Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Across the Choppy Waters

“Sometimes to change a situation you are in requires you to take a giant leap. But, you won’t be able to fly unless you are willing to transform.” Suzy Kassem

The captain of the ship hasn’t got their job cut out easy. While preparing their vessel for the short or long voyage, navigation charts are consulted, weather reports being analysed both the local and global trend, supplies stocked, medical emergencies anticipated as well as men and cargo to be looked after. When smooth sailing is predicted, there is a slight relief but the guard is still not lost. For the sea for all it’s friendliness can turn into a monster driven at times, by elements beyond it’s control. Unlike the land and air, where there may be a way out; for the ship in the sea, locating itself in the vast blue expanse is not always a possible task especially when a Mayday occurs. Despite all this, once the final destination is set, the captain steers his vessel across both the pleasant and the choppy troubled waters; always forging a way ahead.

“When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy

Just like the captain, we all have our own vessels to steer. For a family who has lost their maternal light to the young lady diagnosed with terminal illness or the investor who has suffered a major loss, the farmer who had lost his heavily funded crop, jobs made redundant, loss of scholarship due to poor choices and many more; the immediate future lies ahead bleak, stark and troublesome. Yet it is while navigating these roads that one learns to find their own inner strength as well as work once again, keeping His Word and His Will in sight. Although before starting off across the roads of the future, one has to decide to do so and not be in haste to make quick decisions and bury their head in the sand, hoping it would be all over soon.

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” Unknown

Ask any captain and they will tell that the only way across a storm in middle of the journey is the way through, till one finds a rest stop. Any person who has battled difficult illness and survived, would tell prompt treatment instead of denial will help better. For the student who has lost scholarship, finding multiple jobs and pulling up their grades would help to stay on. Staying at rest for long never helps. Instead face the trouble squarely and find a way out through the tempest. For it is only through the bad situations in life, that one discovers the best and hidden talents of themselves.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

See It Through

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

Edgar Guest

Posted in Daily, Food, Musique, Stories Around the World

A Penny, A Bun…

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!

If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
– Roud Folk Song Index Number (13029)

Almost every parent, guardian or caregiver has heard of the predefined set of nursery rhymes (ranging from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to Ba Ba Black Sheep), especially when trying to make the young mind learn a bit of the English language, rhymes and songs. The above song “Hot Cross Bun” is no stranger to the set of these rhymes. However it was the smell of freshly baked buns (butter buns, fruit buns mainly) from the bakery near my workplace that would account for the sudden thoughts of “Hot Cross Bun” ( originally an English street cry) being dredged up from the grey cells. Like those memories that linger, thoughts of a pot of tea with fresh buns do enter the list of sudden urges for the taste buds occasionally.

This spiced sweet bun usually made with fruit and traditionally marked with a cross (as sugar toppings or partially sliced through) was associated with the end of Lent and is usually eaten on Good Friday. At times, spices are also added. These days hot cross buns are available all year round at most places, even in the supermarket chains with varieties like toffee, orange-cranberry, salted caramel and chocolate, apple-cinnamon, coffee flavoured, white chocolate and raspberry, banana and caramel, sticky date and the list goes on to being more creative and flavoured in certain bakeries and delis.

The exact origin of “hot cross buns” was historically believed to be associated with the rise of Christianity. During the Lent period, plain buns were made without any dairy products and eaten hot or toasted. Although archaeological evidence suggest that the Greeks (6th century) may have marked cakes with a cross. While one theory states that the Hot Cross Bun originated when where Brother Thomas Rodcliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Albans Abbey (1361), developed a recipe (similar to hot cross bun) called an ‘Alban Bun’ and distributed them to the local poor on Good Friday.  Though the London street cry,”Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs. With one or two a penny hot cross buns”, which had appeared in Poor Robin’s Almanac (1733) was the first ever definite record of hot cross buns. On trying to trace if these buns were made earlier than 18th century London, records of recipes come to a blank.

More of interest are the numerous traditions and beliefs surrounding these “hot cross” buns. While one says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year, others encourage keeping these buns purely for medicinal purposes or are carried along for long sea voyages to protect against shipwreck. Few kitchens may have a “hanging hot cross bun” which gets replaced every year, done so as to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out to be perfect and exquisite.

Be it the Lent season or not, hot cross buns are one of the best spiced buns are to have, especially hot or toasted ( or cold as per preference). The more the variety, the better. Moreover, one doesn’t need to wait for the right time to indulge that heavenly taste and flavour. With creative flavourings on the rise, these buns are definitely worth a try.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Work

Face the Sun

“Sunflowers end up facing the sun, but they go through a lot of dirt to find their way there.” J.R. Rim

After a month of restructuring the church garden, along the walkway numerous flowers were planted in and tended to. In keeping with the harmony and serenity of the garden, alongside the path, sunflower seeds were planted in. Later as the crop of sunflowers began to grow out, it was a pretty sight for sore eyes. Surprisingly on further tending to these flowers, it was surprising to note that few of them with their tall spindly and skinny stalks hadn’t started from the soil directly below; but had begun under the bugger rocks outlining the sandy path. Few had begun below the heavy rocks and had grown around them to stand tall, facing the sun.

