Zodiac star signs story – Memory aid example for teaching mnemonics method

Zodiac star signs story (for remembering the signs of the zodiac, and memory aid example for teaching mnemonics methods)

This story is a mnemonic (pronounced ‘nemonic’ – meaning memory aid) for remembering the twelve Signs of the Zodiac, in order, starting in January.

While this example is useful for pub quizzes, more importantly the method of creating a story mnemonic can be used to retain all sorts of difficult-to-remember pieces of information, for yourself, and taught to others.

Mnemonics stories need not make sense – they simply need to be memorable.

In January, a goat (Capricorn), drinking from a stream (Aquarius) said, “Look, a fish (Pisces).”

A ram (Aries), and a bull (Taurus), carrying the twins (Gemini) said “There’s also a crab (Cancer).”

A lion (Leo) roared in agreement, which startled the young maiden (Virgo) so that she dropped and smashed her scales (Libra).

“That’s no crab – it’s a scorpion (Scorpio),” said the archer (Sagittarius).

Note that the Signs of the Zodiac are normally deemed to start and end anything between the 18th and the 24th day of each month, depending on interpretation. It is not by any means a precise science.

22 Lessons Learned “When Sorrow Walked with Me”

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I walked a mile with Pleasure;

She chatted all the way;

But left me none the wiser

For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow;

And never a word said she;

But, oh! The things I learned from her,

When Sorrow walked with me.

~ Robert Browning

 The Purpose of Pain – We have all gone (or will go) through difficulty, challenge and sorrow. The loss of loved ones, the loss of personal health, of economic security, of love, or some other form of trial and tribulation that will someday stick like a thorn in the side of your life, poking and hurting and bleeding … at least for a time.

There are lessons to be learned in such circumstances – lessons about life, about you, who you are, what makes you tick, what traits are strong, which ones need fine-tuning, and which ones need a full overhaul. They teach us lessons about relationships and goodness and challenge and priorities and life.

The following list is by no means conclusive (and please add to the list in the comments!), but can help us focus on the positive side of pain in those times in our lives when it is most difficult to see the forest through the trees of our physical or emotional anguish.

It is easier to endure hard times, after all, when we can recognize some purpose or meaning behind the difficulty we are going through. Below is just such a list of lessons (purposes) we can learn from the trials we experience.

22 Lessons Adversity Teaches

1. Patience – Enduring a difficult period of suffering not only requires patience of us, but builds it in us as we exercise that often-neglected moral muscle.

 2. Empathy – The pain we have to endure helps us recognize the pain in others’ lives more readily. We feel for them, remembering the pain we suffered.

3. Tolerance – When we experience deep pain in life, the smaller stuff can become easier to tolerate. When you have lived in a box as a prisoner of war for 3 years, a cranky attitude from a store clerk is no big deal. What’s a sprained ankle to a woman who has undergone triple bypass heart surgery?

4. Humility – Life’s trials can have a humbling effect on us. We realize we are not almighty or self-sufficient; that we can’t do all things at all times relying on the strength of our own backs. We come to see the interdependency and importance of support from family and friends … and God. Trials tend to soften the rougher edges of the proud.

 5. Inner strength – As we persevere and endure, we discover an inner strength we didn’t know we had. Sure, there are breaking points for most of us, but so much more inner power resides deep in the grit and fiber of our deepest selves than most of us are aware of … at least until life calls on us to discover it!

6. The importance of laughter – Have you ever been in the middle of a storm when suddenly the clouds part for an instant and the sun peeks through as if to say, “Hold on a little longer, this too shall pass?” This is what often happens with our personal storms as well, as the sunshine of laughter takes on new significance. Such seemingly insignificant moments can make all the difference in our ability to hold on and persevere another day. Laughter, at time, truly is the best medicine.

7. The importance of friendship – Our trials and tribulations are often all-consuming. As such, they can strain even the best of relationships. But when we have friends who stay the course, we start to realize the depth and sacredness of friendship.

8. The importance of family – Often when life has become uprooted, families pull together and focus their attention on a common enemy (cancer, natural disaster, loss of a child, financial collapse). Even when friends can’t be there, family often is. It is in those moments that the importance of family can suddenly transcend the memory of fights and contention, offense and rivalry.

