Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Photography Art, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Stepping Out of the Game

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” John Burroughs

There lived two families in the neighborhood. In one family there was silence and grace, while in the second there were endless quarrels, showdowns etc. And then one day the wife said to her husband, “Why don’t you find out how they next door, turn out to live without scandals.” The husband went and hid behind their common fence and watched. As the neighbor washes the threshold, a bucket of water stands next to her and then her husband walked. Inadvertently he hooked his foot on the bucket and overturned it. “Well, it will start now,” thinks the neighbor behind the fence. Instead he heard the wife as she apologized to her husband that she had put a bucket of water in the way. And her husband also apologized to her for he had walked without looking and also added work to his beloved. In general, they apologized to each other, cleaned up everything together and went into the house. And the hapless neighbor came home in bewilderment and told his wife: “You know, my wife it is strange, we try to do everything right and have endless scandals, whereas they are both to blame and everything is amicable”.

“At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.” Erin Cummings

Famously and colloquially known as “the blame game”, we all have been a part of it at some point in our life. From the high school days of incomplete assignment, low grades or addled performances to the college or university days, leading on to the work front; assigning of blame to someone else’s shoulders have been done consciously or subconsciously.

“Everyone’s quick to blame the alien.” Aeschylus

Like the spider’s web, once we get caught in this game; we tend to apply the same tactics in all the spheres of our life. Consequently the price paid is heavy, for not just effort but energy, work, relationships and above all, time is wasted. To get the trend down, a few quick steps would aid in sorting out and settling the mess.

“No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for… reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.” Casey Stengel

When stuck in the mess or being falsely targeted for the work; first take a deep breath. Second were we in any way wrong, either while doing the task or assigning the task. If yes, take corrective measures; if not, still the option is to settle the scene and correct the wrong. Third and very practical of all, let bygones be bygones. Learn form the past, but don’t dwell too much on it, to spoil the pleasant surprises of the future.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Henry Ford

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Posted in Daily, Life, Photography Art, poetry, Quotes, Reflections

Rise of Spring

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen

With the fresh fragrance of spring in the air, early mornings beckon the restless mind for a moment’s peace. For those of us caught in the daily melee of chaos, where everyday turns into routine; taking ten minutes into the sun, before the morning chores brings a new perspective to life.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

Looking into the hue and colours of nature, it’s quite startling to believe that this was the same brown, wintry landscape a few months ago. As colours are brought to life, nature teaches us a few simple but pertinent lessons of life.

Events will happen by choice or against our will. Time always moves on. But by staying in the rut, we get left behind and no amount of cribbing will get us across those days. Instead buckle up and take one step at a time. Looking back on those days of the past, one will realize that things aren’t that bad, when viewed from far.

The harsh winters of nature brings forth beautiful spring and joyous summer. The distraught of then bears fruit now, as long as we never forget to toil keeping one’s hope, kindness and spirits in tact.

Every tree’s loss of winter doesn’t reflect in its’ branches through spring. Instead new shoots and leaves come to life. Forgive and let go; but learn from it. The pain will lessen with time, but let it not be the cause of the future.

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” Hal Borland

I Have Come to You

I have come to you, delighted,
To tell you that sun has risen,
That its light has warmly started
To fulfil on leaves its dancing;

To tell you that wood’s awaken
In its every branch and leafage,
And with every bird is shaken,
Thirsty of the springy image;

To tell you that I’ve come now,
As before, with former passion,
That my soul again is bound
To serve you and your elation;

That the charming breath of gladness
Came to me from all-all places,
I don’t know what I’ll sing, else,
But my song’s coming to readiness.

Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Lord Byron

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Photography Art, Quotes, Reflections

Of Butterflies, Spring and Change

With Spring in full force, the fields become rich with various hues and shades of colours; leaving behind carpets and patches of vibrant flowers. Amidst this mosaic of colours, few winged beauties are seen in the landscape, adding a potency, luster and liveliness to life; never ceasing to amaze man with the marvels and wonder of God’s creation. Come spring and summer, the focus is on the winged patterned coloured “Rhopalocera” species, more popularly known as the “butterflies”.

