and met some other editors at the café. The casual and friendly vibe was quite appealing. And then when they showed me the yoga room I was totally floored.

Back home I told everyone that the interview went well. The recruiter told me that they usually decide within a day. Next day came and went, then another, then a whole week. The recruiter reassured me that she was still waiting to hear from them. I honestly did not expect to hear from them after a week. On the last day of February I got a call and finally heard the words I’d been waiting to hear for over 6 months.  “I have some good news for you. The company called and they want to hire you. When would you be able to start?”

I was ready to start the next day! But I pulled myself together and said I would start next week. But  a week wasn’t enough to get my background check and verification done. So then I was slated to start in the middle of March.

Three weeks have passed since I started working as an editor. From having too much time on my hands, I have gone to having every minute filled with activity. My formerly lazy weekends are now spent doing grocery shopping and cooking for the week. It took me over a decade and a half to get back to my career full time. I have to say it wasn’t easy (you know the whole story if you have been around since 2012 when I started this blog) but I persisted and now here I am. Patience, perseverance and prayer got me here and might I add not just my prayers but prayers of some beautiful souls who I am lucky to have in my life (you know who you are!)

My husband also landed a job around the same time and our fortunes changed overnight. I’m glad we held on, kept the faith and kept trying even after facing several disappointments. Now when I tell my kids not to give up when things get tough or they don’t succeed at first, they know that I am walking my talk and not just being preachy. And for the longest time the only reason I wanted to succeed was to teach them that nothing in life is impossible even if you face seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

This I know is true, for anyone who wants something and wants it bad – if you can dream it, work for it even when the results/rewards don’t appear and you have undying faith in yourself or a power larger than yourself, then you shall have it. Sending you all love and light and infinite gratitude for wishing me well, enquiring about me when I was going through a rough patch and praying for me and my family.


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My Year in Review

 

Even through the tangled anarchy called fate

And through the bitterness of death and fall

An outstretched hand is felt upon our lives.

It is near in unnumbered bodies and births;

In its unslackening grasp it keeps for us safe

The one inevitable supreme result

No will can take away and no Doom change. 

– Savitri by Aurobindo

Dear God,

What a rollercoaster this year has been! It started off well enough with good writing work from a content mill. Then a bit of a lull in February after which you took me in a whole new direction in March with the substitute job at an elementary school. The job got extended to April by which time it was apparent that our move to India was imminent. I had to say goodbye to a job I had come to love and focus on selling and disposing of stuff. I thought it would be an extremely emotional affair. But I was wrong. I found I wasn’t really attached to much of the stuff (or so it seemed at that time). All of it can be replaced – I kept telling myself. The only thing that nearly brought me to tears was watching someone drive away in our black Honda Accord. She was there when I got married and came to the U.S. for the first time. She was there when my babies were born. She was there on our road trip to Maine. She took us all the way from Massachusetts to Florida. She was the first car I ever drove. Then she came with us to Washington State, where we finally bid adieu to her. Even today it is painful to look at a Honda.

Anyways, with a lot of prayer and on the wings of faith we reached Chennai ready for a fresh start. Little did I know that we were in for a lot of hardship. I did the only thing I know to do. I prayed, I chanted, I wrote in my prayer and gratitude journal. Four months down the line we had not made any headway. Days flew by and prospects of a job grew dimmer. There were days I could not get out of bed. Broken in spirit and physically exhausted, I doubted if my prayers would be answered. That was when a long anticipated trip to Arunachala happened and it renewed my faith and lifted my sagging spirits. But that was not the end of our trials was it?

You sent illness, floods and other challenges our way, so much so that we felt like the trials that had come before were child’s play. December brought illness and more flooding. By then I had reached the end of my tether. Hear my last desperate call, O God or I quit. I quit on you. All that I worked on for the past few years was a bunch of nonsense. There is no one up there. All this New Age mumbo jumbo that I keep doling out is a lie. There is no hope. Only suffering. I see how deluded I was. I won’t write blogs anymore. giving people false hopes.

