Express Yourself – Intro

Self – Expression: the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance.

Without being tainted with the burden of living, its responsibilities and a thousand manuals handed over by adults in informative years; children and animals already know the meaning of self – expression. They communicate their needs creatively through words, paintings, emotions, reactions, and play naturally from the moment they are born when they need milk or a change in diaper. They will cry and their degree of bawling will vary according to the adult response to their communication. Creatively modifying and changing their behaviour to the adult communicating back to them as a response.

However, over the years, we condition ourselves to action and response according to varied stimuli and rules are regulations we receive based on our environmental, societal and other boundaries. So, are these restrictions important, or do they curb our growth potential? Can they become a hindrance to living a full life and therefore should we then revolt and demand the freedom of full expression; or instead find a middle path where we are able to utilise the tools and restrictions available in our society to help us find expression and not treat it as a handicap.

As adults are we providing our children and us the right guidance and environment for self-expression? How would we find the right environment in the first place? Most importantly, why do we want to self express?

This 5 Part Article Series explores the importance of self-expressions, challenges faced in expressing oneself, tools for self expressions and the spiritual, assisting each other and using self – expression as an effective tool for communication, how creativity assists self expression, and emotional need to express oneself when you are a child or teen.

Read: Self Expression – Why Express?? on 11th March, 2020

Black Friday


Black Friday,” the darkest day in the 365 days of the year. This is how I imagined it to be when I heard the two words on Radio for the first time and wondered about the Announcer’s excitement. They were offering discounts and providing attractive ways for people to spend money. I researched on the dark almost sinister words and realised, it referred to the day after “Thanksgiving” when the shopping season starts and people are looking forward to Christmas. A reminder that Christmas Eve would be around the corner; so you must BUY, BUY ALL YOU CAN!

Dig deeped and “Black Friday” has several origins…

ONE: The most plausible explanation would be when the words BLACK FRIDAY first found its place in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance , in November 1951 & 1952. It was a terminology used by the workers to call in sick after Thanksgiving Thursday, to use this opportunity as a longer 4 day holiday. (Thursday to Sunday). The people flocked shops to purchase goods. A shopping frenzy resulting in blocked roads, accidents, arguments, parking tickets, and many vigilant Police Officers who had to put in extra time to manage the crazy people grabbing goods.

TWO: The Police Officers officially called it “BLACK FRIDAY” because of the troubles it caused them and the hustling they had to do. Enterprising on this, retailers provided lucrative offers to attract shoppers.

THREE: Companies who hardly made a sale throughout the year were profited during Festival Holidays. They would usually mark their accounts in “red” when they made a loss and “black” when they made a profit; and post Thanksgiving, they made a “profit”. Hence, supposedly called it BLACK FRIDAY.

FOUR: It is rumoured that before Civil War, the Americans celebrated Thanksgiving by selling off their slaves, new children born to slaves as slaves after Thanksgiving on a Friday to celebrate and was called, “Black Friday”. Although this is claimed to be a rumour. The Native Americans Suffered as well. Read: Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving

Regardless, the festivities are catching on in India. Americanisation sinking in and BLACK FRIDAY now becoming the official festival promoted by Radio Channels, TV and Online Media. But do we need to spend so much and create a festival of it? Is consumerism important? What’s the most sensible thing to do on a BLACK FRIDAY??

  1. If this is an excuse after Thanksgiving to take off for a 4 day weekend, I would much rather spend time at home with friends and family. Let’s extend it to Friday, Saturday and Sunday… eat a nice home cooked meal with them and spread love.
  2. Take a trip to an animal shelter, senior home, children’s home, if you are alone… and buy material which will be helpful to them; assist them set things up to get things going.
  3. If the shopping bug is compulsive in the nerves then making a list of all the things, eliminating those which are irrelevant and then picking up important items which would have otherwise been expensive after the discounts are done would be a good idea. Shop wisely. Shop for yourself, not for the market.
  4. Sleeping it out is a good option. I mean who wants to crowd around in a shop and be flustered; come home with something you don’t need? Instead, working on yourself, meditating, reading those books you wouldn’t otherwise pick up due to lack of time, is a good option. Writing, showering, if you haven’t in the last few days.
  5. Making that trip to the gym and buying a ticket to health.
  6. Fixing broken things at home, the stuff your peers, family have been pestering you about for a long time and you have been avoiding.
  7. Catching up with long distance friends… go to a library, the books will be thankful.
  8. Scavenging through your closet and removing all the discounted items you bought previous Black Friday’s and didn’t use. Donating it to someone who might use it.

Remember the kind of impact this spending frenzy will have on the environment and the waste it would create. The lifespan of clothes have been cut by 75% due to influx of new clothes lines every month into the market; with the constant pressures of being in Fashion, people are purchasing unnecessary accessories and clothes which not only burn a hole in the pocket but create garbage. Electronics create another big chunk of waste which cannot be recycled or are not because it takes too much investment to recycle. Products bought online, if returned are immediately trashed; why.. because its cheaper to trash than to repackage and sell. Imagine the waste in the packaging?? So if you have to then make your purchases wisely.

