Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our true essence…

There’s a beautiful quote that goes: “Our true essence is revealed in moments of unexpected change!”* I first saw the quote more than 15 years ago, when one of the students in my Transpersonal Psychotherapy (Psychosynthesis) class had shared it in one of our workshops. The quote had had** a big impact on me, then. In fact, it had truly startled me. You see, I had never made a connection between who I was as a person, to how I reacted to unexpected situations OR looking at it in reverse, I didn’t think that how I reacted to situations had anything to do with the person I thought I was. It stunned me, therefore, to realize that one went with the other. If an unexpected situation arose, of course I was not going to be pleased, because I saw it as a disruption in my day, and a disappointment to me…

But then, it made me think about what kind of a person this made me… And how did I feel about being a person who lost control, even though only on the inside, when my wishes or desires were thwarted***???? Hmmm…it didn’t feel nice at all! I knew right away, this quote was a wonderful mirror to evaluate who I was as a person, and that I could use it to grow as a person :)..and that certainly was a very happy thought! As I continued on my journey, I changed and evolved and after a while didn’t need this reminder on a regular basis. But, being human, I go off track sometimes and then remembering this quote makes me smile 🙂

And, what about YOU? Did reading the above trigger something? Are you alright with being the person you are in moments of unexpected change? If yes, kudos to you — if not, don’t worry…life is a journey, and it’s quite alright to slip or get lost, so long as we reorient ourselves and get back on track 🙂

*When I first saw the quote it was attributed to the Sufi mystic Rumi whose real name was Jalal-ud-din Balkhi but subsequently have no verification of this on google

**had had — for ESL students, this is the past perfect tense 🙂 — yes, there are two ‘hads’ there 😉

***Thwarted means ‘prevented from being accomplished’

 

Thanksgiving — Thursday, 28th November

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Unlike the Canadian Thanksgiving which is always on the second Monday of October each year, the American Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November. The difference in date is simply because north of the 49th parallel, in Canada, it is a few degrees colder, affecting the crops and the harvests. In fact if we in Canada waited until the American Thanksgiving, chances are all that we could be grateful for would be buried under several feet of snow ;)!

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The Americans commonly trace the Thanksgiving holiday to a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, in Massachusetts, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. The Plymouth settlers, known as the Pilgrims, came to the New World (America) in the ship Mayflower (pictured alongside) in 1620 from England. Its 102 passengers consisted of two core groups – religious separatists from Holland and a largely non-religious settler group from London. They were helped in the early years by the local native-Americans to establish roots.

The US president Abraham Lincoln declared the Thanksgiving Day each year on the last Thursday of November, but President Roosevelt had the fourth Thursday of November passed into law during a year when there were five Thursdays. Essentially, it’s a day to be thankful for all we have. What are YOU thankful for from the past year on this Thanksgiving Day? What are you thankful for TODAY?

 

What’s the key to happiness?

From times immemorial the world has searched for the elusive answer to this question! I’m presenting several quotes here, all offered online by ‘google’. Take your pick, or come up with your own answers — keeping in mind there can’t be wrong or right answers :)!

  • Do what makes YOU happy. Don’t care about what others think.
  • Forgiveness is keeping the key to happiness in your own pocket…
  • Everyone has battles. Everyone has different coping skills. But finding the positive in everything is the key to happiness.
  • The key to happiness is to have low expectations.
  • Learn to let go. That’s the key to happiness.
  • There is no key to happiness, the door is always open. On this road to happiness and fulfillment a person must be able to realize and accept a variety of things. One of these things is that a person must realize who they are, and that true happiness will only be achieved if they are willing to be themselves and not who others may want them to be!
  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.

…and finally, one sad person complained, “When I find the key to happiness, someone changes the lock.” 😉

Now, what about YOU? What, according to you, is the ‘Key to Happiness’? Answers here would be highly appreciated 🙂

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Please note: Henceforth, there’ll be a blog post every other day, instead of everyday! 🙂

 

What makes a story fascinating?

The first time I learned why O’Hare Airport in Chicago, US, has its name, I was totally captivated by the story. So, what makes stories fascinating to us? Generally speaking it’s because of elements of out-of-the-ordinary, a touch of goodness, heroics, unexpected turns, some fear or horror that makes us gasp—all these and more elements, that trigger a large range of emotions. Back to the O’Hare story…

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Before the name change, this Chicago airport was known as Orchard Depot Airport. Then, in September 1949, to honor the memory of the World War II hero, Naval Lieutenant Commander Edward O’Hare, the name of the airport was changed to O’Hare Airport. The picture below, shows a replica of one of the planes he flew, on permanent exhibit at the airport.