In one last desperate call to you, I fasted one Monday in December. From dawn to dusk I only ate some fruit and milk. My body already ravaged by the stress of the past few months couldn’t take it. Exhausted, I waited for one tiny ray of hope. One answered prayer. That is all I asked for. Tuesday went by – nothing. On Wednesday I quit on you. I thought that you had given up on me and my family. Wednesday night saw me a crushed and crumpled being struggling to come to terms with myself. I felt abandoned by the only person I had trusted – YOU!

Then a phone call and everything changed. I got a job. One prayer was answered. My body shaking, I retrieved my prayer books which I had sworn never to touch again and I quietly said my prayers with tears streaming down my face. You heard me. You heard this wretched soul. You saved me yet again albeit after pushing me to the edge of sanity. After taking everything away and leaving me helpless, you extended your hand in the last moment to save me from inevitable ruin and disgrace.

Your grace is unrelenting and works in mysterious ways which are beyond the grasp of my human mind. You have finally given me something to hold on to. Something to build my life on again. Most of all you have lit the flame of hope in my heart which I can share with others who probably are in similar situations. So thank you God. I look forward to more answered prayers and more blessings in 2016 and I give thanks for all your gifts in advance.

Infinite love and gratitude,

DC

 


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Moving 101

Three moves in the past six years makes me somewhat of an authority on moving I think. I have done smaller moves within the same state in the past and that did not involve heavy furniture or movers. We simply took stuff in our car and put it in the new place, over the course of a month. For the bed and other furniture that did not fit in our car we hired a U- Haul van and transported the bulky items.

Our first big move from Boston to Florida was hard because we moved from a big townhouse to an apartment. Moving doesn’t have to be hard and exhausting. With proper planning you can get it done with minimum stress. Which brings me to step 1 of moving.

2 Months before the Move: Take Inventory

On an excel sheet or on paper list all the items in your house room by room and categorize them as furniture, kitchen items, electronics, computers, décor etc. Now next to each item name say sell, bring, donate or dispose. What you take with you will depend on the size of the new place, moving expenses and the condition of the items. Anything old, damaged or just lying around and not it use should be given away. Ask yourself if you have used it or worn it in the past year. If the answer is no, it should probably go.

Sell Items

Selling items takes time. The earlier you begin the greater the chances of disposing stuff before you move as opposed to simply junking it. Sites like Craigslist allow users to post pictures and descriptions of items for free. Some discretion is advised when interacting with potential buyers. Don’t give out your full name, address or e-mail. Create a new e-mail id exclusively for selling stuff. Give out a temporary number if required. Talk to the buyer before giving out your address. That way you weed out the crazies. Accept only cash and meet at a public place if the item is small enough to transport in a car. If a buyer must come to your house make sure you are not alone.

Try selling your items on Facebook pages for locals in your area, Moot Loot for selling furniture if you are in North Carolina or San Francisco and 2good2toss in other areas of the U.S. In India, Quickr is a popular website to sell used goods. If you are selling your car, Craigslist or cars.com is a good choice. Accept only a cashiers check if the buyer cannot pay with cash.  Listing your items in multiple websites allows for a wider reach and greater success at selling them. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers if they are interested in buying your stuff.

In my experience smaller things sell easily, bigger things take time. Make sure your items are clean and take good quality pictures of the items to post on the websites mentioned above. Provide dimensions and a good description of items. If you are not sure, look up the item online and use the description provided by retail stores.

Mark items as sold on the excel sheet and also the price for which it is sold. When things don’t sell, consider reducing the price.

A Month before the move : Donating

What you consider trash could actually be useful to someone. So be green and don’t throw usable stuff in the dumpster. Donate to charities like Good Will. Put clean clothes, small household items and toys in bags and donate it. For bigger bulkier items call the Salvation Army or check for other local charities online which pick-up stuff from your home for free. Call at least a month and a half in advance to schedule a pick-up because they do get booked up. Donations are eligible for tax credits, so save receipts from charities and make sure you write down the amount then and there when your memory is fresh.

Cancel credit cards and close bank accounts. Make sure you schedule your bills to go to your e-mail to avoid late payments due to misdirected mails.

Two Weeks before the Move: Sorting and Packing

By this time you should know what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind. Give away any unsold items. Sort through papers, shred papers that have your name and other sensitive information on them. Buy boxes, bubble wrap, tape and other packing supplies. TVs and LCD monitors need to be packed carefully in special boxes to keep them from shattering.

