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. 

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Us

Team work

Another thank you coming in the way of the renovation project.

One of the things that our house lacked prior to the renovation was closets and storage space. We didn’t have enough wardrobe space, so the clothes were spilling all over the bedroom. We didn’t have a closet where the kids could store their sports related stuff, as a result the living room doubled up as mud room. We couldn’t carve out a space for working, so the dining table conveniently became a catch all place for all of us to work.

This is not a bad situation to be in and one could argue that it builds character and presents an opportunity to embrace simple living. Except that in our household, it resulted in  frustration, fiery glances and endless finger pointing. After many failed attempts to declutter and simplify, it became clear that we had to rethink our ways. The renovation project presented a golden opportunity.

Da and I spent hours designing our closets, home office, and mudroom. Initially, I felt like an impostor using the word design. “Us and design?” is what I thought to myself. But turns out that we and only we are the experts at knowing our needs and wants. Once we zeroed in on that,  designing a space came naturally. Spending time with Da figuring out our needs, brainstorming ideas, browsing over pages of Pinterest images and Houzz articles, working around our constraints and ultimately committing the design to paper has definitely been one of my favorite parts of this initiative. It put the focus on the process rather than the end result.

I would not be surprised if we continue to go on with our careless ways even after the home improvement but I am immensely thankful for the hours spent working together with Da. It is one of the things that makes this house a home. Our home.

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Experiences, Gratitude, Little Moments

Repair jobs

The main goal of the home renovation project is to add footprint. The secondary goal is to fix long neglected kinks in the house. While adding footprint is nice and great, what gladdens me the most is the repair jobs we did. We took down a diseased tree, we removed the broken gutter that had us scrambling for the trash can when it poured, we got the rotting flooring in our entrance fixed, and we took down the walls between rooms and made the area more open. These relatively small changes have relieved our day to day frustrations and enhanced the quality of our life several times over. My heartfelt gratitude!

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Experiences, Gratitude, Writing

The blogging medium

I open “Thoughts Unlimited 4” google doc and scroll down to the 90th page, the page that I am typing on now.  I tend to type my posts on google document before posting it here on my online journal. This is my fourth file, and I have written more than 350 pages over a span of 11 years.

Within my circle of friends, I know of many people who have felt compelled to write all their life. I am not one of them. Growing up, I never felt the itch to write in a diary or a journal. The closest I can say I started writing was after I left high school. I felt the urge to put pen to paper out of wanting to be in touch with my high school friends. I used to write long descriptive letters to my friends and for a while had the pleasure of receiving equally long descriptive replies. But once the business of adulting took over, the practice dwindled. I adapted. I wrote less. I shared less.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to blogging and very soon it became a platform that allowed me to write, articulate, and share without any dependencies. A place where I could explore my writing side and discover my voice. I am not exaggerating when I say that without blogging, there would have been no writing for me. So I am utterly grateful for this medium for igniting that dormant spark of writing in me. It has truly been a pleasure!

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Experiences, Inspiration, Introspection, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Do it anyway!

The kids lined up to board the school bus like they always do. Ram got in and had a conversation with the driver, which was unusual for him. Just as I was wondering what it could be about, the little chat we had that morning hit me.

Ram had misplaced his mittens a week back. He was nonchalant about looking for it. Over the course of the week, we had a number of conversations around the curious case of missing mittens. “I don’t need an extra pair of gloves amma. I have another pair.” “I don’t want to look for it mommy.” I explained to him that we all lose stuff. It happens. It means we need to get better at taking care of our things and it starts by searching for what we lost. So check in the Lost and Found box at school, check in the Lost and Found box in the bus, I had advised.

He checked at school. No luck. When I asked him about checking in the bus, he confessed, “I am feeling shy to ask the driver amma. I don’t want to ask amma. I am ok with just one pair of mittens.” I told him it made sense, I too feel shy about talking to people sometimes. I then tried to reframe the situation for him. “Think of it as something that you need to do to find your mittens instead of thinking of it as having to talk to the driver.”  I was not sure if he understood, but he nodded and asked me to remind him to ask at the bus stop.

Needless to say, I had forgotten all about it. But he had remembered. He had mustered all his courage to go up to the driver and talk about his missing mittens. It was not easy but he did it anyway. And guess what? The mittens were sitting snugly in the Lost and Found box! Quickly grabbing them, he waved at me, his heart puffing with pride and his eyes shining with confidence.

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Ram joined Boy Scouts this year. The much dreaded popcorn sales was upon on us sooner than we thought. As part of that effort, Boy Scouts are expected to dress in their uniforms, explain their mission, and sell popcorn to random passersby.

One fine hot Fall afternoon, Ram went with his dad to sell popcorn. I went for a brief few minutes to see the child in action. For the first few times, it was hard for me to watch him get rejected. How could someone reject a little child’s plea for buying popcorn? Soon the mommy bias faded and good sense prevailed. Not everyone likes popcorn. Not everyone believes in Boy Scouts. Not everyone has money to indulge a child that’s not theirs.  And rejections build character, it’s good for him in the long run. As I was building these stories in my head,  Ram and his scout buddy did not let rejections deter them from going to the next person. They did what they had to do. Ram took the rejections in stride, in spite of the inhibitions he was feeling within. It was not easy, but he did it anyway.

