Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Reflections

Remove by their Root

“A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.” Dogen

Working on the patch of garden with my little toddler was fun time. Although those little hands were busy with the spade to loosen out the mud; the major fun lay in the activity of pulling out the unwanted weeds, popping up in amidst the patch of chrysanthemums. Initially their stalks used to only come off. Later on he had painstakingly ensured that the entire weed, along with its’ roots was collectively removed. As long as the thrill of getting his hands muddied wasn’t negated, he enjoyed the fun time in the little flower bed. The surprising part about weds is that, one doesn’t water or nurture them; yet they still come up.

“Pull them out by their roots.”

As the weeding process was going on, one can’t help look into the personal weeds in our lives. Whether those weeds be as false influences, challenges, setbacks, wrong beliefs, negative people, biased criticism and so on, the list is always endless. There is always something cropping up in our lives at the wrong time and unwanted places bringing about the negative energy and slowing down one’s own potential. At each stage of one’s life, they occur in different forms.

“ You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.” Joel Osteen

 

Letting the crop of weeds grow and multiply out of sheer laziness, lack of prioritizing or neglecting them without foreseeing the future damage, would result in an increased load of work and trouble in the not too distant future. On the other hand, when timely dealt with, these weeds would be nothing more than a difficult situation easily conquered.

“Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.” Shirley MacLaine

On dealing with the negative aspects that one encounters in life, is to the to the root of the problem and deal with them one by one. Eventually the unwanted weeds may be regrouped into something more beautiful or removed to make way for the better surroundings to shine. The only caution is to pull out the negativeness in it’s entirety. Else just as one believes them to be removed, they would crop up with double the strength later on, being a nuisance more then than now. As each crop of problems arise, solving and settling them from their root level help us come out of the situation soon; giving fresh courage, experience and hope to face the next crop of trouble or negativeness as they come fresh again.

“As time goes by, you seem to weed out the things that were making your life hard.” Tom Petty

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

Maintain the Balance

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius

Of recent, few multinational companies have been allotting compulsory leave days for their top employees. These few days after every four months or so, come with a half pay and an order not to be seen in the company premises for either completing the new projects, clear the back log or develop new ideas. The whole idea was to “take a break” from the professional life and grow the personal one. In a way, these organizations have done this so as to increase the employee productivity as well as better the general work efficiency on the whole.

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” David O. McKay

When a young adult enters the modern career world, the importance is laid in establishing a good professional life, earning good money and save for the future. As time goes on, one may start a family or become a part of one. Being social beings, we crave for close relationships and bonds as thick as blood. Yet once family and friends arrives, certain things may be taken for granted; especially time spent with the latter. When one realizes the error soon, time may be left to pick up the broken links and rebuild them.

“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In the process of rebuilding, the metal once scarred or bent mayn’t be as strong as it looks. For the builder it involves immense effort to re-link the chains as compared to when building in flow with the fresh meta links. While wealth, riches, fame and materials are necessary for the social or professional order in life; it is the close knit web of family and bonds that help one to heal, grow, nurture and flourish away from the outside world. As one nurtures or is being nurtured by the family, the children of tomorrow are minor extensions of today. These inquisitive minds learn more from actions and deeds than words. In order to live life to the fullest, learning to balance the entire framework of professional as well as personal life is what brings fruit to the former. Time is always there to reform as long as one decides to put their priorities and focus in the right manner.

“The single most important factor in our long-term happiness is the relationships we have with our family and close friends.” Clayton M. Christensen

