Acceptance of the present moment. Being in your doing. Clarity in your thoughts. Conviction in your actions. Courage in your voice. Faith in your efforts. Determination to overcome setbacks. Dreams fulfilled and goals accomplished. Relationships and friendships that nourish you. Abundance of tender, love and care. Robust health, sound intellect, and peace of mind. I wish you all these and more, in the coming new year and always! Happy and meaningful 2020 to you and yours.
That time of the year to introspect, reflect and take stock of the year that has gone by.
First things first. Let me address the elephant in the room. My word of the year. HABITS. A complete, utter failure to embrace it. I have struggled with simple, foundational habits – eating right, and exercising for a few minutes, and flossing. That extended to the next tier of habits – reading, writing etc. When I started out the year, I thought I would start small, build on my habits over time, and make everyday habits second nature by the end of the year. I started small but all my efforts tapered and evaporated over the course of the year.
In thinking through what went wrong? I am a textbook case of spare the rod and spoil the child. If I don’t hold myself to high standards, I just fall apart. I have developed a huge inertia for working out. I simply do not want to sweat it out. Moderation does not work for me. Once I succumb to one bite, it’s million bites after that. My mind has become an expert at wiggling out of discomfort and coaxing me into taking the easy way out. If my own internal barriers aren’t enough, Da’s and my own work schedule have thrown a wrench on our routine and made time even more scarce.
I am disappointed with myself but determined to pick up my slackness and get better. Now that the most difficult part of introspection has been addressed moving on to what else was happening in our lives.
In terms of life events, my maternal patti passed away in the beginning of the year. End of life is a hard phase, some have it harder than others. My grandma was surrounded by love and prayers in her deathbed. Thankful that her suffering was not prolonged.
Da moved on to a new company. The commute is less but the work day is longer, all worth it as there is fulfillment coming from the work. Hari is thriving in high school, taking responsibility for his learning, charting his course. Ram is dabbling in a lot of stuff with scouts and Destination Imagination being good fit for his personality, sports done for movement and socializing, and Sunday school because his mom insists.
It was tumultuous couple of weeks when appa was sick and the reality of staying so far away and the enormity of role reversal hit me like a ton of bricks. Visiting India, spending time with my parents, going around on my own, reconnecting with friends and life in India are most certainly the highlights of my year.
We have gone green this year. We have been composting since the beginning of the year, carrying bags for grocery trips and minimizing the use of paper goods. Did I mention that we will be installing solar panels next year? The motivation for that though is the tax benefits rather than the environmental benefits coming from it. While our day to day choices still tilt in favor of convenience, we are more thoughtful about the use of plastics in our lives.
My work has had several twists and turns this year. I miss my old team but I am happy to be part of my new team. I am learning new things, taking on new challenges and working with new team members. I have also become disciplined about going to office for three days per week and not using my work devices for personal purposes. It feels like some sanctity in my work life has been restored with these simple measures.
After a break of over a year, got back to dancing, wherein we as students are steering the direction of our classes and making thoughtful choices. I feel good about this because I missed dancing and I took ownership to bring dance back into my life.
I spent a lot of time listening to interviews and podcasts by Eckhart Tolle. I have read his works but somehow the podcasts took my understanding to the next level and the teachings resonated at a deeper level. For the first few days, I wanted to scream at the top of the mountain. I felt like I had found a treasure. An instruction manual on how to live life.
I leave you with my biggest learning for this year. The present moment is all that matters. That is all there is to life. Surrender to it. Take refuge in it. Accept it willingly.
I am spying Ram across the hall. His face is intense, the kind of expression you see on someone who is lost in what he or she is doing. He has been working diligently on the word search and trivia that Hari had made for him on his favorite video game, Brawl Stars, for Christmas. I then shift my gaze to our picture from Costa Rica on the mantle. I have forgotten the name of the specific location but remember the gratitude I felt when we clicked that picture last year. Hari has photoshopped and presented it to me as his handmade Christmas present. Then I see the hand painted cards (with coffee powder) that Da had made for all of us.
As we inched towards Christmas, I declared that this year we will make handmade presents for each other. Ram was first in line, he rolled up his sleeves, and galvanized into action right away. Paper made football creations for Hari, a story for his mom in which there is a Muffin-man superhero who runs a shop called Muff muff muffin store with his superpower being to catapult humans with licorice and lollipop, and a personalized set of Pokemon cards for his dad. Hari outdid himself with his creations, putting in a lot of thought and time into each of them. Da, in addition to playing santa’s helper and ensuring that there are presents under the tree, made handmade cards for us. For my part, I have committed to gift of time and acts of service for each of them over the course of the next year – cuddle an read, baking sessions, follow TV shows, assume positive intent, so on and so forth.
This year has been less about Santa and more about Family. Less about presents and more about togetherness. It has been about game nights, Christmas songs, and baking peanut butter cookies together.
Brrr……!! We are freezing here in this part of the world. Winter has just begun and we have already had two snow days. Taking stock of little moments for the week.
- I tiptoe to Hari’s room to see if he has woken up for the day. Unexpectedly, I am treated to the sight of Ram curling up with Hari. My cute and cuddly boys!
- Another one of the guitar sessions with Ram. “Amma if you think you need to catch a breath when you are singing, you can breathe as you sing…” He goes on to imitate how to do that and it’s so cute and funny.
- Lighthearted conversations with a close friend. There is no therapy better than laughing at once own silliness and imperfections with a buddy. Don’t you agree?