“As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.” Joseph B. Wirthlin

In grade school, we had studied the life cycle of the butterfly from the caterpillar stage. From a grubby sickly green or brown coloured caterpillar, emerged a magnificent winged delicate specimen of sheer beauty, design and style; though this happens only after the caterpillar undergoes its’ own struggle and transforms. No matter how young we are or how old we become, the delight of a butterfly still holds true, then and now.

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” R. Buckminster Fuller

Nature teaches us many lessons from the life of a butterfly and here a few pertinent ones that has been observed. First is to be open to change and transformation. From the ugly scrawny state to the winged stage, developing in its’ own chrysalis and then breaking out on own helps develop the wings of courage, beauty and honour. As the story where the caterpillar was helped goes, the butterfly never survived but crumbled down.

“Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies. It creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.” Stephanie Pace Marshall

Second, butterflies never chose to focus on fame and glory. They are pretty not vain, instead they go about the flowers, quietly displaying their colours and spreading happy vibes. They delight in their surroundings embracing each new change as they come, not sticking to one zone but exploring each day as it comes.

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Third and most important is to carve one’s niche for oneself. For a caterpillar to transform, it needs to wrap itself in the silky shroud of chrysalis and go through the change. The caterpillar does it alone, embracing the quiet to think and then under the metamorphosis. The journey in our life too is mostly ours. Though we do delight in the company of others; each one has their own inner struggle to overcome and new horizons to brave. What might be easy for one, mayn’t be so for other. Yet to learn to accept others’ as well as to change oneself for the better, is an art of life and pre-requisites for staying alive and happy.

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” Rabindranath Tagore

We all have our own allotted time in this world. For some of us, along the journey; losses became too many and gains too few. Nevertheless, things will work out eventually. For like the butterfly, time allotted is less but learning to work as well as enjoy the flowers alone will happen once we build the courage to move on. We are all butterflies in the making. When its’ time to fly, remember to use the wings we were blessed with after our change. The world has its’ own share of butterflies among the fireflies, moths, ladybugs and the rest; and we will learn to belong to one when the time is right as long as we believe we can.

“Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves.” Drew Barrymore

Posted in Life, Photography Art, Quotes, Random Thoughts

Practicality of the Rainbow

“Nullum Dolorum, Nullum Quaestum”

Trying something new is always a venture of exciting possibility, realization of dreams as well as fear of which side the balance will tilt towards, success or failure. The best thing about all these emotions, is that its’ a part of surviving and living. Everyone has their own set of fears, insecurities, burdens and pain whether its’ of physical, spiritual, emotional, moral, internal or external type or kind. For more proof, nature holds the evidence.

Caterpillar. Chrysalis. Butterfly.

Rain. Sun. Rainbow.

Carbon. Pressure. Diamonds.

Pyramids of Giza. Roman Colosseum. Great Wall of China.

 As evidenced by history and time along with nature, showing in its’ magnificent examples, unless we toil and sweat, there wouldn’t be any gain. The key to surviving and taking life in all its’ colours, is to look beyond the immediate and overcome the bad slow and steady. If at times, things don’t go the way it should have, worry but don’t despair. Find the courage, time and hope to improvise for another shot. Just like the beauty of diamonds, pressure has and will always be a part of achievements.

“One that would have the fruit must climb the tree.” Thomas Fuller

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Photography Art, Quotes, Reflections

Finding the Harmony

“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” Rabindranath Tagore

In the chaotic existence of the days, as we come across many people and numerous interactions, there is one set of people that I admire the most. They are open to all ideas, listen to entire narratives with infinite patience, kind to many but rarely allow others to interfere in their lives. They look for the truth by themselves, gathering their world bit by bit and at times with gentle subtleness, not paying attention to the surprised and condemning views of those around them.

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

These kind of people are so rare being many-sided and beautiful. They are open to others, but they will never knock on doors where they are not welcome. They live in harmony with themselves, as their heart tells them. Usually they are considered insane, but these people love life, and she reciprocates them, giving them their best gifts. Harmony is the word that centers around these people.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton

The peacefulness and concurrence with each other cannot be born in a day. For harmony to be attained it needs each one of us to be aware of the expectations and requirements that encompass us as we adapt in our own particular approach to life. To be in concordance with others will happen when we are in agreement with ourselves, living consistent with our most profound feelings of what is genuine and what matters most. The joy of life can be seen exemplified through the quiet power of harmony. When the state of harmony is balanced, one often discovers that life blossoms even through the tired, difficult, bleak and lonely days. All we need to do is find and synchronize the rhythm within to the thoughts, desires and dreams in our mind. Though this may seem difficult, it is never impossible to do so.

