7 Things to do that your Tomorrow will Thank you for

1. Manage your time well…for time is the essence lives are made of. Be sure about the things you want to spend your time on; once it slips away, there is no going back to retrieve it.

2. Think long term goals…because long term and tomorrows are what you are driving yourself to. Don’t sacrifice the future for instant gratification. Have a roadmap and keep coming back to it to see whether you are on track.

3. Say thanks, express gratitude…for the tomorrow stands on the foundation of a healthy, happy and confident today. Counting your blessings makes you see the wonderful life you have had and that you can continue to have. 

4. Cherish the ephemeral…because it would not last and because it is the nature of creation to bring forth beauty into lives, no matter how short. So, hold it and live it for the experience and the memories.

5. Connect…with the people who matter, because ‘no man is an island, complete in himself’. Reach out, be vulnerable and nurture the affinity you have with others.

6. Find out what makes you happy…and pursue it wholeheartedly so that you do not have to look back one day and regret the things you let go. Make yourself happy and stay happy. Remember that going after what you want is as satisfying as actually achieving the goal.

7. Resolve your problems using your subconscious…for the subconscious mind holds the solution to your problems. You know so much if only you ask your own self. Pose yourself questions and get down to deconstruct the fears that are holding you back.

What would you like to do to pave the way for a better tomorrow?

Small Stones-The Mall

After: The clang of the cash registers, the snaking queues, the feigned patience of shoppers, tapping feet, glances at mobile screens, children tugging at adults’ clothes, the candy by the counter.

Before: Shuffling down the aisle, picking, peering, tossing into baskets, wheeling the overloaded beasts to the neon blinking counters.

Much Before: Fresh air, cool breeze, vibrant outdoors, a step inside the gargantuan building, deodorised interiors and a blast of air-conditioning.

What are small stones?

A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the โ€œalive and alertโ€ status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best. 

Snap, Cackle and Pop: A Book Review

Title: Snap, Cackle and Pop 

Author: Carol Kearney


Publishers
: Wallace Publishing


Genre
: Fiction, Romance, Comedy, Chicklit

Synopsis

Carol Kearney’s book packs in a lot of cackle through the story of a fifty-something woman, recently cheated on and dumped by her husband. The readers follow Cathy, from her denial to heartbreak to a breakdown, pulling herself from the dumps to rebuild her life. Inspite of dealing with a serious subject like a breakup, it is a laugh riot from the beginning to end with funny situations and fantastically wierd characters populating Cathy’s life.

Review

Cathy, a fifty- four year old woman, used to the good life and wallowing in perceived domestic bliss gets a rude jolt when her husband leaves her without any warning.

This triggers something in her and she goes on a rampage, burning her husband’s belongings. Cathy turns rude, snappy, vengeful as she tracks down what made Tom leave her.

Losing her house and car and left with no money, Cathy has no option but to take refuge in her parents’ house, the home she grew up in. The fact that her family is wierd, dysfunctional, eye popping ridiculous and hilarious seems to push Cathy more and more into despair.

Jane, her bestie, steps in to help Cathy salvage her life. Cathy goes on a dating spree with disastrous results. Cathy  stumbles through a number of boyfriends, takes shots at numerous lowly jobs and embarassing alcoholic scenes before she decides that she needs to take charge and get her life back on track. 

Back on track it does get, with a redemption for all the unexpectedly bad things that happen to her. Cathy rises: shining, avenged and loved through a series of exaggerated misadventures that had me in fits of laughter.

The situations that Cathy finds herself in are laughable. I cannot forget Cathy’s supermarket trip with a huge magnet in her underclothes that leads to some very magnetizing and funny attractions. Louise and her doctor friend’s Christmas visit was so very socially embarassing and outrageous.

Even more lovable are the characters who are etched very well and sound so real because of their flaws.

My favourite would be Joan, Cathy’s mother who comes a close second to the other silly literary mother, Mrs. Bennett of Pride and Prejudice. Joan is foolish, loud, irreverent and yet immensely wise in bits and starts.

Pop is wonderful and his conversations with his wife are very funny. He mixes up the dog’s name so frequently that I looked forward to what he would come up next. 

I might be supposed to condone Cathy’s incarcerated brother Steven, but all I felt was glee whenever he came on the scene. 

Jane is the hot, independent, smart, loyal friend who acts as a sounding board to Cathy’s moanings and helps bring out some of the absurdities of Cathy’s life.

