The sheer strength a woman has the sensuous, intoxicating power of being a woman

Love need not know any boundaries or norms; love can never be inappropriate unless it hurts another or dishonours your commitment to someone What are the emotions you would like to arouse in others, and what is it that you couldn’t stand anyone to feel for you? The best bit about being a woman is wielding the power to create and nurture while enjoying the thought of being a beautiful creation herself

Too sacred for them to be hold, To pure for them to understand.
Tonight I tell that tale to you,An open book for you to read,Your book, I yearn to read it too,And share each breath, your every need.
Gone the lonesome years, weeks, days,For now our hearts have taken flight,
You look at me with longing gaze,And I, at you with shy delight.
Love me; love all that I am,Cherish me as precious treasure,
Teach me with gentle guiding handEndlessly seeking His pleasure.

I may never see you,

listen, talk, or love you.

Maybe someday you will look up,

and find the sky like an empty cup*.

You and I are nothing more,

than pieces on a chessboard;

Parts of a puzzle design,

made by the same Divine.

Talk, shout, or whisper, let me know,

break the barrier and let it flow.

Ask me your questions, tell me your secrets,

Trust my heart and we will talk until the sun sets.

Hold my hand and let us embrace,

no matter what it is we’ll face,

no one ever said it would be so easy or hard,

Now come with me and let us go back to the start.

The thrill is not just in being a woman, but being a woman in the right century! And in this day and age, there cannot be many women, who do not revel in their sheer femininity and absolute power! As we all know, femininity and power, far from being mutually exclusive, are two sides of the same coin. Think Shakti, the divine, feminine, creative power! The Power responsible not just for all creation, but the agent of all change as well. I cannot believe any woman not feeling this great sense of empowerment and well-being that springs from within. The power to create, nurture and heal that is a part of her very being, endows her with unique abilities, positioning her as the centre of all existence and change around her.

When Lord Byron wrote She walks in beauty, I’m sure he talked not just of the grace and deport of a woman, but was able to pierce through to her very core, which provides the majestic aura she walks within. To me, every woman who is allowed to grow unfettered, exercising her free will, is bound to walk in beauty! What is it that a woman enjoys the most about being the fairer sex? I would say her ability to revel in her power, as much as the freedom to indulge her weakness.

She is admired for being strong and loved for being frail and helpless; she can rave and rant when crazed with anger, and the next minute melt into a puddle of helpless love. She can enjoy her many moods and feminine aspects without having to abide by adages or the need to be strong all the time. A woman’s intuitive understanding of life and relationships, and her role as the great bonding factor in a family are unique strengths that she does not share with the opposite sex. The depths of passion in her eyes, the wealth of caring in her heart, the power of resilience, of survival are all qualities a woman enjoys, growing more beautiful and understanding with the years. As usual, my Facebook friends (I appealed to only women) had interesting insights to share. Each one of them loves being a woman and with one exception, they all want to be reborn female! Madhulika Dash applauds a woman’s “sense of compassion…… and the ability to infuse life into whatever we touch…”; Anjali Bhargava says, “The sheer strength a woman has… epitomises the completeness in a being.

I revel in the sensuous, intoxicating power of being a woman!” Deepika Sahu wouldn’t trade her world as a woman for anything else — a world “so very full of colours, variety, ability/desire to give without calculating, love, sensuality, tenderness, sensitivity… and of course gorgeous men who make me feel like a queen!” Pramila Maheshwari quips, “Shiva or Sati? Always the fairer one is the choice — she is happening, life, creation, nurturing — all activity is at her end.” Madhu Kamath says, “We are an unprecedented intricate, beautiful and unique piece of creation!!” Harmesh Khanna loves the “fact that we don’t have to hide our feelings or keep a stiff upper lip at all times…our ability to keep going in the toughest of times …of being ourselves, of getting pampered.”

If you need to hear what the stars say, Katrina Kaif loves the fact that she can be “soft and feminine and yet a successful working woman”, Sonam Kapoor loves being a woman because of “the ability to create life.” Marilyn Monroe said, “I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.” A naughty friend says, “Chuck all that, I love the fact that I can get the strongest man down to his knees in a puddle of desire if I set my mind to it. Why would I want to be that man!” Why indeed! And to support her, here we have it from the Father of all politicians — wily statesman Chanakya, “The world’s biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman!” Need we say more?