- Hari: I don’t want snow day because I like the warm and fuzzy feeling from going to school (it’s all sarcasm) Ram: Oh yeah, then how about you get more of that warm and fuzzy feeling by going to Sunday school Hari: No, I want you to experience the warm and fuzzy feeling. How can I take that away from you? Ram: It’s ok Hari, I can do that for you. I will just be miserable at home playing video games.
- I loved the paneer paratha,” exclaimed both the kids at different times. If you are a parent, you would know that getting lunch right is like winning a jackpot.
Wrapping up for now. Take care!
The local Indian Americans association conducted a college workshop for middle schoolers and high schoolers that centered around giving exposure to different professions and how there are multiple pathways to get there. Although it was targeted for a much younger audience, I found the discussion very relevant for adults and life in general. Sharing some wisdom that resonated with me, and passing along to you.
- Combine your different passions, it will allow you to be directed in a meaningful manner. Think about your career in terms of four dimensions – what you love, what you are good at, what you can get paid for, what the world needs. If you can find something that has at least two of these components, that’s something.
- Every step of the way matters, explore in whatever ways you can, try to find what you love, no education goes to waste.
- Every job has its good and bad days. If you are you able to love your job even on the bad days, then that’s something.
- Key to career for folks starting out is to have good mentors. Find people who can help you open your eyes to how you can apply your passion.
- Learning in the smallest manner matters. Take advantage of opportunities, even if it’s small, even if it’s boring… it will add up to the person you would want to be.
- Stay curious, it’s ok to not know where it takes you
- Find what interests you. Mix and match your skills to find something that works for you.
- Definition of what success means to you will change over your lifetime
- We grow better and faster by learning, sharing and making connections
- One way to think about your career choice is – what problem do you want to solve for, how do you want to contribute, how can you qualify for it?
- Allow yourself to change your mind. Go to a college that allows you to explore. Explore and making connections are the two most important things you can do in college. Non-linear careers paths are more common than you think.
- You may not know what you like, but you may know what you do not like, and that’s a good starting point.
- Practice having authentic conversation, look people in the eye, take genuine interest, learn to build trust, and make connection in the moment. This the most difficult thing to do but the most important thing you can learn to do. People always remember how you make them feel.
He is dressed in formals. Sky blue shirt, dark blue trousers, grey polka dot tie, and a navy blue blazer. His hair is nicely combed. What a relief after seeing it unkempt for weeks! He is happily chomping away his masala dosai for breakfast. Masala dosai has become his special breakfast, one that is reserved for days that he feels like having an extra ounce of TLC. On his b’day, when he has MCAS, and today because he is going out of town for debate tournament. We hold hands, set intentions. Normally, I spew some maternal advice, reminding him to stay in the present and give it his all. But today there is no need for that. He has said it all, “ I will give my best, I will not get upset if it does not go my way, I will just go with the flow and learn from the experience” I breathe deep in an attempt to take the moment in, hug him tight, give him loud kisses and wish him well. He is gone for the next couple of days with a roll on in tow.
As I get dressed for my day, I notice that he has left his formal shirt and trousers for the next day. I panic and text him. “You forgot to pack your formals for tomorrow, I am coming to drop them.” In a minute, I hear my phone ring. “Mom, I don’t need it. I left it on purpose.” “Why what will you wear tomorrow?” “Just the same ones, that’s what everyone does?” What? Really? Is the strategy to repulse the judges with stinky shirts? I think to myself but just tell him, “Ok, we need to talk about this for next time but have a good time.” He did not forget, he left it on purpose. The child knows what he is doing. I feel reassured, I trust a little bit more and let go.
On our way back from an errand, Ram spies a Subway store and says, “I wish anna was here. We could have had Subway” I want to tell him I miss Hari too but instead I suggest, “We can still have dinner from Subway,” and that lights him up. Dinner done, the three of us are assembled for our weekend TV night. “Amma, I don’t want to watch SugarRush. I don’t want to do anything we do as a family without anna. So let’s watch Green Eggs and Ham.”
Da today randomly comments, “I miss Hari.” “Me too,” says Ram. Ditto, I say to myself.
He went away last weekend, and it was fine. Somehow this weekend we miss him more. May be because our days are not as busy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we are pining and sulking for him. We are carrying on with our routine, and happily so. But somehow it feels incomplete. A sense of inadequacy. A search for someone.
He will be here shortly, and we will scream in excitement, and hug tightly. One normal giving way to a new normal, one out of town debate tournament at a time.
I am dusting the cobwebs on the Little Moments Thursday series in an attempt to see where it takes me. The point of this series is to celebrate the little moments, the small wins, and the life lessons with an attitude of gratitude. I love this series because as I recount the moments that filled me, I relive them. I also like it because it has the unintentional benefit of jotting down the everyday details of my life, which normally fades into oblivion over time.
So what am I celebrating this week?
- NOW. This moment. Right here, right now. Ram and I are next to each other in the bunk bed, he lost in the world of Rick Riordon and I wrapped in my sleep robe. Hari and Da are in the home office doing their thing. It’s the end of a long tiring day. We have not caught up with each other. There are a million things that need to be discussed and we will over time. Right now, we want to be the master of this moment, doing what we want, not what we have to.
- Ram is getting into the rhythm of learning guitar. Lately he has been asking me to sing for a piece that he is learning. Can’t tell you how much fun it is to bond over music! I so love it when he tells me I am off track. That means he must know what it is to be on track, right?
- I had a successful client meeting this week. I was a bundle of nerves because it was on a topic that I had no expertise in but was expected to be an expert. I stepped outside my comfort zone, and worked day and night on that.
- Holiday parties – movie screening this past weekend, work holiday party!
More to write but have to stop here because I have been summoned to cuddle and snuggle by the littlest human in our house. Tudlu for now…!