The dialogue is very good. It flows smoothly, complimenting the characters. The language is contemporary, sharp, witty. I was on my toes, looking up the words that turned out to exaggerate the already comical events.

Cathy lets go of everything, including her manners and sometimes sanity when duped by life and that is what makes the book so real and endearing.

In the beginning of the book, I had a few issues with Cathy’s judgement of the situation that she finds herself in. Cheated on and abandoned by her husband of many years, Cathy thinks herself to be a bad wife, one who has let herself go. She also has a body image issue which I felt reinforced stereotypes.

There is this bemoaning of the fact that her husband left her after 38 years of marriage. At the time of the events of the story, Cathy is 53 going on 54… Which makes them marry when she is 15!! Later we find out that they married when she turned 26.

Till the middle of the book and a little beyond, Cathy is complaining and unable to come to grips with her new found situation. She lurches from one disaster to another and this feels like it goes on for too long. 

I wish the cover of the book were designed a little more thoughtfully. The colours and the graphics are jarring.

The author of the book, Carol Kearney died tragically of medical complications. Even with precarious health, she was determined to fulfil her life dream of writing a book and she completed and published her debut book. Through my book review, I pay a tribute to her undying spirit and her ability to see humour in every situation.


Verdict

Hilarious. Feel good. Must read. I burst into laughter every now and then while reading.

I rate it 4 stars ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ 


Disclaimer
: I received an ebook from the book publicist in exchange of an honest review.

If we were having coffee together


If we were having coffee…I would tell you about my new found fascination for leaves. I would tell you how I find the rain drop dripping leaves beautiful. I look at their perfect blades and their rounded curves whenever I step out and try to take lovely photographs. They might have come out as the second best choice when I could not find any flowers to click in this new place, but now they are an obsession.

If we were having coffee…you are bound to ask me how I am managing in a new city. And then I would pass you the biscuits that I made from scratch while trying out my new oven and tell you how I am loving every moment of being in a new place and soaking in all the newness.

You would comment on the chilli flakes in the biscuits and might even say that you like your biscuits sweet. I would then have to convince you that this was the only and the easiest recipe that I could try out.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you how I am fascinated by a new language. I would put on a fake accent and punctuate my conversation with the words I have learnt. You might point out that I need to know complete sentences and not just throw about random words. This would make me laugh and I would shrug nonchalantly. We would then talk about how we are attracted to foreign languages.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you all about the little lake that I am fortunate enough to live near. I would tell you how it is nearly the first thing I look at when I am up in the morning. I would talk of its varying colours that reflect the sky’s myriad moods. I would talk of the flickering evening light and how it seems to skim on the water surface. I would tell you how the water is framed by palm fronds that sway with the breeze.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you of the new perspectives that are shaping my thinking. I would tell you how exciting it is to meet new people who challenge my views of the way things should be. I would tell you that I am grateful to see another viewpoint and a glimpse of other inner worlds.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you how I feel dizzy at the endless possibilities and opportunities that I seem to find everywhere. I would tell you that it is as if the rain has washed away all the dust of uncertainty and everything is fresh. I would then hold forth about the thundering rain and the howling wind and the slants of water hitting the earth every day.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you of the different coffee brews that I am sampling these days. I would tell you of the wonderous brew that the beverage chef of the hotel would prepare, smiling his pleasure at my appreciation. I would tell you of the different brands that I encounter in the supermarket. I would tell you of the coffee I had in the train and the coffee I had at the roadside vendor. 

If we were having coffee…I would tell you how sharing coffee or a meal makes me want to talk more. I would tell you that I am transported to coffee shops where I have shared so many talks with friends and strangers. I feel so much at ease that I want to expound on my philosophy of life. Your horrified look would stop me from the expostulation, of course.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you of how I am spinning yarns and weaving tales in my mind. The stories threaten to spill out. I would tell you how different characters seem to come up to me at every place. I would tell you how I feel like stopping people on their way and asking them about their thoughts on life and their daily routine.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you how much I love our talks together.

5 Ways to Find Your Authentic Voice

We all wish to write well. We wish to engage our readers, to influence them and inspire them as well. Through our writing we want to be heard and to connect.
And yet, sometimes we are unable to express ourselves from the core of our being. We may be writing right or writing well but we miss having a genuine engagement with our readers.

Here are a few ways to write in our unique, authentic voices.