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.” Peace Pilgrim

Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art, Quotes

Hot, Dark and Chocolaty

Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can’t put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don’t overlook life’s small joys while searching for the big ones.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

First believed to have been created by the Mayans 3000 years ago, this drink has been popularized across the world transitioning from religious or medicinal purposes to being a luxurious and recreational or comfort concoction. Popularly known as hot chocolate or cocoa, (aka drinking chocolate and chocolate tea in Nigeria); it would be a grave error for any chocolate fan to give this drink a miss.

“Love is like swallowing hot chocolate before it has cooled off. It takes you by surprise at first, but keeps you warm for a long time.” Henri Frederic Amiel

Hot chocolate comes in multiple variations including the Latin American spiced chocolate para mesa, the very thick Italian cioccolata calda, Spannish chocolate a la taza to the thinner hot cocoa consumed in the United States. The distiction between “hot cocoa” (from powder made by removing most of the rich cocoa butter from the ground cacao beans) and “hot chocolate” ( melt bar chocolate, already rich in cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter) lies in the cocoa butter, the absence of which makes hot cocoa significantly lower in fat than hot chocolate while still preserving all the antioxidants found in chocolate.

“Some days you get up and you already know that things aren’t going to go well. They’re the type of days when you should just give in, put your pajamas back on, make some hot chocolate and read comic books in bed with the covers up until the world looks more encouraging. Of course, they never let you do that.” Bill Watterson

Add a higher percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, eliminate or decrease the sugar and voila, dark chocolate (also known as black chocolate, plain chocolate, or bitter chocolate) is ready. Although the percentages may vary as per brand, government and industry regulations; dark chocolate has taken the 21st century by storm. Either way, hot or cold; dark or light, bitter or milky; chocolate still reigns supreme among the desserts, gifts, treats and moments of deliciousness and is here to stay.

“You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about.” Ray Nagin

Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art, Quotes

Chocolate to Cake

“Part of life and part of the enjoyment of life is a croissant and a chocolate cake and eggs and milkshakes and oatmeal. There’s so many things, you have to learn to appreciate it all. When I don’t eat as much as I should, I’m not fun to be around; I’m fussy.” — Nina Dobrev

Almost like development of civilization, chocolate cake or chocolate gâteau made an entrance around late 1800s. Retrospectively that’s a long time considering that chocolate drink was there around the times of the Mayans and Aztecs. Chocolate cake lovers’ need to thank Coenraad van Houten (1828) for extraction of cacao butter and “rock cacao”. With Rodolphe Lindt (1879) developing “conching” for silky smooth chocolate; slowly the experimentation of chocolate began from fillings and glazes to the cake batter.

“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” Audrey Hepburn

Chocolate decadence took on full swing with molten chocolate cakes with liquid chocolate centers. Furthermore the cakes were infused chocolates with exotic flavors such as tea, red pepper, passion fruit and champagne were popular. Chocolate lounges and artisanal chocolate makers took on the show.

“I had a little epiphany when I was a writer at ‘Chicago’ magazine. I sat down to dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. Somebody poured a white dessert wine with chocolate cake. It was a wine I would never have expected to make sense. The idea of any wine tasting fabulous with chocolate cake was fascinating to me.”  Ted Allen

There are many varieties and variants of chocolate cake especially chocolate layer cake, fudge cake, Joffre cake and Devil’s food cake to list a few. When one feels like celebrating or enjoying the feel of “breaded chocolate”, it triggers the memories and anticipation of delving into that piece of cake of chocolaty goodness. Besides it would be quite remiss for a chocolate lover to crush the taste buds on “National Chocolate Cake Day”. So here’s to that little splurge of calories but irresistible goodness.

“I like quinoa. I like gingerbread. I feel they should be kept separate. I’m not in favor of this thing of making kind of raw, vegan chocolate cake and saying it’s as good as chocolate cake. I mean, just eat cake and be done with it. And then have a separate meal of quinoa.” Bee Wilson