What Is The Name Of Your Great Grandfather?

This article was first published on Madratgames.com on 27th April, 2016

What Is The Name Of Your Great Grandfather?

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Ask this question to yourself, your friends and maybe your parents. Have you visited your native place with your children? Have they seen the place where you have spent your childhood? Do your children have an idea about how their great grandparents lived, what they did and any specific memories of them? Our respect and our interest in our past will decide our answers to these questions. We all have a personal and family history, social/community history and national history followed by history at international / global level. In our rush towards the future, we are so deeply immersed in our present that the past becomes obsolete every day. We have no time and no interest in looking back as there are so many challenges ahead that are constantly calling for our attention. When we do so, are we doing the right thing?

I am reminded of “Three Box Solution” shared by Prof. Vijay Govindarajan where Box 1 represents The Present, Box 2 represents The Past and Box 3 represents The Future. This framework states that it is not possible for leaders to have a sound plan for the future without having a firm grip on the present and a proper understanding of the past. Out of the three boxes, Box 2 is the most challenging for leaders. It helps them to learn from mistakes and observe the obsolete trends to make changes for the future. We, as parents need to share our histories with our children.

Personal & Family History: When we share our own stories of challenges and victories with our children, they understand us better. These experiences remain with them when they start their journeys. There are strange connections with the roots and there are many hidden treasures which might inspire a new learning curve or a new outlook for life. Personal histories could be very inspiring to many, provided we know our histories. We hear a lot of personal history as learning experiences when we listen to achievers like Kiran Majumdar Shaw, Indra Nooyi or Steve Jobs. There is a lot of family history which has gone into the making of third/fourth generation business conglomerates/social-political leaders.

Social/Community History: We don’t give a lot of positive importance to our social/communal relevance. Each society/community has some life sustaining tools and traits that make them unique and successful in specific fields. As parents, we must share those traits and tools with our children to make them aware about their roots. A global mind-set should not neglect our social history.

Being a Marwari, I shared “Rajasthan An Oral History: Conversations with Komal Kothari” by Rustom Bharucha and “The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas” by Thomas Timberg with my 15 year old, so that she knows about amazing people who shared the same land, same landmarks but lived a meaningful life. This doesn’t mean that we want our children to look down upon other social cultures or to rigidly follow our own customs. It simply means to give them information and knowledge about their lineage, so that they could appreciate their ecosystem and be open about learning from other societies & communities too.

National History: Mugging up dates and years for our history exams is our only tryst with national history. We hardly remember the milestones or struggles of our country’s past which have created the present. We are so impressionable and gullible because we, as a nation, have not archived our historical facts well. Distortions, deviations in our history for petty benefits in the present are the political order of the day because we, as individuals have never respected our past. Since we don’t value it, we don’t bother to find out and share our true history. A generation which is clueless about our freedom struggle or glorious Indian discoveries is our failure as parents. We need to dwell deeper than paying symbolic salutes to our country by standing up on hearing our National Anthem. Watch “Veer Savarkar” or “Discovery of India” with your young kids. Read “My Experiences with Truth” with them.

To tick the second box well, we must stay tuned with our past to prepare a holistic third box. We can learn a lot from the vision of Infosys Co-Founder, Kris Gopalakrishnan, who has led a team to create an app, “ITIHAASA” to capture the history of India’s journey in Information Technology from 1950’s with insights into what will happen 25 years from now. As parents and leaders, let us respect our personal, social and national histories. Preserve the past and share it for a future that is brighter and savvier.

We have an additional responsibility of grooming our children and our teams well, so that they create a meaningful digital history. We need to make them aware about the importance of digital footprints that they are leaving casually online as these footprints will create an immediate but relevant history and irrevocable too.

About the Author

swatilodha

Magic Of Stem Cells: Boon For Women

I am neither an expert in the area of regenerative medicine nor a researcher of stem cells. I am a passionate parent and women issues enthusiast.

My interest in the well-being of my child made me find out more about stem cell banking. Stem cells are magical cells which have the potential to develop into specialized cells of different types which can then be used for replacement IF our normal cells get damaged. We get stem cells from embryos at the time of a baby’s birth which can be stored for future use in case that baby suffers from any disease like malignant tumours/cancer/arthritis, after growing up.