If you are moving for work, your company may provide packing and moving services. In that case you just have to sit back and watch while the movers do all the work. Otherwise you need to carefully bubble wrap your breakables and put them in a separate box stuffed with packing peanuts to keep the items from moving around. Dismantle shelves of cupboards, secure doors to cabinets without locks to keep them from popping out and getting damaged. Get plastic mattress covers to protect your mattress from dirt and grime. Make a list of all the items in each box with the box number, so unpacking will be a breeze.

A Week before the Movers Arrive : Packing

Get packing. Don’t wait for the last day to pack all your stuff, chances are you may run short of boxes or tape. If possible have the movers come into your home and estimate how many boxes you will need. Try and stick with that number and also remember that they will charge extra if they need to climb stairs. Use small boxes for heavy stuff, big boxes for large bulky items like comforters and blankets and medium size boxes for everything else. Keep giving away stuff you don’t need or on the last day you will be scrambling to empty out the house.

Make sure you apply for an address change at the local post office so that all your mail will be redirected to your new address. Disconnect cable service and phone if you are moving out of the state.

On the Day of the Move

Get up early, have a good breakfast and dismantle furniture that is heavy or flimsy. Make sure your boxes are numbered and you have a list of what is in each box. When the movers come, let them take the stuff after you have verified their credentials. They will have you sign a paper with the number of boxes and a brief description. Check the list to make sure the information is accurate. Keep a copy for your records.

That’s it! If your bags are already packed, jump on a plane and off you go to your new home. Your boxes should arrive within a week or a month, depending on how far they have to travel.

If you are travelling from one country to another, you will have to be aware of the customs policies as well. Hope these tips make your next move smooth and hassle-free.

Pray

Moving is not easy especially big moves from one country to another. I prayed incessantly for things to go smoothly, for the right people to buy our stuff and for us to keep our calm during all these changes. I even asked family and close friends to pray for us. If you feel emotional or things are not going right – pray. Somehow things magically work out. You don’t have to do it alone, you have the universe by the side all the time. Good luck and god bless!

My next blog will be published from India. Until then…bye.


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The End of a Lazy Summer

I am ready to throw a tantrum. Summer is over. Kids are back in school. I’m still home and unemployed. Feels like I just retreated back into my shell. The kids didn’t complain though. They got up at 6.30 instead of 8.30 like it was the most natural thing to do!

But every year I’m miserable when the kids go back to school. I’m antsy, bored and feel like I have too much time on my hands. It’s not like I haven’t looked for work. I have. All summer long. But I haven’t got a single call or an interview.

Sometimes it makes me doubt my faith. If God knows I want something and can hear my prayers why doesn’t he give me what I want? Like a child asking its parent over and over again, I keep beseeching this God in a faraway place. But he keeps me right where I am. Why would a parent deny their child something? Why?

I had to put myself in a parent’s shoes to answer this mindboggling question. As a mom I find myself saying no to my kids several times. If my children want something but I see it as a distraction or a clash of values I end up saying no. Do my kids understand? Do they think I’m being fair? Maybe not. Do they give up on me? Absolutely not! And so it is with God.

We came here to learn, grow and evolve. We made arrangements, chose our environments, our paths, our families and even our obstacles. Of course we fall into deep amnesia once we are born into this world. We bumble around like babies, falling and making mistakes, totally oblivious to our true calling which can be heard in the whispers of our soul. We go down winding paths leading to nowhere. We strive and struggle, pray and fast to achieve something that is not in our destiny. Something we never signed up for. Maybe not getting what we want is God’s way of nudging us closer to what we really want but cannot put into words as we continue living a dream.

When following the course of a religion (or anything for that matter) over many centuries it becomes obvious that good times and bad times come and go in waves. Temples are built and civilizations flourish for many years and then one day everything burns down and something new takes its place. Yet we place so much importance on acquiring transient things like money, property and fame. None of these are lasting. None of them can give us lasting happiness.

I need something to do to keep me occupied. You need money to pay the bills. Somebody else needs a place to call home. But if my entire existence is focused on getting a job and a job that ‘I’ think is good enough for me then it consumes me and I end up miserable. So it is with money or trying to get a bigger or better place to live. I read somewhere that pain is inevitable but suffering we create.