‘So now you have a farm, two houses, and four cars, correct?’ asked Marcelo. Ivan nodded. ‘Well done!’ Marcelo smiled amicably to his old friend. ‘And what else have you got? A master’s degree from University of Chile, a good and stable job, and what else? Money, ah, how much money have you got? More than a hundred million pesos, I suppose?’
Ivan did not reply, but his smile meant a ‘yes’ to all of the questions. ‘And with all of these in your hands, you’re still the first to arrive at work and the last to leave, yes?’ For the second time, Ivan nodded. ‘For how long?”Three years and a half.’ ‘Oh, poor Ivan Espinoza,’ Marcelo sighed. For a moment he stopped talking. The conversation that previously was filled with laughter and jokes suddenly turned itself into a deep silence. Marcelo gazed over Ivan and tapped his right shoulder tenderly. An air of confidence was transpired from the light of his eyes, despite his graying eyebrow. ‘My friend, did you see that table?’ ‘Yes,’ Ivan glanced to a table next to them. ‘How many legs?’ ‘Four’
‘If you break one of the table’s legs, will you have a balanced table?’ ‘No’
‘So is life. It’s got four legs: education, money, a job you love, and a family you adore. If you break one of life’s legs, you will have an imbalanced life,’ remarked Marcelo. Sighing, the man paused for a little while before continuing. ‘Now you have a good job, money, and proper education, but you don’t see your children except when they are asleep before and after work. Is that a balanced life? You work for your family, don’t you?”Yes.’
‘So why do you work so hard but spend less time with them?’
Written by Subhan Zein

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 Daily, Family and Society, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Mark Left Behind

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” William Shakespeare

Walking into the shopping centre (similar to Walmart) downtown, unknowingly one would be found scanning their eyes at random for the familiar face of the friendly store clerk. On spotting that familiar “friendly face” shopping becomes easier especially when figuring out the offers. One longs for that similar friendly face in public offices, the court as well as at the municipal office, to get the unfamiliar procedure, forms, certifications and the rest sorted out to the layman.

In this era, where time always runs short for everybody; offering help, being kind, of grace and courteous isn’t always easy. Amidst loads of paperwork, targets to be achieved, over time hours, less holidays, rushing through two to three jobs to make ends meet; doing a job with utmost professional gains at time more importance than being kind, helpful and humane. For those who learn to balance both; their faces leave a distinct impression in the minds of those who meet them.

“Some people come into our lives, leave footprints in our hearts and minds and we are never the same again.” Jared Leto

Besides the work that we do for the basic bread and butter, the individual prints of approaching each turn that life takes one through, shows hint of the true character and underlying personality. Our every action, word and deed echoes more about ourselves than the promises that we make. The inner person reflects what it is within, for the world outside to see. Just like every vessel will pour out what it has or contains, so will a person leave their prints behind. While the first impression may be the best one; if the ones that follow aren’t true, losses would happen in the long run. Being kind and true within is what makes the difference in the lives of each person, whether it be their social, personal or professional life.

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” Harold S. Kushner

The old man shuffled slowly into the restaurant. With head tilted and shoulders bent forward, he leaned on his trusty cane with each unhurried step. His tattered cloth jacket, patched trousers, worn out shoes, and warm personality made him stand out from the usual Saturday morning breakfast crowd. Unforgettable were his pale blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds, large rosy cheeks, and thin lips held in a tight, steady smile.
He stopped, turned with his whole body, and winked at a little girl seated by the door. She flashed a big grin right back at him.

A young waitress named Mary watched him shuffle toward a table by the window. Mary ran over to him, and said, ‘Here, Sir . . . let me give you a hand with that chair.’ Without saying a word, he smiled and nodded a thank you. She pulled the chair away from the table. Steadying him with one arm, she helped him move in front of the chair, and get comfortably seated. Then she scooted the table up close to him, and leaned his cane against the table where he could reach it.
In a soft, clear voice he said, ‘Thank you, Miss . . . and bless you for your kind gestures.’ ‘You’re welcome, Sir.’ She replied. ‘And my name is Mary. I’ll be back in a moment and if you need anything at all in the mean time, just wave at me!’ After he had finished a hearty meal of pancakes, bacon and hot lemon tea, Mary brought him the change from his bill. He left it lay on the table. She helped him up from his chair and out from behind the table. She handed him his cane and walked with him to the front door. Holding the door open for him, she said, ‘Come back and see us, Sir!’ He turned with his whole body, winked and smiled, then nodded a thank you. ‘You are very kind.’ he said softly.