There is so many opportunities a Black Friday can open up if we decide to make it more than a shopping day. Of course, we could save up a lot of money because Discounts don’t Count. Ultimately every purchase you make with or without discount is money spent. Spend wisely. Do you really… really need it?? Or are you buying it because its cheap? Would you really want to be caught up with pulling and fighting with people for cheap stuff on the line, or getting smothered in doggie love at an Animal Shelter, or lounging in your pyjamas at home? Make a choice and Have a great BLACK FRIDAY… 🙂

© 2019 Dhanlaxmi Goyal

Running his own Race

robin-sharma-articleThe power of great thinkers’ lies not only in empowering individuals but revolutionizing the power of thought. Robin Sharma, a 41-year-old author and public speaker has been an initiator of such a crusade. Robin’s books have sold over 1.5 million copies in the past five years and individuals such as Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Prize winner, Shimon Peres, Michelle Yeoh and Ricky Martin have embraced his books. Noted Self- Help Guru, Robin Sharma in conversation with Puja Goyal

Source: Vijay Times, Life : CenterStage- 3.
Copyright © 2005 Puja Goyal.

The transition from a lawyer to a writer: I was unfulfilled as a lawyer. It was as if I was leading a pretentious life. I had become a lawyer only to pose good in the society and over time it had lost its meaning. I wanted to know what was missing in life and therefore went on a journey of self exploration.

The books… self help or philosophy: Both! When you know better you do better. Tell me, if an accomplished journalist came to you and told you that if you followed these five points right now, it would make you one of the finest journalists… what would you do? These are simple philosophies of life put together for individuals in the form of a book… When people come and tell me stories about how my books have made a difference in their lives… I am moved and then I know that this is the right thing for me to do.

The concept of The Monk who sold his Ferrari: In my opinion individuals come to India in search for spirituality because it’s rich in philosophy, over here, people appreciate depth and the continuous pursuit of the inner meaning of life. This is what The Monk… is all about. The book featured the concept of imparting life defining teachings from a teacher to a student. Most people who have read the book think it is real and that the incident actually happened with me, but I’d like to clarify…it wasn’t me. The concepts in the book are my own experiences, but the set- up was imaginative.

Future Plans: My upcoming book is called The Greatness Guide which features ten best lessons life has taught me. I am also working on the movie version of The Monk who sold his Ferrari (expected release date 2006), in which I will be playing the main lead, don’t expect to see Brad Pitt in it (he laughs).

Inspiring lessons in life: When I was twenty- one, one of my mentors said “Run your Own Race” these are simple words but have had a deep and lasting impact on my life. It is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, and easy to loose yourself in it. You have to live your life on your own terms because at the end of the day, when you are on your own death bed, the only person who is going to be with you is you. And the only person you are going to feel good about is yourself.

In my books I have also reflected on the importance of family. When one dies no one says he died surrounded by his golf mates or business partners, we say, ‘he died surrounded by his loved ones’. Similarly, when it comes to children, we have a very little time and opportunity to create a bond between them and us. Once those opportunities are lost, they will never be realized again.

A word For Indian writers: The world needs great ideas. Keep writing!! Don’t give up on your dream, sometimes you have to fail a hundred times to gain success. Are you up to it? People think that Oh! He is a great writer, he must have gone through no troubles, but I have had my share of failures in my life too, I have been through turmoil in my life, a difficult divorce, and am a single parent now… I had started of with ten boxes of self- published books in my kitchen. I would take The Monk… to stores and on the roads and sell it to people individually. My first book seminar was in front of 26 people all of who were my family members… so it hasn’t been a smooth ride… you have to learn to hang on.


Fortifying Family Wealth

“Birth, life, and death — each took place on the hidden side of a leaf”
Toni Morrison

The point is that Death is scary… it is a subject we would rather philosophise about and consider non-existent until the actual happening of the event. Death is unpredictable, and we can never be completely prepared; what we can do though is minimise risk! Although the direct impact of the loss of life is on the dying person, it is the one’s who are left behind that have to bear the consequences.

Loved ones can never be emotionally prepared and the loss might take a long time to heal. The process of living after death can be difficult; we have a baggage of memories, and moments of which life is made off. Sometimes the process of grieving can last for years… but life goes on. There can be confusion, disarray, or feelings of being lost and bewildered, mingled with a sense of shock, disappointment, or fear. Many who are emotionally and spiritually dependent on the deceased can feel abandoned by the death of a loved one.

Amongst all this, what is important is what needs to be followed after death to make grieving manageable. While there are rituals, rites, customs, traditions and ceremonies that need to be taken care off, someone out of the blue, asks… “Did he write a will?” or “How are we going to manage our finances?

Finally, reality kicks in. It is going to be tough to stay alive after death. Often in life, we do not want to talk about taking insurance, writing a will or letting our dependents know our investment status. “Why should I make a will? Are you suggesting I will die?” or “I’m okay… I do not have to discuss finances with my wife because it’s a man’s job”

Though death is unavoidable we can always minimise risk. Life’s emergency situations require advance preparation and planning. It is a slow and steady process. What would you do for someone you love so they can live on after you’re gone… what are the things that you would want your loved one to know so they can take control of the situation instead of allowing the situation controlling them.

