Andrea was a Dutch woman who had lived through the German occupation of Holland. Her brother hid in a wardrobe in her bedroom for the whole five years of the war to avoid being carted off as slave labour to Germany. When there were searches by Nazi soldiers she had to fend them off to save her brother.
When the war was over, after a stint as a glamorous air hostess with KLM, she emigrated to this country to put the miserable years of her adolescence and then a failed marriage behind her. Her degree in social science was a passport to nowhere in the early sixties in New Zealand. The only work she could find here was teaching; and the only teaching domestic science, which was called “manual”- which meant cookery and needlework.
Her resourcefulness raised these two domestic chores to an art form. The children didn’t actually learn the boring basics of scones, custard and rock buns like most other unlucky students back then. No, they learned to cook with garlic and herbs and spices, unheard of in the days when the only use for olive oil was for curing earache with a few drops on a dab of cotton wool, and garlic was a wild flower…
Her manual classroom became a mecca for school inspectors when Andrea transformed it with the glorious colours and designs the children created in sewing, and was a source of chagrin to the resident art teacher. Andrea taught both boys and girls, and I still have one of the vivid embroidered hangings they made.
To keep the whole class occupied while she taught them one by one to thread the sewing machine, she tossed a selection of brilliantly coloured wools on the floor, with some square pieces of hessian, and told them to make shapes with the colours and embroider them onto the squares. These wonderful squares still vibrate with colour and spontaneity. Andrea then sewed all the squares onto large sheets of hessian, and had these amazing techni-coloured wall-hangings draped across the drab manual classroom walls.
She taught the children how to thread a sewing machine by giving each step of the process a phrase about an animal – “Catch the fish, watch the bird……” Twenty years later, at the testing station for a warrant of fitness for her car, a tousled head popped up out of the inspection pit beneath the car, and said delightedly: “It’s Mrs Winter, isn’t it ? ” and then proceeded to recite his sewing lesson – “Catch the fish, watch the bird… !”.
These sewing classes were heaven on earth for one little Indian boy, who seemed to have been born as a master tailor. One day, he made a wonderful waistcoat, but there was only enough material for the edges to meet, and he and Andrea were puzzled as to how to fasten it. At the next lesson he told her he had had a dream and had solved the problem.
He then solemnly created frogging and bobbles to loop across and fasten it. When Andrea told this story in the staffroom, everyone was amazed. This child had long since been written off as so dumb that everyone else had given up on him. He sat in class, one of the silent, forgotten army of apparent no-hopers.
So, one by one, each teacher crept into the manual class to silently observe this child, and was blown away by his vivacity and calm confidence, and how all the other children deferred to the “master” of this skill. It changed his life.
I thought of Andrea and her little master tailor who moved from miserable anonymity to confident authority when I read the story of Japanese scientist Professor Masaru Emoto. He’s already famous for his discoveries about water and how it absorbs and reflects both good and negative energies. His latest experiment was with rice.
He put a handful of rice grains into three glass beakers and covered them with water. Placing them on a table, he visited them every day for a month. The first glass he thanked every day. The middle glass he ignored. The third glass he insulted every day.
At the end of the month the rice in the first glass was fermenting gently and emitting a sweet smell. The insulted rice had mouldy patches and didn’t look very good. The ignored rice in the middle glass had rotted and turned black.
What a metaphor for how we treat people, and how we can actually change the world by appreciating everyone. Could we turn around the brutality and pain that rages in places like the Middle East, in ghettoes all around the world, in zoos and in jails if we all stopped judging people and creatures in our minds, stopped writing them off, or ignoring them?
Andrea changed one little boy’s life by acknowledging and thereby encouraging him, and giving him self- respect, and this changed everyone else’s minds about him. What could we do for the sulky hurt person on welfare who feels judged, for the dunce at the bottom of the class who has no-one to encourage him and root for him, for the pining desolate animals in zoos far away from their natural habitat and their fellow creatures. What could we do to heal the ignored and insulted planet by acknowledging and thanking it every day?
If we all sent a different energy to thugs and terrorists of any creed or colour, suspending judgement, anger, condemnation or horror at their actions, could we change our world and help to spare their victims? If parents found new ways of talking to their children and encouraging them instead of criticising them; if they treated their children with the same respect and courtesy as their friends, so that children didn’t lapse into desperate negative attention seeking, could we have a world of happy loving children growing into loving adults?
Utopia has been a dream for centuries, but maybe this simple experiment, showing us that words can make a difference, that the right words can create miracles, and that the wrong words can destroy, could be the breakthrough. This simple experiment shows us that with our words and our feelings we can create the energy of life or death, of happiness or misery: that we can all be responsible for our own world, and we could each make a world in which only goodness and mercy exist and where only love prevails.
It’s like the prayer that Jesus taught – not something to publically parade and talk about, but something we can do privately for the world, and no-one need ever know… Could we change our world? I’m going to have a go… maybe you will too – in private…as I said to a friend – think ‘rice’.
The video on youtube is worth watching https://talesfromthelou.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/can-thoughts-affect-the-environment-masaru-emotos-rice-experiment-120/
Food for threadbare gourmets
Sticking with no sugar, and loving sweet things, I found this cake was delicious. Take two cups of chopped baking dates and gently boil them in half a cup of water… adding more water if they get too dry… they need to be moist and soft. Stir or mash to a mush.