When Mary went to clean his table, she almost fainted. Under his plate she found a business card and a note scribbled on a napkin. Under the napkin was a one hundred dollar bill. The note on the napkin read . . . ‘Dear Mary, I respect you very much and I can see you respect yourself too. It shows by the way you treat others. You have found the secret of happiness. Your kind gestures will shine through to all those who meet you.’ The man she had waited on was the owner of the restaurant where she worked. This was the first time that she or any of his employees had ever seen him in person. 

Written by Steve Brunkhorst

 

Posted in Christian, Daily, Personal Musings, Reflections

Follow the Rays

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Towards the wee hours of the morning, the lights were lit and bags were kept in the trunk. Pairs of sleepy eyes being huddled and buckled into their car seats. With a strong cup of Joe and steaming thermos of tea, we were off for the three hour drive to the main family homestead. With the centenary celebrations of the hometown cathedral where my spouse was christened, this trip was a must on the calendar. As the hours progressed, the drive felt like we were following the light cast by the rays of the rising sun.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” ( Palm 119:105)

Mornings are a beautiful way of God saying that He Loves Us. The golden light that dispels the fear of the night and the darkness. On the regular days, it feels special to be woken up by the light rays of dawn. Stepping out in the fresh morning air, with the quiet chirping of the feathered friends and the fresh smell of the dew, they offer strength to face the day. The bright light of the morning sun often reminds me of the Word of God, offering hope and guidance during the dark days, promises of His Love and forgiveness through the wrongs of our lives. His Word lights up the dark skies and brings the rainbow after the heavy showers. No matter where one is stuck, His Word brings us out. Such is His Love for His Children.

“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Morning
Clinton Lee Scott

From the East comes the sun,
Bringing a new and unspoiled day.
It has already circled the Earth and
Looked upon distant lands and
Far-away peoples.

It has passed over mountain ranges and
The waters of the seven seas.
It has shown upon laborers in the fields,
Into the windows of homes,
And shops, and factories.

It has beheld cities with gleaming towers,
And also the hovels of the poor.
It has been witness to both good and evil,
The works of honest men and women and
The conspiracy of knaves.

It has seen marching armies, bomb-blasted villages
And “the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”
Now, unsullied from its tireless journey,
It comes to us,
Messenger of the morning.
Harbinger of a new day.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

Posted in Daily, Food

Ice, Cream and Coffee

An impromptu get-together of classmates and families over the weekend, makes for a memorable time. With potluck lunch being the norm, cooking was never a hassle. Though the matter of settling the desserts takes up more time. Considering the higher proportion of sweet tooth among the adults and children alike, there was a huge batch of ice-cream, not just any but homemade coffee ice-cream to follow.

“There were some problems only coffee and ice cream could fix.” Amal El-Mohtar

There are few recipes and tricks that are handed down from one generation to the next. Among them desserts, especially those which can be made with regular ingredients; coffee ice cream along with the regular tarts, puddings, gulab jamuns and the like which require basic ingredients or minimum preparatory time are saved for the “dessert quandary“.

Interestingly, early records show that coffee ice cream (1869) was first used in the making of parfait. Few cookbooks (1919) had the recipe of an Egg Coffee consisting of cream, crushed ice and coffee syrup. By late 1900s, coffee ice-cream slowly rose to fame having it’s own secure place on the menu in the ice cream parlours.

While vanilla still is the most popular ice cream, with a regular supply often stocked up in the freezer; coffee ice cream makes way for a delicious change. With many recipes found online, subtle changes like adding beaten egg yolks to the cooling coffee/milk/cream mix and using dark-roast beans makes for the changing flavours each time coffee ice-cream is made at home. Though the longer the ice cream is frozen, the better it is; morning preparations are ready by noon with a minimum freeze time of four hours. The next time an impromptu meet is there, sprucing up the regular ice cream can make for more deliciously happy and fun memories.

“Personally, I like to mix and match–I prefer to get a couple of milk shakes, a banana split … a sundae or two. Then I top it off with a mocha chip in a cone. I don’t know why. I guess that’s like the dinner mint at the end of a meal to me. Know what I mean?” J.R. Ward, The Beast

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