Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel

“(Let me) Be as a whetstone for others to be sharpened upon” (Latin-fungar vice cotis) ~Anonymous

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club February book, Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel.

Flame Tree Road by Shona PatelIntellectual dishonesty, I despise intellectual dishonest, and that is what I felt this author wrote: an intellectually dishonest book.  Intellectual dishonesty is when someone fails to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion.  Reading this book, I felt that the author was only interested in what she wanted to write about and not caring if she kept the storyline true to form for the audience.  Extreme opinion from me?  Probably, but that is the feeling I had reading this book the entire time.

I know all novels are works of fiction, that I have no issues with that, however, this author was intellectually dishonest (in my honest opinion) starting with the description of what the book was about on the cover.

This book claimed to be about a man, Biren Roy, who uses his law degree to pioneer academic equality for girls.  Sounds good, right?  The actual storyline did not even come close to the description until two-thirds of the way into the book.  Most of the story focused on Biren’s parents and their relationships with others when Biren was a young child.  This really started me on believing this was written with intellectual dishonesty.

Throughout my reading of Flame Tree Road, I toggled between wondering when the author was going to start writing about the descripted storyline to thinking I was reading a botany text book.  There were beautiful descriptions of trees found in India, such good descriptions that you could close your eyes and see all the details of each tree.  Shona Patel also did a wonderful job describing the landscaping in India.

I wish the author would have put as much time and energy when it came to the different characters in the book as she did with the trees and landscaping.  Throughout the book, I felt the characters in the story were more background players compared to the trees.  This feeling was due to the fact that I did not feel the author was as committed to her characters as she was to her native country of India.

This book did have many interesting facts about the social caste (hierarchy) that the people of India followed, however, I still had a hard time delving into the story because of my feelings of intellectual dishonesty on the author’s part.  There was an amazing analogy given in the story about how certain people are like certain types of trees which was really cool.

Overall, there were minimal quality nuggets in the story and the characters were undeveloped.  I felt the author, Shona Patel, really lost her way in this book and forgot her main purpose of what the storyline was about.  I may decide to reread this book down the road for the simple hope of finding something to enjoy in the book aside from the trees.  Until then, I have a bad taste in my mouth for this author and will probably never read another book by her (unless it is a botany text book).

I give Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel 1 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Read something wonderful but not this book, I cannot recommend this book to anyone to read.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Zesty E.M.O.T.I.O.N.

Zesty E.M.O.T.I.O.N.: Exuberant, Mesmerizing, Opinionated, Tantalizing, Interesting, Overzealous, Nonconformist
#BloggiteBits-Zesty Emotion
Zesty E.M.O.T.I.O.N.

Most people do not associate the word ‘zesty’ with emotions, however, I believe there are times where we all experience a form of emotions that seem zesty and exciting.  In the final installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to share with you a few words that truly express a Zesty E.M.O.T.I.O.N. and how you can incorporate these emotions into your daily life: Exuberant, Mesmerizing, Opinionated, Tantalizing, Interesting, Overzealous, & Nonconformist.

 

Exuberant: Having an exuberant emotion is something most people experience but think it is something else.  Whenever you are feeling extraordinarily happy about something, you are feeling an exuberant emotion.  Sharing your exuberance with others will only help them tap into their personal exuberant emotion.  Exuberance is a bit like a sneeze, once one person does it/shows it more follow suit.

Mesmerizing: Everyone has experienced a mesmerizing person at least once in their lifetime.  That person that you cannot stop watching or listening to is exuding a mesmerizing emotion to you.  Having a mesmerizing emotion is something you do not really notice (some of you might) because it is more of the impact you have on others versus you intentionally showing an emotion.  You can share your mesmerizing emotion by simply taking in your surroundings, assessing the situation, and sharing your ideas on how to proceed or correct the problem.  A take charge person exudes a mesmerizing emotion for others to see.