“Butch” O’Hare, as he was known by everyone, was the Navy’s first ‘Ace’ and the first aviator to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He earned these distinctions for single handedly attacking and shooting down five enemy bombers who were about to attack the aircraft carrier the USS Lexington, off the coast of New Guinea during World War II.

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Tales of heroics are always interesting, but what made the story fascinating for me was the rest of the tale. You see, “Butch”, the genuine all-American hero, was the son of ‘Easy Eddie’ O’Hare, the lawyer and right-hand man of the notorious Chicago mobster boss, Al Capone. Though, in the end, ‘Easy Eddie’ was the one who got Al Capone arrested, his life was spent in very unethical businesses to earn easy money. His end was inglorious too, as he was shot down by possibly Al Capone’s henchmen, as he was driving home one evening. One thing is sure, he loved his son too much to see him involved with the world of crime and got him enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy. The rest, of course, is history—his son died in glory, in action while defending his country!

Free in Montreal

A city of international fame, Montreal has a lot to offer its citizens and visitors, but when people live somewhere they get jaded and take their surroundings for granted. It certainly happens to me…I keep postponing visits to museums, permanent exhibits in art galleries and sometimes to recurring shows. Well, to shake the locals from their blasé attitude, and to provide some useful bit of information to potential visitors here’s a list of five free art and art-related activities in Montreal.

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The permanent collection at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal/Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is always free to the public. This fine arts museum features European artwork dating back to the Middle Ages, ancient artwork from around the world, including Islamic metalwork, African masks, and Buddhist sculptures. Then there are always new exhibitions the whole year round. The current one ‘Splendore a Venezia: Art and Music from the Renaissance to Baroque’ is on now and will run until January 19, 2014. These visiting exhibitions have an entry fee but having the annual $60 VIP membership ensures free visits to everything, along with many perks. I have found this to be a very sound investment!

On Thursday nights after 5:30, the Centre canadien d’architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture is free to the public. Exhibits include a photography display and drawings from the 19th century that show how architects design and execute a project from start to finish. There are always new and so it’s well worth checking periodically.

Located in the Saint-Laurent neighborhood, the Musée des Maîtres et Artisans du Quebec celebrates Quebec’s French-Canadian heritage as well as traditional craftsmanship. A permanent exhibit called “From Master’s Hands” presents French-Canadians’ tools, furniture, metalwork, and sacred objects from the 1600s through 1800s. Admission to the museum is free on Wednesdays.

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The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal/Contemporary Art Museum was founded in 1964, to build a collection of contemporary works by artists from Montréal, Québec, Canada and around the world. It is truly a museum for the twenty-first century. Selected exhibits are free on Wednesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Musée de Lachine is 10 km from downtown Montréal, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It is a unique combination of contemporary art and history, and is composed of an archaeological site, various collections, some of the oldest buildings on the island of Montréal and also an outdoor sculpture museum. The outdoor museum features 50 sculptures along walking and biking trails. The museum has a sculpture education program for people of all ages and on weekends in September and October, the museum hosts an introduction to archaeology. With a simulated dig, participants analyze artifacts and learn about discoveries made at the site.

So much choice, not a penny spent 🙂

 

Let it snow :)

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Those of us living in cold countries know that when fall comes, sooner or later snow will follow. It is inevitable. I have yet to meet someone indifferent to it—people either love or hate it. I’m amongst those who loves freshly fallen snow, and love to walk through it, kicking it up as I walk and enjoying it crunch under my feet. Here are some interesting facts about snow, some of which you may not know.

1. Snowflakes always have six sides.

2. No two snowflakes are alike.

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3. In Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the soil is red clay, snowflakes often look pink. This is because the red dust from the soil is blown into the air and absorbed by the clouds.

4. The largest snowflakes ever recorded fell in the state of Montana, USA. They were 15 inches in diameter

5. The average snowfall in Stampede Pass, Washington State is 430 inches, making it the snow capital of the United States.