Put them in a bowl and stir in half a cup of oil – I used light olive as I’m suspicious of some other manufactured oils ( the recipe said to use melted butter, but I wanted a dairy free zone too). Grate a courgette, a carrot and 200grams of sweet potato/orange kumara. Stir them all into the date mixture.
Then add four beaten eggs, grated zest of two lemons, three teaspoons of mixed spice, 200 grms of almond meal, a 100 grms of self rising flour, either gluten free or ordinaire, a teasp of baking powder and quarter of a teasp of salt.
Mix everything together with a slotted metal spoon and tip into a prepared greased and lined cake tin. Bake for an hour in 180 degree oven. If it starts to brown, cover the top with tin foil. Leave in the tin for ten minutes before turning out. (I used a loaf tin)
The recipe suggested icing of cream cheese, zest of 2 lemons, two tablsp of lemon juice and three or four tablesp of maple syrup.
Sounds delicious but I decided not to despoil the sugar free zone, contenting myself with a little sprinkling of sugar on top of the cake before it went in the oven just to make it shiny and sweet.
It’s good while still warm and keeps well wrapped in foil in the fridge for several days. I sometimes had a slice spread with butter too.
Food for Thought
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
24 responses to “Could this experiment change the world?”
I really like what you say here, Valerie. Bringing out the best in pupils was always my aim as a teacher and I was very agin labelling of children. I love your story of Andrea and the rice professor and your suggestion of how we could all make the world better.
Your recipe sounds perfect for me to make for a gluten and dairy free friend.
Have a good week. 🙂
Hello Sally, been overwhelmed with life this week and slow to respond ! Hope the cake works out !!!
Maybe we should reintroduce some of those ideas back into the classroom Valerie and teach our children while young how to appreciate those gifted in a different direction instead of forming cliques and writing some off.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
been overwhelmed with life this week and slow to respond !
Yes, you’d wonder how any teacher wouldn’t think like that !!!!
It is so true, people will never forget how you made them feel. I once worked with a lady who helped me through a horrible time from an supervisor who mentally beat the s*&^ out of me. THis lady gave me a hug and said: “You know he has a lot to learn, you can make people mad, you can make people sad and they will forgive you and move on. But the second you destroy someone’s ego, they are your enemy forever. So take this is a lesson on how to be a good manager, not one like this man.”
I remembered and try to always follow that advice, even today, when I manage no one, but myself.
Linda dear, I’m answering your letter… love your comment as always… I like the idea of you managing yourself – kindly !!!!
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A beautiful story Valerie, a wonderful lesson in how to make the most of your life when limitations are put on it by bringing creativity into the simplest tasks and how to make people shine.
Thank you Andrea, so glad you enjoyed the story… people are wonderful aren’t they !
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A wonderfully written story from life. And possibly my favourite quote ever to match the prose. In the book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ the author talks about thanking one’s possessions for serving them well. Every thing and everyone has a certain energy and we can either add to it, or detract from it. Thank you Valerie.
Thank you for your lovely comment.. you are so right about what we can add or not, to the world.. so glad you enjoyed the story.. and Maya Angelou !
Love this story and have long been interested in Emoto’s water experiments but hadn’t see the rice one so thanks for that….alot to be learned from this. Have bookmarked this page for it’s recipe, I need to make it!
So glad you enjoyed the story… Emoto’s experiments are electrifying aren’t they… hope you enjoy the cake !
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Very powerful lesson here, Valerie. Words and negative energy can harm–no matter what the old rhyme says about only sticks and stone hurting you!
And that cake recipe is right up my alley. Sounds delish! 🙂
Hello Lorna, yes, that old rhyme was never very convincing as one wilted under unkind words ! Hope you enjoy the cake !!
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I love this story, Valerie. Thank you for the reminder! xoxoM
Lovely to see your smiling face, Margarita, Love XX
This is a wonderful story Valerie, it proves a vital point one we all need to learn and hold onto. As always your empathy brings a gentleness to the telling. Thank you.
Lovely to hear from you Val -,thank you for your generous remark, as usual.. Valerie
We can make a difference with careful words and genuine concern and good thinking. I don’t fully understand the experiment but I thought about the hongi, and how perhaps our spirit breath and our physical breath could be sweet, or sour or rancid and thus affect what is around us. Another blogger told me about sourdough starters, and how the best ones absorb the flavour of the house, and are unique to each household. So presumably a good healthy happy house will give a rich robust and delicious sourdough. And if we breathe sweetly on the world it will respond sweetly.
I believe that we can change our world. I remember every kind word, every encouraging suggestion. What a difference it made in my life. I agree with Gallivanta! “if we breathe sweetly on the world…”
A thought-provoking post, Valerie, which serves as an excellent reminder to choose carefully one’s words and feelings. Thank you for some nice Sunday reflection!
Vote for Valerie Davies, World Representative, Zone Two:
Badgers, Foxes, Field Mice and Domestic Geese.
Third International Congress/One World.One Love.
Valerie Davies is our man
If she can’t do it, no one can!
THINK RICE! THINK RICE THINK RICE!
For a moment I thought you had written ‘Think twice ! ‘
Anyway, thank you for your ringing endorsement of my down to earth and eminently common- sense campaign platform !!!