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These two images are etched in my memory. They remind me of how the child pushed himself beyond his comfort zone and did what it took,  not without inhibitions but in spite of his inhibitions. They inspire me to reach out when the easier thing would be to hold myself back.

 

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Experiences, Experiments, Gratitude, Inspiration, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

BFG

Last night’s mental list of things to do.

  • Dust kitchen counter
  • Make dinner
  • Unload and load dishwasher
  • Iron Da’s clothes
  • Research on renovation related stuff
  • Plan meals for next two days

Guess what took priority instead? The thing that was not in the list to begin with – the BFG costume for Ram!

BFG

There was a lot of moaning and groaning in my head. Why can’t the school just do a Halloween parade instead of creating a Story Book Character Day*? Why can’t Ram just pick a more readily available costume such as an astronaut or the Ninja Turtle? Why can’t Da return the tile sample tomorrow and work on this costume instead? Why me?

Ram had thought through and had his heart set on being the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) based on a book by Road Dahl. He already had a vision of how he wanted to look. There was no turning back at this point. Well, the small problem was, errr…. the only person who could help him last night, yours truly, is not exactly an artsy craftsy creative person. How are we going to pull off a last minute BFG costume when we are spending an hour looking for socks and bath towels?

Let’s just say, necessity is the more of creativity. Ram and I teamed up and raided our Halloween pile to do our own costume – a vampire cape for BFG’s night time cloak, a Nehru vest for BFG’s waist coat, a regular pant and an army t shirt. Now what do we do for giant ears? What about Sophie? Ram borrowed an idea from Hari’s Halloween costume – we were going to use a headband to attach two giant cardboard ears so he could wear them with ease. After some drawing, cutting, taping, the giant ears were ready. For Sophie, we took a little girl toy from the Candyland board game, and stuck it to one of the giant’s ears. We emptied the K’nex box and made it into the giant’s suitcase. The only thing that was missing was the trumpet. We conveniently agreed that the BFG was not going to be in a particularly musical mood the following day.

As I waved Ram at the parade this morning, I was so proud of what we had pulled together. Cute little Sophie peeking out of his “ears”, one of his hands clasping the suitcase, and the other holding on to the BFG book.

I am thankful that Ram stretches my imagination, squeezes my non-existent creative juices and makes me do things that I would never try on my own. When he sees you doing things for him, you can sense his gratitude welling up for you. His eyes sparkling with excitement and anticipation.

There are very few things that are rocket science, isn’t it? With some imagination, a lot of willingness to try and fail, and some patience, more often than not, you find a way to make it work!

* The goal, as the name implies, is to dress up like a character from a book. It could be any book!

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Us

Travel Musings

I am writing this post in the South Carolina airport waiting area. There is a good one hour for boarding and seven long hours to reach home. In spite of the lingering headache, I feel relief.  A relief from knowing that my work for today went well and I can get back to my routine work tomorrow. I feel a wave of gratitude fill my heart.

Although I have not gone around the city, Charlestown seems to be a nice place. It’s brisk and sunny outside. People are consistently warm, polite and kind. My cab driver, who was on the elderly side, is one of the friendliest persons I have met. As he said good bye to me, he shared the rules he lives by – “Be thankful, be courteous, and be on time” I nodded with a smile, his good nature rubbing on to me.

I parade the airport up and down for Panthers t-shirt for Hari. He had asked for one, “It’s ok if you don’t get it, but look for one amma” I don’t like the price tag, I am not impressed with the quality, but I overlook and grab the black t-shirt. The memory of the incessant text message from him yesterday cheers me up. I confess, when I am the one receiving the text messages, I am less judgmental and have more tolerance for teens with cell phones. “I wish I have all the cool gifs that you have,” I texted him. “When you come home, I will show the app to you” he replied instantly. This is how role reversal creeps in, an advice here, a teaching moment there, and reassurances thrown in the mix.

What to buy for Ram? Can’t make myself get another set of color pencils. The Hudson store has very limited options and I don’t want to spend too much. I manage to find a travel Snake and Ladders board game. When I spoke to Ram this morning he seem to have had a rough night with the coughing. Poor little one. I think of all the giggles that the dad and son had over Pinky and the Brain, and the innocence of it all makes my spirits soar.

I buy an apple turnover Nutella pastry for Da from the gourmet bakery. “Ram eat your breakfast”, “Hari did you pack your snack?”, “Did you book the taxi Maha?” He managed to squeeze all these questions in one conversation to three different people during my call this morning. It’s a crazy week to single handedly hold down the fort. The painters and the flooring guys are at home to do what they need to do. We have limited access to essentials and over 2/3 of the house is off-limits. Being the uncomplicated guy that he is, he takes it in stride. He does what he can, is content with very little, gives his all to his family and has no qualms about saying no when he cannot.

Another day. Another adventure. Thankful that we thrived.

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