Posted in Detox, Experiences, Experiments, Family, Food, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Me, Us

Word of the Year

How did I do? Is it worth continuing with the word of the year? Is it a meaningful exercise?

I did ok with Mindfulness  although I forgot  it was THE word a few times. Setting intentions in the beginning of the year did unintentionally influence my everyday actions. I am able to sense tension, tightness and panic when things don’t go my way. I don’t become zen or calm about the situation right away. But I have learnt that the place to start is relaxing my jaws and facial muscles. Paying attention to that tactical action, settles me a bit even when there is restlessness raging within. I talk myself into getting some alone time and engage in some productive work so I am not being disruptive to the ones around me. It works a few times even if not always. I have also learnt to drift back to sleeping when I wake up in the morning. This is worth a mention because it is part of my effort to not to be a slave to my To Do or routine.

Mindfulness like Discipline and Detox (my Word for the prior years) is a lifelong practice. So this year was just the beginning. I did not move mountains or boil the ocean but I have made incremental progress as a person. So I see value in pursuing this practice.

For this year, I am choosing the word “Us”.  Hari has five to six years with us before he takes full responsibility for himself. There are so many interesting things to do with him. There are so many things that he needs guidance on. I want to be fully present for him in this critical phase of growing up. Ram is still young and he needs me differently. I want to do all the things that I enjoy doing with him – reading, cooking, playing, coloring and what not. And with Da, I will be a little nicer, kinder and compassionate instead of using him as my punching bag. As rudimentary all these aspects sound to you or may come naturally to many of the moms that I know of, they are hard for me. I tend to oversee these finer aspects as there are so many things I want to dip my tips in. 

While the “Us” does not preclude my parents, siblings and families, I am doing pretty ok on that front, which is why I am narrowing the focus to the immediate concentric circle around me. 

This does not mean I will abandon pursuits outside home. Far from it, I want to do my bit, so they are not going away. But I will be deliberate about what I take on and make sure that I balance between what gives me intrinsic and extrinsic joys. I missed out on reading, writing, cooking experiments, and connecting with friends this year and I hope to pick up the slackness there.  I will strive to be more consistent with eating clean and healthy and working out.

These are the intentions I am setting for the year. What are yours?

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Introspection, Learnings, Memories, Us, Wishes

2017 – the year that was

There is pin drop silence in the house. Strike that, I can hear Da snoring his heart away. I can also hear some footsteps headed towards the bathroom, a sign that one child is up for the day. My tummy weighs like a ton of bricks from all the food indulgence last night. It was a cosy gathering. We met, we ate, we laughed and we dispersed with a full stomach and a light heart.

I have a couple of hours before the intensity of the day sets in. A time that I am carving out to reflect on the year that is coming to a close. As I look back on the year that has gone by, these are things that are at the top of my mind.

My paternal grandma, Andu patti, passed away in April. She had a really difficult end of life, with dementia wreaking havoc on her and the ones caring for her. Longevity means very little when it is not paired with quality of life. How our life comes to an end and when it comes to an end are not in our control; we can do all the right things and yet have an undesirable end. So taking proper care of our physical and mental health when it is in our hands seems not only responsible but also sensible.

I pushed myself to give back to the local community. I provided tactical support to a friend who stood for school committee, and played a small role in making our voices heard on a school related issue. I helped organize workshops in the local library and continue to edit the school newsletters. It was gratifying but I also realized, that they are very transactional in nature. Meaning, once it’s done, it’s done. This is an epiphany because it will help me choose where I want to spend my time and energy going forward.

I poured my heart and soul on my dance productions this year. I pushed the limits of what I can do and it was another humbling experience. There was wonder in knowing that I am capable of doing things that was challenging at the outset and there was also acceptance in knowing I come with my own limitations. Talent is something that we are born with, and we have no say in how talented we are. But striving towards our full potential is within our control; it’s not an easy path but one worth trudging on.