Most television soaps keep the romantic lead stuck for long periods in love’s obsessive state. The camera caresses them from every angle as they stay frozen, giving each other prolonged lovelorn looks. Audience hearts stop likewise…freefalling with a collective thud as the screen couple’s loaded gazes break contact!

This is repeated with nauseating frequency, television producers fighting shy of having the couple declare their feelings, as this would result in an assured dip in TRPs. The audience waits for the climactic declaration, and then loses interest! Who is interested in happily-ever-after? The excitement and adrenaline-laden moments all happen before the couple settles down to eternal, stable, boring bliss. And TV believes in doling out the just-before moments by the ladles to a romance-starved audience.

Wouldn’t it be nice if in real life too one could stay stuck forever in love’s obsessive state — where every footfall announces a lover’s visit, each whisper shivers down the spine, and any sound seems sweet as a nightingale’s song! A state of constant edge-of-seat excitement and suspense, not knowing what further delights the next moment will unfold!

This of course is the second stage of falling in love, as enumerated by love researcher Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey. The first stage is the phase of attraction, when you first find yourself drawn by and interested in another. In men this is typified by lust, a sexual attraction often fueled by visual interest; in women, it is often the result of a man’s interest in them, or his intellect, power or status. This stage quickly gives way to the obsessive second stage when hormones rage uncontrollably, keeping one on a perpetual high, with senses as though ‘of hemlock… drunk’. Every thought is of the beloved, each waking moment a bated breath, and sleep just an excuse to dream some more!

Science has established the actual chemical changes that take place in the obsessive state of love. The release of Dopamine gives one the same high as being on cocaine or nicotine. Adrenaline that courses through the veins increases heartbeats and is responsible for the restless excitement.  Levels of seratonin take a dip, which is what makes the initial stages of love akin to the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  – sleeping less, eating less, obsessively thinking of the lover and a constant living in wait of the next meeting!

With such excitement-inducing chemicals, is it surprising that one would like to stay in this state forever?  Maybe one should end affairs the moment they start, because the fun is actually already over by the time real romance begins; it is teetering on the edge of the precipice that gives one the highs, much more than the free fall into an abyss!  And as a colleague said wistfully, if this phase just has to end, wouldn’t it be nice to quit a relationship at the stage when romance quits, and fall all over in love again with someone else?! “That would be a nice way to hoodwink the natural progression of things and remain on a romantic high forever,” he grinned cockily.

But life is about moving on, not staying perched in one place. And so, in real life, as well as on the small screen, finally comes the day when romance is declared. By now the chemically-laden activity has settled down and you are able to focus on rest of life as well, apart from each other.

And now comes the critical third stage of love. Some couples discover that there is nothing left once the chemistry is gone; others find a confident, stable love takes over from an uncertain, excited and nervous romance. Hormones settle down and one reaches the next stage of love; Oxytocin, the chemical for warm bonding, takes over. This chemical is released during orgasm and also during childbirth and helps create bonds between a couple, who now transcend from obsession into a deeper and mature partnership.  It is because of this quality of Oxytocin that physical contact, if indulged in a bit too soon in a relationship, can be misleading!

All three stages of love have their own unique characteristics and each prepares us for the next, logically falling in line with Nature’s natural plan of progression and procreation. Of course for those who would rather stay with the thrills and peaks rather than follow a steadier horizontal graph, my colleague’s suggestion of staying forever in the second stage of loving by jumping from one love to another, may be worth a try!

After all, the only thing you stand to lose is your sanity and credibility!
I didn’t mean to misplace my spirituality. I just lost it while searching for my identity. After a tumultuous marriage and divorce, all I wanted to do was scrape the remnants of the relationship from my being. In Pashto, a girl’s reputation is like a mirror, a chip or crack makes it look ugly. Thinking that my divorce was a mar on my honor, I wanted to not be me: the 24-year old girl married and divorced while her friends had just graduated. I wanted to be someone else, someone without a chip on her mirror.However, in trying to erase my past, I no longer knew who I was. After my divorce, I found myself sitting in my parents’ family room not laughing at jokes I once found funny. I no longer felt a bond with my friends. The talk of the latest clothes meant nothing. I realized the world had somehow passed me by. I was stuck in a place no one else existed.

