More Power To You

It was quite a relief that the world didn’t end on December 21. Firstly I wasn’t prepared.  All I had in the house was a 24 pack of bottled Ozarka, a couple of cans of evaporated milk and a few boxes of cereal.  I had remembered to buy batteries for the flashlight but hadn’t remembered to get down and dirty like many of the preppers I had seen on the History channel. Secondly, we were supposed to drive to Colorado the next day so the whole world ending thing would not have worked for us.  Thirdly, I had promised my beautiful panda dog Lanie that we would be back soon.

Now that I have provided you with context, I will continue to the main reason for this post.  While I was freezing every body part on the mountains of Colorado, I was reflecting between the clacking of my teeth and the vibration in my bones.  I thought of the way 2012 ended amidst the violence in Newtown, the assault in Delhi and came to the conclusion that perhaps 2013 should be about how we relate to each other and how we reclaim power back in our lives.

Too often power is equated with aggression and force.  Equated with money and position.  Equated with who has more leverage. But real power is not about any of the above.  Bringing power back to our lives is quite simple.  It happens when you stop allowing yourself to become a puppet to anyone’s agenda.  True power hinges on four principles.

1. Belief.  This is the vessel that grounds you and holds you in good stead when the world turns against you.  Think of belief as the foundation.

Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.  — Tony Robbins

2. Voice. Never lend your voice to a cause that you are not committed to fully.  Your voice is your fingerprint.  Nobody else has the exact experiences and convictions that you have assimilated. Your voice can be expressed in your art, in your vocation, in your communication, in your passion. Power is carried to the world through your voice. Think of voice as the windows and doors in your house.

It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.
—Herbert Hoover

3. Empathy. Just like the plug needs to be connected into the socket for anything to work, the strength of your connection will determine if you are learning and evolving or just simply counting the days till death do you part.  Being able to listen, relate and understand develops empathy. Think of empathy as the wiring of your house.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
—Leo Buscaglia

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy. —Meryl Streep

4. Courage. Taken from the root word “coeur”, power is recharged by the pure courage that can only reside in the heart. Think of courage as the fuel that heats the entire house.

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. –Alan Cohen

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power. —Lao Tzu

So when in doubt about what kind of power is at play, ask of it this simple question.

Do you mean to suppress, repress, depress? Or do you mean to elevate, bolster, uplift?

Chess. Picture courtesy
Picture courtesy

12 to remember on the Gift of Time

December is here and there are flashbacks and future forwards.  My inbox is crammed with messages from every retail outlet asking me to take advantage of so many exciting offers that will expire soon.  Time is ticking.  Time is fleeting.

Oh yes, we are so busy.  My importance to myself and to others is directly proportionate to the meetings on my calendar.

Yet another year is coming to an end.  Not any year but the year of the supposed Armageddon.  There are books, movies and even folks who are getting bunkers and emergency supplies in the event the prophecy comes to bear.  Whether we believe it or not, we have to reckon with accelerating change.

Just like we live with each breath, the passing of each year is significant as it is a reminder that we have survived 365 days, scars and all.

This month of gifting. Of giving and of receiving. Of stopping to review the year that has passed.  Of making a wish for the year ahead.  Give yourself the gift of Time.

Twelve On Time

Time flies faster if you cling to it
Time accelerates if you race against it
Time ages you rapidly when all is urgent
Time haunts the self obsessed
Time expires when life is imprisoned
Time drags you down when you live in the past

Time slows down when you are present
Time is amplified when you follow your dream
Time rewinds in the midst of kindness, gratitude and love
Time is energized by the sound of laughter
Time rejuvenates in music and art
Time lives forever when you leave a legacy

~Shaku Selvakumar December 2012

The Arrow of TimePicture courtesy
The Arrow of Time
Picture courtesy

5 Tech Wishes for 2012

Picture creator: Teerapun.

Been reading some of the tech forecasts and thought I would put one together too.  The best part of being able to wield a random digital pen is so that you can shout in the forest as well as anyone else.

1. Automatic wrinkle free and slimming pictures

Forget about the red eye (thank you for that btw) but many of us aren’t going the botox route or the lipo or whatever is the latest.  And I haven’t had time to read Makeover Monthly yet.

Do us a favor and invent a camera that will scan sags, bags, pouches, crinkles, wrinkles, extra fat and just magically erase them.  You can also include an option that says “Post this as your profile picture?”

Yes and while you are at it, please make sure our family portraits are configured so everyone is smiling at the same time.

2. Digital hair fixer

I recently went and got my hair styled.  This was not planned.  I am wash and wear kinda girl.  I also like the term “air dry”.  So my dear sister in law got an appointment with her wonderful hair dresser and lo and behold I walk out with a brand new style that I was told would like some curling and setting.  Now, I know that ain’t gonna happen.  I might do that the first time around, but it’s going to be back to air dry all the times after.  So my point is, can you folks create a techie hair net that will assess my hair, figure out the style and then just do it, like Nike says? Of course you can do all this in 10 minutes while I am heating oatmeal and yes it is possible to know what women want.  Oh don’t even go there…

Oh mmm, I forgot, should also take care of touch ups and color the gray.

3. Instant sock finder 

We think it’s great that the machines are now energy efficient, front loading and quiet as a mouse.  Great.  Really happy for progress.  But we would like a machine that can also pair up socks in the dryer and return all the ones that it swallowed.

4. Remote controlled lawn mower and digital leaf bagger

Thank you for the mini truck mowers that cost an arm and a leg and for the electric versions that still need someone behind the barrow.  Can you figure out a way where we can have a remote controlled affordable lawn mower.  And while you are at it, we would like a downloadable app that goes with it.