We renovated our house this year. We moved into this house a decade back and have worked our lifestyle around what was given to us, which worked well. The renovation gave us a chance to think about our needs and wants and how we want to customize the house to our personal preferences. For the most part, the project was enjoyable and I am proud of us for having taken the discomfort and inconveniences in stride. This project also gave me a newfound appreciation for all the details that go into the making of a house.

It feels like the outside world is filled with pain, suffering and destruction. My very liberal neighborhood was in the news for hate crime, there have been several break ins, and a life was gone too soon. This is within the short circumference of my neighborhood. Beyond that, if at all anything, the magnitude of the events happening are confusing, nerve wracking, and overwhelming. Yet, I am trying hard to not get hopeless. If we give up hope and faith, what else can we hold on to? We need to stay informed, be aware and push ourselves to do what little we can. If not anything else, be kind. I like to believe that kindness goes a long way in counter balancing the negativity around us even if we are not able to directly impact the events.  

I wish you a very happy 2018.  I wish you the freedom and courage to be who you want to be, relationships and friendships that matter, deliberation in thought and action, unshakable faith in your effort and values, compassion towards the self and others, grace and wisdom to handle the unknowns, bountiful little moments and happy surprises, unconditional love and acceptance, uncluttered mind, full presence and focused work, and a strong body and sound intellect. I wish you the best that life has to offer. In 2018 and always!

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Holidays

Christmas Eve

The second born is eager to go to bed tonight. “Santa will be here soon, let’s go to bed anna,” saying so he grabs the remote from Hari to switch the TV off. Hari is trying hard not to roll his eyes, and entices his little brother. “It’s ok Ram, we can watch one episode of King Julian. We still have time.” Da is laughing his heart out at the antics of King Julian. Truly, this grown male is such a kid at heart. His uninhibited laughter makes me happy. The Christmas tree in the living room is twinkling red, yellow, green and blue. There are handmade presents from Ram and Hari under the tree. A couple of other presents from friends are waiting to be opened as well.  A long long list for Santa has been written and rewritten. Christmas carols have been playing. Cookies and brownies are ready waiting to be graced by Santa’s bite.

To those of you that celebrate, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Posted in Gratitude, Holidays, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

Slowing down

It is truly the only time of the year when things slow down on all fronts – work, volunteering, school and extracurricular activities for kids. There are no deadlines to chase, no routine to keep up. Nonetheless, there are things to do. Projects that I have been putting off citing lack of time and energy. Those need to be tackled but at least it will be on my terms. This quite time is much needed and I am immensely thankful for it.

Some random tidbits from my end.

  • Da and I went to the Star Wars movie. I am not a Star Wars junkie but I am hooked. I am on a mission to watch the rest of the seven movies. Talking about movies, so many ones that I would like to see. If possible, within the next week – Jumanji, Pitch Perfect, and The Greatest Showman.
  • Ram and I are slowly getting to our pre-summer bedtime routine. How I have missed it! It’s always tempting to give up on bedtime routine because I am totally drained by that time of the day. But once I get past that moment of weakness, the five to ten minutes of reading, meditating and tucking in give such a fitting end to the day.
  • There are some residual jobs left, but officially the renovation is complete. We got the inspection sign off after some hiccups. I have been spending the past few days unpacking, cleaning and arranging. I enjoy doing this kind of work, so no complaints.
  • This winter feels like winter with temperatures dipping, and some snow here and there.  And it’s just the beginning of the season. Oh lord!
  • I am hardly on computer since I have been off work since last Thursday. It feels great not to be tethered to my laptop or to be distracted by random web browsing due to my distracted mind.
  • I decided that I will not be ambitious about what I want to accomplish during this break. I will give my all to the present and just be. I want to do a little bit of everything – work, play, travel, and chill.
Posted in Gratitude, SYW

Share Your World

Thank you Cee for this week’s questions.