 9. The importance of being surrounded by positive people – Have you ever fought with all your heart, might and soul to keep your thoughts positive while you faced the monstrous giant of adversity? It is a tough ride. We are just so fragile when every ounce of energy is focused laser-beam-like on one goal … emotional or physical survival. Just one negative pessimist can pull the tower down. It becomes crystal clear at such times just how important it is to surround yourself with positive people.

 10. The importance of positive thoughts – Dark periods of our lives often bring out our darkest moods. But this just exacerbates the problems we face. Our own thoughts become much more clearly linked in a cause-effect relationship to our ability to navigate troubled waters. We can clearly see how negativity shows up on a heart monitor, how we fail to follow up with calls to rebuild our finances, how the marriage further deteriorates. We can see more clearly the need for a positive attitude and a good dose of optimism when everything else looks dark and foreboding.

 11. Compassion – Our hearts can be made both larger and softer when squeezed by circumstance. We can very quickly learn to appreciate the decency of others. We remember the pain we felt and the unexpected bright light others emitted when they showed compassion to us in our darkest hour.

12. Gratitude for the small things – When life is at its bleakest and it feels like everything is crumbling at your feet (or on top of you!), a flower blooming from a crack in the sidewalk takes on new significance, meaning and beauty.

13. Life is too precious to waste on petty resentments – When crippling life circumstances threaten everything, the petty things we store up in our hearts can suddenly seem as ridiculously trite as they usually are to begin with.

14. The small stuff doesn’t matter much – Have you ever gotten so angry at someone you just couldn’t see straight, and then took a step or two back from the situation and realized how foolish it all was? Being confronted by life’s hurtles can have the same effect, drawing us into deeper moods of contemplation, causing us to see more clearly the pettiness of far too many of the things we ordinarily would have taken more seriously.

15. The big stuff does matter – But family and friendship, God and character, integrity to cherished values, attributes such as love and courage, compassion and forgiveness suddenly seem more immediately important than they ever did before, often to the point that the smaller stuff gets squeezed out of our hearts and minds.

16. The importance and power of touch – When life is churning around us and we feel ourselves sinking, a hand, a hug, a caress, a touch can be magical.

17. Perseverance – Each moment of pain is preceded by a previous moment of pain. Each moment of pain precedes a following moment of pain. That loop can begin to feel extremely heavy and like it will last an eternity. That’s when hope begins to fail and other more permanent thoughts of escape begin to seem preferable. It is a noble act of profound courage in perseverance to take the next step in life anyway. And that lesson of endurance in suffering can prove invaluable to those who have gained it on the bumpy terrain of life.

18. Life is fragile – As we feel crushed by our particular set of challenges, we can gain a better appreciation for just how easy life can slip away. If this lesson is learned well, so much more of life will be lived with passion and joy. It can also be lengthened by a renewed commitment to better health.

19. Time matters – Lying in a hospital bed for days on end or a lengthy bout of unemployment has a way of focusing our attention on the issue of time. The glimpses we gain into the fragility of life can lead us to value the seconds that tick away day after day in frivolous pursuits so much more – so much so that we finally start to fill that time with greater meaning and significance.

20. Prevention is a good investment – There’s nothing much more instructive of the need to brush your teeth than the loss of them. There is nothing more instructive of the importance of food storage like a natural disaster. There is nothing more instructive of the need to live below one’s means like an economic meltdown.

21. Procrastination doesn’t work – Similarly, we quickly come to realize that putting off the inevitable doesn’t change its inevitability … and usually makes what was already inevitable much worse than when we first noticed the need to take care of it. Procrastinated tasks have a way of snowballing into bigger adversities. And the pain of the adversity often acts to poignantly underscore the lesson learned.

22. The importance of living everyday with purpose, joy and meaning – When we lie at death’s doorstep — or even sit on the curb in front of the house of life’s non-lethal challenges — all the wasted hours and days and weeks of our short lives start to add up to something much more significant than it seemed at the time. We realize so much more could have been done with those fleeting moments, but wasn’t. We regret the love we didn’t express, the forgiveness we didn’t extend, the humanitarian project we never took action to begin, the lives we could have touched but got too busy to make the effort. Time starts to acquire a sacred quality.

