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Have You Ever Hugged A Tree?

“Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I was visiting Helsinki the capital city of Finland, last spring, and was mesmerized by the beauty of this watery geography. It’s on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. As I was walking down the pathway in the Kaisaniemi garden one morning I noticed a group of people hugging trees. I was awed by the gesture and watched them do the ritual. They looked calm and peaceful as if it were some kind of therapy.

They then sat underneath the tree like a child sits in her mother’s lap. Looking at me gaping in awe one of the women in the group asked me to join in. I didn’t hesitate a bit and joined them in the peculiar regime. I thank myself for doing so as it has changed my way of looking at things.


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She guided me very gently and asked me to let go of preconceived ideas about reality in general and become one with the environment around me. Plants are our elders and have been here before us and will live on after we have gone, they have so much earth wisdom. We can tap into it if we allow ourselves. She asked me to find a tree that calls me. “How would I know?” I asked. She replied, “Just listen to your heart.” I was pulled towards a white birch tree which was very tall almost reaching the sky.

She asked me to take permission of the tree, even though it seemed weird in that moment I followed them. I had established a connection with the tree, an instant friendship was built. I picked up trash from around it, watered the roots and sang Finnish songs along with them. One of the men played the kantele, a wind instrument. It was blissful.

Love surged within me. We hugged the trees. It was a beautiful moment. The leader of the group guided us to relax and breathe with the tree. I felt my heart beating with the vibration of the tree. We exchanged energy and a vow to protect each other.

Unless we have a connection with nature we will never understand the importance of the Earth Day or the National Arbor Day. We may fear the alarming statistics of global warming or increasing cancer rates or rising sea level and be a part of the mission but real participation comes when we feel integrated with nature and our planet earth. When we plant a tree we reap love in our life.

Have you ever wondered about a place where you can roam in your own heart space? Have you ever stopped by and expressed your gratitude to the trees that stand true to their vow of sustaining life? Have you ever hugged a tree to soak in the higher energy it emits, releasing you from your worries? Have you connected with the innate wisdom of the age-old tree? Have you ever nurtured a sapling?

Communion with nature has a power to transform negative emotions, bring clarity of mind and reduce stress. Spend quiet moments with them. Take a walk in the woods and hug a tree.

Events To Celebrate This Week:

 

Administrative Professionals Day® – April 22, 2015
It’s Administrative Professionals Day®! It’s time to reach out and appreciate all the administrative professionals you know for their support.

Earth Day – April 22, 2015
It’s Earth Day! So celebrate the beauty and wonder of our planet.

April Showers Day – April 22, 2015
Hey, it’s April Showers Day! So enjoy the sunny skies of April and the sudden showers of rain that make way for the flowers to bloom. Shower good wishes on your friends and loved ones.

National Arbor Day – April 24, 2015
National Arbor Day is the time to plant and take care of trees. Hug a tree.


April 21, 2015   No Comments

Lighthearted Humor Gives Meaning To Life!

It’s the month of the year when we are reminded to laugh out loud and enjoy. It’s time to take life easy. Enjoy the amusing sound of a giggle or the rip- roaring sound of laughter.


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“There was a tiger chasing a man in a forest, he ran franticly merely escaping the paws of the furious animal, huffing and puffing he climbed on a tree and held on to a branch, the hungry tiger waited under the tree with his sharp teeth and an open mouth salivating for its prey. When suddenly a rat came by gnawing at the very branch he was hung upon.” Aaliyah narrated a story yesterday to a bunch of kids in our neighborhood. She was creating online thank you greetings in colorful floral patterns with the children who enjoy the magic of their art work come alive with animation.

She put her light pen down and continued in a dramatic tone of voice; rising and dropping pitch got everybody sitting on the edge of their chairs.
I was sitting on the couch writing my journal and couldn’t help myself from getting engrossed in the story, I noted the children were listening with wide eyes and dropped jaw and Aaliyah was enjoying the engagement.

“What happened to the man Aunt Aaliyah one of the children inquired with great curiosity?”
“What do you do when you get into trouble?” Aaliyah asked.

