This week’s episode in Happier podcast was about giving up something and adding something in for a month. It is a little experiment you do with yourself to see what works, and what doesn’t from habit building perspective. There is more to it but I will save that for another post. For the month of May, I want to give up eating anything after 8 PM. I want to add in flossing and brushing for two full minutes twice a day. I struggle with these foundational habits. So wish me luck!
I was puttering around the kitchen, our morning routine at its peak. Hot water with elachi, ginger, and mint simmering on one burner for our morning tea, another set of boiling water with salt and olive oil getting ready for pasta, the third burner with the dosai that was turning crispy, the chopping of veggies for the dinner happening simultaneously, the usual morning juggling act in motion. However, a cloud of doom was hanging over my head. I knew that all it needed was a small prick and the cloud would burst open with a torrential rain of words.
Da came down, and posed his standard question – did you sleep well? I did but I am kind of feeling down, I replied curtly. Then came the first born – “Good moring ma, how are you doing with the post birthday blues ma?” he asked me teasingly. And that cracked me up unexpectedly in a good way. I knew I was feeling down but I was not labeling it right. I was feeling the blues, blues of all shades and hues – the monthly hormonal imbalance blues, the post birthday blues, the monday morning blues, you name it and I was feeling it. And what was great about labeling it? If you name it, if you identity it, it has less power over you. By calling it blues, it freed me from the other emotions (PMS inflicted inadequacies, the pangs from know that a year has passed by, the urge to be productive and in high power mode during the work week etc.) that imprisoned me. More importantly, a tone of empathy when Hari said, feeling the blues? It was not something that only I went through. It is normal. It is acceptable. And you accept the blues for what they are – passing clouds, nothing more. I just need to let them drift away.
I recall my first ever appointment with my PCP in the US. As someone who has gone only for sick appointments back home, the concept of wellness appointment was amusing. The doctor had said I would have to get my pap smear done but that I still had many years for my first mammogram. I vividly remember that moment. Squirming and dreading about the pap smear, I had no idea what a mammogram was and had no curiosity to know more about it. It was something to think about sometime in the distant future. It was something older people went through. Fastforward 18 years, I was sitting in the waiting room, with only a hospital top to lend me dignity, feeling vulnerable in front of a stranger. The future that felt so distant, was right there. The risk that I thought I was immune to felt so real as the machine pressed against me. The experience was so real yet surreal.
Gold star to parent-led green team in our elementary school for their initiatives during the week of Earth Day. This is a team of very passionate, non-judgmental individuals who promote environmental awareness in ways that can be easily weaved into our everyday lives. Earth day was on April 22nd and for the entire week, they had organized initiatives around the theme – marker mondays, textile tuesday, walk to school wednesdays, throwback plastic thursdays, and reusable container fridays. I loved how this effort gently nudged us to think about ways in which we can make a difference.
When it comes to the environment, what we do as individuals matter. What we think as small drops, collectively make up the ocean. While I will not dare to use menstrual cups , am wasteful in many ways, and I am not an environmental activitist by any stretch of imagination, over the years I have taken small steps like minimizing plastic in kitchen, taking bags for shopping, encouraging kids to not use straws when they can be avoided, and recycling and upcycling wherever possible, to be gentler on earth.
I feel like if there is someone who can do this, it is us children raised in lower and middle class families in the 80s in India – haven’t we all seen our pattis haggling for manjai pai in Thangamaligai and Kumaran? Been trained from very young to eat in vazhai elai? have dreaded the leftover sambar and rasam that evolve into something that cannot be named but must be eaten? have grown either experiencing or witnessing water scarcity? Have seen a gazillion ways in which a veshti can be recycled and upcycled?
We know what to do and how to do, although the why to do it may have changed. If not us, then who?
- Work, work, too much work; change is hard but the only constant.
- Chills, cold, cough, fever; health is truly wealth.
- Take out, left overs, some cooking; nice break from routine.
- Perennials sprouting here and there, always a visual treat!
- Back to on street car parking, what relief!
- Hari made it to Varsity baseball, hip hip hurray to hard work and perseverance.
- Ram guitar debut in the school variety show, a big milestone!
- NYC trip with a dear friend, hoping for more in the years to come!
- Dance is elusive; I have taken a break from chasing it.
- Never got up to speed on resolutions; starting over is super hard.
- What I call as bonding, he calls as scolding; different points of view?
“How is your health? How are you doing?” have been my standard text messages to a good friend every two or three weeks ever since she was diagnosed with cancer last summer. The answers have varied depending on the stage of treatment but the tone of her responses has remained consistently calm. You could see that she is hanging in there, taking the treatment in stride. And when I met her last summer she said she is falling back on data supporting her diagnosis rather than being swayed by emotions. It’s one thing to say something but another thing to put it in practice under trying circumstances. I salute her courage, resilience, and the ability to stay above the noise. Wishing her the best of health, now and always.
The house is quiet. Ram is drifting to sleep. Hari has texted me saying that he and Da will be home in another 30 mins after his Sunday evening cricket practice. Ha, thinking of the kids make my heart leap with joy and makes me relive some of the little moments with fondness.
Ram is Hari’s Fitbit sidekick. When Hari is falling short on his steps count, he ties the gadget around Ram’s wrist, which makes him responsible for moving the needle on the Fitbit. Ram, who has no gadget of his own, is thrilled to bits and is happy to parade around the house to help out his brother in his mission. Lately, he has figured out that he doesn’t have to walk to add the steps, all he needs to do is shake his wrist. This evening, Ram has been dutifully multi-tasking with the flipping of Asterix book on one hand, and shaking his wrist on the other hand.
I am also reminded of the conversation that we were having on our way to Sunday school this morning. Hari was generally mocking us (his parents) for our reaction to his grades. “You only got 90 out of 100? What happened to the 10 marks Hari, is what you guys would ask. But when I didn’t do as well on one challenging math test, you were ok with it. That’s my life Ram!”, he proclaimed in a melodramatic fashion that only a teen can. Listening intently to this, Ram grandly concludes, “Hari, I think it is better if we just get lower marks then.”
Da and I were having an argument over something. Hari came upto me and said it was uncomfortable to be a witness to the argument. “Sorry babes, but I have all these emotions and feelings that needed an outlet,” I explained in an attempt to keep it real. “Amma may be you can have a Screaming Day. On Screaming Day, go to a quiet place, and give it a rip I say.” “But Hari that will be no fun because nobody else other than me will be miserable,” I retort and both of us start giggling imagining the whole scenario. A few seconds later Hari says, “By the way on Screaming Day, I would like to come with you too. I have a thing or two to scream about you see.”