When You Know Your Worth No One Can Make You Feel Worthless – Because You Really Do Matter.


What is mentoring? Why is mentoring important? Does it work?

As Lyndon B. Johnson aptly said, “We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.”

That was all about mentoring, helping people walk through those doors of opportunity. To me mentoring is, indeed, important. How many times haven’t we all heard people revisiting past incidents and lamenting, “I wish there was somebody who could have told me that what I’m doing was wrong and I wouldn’t be here toiling to get over the mistakes I made and suffering forever.”

Similarly, I heard many successful people say with thanks, “I had a wonderful mentor who was always there for me to guide me in the right direction and because of that support I am what I’m today. But for he/him I would have been lost in the dust of confusion.”

I myself have some wonderful mentors who help me make better choices in my life, career, and in raising my child properly. When confusion capsizes the thinking power, we need help from a person who could step into our shoes and think on behalf of us and give us positive alternative solutions.

Mentoring is empowering the mentee with strength, thinking tools, power of positivity and everything that it takes to opt for better choices. Mentoring is creating trust in oneself and helping others to protect their self-esteem from corroding. Most of the time when a person whom you trust has the ability and prudence, lays out the pros and cons and lets you think vertically, it will start making a lot of sense. But the key to success is finding such a person who is truly your friend and a well-wisher. Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa  mentored several people to speak up against apartheid,  practice of  non-violent agitation, and embrace others with love, respectively.  Because of their mentoring, people have had courage to reinvent themselves and forge ahead for a good cause.

Does mentoring work? I surely think so.

Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado – Would eleven Kids be dead if two young classmates had had a mentor to help them understand some positive alternatives to their horrific action?”

I read this question on a mentoring website which, I felt, is so true.

A slap on the hand and a word of positive advice will always work to promote better results of an action. Mentoring initiative combined with proper conflict resolution steps have resolved and will prevent many internal and external wars. There is an urgent need to strengthen the society to work toward that goal.

California Mentor Foundation surveyed 124 mentor programs with 36,251 mentors and 57,659 mentees.  The survey showed that:

98% stayed in school

85% did not use drugs

98% Deterred from teen pregnancy

98% Did not join a gang

Doesn’t mentoring works? It sure does. Aren’t these young students our future leaders and protagonists for a building a better society? I bet they are.

What an amazing impact could mentors make on young persons! What happens even if 75% of the mentees in the world have mentors and they work together to build a better society?  Then there won’t be much to relay about wars, economic turmoil, ponzi schemes, mall shootings, endangered animal species, juvenile crimes, and drug cartels. The media will go out of business. 

“Mentoring comes first, because we know that if society doesn’t provide constructive mentors and role models for kids they are going to find their own on street corners, in gangs or in drug dens,” saiGeneral Colin Powell at the 1998 California Mentor Summit hosted by CMF and Disneyland.

Currently, 18 million children in the United States want and need a mentor, and only three million have one.  And we have 196 independent countries in the world with a total population of approximately 7 billion in 2011. You can estimate the mentor requirement figure for the rest of the whole world.

Mentoring doesn’t need any special qualifications but in essence needs special qualities. A mentor must have a big heart and open mind which will foster compassion, patience, empathy, and a nature to help others.  A mind-set to reach out for the needy, walking the walk, and talking the talk with the mentee is all that it takes to be a good mentor.  There are a myriad of ways to become a mentor.  As charity starts at home, mentoring starts within the family and circle of  friends.

Many NGO/NPOs and social organizations need and welcome mentors. Take a dip and see. You may really find something worthy to put your experience, education, and abilities to best use. Maybe there is someone awaiting your arrival and help.

How do you feel when a child graduates with flying colors because of your encouraging words; a family together celebrates a festival because of your counseling not to go for a divorce; a distraught  parent gives up  drugs with your help in therapy sessions; an old couple save themselves from getting into a scam scheme upon your education to them; an immigrant family learning to read with your coaching; a young lady escaping from the clutches of a bad marriage because of your timely help; a harassed employee stood up in self-defense because you talked to him about employee rights.

I always have an exhilarating feeling when I get a warm hug from my mentee. The bright smile on that face gives me a good night sleep. I have a lot  of those smiles, hugs, and thank you notes in my stash which I have to pass on to my mentors  for consistently making  changes in my life to think better, behave well, talk sweet, share happiness, and for empowering me to mentor others to make changes in their lives.