There are two kinds of romantic love — one that makes homes, another that breaks them! The first is the result of the natural nesting instinct of all living beings. You grow up and find your feet; then you look for someone to share your life with. The natural urge for procreation sharpens senses, and the hunting instinct takes over as one looks for the right mate to have children and share our future with. You have waited for the right time and taken an informed decision to enter the next phase of life. Appropriate love.

Then there is love that breaks moulds and upsets settled patterns. Love that doesn’t follow societal norms and is considered inappropriate — for instance, extramarital love. A happily married person is as vulnerable to indulge in an affair on the side as one who is unhappy and needs a distraction. A wellsettled, happy life that doesn’t offer too many challenges leaves the mind free to be seduced by unexplored vistas. When the mind doesn’t challenge itself, nor are you engaged in something that stretches your mental boundaries, romance is an attractive option to fill the gaps.

On the other hand, someone who is unhappy with his or her personal life and relationships is also ripe prey for an attentive and sympathetic soul. Stuck in an unhappy relationship, he or she is happy to have a distraction that helps soothe the jagged edges of a stressful marriage and brings in moments of muchneeded happiness and peace. Inappropriate love!
What would you do if in your vulnerable moment you fell in love with a married man or woman? Or, if years later, you realized the man or woman you are married to is inappropriate for you?

“If someone had warned me about him 12 years ago, I would never have married Ranjan,”confessed Radha in one of those girly heart-to-hearts. “He is just so unsuitable for me!”

I am sure if someone were to ask Ranjan, he may have the same sentiment to express about his wife of 12 years.

Twelve years is a rather long time for a couple not to realise their ‘inappropriateness’ for each other. But I wonder how Radha would have responded if someone had pointed out their unsuitability while they were still in the first flush of love. Undoubtedly she wouldn’t have taken it positively. Did love iron over the ‘inappropriateness’ initially and then as it evaporated, allowed cracks in the relationship to show up?     What would you do if you found yourself in love with an ‘inappropriate’ person? Who is ‘inappropriate’ or rather, who decides who is appropriate? In Kuch To Log Kahenge, a popular serial on Sony TV, surgeon Dr Ashutosh and his junior by 22 years, Dr Nidhi are in love. Society frowns upon the age difference and they promise to try and forget each other. Is then a yawning age gap inappropriate? In another serial, Kya Hua Tera Wada, a female boss sets out to win back her former lover, now her junior and a married man. Is a boss-subordinate relationship inappropriate? Tom Cruise is 5’7” tall while former wife Nicole Kidman was 5’10”, and always chose to wear heels, a point of discord between them. Is a taller female partner inappropriate?

Smruthi, 28, a professor in Kannada was killed by her brother last month for marrying a Dalit. Is then, loving someone beyond your caste inappropriate? How about a very rich girl marrying a very poor guy, or an educated person falling for an unlettered one? Is that inappropriate?

How irreconcilable all the above differences are depends solely on the comfort level of the partners. However, when it comes to matters that involve the well-being of others, the decision of the appropriateness of a relationship goes beyond the concerned couple. For instance an extramarital affair, which puts at stake the happiness of others and breaks faith. Or someone in a disciplinary, authoritarian position involved with an underage ward. Or say, an incestuous relationship. To my mind these are the three possibilities where love can be inconvenient and inappropriate…

Can you add any others?

I was changed because of my life experiences. Even my mother seemed so young in her thoughts. Her own fairytale of a marriage set a precedent my dysfunctional marriage had never lived up to.

Tired of trying to fit in, I stopped being someone else and just started being. I began to wander like the Persian philosopher Ghazali. He left the contentment of his home in search of himself. Of course, I could never be so noble. Spending years in solitude with only God was what fortified my soul throughout my unhappy marriage. I went back to spending time in isolation, and I found it comforting.

