Monthly Archives: August 2012

Win/win! Oh really?

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What do you think about win/win? Especially when it is a sort of ‚prisoner’s dilemma’…

Oficially it sounds terific. Great window dressing for any kind of intentions, at any level.

I had a job I thought it was perfect for me. Until a personality manifested a stubborn trait of mine. Left it for another job. Former employer begged me to come back. My new job was manifesting even more unhappy traits of mine. I went back. Did I win? Did my former employer win? Did my new employer win? My answer is none have won.

I often read about negotiations – it’s an interest of mine, both personally and professionally. Some advocate that one of best basic approaches to negotiations is to separate people from problem. This is meant to say that in any negotiations two elements are involved: the substance over which negotiations take place and negotiator’s relationship with people involved.

I must add that the relationship to the self is perhaps the most important part of the equation. It’s not about winning. It’s about loosing. Loosing the connection to what makes us unhappy. It gets down to „would I rather be happy or would I rather be right”? You dislike loosing? Try letting go.

When people tell me „you were right, about this /that”, I respond with „I am sorry I was right”.

I choose ‚happy’, even if my ego – and it’s a huge beast – votes in favor of ‚right’. I’ll let it believe it won and get over it. And let it envy me, because I am happy. Happy not to be right.

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Shoes and choices

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As a mother she felt as if she was wearing daily high heel luxury heels. There were moments when, as a wife, she felt as if she was wearing old worn out moccasins. She did not even remember if these used to be high heel shoes. What she realized is that it’s her who puts those shoes on and only she can take them off and choose a new pair of high heel luxury shoes or heavy boots or soft sneakers or fluffy slippers or light sling backs or tight sandals or barefoot…

A shoe feels tight? Try shoe stretching remedies. Feels like complaining? A rehearsal would help. Life gives endless opportunities to start anew.

It’s all about choices we make with our minds, with our hearts.

We choose roles. We choose how we play them, when we play them, with whom we play them.

In an unusually enlightening writing by an orthodox monk there was a phrase that stays with me for years “even God does not contest human choice’.  And God has a reputation of a wise. Even if he/she has never worn any shoes, at least from what we know :).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WU_DAQm79eA, Joe Purdy “Worn out shoes’. Enjoy!

Years: in Numbers and Letters.

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I am 25. 2+7=7. 7 is the symbol of wisdom, some say. What is 25 compared to a 1775 Sherry  wine from Massandra Collection  sold at Sotheby’s London for $43,500 in 2002? What is 25 compared to a new born? What is 25 compared to 2500 years of Buddhism?

I am 35. 3+5=8. A nice rounded number. Put it horizontally – ∞ – and it becomes an Infinitum. What is 35 compared to my grandmother’s age of 91? What is 35 compared to my child’s 30 months? What is 35 compared to Earth’s age of 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years ? A rough 0.0000001%!

I am 45. 4+5=9. Nine is strongly associated with the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power. What is 45 compared to 4500-year old Sumerian temple found in Ur? What is 45 compared to 18 Million U.S. Cancer Survivors Expected by 2022? What is 45 years compared to 14 days lived by an  average butterfly?

I am 55. 5+5=10. Biblically it is associated with  divine order. What is 55 compared to the Golden ‘Moment’ which lasted about 55,000 Years in Papua-New Guinea? What is 55 years compared to 55 seconds of the first vertical take-off manned rocket flight by Lothar Sieber? What is 55 years of life compared to compared to 55 years of marriage?

I am 65. 6+5=11. Some say it is associated with chaos. Well at 65 life can be rather chaotic, in a nice way :),  a job-free way, for example.

I am 75. 7+5=12. Jews must love this number as they associated with twelve tribes which are believed to be the major civilization foundation of God’s chosen people.  At 75 my tribe is big and growing.

I am 85. 8+5=13. I love it! Some associate number 13 it with rebelion. At 85 I am rebelious in a way that would make a 13 old  „wooow” for a month!

In a recent interview, a star was panicked by her up-coming 45th birthday. “There are 260 ways to wash dishes” (Cheryl Richardson). There a millions of ways to look at own age.

I am 95 and I am happy to continue to add numbers and letters to my life and lives of people around me.

Infidels

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I am one quarter done with ‚My name is Red’ by Orhan Pamuk (part of my committment to read all Nobel Prize writers). I think is the first Turkish author I read and it appeals to my previous oriental lives. It’s the best ‚walk in my shoes’ perspective I came across so far. Particularly because there are so many different and diverse narrators: a corpse, a coin, dervishes, colour red… . Try to look at something from a coin point of view and it may be such an enlightening experience :).

So back to infidels. To islam these are christians. To christians these are muslims. Let see how far a dictionery would take an infidel. So, an infidel is a unbeliever, a sceptic, a heretic, an agnositc, a heathen, a nonconformist, a freethinker.

Is a cheating parners an infidel? From his/her point of view he/she is a freethinker and freedoer maybe.  An emancipated person! A free spirit! I was very much amused by the buzz around divorce news of a high level politician in a country I am working at the moment.  A new trend has been set, with calls for freeing people from marriages ‘declared dead for some time’. These became heroes on social networks. Applauded for steeping out of orthodox patterns. Freeing themselves and freeing others, for what ever reason and for what ever costs.

I ask myself if ending a marriage is a duty in the name of search for oneself? Why are then these searches end up with 2-3 or even 4 divorces? or is a divorce an attempt to escape from the true nature of oneself? Is the answer in the other? Is the answer in our own ways, looks, spirits, hearts? Is the other one to blame for keeping his/her partner in a marriage for the sake of social conventions, children or simly of ‚what would others say”? I would say yes, if from the very beginning these were reasons to get married. Often young ladies would tell me they want to get married (I am not a matchmaker and truly try to avoid that, but for some reason they keep coming to me :)). When asked ‚why’, they do not know or respond with one of the above – „my mother says so’, ;what would people say if I am not married by age of’ …

Taking sides and making affirmation on behalf of those divorcing is a tricky business. Even they may not know the answer. It may come from the pillow at the end of their lives on Earth. If ever.