Two Stories to Consider

Story #1:

There once was a man who lived his life in the vain pursuits of self-indulgence. He was at the end of life when he suddenly realized his mistake. Guess what he did. He filled his remaining days with love and joy, happiness and meaning. And guess what happened! His remaining days were joyful, happy, meaningful and filled with love.

Moral of the Story – It is never too late to start living life in a way that reflects these lessons learned. Was the end of his life short? Was it long? Does it matter? It was filled with love and joy! And that’s the bottom line of it.

Story #2:

Three men walked to town together in the dim light of the early morning. The first man was talking to the second and fell into a hole. The second man noticed what had happened too late and fell in with him. The third man, seeing what happened in time, avoided the fall. After doing their business in town, they returned down the same path, this time in the dim light of dusk. The first man fell in again. The second man remembered the hole just in time and walked around it. The third man walked behind the two until the first fell in, so easily avoided the fall once again.

Moral of the Story – What is the difference between the 3 men? One was foolish; he never learned the lessons taught by his mistakes. The second was wise; he learned the lesson his own earlier mistake taught him. The third man was truly enlightened for he learned from others’ mistakes and avoided them altogether.

Whether you have fallen in the holes of life or not, the lessons pain teaches are still lessons to be learned with or without the stinging delivery pain provides its students. I invite you to learn them and avoid needless holes we may otherwise find ourselves lying flat on our bruised backs looking up from.

I would love to hear from you!

What lessons have you learned from your own trials?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments

 

Story of a mouse and mousetrap

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There was a mouse who used merrily live with a chicken, a pig and a cow in a farmyard. One day while the mouse was looking through the wall crack, he saw the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap!!

The mouse realized that he was in big trouble. Hence he retreating to the farmyard and proclaimed this warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM! I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray.. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap all alone…

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. Unfortunately the snake went on to bit the lady.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient – the chicken!

But his wife’s sickness continued. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig!

But, alas, the farmer’s wife did not get well. She eventually died.

Large number of people came for her funeral and the farmer had to slaughter the cow to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

Words Of Wisdom: The next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn’t concern you, remember – when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Each of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry. Our lives are woven together for a reason. One of the best things to hold onto in this world is a friend.

Behind every rapist

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Behind every rapist is he himself who could not control his beastly emotions but he is not the only one.

Because, behind every rapist,

– is a Father who treated his wife as a slave.

– is a Mother who meekly followed her husband’s whims.

– is a Sister who kept quiet or even supported her brother who harassed other girls.

– is a Friend who thought it is cool to tease a girl and even cooler to rape her.

– is a Girl who misuses her charm to use a guy.

– is a Grandmother who sees her newborn grand-daughter and gets depressed.

– is the In-laws who harass their daughter-in-law for dowry.

– is the Education System which offers advanced courses on Physics, Chemistry and Biology but doesn’t offer basics on sex education.

– is a TV serial where the female lead devises plans of consummation of her marriage even when she knows her husband loves somebody else.

– is a Novel which portrays the weakness of a woman as her sacrifice for her family and her meekness as a virtue.

– is a Patriarchal System which preaches that the woman has little to no rights in decision-making.

– is the Alcohol/drugs which makes one insane.

– is the News Chanel which broadcasts rape news as an entertainment.

– is a Politician who thinks that child marriage will solve the rape problem.

– is a Lawmaker who comes up with biased laws against the victim.

– is a Legal System which has a provision for rape victim to marry her rapist.

– is a Society which takes pride in depicting woman as a sexual object.

…and in the end, behind every rapist, is You and Me who shout on top of our lungs “Castrate, Life Imprison, Hang in Public, Burn, Cut one hand and a leg of the rapist” for 5 days and then forget everything and get on with our life

-by a frustrated citizen of a morally dead nation.

25 Qualities Of The Leader In A Happy, Profitable Workplace

We are all leaders in our workplaces and wherever we are in our world. We DO make a difference if we choose to lead from where we are.