If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work? I hire someone for cleaning, and she has made a world of difference to my life.  She takes care of the deep cleaning while I do the daily maintenance. I would prefer to do my own cooking. I can’t say I am passionate about cooking but I like the idea of knowing of what goes into the food that I feed my family. While I don’t want to admit, I do feel happy when my family devours the food that I cook. On second thoughts, perhaps a cook who would cook over the weekend would be nice change and would take some burn out from the daily cooking. Yard work has been royally ignored all this year and we certainly could use help to restore it.

If you were to move and your home came fully furnished with everything you ever wanted, list at least three things from your old house you wish to retain? I would like to take our shrine (something Da and I built when we moved to this house), our home office (again, we put a lot of thought into designing it), and all the ventilation we have post renovation.

What calms you down? Productivity calms me down. It calms me down because it reaffirms that while I cannot control what I cannot control, I can control what I can.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  I appreciated the holiday party for kids at Da’s work place. It is a low key affair where they have a ton of arts and crafts activities for children. Hari volunteered and it was endearing to see him working with other little kids, hi-fiving, guiding and cheering them. Ram loves to make things, so it was like being in a paradise for him. All in all, it was nice soaking in the holiday spirit.

Posted in Detox, Experiences, Me, Work life balance

Mid-week bonanza

I get to do one of the coolest things right in the middle of the work week, in the middle of work day – yoga! My company conducts a yoga session every Wednesday. I so look forward to it and I am very protective of this time.

“There is earth beneath you, breath within you, and you have good intentions. So many things should have gone right for you to be right here, right now. There are places to go. There is work to do. The most important work begins with you. Take the time. Take care of you,”  the yoga instructor reminds us as we stretch and warm up. “Believe in the power of your strength, and the natural ability of your body to find balance,” she continues. I hang on to every word she utters and commit it to memory. 

I love these reminders.. To stretch, to pause, to reflect, and to connect my breath with my body. Immensely thankful for this mid-week break that refreshes and rejuvenates me like no other. 

Posted in People

Forward and Backward

Forward: Go Alabama! So very glad that the electorate rose above political loyalties and did not vote for the wrong candidate. This is a much needed glimmer of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy political environment.

Backward: On Point with Tom Ashbrook is one of my favorite radio shows/podcasts. It’s the one I turn to when I am in the mood for in-depth analysis of current affairs. I used to heart Tom Ashbrook, and have fancied interning for him, for the show. Just the thought of having so much intellectual fodder to chew on used to give me the goosebumps! So, I was incredibly sad to read this news from a couple of days back. Who knows what the truth is but there is no smoke without fire. And no excuse is good enough to mistreat another human being.

Posted in Hari Katha, Humor, Learnings, Little Moments, Memories, Writing

With Hari’s permission, I am posting the personal narrative that he has been working on. I love how writing is taught here, right from elementary grade. In this narrative, he is required to check for transition words, sensory language, zooming in, zooming out, grammar and spelling.

_____________________

Bad Kitty!

When I encountered a lion, things weren’t pretty. It did not bite me. It did not scratch me. Instead, it peed on me. That’s right, I was a john for a lion, a once in a lifetime experience.

While visiting my uncle’s family in Bentonville, Arkansas, we decided to visit a famous zoo located 25 miles south of where we were staying.  Although the drive only took 30 minutes, it felt like eternity as my eight year old brain processed the fact that I would see animals which were uncommon in New England.

“Bang!” slammed the passenger door, arousing me.  Not missing a beat, I hopped out of the car and headed towards the zoo, thrilled about what experience awaited me. When we entered the zoo, I gasped. I was astonished at the chimpanzee swinging in its cage like a trapeze artist, a bear expertly balancing on a tiny red ball, and an iguana blending with its surroundings. The warm delicious scent of popcorn from a nearby food cart welcomed me with its lovely aroma.

“Come on Hari,” my mom instructed. “You should take a look at these majestic lions. If you need me, I’ll be in the reptile section.”