Opinionated: Everyone is opinionated.  You cannot deny this fact of being opinionated because the denial in itself is an opinion of yours.  There is a big difference with being opinionated and being judgmental.  Sharing your opinions should always be done in a respectful manner.  A proper opinionated emotion is shared by keeping your tone respectful, providing facts that support your opinion, and above all, share with an open-mind to be able to hear the differing opinions others have and find a compromise.

Tantalizing: Having a tantalizing emotion means you find intrigue in the simplest of things and help others find the intrigue as well.  When you share something that provokes an interest in something, you are expressing a tantalizing emotion for others to see and embrace.  Be sure to always share things that challenge others to think outside the box and venture into the realm of possibility even if it may seem impossible.

Interesting: Having an interesting emotion means you cause others to engage in a curiosity of what you are discussing.  Interesting emotions work similarly to the mesmerizing emotion, your words and actions cause others to pause and take notice.  Always try to engage others with an interesting emotion because it brings about a melding of minds to dream of something more.

Overzealous: An overzealous emotion is one that shows your eagerness and enthusiasm for something or someone.  Bring that overzealous emotion into all that you do will bring more joy and passion back into your life.  Share with others your passions and happiness about things in your life and in turn ask them about theirs.  Soon you will both experience the overzealous emotion in your lives.

Nonconformist: Having a nonconformist emotion in life means you dance to the beat of your own drum.  You do not just follow others blindly in life.  You keep your independent thinking while listening to others.  Share your nonconformist emotion by always questioning the status quo and be sure to gather all known information before accepting something as truth or facts.  The world will be a better place when you use your nonconformist emotion with all things in life.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Familial Unit

A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Twist

“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” ~Ama H. Vanniarachchy

I just want to yell, and scream, and rage against the world! I want to know WHO thought it would be a good idea. I want to know WHAT happened at the moment this time bomb was assigned. I want to know WHEN the designated countdown began. I want to know WHERE it is going to end. I want to know WHY bad things happen to good people. I want to know HOW to cope at the moment the countdown reaches zero.

The above paragraph was written back on February 3rd, scratched on a paper towel, when I had to take my Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) to the emergency room due to some bladder issues. We had been going to my Dad’s radiation treatments and only had one more to go to finish the grueling 30-day program to help shrink the Cancer tumor in his Prostate and extend his life a bit longer when the bladder issue reared its ugly head.

In my previous post, A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Battle, I talked about some major issues he is facing from his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.  When we were told his Cancer has metastasized and is in stage 4, it devastated me.  I am the closest one to my Dad and the one most like him.  We began the journey of fighting the Cancer as best we could because he cannot have surgery.  This was our battle, Cancer was the face of the enemy sent to take my Father’s life.  Then, February 3rd happened.  The twist that is tripping up our battle.

*Warning: semi-graphic details & language

Wednesday, the 3rd started off like our regular Radiation Day always did: me driving Dad to the hospital to do his treatments.  Well, this day he noticed blood in his urine when it came out of his catheter he has had for two months.  We had our regular meetings with his Radiation Doc and asked him about it.  The doctor said it was probably a side effect from the radiation in Dad’s system and the blood should go away after two weeks once his treatments were finished.

With that in mind, Dad and I head back home.  Around 3pm that afternoon, I get a phone call from Dad saying that there was no more blood in his urine.  Woo Hooo!  Great News!  Two and a half hours later, I receive another call from Dad saying he was not getting any blood but now he is not even getting urine from the catheter tube.

Dad said it was probably kidney stones (which he is known to pass from time to time).  I told him to keep me posted.  Within the hour we were in the emergency room because of the pain my Father was in.  He started having bladder spasms that shook his whole body as if he was in the throes of an Epileptic seizure.  As we waited for them to call my Father back to be seen by a doctor, his pain only increased.  I will forever have the image burned in to my memory of one moment, when a spasm was hitting Dad, of the look in his eyes.

As a spasm was hitting, I watched my Dad’s body convulse from the pain and when I looked into his baby blue eyes I saw tears glistening in them with a painful pleading look that said, “Please help me!  I don’t understand.  Why is this happening to me? Make it stop! Take it away!”