“With zealous step he climbs the upland lawn,
And bows in homage to the rising dawn;
Imbibes with eagle eye the golden ray,
And watches as it moves the orb of day.”
– Darwin

While restructuring the bed of sunflowers, one can’t help but be awestruck at the strength of their seemingly spindly stalks. No matter from where they originate, they always find their way out, to finally face the sun. On trying to imbibe their strength into the daily life, each one has an inner core of potential and capabilities that largely go untapped. One of the many reasons for losing out on the inner ability lie in the reality that one tends to believe less in their own strength. Viewing every obstacle simply as a hurdle doesn’t help, unless we find a way to “go around it”. The environment around one will sustain every situation as long as one is determined to search out a way to use the resources at hand to overcome the obstacle, live the dream within and brighten the day by the rays of the sun.

“ Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” Helen Keller

An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower

Oh sunflower! The queen of all flowers,
No other with you can compare,
The roadside and fields are made golden
Because of your bright presence there.
Above all the weeds that surround you
You raise to the sun your bright head,
Embroidering beautiful landscapes
Your absence would leave brown and dead.

Oh queen of the September morning
You watch for the first ray of sun,
And salute the bright orb as it travels
Till the bright day of autumn is done.
Tho’ sickles may slay in the pasture,
And the plowman destroy in the field,
Yet, still will the corners and by-ways
The seed for the future years yield.

Then, Sunflower, peep over the fences
And cover the hillsides with gold,
And out in the cornfields, if tempted,
Again take thy claim as of old;
Salute, too, and nod to the stranger,
Who travels the dusty highway,
He’ll worship the sun crown you’re wearing
And love you for brightening his way.

So, Sunflower, grow tall in the meadow
And spread to the breezes your arms,
No matter if some do molest you
And try to destroy on the farms,
Let thy stalk all the season still gather
The sunbeams that come dancing by;
And then in September unfold them
To dazzle with splendor the eye.

– Ed Blair

Posted in Daily, poetry, Reflections, Work

Challenge of the Change

“Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.” Napoleon Hill

One of the most important requisites for living the comfortable modern life is “professional security (once known as job security)”. From the early years of childhood, stress is laid on completing academics, gaining a professional degree or mastering a course and ultimately being securely employed. The final objective was to earn a comfortable income to support, sustain and prosper for oneself. The price for this would range from foregoing doing something that one loves especially in the creative arts of writing, music or theatre ; to training and mastering oneself for a specific vocation or skill to bring the bread and butter to the table. The initial days of putting the new found skill at test may involve less returns with more efforts till an opportunity presents itself for a better outcome. Then the innate response to resist the change would lie in the disguised security and comfort zone of the present.

“What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” Oscar Wilde

One never realizes their true potential if one refuses to evaluate the options for a change as they surface. In such situations, one may miss out on taking the opportunity to strike out and move along a different plane for the fear of losing out on the perceived benefits of the present. Those times, what may work best is when few principles are followed. Primarily does the change help us grow for the better. Second is whether the new opportunity, in the long run, aids us in the professional capacity. Third and above all, if the change brings forth the pleasure to work and peace of mind in doing the task at hand. The world is huge and big enough to accommodate the varied range of skills and talents. Yet staying with apparent surety of the known, refusing to explore the new out of fear and insecurity may cause regrets to surface in the later years.

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” Buddha

Reflecting on Life

Take time to stop today
Take time to stop a while
Reflect on how life changes
Then take the time to smile

Know that as the days go by
These things that challenge you
Will one day just be memories
Of times you have gone through

Look back now on yesterday
And all you have achieved
Recognise the strengths you’ve gained
The blessings you’ve received

One day in the future
You will think about today
You’ll see just how these challenges
Have helped you on your way

Written by Michelle Tetley

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

Power within Self

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa

Unlike the monsoon rains of each year, this time the town had witnessed less amount of water clogging on the roads. May be the reason can be attributed to the spaced out rains as compared to the previous years or less plastic logging the drains, non clogged roadside drain outlets and the like. Whatever the reason maybe, the final result was better for all. Who was responsible for this difference? Whether it was the awareness combined with effort and environment humaneness, of the municipal workers to keep the roads clean and drains unclogged or less dumping of plastic roadside by the public, numerous cleanliness drives by schools, organizations, town corporations; better road maintenance by the public works or other campaigns; each one had a role to play. Each one made a difference in their own way. Ultimately, each one of us has the power to make a difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Very often, one undermines their own power, potential and ability to make a vast impact in the future outcome. A little child who is taught and does throw their trash in the proper bin subtly teaches a host of unseen observers environmental humaneness. An adolescent who is polite at the grocers’ brightens the day for the cashier and the customers in queue. A simple thank you to the waitress or the security manning the apartment block entrance brings a lightness to their weary burdens.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

One doesn’t need to start big or huge, need a huge barrage of resources, conveniences, fortunes or luck their way to make a difference. Being nice, doing the right and just thing doesn’t require a lot of effort or hurt the doer. Instead it sets off a chain of events which brightens the days of those around them.

