Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Stories Around the World, Work

When the Geese Fly

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni

In this season, as the year comes to an end; each one of us may be busy with our own projects, either related to home, or being on holiday mode as a group or family, neighbourhood or community gatherings especially those of Christmas and New Year as well as school celebrations, plays, parties and the like. Amidst all this, we are involved with a team of people with us being either at or near the apex or as a part of the body. In all these events we are being a part of the bigger crowd or leading one. To have a good time, not just in teamwork but enjoying our work as well, it would do us good to emulate the geese.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie

The geese teach us their lesson of teamwork with both the members as well as the leader fulfilling their roles. When we acquire a bit of their sense, we will realize we can achieve much better and save more time, effort and energy. Above all, by using the sense of a goose, we will discover than any project or task can be fun and enjoyable.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

A sense of a goose

Next Autumn, when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What message do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

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Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World

Helping Hands

“Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.)” Marcus Tullius Cicero

The difference between each person lies in their behaviour, outlook, attitude and approach to life. While collectively we can label one group “selfish” and the other group “kind”, the difference between both is well illustrated in the story below.

Chopsticks

A woman who had worked all her life to bring about good was granted one wish: “Before I die let me visit both hell and heaven.” Her wish was granted. She was whisked off to a great banqueting hall. The tables were piled high with delicious food and drink. Around the tables sat miserable, starving people as wretched as could be. “Why are they like this?” she asked the angel who accompanied her. “Look at their arms,” the angel replied. She looked and saw that attached to the people’s arms were long chopsticks secured above the elbow. Unable to bend their elbows, the people aimed the chopsticks at the food, missed every time and sat hungry, frustrated and miserable. “Indeed this is hell! Take me away from here!” She was then whisked off to heaven. Again she found herself in a great banqueting hall with tables piled high. Around the tables sat people laughing, contented, joyful. “No chopsticks I suppose,” she said. “Oh yes there are. Look – just as in hell they are long and attached above the elbow but look… here people have learnt to feed one another”.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm… As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others. Audrey Hepburn

One of the simplest things in life is to lend a hand. On some occasions we hesitate doing so without knowing the complete picture, for fear of the repercussions in the society and world, where we can held accountable even if innocent. On those instances, only our gut instincts can help us. Yet in other scenarios, we tend to be lazy and keep our hands buried in our pockets or under the blankets. Ironically we realize our mistakes only when we need help desperately. Helping hands doesn’t have to start big. Even small gestures like cleaning the room, helping an old lady at the grocer’s, giving up a seat in the bus for elders or pregnant mothers, mowing the lawn without being told to do so are all be simple acts to initiate the feel of being helpful. After all, There has to be a purpose of the creation of two hands.

“Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Quotes, Stories Around the World

To Heart’s Content

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” Dale Carnegie

Once a lady was talking to a psychologist, where she sadly listed what she did not have. “There are no true friends. There is no good salary. No decent car. Apartments are not good. There is no youth anymore. And there is no hope to have it all someday.”  The plump, pleasant psychologist, straightened his glasses and said complacently, “Of course, you do not have much. And you can continue the list. There is no severe incurable disease. There are no millions of debts. There is no responsibility for someone, for a sick relative or a weak-minded old man. There is no physical disfigurement and no hump. And there is no disability. A lot of things you do not have. And, if you write down what you do not have, then your mood will improve immediately. And hope will appear that this is not only not, but will not.” And the lady thought in her mind counted and smiled.

So, we have a lot of things. Do not need. And everything else can be earned, improved, received as a gift or just get by temporarily. Nothing wrong. The main thing is to be alive and well. And that loved ones were alive and well. And there was no bad. And this is already good. With this, we begin, as they say, the enumeration of what we do not have … Anna

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”  Oprah Winfrey

Many of us have been in the shoes of the lady above, where we were so caught up in the let-downs that we thought we had, forgetting to enjoy the better moments and what we were blessed with. Like the above account from one of my social networking pages reminded me, we discover the joy of living only when we learn to be content. This is no easy feat as each time we turn around or look into any direction, there would be a million comments made, comparisons and disappointments. Yet when we learn to appreciate, enjoy and thank for what we have; we realize that we are blessed in many special ways that we can’t count.

