SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Thursday, October 20, 2016

BRAVERY - Emotional Strength of Courage

1.       COURAGE – Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal  

Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it  
copy write - VIA

Vocabulary that can be used : 

I have not used the word Fearless / Intrepid which means that fear doesn't exist in a person. I believe Being Brave implies overcoming fear and not a lack of it.
Here being Brave implies a courage required not only to set out to do difficult tasks such as mountain climbing but it is also the same strength required to step into a new class.

1.       STORY SOURCE: CBT publications. Adapted by me. 
              Name: Mohini & Bhasmasura
            Suitable for Ages: 5 years upwards

Every one in the village was frightened of Bhasmasura. He was a demon who lived in a cave in the forest. He had long pointed teeth and black curved horns. His ears were like baskets and his face was covered with thick hair.
This wouldn’t matter if Bhasmasura had been friendly, but he was quite the opposite.
He delighted in frightening people, and when he was hungry he just gobbled them up.
That was not all, he also had magical powers, and that was the real reason people were terrified of him. If he put his hand on someone’s head, the person would turn into “bhasma”, a handful of ash!
People fled on seeing him and he laughed seeing them run. “Ha, Ha Ho, Ho!! There is no one equal to me in the world,” he boasted.
Everyone was scared, except Mohini. She shook her head and thought deeply, “I’m sure there’s a way out of this. I’m very sure, if only we could find it.”
All around people told horrific stories about Bhasmasura. “You don’t know him. He is as old as these mountains. He has magical powers. He has to just put his hands over your head and that’s the end for you, you will become ash…ash!” They said in hushed tones.
Mohini had an old grandmother whom she visited every day. “Tell me about Bhasmasura, Ajji.”
“He lives in a dark cave on top of that big mountain. He walks up and down the countryside, uprooting trees, trampling fields. He brings destruction wherever he goes and has the power of twenty elephants. Along with his magical powers he is invincible! Every one is frightened of him.” Said grandmother.
“I’m not!” Said Mohini
“I’m not frightened of Bhasmasura. There must be a way to destroy this Rakshasa. We mustn’t give up. I won’t give up,” she told the villagers.
You are a foolish girl; you don’t know what you are saying. He will gobble you up, he will turn you to ash, and we don’t know which is worse.
Some of our brave warriors have died trying, said others
But Mohini was quite a stubborn young lady.
After thinking deeply and with much advice from her grandmother, the wise old lady.
She went to the village headman and told him she wanted to destroy Bhasmasura.
They asked her to stop being silly, and stop joking!
The Headman asked her how she planned to destroy this monster
“I’ll dance,” said Mohini simply
Dance! They shouted together. Are you mad?
“No. But please give me a pair of tinkling anklets and your blessings for my successful return” said Mohini with due respect.
At first the headman refused, but then Mohini begged and begged (you know she was stubborn!!)
Finally she set off. She travelled many miles, walking most of the distance, some times taking a ride on a bullock cart, at other times a donkey. Once she even had to cross the river on a raft. Everywhere people spoke about the wickedness of Bhasmasura and his magical powers.
“You can’t defeat him,” said a few, “He is too powerful,” said others.
“It doesn’t help to sit around and do nothing, At least I can give it a try” said Mohini
The people were impressed with her fearless attitude.
At last she reached the cave in the mountains where Bhasmasura lived. She knew this was where he lived as there were rotting flesh and bones lying around.
Mohini stood at the entrance and for the first time felt frightened. It was very silent.
Oh dear, what’s going to happen now. What if the villagers were right? The demon will turn me into ash and then, that will be the end for me. May be I shouldn’t have come.
But the other part of her was telling to take a peep, having come so far at least she wanted to see how he looked.
Let me peep inside. Does he really have two horns? She thought.
She tiptoed near the cave and peeped inside, still she couldn’t see any thing. Maybe there is no Rakshasa(demon), its all imagination…
Suddenly, she heard a great big roar and a thud!
Bhasmasura stood behind her; he had just come back from one of his killing spree.
The monster roared horribly, but Mohini knew there was no escape now and so stood her ground
“Who are you?” bellowed the monster
“My name is Mohini”
“How dare you come to my cave?”
“Oh I heard you are a strong, brave, and intelligent monster, so I came to see you” she said
Now that was a very clever thing to say. Bhasmasura was very happy and he grinned showing his big dirty teeth.
This girl is pretty, she will make a worthy wife, he thought
“Will you marry me Mohini?”
Mohini stared at the demon, and then said, “Yes I will marry you, but on one condition, you must dance with me. Follow my every step. Even if you miss one step, I wont marry you”.
“Ha Ha, that’s not difficult”, he said and got ready to follow her every move.
Mohini fluttered her eyes; Bhasmasura too fluttered his!
Mohini cupped her hand to make a lotus and so did he!
She swayed like an elephant and so did he.
Mohini flitted like a butterfly and he also flitted.
She touched her chin, he touched his.
She touched her toes, so did he.
She whirled, hopped and skipped, and he too did the same.
She put her hand on her head and he put his hand on his head…
The next minute there was no Bhasmasura; there was only a heap of ash where the demon stood.
I better get back home as quickly as I can, other wise grand mother will be worried she thought
Happily she skipped her way back to the village
Seeing her safe and sound, the whole village rushed to greet and rejoice with her
“Jai Mohini Jai, Brave Courageous Mohini”, they shouted, and carried her on their shoulders all over the village.
The end