God does not make us suffer by denying us what we ask for. We reject the gifts we have because we think they are not good enough and we need more of this or less of that to be happier. And when we don’t get it we allow our minds to lead us into suffering. Sometimes getting what you want may not be a good thing after all. For instance, I wanted to move to Florida for the weather. To enjoy good weather we gave up our spacious home and lovely neighbors. Good weather with no friends to enjoy it with was no fun at all. Now in Seattle I’m tempted to make the same mistake. The house is too small. The weather is gloomy. I don’t have a job!

But we’re on the ground floor with a playground for the kids. We have good neighbors who will chase the winter blues away! I can always volunteer in my kids’ school. You can’t change what is but you can change your attitude to it. Then every thing becomes a gift. Even the darkest winter becomes bearable. Years become days and life flows effortlessly. God doesn’t give you exactly what you want but he provides the best circumstances for your life to flourish.


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Guest Blog : How to Meet, Date and Marry your Soulmate in One Year! (by Shomita Sarah)

If you’re anything like me, reading this title would make you wonder if I was a little high or losing my mind. I promise I’m neither – this is the plain, honest truth as I’ve experienced it. If the title piqued your curiosity, then good. This is not really a how-to article…but it is a true-to-life experience article and honestly, I never expected to be the one to write something like this from my own experience.

Let me begin at the very beginning. The blogger I’m writing this guest article for is quite honestly my oldest (and very cherished) friend in the world. She and I were born two days apart in the same hospital in South India and our lives have been intertwined ever since. I like to say that God brought us together and has kept us together ever since. She has been a constant source of encouragement on pretty much every step where I’ve found myself faltering and particularly in the one niggling matter of finding “the guy”. A few years ago, when I was at one of those low points in my life – when every possible doubt you have weighs you down and you wonder – ‘is love ever going to find me’ and maudlin thoughts outweigh the rational – she counseled me to focus on what I wanted in a guy and make a detailed list and put it out there in the universe and wait. Easier said than done! Anyway, being at the end of the proverbial rope I decided to make that list and surprisingly, it does make you feel a little better. There’s something tangible about the written word. As a sneak preview, I’ll mention a few things on that hallowed list – tall, Irish, blue eyes, similar faith in God.  I eventually, let that list rest and went about my life, not really stressing as much about finding the guy but not really finding the guy either!

2013 started off feeling like a different year altogether. I knew something was coming this year, but didn’t know what exactly. I’d also finally gotten to the point where I decided to let the pining for “the guy” go and let him just come to me. I realized that I had a lot of good things on my plate already and if it wasn’t time for him to be on the same plate – then I could at least enjoy the rest. A cousin contacted me out of the blue and encouraged me to give a popular dating website another try – saying there were good men out there and I had to give it one more shot. So, I said to myself – why not?! Among the men that contacted me was this one guy whom I initially responded to because I found that he had a similar interest in traveling to Ireland. After a few exchanges, I started to have some doubts (as sometimes happens with online communications) and almost ended the exchange.

It would’ve surely ended there, if he hadn’t had the ‘audacity’ to call me out on my own fears and in a very down-to-earth manner give me the choice to find out if there was a possibility of a continued exchange between us. He let me set my own pace and ladies  tell me you don’t like a man who lets the girl set the pace! We started as friends – no pressure – just emailing, talking and texting and getting to know each other. We progressed to our first date on a snowy evening – that pretty much decided it for me. He was the IT guy. If I can refer back to my list again – he was tall, of Irish origin, blue eyed and shared my faith in God! We stayed all night talking and holding hands and it was simply the best date I’ve had. I started to fall in love with a good man and a gentleman – he even dusted the snow off my car! Might be a silly thing to remember but it mattered a lot to me.

We decided to become FB official – because who can say they’re really dating without letting the social network know about it right?! Less than four months later, on my 35th birthday, he surprised me – by popping the question and without a doubt, I accepted. The four months involved a whirlwind getting to know both families, lots of driving and texting and phone calls. Did I mention we were in a long-distance relationship? And did I mention that we will be tying the knot in less than 60 days?

