- I have been off from work over the past two weeks. I have been checking social media but not as frequently. I have not watched anything on Netflix. I expected not to miss work but not missing social media or watching T.V. is a nice surprise.
- All four of us have been hanging out together for the past week or so doing nothing in particular. I am going to miss the lazy mornings, deadline-free, commitment-free, chauffeuring-free days. Not to mention the brats.
- I am only exaggerating a little when I say, if you were to stand outside our house for some time right now, you will be a human popsicle. It is minus four degree Fahrenheit tonight. The low temperatures have been hovering at that range for the past one week and is expected to remain so for the next one week. On the plus side, it’s going to feel warm and toasty when we hit freezing point. It’s all relative!
- New year does give a nice opportunity to reconnect with folks that I normally don’t keep in touch with under the guise of being busy. Spending the last day of the previous year and the first year of the new year catching up with friends and family is something I so look forward to.
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!
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!
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.
The kids are on the last week of summer vacation. The past 6 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Another milepost in the passage of time. Barring a couple of weeks, the boys have been attending summer camps. Between my dance productions and all the construction work, that seemed to be the fair thing to do.
It gladdens my heart to see Hari rested and relaxed. He has had his fill of cricket, baseball and books for the summer. The poor child has been suffering from allergies this month, must be a combination of pollen and all the dust floating around with the construction work. It must be frustrating to have fragmented sleep but the child has been taking it in stride – “I sneeze and have runny nose, but I end up slowly drifting off to sleep. So don’t worry about it amma”
Ram has been fervently working on Perler beads, teaching himself from google images and youtube videos. As I write this post, he is trying his hands on 3D designs. When he is not working on fuse beads, he is lost to the written word. The child sure knows to enjoy his own company. We have read so little together this summer. Our reading during breakfast is currently non-existent. Partly because I have not made the time and partly because there is very little eating going on at breakfast when reading is involved. We just need to find a way to sneak in some reading time together. I am not ready to let go of that yet.
We still have not figured out the extra activities for the school year. For Hari, we have a rough sense. For Ram, some homework is still in order.
I am not ready for back to school yet. I have neither spent quality nor quantity time with my rambunctious bundles of joy. No matter what else I may have accomplished, the summer still feels incomplete.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I console myself in an act of self-compassion. I cannot have it all. But the bigger truth is, even when I may have been clueless about their days, I have been quietly soaking in the finer things that parenting entails. Enjoying the glint of naughtiness in their eyes, swelling with pride when they save treats for each other, loving them all over as they peacefully drift to dreamland, taking in the sight of them deeply engrossed in their books, and watching them devour cookie dough ice cream with anticipation although they have had it a million times.
This summer has not been a summer of going away, beach trips, bike rides or even play dates. It has been a time of quiet presence, simple living, and glorious nothingness in our household.
“Breathe in. Breathe out,” I tell myself. I feel heavy hearted as I recall the events from this year. I scroll back to the entries since the beginning of the year by way of reassuring myself that this year too has had its share of joyful events. And I am not disappointed. There is plenty to rejoice about. Life is kind that way, it tosses bouquets even when it throws brickbats.
My mil’s health setbacks and her subsequent passing away this year has undoubtedly dented our lives. And just like that this year marked the end of an era for the family. We miss amma at random times for random reasons. Sometimes we talk about it and at other times, we just sit tight, keeping a low profile, waiting for the feeling to pass.
“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande is the book that has had an immense influence on me this year. Human body is a complex and sophisticated machine and like any other machine, it is bound to wear and tear with time. The book made me think a lot about aging and mortality and humbled me. We can’t live life fearing the worst. Nor should we live life as though we have unlimited time on earth. We should strive to live our fullest in the moments given to us, with the people around us.
This year has been a milestone year in so many ways. Da and I celebrated our 15 years of togetherness. Hari started middle school and Ram began kindergarten. We became US citizens and voted for the first time.
I took up a lot of volunteering projects this year – at school, at the local library, and in Sunday school, and realized that there is always so much to do. The more activities I engage in outside home, the more motivated I feel to come back to my home, to my people. I experimented with cooking quite a bit this year, and loved practicing eating right and eating clean. I jogged consistently for the first half of the year, shed some pounds and felt like I took responsibility for my health, I tried my hands on meditation and was awed by the power that mind has over the body.
My heartfelt wishes to you and your family in the brand new year. I wish you clarity amidst chaos, faith and hope in the face of panic, strength and belief to fight setbacks, focus when distractions rule, interests and passions that fill you, family and friends to love and cherish, a healthy body, a peaceful mind and a sound intellect. Lightness, cheer and merriment. Happy 2017.
- Santa came, and so did the Tooth Fairy…!!! Our little Ram lost his first baby tooth this past weekend. His grown up tooth has already sprouted, so he is technically not a pokka vai. The Tooth Fairy left a 5-dollar note for the child. The first child glared at his parents, rolled his eyes, and asked, “How come the Tooth Fairy left me only one dollar for my first tooth and nothing for the seventeen that fell after that?” What can I say, the Tooth Fairy seems to have suffered from a major memory loss…!
- Da and Ram were playing with the 3D printing pen that Santa left for Hari, who could care less about the unsolicited gift. Ram was intrigued. “Appa, how come you and I are the ones doing scientific stuff and have talked a lot about 3D printers but anna gets a 3D printing pen?” What can I say, Santa seems to have had a major lapse in judgement!
- We visited our friends in the next state over the long weekend. During my tête–à–tête with little N the earlier day, he told me with unmistakable excitement in his voice that he was looking forward to our visit more than Christmas. We outrank Santa, can you believe that?
- Your truly has watched three movies this week. Fantastic Beasts with the one and only spouse on a rare day off for both of us and not for the kids. Loved every minute of the movie. Then, went to Dangal with a friend. The movie stretched in parts, but overall good one. And today, Hari, Ram and I went for Sing. A very nice kids movie that I too enjoyed!
- I have been off work since two days prior to Christmas. Unsurprisingly I had grand dreams to tackle all the pending stuff but surprisingly I am not bothered that I have not accomplished a fraction of things on my To Do list. This is the calm before the storm, so I might as well make the most out of it. Once work and school resume, it’s going to be a whirlwind of activities and deadlines till next Fall. So yeah, stay calm and rest when you can!