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.” R. Buckminster Fuller

The Power of One
One SONG can spark a moment
One FLOWER can wake the dream
One TREE can start a forest
One BIRD can herald spring
One SMILE begins a friendship
One HANDCLASP lifts a soul
One STAR can guide a ship at sea
One WORD can frame the goal
One VOTE can change a nation
One SUNBEAM lights a room
One CANDLE wipes out darkness
One LAUGH will conquer gloom
One STEP must start each journey
One WORD must start a prayer
One HOPE will raise our spirits
One TOUCH can show you care
One VOICE can speak with wisdom
One HEART can know what is true
One LIFE can make a difference
– Author Unknown

Posted in Christian, Daily, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts

Colour the Grey

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9 )

The afternoon jaunt after the heavy rains over the past few days, was a source of fun for the children. Stepping into the puddles, picking up a wildflower or two, running after the scampering squirrels and kittens along the walk was a joyous experience. Despite the messy mud and puddles around, the grey of rocks were masked by few wildflowers cropping up at the unexpected places. Further ahead, there were carpets of them growing along the fences of the fields.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”(Psalm 34:4)

Wildflowers, many of us are a lot like them. Through rough seasons, closed and crowded spaces, these little flowers not planted by hand but by nature, bring a smile to the tired mind. Those vibrant colours often remind me of God’s love and His Grace. The difficult days, troublesome moments and doubtful occasions, it is His Grace and His Guidance that helps us see a way out. The air and light He directs our way offers the necessary help to get out of the quagmire, when one seeks His Help. God’s Love helps us to grow even when the rocks below are hard and water is scare. To be like a wildflower is indeed a blessing, especially when one learns to bloom and bring colour to the dull, dark, dreary days. Let such colours brighten each of our days.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Kitty Chappell

Lord, help me to grow as the wildflowers grow
be it a meadow or a crack in cement.
Despite the terrain, be it good or bad,
let me know I am there by intent.

Instead of my sadly complaining within
regarding life’s rough terrain,
May my face, too, look upward to you
through seasons of drought and rain.

Help me to bloom as the wildflowers bloom,
regardless of where I am placed;
wherever the spot You plant me, Lord,
let the air there be sweet with Your grace.

Someday a tired pilgrim may stop to rest
from carrying his heavy load
And thank my Creator for placing me there
to brighten that spot in life’s road.

(Kitty Chappell, award-winning author of Good Mews: Inspirational Stories for Cat Lovers and Sins of a Father: Forgiving the Unforgivable.)

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections, Work

Special Role of Own

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Ronald E. Osborn

During the pre-college days, holding a summer job was a necessity. Whether the job was for a few weeks or the entire summer, each experience taught something new. One of the jobs was to assist in a day care centre meant for special needs children. Majority of these children were diagnosed with autism, Down’s syndrome or cerebral palsy. The days were filled with music, assisted play and activities centered around them. Working in their environment, interacting and playing with them, one learns to admire their spirit,resilience and talent. Although these children realize the fact that they are different; it doesn’t stop them from playing their own special role in life, making a difference to those around them.

“Every mind was made for growth, for knowledge, and its nature is sinned against when it is doomed to ignorance.” William Ellery Channing

Each one of us, have a special talent, gift or ability that many a time, may be deemed as normal by us, but special for others. The receptionist manning the entrance enjoys the daily morning greeting and simple talk, the neighbour next door enjoys an impromptu tête-à-tête, the colleague whom unknown gentle words help to settle their inner storms and similar instances, are all special memories for some people. The role that one plays in this world is never small. Every person, the roles that they play , the mark they leave behind and the memories that they become a part of; all have their own significance. The entire truth is known by The Creator and Time alone. While man may waste his own time in unnecessary speculations, calculation and interpretations; instead finding or doing their own role and purpose in life, may make their life as well lives of those around them more beautiful, meaningful and treasured.

“Change is the end result of all true learning.” Leo Buscaglia

A special place
There is a special place in life, that needs my humble skill,
a certain job I’m meant to do, which no one else can fulfil.

The time will be demanding and the pay is not too good
and yet I wouldn’t change it for a moment – even if I could.

There is a special place in life, a goal I must attain,
a dream that I must follow, because I won’t be back again.

There is a mark that I must leave, however small it seems to be,
a legacy of love for those who follow after me.

There is a special place in life, that only I may share,
a little path that bears my name, awaiting me somewhere.

There is a hand that I must hold, a word that I must say,
a smile that I must give for there are tears to blow away.

There is a special place in life that I was meant to fill,
a sunny spot where flowers grow upon a windy hill.

There’s always a tomorrow and the best is yet to be,
and somewhere in this world, I know there is a place for me.

Author Unknown