“Well! Aunt the other day when I broke Mumma’s iPhone while playing virtual tennis I just closed my eyes and pleaded God to make me invisible or blow me up into a giant so I could scare her instead. When I opened my eyes my mum was towering over me like the hulk.” The whole group broke into laughter and it was an amusing look on the child’s face.

Aaliyah then continued, “The man also prayed hard to get away from the situation, he asked God to save him and he would do anything in return, suddenly he heard a voice coming from the sky, “Do you promise you’d do anything if I saved you?”, the man was shaken and in a harried state said, yes I would do anything God, please save me!”

The voice came back asking him to let go of the branch. He was in utter confusion and disbelief cropped in his heart. The branch was weakening with the mouse still chewing on it. His strength was fading. He looked down at the tiger waiting to devour him. He looked up to the heavens and yelled, “You must be kidding me, is there anyone else up there?”

The children tittered again and then Aaliyah asked me to conclude the story as I was grinning from ear to ear by now. They turned towards me staring for something extraordinary.

I started, “the story represents our faith. Our trust weakens with situations. We hold on to the sinking ship never realizing that a loft afloat on the surface of the water is enough to carry us overboard. We never let go of the fears and let God take over completely. Our belief should be rock solid so nothing can sway us.”

Just then a child completed me with great excitement, “…and we must keep our promises of returning his favors!” We all chortled. I said, “Certainly! We must also remember to say our thanks to him.”

Have a great week and enjoy it thoroughly with your family, friends and neighborhood. April in Latin means “to open”, so open up to more fun this month, it is the humor month.

To be in touch with me follow me on Twitter. Let’s experience life and lessons together.


April 13, 2015   No Comments

In The Basket Of Love.

NYC is the destination of dreams but as the crowds and hustle bustle increase, the relationships become volatile. The concepts of speed-dating and online relationships are on the rise and most of the breakups happen by texting and changing the relationship status in a social media forum. The city has witnessed much heartbreak and you don’t have to dig in too deep to know the reason.


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“It’s embarrassing!” Adrian, my street-smart friend, screamed the other day, “I don’t want to look like a loser in front of her.” He didn’t want to share his job termination with his girlfriend. He faked happiness while he was smothering inside.

I believe all relations have to move from the space of fear to that of love, from judging to caring and from isolation to connection. The joy of life is my love Aaliyah. I am so grateful that I can stay sane on rough days because of the unconditional presence of love. We have come to this understanding after going through a challenging phase in our relationship. Initially when we dated we were constantly on each other’s nerve. But with time love superseded the differences.

We have an understanding now, she knows she can let her tear roll down and I am there to replace it with a smile. I can allow myself to voice my dingy secrets and nasty thoughts without worrying about losing love for an opinion.

We celebrate the spirit of Orthodox Easter which is to be an overcomer. Nature is unbiased and non-judgmental in its treatment; its love encompasses the entire planet. All fit in merrily in the basket of love.

As the spring has sprung, the trees bear flowers and fruits for all and the sun shines evenly, the birds sing uniformly without being judgmental, so shall love be free of conditions. Life in love is a string of celebrations and merriment.

Celebrate Orthodox Easter and the warmth of colorful spring season this week with all your folks and if you have a friend who’s far away send him the “Miss You” online greeting or share a gag to make someone roll in the aisles. It’s the Humor Month so enjoy your differences.

April 6, 2015   No Comments

Share The Fun & Laughter!

Isn’t it great to have a day when we can simply sit back and enjoy the game of wits, hold our stomachs and laugh with friends and peers? It’s perfect day to play hoaxes on friends.

If you are gullible then, surely, you are going to fall in the trap. The most popular historical fact around this day is when the New Year changed from being observed on April 1 to January 1. The people who still considered April 1 as the beginning of the year were entitled as April Fools.


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The most interesting story I came across was the “smell-o-vision” hoax purported by BBC wherein they announced the trial of a new technology allowing the transmission of odor over the airwaves to all viewers. Surprisingly, a few of them reported success and were christened as April Fools.

