Dance, Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Memories, Milestones, N40

Me, myself and my dance

Life beckons and I have to heed to it. Yet, I linger, wanting to soak in the sudden emptiness that I am feeling. For the past six months, dance has ranked high in my list of priorities. For the past six weeks, dance has been the center of my life. The critic in me chides me for not doing more, for not trying harder, for not making the most of the opportunity.  Yet, the pragmatic in me acknowledges that while there is always room to do more and be better, I did the best I could on any given day. Some days my best was good enough and on other days it was not.  And that’s part of being a human.

I have given my bare minimum to my family for the past several months. Dance is to me what sports is to Hari. In that we share a connection. A connection that is born out of setting your heart at something, working on it, feeling jubilant on some days, feeling disappointed on other days, and knowing that true strength lies in picking ourselves up every time we fall. Hari has shielded me with his pep talks, “Just imagine Ram and I waving at you amma if you get the jitters.”  He has held down the fort stepping up to be there for his little brother in my absence. And Ram what can I say about this little one, our very own Krishna? Dance has given us the gift of new bonding experience. I just love to sing “Avani rohini ashtami yele aradhajama nerathile avadharithaya” as I give a cheek rub to him, a rush of love washing over me. Da has been the pillar of support I have leaned on. Where do I even begin? Suffice to say that he walked the talk and did so wholeheartedly, doing all the heavy lifting, and making sure that the kids do not get shortchanged. I don’t think I would have been as unwavering in my support for him if I were in his shoes, so not for a second I take his support for granted. I am especially thankful to him for nailing the big picture in my head – it’s rare to get an opportunity to do something like this, outside of the commitments that life thrusts on us, at this stage of our lives and I should remember to derive positive energy from it and not get distracted with the noises. 

Over the past six weeks my dance mates and I have spent close to 30 hours per week in dance practices. I would love to say that all that time was spent dancing, but that’s not how it works. You wait a lot, then you practice some. Going after your passion may sound like pure bliss and all lofty. But the truth is even for pursuits of your choice, they come with their share of baggage. We were preparing for a 3-day dance event, one that we knew was going to be a labor of love. Taking care of the practical aspects was the easier part. It was the emotional part that involved a ton of hard work. To stay focused, to push oneself harder, to not get lost in the stories we tell ourselves, and to practice self compassion.

Some days were more challenging than others and a little TLC went a long way in building that resilience muscle. One of the best parts about the dance camp was the support group we developed and the plethora of opportunities we had to get to know each other as individuals. We rooted, helped, inspired, provided constructive feedback, showed appreciation, and hugged each other. On the day of the performance, we complimented each other on how we looked. I think it had less to do with makeup and costumes and more to do with how fond we had grown of each other. They say friends come into our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime. Only time will tell what path our friendships will take. One thing is for certain; the summer of this year will go down in the books of our lives as a time that weaved us all together in a shared experience, and from knowing  that we all gave it our all no matter what else was going in our lives.

I feel immensely thankful to my teacher for her bold vision and audacious dreams for her milestone production, and getting all of us pumped up about it. I am deeply grateful she introduced us to one of the finest teachers and choreographers, who we fondly address as Thiru anna. One who believes that everyone is capable, that imperfections are part of being a human, and that mistakes are ok but to remember to never lose the happiness one derives from dancing. It was a blessing to be part of anna’s creative process and seeing first hand how even a small act can be elevated to a higher level with willingness, creativity and effort. Such a precious and rewarding experience. 

If you had asked me last week, I would have told you that I can’t wait for this week to come. What I expected to feel was relief at being able to move on with other aspects of my life. What I am feeling instead is an emptiness that comes from having to let go something that gave an intense sense of purpose and pushed us beyond our comfort zones. I don’t want this emptiness to end, so I prolong. Checking whatsapp messages, refreshing facebook page, and going through the motions of the past six weeks, and itching to do more. 

Dance means different things to different people. To me, bharathanatyam is my Zen. It helps me discover more about myself,  be accepting of my strengths and weaknesses, quench my thirst to learn and grow as a person.  And for that I am eternally grateful and incredibly blessed. 

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Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Learnings, Little Moments, Milestones

Sunday school this year

Last sunday was my last day of Sunday school for the year. Like the past few years that familiar feeling of pang returned with gusto at dismissal. You know that feeling of missing out on the rest of the learning journey of a bunch of goofy, mischievous, argumentative, lovable, and affectionate bunch of little humans who have delighted and exasperated you.

This was my first year teaching fourth grade and how different the dynamics are from teaching second graders!  I loved the syllabus – dasavatharam, ramayanam and mahabhratha. In fourth grade, students are more engaged, contributing as much as learning, having strong opinions, likes and dislikes, and don’t miss a chance to challenge you with their accumulated knowledge. On the flip side, if you have reluctant learners, it takes a lot of effort and creativity to find something that resonate with them. Classroom management was tougher on some days because children are more brave about questioning authority. So there has to be clarity in expectations and boundaries.  I was fortunate to have had a mentor who is one of the creative teachers that has inspired me to get better at what I do. I learnt that kids learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process (opportunities to participate in class, hands-on activities, project based learning) than when they are in passive mode (listening to lectures). I had underestimated how little I knew of the mythologies but I would like to think that we learnt and grew together as a class. 