Yup…it’s less than a year and I’ve managed to meet, date, get engaged and will soon be getting married to the guy I’ve waited a long while to meet. Ladies, pull that jaw up from off the floor. As unbelievable as this may sound…believe it…it happens! It took a lot of prayer, a lot of patient (and sometimes not-so-patient) waiting and the tiniest bit of hope that he existed. If you’re looking – don’t give up hope. Pray hard and trust that the right guy is out there and looking for you too. And when it comes to you, don’t fight too hard, give in and let yourself experience the wonder that is the love of a good man. Here’s hoping that the experiences married life brings will help us grow together as a couple!


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The Lure of Books

Growing up in my grandma’s house, where I was the only child, I quickly made friends with books. They soon became my best friends. They were there for me when I was lonely, took me to magical places far, far, away, made me laugh, cry and see things in a completely different light.

Back home in India we didn’t have very good public libraries and every avid reader had to buy their own copies of the latest books. So every birthday all I wanted was books by my current favorite author. One birthday all I got was Anne Rice’s vampire novels. And soon after I got disenchanted with vampires! My favorite genres was fantasy and mystery. I even loved Robin Cook’s medical thrillers.

When I was doing my Masters, I was in a slump. I was just going through the motions. Nothing made sense. I was desperately looking for meaning and something to hold on to. Something solid, safe and comforting. I went to the library looking for some books on journalism. It so happened that these books were in the same aisle as the religion and mysticism books and in a shelf right opposite to them.

Religion was the last thing I needed then so I never bothered to look at those books. But on that particular day, I was just leaving when my eyes fell on a book that was sticking out of the shelf. “Hidden Power” was the title and on the cover sat this half-naked man that I had never seen before. I was magnetically drawn to the book and checked it out. The words in the book were like soothing nectar to my battered soul. I found joy and incredible peace. Everything made sense again. That was the first time a book changed my life.

Now if you have been following my blogs, I mention ‘books that have changed my life’ every once in a while. When I moved to the U.S. I fell in love with the public libraries. Anyone who has lived in a third world country will tell you what a blessing it is to have these treasure troves of books available to everyone. Again books swooped in to save me from loneliness in a foreign country. And then something funny happened.

I kept hearing about this book called “The Secret” from my mother and one fine day I decided to go pick it up from the library. No copies were available and the queue (to place a hold) was incredibly long. This piqued my curiosity. There must be something about this book, if it was so popular and so much in demand. I had to wait a couple of months to get the book. When I read it, it completely blew me away. Until that point in my life I thought everyone was at the mercy of a their predetermined destiny. The idea of being co-creators of our destiny was completely alien to me.

However, I was not happy with my circumstances then and instead of blaming and giving away my power, I decided to take charge and actively improve my life. And what a joy ride that has been. Sometimes things happened so magically that even now I look back in surprise because I can’t believe I pulled it off!

Now it’s all well and good if you lived in a cocoon and didn’t have to deal with the wrong kind of people at all. But the bitter truth is that you cannot escape these people. You have to learn to deal with it all and not get pulled into the drama. I was a drama queen, I admit. Even now you’ll find me over reacting every once in a while. But I have stopped hurting myself and my loved ones through needless drama. And for that I have to thank none other than Eckhart Tolle and his book ” The New Earth”. Five years ago I didn’t know we’d be pioneers of a new age of love, peace and harmony. But I did believe that if every one of us could achieve inner peace then it would contribute to peace on earth. This book helped me see the egoic patterns in myself and others. It helped me detach from that whiny little voice in my head, which was dragging me down.

The most recent addition to my list of “Books that Changed My Life” is a book by Henrietta Anne Klauser. It’s called “Write it Down Make it Happen”. The book talks about all kinds of writing but the one message I took home was writing my prayers down. It’s been a year now since I started writing my prayers in a journal and it has been so rewarding. Every time I feel lost or in despair I reach for my journal and write. First I try to write something that I am thankful for and then I ask for help with whatever is bothering me. I feel much lighter afterwards. I also record any signs, omens, happy events in my journal and give thanks for it. I call it my prayer and gratitude journal.

I am where I am today because I took these books seriously and religiously followed the advice in them. I even recommend them to my friends and I am happy to inform you that I have heard from a few of them telling me that these techniques worked for them. I’m not surprised because most self-help books have techniques that have been tried and tested over the years. Why stumble and fail when you can learn from another person’s life and struggles. Some struggles in life you cannot avoid but most of them can be overcome by learning from another person’s experience or in my case – by opening a book!

