Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Giving Thanks...and giving someone a break (yup! talking about Aamir Khan)

The reality is that there has been too many #hate #intolerance #religion topics on Facebook lately - from our very own Trump who contemplated  that he would consider requiring Muslim-Americans to register with a government database, or worse, mandating that they carry special identification cards that note their faith ( do I really need any more reason to dislike him?) to the violent acts in Paris just a week and half back to one of my favorite actors Aamir Khan publicly noting - his wife often wonders if they should move out of the country (India) ... the amount of negative press Aamir Khan got was mind boggling  for me.

He made a  statement based on his personal experiences living in a country since his birth - so what if he is famous and lives with the proverbial "gold spoon in his mouth"...the man is entitled to his opinion. Truth be told, I feel like him sometimes living here (away from India) especially when I read about all the shootings in the schools and universities (and there is no stringent actions being taken on gun control!). How does a man's voicing his fear make him the scapegoat for comments like "unpatriotic, an idiot, a school drop-out" etc...)

I love  my India...just as much as I love US, the country that gave me a chance to find myself, spread my wings and grow as a human being. I am thankful for the experiences from both these wonderful nations. However I  agree with AK...there is  intolerance, hate and violence and we are seeing outbursts of it daily in some form or the other...blaming it on a certain sect or a certain religion is myopic.

I want to begin my Thanksgiving Weekend on a positive note with a saying from Buddha..he says "Love is the gift of one's innermost self to another, so that we both can together be whole"...very wonderful sounding in words, so hard to practice in reality. Yes,  I am trying and teaching my son the same...Giving Thanks for what we have and Practicing Love and Gratitude (it doesn't come naturally to me and is WIP)

Taken on one of my trips to HK (I made it a point to visit all the Buddha temples in HK)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Seven Habits : How not to be a Corporate Wallydrag?

This  picture is of a cool team (Oracle Social Cloud)  and we are promoting the #Idrivefor campaign by General Motors in support of breast cancer awareness. Tweet with the #Idrivefor  and GM will donate $5 to breast cancer research. I drive for my Dad (Bapa).

My Bapa was a do-er  (lobbying for houses for the Tsunami victims, building flyovers and Metrorail, inviting cutting edge industries to  invest in Tamil Nadu - he was always on the go) -- there has been so much of talk around cancer awareness this month, I lost him to cancer - so have been thinking of him constantly this month (and most other months).

A lot of the lessons I learnt from him I have applied to my day-to-day work and personal life. Some of these sound deceptively silly stupid but have worked for me consistently over the years

#1 Don't think Showing up Equates to Productivity -  Trying to solve issues, work through real problems for your company - ensuring that you are aligning your actions to the bigger company goals are critical. Don't get too comfortable with status quo
#2 If there is no work, find some - let's be honest when there are organizational changes, there is usually a lull in productivity and there is a lot of gossip time by the proverbial water cooler - I will be the first to admit that I do indulge in "some" gossip - however, I try and get updated on market reports, product training and professional training when I get these lag times. It  helps me feel rejuvenated, useful  and ready to tackle new problems.
#3 I eat craw - ok not to gross you out or anything , but this is my metaphor for the things I least like to do - I make my weekly to-do list (there is one for work and one for home). I keep a day for my least liked chores on the To-Do List ( hint : that day is Wednesday) -- so if I seem especially crabby on Wednesdays now you know.
#4 Fight the tyranny of the urgent - this was a concept I had read in a magazine article a while back and it stuck with me. There are urgent little things that have to be done "right now" that get in the way of the things that really matter for the business - these little things have a way of getting in the way of the big things ...unless it is something that my boss absolutely needs right away (look at the priority set) -- I try to schedule it in vs.letting it get in the way of real work.
#5 Give up Multi-tasking - I am a busy mom, multi-tasking is second nature to me - I am checking my email while I am cooking my son's pasta in the morning or quizzing my son while chopping the vegetables...what I have realized over the years is - sometimes that is just not enough. Our brains are wired to focus and when I multi-task, it reduces my performance and efficiency. I am trying mindfully to be 100% present in whatever it is that I choose to do at that moment
#6 Be Authentic - At the end of the day life is too short, so I am really WYSWG ( what you see is what you get) . I don't behave differently with people based on their standing in life. Having observed my father's interactions with people ( and being exposed early on in life to sycophants, cars with flashing red lights and a lot of undue attention - look there goes the collector's daughter!) ) - I realized really early in life that it's better to be who you are vs. wear airs. Maybe, that makes me naive but I know in the journey that is life I will be content and happy. And work place will be about real connections and friends.
#7 Practice Empathy - my father was so good at this but I was so quick to judge people based on their aptitude, attitude and capabilities. He always told me - Ma, everyone has a calling and everyone has a bad day. It is so easy to be the judge and the jury and so hard to go beyond the facts and look at what is really happening. Look at what is really happening and don't judge so quickly. My father is gone, and it's so hard for me to practice this but I am trying everyday.