Jai Mohini Jai Jai
She never gave up
She kept on trying
Till Bhasmasuran was
Tricked into dying

SOULTales - Stories,Character Strengths,Vocabulary

Welcome to a new muse for my Soul. Stories that act as triggers to talk about character strengths in children and us. Simple, yet profound. These stories have been told over the ages by many. But I aim to provide fresh perspective while telling them in this new space I have created.
Words are powerful tools for growth and stories create a garland of words that are strung together for us to wear and celebrate.
I am inspired by a Coursera Mooc that I did.
Here is a link if you are interested.

Character Strengths came out of a study by famous Wellness Psychologist Martin Seligman.  His journey through this is field comes with a legendary story. He invented the word Positive Psychology, but a question raised by one of his students on such a uni-dimensional nomenclature of happiness led to an entire new and larger, grander umbrella of study called Wellness Psychology. 
He then went on to identify and classify the character strengths that one requires to lead a happy life. This has been the muse for many Teachers, Psychologists and Educationists who have taken his study into the classroom and work space.

The Character Strengths are broadly classified into 5

wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence 

I will put together Stories and Vocabulary that will help develop these character strengths. The stories need to be told and a conversation, discussion, role play or active expression of thoughts post story to be facilitated.

Stories are sourced by me.These stories will be pan India - Asia as far as possible.
All information about Character Strengths is sourced from VIA

Monday, August 29, 2016

Queen of U -Turns!

I can be called the Queen of U-Turns. I can never reach a new destination without once taking a wrong turn or heading at-least half a kilometer or more away from my destination and then realising something is wrong making that U turn and heading back again.

The first vehicle I learnt to ride was a cycle like most of us, but unlike most of you, this was not a simple SLR or even a champ. My first learning experience was an Atlas cycle, male version (yes, with the bar), huge for a 13 year old, and with no brakes. It belonged to my dance class friend. So I would meet and greet this no-brake-tall-guy every Tuesday & Thursday surreptitiously during class hours. Sneaking out of class and chakkar marroing around the streets was a thrill. 
What is interesting is that I could not climb onto the cycle normally, I had to find a boulder or a raised platform, from which I had to literally launch myself onto that tall guy and then quickly pedal off. What was even better was alighting from it. No I had to cruise to a corner, or a grassy patch and kind of jump off. Almost a death leap!

So when I did get my hands on a regular cycle later on, (hired cycles during the summer holidays was an amazing way to spend the hot Chennai afternoon), I could never ride it normally; I would pedal fast down the narrow lanes, take U-turns dangerously and invariably crash into any stationary or moving vehicles around corners, because I would forget there was something called as "brakes:" that I could use for a better way to halt.
Dad was totally against two wheelers so I had to learn that again with the true friends who lent me their old second hand scooties. But I got caught red-handed by him and so he fast-tracked me onto a 4 wheeler as soon as I turned 18 years, which he felt was safer and also that he could get me to learn properly from “authorised sources”!
The Acid Test was the post License test drive that I had to take with him and my driver. Oh, Yes. My dad seated next to me, my driver at the back, who I could see through the rear view mirror, driving down Panagal Park on a Friday afternoon. (Panagal Park is like Sarjapur Main Road on a good Day –btw nothing is comparable to Sarjapur Main Road on a Bad Day!)

I was not nervous, I was not afraid of the crazy traffic, that cris-crossed my left and right and I was so sure that I belonged behind the wheel that I even got a smile and a pat from my driver.