Statistics Resources:

The California Mentor Foundation.

http://www.mentoring.org/

http://www.beamentor.org

http://calmentor.org/cm/get-involved/Home.html

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Our Beautiful Home




I have been looking forward to fall, because my husband promised me that he will take me to the fall color belt in California.  I would die to feast my eyes with those fall hues. What a magnificent gift from Mother Nature!

The promise had been delivered.  Last week we went to Lake Sabrina and Mono Lake. We walked in the morning sniffing the fragrances and reveling in the beauty of fall hues.  We drove and parked at an elevation of 9,000 ft. and walked up for a mile from there.

My mind’s eye painted a picture of the lake like a bride decked up in orange, yellow, pale green ensemble and gleamed in the morning sun. Lake Sabrina  looked stunningly pristine and scenic. 

I’m so blessed to be a part of this beautiful planet and nurtured by Mother Nature. The combination of morning chill and warmth of our sweaters gift wrapped us in coziness. We stood on the wooden bridge watching people walk, fish, and take pictures. The calm and peace was unexplainable.

From there we drove to Mono Lake which is another enigma.  I blinked like a shutter-bug when I read the age of the lake – 760, 000 yrs approximately.  The visitor center lady told us that the lake has no single fish but the basin is a home for millions of birds belonging to over 300 species.  How do they survive?  They gobble algae, shrimp, and alkali flies which slither on the banks.

The other intriguing sight is the formation of Tufa towers on the shoreline. Some formations seem like sphinx, bull head, and minarets to me. The formation is natural. It’s, indeed, a photographer’s delight and a pack of them already there running in all directions lugging their paraphernalia to click the best sight of this marvelous place.

On the way back to our hotel we drove through the June Loop which was like a neck-lace road with small lakes strewn along it.  The splicing mountains bordering the lakes stood as gigantic bodyguards on the vigil for the beauties.  If we hadn’t taken this small detour we sure would have missed a precious thing in our lives.

We took a good rest in the night and embarked on our return journey. On the way we visited Mount Whitney and Red Rock Canyon. I will write about these mystifying pieces of nature another time because I don’t want to overdose you.

My epilogue: From the heavenly patchwork of nature, in the next five hours, we catapulted into a concrete jungle filled with brick and mortar structures and with sound waves from the automobiles impinging our eardrums. What a sea of difference!  This place also would have been the same one like the one I’m blessed to visit – maybe some millions of years ago.  Mother Nature is so liberal in giving more than we need. Abundance is always redundance.

I remember my economics lecturer explained about the law of  diminishing marginal utility theory in simple words : “When you eat one apple, it will taste delicious, second one will taste good, third one will taste ok, fourth one will not taste at all, fifth one you don’t want to eat,  and the next you will throw it away.

That what is happening now.  There was an abundance of vegetation, water, resources, animals, marine world, clean air, mountains, snow, timely monsoons, farming, fresh milk, and family. Now there are skyscrapers, hazards industrial wastes, polluted air, scarcity of resources, upside down seasons, endangered animal and marine species, packaged food, unidentifiable diseases, disappearing snow sheets, wars, and disintegrated families.  What a barter!

Earth is our home. A beautiful home. Our children and their great-grandchildren also need this home. They are also entitled to own what we are enjoying today. I suppose. Can we protect our beautiful home for them?

(Pics: Ganesh Devan)

Don’t forget to read “Thought of the Day”.

Links: http://www.monolake.org/

http://www.lakesabrinaboatlanding.com/

Water for Humans !



Scene I: In one corner of the world, it’s a peak summer midday and scorchingly hot.  The woman looked at her empty bucket. Sweat from her forehead dripped into it.  Her six odd hours of waiting in a serpentine queue for the drinking water tanker landed her back to the same status – no water until the tanker came next time. Like her the other women and children lined up with their buckets and pots.  Several pairs of eyes glued, without a blink, toward the end of the curve of the muddy road.  A feeble honk or a minor vibration of tires on the road made them stand-at-ease taking their position to handle the battle.

Parched lips, dusty clothes, crying children with dehydration, and growling stomachs had become part of the lives of these people.

After hearing the announcement about the water tanker arrival for the next day nightmares of missing the tanker, sleep eluded her in the night.

By six in the morning   she stood in the line rubbing her droopy eyes. Now the time was almost two hours past noon and there was no sign of the damn ramshackle tanker – out of which 30% of the water drained down the road through cracks s or sloshed out of the uncovered top of the tanker. Thoughts of hungry kids at home crossed her mind and she pressed her lips tight.

