Week 2: Feedback Thoughts

When I was in high school, a very dear friend of mine told me that I was the ugly duckling. Upon hearing this, I was mildly (or perhaps, not so mildly) offended. What seventeen year old girl wants to be told that they are ugly? As he explained his reasoning, however, I found myself struck by an idea that I have carried with me since. He said to me, “You think you are all alone, and that nobody wants to be around you because you are ugly inside and out, unwanted. What you don’t see, like the ugly duckling didn’t, is that you are actually a beautiful swan, and you have so much potential.” This philosophy has rang in my mind for the few years since that conversation, so much so that I consider the swan to be my spirit animal (for other reasons too, of course).

In the article, “Silence the Critical Voices in Your Head,” the author explains how important it is to find the positive feedback in your life, and to focus in on that positivity. It has been scientifically proven that the average person needs five positive voices to counteract one negative. I struggle with often-debilitating anxiety; I know all too well what it is like to be having a great day, and to suddenly feel my mood and my self-esteem plummet into darkness because of one comment or interaction. I loved how this article emphasized the importance of highlighting our strengths in order to achieve success, rather than absolutely obsessing over our weaknesses. It is so important to find the positive voices in your life, and to let that positivity fuel your actions. I like the focus on what you did well as opposed to what you did wrong.

My career-path revolves around management, and I have always been a psychology/sociology nut, but especially when considering their relationship to the success of any working group of people, corporate or otherwise. I liked how this article highlighted the “virtuous cycle” that occurs as a result of higher-ups valuing themselves and their strengths, rather than alienating or lashing out at others.

Similarly, the articles I read about giving feedback were interesting to me, again as someone in management, but also as someone with an extensive childcare background; the two articles I read were geared towards giving feedback to children in a beneficial way. The narcissism vs. healthy self-esteem discussion is one that I have had with my roommate, who is a psych minor, regarding my students who are in the earliest stages of development. I love the idea of gearing feedback and comments to others in a way that highlights their worth and accomplishments, but does not feed into the idea that they are more valued than others, rather equally valued with others.




Silence the Critical Voices in Your Head


Why Rejection Hurts and What to Do About It




Be a Mirror: Give Readers Feedback That Fosters a Growth Mindset


The Difference Between Praise That Promotes Narcissism vs. Healthy Self-Esteem



Storytelling, Week 2: Kaikeyi the Good Queen

Kaikeyi was the youngest wife of King Dasharatha; she was not the fairest, but she was the most favored. As her and her two sister wives struggled to conceive an heir for the kingdom, however, the king’s favor for Kaikeyi declined. Kaikeyi was the daughter of Ashwapati, king of the Land of the Finest Horses, and Kaikeyi was awarded, on her wedding day, a fine steed of gold. Now Kaikeyi’s father had been given the gift of telepathy with the feathered creature, and thus had heard a great many pieces of guidance and wisdom from the fowl that soared high above the earth and witnessed great happenings. The conditions of his blessings, however, prohibited him from speaking to others of the nature of his gift.

Kaikeyi and King Dasharatha had a beautiful marriage ceremony, attended even by

Kaikeyi and Dasharatha

the prominent nobles of the neighboring kingdoms. There was dancing and song, and Queen Kaikeyi was overcome with joy at the beginning of her new life with Dasharatha and his first wife, Kashaulya. Despite the splendors of the evening, Kaikeyi found herself wrought with anxieties on her wedding night. As a child, she had sought comfort in the royal stables, and thus ventured into the night to see her new steed. As she stood in the coarse hay, she stroked her horse’s fur and whispered her fears to him. The steed nuzzled against her, and Kaikeyi found herself overcome with emotion, bittersweet tears falling down her face. She heard a voice in her head, speaking to her of the wonderful life that awaited her. Kaikeyi felt brave, and after thanking her enchanted horse, departed back to the King’s bedchambers.

In the years following, Queen Kaikeyi struggled to conceive a son, as did Dasharatha’s other wives. Again, Kaikeyi ventured out to the stables to visit her enraptured steed, and listen to its sage wisdom. Her horse advised her to perform a sacrifice in honor of the gods, and to use its enchanted form. He spoke to her of the great wisdom she would acquire from its spirit if she performed a sacrifice. She spoke of the idea to her King, careful not to divulge the content of the conversation held between her and her horse. It was proclaimed that a sacrificial ceremony be held three days from then in offering to win their favor.

The patrons of the kingdom gathered in the royal hunting grounds to witness the royal horse sacrifice, the Ashwamedha. Kaikeyi’s enchanted steed was released and hunted as per the traditional guidelines of the sacrifice. As the King slew the steed, its spirit was released and directed to the heart of Queen Kaiyeki. She was overcome with joy and emotion once more, feeling great wisdom enter her body. She told the King that she and her sister-cohorts would conceive a great many sons. This was pleasing to the King, and he rewarded Kaiyeki with two favors, which she held thenceforth close to her heart.


Author’s Note: I have altered a few minor details to the original story of Kaikeyi and Dasharatha, and added in Kaikeyi’s gift and relationship to her horse. I took the inspiration from some Greek mythology, and desired to see Kaikeyi portrayed as a strong heroine with a selfless nature.

Reading Notes: Narayan’s Ramayana, Section A

As always, a king is sad because he wants an heir. I found myself initially wondering how the three queens felt. “Their faces brightened.” In many stories in history and fiction, royal families are torn apart by the queen’s inability to produce an heir. This story reminded me much of Henry the VII and his relationships with his six wives. In a new narrative, the king would be driven mad with grief and pride, such as Henry the VIII was, however I would like to see the downfall of the patriarch and to have his wives band together for the benefit of the kingdom.

I would like to write a story about the queen Kaikeyi from her perspective. I would also like to change the details of her banishing Rama, and instead have her act selflessly to use her favors for the good of the kingdom, rather than personal gain. In my story, Kaiyeki scorns her nurse for insulting her husband, and remains a loyal and kind woman with her kingdom’s best interest at heart.

I find the ability to call upon celestial weapons very interesting. I would like to consider the idea of calling upon objects other than a weapon. For example, if Rama had instead needed to outsmart a riddle of sorts, like an enchanted door, and used his power to call upon a lockpick or key.

Rama and Sita’s wedding 

I also want to write a story about Ganga getting lost in Baghirathma’s hair and her experiences of weaving through the unknown for years. Perhaps she has to face antagonists within his hair. I see the landscape as a silken forest of gold, as if Baghirathma’s hair was golden.

I loved finally being able to learn about Rama and Sita and their origins. I will definitely
incorporate them into one of my stories, however, I desire to see a stronger and more powerful Sita. We shall see what the future reading brings.

It is difficult to sort through the traditional language of the Ramayana, but I find it inspiring and the language is beautiful.



Notes and comments from

  1. “King Dasharatha”
  2. “Rama Battles Demons”
  3. “Bhagiratha”
  4.  “Sita”
  5. “Kaikeyi”