We are stepping into a new age of leadership. The age of living the SPIRIT of leadership, where we are facilitators not dictators. What do I mean by spirit? Spirit is vitality, aliveness and a deep feeling of shared values and mission. We must consciously lead if we are to have happy and profitable workplaces.

What does the leader of the future look like? He/she:

1. Believes in herself
2. Has a passion for his work and workers
3. Is a coach
4. Is a mentor
5. Is a learner
6. Is a teacher
7. Listens deeply and beyond the words
8. Uses her talents in her work and brings out the talents of her workers
9. Inspires
10. Motivates
11. Sets and holds appropriate standards
12. Lives to his values
13. Is a follower as well as a leader
14. Creates a safe environment of trust, humor and creativity
15. Is credible
16. Is resilient
17. Takes care (renewal) of herself and her workers
18. Tells the truth
19. Is aware of the consequences of his/her actions inside and outside the organization
20. Uses compassion and empathy
21. Is respectful of the pain that change can bring forward
22. Generates and takes heat
23. Lives in balance
24. Gives back to the community
25. Creates an environment where all in the organization can lead

Teamwork, trust and empowerment are all hallmarks of a leader. When you have healthy, successful workers you create a healthy, productive and profitable workplace.

Who are YOU as a Leader?

Top ten reasons managers become great

1. Enjoy helping people grow. Few things feel better than helping someone who is new to a role, or who has been struggling, into becoming a productive, confident person. There’s a kind of satisfaction in helping someone figure out how to be successful that doesn’t come from many other living experiences. Great mangers love seeing this happen on their teams.

2.Love creating positive environments. A great manager creates a team and and office environment that makes it easy for smart people to do good things. They love that moment when they wander the halls and see all sorts of amazing things happening all on their own, with passionate, motivated people doing good work without much involvement from the manager.

3.Want to correct mistakes inflicted on them. Some great managers are looking to undo the evil managers they had. Rather than take it out on their subordinates, they want to do a kind of pay it forward revenge: prove to themselves and the world that it can be better that what happened to them in the past. This can create the trap of fighting the last war: your team may not care at all about avoiding the mistakes of your previous manager. They want to avoid the mistakes you, and your blind spots, are probably making right now.

4.Care deeply about the success and well being of their team. Thoroughbred horses get well cared for. Their owners see them as an expensive asset and do whatever they can to optimize their health, performance, and longevity, even if their motivations are largely selfish. A great manager cares deeply about their staff, and goes out of his way to protect, train, care for, and reward their own team, even if their primary motivation is their own success.

5. Succession mentality. A successful manager eventually realizes their own leadership will end one day, but if they teach and instill the right things into people who work for them, that philosophy can live on for a long time, long after the manager is gone. The desire to have a lasting impact generally helps people think on longer term cycles and pay attention to wider trends short term managers do not notice.

6.Long term sense of reward. Many of the mistakes managers make involve reaping short term rewards at the expense of long term loyalty and morale. Any leader who inverts this philosophy, and makes short term sacrifices to provide long term gains, will generally be a much better manager. They recognize the value of taking the time to explain things, to build trust, to provide training, and to build relationships, all of which results in a kind of team performance and loyalty the short term manager never believes is possible.

7.Practice of the golden rule. I think anyone in power who treats all of their employees the same way they truly would want to be treated, or even better, treats employees as they actually want to be treated, will always be a decent, above average manager. A deeply moral person can’t help but do better than most people, as treating people with respect, honesty and trust are the 3 things I suspect most people wish they could get from their bosses.

8.Self aware, including weaknesses. This is the kicker. Great leaders know what they suck at, and either work on those skills or hire people they know make up for their own weaknesses, and empower them to do so. This tiny little bit of self-awareness makes them open to feedback and criticism to new areas they need to work on, and creates an example for movement in how people should be growing and learning about new things.

9.Sets tone of healthy debate and criticism. If the boss gives and takes feedback well, everyone else will too. If the boss is defensive, passive-aggressive, plays favorites, or does other things that work against the best idea winning, everyone else will play these destructive games. Only a boss who sees their own behavior as a model the rest of the organization will tend to follow can ever become a truly great manager. Without this, they will always wonder why the team behaves in certain unproductive ways that are strangely familiar.

