How To Tell A Great StoryGreat StoryTelling Network Newsletter
Volume 15, Issue 5 – 15 May 2019

I am sorry that this newsletter is late. There were technical issues I had to sort out. Anyway, in this newsletter, I share three things inspired by my recent trip to Bandung, Indonesia:

1. A link to a gallery that has photos from our Retreat to Nature. It’s a wonderful place and if all goes well, we are planning a writers’ retreat there soon. You’ll be the first to know when we have details.

5 Elements in Bandung

2. In The Journey of a Flower, you’ll find out why it’s best to send and receive sunflowers instead of roses.

3. UNITY is a guest piece by Constance Westwood, one of our subscribers who attended this retreat.

Happy storytelling.
Aneeta Sundararaj

THE JOURNEY OF A FLOWER by Aneeta Sundararaj

[Note from Editor: This story first appeared in CLARITY (15 May 2019). It’s published here with permission.]

You wait with anticipation for your date to arrive. On tenterhooks, you pace up and down in your flat. You rush to a nearby mirror. Is your hair in place? Is the outfit the right colour? Maybe, the outfit is not right. Perhaps, you should change.

The doorbell rings.

Oh no! There’s no time. He’s here.

You open the door and there’s this man standing on your doorstep. All suited and booted, he looks debonair. But what’s this he’s holding?

It’s not a rose. Or even your favourite, orchids. Surely, he’d have made more of an effort than this – a single sunflower with a pretty red ribbon.

All manner of thoughts run through your head.

This man doesn’t care for me.
We’ve known each other for so long and he brought me this?
A sunflower for God’s sake.
Surely a rose wouldn’t have cost that much.
Oh my God! This man is poor.

You look at the gentleman’s face. He’s grinning.


You move to shut the door, but he puts his hand up to stop you. He tells you a story and your heart skips a beat. Then he says something and you practically fall into his arms.

What did this gentleman say?

Well, this was the cliff-hanger moment that Brenda James presented us with at the start of our Speaker Series (‘Making Your Money Work for You’) on 11 May 2019. She told us, instead, her history. Born and brought up in Ipoh, Perak, Brenda completed reading Law before she began her career in the corporate world. Although she became financially secure, she felt miserable. By 2008, she made the decision to start Nook Flowers in Bangsar South. With the realities of running her own business were also painful and humiliating lessons. Throughout, the one quality she retained was her optimism.

One of the most wonderful stories that Brenda shared echoes our focus on being happy, spreading such happiness through the work we do and the people we’ve become. Straightening her shoulders, Brenda gives a bright smile and explains that when she’s done with an arrangement, she’ll holds it in her hands and whispers, “Go, make someone happy.” Saying these words, she believes, results in the transmission of happy thoughts and feelings to those flowers. In turn, the final recipient receives not only the flowers, but the sentiments too.

As expected, generating such happiness always has a spill-over effect on other aspects of one’s life. Even though Brenda was barely making ends meet, she remained determined to look at the brighter side of life and joined the Philharmonic Society of Selangor. Having derived much contentment from this activity, Brenda smiles even brighter when she reveals that it’s through the choir that she met her husband.

Perhaps, the most synchronous moment of this Speaker Series session came about during the Q & A session. The questions ranged from ‘Is it OK to use white flowers for Mother’s Day?’ and ‘Why do we like lilies when they are flowers used during funerals in the West?’ to a point about chrysanthemums having a bad reputation because they were regarded as ‘prayer flowers’.

It is when Brenda said something along the lines of, “How amazing is it that a flower can be used to glorify the Divine,” that many of us who’d gone on the recent retreat to Bandung, Indonesia felt a shiver run down our spine. This was precisely what HH SwamiGuru had alluded to on 5 May 2019, during the last discourse of the retreat. In His words:

“The journey of the flower is meant to enhance the understanding of learning to live as naturally as possible without having to compare your life with that of others. It is only then that you’ll understand the greatness of creation, the creator and creativity. With that understanding, you will realise that life is all about being yourself and not someone else. You have been endorsed by the Divine to be ‘you’. Don’t be someone else and don’t seek some else’s endorsement for who you are. This journey can only be successful if you first make an effort to find your true non-contaminated self. In so doing, you will also realise the power of gratitude and the blessings of life.”