 

 

 

 

 


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Divine Protection is Yours

I had to write this with all the fear mongering going on in the world. An older version of me would have lapped it all up and doled it out by the bushels.  I know fear like a bosom buddy that back-stabbed me and left me hanging off a cliff for years. So I went to the other extreme. Call me crazy if you like but I’d rather believe I have angels around me, saints hovering over me and God protecting me with a shield of armor than get paralyzed with fear. And I’m glad to report that it works!

I remember seeing this short video on television a long time ago and it really impacted me. It goes like this. A girl lives on the edge of a forest with her grandmother. To get to her school, she has to walk through the jungle. The jungle is a scary place where she sees poisonous snakes and senses wild animals lurking in the bushes. The poor girl is so scared that she tells her grandmother that she would not go to school. Her grandmother tells her not to be afraid and to call on her brother Ram. The girl is confused because  she is quite certain that she is the only child. Her grandma however, insists that she has a brother who lives in the jungle. So the next day the girl goes into the jungle and calls out to her brother in full faith.

Sure enough a young boy slightly older than her appears, holds her hand and walks her to school. Now, the teacher comes to know about this and wants to meet her brother. The girl goes to the jungle with her entire class and calls her brother but he doesn’t show up. The girl bursts into tears when the teacher berates her in front of all the kids and calls her a liar. Her brother Ram then appears before the whole class to convince them that the girl did receive divine protection.

Ok that’s just a story you might say. But I have read accounts of people in dangerous situations being protected by something I can only call divine. Peace Pilgrim for instance, was a woman walking all alone, along the length and breadth of America, spreading her message of peace. She did not fear strangers and used to sleep under the stars without any apprehension. In her autobiography she mentions this truck driver who approached her as she was walking on the highway. He offered his truck as a place to tuck in for the night. She gratefully accepted his invitation, even though he was a complete stranger. She then got comfortable inside the truck and fell asleep. Now the truck driver had less than honorable intentions. When she woke up in the morning, he was staring at her in awe. He then told her that every time he approached her with the intent of harming her, some unseen force stopped him. He was visibly shaken by the whole experience and apologized to her. Peace Pilgrim had unwavering faith in God’s love and protection at all times. She also believed that it was available to everyone.

I know I’ve talked about my fear of driving before so I won’t go into it now. Suffice to say that I went from being drowned with images of dying in a car crash to calling all the angels and Gods to protect me as I drive. Speaking of car crashes, I’ve heard some miraculous stories. The car would be smashed beyond recognition or redemption and the people inside would just walk out without a scratch. How can you explain this? Divine protection and your guardian angels embracing you? I think so!

You hear all sorts of horrid things in the news and sometimes you wonder if you can ever be safe again. After the Sandy Hook tragedy I dreaded sending my kids to school. I knew I would sit at home and go insane with worry. They had a cop stationed near the main entrance to the school for a few weeks. Then the cop was gone. I just imagine all of heaven right there by the front door of every school, protecting my children, your children, the children of the world. I do wish you would join me in kicking fear out of your life and embracing divine protection – for it is your birth right!


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You are Not Alone

   The world has become unbearable to me. The more I try to center myself and tap into inner peace, the more junk it throws at me. I love the trash-to-treasure idea but what do you do with random acts of violence with absolutely no motive or reasoning. It’s hard to erase those images from your psyche.

  My husband lovingly calls me the ‘enlightened one’ – what with my 24/7 obsession with making everything right with the world and my irresistible need to give advice to everyone about everything. But I was beginning to think he is mistaken. I’m barely keeping my head above the water. But it’s not like I’m going through the worst time of my life. Those years are way behind me. So then it got me thinking about those years when I felt all alone and a slave to my never-ending problems. Where was God, where were the signs, where were His/Her people?

   This is what I sensed from deep within. Even in your moments of deep despair, I was there whispering words of reassurance. You heard the words but didn’t know it was me. And then this song just popped into my head – ‘In the Arms of the Angel’ from the soundtrack of the movie “City of Angels”. I used to hear that song over and over when I was in Pondicherry, hating the course I was doing and wanting to quit. It was a very tough phase, with lots of tears and regret and doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. Back then it was just a song to me and it did not occur to me that I was being guided.