Empowered, powerful, powerless

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Empowerment – a trendy word, isn’t it? What’s actually behind it in everyday life?  Back in 1985 James C. Scott, professor at Yale University pointed out ‘power inevitably generates resistance, accommodation and strategic compliance as regular components of the politics of everyday life’.  What is essential to me is what you do with power. I came to learn about it the hard away. And I am grateful for that.

I was looking for a babysitter for my baby upon her first anniversary. Had a long list and a short list of candidates, interviewed several. At the back of my mind there was a name – a lady I knew since I was 5 years old. She used to be a caregiver in a kinder garden, two kids of her own, lived with an abusive and violent husband. She left their home once but returned upon his persistence only to live worse beatings. I followed her news only through common acquaintances.

I gave her a call. A shadow of the lively person I remembered from my childhood came to see me. We had tee in a coffee house and talked. I asked her whether she is ready to go back to work with kids (she had other jobs in the meantime). She told me she has to consult with her husband. Fine, if you have to, was my answer. She gave me a call the next day to confirm that she is coming as of next week. I took time off to let her and my baby adjust to each other, meaning I was constantly around for 3 months. I offered to pay her twice the market price for her services, in the name of ‘the best for my kid’ and out of pity for her situation. She could have rented a flat and started divorce procedures. Her two daughters , adults now, have left the house as teenagers and now even live abroad, as far as possible from the horror they lived in. One of them is disabled for life as a result of that life.

This empowerment mission of mine ended badly. I have not imagined the extent of harm her soul and mind have undergone.

My baby, who never cried during her first year of life, started shouting and biting. We also became very tense in her presence. She was constantly challenging me as a mother and wife – on the account I was still a ‘five year old girl’ she knew from past. Deceiving is how she avoided and prevented violence in her house so she started applying this tactics with us. Needless to mention the impact this had on my kid.  She wanted us to accommodate to and comply with her strategies… I was extremely furious at first, then I realized that she cannot be saved if she does not want to. If I think she lives in hell and she thinks she lives in heaven, I cannot change that. It’s a choice she made. I am powerless if she is powerless.

In was on the forth day after I restarted work that I ended our experience paying her in full and compensating for early dismissal. The bright thing about this experience is that now five women in need found employment with me. And they are happy about it. They change their lives and the lives of their kids. I am happy to have them around me and my kid. Each of them teaches me every day about loyalty, generosity, kindness. That unfortunate experience has not stopped me from sharing and empowering. The only constant I am looking for is awareness of power they have and willingness to do good, to themselves and others.

In December 2009, Marina Sturdza was attacked in Bucharest by two kids, 9 and 10 years old, when she was returning from a charity event where she managed to raise 100, 000 Euro for children in need. In her post-attack interview, she said she was not at all discouraged by the acts of the two street kids. On the contrary, she said, it shows how much still remains to be done. Clear cut lesson learned, Princess!

Nests & Wings

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The lady who helps me with house work enters my room with “I have great news”, her eyes in tears. “My youngest got admitted to two schools of his dream, one here, the other one abroad and he wants to go abroad and I do not know what to do” – tears rolling now. “Oh Maria! You are crying because you realize the youngest of your three kids is now an adult ready to leave the nest…”. “When did it all happen?!” tears rolling even faster now “I want the best for him but cannot let him go”. All tears of joy I have to say. Her daughter is also getting married in a month. Quite an eventful period for her family. 

The moment my daughter left the room she was in with me is still vivid in my mind. She was 12 month old and the greatest distance between us up to that moment was one meter. When she left nonchalantly the room and came back 5 seconds after with a face of ‘why-are-you-not following me?” I was breathless and speechless.

It was a moment of truth. Kids grow up. They have to. It’s in their job description. And they choose their path and their destination. Parents prepare them, feed them, nurture them, cuddle them in the best way they can, in the best nest possible and a time comes when kids outgrow all that and take their own flight. It’s their own moment of springing into life. Clipping their wings? I would call it a sin.

Keeping a welcoming nest to harbour them when they need it it’s all a parent can do. It can be a prety serene thing to do, as a parent, a guardian and a nest-keeper.

Iconic

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I’m not into icons and idols. Yet there are human beings and human deeds that make me want to jump higher, fight harder and live to the fullest.

India (or part of it) is appalled by Sherlyn Chopra – the first Indian to model nude for Playboy magazine. But this is not what drew my attention. It was her words „if total freedom comes with the perceived notion of being a whore, then so be it”.

This is how probably many perceived the Hindu goddess depicted in the nude in one of his paintings by Maqbool Fida Husain, India’s most iconic and prolific artist.

I find him truly iconic as in:

–        Hard working: mastered Arabic calligraphy as a small boy and painted right up until two weeks before his death in London at the age of 95.

–        Convention defying: a nude Hindu goddess for one thing.

–        Bitterness-free: In spite of being dejected by his co-nationals he never showed any resentment towards his homeland. “What has happened with me is a small thing. We remain a free country,” he told an interviewer in 2010.

–        World-beautifying: Left an enduring legacy, while embracing all forms of beauty and colour around him and keeping at heart his essence – India’s streets and culture. Whereever he painted in New York, Paris or Qatar, he remained an Indian artist  (inspired by Sudha G Tilak is a Delhi-based writer on art and culture, http://www.bbc.co.uk)

Whether or not he and his work were regarded as a powerful symbol of India or the World was none of his concern. He just lived his life to the brim.