1. Add another layer to your subject matter

Whether you are writing of food or of life choices, add a theme or an underlying motif to your writing. You may speak of your life, or your environment, your city or your culture. Any influences that have shaped you and made you what you are today are likely to resonate with your readers because this is what you know and are passionate about. 

2. Be rather than do

This may sound cryptic but when you focus too much on doing, on chasing goals, on planning or executing you lose touch with your innermost core. We are so caught up in rushing and meeting deadlines that we don’t have the time to relax into our being. We react rather than being proactive.

So, take the time to ‘be’, to nurture your self to come back to writing as the unique person that you are.

3. Loosen your emotions

There are so many emotions that we would rather not experience. Pain, anger, resentment, jealousy…we push them to the back of our conscious minds. The emotions fester and bring an unease that we carry with us. Confronting or even simply accepting these negative thoughts and feelings is the first step towards healing. The acceptance of our flawed selves opens us to the beauty we have in the people around us. 

4. Stay honest

At least to yourself. Be brutally honest about your aspirations, expectations and your values. Search within and know your code of ethics. Recognise your strengths and recognise the areas you wish you could improve. 

Authentic writing is more an expression of your true self than anything else. When you know clearly who you are and what moves your soul, you can go after those things in your life and in your writings. You can bring your unique perspective to the writing.

5. Follow it through

Know that creativity makes you express yourself and know that you are doing yourself a favour by following through what you do well. Keep at it and try to drown the noise of criticism…inner, more than anyone else’s.

How to get back to your Creative Endeavours in just 6 days

I write and sometimes I sketch. I know people who scult or photograph or make movies. Ok, the last one is not true; if I knew people who made movies I would have inveigled myself a minor role in a street scene.

But the point I am trying to make is that all us creative types hit blocks ever so often. My personal period of lethargy, ennui and couldn’t-care-less attitude, coupled with mindless snacking and binge watching TV comes around sometimes and there is a real effort involved in getting back to being creative and productive.

My personal quest lasts nearly 6 days. Your’s might be shorter or longer but here is how it typically goes.


Day 1
: Start the day with a renewed vigour and a strong resolution to finally get back to doing what I am mediocre at but want to get best at. Writing!

So, with everything done for the morning, I take out my notebook and the pencils and the highlighter pens. There are post-it notes spread around strategically on the writing table. I like the notebook over the electronic writing because I often visualise the untidy and cluttered desks of geniuses.
It takes nearly an hour to get things looking right, after which I start the process of penning down the masterpiece that I was born to write.

Except that…nothing. Nothing comes to mind and nothing looks good when put down on paper. Words look unfamiliar and sentences look disjointed. After long minutes or hours of doodling and day dreaming I decide to call it a day. At least, I have made a beginning.


Day 2
: Today is the day I feel I would be better in charge. So, the table laying is quicker for I have done it just the day before. I am optimistic and cheerfully put pen to paper. The outpouring seems more natural and I seem to be writing faster when the phone rings.

I have a long heart to heart with a friend and before I know it, the writing time has slithered away like a snake while I was whittling away time. I might be mixing the metaphors but atleast the metaphors are coming. A little progress, it seems.

There is now only very little time left and I decide to do a quick search on the internet for writing prompts and inspiration. A couple of hours later, I get dressed to get to the local supermarket to get the plastic spoons for making the DIY chandelier that I chanced upon Pinterest. Am I repeating words and thoughts today? Could be, but atleast the thoughts are flowing. Besides, getting involved in a craft and decorating activity would help me snap out of the ennui.


Day 3
: It seems I got out of the bed from the wrong side. I feel lethargic and groggy, not unlike the lethargy of a non creative soul. I make myself a huge cup of coffee and settle down with some easy reading. Reading is supposed to kick-start the brain, just as caffeine kickstarts the body. I get engrossed in the book, the double dose seems to be working. But, the easy romance read gets me down the black hole of speed reading and skimming without giving me the feel of the language or the plot or the pace.

Reading this way feels like a high calorie snack without the nutrients of a wholesome meal.

The inspired writing time dissolves into insipid reading time. Nothing fires up my imagination and there is nothing profound that I can write.


Day 4
: I dread my writing time. After three unsuccessful days, I am sure deep down in my mind that this is going to be another disaster.

My subconscious conjures up a list of ‘urgent’ tasks and I go out shopping in a frenzy. The shopping trolley looks like I am stocking for an upcoming party or in anticipation of shortages or a natural disaster.