The tanker was coming  almost after four days.  Thank God, it was at least coming – she looked at the silvery sky. If the tanker didn’t come today, no drinking water at home. The only way to get some drinking water was to walk five miles to the nearest well and fetch. Water was at least needed for drinking. Bathing, washing, and even cooking weren’t the priority now.

The litany of raspy honks of the tanker consumed children’s cry for hunger and exhaustion. The tanker arrived. Suddenly everyone in the line wanted to be first.  The  somewhat peaceful atmosphere turned into a war zone.  They jabbed each other with elbows, knocked the next person down, yelled and pulled hairs. Irate adults dragged the children, who were passing through the crowd looking for the parents, to the sides.

 Ultimately, no one got what they wanted – a bucket of drinking water. The driver   decided to leave because he failed to control the frenzied crowd.  The brawl continued, leaving the woman perplexed and helpless.

Could you believe this whole battle was just for a bucket of drinking water?

Well, the story is far different in other part of the world. Let’s see.

 Scene II: A beautiful ranch styled home perched on the coast of   a sun drenched beach. Well manicured lawns laced with spring seasonal flowering beds made the place dreamy.  Looked like the sprinklers enjoyed ultimate freedom with no control over them. The water was overflowing making the flowerbeds swim.  Excess water gushed down the gutter.

 “Honey, there is a small speck of mud on the rim. Please hose it down until it’s gone,” Mom ordered.

Dad obliged her with hosing down the entire vehicle, for a small dash of  mud, again for another ten minutes.

In the backyard kids enjoyed the weekend thoroughly. They sprayed water at each other from the hose connected to the tap.   The boy dropped the hose on the ground and went inside the house to play his video game.  The little girl gave a lavish bath to her toys using the hose.  Water flooded down the slopes of the backyard.  Mom discussed the “ladies night out dinner” arrangements with her friend on the phone – had no time to supervise and tell  kids not to waste water. 

Grandma in the kitchen washed dishes while watching the TV.  Some of the scenes in the soap touched her heart so much that she forgot about closing the tap and opened her tear ducts. Tears and water competed with each other – Ms. Tap Water won the race of speed and wastage.

The water wasted in the house could have provided drinking water to the lady (in scene 1) who stood in the line for nothing and for her whole village for a few weeks, at least.   

It’s a truth my dear friends, these scenarios are my personal experiences.  With due respect to everybody, I have to say that I witnessed how the water was being wasted in some societies and on contrary, in others, people toil for a bucket of drinking water. Water is more precious than any other wealth.  I myself, as a child in India, faced acute water shortage. My memories are fresh with missing my school just to fetch water.

Please promote water conservation lest nature is going to give us the taste of our own medicine.  For more interesting details, amazing facts, and how to get involved in water conservation please check this website: http://water.org/

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q54a4PCV9Ac . Please don’t skip watching this video. 

My Gift To My Mother

Hi Friends:

Indeed it’s been a long gap since I showed up on my blog– just returned from a long trip to India.  It was a personal and professional trip combo. After a good gap, I had a lot of fun and free time to guzzle the juice of no-work-and-do-whatever-you-want time. I didn’t have to shut my alarm clock’s annoying mouth or at five something in the morning rolling into the kitchen like a tumble weed to pack three lunches, six snacks, take a quick holy dip shower, and sleep drive to work forgetting that I didn’t shut my garage door.

My house would be in pin drop silence until I wake up to make some dishes clang in the kitchen. But in India a typical day starts with all kinds of sounds – door bell ringing 3 times in 5 minutes; early morning devotional songs and sermons on TV; my mother chanting her mantras; my niece’s daughter’s tantrums for milk; everyone’s cell phone ringing at the same time; the neighbor talk-walking into the house to borrow some tomatoes; the elevator parading up and down squeaking to close the doors properly. And the cherry on the top is my sister’s callithump to fill drinking water in the pots before the tap shuts off. I was oblivious to this rumpus and just rolled on the bed like a dog rolling in a haystack in the manger. What a comfort and joy!

I know… I know it was a temporary boon but precious for me. I shopped pastel and summer shades fabric, applied henna to my hands, went for late night movies, waved hands to everybody to jangle my rainbow bangles, talked through nights to my family until my throat croaked, pranked my nieces, went to a temple with my mother, watched funny TV programs with my in-laws, and listened to my sister-in-law’s (brother’s wife) complaints while lying in the swing and enjoying the early morning Indian summer breeze. My most favorite of all was not hurrying to take a shower until my body and heart really wanted. 