There is a fine distinction in being content or being stuck in a rut and stagnating as well as the yearning to grow. Being content doesn’t imply that you don’t desire more or than you don’t want to grow and progress; it simply means that you’re thankful for what is there at present and patiently working for what is yet to come. For contentment and happiness go hand in hand, with the latter coming to only those who appreciate and use what they have. As quoted, “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of how much you already have.” (Anonymous) We learn to be happy when we stop looking around. Instead when we focus our time, energy and thoughts on the bunch of “haves”, we realize that inner peace was always there within us and happiness was not lurking round the corner but residing in us all the time.

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Stories Around the World

Countdown to Christmas

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.” ~ Meredith Willson, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”

With carols in the air and knitted stockings labelled and hung up, the countdown to Christmas begins. Tuning to the “Nine Lessons and Carols” which tells of the birth of Christ and the carol stories; carols have been an early accepted part of Christmas celebrations.

 

Derived from Old French “carole”, the word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy. Although carols used to be written and sung during yer round, only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived. During the early years of Christianity, the songs of the pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas were reworded with songs from the Bible. As time progressed and vernacular language of carols along with plays had set, carols gained wide popularity during the Christmas season. These days carols have become an essential part and parcel of Christmastime and a major time for meeting, singing, rejoicing, praising and celebrating.

While we busy ourselves with the songs and plays, decorating homes and trees, shopping spree, sending the express parcels and orders and wrapping presents; bringing everyone including family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and communities together is what gives the season its’ real meaning. To quote Harlan Miller, “I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Firefly among the Butterflies

In a playground, a crowd of children will be involved in a game with one or two kids coordinating the game. Some days sitting a little apart, one would find a child scribbling away on a piece of paper, few would be just watching while one would be trying to climb a tree instead and the other may be watching a ladybug crawl in the ground.

Fast forward a few years ahead, among the bunch of college goers, few would shine at the events, some behind the scene to make the event happen while others watch the show. Yet there will few who prefer to curl up with a good book, or sketch their dreams and designs or enjoy creating what they fancy in the kitchen.

As the college goers grow, some become the life of the party, some become the charismatic leader who can make things happen by encouraging others to scale the wall while others enter the groups of people who follows the order so that the final outcome would be beneficial to all. And yet among all of group, there would be a few who would be silently lost in their world of books, poetry, art, animation, photography, writing indulging in what they love and glowing there. Yet if they are stuck in the mould of the world for long, the light in them dies.

“I had a dream about you last night. I was alone on a dark night and you came to me as a firefly. I knew it was you because you were the brightest.” Crystal Hudson

We label one group of people introverts and other as extroverts. Yet the author Rachel Stafford refers to them as fireflies and butterflies. She discovered these terms during a conversation with her 7 year old daughter. Her daughter had described a school activity that day where the teacher asked, “What is Your Favorite Insect?” Stafford’s daughter said that her favorite insect was the firefly even though the other students in the class chose the butterfly. She admitted to her mother that sometimes she fills different at school as a firefly. Stafford told her daughter that she agreed that her little girl was very much a firefly because she shines from within. She assured her daughter that Stafford’s role as a mother was to protect that light and asked her daughter to let her know when others at school tried to dim her light.

The world does not need a large number of “successful people” or extroverts alone. The planet desperately needs peacekeepers, restorers, storytellers, writers, dreamers and thinkers. She needs all people to live well with. There are a lot of fireflies among us, in our family and at our workplaces as well as daily interactions. The world needs both the butterflies and fireflies. Extinction of one will affect the other and surplus of one will imbalance the entire ecosystem. While fireflies will shine when it’s their time, it’s important to not kill their light.

“Don’t be anyone’s firefly in a jar! A lot of people are attracted to the light. Some are also intimidated by it. They selfishly try to keep it for themselves. Sometimes it happens so fast, you don’t even realize you’re being captured. There is magic within you that will suffocate in a jar. If you wake up one morning and realize there’s a lid above you, do whatever it takes to free yourself. Life is much better beyond the jar. The world needs your light! Shine, Baby, shine!” Sheri Fink

The fireflies among our children, family and friends have to be encouraged, cared and helped instead of being suppressed, laughed on and imprisoned or remodeled into another frame. Each firefly has their own special light or spark that brings the magic to the night and add little light to the dark. As for the fireflies out there, keep of on shining, singing and creating the special light, knowing that each courageous firefly is special with their own light and own area to shine. Remember, no butterfly can shine like the firefly.