It’s time to spread the laughter and play witty pranks. It’s also a time to take in the jokes on you sportingly.

My creative team sneaked into the proof-reader’s den and changed the keys on his keyboard. Everyone has been laughing since morning at the messages coming from his console. He was embarrassed initially but took it in his stride and broadcasted a message to the entire office, “Hoppy Apral Feels’ Doy!”

With Easter and Passover also this week there are many reasons to enjoy and celebrate. Share the fun. For those of you who could not decode his message, Happy April Fools’ Day!

March 31, 2015   No Comments

Learn To Win-Win!

The answer to the riddle asked in the previous blog post is “Blame”, this is one thing which when given to someone it doesn’t belong to is cowardly and which when taken is noble. Blame can be a game but nobody wins.


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Easter time with the added magic of spring brings in a flood of memories of mom and her delightfully cooked food. The egg-hunt and friends, but it also brings back flashes of the life-lessons learnt the hard way in the growing years.

I remember as a young lad I was a people-pleaser. It started with pleasing my mamma. I would do anything to win her smile, sometimes even lie and exaggerate the school stories to make her laugh.

Life was tough for her and she endlessly toiled to the days end. I felt at the top of the world when I could make her smile. Though my pleasing stunt in childhood had a good intention and I won warm hugs and yummy treats from mum but I got stuck in the habit of pleasing people, giving them priority over myself.

Often, to save face I would indulge in a blame-game. If something went wrong, it’s got to be because of the ghost sitting on top of the cabinet.

I realized that I was opening myself to manipulation and abuse. I was always the first to apologize even if it wasn’t my fault; I feared rocking the boat in relationships. I was always skeptical about speaking my mind at work.

During my teens I faced my first rejection. I proposed a beautiful girl and she blatantly refused. I remember how devastated I was and felt worthless. In that moment my mom helped me realize that life is all about accepting yourself and respecting decisions. There is no such thing as rejection; it is only a matter of choice. Everyone is free to choose.

I worked upon my over-sensitivity towards people and their opinions and brought my need for approval into my awareness. I reprogrammed my mind to walk out of the worm’s existence and embrace the larger and brighter picture of my personality.

I truly believe that when we respect ourselves, we win more real and lasting friendships.

It doesn’t mean we don’t make efforts to make someone feel special or we stop giving in when the relationship demands but it means we don’t walk all over our own joy road to please someone. This also reduces the chance of indulging in the labyrinth of lies and blames.
Assertiveness empowers us to express without feeling guilty and without having the need to be aggressive, controlling, rigid or judgmental.

Be open to the needs of people without compromising yours. Drop to your knee to propose to your princess but don’t drop in the trench of self-pity if she rejects. Life is all about choices. Choose Win-Win.

March 25, 2015   No Comments

‘Spring Clean’ Your Soul

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (KJV) Psalm 51:10

Yesterday, I stopped by the garden and noticed a few children from my neighborhood playing there. The laughter and zest that surrounded them got to me and I walked up to join them and soak in the cheerfulness.


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They were engaged in a riddle competition. I was enjoying the questions thrown in at each other and the unpredictable answers followed by, “Duh! I knew that one.” One of riddles I heard got stuck with me for some reason, “what is something you will never see again?” I was musing over it when someone shouted out the answer, “Yesterday!,” “Ah! Is it this simple?” I asked and peals of laughter broke out in the group and one of the kids replied plainly, “Yeah, Uncle Bob it’s simple.”

It is indeed this simple to walk away from our yesterdays filled with regrets, guilt, anger and hurt. Just know that you have managed to move on and it will never come back again. As we organize our closets and ‘spring clean’ our homes in this spring season, it is important to cleanse our mind of the lingering negative emotions which we have carried from the painful yesterdays.

Donna and I are to attend a spring wedding and we are excited about it, this is indeed the best time to get married, the snow melts and flowers bloom, fragrant hyacinths and colorful blossoms scatter all around.