Stem cells are unspecialized. They are like potatoes in Indian curries. Potatoes have no specialty of their own but start functioning with every vegetable, rice dishes or savoury delicacies. Similarly, unspecialized stem cells give rise to specialized cells like heart muscle cells, blood cells or nerve cells.

Why / how is it useful ?

Stem cells taken from embryos during invitro fertilization are clinically grown for future use. Any woman using IVF treatment to become a mother must insist on storage of these cells as they could be used for treatment of cardiovascular disease, brain disease and diabetes in future.

Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth have hematopoietic cells which can treat diseases like leukaemia, sickle cell anemia and other immunodeficiency’s.

We should consider this expenditure as an insurance plan for the future of the child and his/her siblings.

Its not too late

While reading about stem cells, I came across another method of taking and storing stem cells from adults. It was a surprising, exhilarating and liberating moment for me. These stem cells are found in menstrual blood of women and need to be stored as a valuable source of treating fatal diseases. The uterine lining, excess blood and tissues that the body discards during menstruation are rich sources of mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells have the ability to differentiate into almost all types of cells in the body. The unbelievable part is that these mesenchymal cells can cure ailments like blood cancer, arthritis and to regenerate decaying organs.

As women and mothers, we should make efforts to store our menstrual blood as well as that of our daughters. The research about generative qualities of menstrual blood are going on at various medical institutes.

Dr. Shunichiro Miyoshi, a cardiologist from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, collected menstrual blood from 6 women and harvested endometrial stem cells. They were able to obtain 30 million stem cells from a single menstrual blood cell.

Cryo cell is the world’s largest stem cell bank while Lifecell International launched menstrual blood stem cell banking service in India in 2011.

Though I am not an authority on stem cell, I certainly wish to ensure that future of my daughter’s as well as my health remains bright. Lifecell, a stem cell storage service provider started its service Femme for women in order to make them aware about menstrual blood storage. Lisa Ray, the cancer survivor, got cured using her adult stem cells and she started promoting Femme.

I am still surprised that I never heard about this wellness breakthrough in last five years. No gynaecologist or oncologist or paediatrician ever spoke to me about storing my own menstrual blood. Though storing it with the help of a menstrual cup will not be comfortable, it is better than losing our own lives.

Let us try to find out more to ensure a healthy future.

By Dr. Swati Lodha
Founder, Life Lemonade

Age Is Just A Number! And Other Life Lessons From ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

This article was first published on Womens Web on 20th April, 2016

Age Is Just A Number! And Other Life Lessons From ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

The-Best-Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-e1461138966506The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel teaches us that age is just a number – we can seek and find happiness, or try out new things at any age.

I happened to watch The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel before watching its prequel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The film grew on me gradually as I enjoyed and lived each character through my second and third date with the film.

I cherished some simple yet profound lessons from this colorful and charming ensemble film.

Parenting

Maggie Smith’s sharp tongued yet affable Mrs Donnelly becomes a true mentor to the brash and ambitious Dev Patel aka Sonny. She teaches him by not offering advice. She helps him explore the American world by being with him yet allowing him to make mistakes enough to learn but not to land him in trouble.

She writes a letter to him at the end where she says that she was writing it to the children she never had. She proves that parenting is an emotion, an energy which bonds the parent and the child through a selfless, nurturing connect. “I am not helping you when I am here, so that you can act when I am not here” is the most empowering lesson from a parent to a child.

Her trust in Sonny comes forward when she says, “He makes many mistakes, but none when it matters.”

“I don’t do advices. I do opinions,” is her lesson in being confident and authentic.

Love

Judy Dench as Evelyn and Bill Nighy as Douglas prove that their ‘love for life’ helps them realize their love for each other. Evelyn asks, “How many lives can there be?” and answers herself, “As many as we want”.

Love needs friendship, respect and freedom in the long run and it is beautifully proven by Evelyn and Douglas.