I learned and taught law lessons. Handled ADRs (Alternative Dispute Resolution) professionally and within the family.  Met with my old and new friends. Spent a day with my family at the historical zoo park and an evening with my daughter and older sister in Golconda Fort. Bought juicy sweets, mango and lime pickles, fresh amaranth, spinach and Indian pumpkin. Only thing I didn’t do was trying to know where the kitchen was.

No doubt, with flight delays, layovers, and immigration checks, I had a hectic 35 hrs journey each way. I prepared myself for this arduous journey because I knew what was in store there for me. All my tiredness and money spent on this journey was not a speck if I compared it with the joy I had munching the twisted rice snacks and devouring the tamarind rice that my mother fondly prepared for me. She always prepared a frothy filter coffee that drenched my throat with lingering buffalo milk taste which was worth even walking from California to India.

The best of all was sitting next to my eighty- two year old mom on a bamboo chair in the porch, smelling the fresh cut grass in the neighborhood fields, listening to her childhood stories of rural Southern India, and how she and my father struggled to raise their five children. Her eyes were brighter and wetter when she rattled out her entire life to me and my daughter. Her answers, wrapped in her toothless grin, to my little one’s questions made me feel proud that I’m her child.  I, for the first time in my life, felt that I gave my mother what she wanted…time for her to talk to us.

Honestly, every mother on this earth deserves this – not the gifts on just Mother’s Day or a check in a mail every month or an occasional phone call – gift of quality time with her children and grandchildren.

I’m back on track with many more interesting posts.

Cheers.


Preserve The Treasures

 

 

 

When the germ of destruction inseminates a seed of violence in  mind, the result is devastating memories haunting one for a life time.

A few days ago I purchased a book in a fair on Bamiyan Buddhas. It was fascinating to read about these amazing Buddha statues built by an ancient Indian emperor Kanishka who was staunch follower of Buddhism.  The sources said the carving of these two Buddha statutes were started around second century A.D. and completed approximately around fifth century A.D. These magnificent statues were carved into sandstone cliffs in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The Bamiyan valley was an epitome of heavenly beauty with snow covered tips, splicing blue mountains, and lacing green pastures. The merchant caravans using the Silk Road stopped by this paradisiacal valley for a good rest and worshipped the statutes.  The surrounding caves were chapels and monasteries for monks.

These architectural marvels were the tallest Buddha statues in world. The statues were carved in the Gandhara style of Buddhist sculpture mixed with Greek and Roman art. The clothes carved on the Buddha statues were so vivid and human that one could see the wrinkles of the robe on the stone.

The artistry and engineering were extraordinary. The Bamiyan Buddhas were not only a feast for eyes but devotional for souls as well. They were the essence of the  blend of cultures and religions.

Unfortunately, some humans are losing the propensity to preserve the treasures bestowed by our ancient history, nature, and heritage. Greed, fundamentalism, religious sentiments are eclipsing vision and wisdom. The perfect example of this is intentional destruction of the colossal Bamiyan Buddhas. It took several centuries, arduous efforts to amass ginormous resources for Emperor Kanishka to build these statues.  But, it was a click of a button for Taliban to smash these statues to smithereens. The tough Genghis Khan also didn’t have heart to lay his hand on these marvels.

In March 2001, Taliban leader ordered his troops to demolish the carvings. Now in the place of those magnificent statues, there are big gaping holes mocking at the selfishness, ignorance, and cowardice of humans.

Several countries and people protested against this barbaric act. I heard from a native friend that there are plans and efforts being put in to reconstruct them.

First of all – even though world is far more developed in technology and resources than in second century and produced more brilliant engineers than Emperor Kanishka – can we match that mastery and devotion?

Secondly – let say we even succeed in cloning the Buddha statues – do we have the ability to protect and preserve them for our future generations?

Emperor Kanishka died, the Bamiyan Buddhas have been destroyed, but evil is still breeding.

(Sources: Pictures From Google Images)

Yesterday, after completing my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, I had little more time to go and pick up my daughter. I sat in my car sipping some soymilk, listening to NPR, and gazing around.

