Posted in Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Us

Word of the Year

My word of the year for 2018 is US. The goal was to be more engaged with Da, Hari, and Ram and to prioritize the family over other pursuits. If you ask them, they probably can’t tell the difference nor do I have anything tangible to report. Mostly, I have been working on my mindset, observing myself, making mental notes when I lapse, and learning from folks who do it so naturally. In that sense, I do feel like I have grown. I pay more attention, I consciously prioritize and set intentions.  I still can be very clueless about what’s happening at school, but we are constantly talking about dreams, challenges, little discoveries, and other silly banter. I have checked relatively more things in our household projects and have learnt that it’s a bottomless pit. As far not taking out on Da, that has been the toughest to work on. When you are married to someone for years, there is so much wear and tear to the relationship, so many things taken for granted, so much sense of entitlement. And  even when you think there is space, mutual respect, and love,  it is crowded with preconceived notions, and unconscious expectations. I am trying to do better and be nicer. There is always room for improvement, and it will happen over time. Today, I am celebrating the learnings, the journey and the practice.

For 2019, I am picking HABITS as the word of the year. I will work on my own  habits, and help the kids build their daily habits. What we do every day matters, it compounds over time (thanks to James Clear for drilling this in my head). Sticking to everyday routine with discipline is important because it frees up time and mindspace to do the finer things in life. Eating right, getting enough sleep, staying physically active, every single day, whether you like it or not, whether you are in the mood for it or not, is worth striving for. Then of course, there is habit of dance, practicing trumpet, reading, so on and so forth. We will work on them. One habit at a time.

Do you have a word of the year?

 

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Posted in Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Uncategorized

Of goals and intentions for the school year

They are growing up fast and furious right under our noses. Ram is in 2nd grade, and Hari is in 8th grade. The highlight of this summer for them was spending time with my parents. The kids have basked in the love of their grandparents for the past few months.

Before the first day of school, we set intentions for the school year. For Ram, the only goal is to build daily habits. The more and more I read about habit forming, the more and more I am convinced that what we do on a daily basis matters. So much more than what we think. That’s the mantra I have been chanting all this summer, especially to the older one. With Ram, setting expectations and getting him on board with the expectations, is the crucial step. Once that is done, with some enforcement from our end, the child is generally good. He is a true Upholder at heart. The big caveat is the“some enforcement” part, which falls on yours truly lap, who is quite the slacker.

For Hari, the child has a lot going on. So the goal is to commit to those things that he is truly interested in. We will also work on basic life survival skills – daily habits, keeping a good attitude, building support system, making choices etc. The child will be in college in five years, and taking responsibility, practicing grit and becoming resilient do not happen one fine day. It has to built, cultivated and nurtured over the years with some tender, love and care.

I too have a goal for the school year. I am not by any stretch of imagination a Helicopter mom, let alone a Tiger mom. Mainly because it’s a lot of hard work and requires you to put your child’s need ahead of yours . For many many moms or all the moms that I know, this comes naturally. Unfortunately, that is not my instinct. I put my own pursuits and needs ahead of my kids. The good news is it works for us. The bad news is I am missing out. So I am setting a goal of being involved and engaged with my children’s learning experience this year. 

Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized

Inspiration

This article about the rise of Dhivya Suryadevara is doing the rounds in FaceBook. I didn’t know her before reading this article. It especially struck a chord because she is about my age, grew up in the part of India where I grew up in, and chose my field of study. Her journey is quite remarkable and is the story of realizing the American dream. I can only imagine the amount of hard and smart work, and perseverance it would have taken for her to arrive here. Hats off to her for not only thriving but also making her mark in a relatively short span of time. I am in deep awe and respect! 

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, 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.

 

Posted in 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!

Posted in Gratitude, Inspiration, Little Moments

Gold star

I am giving a gold star to our builder today for going above and beyond the call of duty. We had requested him to spruce up the entrance a bit for the safety of little trick or treaters. He did more than just sprucing. He installed the rails, the lights and even put up a temporary calling bell. Not only that, the leaves in the driveway and the rubble in the walkway were cleared.

Always a treat to be at the receiving end of a job well done! It enhanced the quality of our evening manifold and inspired us to strive for excellence in our pursuits.