Entrepreneurship

The floor scrubber for forty years takes the challenge to get funding for a hostel cum hotel for seniors and confidently speaks to the Evergreen owner. Sonny, though melodramatic, wins over through his honest aspiration and childlike optimism.

His risk taking and fierce resolve reflects in his focussed attention on expanding his business. Dev Patel as an eccentric and exuberant youngster reminds us of so many start up mavericks of today.

Leadership

Life is the biggest leader of all. Celebrating life by accepting the building blocks handed over to us and using them continuously and effectively is the key to be a self-leader. All the senior citizens from Britain prove it by starting a new life in Jaipur. This new life is not a retired existence but an invigorating beginning before the final end.

“There is no end of life, only the end of a story,” is what we absorb.

Deeper Lessons

The first film focused on the struggles of the elderly for these Britons who chose to come to India not because they wanted to but they had to. The ‘sorrow’ of the first film changes to ‘purpose’ in the second film.

All the senior people who think every second – “Do we have enough time?” learn to add purpose to each moment. Mrs. Donnelly tries to become a parent which she never was, Evelyn becomes self-reliant at 79, which she never experienced as a sheltered, naïve housewife. Honesty between the bartender and his wife at this age speak volumes about the need of companionship and fear of loneliness. It encourages older people to never give up till the last day.

Age is merely a number, it is purely incidental that we pick up years while living. Giving happiness to ourselves and others can be done like a warrior, till the last breath.

What do you think?

Image source: youtube.

Jealously Yours

This post was first published on www.madratgames.com – 07th April, 2016.

JEALOUSLY YOURS

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This social epidemic rampant in almost all close relationships is palpable, yet not accepted. We get our daily dose of the J word. It attracts us like the forbidden fruit. The closer we are, deeper are the seeds of jealousy. When we all fail, we feel sad, but when our best friend comes first, we feel worse.

A workshop participant of mine had appeared for her Pre-PG Exam after finishing her MBBS. Her husband also appeared for the same exam. When the result was declared, the husband checked the list on the college notice board and found that he had secured fifth rank. He could not find his wife’s name in the list and called her to console her. She told him to send her a picture of the list as she was confident of clearing the exam.

She saw the list and immediately called the husband.

“I have got the first rank.”
“What? How come?”
“How did you miss it?”
“I checked thrice but I checked below the fifth rank only”.

She shared the incident in the workshop and stirred several emotions. The husband felt worse when he realized that his wife fared better than him. Though he tried to hide his feelings and tried to justify his oversight, the wife got a bitter shock. Jealousy breeds in the funniest of ways and at the weirdest of places.

When others get what I am seeking: I experience the J factor when my friend gets the job that we both had applied for, when someone else marries my girl, when I lose the election. I wallow in self-pity, I feel extremely jealous when I am a complete loser. It is the most difficult to handle as there is no consolation prize available.

When others get more than me: I experience the J factor when my friend gets better rank than me though we both get selected, when his films enters the 200 crores club while mine is a little behind. In this situation, all is not lost, but jealousy still stimulates the loss. I try to justify to reduce the gap. I try to find innovative faults with the ranking and marking system to cushion the blow. This jealousy is competitive and continuous because the tides can change.

When my emotions overpower me: This J factor could be imaginary or exaggerated. When I feel that my parents love my younger sibling more, when I feel that the other girl looks better than me, when I feel that I am being ignored after the new entrant in our team. I start being an emotional freak. It could cause a breakdown or meltdown of several emotions leading to high voltage drama.

When I want to be a winner forever: This J factor is the most destructive and dangerous. When I can’t face failure, when I don’t know how to handle a no, when I firmly believe that I am the centre of the universe, I get jealous of every other achiever who is admired or loved. This unreasonable attitude could cause violent jealousy attacks leading to crimes.

Jealousy is universal. We all have experienced the bittersweet taste of this emotion. Let us not hide it. Let us not allow it to take deep roots. Let us accept it and tame it through honesty and positivity.

About the Author

About Author

I Love You Because . . .