Being alone gave me time to reflect and grow internally. I realized I had been tested in ways many were not. This was difficult to accept, but with prayer, I found myself understanding that I was different. This difference made me unique — a quality I started to like.

Eventually, I met my husband. My husband quenched a thirst I didn’t know I had. He looked past my broken exterior and saw a soul he called beautiful. For him, and for his love, I am thankful.

I thought I was done crying. I took for granted that I passed my “Test” and wouldn’t be tested again. What a fool I was.

Last year, I was given the gift of motherhood only to have it taken away too soon. Before Ibrahim died, I was oblivious to how seriously ill he was. I ignored the blinking red lights on his monitors and the daily commotion surrounding his little bed in the ICN. My family reassured me often that God loved me and that my son would be fine. I even convinced my husband that we would be taking him home before long.

One evening, I fell asleep in my hospital room and dreamt of holding hundreds of balloons, so colorful — a gift from my husband. They slowly turned white and began to slip away from my fingers. It was my husband who touched my arm and held me close when I panicked. “Let them go, honey, don’t you see how beautiful they make the sky?”

I woke up alarmed. I couldn’t speak or breathe from sorrow. I prepared for my baby’s departure that day. Because of the mercy of my dream, I gave my son a dignified goodbye, with my husband by my side.

Losing Ibrahim shattered me. He was the baby I played mommy to when I was a little girl. He was supposed to be the happy ending to my sad story. But God was not the cosmic Santa Claus I thought he was. I wouldn’t be punished or rewarded on earth for things I did. Mortality was a fact and people I loved would die. They didn’t belong to me or anyone else.

Just as I had given up, leaving my fate in God’s hands, I became pregnant soon after Ibrahim’s death. The new baby was due exactly on the first anniversary of Ibrahim’s passing. The following year, my second child, Musa, came into my barren lap filling it with love and drying my tears.

Without the many tests and trials of my life I would never know or appreciate the strength, the compassion, the love, the mortality, the mercy, and the miracles of God. I am humbled by the life God has woven for me and have no idea what to expect and no longer even try to guess.

The way Joseph’s scent made its way back to Jacob, I came back. I finally found God waiting where I had left Him and it wasn’t by changing who I was, but by embracing where I had been.

A plumpish overgrown girl, around 10 years old, fell in the middle of the mall with a resounding thump. She lay motionless for a stunned halfminute, and then was helped up by her concerned parents. She looked around with a sheepish grin, and finding many looking at her with amusement, burst into loud weeping.

She may have lapped up sympathy, but couldn’t stand the amusement at her expense. Understandable. We all live in fear of the world laughing at us. The Germans have a word for it — schadenfreude, the pleasure one derives from the misfortune of others! There are many feelings and emotions we may wish to arouse in others, but amusement at our expense is certainly not one of these. The Buddhist concept of mudita is the opposite of schadenfreude — happiness in the good fortune of others. So what did the girl do? She tried to change the amusement to sympathy by indicating that she had been hurt. I wonder if that made a difference to any of those having fun at her expense! But certainly her parents looked even more worried, and maybe that was good enough for her at that age.

I found it interesting to think of how even as kids, we try to manipulate the way the world looks at us, such is the significance we attach to it. Most of our activities, decisions, conversations, dreams — in fact, all our lives — are dictated by our need for others to look at us in a certain way. And born manipulators that humans are, we set around not just manipulating the world to look at us in a certain manner, but also manipulating our own selves to suit what we want the world to feel for us.

It is interesting to study the emotions we wish to arouse in others and those that we would never want others to feel for us! We all wish to be liked and loved; some wish for a staid, passive kind of loving, others for deep undercurrents and passion! But obsessive love is best avoided. Apart from this, we would rather attract empathy, not sympathy, and never pity. Empathy is when someone is able to relate on an equal footing,while sympathy normally implies an emotion by someone better off, and pity is worst of the lot, indicating superciliousness. Envy is a desirable emotion so long as others feel it for us, but jealousy makes us uncomfortable. For there is a destructive edge in jealousy that we wouldn’t like directed at us, while envy implies we have something better than others, which they covet.