The first steps is organising your papers and keep communications with appropriate individuals; keeping your taxes updated, insurance premiums paid, and other monthly activities in tune. Many situations require you to take actions now to avoid financial problems later. The idea is to keep survivors from being hassled by interested parties.

Though the list is unending, here are some things you could keep track of and keep at an appropriate place:

1. Will, trust, and other estate planning documents
2. Powers of attorney
3. Bank and brokerage account statements
4. Retirement plan statements
5. Government benefit paperwork
6. Insurance policies
7. Business records and Tax returns
8. Credit card and debt information
9. Secured places, such as a safe or safe deposit box
10. Email accounts and passwords
11. Property records for real estate, cars, and other major assets.

After death: 
Check on the documents and will that were prepared by the deceased, and communicate with respective authorities. Find out if the deceased had taken any life insurance policy and if you are its beneficiary, if so, contact the insurance company and file a claim for benefits. This is one of the first things you can do to ensure there’s enough cash on hand. Along with this apply for all the benefits that the deceased had paid for the happening of this very event, including pension, and other employment-related payouts.

If you owned property together — as joint tenants or in another form of joint ownership — the survivor should change the title document to show that he or she now owns the property alone. This will make it easier for the survivor to manage the property. Check title documents for real estate, vehicles, bank or brokerage accounts, and other significant assets to see whether you need to update ownership records.

Losing someone will more than likely cause you to reevaluate your own plans for leaving property at death. If you have a will or living trust, you should review it and change it, if necessary, to reflect your current life circumstances and wishes. Also take a look at who is named as beneficiary of retirement plans and any other major assets that will pass outside the will or trust.

Although creating a living will can sound harsh, yet it makes work manageable. It is always nice to prepare a living will and a durable power of attorney. These important documents will allow you set out wishes and name a trusted person — beneficiary — to oversee and make medical decisions if that ever becomes necessary. Making health care documents can also open the door to discussing your feelings about organ donation, burial or cremation, and other final arrangements.

Make a financial power of attorney lets you name someone to handle financial matters — from writing monthly checks to managing investments. Without this document in hand, you or other loved ones would most likely have to go to court to get the necessary authority.

Source: Vijay Times, Family Matters- 2.
Copyright © 2005 Puja Goyal.

Catching up with the Mother of all Sorrows

(Source: Vijay Times, BVT LifeStyle Pg 4.)
Copyright © 2005 Puja Goyal.

MOTHER OF SORROWS marks the fiction debut of Richard McCann. He describes a post-war middle class America and explores the difficult entanglements of family, the effects of shame upon the formation of one’s most private identity, and the paralyzing closeness between a son and a mother.

BVT caught up with Dr. Richard, to discuss the book, and explores the process of writing the heart wrenching, “Mother of Sorrows“. Excerpts from the interview…

How did you come up with the title Mother of Sorrows?
Like the mother in Mother of Sorrows, my real mother had an enormous gift for dramatising herself, and I wanted to capture something of this in these stories. My mother’s actual name was in fact quite close to the name of the mother in the book (her name was “Marie Dolores”) and like the mother in Mother of Sorrows, she often reminded my brothers and me that her name meant “Mother of Sorrows”, surely a weighty thing to tell one’s own children. In that sense it might be taken to mean that the children are a part of the mother’s sorrows.

You had stated previously that the book is”homage to reality”. Don’t you think reality blurs when you combine it with fiction?
In describing Mother of Sorrows as “homage to reality,” I mean to suggest that it’s not a chronicle of facts but rather a mixture–like much of memory itself–of the real and the imagined. I also mean by the term that I see myself as paying a kind of homage to lives and places and experiences that have almost been forgotten, since the people who inhabit these memories have died. In making art, I don’t think that reality gets lost as much as it gets transformed.

What were the most testing moments in the process of writing the book?
I think the hardest and “most testing moments” came toward the end, when I realised that I would have to write about my brother in order to finish this book. Like the narrator of Mother of Sorrows, I had a brother who was a year older than I and who died of a drug overdose twenty years ago, when he was in his thirties. For years, I had been entirely unable to write about him or about the relationship I had with him, even though I have lived for many years only a few blocks away from the apartment building in which he died.

For many reasons, I felt guilty toward him, and this made it hard even to approach him as a subject. But I also felt that I needed to understand better some of the things that had happened between us and even to make some amends to him, even though he was long dead.  What resulted from this was “My Brother in the Basement,” the last story I wrote for Mother of Sorrows.

 The ending of Mother of Sorrows, is sweet melancholy… Was it deliberate, or did it take its own shape?
Although “The Universe, Concealed” was not the last story I wrote for Mother of Sorrows, I wanted to place it last because I thought that it was not only a story of loss but also a story of a hard-won and even stubborn survival.

At some point, I realized also that I wanted to end the book, as it does, on the image of people moving through the dark.