My heart shattered into pieces because I stood helpless by his side unable to alleviate one simple iota of pain for my Father; my Paternal Half; the Indestructible Soldier and All-Around Superman in his daughter’s eyes.  7 of 7, me, “Miss Fix It”, the one who makes all things better, was unable to do anything except stand silently by his side, holding his hand and telling him to breathe through the spasm.

All night, the scene above played out, over and over.  The nurses went through two different catheters, causing additional pain, and still only minimal urine came out.  His Urologist, whom has been with Dad from Day 1 dealing with Dad’s prostate issues, was not on call the night we went into the ER.  We only had the nursing staff and doctor on duty to help.  They took a CAT Scan of Dad’s bladder and saw that his prostate was so enlarged it was pushing up on his bladder and was cutting off the ureters (this explained the loss of urination).  The results of the scan did not explain why only minimal urine was coming out of the new catheter.

The next morning, Thursday the 4th, Dad’s Urologist came into his room.  He was on fire!  The catheters put in by the ER staff were done improperly and with one catheter they filled up the balloon in my Father’s urethra in the penis!  The blockage issue was already present, but the improper placement of the catheters aggravated the issue with my Dad’s bladder.

The Urologist told me we are now on the downhill slope for Dad.  The doctor said that this situation is not going to be a few days but several weeks to potentially find the issue and for us not to get our hopes up because all we can do now is take it day by day.

Doc stated that Dad’s bladder issue has nothing to do with his Cancer, however, the radiation treatments will delay the healing process.  Doc said he was removing the improper catheter and was going to put a scope up through the penis to see into Dad’s bladder and gauge what is going on.  My thoughts circled around two things: 1. Downhill Slope-Dad is dying, but not from the Cancer? & 2. More Pain for Dad-weeks of pain.

The Urologist goes into Dad’s room and proceeds to try and scope him.  YES, you read that sentence right-TRY.  A few minutes later, Doc comes out with a grim look on his face (my brain kept repeating-Downhill Slope, Downhill Slope-in my head).  The doctor says, “There is an obstruction in your Dad’s penis.  I cannot get the scope to his bladder.  We are going to have to put a suprapubic catheter into your Dad’s belly.  If that does not work, I will have to put a tube running from each of his kidneys out of his body to get the urine out of his bladder.  If that does not work, I will have to take your Dad to the operating room and you know what that means.”

Stunned, I said, “Yes. Broken neck to intubate. Paralysis or Death.” (Read 1st blog here to understand about the broken neck part)

I asked the doctor what was going on with my Father.  The doctor said, “I don’t know.  We have too many unknown variables.  Until I can get into your Dad’s bladder, we can only take it day-to-day.  Today, right now, I have to figure out a way to reroute the urine in the bladder or else your Dad will go into kidney failure.”

I said to the doctor, “I understand.  Do what you need to do to help Dad.”

(My mind was yelling, “SH*T! F*CK! MY DAD COULD BE DYING AND IT IS NOT EVEN THE F*CKING CANCER THAT WILL KILL HIM!”)

The suprapubic catheter worked, however, my Dad was touch and go the rest of the day and night on Thursday.  Dad was disoriented and confused.  He thought it was 1965 during the procedure and he was looking for his wife (Mom, the Maternal Half of the Parental Unit).

After the procedure it was still 1965 and when Mom asked Dad if he found her, he said, “I caught you.”  Throughout the night, I had to be the Reaper of Doom to all the Sub-Units (siblings/kids) retelling and reliving my conversation with the doctor.

We listened to Dad’s incoherent babble all night as well: he said my sister, Debbie (4 of 7), had to fix the blender; he and Mom were going for a ride to see Frannie (his sister who died of Cancer last year in Philadelphia) and Joey (his brother who is alive and in Tennessee) which will take an hour; he informed us ‘Ch’ahlie (Charlie) will take care of it (Vietnam flashback); he also wanted to go talk to those people “over there” whom he did not know (to this I informed him he is in no way, shape, or form to go talk to those people).

We all survived that scary night.  Dad’s doctor came to check on him the next day making sure they were irrigating (flushing) Dad’s bladder every two hours.  I told the doc that Dad was in his “right mind” again and appears to be doing well.