Last week, I was out for some shopping and she shared her memories of her wedding with me, hers was also a spring wedding, it didn’t last though but she remembers only the good times and is grateful for the precious gift it left to her, two beautiful children. She indeed has successfully cleaned her heart of all the hurt and has carried only the positive memories. She practiced forgiveness and carries no blame for herself or her former husband. She is a content and happy single parent. I feel so inspired by her and know that the biggest space should be allocated to the heart.

This springtime is the perfect opportunity to contemplate on the lessons and bright memories that you want to preserve from your yesterday while dumping the pessimisms. Let the spring arrive in your life.

Solve this riddle and get the message, smile and rejuvenate and let the spring equinox melt away the coldness giving way to love and warmth.

“To give me to someone I don’t belong to is cowardly, but to take me is noble. I can be a game, but nobody wins. What am I?”

March 16, 2015   No Comments

Everyone is Irish On St. Patrick’s Day in The Big Apple!

A British boy of 16 years was captured and brought to Ireland. He was enslaved for six years. He struggled through those dark days. Surprisingly, during this period of intense suffering he got enlightened. He realized the self. He entrusted people with the message of God and freed them from being the wandering pagans, guiding them to receive God’s light. He attained priesthood in Ireland later and was none other than St. Patrick. His life is a blessing for all.


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Have you ever wondered why the presence of saints can transcend lives? The obstinate and prolonged darkness of millions of years can be alleviated by just one tiny flame of light. Similarly, a saint helps us to kindle the flame in our hearts and the darkness of a lifetime disappears. So when we honor a saint we are in reality honoring the divinity within us, we are rejoicing the presence of God in our lives.

On St. Patrick’s Day, We have plans to join in the famous parade, wear green and consume some fresh green beer. Aaliya plans to pack in some Irish Guinness pudding with Whisky cream. Megan is making some velvet shamrocks, the symbol of fortune, to pin to our wardrobes. Frederick is preparing some placards of St. Patrick’s Day messages that we plan to carry with us in the parade. Donna, with her children Ethan and Emily, is coming with green silk flags of St. Patrick’s Day. On this day, everyone is Irish in the Big Apple!

I can’t wait to be with friends and celebrate the spirit of a great saint and do a little jig on the Irish songs. Do something special for someone on this day. Be someone’s leprechaun. Yet, again comes a moment to celebrate love, in the Irish way.

March 9, 2015   No Comments

Give Her The Gift Of Honor!

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate women who are playing different roles in our lives. Women operate from the heart space whereas men basically are logic-based creatures. They complete and complement each other but sometimes when the symphony breaks they start competing with each other and that’s the beginning of the end.


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Yesterday as I stood on the busy Shubert alley of New York. I noticed a couple engaged in strife, the wife was taking in a lot of verbal abuse and was visibly embarrassed. I could hear her apologize many times. I felt sorry for her and moved on. I wonder, what brings the loved ones to the brim of such a compromising situation?

We have to stop the unending battle of ego and trust in the virtues of love, forgiveness and compassion. A woman is more than a weakling, before others’ could believe this, she has to know it. She is a blend of strength and vulnerability which beautifies her even more. Assertiveness is a virtue for women to wear like a jewel. Trust me; it’s better than trying to fit in.

International Women’s Day is the right opportunity to make it happen. More than 100 countries celebrate the essence of womanhood on March 8. Send some inspiring greetings and words of encouragement to the woman who is special to you so that she can retreat from the state of being a victim and claim her special space in the world.

It’s time to thank her and let her know how special she is. It’s time to alleviate her troubles and give her the gift of honor she deserves.

March 3, 2015   1 Comment

Mom! You Design My Life!

I was in awe as the 24 Oscars were bestowed to the well deserving artists and performances. I am so moved by the powerful speeches of achievers. The sound of victory and winning pleases my eardrums at all times especially when they come from those who have coursed through a rough road. The expectations of so many did not come to fruition but doesn’t mar the fact that they did rise up to the casement. Some returned victorious while others took back with them enormous hope. I rose from my couch to fill myself yet another glass of tonic water and one more helping of warm, crisp pepperoni pizza.