We ended last class with a class selfie and as we were wrapping up, one kid popped the question – “What is the most ridiculous thing we have done in culture class?” A few ideas were thrown in and the popular vote was for – talking about vegetable korma when we were discussing Kurma avatar… !  which had all of us break into peals of laughter. I could not have asked for a better way to end the school year. 

I am not sure how much of this year’s learning will stay with the children but if they have had few laughs and have associated learning with fun, I think the class has served its purpose.

 

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Experiences, Introspection, People, Uncategorized

Random updates

  • My cousin, the kid in our family, is getting married today. There is live streaming of his wedding.  While I may not be able to catch up due to time difference, it was a delight to catch glimpses of his nichiyadhartham video from yesterday.
  • A purposeful intentional hug says a whole lot where words fail. I am here for you. Thank you for being there for me. No words exchanged but volumes spoken.
  • The idea that has planted its roots in my head these days – kindness. Be kind, practice kindness, teach kindness. In all shapes, forms, and sizes. There is so much suffering and pain in this world. Kindness will not obliterate the suffering, but may be, just may be, it will give the strength to manage the suffering. Worth a shot, wouldn’t you agree? 
  • I read The Mothers by Brit Bennett. It was good enough to push its way through my reader’s block but not good enough to have me raving about it. What I liked about it is it humanizes motherhood – as glorified as motherhood is, mothers too come with their share of imperfections.
  • We are already in June, can you believe it?
  • I helped out with a memorial service today.  I am not able to take the family out of my mind. Please send a quiet prayer and healing vibes their way.
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Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Wishes

Celebrating unconditional love

I am immensely grateful for the unconditional love that my amma and my children shower on me. Day in and day out.  Amma, I accept you and love you for who you are, without any strings attached. Happy Mother’s Day to you. Hari and Ram, I hope you will continue to tolerate me and love me for who I am because quite frankly that’s the only way I know to be.  Being your mom has been a privilege. 

To those of you that celebrate the hallmark holiday, Happy Mother’s Day.  To those of you that care less about it, Happy Sunday.  I wish you TLC in whatever form and shape you like to receive it. 

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Introspection, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

Poignant Moment

After finishing Ram’s bed time story, I tuck him in and settle down by his feet leaning against the wall for some downtime. I  am browsing on Facebook catching up with what’s going on in my friends’ circle. I am reading the article where references are being made to how Joe Biden could have become the president. Joe Biden says he couldn’t contest at that time because he had lost part of his soul, referring to the death of his son. The article makes me sad and heavy. Just then, Ram, who I thought was fast asleep, starts talking eagerly with an unrelated concern, “Amma why do fish let their eggs float. When the baby fish come out, what if the first thing they see is a shark and they think the shark is their mommy.”

It was a very poignant moment, one in which the heaviness of my heart found relief in the sweet innocence of my 6-year old.  

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Hari Katha, Inspiration, Introspection, Life, Little Moments

Hidden Figures

Hari and I went to Hidden Figures tonight. What a fantastic movie? I didn’t want it to end because the movie gave hope. It’s a story of three independent, hard working, smart women. Imagine being a trendsetter, standing tall and confident when the world around you thinks less of you. It calls for some courage and strength of character, isn’t it? The best part being, it is not a feel good story born out of someone’s imagination but is based on true life events. Granted, reality may have been tweaked here and exaggerated there to make it commercially successful but that doesn’t take away the fact that there was segregation, discrimination and  that wisdom, grit and courage knows no color or gender. That there are some people who don’t let their circumstances constrain their lives; they rise above and lift others with them.  Their courage is a gift to mankind – one that inspires us to try harder, and stay stronger.  Do watch this movie to believe in possibilities…!!! 

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Experiences, Hari Katha, Introspection, Learnings

Language Problem

I had noble intentions and grand dreams when I signed up Hari for learning tamil in sunday school. I thought I would push myself to learn to read and write in the language in order to be able to guide him. Turned out, this is one of those classic cases wherein the notion of doing something is more appealing than actually doing it. It was easier said than done. 

Hari has been learning tamil for the past six years and almost always, it has ended in one way – with  an SOS call to my parents or my friends with a plea for last minute help. Poor Hari! The child does not complain, the problem solver that he is, he resorts to google translation, and does his best to be independent. But there is only so much self sufficiency in an unfamiliar language.

Do you ask why continue then? I don’t know. I really don’t know. Seeing that this is going nowhere, a rational person would have let go. Somehow, both Hari and I are unable to let go. We have come very close to giving up only to go crawling back to square one.

They say, on the day of victory no fatigue is felt. When we read an essay we have written, an essay we were incapable of writing to begin with, one we struggled to frame word by word after referencing to google translation and generous help from family and friends, there is a part of us that feels hopeful and accomplished. And it is that spark of hope that makes us pick ourselves, again and again. 

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