The doc looked at me and said, “He is no way out of the woods.  I don’t believe in sugar coating information.  That is why many people hate me.  I believe in total honesty in all situations.” (Side-note: this is why my Dad and I love this doctor)

The doc continued saying, “I told you yesterday this is a long-term temporary situation with the suprapubic catheter.  He cannot be alone again once he goes home.  Your Dad will need to be watched and cared for 24/7 and your Mom cannot do it.  Until his penis heals, if it heals, and the obstruction goes away for me to look into the bladder, we can only take it day-by-day.  Tell the family that I do not want to hear any questions about three months from now because I don’t even know if he will be here in three months.”

(“SH*T! SH*T! F*CK, F*CK, F*CK!” says my brain)

“I understand and appreciate your honesty.  That is why we love you.” I said to the doctor.

Two weeks have gone by now.  We have had some good days, but more bad days over the good.  My brain is still trying to process it all and my lack of sleep does not help.  We go see the Doc on Thursday the 18th to see what is in store for Dad.

I have been my Paternal Half’s constant companion with the assistance of the Sub-Units: 1 of 7, 2 of 7, 4 of 7, 5 of 7, and 6 of 7 respectively (3 of 7-Ray-is squaring things away in Cali then he will be here to assist as well).

2 of 7 (Glory) left Sunday to go back to Georgia.  1 of 7 (Kathy) will go back to her home in the Houston area on Friday. 4 of 7 (Debbie), 5 of 7 (Nancy), 6 of 7 (James), and yours truly, 7 of 7, will keep watch 24/7 over our Parental Units until it is all said and done.

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Young D.E.S.I.R.E.

Young D.E.S.I.R.E.: Devoted time, Eager to please, Special feelings, Intense reaction, Reverent acts, Enthusiastic love
#BloggiteBits
#BloggiteBits-Young Desire
Young D.E.S.I.R.E.

Oh to be young and foolish again.  Or not.  Being young has its good and bad sides.  The good: youth, energy, physical fitness, and an inconsequential mind of death.  The bad: inexperience, naivety of the world, reckless, and an inconsequential mind to death.  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to help you tap into the good parts of Young D.E.S.I.R.E. to bring some of the wonders of youth back into your life: Devoted time, Eager to please, Special feelings, Intense reaction, Reverent acts, & Enthusiastic love.

 
Devoted time: Think back, Dear Bloggites, to your youth (for some not too long ago for others it may seem like a lifetime ago).  Are you there?  Remember when you could devote your time to whatever you were currently interested in?  Be it school, family, relationships, friendships, you were able to provide total devoted time to the interest.  To tap back into your young desire for life, you just have to give your all into whatever activity you are interested in.  If you have a busy life (like most of us), look over your schedule and find a time each day to devote to the passion of choice you are currently involved in.  You will find that allowing yourself time to chase your dreams and passions, you will have a much lighter and stronger desire to embrace life.
 
Eager to please: Remember a moment in your youth where you were smitten with the puppy love that only the young experience?  That eager to please mentality found during the “puppy love” stage in relationships is actually a good thing.  Busy lives (like we all have) tend to prevent you from really getting outside yourself and into the world of others.  To tap back into your young desire and eagerness to please others, all you have to do is respond to someone in a positive way when they ask you for help or even a simple question.  Being eager to please does not mean you allow yourself to be walked all over or taken advantage of by others, it just means you show an eagerness to make someone’s day a little better by providing a simple act of kindness or service.  You will find your outlook on life begin to show a positive view on your day to day activities.
 
Special feelings: The giddiness, the joy, the butterflies, and anticipation of seeing your special someone you had a crush on when you were younger-sweet feelings, indeed!  Most people do not feel that carefree giddiness of emotions as adults, but I challenge you to reach deep inside your soul and reawaken that special feeling again.  To tap back into your special feelings, you just need to remind yourself of the good qualities of the person or people you are interacting with daily.  There is a reason you have the people you have in your life and I bet it is because of some special quality that caused your feelings to attach to each person individually.  Make an effort to focus on the special qualities of each person you are blessed to come into contact with.  Life is a gift to all of us and you will find that your view of people will be less tarnished when you actively look for the special quality of each person.
 