“Sounds fine mom,” I replied. I trotted towards the lions, and halted when I spotted them, their orange manes flowing in the cool wind. Standing a mere inch away from the smooth, black cage was a kid about my age, staring at the lion. Turning around, he beckoned me to come sit next to him. Immediately, I started sweating. I felt that standing that close to the cage would likely come back to bite me. However, my undying curiosity to see the lion prompted me to crouch next to the kid and face the lion. I looked in awe at the humongous lion which peered back at me as if saying, who are you, and why are you in my territory?

“This lion is awesome!” I whooped, expecting the kid to respond. Instead, the kid, whose gaze was getting more alarmed by the second screamed “Look out!” and quickly dove to the side. I however, did not have quick enough reflexes. A yellow spray of liquid washed over me, sizzling all over my arm. Embarrassed I scampered away, avoiding as many people as I could, only to bump into my mom.

“What happened to you?” My mom cried, her face turning pale as milk seeing me wet.

“Ummmmmmmmm,” I mumbled, feverishly debating in my mind on whether or not to tell my mom.

“Spit it out, what happened?” She insisted, pushing me to the brink of telling the truth.

“Oh fine!” I sputtered, “A lion leaked on me.” Instantly, my mom put a hand to her mouth.

“Come on, we’ll get you cleaned up,” she replied, extracting a bag of tissues from her purse.

As you can see, I have survived that traumatic experience, but am still trying to live down the fact that I was a urinal for a lion. Now, I always stand far away from the cages of animals knowing well not to repeat the same mistake twice. Nevertheless, I still have nightmares, imagining that yellow substance submerging over me. Most of all, I have learned to accept the facts, and laugh along with my family when they make a joke about that incident – I’m Hari, I was a potty for the king of the jungle, and I am proud of it!

 

Posted in Now, Us

My Now

I am sitting in the home office, the pendant lamps giving the much needed focused lighting on my laptop, the orangish brown accent wall providing a vibrant contrast to the wooden bench that was built so all of us can huddle together, sans any distractions, for some productive time.

Next to me, is an empty Ninja Turtle cup and a green straw, the one from which Ram was sipping his Bournvita as he worked on his comic book – Adventures of The Star Man. Apparently, he is going to write sequels to this book. So he is calling it, Adventures of The Star Man – Book 1. He has drawn stars and many speech bubbles. I am tempted to ask for the story line but he has lost himself in the world of Dragonbreath. May be later? Just before pivoting to reading, he and I had a discussion around arranging the books in his room. He wanted to order them in a series, I want him to focus on books he will read often so he will have easy access. The child put the discussion to an end by declaring that he reads all his books many times over so it doesn’t matter. Sigh! 13 years of parenting has taught me to sense a losing battle a mile away and to gracefully let it go before it escalates and swallows your morning.

Hari is sitting next to me working on his english assignment. He is required to write a 450-550 words personal narrative. I quite like what he has written. He has chosen a small moment from our visit to the Arkansas zoo when a lion pee splashed on his ipad and has expanded on it.  The essay needs some fine tuning and he is suffering from a severe case of writer’s’ block. “Amma, can you help me?” he asked. “Of course, tell me what can I do?” “Just sit next to me and do some work so I will get motivated” And that’s exactly why this post came to be.

The child is doing all sorts of antics – pulling his hair out, checking out thesaurus, lovingly glance at his younger brother… looks like the mojo will return in its sweet time..!

Posted in Gratitude, Me, SYW, Writing

Share Your World

Enjoyed answering your questions Cee.

What household chore do you absolutely hate doing? Cleaning anything that spills or breaks. Specifically when glass container shatters all over the floor. No matter how thoroughly you clean, there is always a piece staring right back at you.

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Over the weekend as I arranged our closets listening to Oliver Sacks speak.

How many times have you moved in the last ten years? Zero. We moved to our current home 10 years back and have planted ourselves here since them.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. RadioLab podcast had an episode where they have captured Oliver Sacks think aloud, brought goosebumps as I got a get a peek into how great thinkers think. To hear his assistant talk about his passion for writing made me want to write passionately and from my heart. I felt so grateful to live at a time and age where access to such gems is just a finger swipe away.