  Through several hits and misses I see how I was protected and saved from situations that would have taken me down  the road to damnation. When I had to deal with heartache I stumbled upon a kind saint and his compassionate words  to help me through it.

 Which brings me to the poem I want to share with you. I want you to know that whatever it is that you are going through you are not alone. Not even physically alone because me and several others are with you down that path. Struggling with the ugliness of the world before it disappears for good. All that we need to do is have faith that we will be swept away on the wings of angels and can live without a care.

 

Footprints in the Sand

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with God and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to me and the other belonged to God.

When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at certain times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This really bothered me and I questioned God about it.

“God, you said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints in the sand. I don’t understand why in times I needed You most You would leave me.”

God replied,”My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you during your times of trials and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints in the sand it was then that I was carrying you.”

Mary Stevenson.


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Love Never Dies…

Sandy hit last week and took many people with it. The pictures of the damage were heart wrenching. One cold December not too long ago we woke up freezing. A freak ice storm had left our town without power. We had to live in a friend’s place and then a hotel for five days until the power was restored. We did not lose our home or our belongings and none of us were hurt. But just being without a home for a few days is enough to make you feel displaced and uncomfortable. Imagine the plight of millions who not only lost power but also their homes and some even their loved ones. This week an earthquake in Guatemala killed many people and caused severe damage. I couldn’t shake off the sadness and then before I could pick myself up, I was dealt another blow.

My former colleague passed away. He is two years older to me and leaves behind a wife, twin toddler boys and a newborn. I spoke to his wife this week and I could feel her pain. I bit my lip and fought back the tears as I spoke to her. Just a couple of weeks ago I started writing the story of my grandma and this is how I started – right on the day my grandpa died, leaving my 36 year old grandma a widow with no work experience, no college degree and a little money. My Dad had just started college. When I wrote it was from my grandma’s perspective and in her voice. I almost cried when I spoke to my colleague’s wife because the feelings associated with losing one’s spouse were fresh in my psyche.

The feeling of loss is universal. It’s something no mortal can escape. It doesn’t matter if it’s your grandma. grandpa, mother, father, spouse, sibling, friend or child. It just leaves a huge void. One that all the love in the world cannot fill. All the people in the world cannot fill it. You feel orphaned, abandoned and forced to deal with life without your loved one. It’s not fair! How can you go on?

A dark mood swept over me this week and even though I planned to write this post, a part of me was saying – What are words? Just empty symbols. How can I make the pain go away? I can’t. No one will believe me when I say I feel you. I’ve been there. We become one in our experience of pain, grief and loss in very much the same way we become one in love, happiness and prosperity. There is a saying that goes – when you laugh the world laughs with you and when you cry you cry alone. I’m not so sure about that one. Here is my experience taken from an older post Daring and Different…My Dadima…

I was foolish to think she had touched but one life – mine. When people came to me with stories of her kindness and love, I cried copious tears. It felt like their pain was my pain. We had all lost someone special. Someone who thought we were special and treated us like royalty.

The pain you feel is real. No one can replace him/her. But time does heal and love will find a way to make you ache less. The loss of my grandma was not easy to deal with. I grew up in her shadow (or should I say aura?) I was lucky that I got to be with her when she passed away (braving winter storms, cancelled flights and long stop-overs). But still I felt guilty for the time I spent away from her. I could never get that back – it was gone and she was gone. I cried alone when no one was watching. Every birthday and holiday I would miss her terribly and cry. Every February (that is the month she passed away)  I would plunge into depression. It took me two years to make peace with her passing. I cannot give you a timeline for grieving or a date to move on. It will take time, it will take help and it will take a lot of prayer.

I keep going back to my grandma because I think she dealt with death in the right way. She never feared it and was never in awe of it. She just accepted it. She did however lose faith in God and Astrology after her husband was whisked away from her far too soon. Astrologers had predicted that the couple would live a long, happy life. And here she was 36 and widowed and with no clue how to carry on. She did however have a strong will to overcome the odds. She also had this – a strong connection with my grandpa even though he was not physically present. She often talked about dreaming about him and telling him her problems. Looking back at her life I can tell she most certainly got help from the other side. She always had enough money to take care of herself and pay the huge hospital bills. She always had helpful people and synchronistic things kept happening to her.

