The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: Book review

The hen who...

A beautiful book. Have to admit, I teared up several times while reading it. It’s soulful, poetic, heart-rending, melancholic, yet triumphant.

One is instantly connected to the lead character, Spout, an egg-laying hen whose soul desire is to hatch an egg of her own:

“She had no desire to lay another egg. Her heart emptied of feeling every time the farmer’s wife took her eggs…She couldn’t so much as touch her own eggs, not even with the tip of her foot, And she didn’t know what happened to them after the farmer’s wife carried them in her basket out of the coop.”

Sprout fantasizes about a jolly life out in the open, frolicking in the fields, mingling with the other barnyard animals and birds, and becoming a mother. A day comes when she falls sick and is unable to lay eggs. Useless to the farmer, she is thrown into the “Hole of death” for the weasel to devour. Luckily, she survives and is coaxed out of the pit by a mallard duck, the only barn occupant who befriends her but being at the bottom of the pecking order is unable to help her as she gets kicked out of the barn by the others.

Henceforth begins a daunting and adventurous journey for Sprout; a journey best explained in the meaning of her name:

“Sprout is the best name in the world. A sprout grew into a leaf and embraced the wind and the sun before falling and rotting and turning into mulch for bringing fragrant flowers into bloom.”

As she sadly leaves the barn, she soon discovers an abandoned egg, fulfils her dreams of hatching one, and spends the rest of her life defending her “baby” from the weasel. Interestingly, like most readers I presume, I looked at the relationship between the hen and her baby as successfully capturing the essence of motherhood; however, the South Korean author, Sun-Mi Hwang says she drew inspiration from her impression of her dad.

Written as a children’s book, it was observed with skepticism as the lead character is killed off at the end.

“And then, like a feather, she was aloft. Gliding through the air with her large, beautiful wings, Sprout looked down at everything below—the reservoir and the fields in a snowstorm, and the weasel limping away, a scrawny hen dangling from her jaws.”

Elucidating on this, the author in an interview opines, “Sprout did everything she wanted to in life. She went out and saw the world. It was hard, but she raised a child like she wanted to. She went up against everything one can in life and persevered. You can’t call that a sad ending. I wrote it believing that all things die. We don’t accept that as sad.”

I definitely recommend this book to every adult.  Only 134 pages long, grab your tea mug, a blanket, and read away.

(Don’t forget to keep a box of tissues at hand).

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Work from home? Learn to still rock it

 

work-from-home-tips

I work from home and like most of my type, I tend to stay in my comfy PJ’s all day long with my uncombed hair tied up in a quick knot and exhibit the usual telltale sign of “working from home” with wild-looking eyebrows. Or am I the only peculiar one who stays this way?  Well, if you can relate, it’s time to shake this complacence off right away.

You can ‘rock’ the whole work-from-home thing

  1. Get ready

wake_up

Get ready in the morning like you would if you were heading out for work. Yes that includes getting up in the morning (not noon), taking a shower, and getting dressed (do not slip into another set of PJ’s). Which brings me to my next point.

 

  1. Dress up

dress up

This is the fun part. While we tend to wear “appropriate” clothing if we were working outside because we need to catch public transport, maintain the decorum of the company, and appear like we know our shit, working from home gives the advantage of wearing whatever we want. Feel like wearing high-waisted denim shorts and a tank top? Why not!  That cute white cotton dress hanging at the back of your cupboard that is a bit too thin for outside wear? Put it on! Feel like a quirky bow tie guys? Go ahead.

 

  1. Have a relaxed pre-work ritual

 

 

 

morning tea

Enjoy a quite morning tea/coffee with some light music on, whip up an easy breakfast, and sit in a comfy corner having a “me” moment. Staying relaxed will make you more productive and tune your mind for a positive attitude.

 

  1. Create an inspirational work space

 

work desk

We have the advantage of customizing our work space however we want. Keep your work space clean, decorative, inspirational, and productive. Which means, have your notepads and pens all ready, a to-do list of things you need to tackle right away, some inspirational quotes to remind you to stay focused and happy, and maybe a table plant or two to add that touch of serenity.

Have a great day guys!

Open the door to new life experiences

experience

Think of the world in terms of continents, countries, cities, towns, villages…people, ethnicities, cultures, languages…art, food, and entertainment. It’s rather mindboggling.

For you as a person, all these things are endless new “experiences.” Life is a gift. Live it whole-heartedly. Get out of your box and go experience new, unique, weird, or out of your comfort zone things. Don’t be afraid to dream, to plan, to try. Live a little.

Plan a vacation or trip even if it’s as far as the next train station. You’ll be surprised how things can be different even if they’re at close quarters. If you can’t get out of town, then do something you’ve never done like see a play, visit a plant nursery, or attend an exhibition. Enrich your life.

Learn a new skill, a new language, a new craft, or even a new game. Keep learning.

Do one fun thing every week; work is not everything and neither is sleep.

I read somewhere “jobs fill your pockets, adventures fill your soul.”

4 simple tips to save money

savings

We all want good things in life, but we weren’t all born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Somewhere down the line someone would have mentioned about savings and we must have rolled our eyes and thought we had plenty of time to make money. Well no matter if you’ve just starting to enter the work force or how great a career you might have, things are going to come up and you will need money.

At whatever stage of life you’re at, it’s never too late for some self-realisation and inculcating the habit of saving.