At the end of the day only you can control your output at work and your feelings of accomplishments that go with it - key is to be true to yourself, make connections and help contribute to the business goals. So it's my turn to quit talking and start doing...let me know when you are ready to join me :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Before I was a mom...

I travelled around the world, ate four course meals, met interesting people...sat a while and had a drink, even wore make up most days

Before I was a Mom... I watched movies, got up when I wished on weekends, barely cooked, pigged on junk food most times and cussed like a sailor

Before I was a Mom... my house was a dream home...no extra toys or stuff, no legos lying around or bits and pieces of homework, soft toys and food

Before I was a Mom... I didn't worry about organic meals, balanced diet and home-cooked meals

Before I was a Mom... I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin, a hug or worried over a sniffle. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep. 

Before I was a Mom... I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom. 

Before I was a Mom... I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment, or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom

Happy 9th Birthday K2 - you are so loved !!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tentative Parenting : The Phenomenon of Indian Standard Time

6.30 AM : I wake up to the irritating beeps of the smoke detector, signaling that it needed a new battery. Pulled the offending machine out and tried to change batteries, couldn't - so kept it aside.
7.00 AM : Attended to urgent emails and work stuff. Started the kettle, heated the milk for my son's morning hot chocolate, started packing his lunch box and snack bag. Get ready for work
7.30 AM : Wake son up and give him his milk, pack my lunch, clean up the kitchen and remind him to pack his school bag with homework, lunch and snack bag
8.05 AM : The prodigal son is still sitting with his half-finished milk staring into space...the shrill voices start and I start a count down for him to finish his milk...
8.26 AM : Half worn shoes, sleepy eyes and we rush the long distance of less than a mile to school...the prodigal son skips the assembly and goes straight to class to avoid getting a tardy

I am at my wits end as to how to fix this malaise... the prodigal son gives me a bewildered look - when I tell him - Why don't you stop adhering to Indian Standard Time...he says - but Ma I am Californian! (alrighty then!)

Are we Indians being branded wrongly - as the race that is perpetually late?  I believe there is no smoke without fire in this case...

 I am guilty as charged on the personal front - to family dinners, meeting friends...I do get a little lax with my rules but have a stringent double standard when it comes to work stuff - I need to be punctual...no excuses.

Here are a few guidelines I set for my son this week :

#1 Set Realistic Timelines - Plan backwards...see how much time you need to get ready for school, then add a 15 minute buffer - that's the time you need to get up in the AM
#2 Get Organized - Pack you soccer bag in the night, keep your shoes out and pack your homework the night before...to avoid running around like a headless chicken in the AM and helping convert your working mom into a screeching banshee.
#3 Enjoy Downtime - if you get to a place early, enjoy the 5-10 minutes of peace and quiet...we got to his soccer photo shoot 20 minutes early today...he played with his friends while I baked in the heat catching up with the soccer moms.

Lesson for Prodigal Son and Working Mom - Being on time,every time conveys more than a sense of good timing - it tells people that you are on top of things, organized, can be counted on for stuff and that you value them and their time and ultimately value yourself.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tentative Parenting : Dealing with Uncertainity

My son started 4th Grade on Wednesday - new teacher, some old friends and mostly new experiences. He jumped out of bed with a smile and said - Ma, I am ready. He did hold our hands briefly while walking to school but once there he quickly got his bearing and was ready for any curve ball life had to throw his way.