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Stories Around the World

String the Holly

Very gay they were with snow and sleigh-bells, holly-boughs, and garlands, below, and Christmas sunshine in the winter sky above. All faces shone, all voices had a cheery ring, and everybody stepped briskly on errands of good-will. ~Louisa May Alcott, “Seamstress,” Work: A Story of Experience, 1873

Although December signifies the beginning of Christmas festive; the setting of the holly boughs or wreaths on the door and the Christmas star on the porch signals the start of the season of love, joy and hope. The word ‘wreath’ is derived from the Old English word ‘writhen’ meaning to writhe or twist. The Romans used to hang them on their doors as sign of status or victory, or awarded during events like the Original Olympics held in Greece or worn by women at special occasions like weddings as headdresses. However the Christmas Wreaths of today may have started life as Kissing Boughs.

Before Christmas trees became popular, a more common mode of decoration at homes was “the kissing bough”. Made of five wooden hoops that made the shape like a ball ( four vertical hoops for the ball with one horizontal round the middle) were covered with holly, ivy, rosemary, bay, fir or other evergreen plants. Red apples from strings or red ribbons were hung from inside the hoop, with a candle inside the ball and a large bunch of mistletoe from the bottom of the ball.

Interestingly holly, ivy, mistletoe and the like were used in the pre-Christian era to celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival as well as ward off evil spirits. As Christianity came into Western Europe, Christian meanings were given to the “greenery”.

The prickly leaves of holly represent the crown of thorns f Christ with the red berries symbolized as drops of blood. The clinging nature of ivy to something in order to support itself signifies our need to lean on God for support at all times. In fact, sometimes a piece of ivy tied outside the church is supposed to protect the church from lightening.

Laurel worn as a wreath on the head symbolizes success and victory of God over the Devil. The evergreen of fir as well yew trees symbolize everlasting life . Rosemary also known as remembrance herb was connected with the Virgin Mary and believed to protect one from evil spirits.

Traditionally, the greenery is taken down after the Twelfth Night on Epiphany, to be packed and stored safely for the next year. Yet some homes keep it up till Candle-mas. While these traditions may not be significant for some, putting up these decorations bring a lot of cheer as well as welcoming Christmas time with a warm feeling.

“When the holly’s in the red
And the pine is in the green,
When the mornings all are frosty,
In a brilliant silver sheen
Then I love to go a’ walking
Rambling here and there, quite slow,
Plucking greenery and berries;
Wishing for a Christmas snow”
Rachel Heffington

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Driving Force of Love

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” Victor Hugo

It was a busy morning, approximately 8:30 am, when an elderly gentleman, in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry and that he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs, and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On examination, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redressed his wound. While taking care of him, we began to engage in conversation. I asked him if he had a doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I then inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for awhile and was a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we talked and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, and hadn’t recognized him in five years. I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?” He smiled and patted my hand and said, “She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

When a couple starts off in their journey in life together, they slowly learn about each other, work through difficulties and despite the faults that each has, they overlook them because of love, as the latter has no limits, tally marks, check posts or boundaries. As time progresses and disease catches up with age, losing the treasured moments is disheartening for all. Yet despite the disease that strikes, the bonds of true love of one is strong enough to hold both. This story that I had read exemplifies the fact that whether true love has no time limit.

“The most desired gift of love is not diamonds or roses or chocolate. It is focused attention.” Richard Warren

The art of love doesn’t lie in the lone act of giving gifts or worldly pleasures. It lies in giving your time to understand the other person, what they are going through whether it be joy or sorrow, triumphs or difficulties. For the strings of love will be strong to bind both through trying times when the love grows and strengthens over time. In fact our actions speak louder than the words that we say or the words that we write, although they are important as well. Amidst the daily schedule, take out some time for each other so that you learn about each other and find some quiet time to rejuvenate, find peace and share moments as well as memories for later.

“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” David Wilkerson