Incidentally, the flower of choice during our retreat was a genus of sunflower. Now that we’re back to talking about this giant yellow palmful of sunshine, let’s return to the tale of the gentleman who brought his lady love a sunflower.

The story he tells her before she falls into his arms is that in Greek mythology, Apollo was the Sun God who rode his golden and ivory chariot from east to west every day. A water nymph called Clytie was in love with Apollo, but it was unrequited. For nine days, unblinking, she watched him move across the sky. Eventually, she was turned into a flower which came to be known as the Sunflower.

The gentleman then looked into his lady love’s eyes and said, “The sunflower is the only one that follows the movement of the sun. Even if there is the slightest glimmer of light in the sky, the sunflower will turn its head to find it. And that’s how I feel about you.”


GUEST BLOG: UNITY by Constance Westwood

No way can I say that I have gone through any hardships in life. How blessed I have been to have had wonderful parents who never grudged me anything; sisters who cared for their ‘baby’ in the family – even now; a loving and trusting relationship with so much care and respect. I have had a fantastic journey so far pursuing what I wanted in my materialistic life. Throughout, loving individuals showered me with so much devotion and often unrequited care.

Everything came ever so easily.

Growing up as a Catholic was all about going to mass every week and doing the rituals as expected. With the fear of Hell and Purgatory firmly planted by the nuns while growing up, I had vivid visons of life that was filled with fire and endless punishment. Yet, something was missing. I had so many questions about life, so many gnawing doubts about my faith, so many hopeless searches to quell this unsatisfied empty feeling within.

More so during these past ten years when I have tried to find peace within myself knowing that my soul needed nourishment and meaningful direction whilst on Earth. Funnily enough I turned to the Gurus of India for enlightenment who welcomed me with open arms, guiding me to seek the true nature of my soul.

A recent chance encounter with HH SwamiGuru and a meditative evening with the family at the 7C RealiZation Centre engulfed me with so much peace within. The ‘Retreat to Nature’ at Bandung from 3 to 5 May 2019 was a welcome enticement to be in His company, get more insights into my soul, spend more time with many new faces and really seek my true purpose on Earth.

When in Bandung, I immersed myself in all the different sessions with no qualms except for the experience at the waterfall. Many questions came to my thoughts, many messages went through my mind, some through HH SwamiGuru’s words, some through the many new friends I got to know, some through my own realisation, and funnily enough, through unexplained sights and smells.

Indeed, I have come to realise and admit that I tend to devote myself too much to others’ needs that I forget or neglect my own. Henceforth, a few new rules.

Rule No: 1 – Care for yourself even more, before you do for others. At the same time, I have a tendency of starting things with so much enthusiasm but not completing them properly.

Rule No: 2 – Stop being lazy, have the determination to start and finish with the same zeal and enthusiasm.

Rule No: 3 – Don’t talk and not do. Like a true PR practitioner, am very clever to craft words with seemingly strong intentions BUT they all whisper and wither away like mists when confronted by warm winds!

Two words came to my mind when we were doing the Gratitude Session. First was ‘Determination’ as I seem to have the zeal BUT when it comes to putting it to practice, I procrastinate and flounder, finding excuses to delay things…there will always be another time, another hour, another day. No more of such laziness.

“Do it and shame the Devil,” as the Nuns used to tell us.

The second word ‘Unity’ flashed across my mind, and this is what I had shared with my team members. Being united with the Divine and having that infinite trust that he would help guide my footsteps and remaining time on Earth. Of which, I have come to realise that this is the best approach with the least of unnecessary worries and grandiose expectations, too.

So, during the next 21 odd days, it will be a time of much realisation.

In my own little way, I think I have started to see measurable changes wherein whatever I say or do, I try and complete it, no matter how much the physical body aches of all that walking up and down the hills of Mulberry Hill by The Lodge, not forgetting up and down the steep hills to the waterfall.

Let the journey take on a more defined and purposeful course, let the mind be determined and filled with good thoughts that translate into positive activities, let the intentions be true for the soul’s development, let the Divine be a significant part of my remaining journey on this Earth and Lifetime.

Thank you, HH SwamiGuru; thank you Aneeta; thank you to my family at 7C.

Om Shanti.

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