10.Willing to fight, but picks their battles. Great managers are not cowards. They are willing to stake their reputation and make big bets now and then (I’d say at least once a year, as a totally random, put possibly useful stake in the ground). However they are not crazy either. They are good at doing political math and seeing which battle is worth the fight at a given time. A manager that never fights can never be great – they will never have enough skin in the game to earn the deepest level of respect of the people that work for them. But a manager that always fights is much worse. They continually put their own ego ahead of what their team is capable of.

11.(Bonus!) Instinctively corrects bad behavior within their team. True story: on a new team I once saw a mid level manager make a personal attack of a junior employee in front of the VP. I looked at the VP, expecting him to jump in. He did nothing. Not a thing. Message to team? It’s ok to pick on people if you outrank them. Micromanaging is never good, but correcting destructive behavior, is always appropriate even if you have to jump levels to do it (Sure, perhaps there was an offline conversation. But something like this was so egregious it should have been corrected on the spot). Nothing builds morale and respect faster than a manager who jumps in to the fray to defend someone who is being picked on by a bully, except perhaps a manager who gets rid of the bully altogether.

12 Most Standout Ways To Be Likeable

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life.

Below are the 12 most important principles to integrate into your work and life to optimize success:

1. Listening

Listening is the foundation of any good business. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors.

2. Storytelling

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. A likeable leader has a strong vision and purpose and always has stories to sell that vision.

3. Authenticity

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Likeable leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers — and a happier you.

5. Team playing

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness

Today’s leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Responding shows you care and gives your customers and employees a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on your company.

7. Adaptability

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and delight

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money. We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

10. Simplicity

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so the likeable leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great, and karma is always returned to the bottom line.

12. The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable?

Song of the Little Bird

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There lived a little bird in the forest. It had been singing songs ever since it was born. It learned how to sing from papa bird, mama bird and all the other birds in the vicinity. It would sing everyday.

One day, while the little bird was singing on the branch of a tree, it got interrupted by the sound of a little boy. The little bird looked down. A boy was pointing at it with his finger and saying “what a sad haunting melody!”

The little bird was taken aback. At first, it felt that it did not appreciate the feedback. It thought that it had sung very well. It was even proud. But as the little bird started to reflect, it realized that the boy was pointing out something that it had missed previously. The boy’s observation was not about its vocal ability but about the song.

Indeed, the song that it had sung was a rather sad one. It was about the trials and tribulations of being a bird. It was a song that its parents, friends and neighbors had been singing. Now, every bird in the forest had been chirping the same chorus every day.

The little bird felt a disconnect.

“This song is not about me,” it thought.

“Am I about misery, worry and failure?”

“I want to write and sing my own song.”

“A song that will reflect my truth.”

“A song that will reflect who I am.”

So the little bird decided to do things differently. It started with some chirps here and there. Then it became practicing over and over again the same lines.

Obviously, it was not easy trying to be different. All the other birds thought that it had gone mad. They tried to dissuade the bird, “….but we have been singing the same song for centuries!!!”

Papa bird and mama bird shook their heads sadly. Clearly they could not understand the inner motivations of their little child.

To get away from all the distractions, the little bird decided to move its nest a little further away. It wanted to practice in peace. And that was what it did. It exiled itself to the wilderness of its undiscovered self. While the little bird felt lonely at times, it felt driven on its path to sing something of its own.

Finally, the little bird thought that it was ready. It knew that the song was not perfect, but perfection was not what it was looking for. It also knew that while the first song was rehearsed, there will come a day when singing from within would come spontaneously and naturally.

So the little bird flew to a tall and majestic looking tree. It tried to get started. But no hum or note came out. For a moment, the little bird thought that it had lost its voice. It felt embarrassed.

Then, the little bird decided to gain its composure. It steadied itself. It understood that it was less about the song. The courage to sing that was far more crucial.

Soon, the little bird got over its initial anxiety. It found itself singing on and on. The little bird sang from its heart: The joy of flight. The wonders of the open sky. The view from the top. The magnificence of Mother Earth. 

A New Day Begins…

And as it sang, all the other birds gathered round.