Intense reaction: “Shock! Thrill! Oh MY!” fills your senses throughout your body as a younger you feels that first intense reaction to someone or something.  Oh, beloved youth of yesteryear, wherever have you gone.  Nothing beats the thrill of feeling such strong, overpowering emotions that an intense reaction provides a person.  I am not just referencing a physical attraction sensation, I am referencing the sensations that course through our mind and bodies when dealing with people or situations.  Intense reactions can be a wide range of feelings.  No matter what those feelings were when you were younger, they had an impact in your life.  To tap back into your wide range of intense reactions, you just need to open up your emotional floodgate and feel each sensation.  I am sure the emotional sensations that show up are the ones we usually stomp down as we grow older: awe, joy, giddiness, appreciation, love, hope…all these positive emotions are sadly repressed as a person grows up and has to “act like an adult” in life.  Embrace those long forgotten intense reactions and be prepared to embrace a freer-feeling you.
 
Reverent acts: Reverent acts sound so serious, however, a reverent act as a young child is that of a child believing their parents are all powerful and nothing can defeat them.  I am sure you can think back on a time when you witnessed something spectacular that a parent or grandparent did.  That feeling of overwhelming love and admiration washed over you and you looked at the person who caused those emotions as if they were a fairy tale hero come to life.  The pure intellectual honesty you felt as a child is where you felt the emotions stirred by the reverent acts you witnessed.  To tap back into your reverent acts mentality, you have to open yourself up to the pure intellectual honesty and begin to see all the everyday heroes inside the people you interact with daily.
 
Enthusiastic love: Enthusiastic love was the giddy joy you felt as a child when a person you were enamored with talked to you.  Did you know, Dear Bloggites, that there is a mature kind of enthusiastic love?  Well there is.  To tap back into your mature enthusiastic love, you just have to add a little rose-colored glasses to your mind’s eye when dealing with others.  The mature enthusiastic love is the ability to embrace someone else’s success as if it was your own.  I am a firm believer that we should always build each person we engage with up to help them reach the next level of them on their journey in life.
~4-Ever, P
Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Xenophile C.O.U.R.T.E.S.Y.

Xenophile C.O.U.R.T.E.S.Y.: Civil, Obliging, Urbanity, Refined, Tactful, Elegant, Suave, Yes-Minded

#BloggiteBits-Xenophile Courtesy
Xenophile C.O.U.R.T.E.S.Y.

Xenophile means “a person who is attracted to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs” (dictionary.com).   In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to focus on Xenophile C.O.U.R.T.E.S.Y. and give some examples from different cultures on how they show courtesy to others: Civil, Obliging, Urbanity, Refined, Tactful, Elegant, Suave, & Yes-Minded.

Civil: When I think of England, one of the first things that pop into my mind (aside from the awesome humor they have) is the fact that they are so civil to each other, even if two enemies cross each other’s path, they are cordial and it amazes me.  Embrace the ability to be civil to one another, no matter how you feel about them personally, if you make it a point to be civil, it will make the interaction go much smoother and faster.

Obliging: When I think of China, one of the first things that pops into my mind is their traditional customs of respect.  Respect is shown to others by obliging their place in the world.  If a younger lady comes across an elder, she will bow out of respect in her greeting of the elder.  Having an obliging spirit toward others does not mean you let them walk all over you, it means to just respect their existence and the knowledge they bring to the table.  You may be surprised to learn something new from the most unlikely of people.

Urbanity: When I think of France, one of the first things that pops into my mind (aside from great wine and cheese) is their sense of urbanity toward each other.  Showing a respectful social attitude gives of an urban feel to a person.  Showing respectful social interactions will show your urbanity to others.  You will be amazed at how people you come into contact with on a social level will mimic your actions.