We wish people to be indulgent towards our mistakes, not unforgiving and angry. We want them to laugh with us, but not at us. We may still be able to tolerate amusement, but never derision. That humiliates us, and even more so when witnessed by others.

What are the emotions we actively seek to arouse in people? “Liking and love,” said a female friend instantly, not stopping a minute to think. Another said, “Love and envy is fine but I certainly don’t want hatred, jealousy, or vengeance!” She went on to add, “This may sound dumb, but it’s very important to me to come across as a likable person; I even want the maid to know I am nice and it’s important to me that she likes me!” A female colleague answered, “The emotions I wish to arouse would have to be confidence (trust), and calmness. What I would never want to arouse would be… disgust, I suppose!”

A male friend’s instant reply was, “Passion, respect and fear is what I would wish to arouse in people.” Fear? “Yes, basically fear. All else springs from there. Genghis Khan, the great Mongol said that!” Another friend adds, “I wish to arouse awe in people, but never fear!” Yet another man says, “Obviously jealousy, love and anger! I’ve never bothered about the noble emotions, am comfortable looking at life like Duryodhana. Maybe not awful, but awesome… and it is fear or awe that makes you awesome.”

To each his own, but what is true is that getting to know how someone wants the world to look at him or her reveals the essence of an individual. Ask friends and think about it — what is the one emotion you would like to arouse in others, and the one emotion you couldn’t stand others to feel about you?

The mid-life crisis is no longer bad news for women. It’s an opportunity for new opportunities

Are you a woman in your 40s struck by strange restlessness, angst, and a feeling of something missing? Wonderful! You have hit the mid-life crisis, which today is nothing short of an opportunity to reinvent your life and live the way you wish to.
Kids flew the nest? Marital problems? Bored with your job? Lonely? Or, just irritated with the sameness of everything? You could be facing questions in your personal or professional life, or accosted by existential queries — do not just go with the flow. Get a grip on life and lead it where you want it.

I recently attended a Life Alignment group healing session with healer Jeff Levin in Delhi. Whether or not I managed to align my life through his revolutionary healing system is a moot point, but the day did turn into an interesting session that included therapy, some confessions, non-religious chanting and vibrational healing.

This group had almost all women in their middle years. The themes that emerged were: being taken for granted, forced to conform to social conditioning, arrested dreams, and unfulfilled aspirations. As Jeff encouraged each woman to speak, what reveal;ed itself was a group of women, who have purportedly lived a wonderful existence, undisturbed by major upheavals. They all considered themselves a happy, blessed lot with caring families — and yet there was a feeling of something vital missing.

Most of them had led protected lives, conforming to societal expectations. As one woman put it revealingly, “I went to college, got married, had children….and my husband has never restricted me. Yet, I always wanted to be an architect, and now I think it is too late.”

This panicky feeling of having done one’s duty to others, but not enough for oneself is a repeated motif in the lives of women of a certain age in India. As the years move on inexorably, women start feeling deprived. They have lived as daughters, wives, mothers and friends, but not really as themselves. What is it that you really want for yourself? What is the true purpose of Your life?

A tough question for women, especially Indian women, who grew up before the media explosion that brought in Hannah Montana and Lady Gaga into our living rooms. Few of us were lucky to have enlightened parents, who taught us to think for ourselves. For the rest, submission was the norm; rebellion, very rare.

Thankfully, today when mid-life crisis strikes, there are still a good many quality years left. Good education and independent incomes have ensured that women at this stage can still bring in powerful changes that give a new wonderful twist to their lives.

As natural creators and lifelong multi-taskers, women are far better equipped than men at reinventing their lives. But deep emotional attachments make it tougher for them to move on. Reaching for what you want involves a trade-off and so we tend to stick to our comfort zones.

However, so long as you are clear what you want, it is never too late to salvage a dream — so what if we can live out just certain aspects of it? And so, if not an architect, what stops you from creating beautiful spaces around yourself ? If you wished to be a doctor and couldn’t, what stops you from healing now?

After all, what’s in a name?