6. The average snowflake falls at a speed of 3.1 miles (5 km.) per hour.

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7. ‘Snirt’ is dirty snow that flies off the dusty Canadian prairies. 

8. Billions of snowflakes fall during a snowstorm.

9. Snowflakes are made up of ice crystals.

10. When people know a blizzard is coming, they like to stock up on cakes, candies and cookies than any other food.

11. A snowstorm is classed as a blizzard when you can’t see for 1/4 mile; the winds are 35 miles an hour, and the storm lasts at least 3 hours. If the conditions are less severe, it’s only considered a snowstorm.

A word of advise to the whiners :), what cannot be cured, must be endured—why not just learn to enjoy snow!

 

Et voilà — here it is…my

…handsome new baby ;)! I got it today, and am very excited!

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And now comes the fun, but hard, part — have had to file my nails down completely; my fingertips are already hurting from pressing on those metal strings, and I have yet to start serious practice! But how do you eat an elephant? Yep…one bite at a time (sorry for grossing out any vegetarians out there–you do know it’s just an expression ;)! ). Receiving great support from friends. One has already written in to ask to be the first to have my disc when it’s out…hahaha… In 10 years, I told her…if at all ;)!

Luckily, I have a very patient teacher, who also found me this beautiful guitar at an incredible price. It’s a Godin, Art & Lutherie cutaway, Those who haven’t yet checked out the post ‘Just TEN songs’ from Nov. 16 may want to do so if you want to understand the excitement behind this guitar story.

One of the holy books of the Hindus says that the gods you pray to are the gods you’ll meet when you die. I’m sure the gods who’ll come to receive me, then, will ask, “Did you sing enough? Did you dance enough?” And I know they’ll be happy that I did 😉

 

A Cherokee Legend — Two Wolves

I read this beautiful story some two decades ago, and its impact on me hasn’t changed. It is the story of an old Cherokee grandfather and his young grandson. The grandson spoke to the old man about the anger he felt against his friend who had not been fair to him. The grandfather made him sit down beside him and said, “I too have sometimes felt great hatred and anger towards those who take so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But, hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like drinking poison, wishing the other person would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.”

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“Let me tell you a story,” the grandfather continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”

“He is at peace with himself!”

images“But the other wolf.. Ah! The littlest things will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all of the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for it will change nothing.”

“Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked at his grandfather intently, a bit afraid, and asked, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?” The grandfather smiled quietly and said, “The one I feed!”

Which wolf do YOU feed? Which wolf wins more of the time?

 

A grateful heart <3

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My theme song is ‘Have a heart that’s grateful’ :)! I talk about gratitude all the time. There was a time I used to buy these red glass hearts in bulk and give them to everyone I knew asking them to carry them on their person all the time, and when they remembered or noticed the hearts, to stop and be grateful for something in their lives. Then, the store I used to buy them at stopped ordering them and I had to stop gifting them… But recently, while puttering around in a craft store I found these satiny red hearts…bigger than the glass hearts but flatter, so, easier to carry and tuck away.

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I also bought little organza gift bags to put them in. I’m ready to start giving out ‘Gratitude Hearts’ again! 🙂

Any chance I get, I tell people around me to do the following:

Before going to bed, write down in a notebook, five things you can be grateful for, that happened that very day—things that brought you a feeling of joy, happiness, even relief…or any other positive emotion that lifted you up in any way at all. Call this notebook your ‘Gratitude Journal’. If you wish to write more than five items then go ahead, but the first five must be from this same day. After all, knowing we have reasons to be grateful, creates a feeling of well-being, and gives our hearts a joyous lift.

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How this expressing of gratitude works is that it immediately brings us a feeling of relief, relaxes us at a deep level and changes our brain-chemistry by helping release endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormones , which when present in the body act as natural painkillers and provide a sense of comfort, wellness and happiness. This breaks the cycle of depression, and feeling low or run down. Continuing with writing in your ‘Gratitude Journal’ will slowly, but completely, alter how you feel each and every day and happiness will become a habit. And this is where the fun begins: This sense of well-being will attract more of the same to you, because as we know, like attracts like! WE are the magnets that attracts the good or the bad into our lives. You will see that instead of attracting negative circumstances and events in your life, you will gradually begin to attract those that are a reflection of your relaxed and happy inner state. This may begin with baby-steps, so don’t lose faith! Just keep counting your blessings — there are always blessings to count :)!