They listened intently.

For a minute or two, there was no movement in the forest.

Even the breeze stood still for not a single leaf on the trees rustled.

Every creature – not just the birds – drew in their breaths.

They stood enraptured.

The singing was beautiful in the song’s meaning.

In essence, the little bird was singing about the greatness of being a little bird.

Soon, the other birds caught on.

Each in their own voice.

A harmonious blend of music gradually filled the crisp air, enveloping the forest in the warm embrace of a beautiful dawn. A new day has begun!

Author’s Note

I am this bird;
I want to sing my own song.
I want to live my dreams;
Dreams that reflect who I am.

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.”

~ Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French novelist

ACTING TIPS – SIMPLE ACTING STUFF

“Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” – Mark Twain

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Beware of Overacting or Mechanical Acting
A warning right at the beginning. What separates good actors from bad ones is their sincerity of emotion and belief on the stage. Audience can spot a phony right away! Good acting is not overacting or mechanically saying lines. It is not reading out lines! Do not say or do anything on stage or on screen, without understanding what you are saying. Do not say anything, unless you understand the emotion that evokes the dialog. Words flow, when emotions evoke them out of memory and it’s not the other way round. Feel the emotion, connect with it, embrace it and words will then flow naturally.

Never allow yourself externally to portray anything that you have not inwardly experienced and which is not even interesting to you. A character built on stereotype cannot grow.

Acting is all about Belief and Creative Imagination
Acting is living an alternate life, as I said before. It is ‘make believe’. The audience is only going to believe that you are the person you are playing to be, if you yourself believe that you are that person! To arrive from being who you are in reality, to who you are on stage, is a process which you have to go through. The thing that is going to get you there is creative imagination and belief!

The actor must use his imagination to be able to answer all questions (when, where, why, how). Make the make-believer existence more definite.

An Actor Must be An Athlete Philosopher
An actor must cultivate his mind and body as an instrument in portraying roles. His mind needs to be able to grasp things, as astutely as a philosopher and his body must be able to portray a range of emotions. Acting is about harnessing the mind-body connection. You need to mindfully enter the character you play and you will be there bodily. The athlete is all about action, motivated by emotion and the philosopher is all about thought. An actor must walk the middle path between the actor and the philosopher. He shouldn’t be so carried away by emotions, that reason eludes him, nor should he be so overwhelmed by thought, that emotions stop flowing naturally. Achieving this inner balance is paramount, when acting.

Read and Understand the Script
Read the script thoroughly. Then read it and once you are done, read it yet again. Keep reading till you get from the skin to the soul of the story. Understand the script first and think about what the playwright has tried to say through the script. This a view from the outside. Then again read the story from the perspective of the role you are playing. Discuss with the director about what exactly you feel about the story and clarify your doubts. This is very important, as you need to understand the people, the surroundings, the time of the story and its message.

”In the creative process there is the father, the author of the play; the mother, the actor pregnant with the part; and the child, the role to be born.” 

Know Everything about the Role and the Person
Next step is to know as much as you can about the role you are portraying, in explicit details. You must ask questions about the role. Who is that person? Where does he come from? The answer to these questions will be partly found in the outlines of the play and partly out of your own creative imagination! Research the script as much as you can, to know your role! Some actors even write a diary of a day, in the life of that character! You must know him/her like the back of your hand. Even if the details of the character come from your imagination, and only partly from the script, they must be very specific.

Then, slowly, you will get an idea about how this person might be thinking. You will know why he reacts the way he does in the particular situations of a play. You will get an idea about the rationale behind the character’s behavior. Understand his philosophy about life and his super objective. This is your homework.

What makes the person, that is you, is a superposition of millions of memories, biases and impressions. To become the person you’re going to portray, you have to create and connect with the psyche that makes him or her. Consider his presence in the play as just a snapshot of his life and let him grow beyond that snapshot, into the past and the future. Flesh out a person out of that role, who has his likes and dislikes, his apprehensions, his rules and his defining experiences. Live his life till you understand what makes that character and who he is!

”The life of a character should be an unbroken line of events and emotions, but a play only gives us a few moments on that line – we must create the rest to portray a convincing life.” 