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I remember, how my mother once told me that we are here to achieve and nothing is bigger than our intentions. We must leverage on the free will bestowed upon us by the universe. The blueprint of victory is etched in our mind in the growing years of our lives.

That doesn’t imply that we are stuck in the space of scarcity if that’s been our default imprint so far, the fact is that in every moment we have a choice to choose abundance over lack. Choice is our tool to break through the matrix of beliefs and design our life.

As I hear the gratitude in the speeches of these achievers tonight, my heart opens up with love and gratitude for my mum who has always prayed for my happiness.

I realize what a gigantic responsibility has been laid upon every mother for she is the primary designer of her children’s entire life. If you are one of them, choose love above all. If you are one of those children who feel the blueprint hasn’t worked for you, remember to pick gratitude over complaint. Choose right.

I called my ma to say hi! I could hear her smile in her voice. After a little chitchat she hung up with her usual parting remark which puts me back in time to a place of joy, “I want you to be happy always!”

February 23, 2015   1 Comment

New Hope of Love, Light And Laughter – Happy Chinese New Year!

“What does that mean?” Adrian shouted from across the street. She smiled with her eyes vanishing into a line and pretty little dimples forming craters in her cheeks which were a shade deeper now as she repeated, “Gong Xi Fa Cai my love!”, and then translated it in her Asian accent, “Happy New Year, congratulations ,wishing you abundance my darling”

Adrian and May met last year. Despite the huge dissimilarity as far as cultures were concerned, both of them connected instantly. She came to NYC to study Art in Cornell University. She loved her family living in Malaysia and wanted to finish the course and return, until she met him.


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I remember last Chinese New Year when he met her at the oriental restaurant, The Dynasty, on the 3rd Avenue. She wore a stunning red dress and had insisted that he wear something in red too as that was customary to their celebration. Usually, I have seen him in subtle colors but that day he got carried away and wore a stark red tee on his denims, I looked at him in amazement and teased him about losing his sanity on the Temporary Insanity Day. He laughed and rushed to join her in the traditional reunion dinner where to his surprise he was the only invitee. He had heard, they celebrate it with folks and friends together and there is a lot of noise and laughter. He had expected people but was happy to be alone with her.

Adrian was excited as he recounted to me about the evening spent with May. Aroma of chicken, Chinese cuisine and wine floated. Music of drums and cymbals drifted in the serene ambience. There were dancing figurines of lions and dragons elaborating the counters. Red flags with symbols of horse were swaying in the cool breeze. Red lanterns were lit on every table and she looked scintillating in the scarlet radiance. The whole town was painted in red that day and so was his heart.

They were served with a Chinese salad first; interestingly she explained the fun behind the salad ritual, known as the prosperity toss; it was a raw fish salad which they were supposed to mix with chopsticks. The tradition is that the higher one tosses the salad, the more fortunes will grow in the coming year. So Adrian attempted the heroic stunt and his fish flew high in the air, with pride he held out his plate firmly for it to land safely but it decided to take a sudden turn and landed on his girlfriend’s lap. She seemed cross but as he looked at her with his puppy eyes she broke out laughing and showed him the right way to toss the salad gracefully. Peals of laughter echoed and without much of his knowing his heart was painting a picture on his life’s campus which was meant to stay with him beyond this ephemeral moment in time.

She gifted him oranges as in Chinese tradition oranges bring in luck. He could not agree more with her as his lady luck stood right there in front of his eyes. Haven’t you felt butterflies, in love? Somehow that night he mustered all courage and proposed to her and without many words she welcomed him in her life.

Then, it happened. The path they were walking on forked into different destinations. And as ice melts in its own water so was she to return to Malaysia. You know how it feels when you say nothing will change and yet the sinister distance and time play their part. She had assured to come back in the next Chinese New Year. He was hoping against hope to relive those moments.

Today as the horse gives way to the sheep and again Chinese New Year comes by, he recollects the moments of love spent with May. No matter the moments are short-lived, they have a long life in the mind of a lover.

As we toss the fish in the air, may be his cell phone lits up and so his eyes. May be, he get’s the long-awaited message!

February 16, 2015   1 Comment