After her passing I felt her presence. Many things I had wanted in the past, came to me more easily. Like getting  a driver’s license, moving to a warmer place, even making friends. You say it’s a coincidence. I say it’s her putting in a word for me up there. In each case I have received signs that she has intervened on my behalf to bring me things in this mortal plane to make me happy.

Some of you may be reading this and not really understanding the full purport of my words. I’m saying that our souls never die and are not limited by the body. We go on forever. We are infinite beings. You are never alone even if you do not realize it. It’s like having air to breathe – you don’t think about it. There is more to life than death. Death is not the end. It is the beginning of another journey. We get a glimpse of this world when we sleep. In sleep we don’t feel our bodies, don’t remember the past and are blissful. We also travel to other magical places in what we call dreams.  A soul does the same when it leaves its body.  Even though we feel they are gone, they are free than ever before and can be with us if we want them to – in the most gentle and nonthreatening way. Supporting us and loving us even more than they could when they were alive and amongst us.


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The Power of Prayer

I started jotting down my prayers in a journal sometime in early July this year. I was intrigued by the maid Aibileen in “The Help” who wrote down all her prayers in a prayer book. Everyone thought her prayers worked. I read about the same thing in “Write it Down, Make it Happen”. So I finally started writing down my prayers. It started off as a gratitude journal but soon I found myself asking for many things on behalf of my friends and family. The cool thing about a prayer/ gratitude journal is that it helps you keep track. Keep track of your mental state and petty needs from yesterday. When I go back and read the prayers it reminds me of the person I was and how my needs have changed and how I have changed. And also how many of my needs have been met and prayers answered!

Yes prayers do get answered. Every prayer you utter is heard. Buddhists believe that the Goddess Kwan Yin hears the cries/prayers of every soul that is suffering. She is a Bodhisattva but instead of detaching herself from the world, out of infinte compassion, decided to be amongst us and alleviate suffering. She is like  a Mother Mary from the East. It really doesn’t matter who you address your prayers to. It’s just important that you pray. Even if all your prayers are answered, you could most definitely pray for the millions of souls who and lost and suffering.

A friend of mine told me how she feared for the safety of her kids. I remember being that person. Always afraid. Always overprotective and I remember how it felt. Somewhere along the way I had the good sense to replace my fear with prayer. I think it was when I started driving (one of my worst fears in the past) and I was paralyzed by the fear that I would crash the car and injure myself and my loved ones. I couldn’t go past 5 m.p.h. and the instructor joked about ‘granny’ being faster than me.

It has reached a point where I had to face my fear. Where I had to simply let go and believe that by some miracle I would fly instead of falling hard on my face. So I prayed. Please help me. Please help me drive safely. It became a habit and now I always send out a prayer every time I start the engine.

So it is with things I have no control over. When I see suffering beyond my scope to help, I pray. I have to pray because I know that the moment I stop, fear will clutch my heart and hold it captive forever. Fear that will congeal my blood and my thoughts and make me buckle down in defeat. When I pray, I look up and there is hope. Hope in something bigger than me that knows the greater order of things. That will overcome the fear and darkness that is rampant. That will light up our souls and cure all our ills. Prayer holds within it a promise of hope and redemption. A promis of help from afar. A promise of comfort. A promise of triumph. When you pray you give all your worries away to be transformed into solutions that come back to you in good time.

I will leave you with a prayer I wrote in my journal after Hurricane Sandy hit the North East.

10/30/2012

Dear God,

                  Today I would like to pray for the millions of people in the path of Hurricane Sandy, who were affected. Who lost their homes, lost power, lost their loved ones. Please console them and be with them. Give them strength and help them remember you. Bring them togther so they can help eachother. We have friends in these States – please keep them safe and keep all families safe. Let people evacuate from their homes and not get trapped as the flood waters rise. Please help the emergency workers who are trying to help ease the pain and suffering of these people. Please surround them with your love and your angels. Please bring light to the darkness. Please help ease their pain. Please help me help in whichever way I can.

Infinite love and gratitude,

Damayanti