Connect to the Role through Emotional Memory
Now, you exactly know who you are going to portray! Next part is being him/her! It is the easiest and the most difficult part. Learn the dialogue’s of the play thoroughly and understand the mood of the character when he/she says them.

Draw parallels between the character’s life and your own experiences from your emotional memory! Emotional memory is the parallel memory that you have stored inside you, through which you can relate to that character! Invoke your emotional memory when you say the dialogue’s as that person. Slowly, you will not just sympathize with the character, you will empathize! You will start thinking the way he/she thinks, feels. Once you get that character, all your body language, your toning will fall in place accordingly! In all this process, the director will aid you. Then you can polish other minor details like your positioning on stage, your entry and exit cues and all the other mechanical things that must be remembered.

Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there. – Meryl Streep

It is all about Concentration and Practice
Once you start getting the role, you need to practice and rehearse it regularly. To get into the role on stage and make other people believe that you are him, you must concentrate and cultivate your imagination onstage. You must be able to see what the character sees! With each rehearsal, try to see more deeply and let the character take control.

Lose Yourself in the Role but Stay Aware
On a character level you must be involved, but your awareness as an actor should also be there, all the time, while performing. There are certain subtleties about presenting a character and performing on stage. There is a limit to how much realism you can bring on stage. There are some things which you need to modify, so that it is presentable on stage. While playing the role, in the flow of character, one has to be aware as an actor of all those subtleties.

Empathize
One of the most important qualities that great actors have possessed is the ability to empathize. To perceive the complexities, contradictions, agony and bliss of the person behind the character, you need to empathize with him. Empathy is the key to understanding a person and the door through which you enter into the psyche of your character, to portray him and interpret him your way.

”Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant? – Henry David Thoreau

Enjoy the Process
Last but not the least, to do it right, you must enjoy the process! A very important part is bonding with your co-actors and developing good chemistry on stage.
Hope these acting tips for beginners have at least intrigued you to explore the field of acting. No other art helps you overcome your own self like acting. It is the most ‘alive’ form of art, which explores the deep labyrinths of the mystery, that is human mind.

Remember, learning to be a good actor is synonymous with learning to be a good human being!

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I am an Actor

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Acting, for me, is an art form like painting or writing; it’s a process. Part of the process that I love is breaking in the new people. But if acting is your passion, you have to make it a priority. You have to do the footwork to succeed. You can start by building your foundation, and learning that it takes more than being a “natural” to become an actor.

If you want to become a successful actor, here is my advice:

Study! Study! Study! You wouldn’t become a brain surgeon without medical school.and you won’t become a great actor without training. Yes, I know you’re thinking: “But I have natural ability.” Well, so did Picasso, but he still studied art. You need the foundation. The foundation is everything. You don’t have to like Shakespeare, but you better understand it and know how to speak it. You may never have to reach the last row in a theater, but you better know how to maintain your voice without blowing it. You may never need a perfect speech pattern, but you better start working on it or you will never grow out of being cast as the kid from Brooklyn, Atlanta, Kansas, or Texas. What you will need is the foundation that helps you to find your character even when you don’t relate to it at all, the foundation you can reach down to when you need a starting place. Like any solid foundation, it will serve you for years and years.

Grow a thick hide. No one suffers more rejection than actors. You can’t take it personally. You must be able to walk out of an audition and know you can say, “I did the very best I could.”

Be prepared. Know your lines. Never show up to an audition without a picture (a picture that looks like you) and resume. And always be on time. Remember this: Casting people want you to get the job. They want to like what you’re doing. They want to like you. If you’re at least prepared, you’re making it that much easier for them and for yourself.

And for god’s sake, go to the movies! I don’t just mean the most recent blockbuster, but all movies. Get the Independent Film Channel, Sundance Channel, and watch those films. Go the the video store and rent all the old classics. They’re “classics” for a reason. There is some great work out there. See it. Also, go to the theater and see what is happening there. If for some reason your town doesn’t have a theater, go to the library and read plays. There are infinite ways you can get access to films. All you have to do is make an effort and make building your foundation a priority.

Be disciplined and tenacious.and maybe we’ll be seeing you at the movies.