The putting away of the stuff takes up the rest of the day and I feel productive. If not in writing, then in other areas of life. However, a discomfort gnaws at me and through the non talking, non reading and repetitive chores, I find myself answering to a little voice, soft and gentle, questioning me on my priorities and reminding me of my dreams.

The voice gets stronger and I realise that the reason I don’t feel alive and happy is because I am not doing what I love to do. The feeling stays and it seems that the next day would have a different flavour.


Day 5
: My lucky day! Or so it seems. The fifth try of anything seems lucky to me and I usually crack the code at this time. I chuck the writing paraphernalia and start writing out lists. Then I jot down a couple of rhyming lines. I write the description of a picture I have taken the day before; of setting sun and palm fronds. I feel the words building up. I describe how I liked last week’s restaurant hunt and the ensuing delicious finds at an unlikely place. I write a letter to a friend I talk to regularly but I write the things that I gloss over in our conversations. I ask her and I tell her the things that are inconvenient and embarassing. I pour out my words with compassion and a genuine love.
Feeling those emotions opens up the floodgates inside me and I find so many things that I want to say and share through my writing.


Day 6
: I wait for the writing time impatiently and when there is no other sound except those of the birds and the raindrops falling on the tin roofs, I can write and express myself the way I have wanted to and dreamt of.

The pursuit of a creative endeavour brings happiness and contentment.

Please share how you get around your writing block and what does the process look like?

After Life by Matthew O’Neil: A Book Review

Title: After Life

Author: Matthew O’Neil

Genre: Theology, Philosophy

Publishers: Ockham Publishing

Summary

The author of the book faced clinical death at age 14 because of an unusual medical condition. Resuscitated and limited in his physical capabilities, he yearned to understand his own near death experience. Thus began his quest to understand what happens when we die.

Through this excellently researched and well presented book, he aims to uncover the difference of opinion between the explanation that science offers and the beliefs that religion follows.

The book explores the various beliefs held in the Christian world about the concepts of Heaven, Hell, Resurrection and the Soul. The author then moves on to expostulate on the philosophical arguments for life after death and the scientific take on what happens when a person dies. 

Review

Early in his exploration of what happens when we die, the author discovered that there were many fanciful accounts of near death experiences narrated by people. But they only reflected the person’s awareness of contemporary and popular ideas of afterlife. 
This led him to study the various concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection and the Soul in the Scriptures. 

There is extensive research in the book into how each concept has been shaped by various influences over time. The author dives into Scriptures that span centuries such as the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and traces the evolution of concepts beyond the Bible and through the philosophical arguments of the Thinkers.

The author concludes that our modern understanding makes assumptions that is at variance with what the Scriptures have said.
The book is well researched and in spite of the complexity of the subject, the material and the arguments are presented very well. The arrangement of the book into different subjects that relate to the after life are dealt in detail in separate chapters. The chapters themselves are laid out well, with studies from different texts dealt with separately. Each chapter ends with a conclusion, recapping the salient points which makes the understanding much easier.
In many ways, the book is an eye opener because the author makes clear that the events in the scriptures may not be the historical retelling of the events as some of the stories have been incorporated later in the Christian canon.

For a non fiction book, dealing with a serious topic and in a scholarly fashion, the book is written well enough to be very engaging. Personally, I do not know much about the Christian Scriptures but I was drawn in the retelling of events and the beliefs as they changed over time.
In the book, the author wants nothing but to present ’empirical, testable evidence’ and not merely beliefs based on biblical accounts or philosophical discussions on whether or not there is life after death has occured.
He tries to provide an answer to the question of whether we can come back to life after an untimely death? Is it possible to come back to life with our personalities, minds, experiences and all else intact?
Many eminent thinkers and contemporary philosophers are quoted, such as Dr. Brian Weiss, Deepak Chopra and Ian Stevenson among others. I have read the former two and have been impressed by their philosophy and works. Matthew O’Neil has managed to put their studies into perspective without belittling anyone. He deftly separates anecdotes from hard, conclusive evidence.

Verdict 

The book explains one of the most enduring questions regarding life and death. It is a unique blend of philosophy, scripture study and scientific arguments.

Extremely well researched, cogent and excellently presented, it guides the reader through drawing his own conclusions.
I rate this book 4 stars  ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ ๐ŸŒ 

Disclaimer: A copy of the ebook was provided by the book publicist for an honest review.