I Love you because.jpgThis post was first published on http://www.madratgames.com – 23rd March, 2016

http://www.madratgames.com/i-love-you-because/

At the end of one of our workshops, participants were exchanging addresses, clicking the pictures. A girl came with a slam-book and wanted her friends to fill it up. The slam-book had a statement, “I love you because …” While filling the slam-book, one of the participants commented, “Hey! This question is wrong. I am leaving it. There can be no ‘because’ after ‘I love you”.

I learnt a valuable lesson from that kid. There are plenty of such precious lessons that we learn from children.

1. Curiosity: A parent had shared a wonderful experience with me. Her son was five years old and he saw a rainbow for the first time. He asked many questions like “where does it come from?”, “where does it sleep at night?”, etc. He was super excited to discover a colorful companion of sky. Next morning her driver was taking the car out of the portico. Some petrol had leaked from the car. As the sun shone brightly, a colorful prism like structure danced in the tiny pool of spilled petrol. As soon as her son saw it, he yelled, “Mummy, Get the first aid box. The rainbow is injured. It has fallen from the sky here.” When she rushed out, he was closely inspecting the colorful pool of petrol. We learn this curiosity and spontaneous application of learning from children. For them, everything begins with a “why” or “how” or “when”. When the elders start everything with “Don’t” or “No” or “Don’t you know even this,” the hows and whys die their own death.

2. Enthusiasm: Children find everything fresh and new because of a sense of awe and wonder. They are excited to open a new bar of soap. They are excited to hit a cricket ball. They are excited to play the same games, meet the same friends, watch the same ads and share the same jokes. They have a countdown ready all the time. They can make any moment special. If you observe your best photographs and most memorable videos, they would not belong to big occasions, but to such impromptu, laid-back times made special by those twinkling eyes, smiling faces and tapping feet.

3. The Power of NOW: I see people of my age always crying over past and worrying about the future. Kids live in the present, unbound by the memories of past and unshackled by worries about the future. Children have hourly targets and daily goals which might change within minutes. Still, they are the most important tasks till they last. There is no stress or anxiety if they are left to figure it out on their own. Can we stop oscillating between past and future, brooding and imagining stuff? Can we immerse ourselves in the NOW?

4. Let Go: I remember a chirpy, ever smiling participant who said, “My parents try real hard, but I cannot remain unhappy for more than two minutes.” Children move on swiftly, forgetting and hence forgiving, on the way. We, being protective and wary, try to remind them of mishaps to avoid trouble in future. Let us not sit on our failures & painful memories. Let us not ruminate like cows. Let us let go and move on.

5. Being natural: Kids are transparent. They will always say what they see or feel. They neither fabricate nor manipulate as they only know the truth. They are what they are – spontaneous, creative and intense. Can we try to stay a little natural, a little in touch with our inner core and not lose it all in the name of competition and make – believe?

About the Author

swatilodha

3 Life Long Gifts From Parents To Children

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Though children are the pivots of parents’ lives for good, it would be really meaningful and valuable if parents did these three things for their children – love, limit and let them be.

Love: Children need our love the most when they deserve it the least. We are the only people who could love them unconditionally. It is hard not to judge, it is difficult not to compare, it is tough not to lose cool but it is imperative to love without judging, comparing and fuming.

When we love them unconditionally, they learn to value life unconditionally. When they have the confidence that they can come to you anytime with a broken nose, a broken heart, a broken bank balance or a broken life, they will have the courage to bounce back every time they get knocked down. Love them, show them that you will love them come what may, forever.

I always tell my fellow parents that Parenting is an emotion. One should become a Parent only when they are sure of having this emotional energy which keeps them patient, sane and hopeful as a parent for the longest of time. The emotion called Parenting keeps us awake for nights when they have a cold or an exam or a late night party. This emotion keeps us calm when they defy or fail an exam or mess up with a senior. This emotion keeps us concerned, even when our kids turn fifty. This emotion keeps us content, even when we miss them in our empty nests.