Here are 4 simple tips to get you started, but first of all Pay off your debts. You can’t start saving unless you are debt-free. Keep the credit cards for emergency situations only.

Pretend you make less money: Ever yearly bonus only increases our wants for something we really don’t need: A bigger TV, one more car, the latest phone. Keep the extra bonus aside by tying it to some short financial plan like a recurring deposit and you’ll be better off later on.

Stop impulse spending: In a bad mood or something caught your eye in the magazine? Don’t go to the mall. Hungry but need to buy groceries? Don’t go to the super market just yet. Most of the time, impulse buying only leaves us with regrets. Don’t we all have a piece of clothing lying at the back of our cupboard with the tag still on? The less you shop, the more money in your bank account.

Eat in: Why waste money eating out (not forgetting the exorbitant taxes) when there are lots of fresh, beautiful ingredients you can cook with. There are tons of simple recipes online, so turn on the music, grab yourself a nice drink, and cook away. Whatever money you think you would have spent eating outside, drop that exact amount in a jar. You might be surprised how much you would have been spending on eating out every month.

Live below your means: Most of us live above our means, esp. with the easy availability of credit cards. While this might be okay for a while, in the long run it will become a financial burden in the future. Keep your indulgences under control and seek the simple pleasures of life.

Hope this helps 🙂

 

Living the “hygge” life

Hygge

Before I start, let’s get the pronunciation of this Danish word out of the way- Hue-guh.

Alrighty, so what is this? Simply put, this concept is about the feeling of warmth and togetherness/wellbeing.

Joe Pickard partly describes ‘hygge’ as: “…the art of building sanctuary and community, of paying attention to what makes us feel alive. A feeling of belonging to the moment and celebrating the everyday. It’s in the small rituals that comfort us, make us feel at home.” 

Let’s face it, most of us live stressful lives and we yearn for that ½ hour of nothingness by mindlessly stretching on the couch in front of the TV sipping on warm tea/coffee or wine. But what do you do if you come back to bawling kids, a messy apartment, or an uninspirational space? It is time my friend to delve into the concept of hygge.

Here are some ways you can apply hygge to your everyday life:

  1. Create a hygge space in your home/apartment. Create a spot where you can relax by yourself with a book or share a hearty meal with family or close friends. Create an inviting/cozy spot or arrange your whole house with comfy furniture, fluffy cushions, warm tones, and mood lighting, and most importantly light a few candles (it’s very hygge).
  2. Start off with quiet mornings. Get up a bit early and take time to slowly wake yourself up by sitting in front of any open window or on your balcony with a warm cup of coffee. Either silently take in the fresh air and surroundings, light a nice scented candle and listen to gentle music, or listen to your favorite podcast.
  3. Invite family or friends over for a meal. Spending time with our loved ones is a sure way of uplifting our mood and creating a sense of togetherness. It needn’t be an elaborate or stressful affair. Share a few pizzas or a simple meal where your guests can help out too. Remember, it’s all about having fun in each other’s company.
  4. Catch up over coffee. Have a small coffee session at your home or at a coffee shop with your partner or a friend. With no distractions like a TV, a one-to-one chat over steaming coffee is a great way to reconnect in a relaxed atmosphere.
  5. Indulge in a treat. Food is really everyone’s happy pill. Tuck into a warm pie or a decadent chocolate cake once in a while.
  6. Connect with nature. Take a break from technology and go for a nice long walk. Rejuvenate your mind by enjoying the calmness and beauty of the landscape.
  7. Start a gratitude journal. Relax in your hygee nook and spend some quite time jotting down happy thoughts and things you’re grateful for.

 

BANANA WALNUT CAKE

I love banana bread and I’m sure a lot of you do too. Comprising simple ingredients, the banana walnut cake makes for a quick, stress-free, delicious recipe.

Ingredients: banana walnut cake

2 eggs

½ cup oil

½ cup sugar

2 bananas mashed

1 cup all purpose flour/maida

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp vanilla essence

Method:

» Sieve the flour alongwith baking powder and baking soda and set aside.

» Coat a 6” tin with a drizzle of oil. Sprinkle a little flour on top and shake the tin so that it forms a thin layer on top. Keep aside.

» Whisk the egg and sugar together.

» Add the oil and whisk again.

» Add the mashed bananas and vanilla essence and whisk thoroughly.

» Fold in the dry ingredients and mix well.

» Add walnuts into the mixture and pour it into the prepared tin.

» Preheat oven to 180˚C for 10 mins.

» Bake for 40 mins. 

Quick check: Insert a knife or toothpick to check if it’s cooked. If not, cook for an additional 2-3 mins.

» Once done, remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 mins.

» Run a knife along the edges, invert the tin on a plate, and give a gentle tap on the bottom to release the cake.

Enjoy your cake! I heard it tastes great with some fresh cream.

It’s never too late to rewrite your life

thinker

Hey, how’s your life looking right now?

Pretty cool or a total dumpster?

 

Alright, let’s think this through.

If someone were to write your obituary today,

Go around and ask your family and friends about the kind of person you are,

Would they gather nice things about you?

 

Would you be considered a compassionate person, a happy go-getter, a nurturer, an inspirer…

 

Not quite getting the answers you were hoping for?

Luckily it’s never too late to change

Put a little more thought and effort and start reworking on your relationships

Make your life count to others, not just yourself.