Sorry, I am still in the garden and though Fall is over, we still have leaves that keep fallin and fallin.  I need, again, a remote control suction somethingie that can vacuum them off the ground and put them in pre paid bags and then neatly stack them on the sidewalk.

5. Cyber babysitter

If you have kids, you know that you are never going to win the online parent game.  Despite all the parental controls, kids are sexting, flyfing, nintendoing, facebooking, youtubing, yahooing.  We know this is the sign of the times and have to gracefully yield to it.  Thank you for the location based services but we would like more analytics on usage and we would like you to segment online content.  If we can have movies that have ratings, why can’t you make sure that works for the social and other online sites as well.  You know, this site is G rated.  This is PG.  This is PG – 13.  And oops don’t go to that one, the one that has alphabets after W.  For the last category, you can also set off sound alarms.

I was going to ask for a digital wife but I have hopes that Apple will continue to work on Siri and create a version that will pay the bills, remember to buy and mail gifts for the holidays, send thank you notes, mediate during arguments and work it so I am always right, work on the grocery list and tell me regularly that I am a wonderful human being.

Those would be on my wish list for this year.  But I want you to know that if you found a cure for cancer, make politicians speak the truth or find a chip that would erase intolerance and cruelty, I would be most thrilled and you would be be a hero in my book.

What about you?  What’s on your list?

Staying Alive

Dreamcatcher. Picture courtesy Vladimir Kush

No, it’s not about Travolta doing his famous hip shaking walk in Saturday Night Fever.  It’s about how a year comes around all fresh and dewy simmering with promise of do overs and do gooders.  It’s basically about what you have to do stay alive not emulate the zombies in night of the living dead.

I asked a question on Facebook (much promise here for qualitative research) on what you would do if you had one guilt free ME hour everyday.  Let me define that even better.  A ME hour basically means no strings attached to the various roles we play in our lives.  Now if someone gave me an extra hour, I would immediately grab it, of course and then spend it doing what I do best.  Chores, pruning down the “to do” list or trying to finish some work emails.  But suppose you are given an hour where you are NOT allowed to spend it on anything other than yourself.  The answers were enlightening.  Nobody cited exercise.  Nobody cited organizing closets or doing laundry.  Nobody breathed a word about work.

I think everyone sighed, breathed and might have smiled to themselves with the possibility of one full hour everyday to do as you please.  The answers were simple.  Nobody said, “Well I would like to climb Mount Everest.” or “I want to break some long established record.”  Instead, folks wanted to read, sleep, sing, write, race, sit in silence, retreat into nature, meditate.  It was very clear that if you ask the right question, you get the instinctive answer.

What is it that you need now?  The answer to this can be found only if you go to that space again and again everyday.

In The Power of Myth, the visionary Joseph Campbell says “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about.

And this is why, you have to take your own pulse everyday.  Am I alive.  What part of me have I let die because I couldn’t find the courage to keep it alive.  Of course, we also have to shed outworn habits, beliefs, memories, issues.   This ongoing dialogue happens only when we go to that sacred space where for that time, we shed everything that the world has pinned on our sleeve of care.  Like the many identity badges that summarize what we are supposed to be doing throughout every day.  Be mom, be dad, be daughter, sister, brother, son, aunt, wife, husband, friend, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.  As time goes by, other than January 1st when we are swept by the tide to review our life and make a resolution, we go back on the zombie track and look at it with tired eyes.

David Whyte says “When your eyes are tired the world is tired also. When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you. Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own. There you can be sure you are not beyond love. The dark will be your womb tonight. The night will give you a horizon further than you can see. You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in. Give up on all other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

So here’s the two step path that I want to focus on for 2012

1. Take an hour everyday.  It could be my lunch time.  It could be before the crack of dawn when the world’s asleep and nobody knows your name.  It could be an hour after everyone’s asleep and you are too tired to remember your name.  Claim that hour.  Connect.  Many of us don’t like being alone with ourselves.  It’s hard in the beginning.  What is the conversation here.  Why am I wasting this time.  It’s been so long since we spoke.  I have nothing to say…etc etc.

What you cannot do:  Do not watch TV.  Do not check your cell phone.  No calls.

2. Revisit goals on the 1st of every month.  Typically we will give the grand talk on January 1 and by March, it back to the old way of managing life.  Which for many of us is keeping up with the race that never seems to let up.  If we use the beginning of every month to bring us back to track, there is a higher chance of not sliding back into the ditch of deflated dreams.

That’s about it.  Take the one hour to stay alive every day and a monthly check on what you promised your self and how you can get back on track.

Let’s face it.  There is a reason why on January 1 we are full of hope.  There is a reason why we sat down in December and promised ourselves to make the year ahead count.

On that note, here’s to your New Year, to staying alive and to the Year of the Dragon which is the most powerful of the Asian signs, signifying good fortune, success, achievement and new beginnings.


Ulysses: Picture courtesy Vladimir Kush

Drawing its last breath
The year was spent, teetering to its wintry descent
A ticker tape of headlines rushed past
Of disasters, milestones, pathos, celebration and feet of clay
Furious recollections of who finished first
Was it good for you, they asked
Did the sisters Fate have anything to say
Which seat at the table stays vacant today
Did the winds of change sweep you away
Leaving debris and packaging tape
So before we start all over again
May the Star light your path
And leave behind a glimmer of hope
To dampen the prophecy
Of the reckless cherub being birthed

—-© 2011 Shaku Selvakumar