Limit: All the cool, friendly parents of today need to remind themselves that their children need parents, not friends which they have many. When parents are disciplined, children adapt their ways. We must gift emotional discipline, health discipline, time discipline, learning discipline and moral discipline to our children. Our children need to learn to face rejection and disappointment as an integral part of life so that they don’t get unusually angry or depressed. Ensuring development of healthy habits for eating, exercising, sexual activeness is our prime responsibility.

Showing them by example to organise and prioritize goes a long way in making them self reliant. A strong value system coupled with habits like reading and researching helps them decide between right and not so right choices. Limiting them is a skill we all need. I always tell my parent colleagues that kids don’t learn when we teach them something, they learn when they are ready. We should keep showing them the right behaviors and they will pick it someday which could be today or years later.

Let them be: Having expectations is natural for Indian Parents as we are used to parents owning lives of children. We are to our children what a gardener is to plants and trees in a garden. He looks after the plants’ well being every day, adding manure, required fertilizers, cutting, mowing, pruning, but he doesn’t own the plants, the flowers and the fruits.

Despite all the care, some plants get uprooted or wilt due to weather conditions. A gardener observes and tries to control the damage by being caring as well as vigilant. Parents do the same by observing silently, encouraging from the sidelines, guiding casually without being pushy or authoritative.

We can show them the path, but we can’t walk for them.
We can teach them the words, but we can’t talk for them.
Let them bloom into their own persons with their unique fragrances. Let’s not try to make them a version of our dreams and expectations.

About the Author

swatilodha

Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone!

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This article was first published by www.womensweb.in on 12th April, 2016 http://www.womensweb.in/2016/04/stepping-out-of-your-comfort-zone/

Do you feel that you are stuck in a rut, even if a comfortable one? Stepping out of your comfort zone might be the answer, for a more fulfilling life.

It is so difficult to stop doing our favorite thing in our favorite way. We sleep better in a particular pose, in a particular direction on a particular bed. We jog on a specific path with a specific playlist.

It is easy. It is simple. It requires no thought. It is on auto mode. But doesn’t this life on auto mode take away the charm of doing something we have never done before? Is this kind of life really living a fulfilled life?

Here are a few pointers to avoid ‘comfort zoning’ ourselves.

Take baby steps towards experiencing newness

We should not gobble up more than what we can chew. Don’t get into a change frenzy. Make baby changes. If you take a cab/car to go to the supermarket, how about walking today?

If you love a small helping of desert after lunch, how about having a fruit salad? Change the pace of your morning walk, read a newspaper standing up, compliment a colleague in office, hide your mobile phone for two hours.

Bury the micro planner in you

There are people who plan everything in advance to the last detail. Though it is good to be organised, it could become monotonous if some tasks are repeated with zero defect over and over again. Such people cannot shift gears suddenly and get very uncomfortable when instant decisions are to be made.

Add a little insecurity to your life by not being meticulous in all actions. When we try very hard to make things happen the way we have planned, we cannot experience the magic of chance, the magic of divine will.

Be ready to embrace the unexpected. Let yourself be spontaneous.

Take a short vacation tomorrow, chuck that prepared and printed speech for the meeting, buy a gift for no reason, visit your parents unannounced.

Don’t criticize the change

People do not like new products/innovative ideas because they require a paradigm shift to embrace the change. To resist, we criticize.

“I prefer a chauffeur and my car to any service like Ola or Uber,”  “There is no feel of a book in Kindle”, “How can you buy clothes without trying them on?” – these are some such statements I used for pretty long.

Then I pushed myself to download one of the apps. It worked and worked real well.

I had to welcome the change.

I am a book proud woman. I devour the written word. The haughty book collector in me finally bought a Kindle a few days ago. I must admit that I am loving it. Who knows I might click on some website selling women’s wear in a few days and buy uncomfortably?

The leap from comfort to discomfort and back to comfort is what it is all about. The ‘Feeling Clingers’ that we are, is a bottleneck in our will to embrace change.

Let us convert the marathon comfort zone into a hurdle race. Let us punctuate our flowing life with small surprises. Don’t cling to the feeling of comfort. This clinging stagnates us and makes us stability seekers.

YOLO really means ‘Don’t comfort zone yourself.’ Welcome discomfort, welcome life.

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