A “Sprinkle of Joy” From The Original MaMaWoman, The Late Dr. Ardena Shankar

When I opened my phone this morning and saw the reminder for my Grandmother’s birthday today from Facebook, naturally I clicked on it, not really knowing what to expect since my grandmother had transitioned three years ago.

Disclaimer: My Grandmother was NOT your average Grandma. She acknowledged her inner child, and in most cases led with it. She was a unique soul spreading positivity and wisdom through written and spoken word for most, if not ALL of her adult life.

One poem in particular of hers that stuck out to me when I was a teenager was entitled “MamaWoman” published in an anthology in the 70’s called MUSE. I knew then I was going to create something of my own with that same name, so I saved my own Mother’s number in my phone, under the same name as to never forget. To this day, Mother is still saved under that name.

Dr. Ardena Shankar

Fast forward to 2020, what I saw when I clicked on her Facebook page brought me instantly to tears. There they were, original posts from her nine years ago, and some, directly to me.

When my Grandmother passed, it really knocked the wind from sails because I had missed her last call to me. Brushing it off as we often do with our elders saying “I’ll call her back later”, not realizing that would be my last opportunity to hear her signature velvety voice. And ever since then, I’ve been longing to hear from her in SOME way.

So in celebration of the born-day of the original MamaWoman herself, and the ultimate inspiration for this outlet below is one of those Facebook posts, I hope it touches you as much as touched me:

Hello Friends,

Here is something that I found and wanted to share with you.

“Sprinkle joy,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. And at least one little creature seems to do just that.

There is a small bird in the northwest part of the United States called the ouzel, or the American Dipper. This unusual bird lives around fast rushing water, sometimes nesting behind waterfalls. It has been seen flying in and out of white water rapids of mountain rivers that crash and splash through steep and rocky canyons. It loves the violent, noisy, chaotic life of the rugged river environment.

And through it all, it sings! When rain falls in sheets, when wind blows in a violent fury, when other birds huddle in sheltered nooks against the rage of the storm, the dipper frolics in the tempest and blissfully sings.

Don’t you love to be around people like that? People who don’t wait for circumstances to change or for happy times to come before they laugh and sing? People who can be happy in the confusion and chaos of life?

These people do not expect life to make them happy. Nor do they spend time looking for joy – instead, they decide to give it away. Like that remarkable little bird, they can be found in the midst of life’s turbulence, enthusiastic and hopeful.

These resilient people teach us an important lesson about survival. They show us that people who “sprinkle joy” grow stronger. Sprinkled joy immunizes them against despair during difficult and tumultuous times. They actually weather storms better because of a lifetime habit of approaching difficulties with a glad heart.

JOY – it’s not just for the birds.



Read original MamaWoman poem here.

B. Knight