A woman, maybe in her late thirties, walked to a Ford Expedition pushing her grocery cart. She looked a little antsy and angry. She loaded the groceries into the car and slammed the door so loud that the robins pecking their food on the ground took to their wings.  Her vehicle was parked two parking slots after mine. I clearly could see what happened next.  She pushed the cart so recklessly toward the empty parking space right in front her that it took  a diversion and rammed into a Toyota Corolla’s head lights. I saw the glass pieces chipping off and falling on the ground.  To my dismay, she  turned her head, looked at the car that was damaged, and walked back to her car and swooshed off.  I didn’t see any sorry feeling on her face nor did she try to leave a message to the car owner.  I was so taken aback with this vitiated attitude of hers.  I didn’t know whether anyone else noticed this ruthless act but it threw me off.  It all happened so quickly and I didn’t even notice the car number.

I waited for the car owner to return. An elderly couple owned that car. I went and told them what happened and apologized for not noting down the car number. They told me that their grandchildren  gifted the car to them for their wedding anniversary just a week ago.  The moisture in the old lady’s eyes didn’t go unnoticed by me. My heart ached for that old couple.

Besides the shortage of good water, good air, good health, good leaders, good teachers, good education,  good jobs  –  looks like  the world is falling short of  good people, good thinking,  and good behavior, too.



Early to bed

Early to rise

Makes a man healthy

Wealthy and wise


This poem loses its meaning and importance once we cross the kindergarten level. I wish this poem is taken as more than just a nursery rhyme and practically followed through the life time of a human being.

Are we humans really doing this?  There is empirical evidence to say no.

Our schedules are jumbled up and gone haywire. Unlike animals and birds, we humans are habituating to sleep while the sun is awake providing us the light and work while the moon is on duty to make sure that we are sleeping like babies.

Insomnia and sleep deprivation are two different effects with different reasons that cause them.  Insomnia is a sleeping disorder or health condition arising out of depression, stress, and other medical conditions. And my point of discussion today is not insomnia because of its complexity and handling it sometimes requires medical expertise. To state the difference in plain words “Insomnia” is not getting sleep even though you have time. And “less sleep” means you have no time to sleep even though you can.

My subject for today is sleeping less which is discernable. As the technology and working hours are on the rise, people are giving less importance to the fundamentals of healthy living like sleep, exercise, good food, and rest.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, University of Warwick’s Medical School, says: “Fewer hours sleep and greater levels of sleep disturbance have become widespread in industrialized societies. This change, largely the result of sleep curtailment to create more time for leisure and shift-work, has meant that reports of fatigue, tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness are more common than a few decades ago. Sleep represents the daily process of physiological restitution and recovery, and lack of sleep has far-reaching effects.”

For the normal functioning of a human body, we need an average of six to eight hours of sound sleep each night. Sleeping for less than six continuous hours per night can potentially cause high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease and premature death.

A team from UK and Italy conducted a research and collected information from sixteen studies across Asia, the US and Europe. The result of this research indicated that people who sleep less than six to eight hours per night are 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who slept for 6-8 hours consistently.

Professor Cappuccio adds, “In terms of prevention, our findings indicate that consistently sleeping around 7 hours per night is optimal for health and a sustained reduction may predispose to ill-health.”

The reasons for sleeping less are various: long working hours for making more money, impressing the boss for a promotion, job retention efforts, maintaining a social life, wrong sleeping habits, stress. But after all, is gaining all these or one of these benefits worth cutting short of our life span and dying prematurely?  Don’t we all think we should enjoy the benefits and comforts we have earned for a long term of life? If that purpose isn’t served then all our precious earnings are meaningless. At what cost do we have to slog and impress others?

It’s a proven fact that a homeless person or a daily laborer sleeps more peacefully for longer hours than a millionaire.

Sleep is a big boon that God gave us without any cost and whether we enjoy it or replace it with material benefits is upto us to decide. Human desires are unending and working eighteen hours a day and making any amount of money is also sometimes less.

Drawing a priority list and proscribing meaningless desires from our routine will spare from us sufferings. Life is too short for entertaining unwanted guests (health issues) who cause us misery and premature death.

Taking control over one’s life and doing the right thing at the right time for the right duration is what is required for leading a successful life.

Well, excessive sleep is also not good and has its own perils. A study says, “That both too little sleep and too much sleep can cause potentially serious problems in the long term.” Anything done in moderation will have better results.

This is a funny but good talk by Araianna Huffington.

http://www.ted.com/talks/arianna_huffington_how_to_succeed_get_more_sleep.html

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