Refined: When I think of Egypt, one of the first things that pops into my head (aside from their amazing pyramids and hieroglyphics) is how refined they are as a society.  Egyptians have a respect for how their ancestors lived and have refined the customs handed down from generation to generation.  Conducting yourself in a refined manner will help you react in an even temperament with others. 

Tactful: When I think of Denmark, one of the first things that pop into my mind is their tactful way of correcting someone who is “not playing by the rules” of society.  If someone sees another acting improperly, they will immediately admonish that person in a tactful way.  Strive to show tact in all you say and do to others.  People will respond to honest tact if it is given properly.

Elegant: When I think of Morocco, one of the first things that pop into my mind is how elegant they are in their interactions with others.  Moroccans have an internal elegance in all they do and when they are communicating to others, that elegance shows.  Find your elegant calm by not reacting instinctively to situations.  Addressing others in an elegant manner will help ease any tensions that are showing and allow a fluid, peaceful communication to follow.

Suave: When I think of Italy, one of the first things that pop into my mind (and witness in my family) is how suave an Italian acts.  Bella Figura, beautiful figure / good image, is important to Italians.  Having and showing respect is important.  When engaging with others, the suave nature comes out and the recipients take notice.  Act in a suave, charming manner and you will be treated the same.

Yes-Minded: When I think of Taiwan, one of the first things that pop into my mind is their unified mindset.  Taiwanese are very group oriented, whether it is family or friends, they always find a way to compromise until there is a yes-minded factor in the entire group.  Strive to always compromise and find the yes-minded medium for all people you engage with.  You will be impressed at how easy it will be for all parties to obtain the yes-minded compromise. 

~4-Ever, P

Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Wonderful C.H.E.E.R.

Wonderful C.H.E.E.R.: Charming smile, Helpful mindset, Elated happiness, Ecstatic energy, Radiant demeanor

#BloggiteBits-Wonderful Cheer
Wonderful C.H.E.E.R.

The wonders of a cheerful personality, can you just imagine, Dear Bloggites?  I love the quote from Anne Frank in the picture above.  Your attitude helps shape your world and the world around you.  In one of the final installments of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to help you find your Wonderful C.H.E.E.R. in the world: Charming smile, Helpful mindset, Elated happiness, Ecstatic energy, & Radiant demeanor.

Charming smile: A charming smile goes a long way to improving your mood.  If you force yourself to smile throughout the day, your mood will be altered for the better and as you continue to consciously smile when engaging others, you will find that it becomes easier and easier.  The result from others, as well as yourself, for your charming smile: better attitude, relaxed feeling, and better communication.

Helpful mindset: A helpful mindset is one you should start embracing.  In this society of distrust, finding a desire to be helpful is hard.  Consciously deciding to help at least one person each day will go a long way on helping yourself and your disposition.  People who give of themselves at times usually have a happier, cheerful life versus those who do not do anything for others, or when they have to, grumble about it.  The result from others, as well as yourself, for your helpful mindset: comfort in your life and mind, better appreciation, and internal happiness.

Elated happiness: An elated happiness is something internal you begin to feel as you embrace the steps above.  Allowing yourself to have an elated happiness becomes clear to others you encounter.  When your happiness is showing and overflowing you will see a difference in how you treat others and how they treat you.  The result from others, as well as yourself, for your elated happiness: internal joy, better treatment, and willingness to compromise.

Ecstatic energy: An ecstatic energy is similar to the elated happiness item.  Having an ecstatic energy will help invigorate your mind and imagination.  Invigorating your mind and imagination will allow you to dream and achieve goals you have for yourself.  The result from others, as well as yourself, for your ecstatic energy: achieving goals, creating new projects, and desiring to reach for the stars.

Radiant demeanor: A radiant demeanor is something that is seen from the outside world that is showing internally inside you.  When you have a radiant demeanor, you are willing to embrace others’ ideas and suggestions as well as others having a desire to embrace your ideas and suggestions.  The result from others, as well as yourself, for your radiant demeanor: Collaboration on ideas, cohesive work environment, and joy in yourself and others.

~4-Ever, P