The fallout of this which I did not bargain for was that now that I knew driving, my father started promoting my skills for free. Every discerning relative who landed up at home was offered a ride.
“ Oh the Bus Stand is close by but not walk-able, Sowmya will drop you there and wait till you get your bus”
“ The auto stand is a bit far from here, Sowmya will drop you off to the nearest auto stand”
I became the glorified Taxi –ferry service without pay!

Chennai is pretty easy as far as roads are concerned, big sign boards, straightforward left and right, and more or less roads that reached you to your destination without much confusion and anyway I spent only 5 years of my driving life there. The rest is dedicated to Namma Bengaluru!

We got a car a year after I was married, under much duress from my father as he hated us travelling everywhere on my Husband’s old  Bajaj Stride (btw I loved it– such fond memories – but that's another story). A red Matiz which to me was a true Herbie and I went bananas with it! I became synonymous with the Matiz and it was a unique car in itself as there were not many takers it.

As a wannabe Storyteller, one of the first assignments was a 9am StorySession at a school in HSR layout.
I remember asking for the address and carefully jotting it down...asking for directions and scrupulously noting it down too and then as an added measure – I asked my Husband to give me directions. Now it must be brought to your notice that this is not an easy thing to do. To let down your ego enough to ask your husband to guide you, is a big deal. But I thought his inputs will add value.

...And then he opened The BangaloreMaps!!

I stared at this piece of paper as he started to point out our location and my destination and the various paths leading to it:
  •       The Map itself looked like an alien terrain sketch with gibberish written on it
  •       My head starts spinning
  •       My ears underwent a shut down

I could see my Husband’s mouth opening and closing and words pouring out but very little registered. I am sure I had the most intelligent look on my face, but I know I was flying really low on comprehension.

Maps are beyond my understanding as they look nothing like what I will actually encounter and motor through. But I know if I prolong my conversation anymore with my Husband, whatever little that has registered is going to muddle up even further in my head.
So I hastily gathered my bag, my props and chucked them into the car. I have the address, I have a vague idea where to how difficult was this going to be?
I start my journey and very soon, the muddle takes over.
Has this ever happened to you ?– all the visuals and images of places and routes somehow superimpose in your mind and results in an end product that does not bear any resemblance to reality? Where you think you know where you are but actually you are driving up the wrong alley, because that was an image from another route?
That’s what happened to me.  Every turn looked familiar and I felt I was heading to wards my destination. The map in my head and the map I saw on paper – merged into a new map of my own that was taking me to a point nowhere close to where I needed to go.
I was panicking was getting late...very late.
I stopped...asked random strangers – who gave me random directions.
Seeda Hoggi – U turn maadi...thiruge banni aamele...
I felt like a bad character artiste in a silly comedy movie trying to understand the dialogues spoken in a foreign language.
Come on – God – Universe – Guide me – take me to the right path – Sweat was pouring down my back.

I asked and asked and asked and finally after many Lefts, a few rights and couple of U –Turns I reached the school. Phew!
Those poor Tiny Tots had been waiting for 1.5 hours for me to arrive and I had to salvage the session by jumping right into the story ....
And No they did not call me again and Yes that's not the last time I went in circles looking for a place!

Many many more days have followed that eventful day of going around Bangalore. Missed turns, wrong turns , U-turns and travelling a kilometre or more away from my destination and then back tracking to finally get where I have to...

Why can’t I get it right? – I have asked myself many many times – in-spite of having an address, taking directions – why do I take that wrong route – why am I taking that extra U turn??
I have a theory on that – 
  • Subconsciously this is my way of going off the beaten path – because I like adventure and normal life doesn’t allow for much of that. 
  • I enjoy the thrill of being lost
  •  I enjoy the change and the rush of adrenaline and a healthy dose of anxiety.
  • I enjoy the chance to explore and navigate new places 

Once I allowed myself to feel this way – to give myself permission, I feel better at handling these detours better. I am less self critical. Let go and enjoy the view is what I tell myself, after all eventually – somehow I will find my way home.

Nowadays Google Maps and GPS have reduced my wanderings a bit...a bit!

Last week I typed in my destination to get from Kormangala to KR Puram -and found myself taking a route to Hosur Road, and then I had to make that U turn to join back and get to the road leading to wards where I wanted to go! You see even on GPS – it gives you the route with the least traffic possible and you have to exercise the option of alternative routes!

I patted myself – GPS or no GPS – I am definitely reigning Queen of U – Turns!

( disclaimer: The title term "Queen of U turns" is borrowed from my friend Preethi Sundaram! 
Some fictional elements added to the story)

This is a Personal Story written for the theme U-Turn!