Ironically about the same time K2 was dealing with ambiguity in his life I was thrown a curve ball at work - rather than talk about what it was -- I will tell you that it has a reasonably large impact on my professional life. I don't know if I handled it with the same maturity and grace that my 8 years old showed, however I did want to share my learnings 

# Replace expectations with plans - this works really well for me as I am a planner - instead of expecting the future to give me something specific, when I am focused on where I want to get and how I get there -- I feel more comfortable.

#Be confident in your coping mechanisms - I am a typical Product Manager - I think of multiple outcomes for the same thing and usually plan for the worst one...I was pleasantly shocked when I read the book, The Positive Power of Negative Thinking,  (man! I should have written this book!) I was really on to something with defensive pessimism—when you consider the worst so you can plan how you’d handle it (without letting it bog you down!), you are mostly covered.

#Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude - As I was kissing my son Goodnight last night, I realized that I had been given a veritable treasure - a great family, good health, no wants and am a working mom who is able to balance her career & personal responsibilities. The reality is I know all this is transitional I might have this today and not have it tomorrow. I am grateful for what I have now...

# When all else fails go  Zumba - My best grief & stress management tool is Zumba (hands down) - Guess who went Zumba yesterday...thanks to my awesome friends and instructors for the extra love and the chance to drown my sorrows in sweat

Note to Self and Krish - Life as we know it is changing...however ambiguity is a beautiful thing - it presents wonderful opportunities. Take a minute to miss the old, then look ahead and prepare for the new.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Simple Living : Weekend Warriors

"We are driven to achieve, setting ourselves up with lofty goals striving week after week to meet these goals. However, these endeavors don't really nourish our souls completely...when the clock strikes 5.00 PM on a Friday, my mind does a mental hula ...it's time to stretch, work out the cricks in the neck...go for my Zumba class, hang out with my boys, walk the lake and admire the birds, visit my buddies at the farmer's market and concoct a new witch's  brew in my pristine kitchen...Weekend how I love you...you nourish me, nary a care and I always have something to look forward to ...."

When I looked up the definition of a Weekend Warrior - it said - a person who holds a regular job during the week which restricts their ability to party/go on trips/partake in awesome activities, and thus plans epic weekend adventures to compensate. As much variation and quantity of awesomeness is packed into the weekends as physically possible, warranting the rest of the work week to recharge for the next weekend.....SO this definition had me seriously tired. In my definition -  a warrior is a strong person both inside/out, compassionate, disciplined, self-aware,  constantly learning ...happy by themselves and with others...at one with nature.You ask me what makes the Weekend so special -- shouldn't every day be the same for a warrior...sounds great in theory, a bit hard to practice - especially when there are early morning lunch boxes to pack, early morning meetings, fire drills, deliverables, meal planning and cooking, paying bills...just the business of life ...seems to get crammed into the weekdays)

So what makes this Weekend Warrior tick?

#1 Lots of Exercise 

# 2 Nature Walks

#3 Lots of "Us" Time (walks, movie time, BBQ/meals together, xbox dancing). Us time includes our friends (my friend "P" stocked me up on Gongura Chutney, Sambar Powder, another amazing chutney for dosas and Mor Milzhgai...yum!)

#4 Farmer's Market (love the strawberry guy (Jaime), the Pie Lady (Marlee) and of course the egg guy (Ron)

#5 Food ( my killer recipe for the Chana Masala with sweet potatoes to follow)

The 5 "F's" that are integral to my weekends  are - Family & Friends, Fitness, Farmer's Market, Food and of course the flora & fauna :-)

How was your weekend? More importantly did you survive Monday?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Simple Living : You are not alone!

"One in 10 people will deal with depression at some point in their life"

I have spent the last couple weeks : a little uneasy, overwhelmed, anxious, extremely fatigued (the word to use is bone-tired) and feeling like there was a dark cloud over my head. If you know me - you know *that's just not me*...so after a couple weeks or so of feeling that way and trying my usual repertoire of tricks -  positive reaffirmation, nature walks, gym...nothing worked. So I sent an email across to my doctor (gist of it ...sometimes I feel sorry for my doc ;-) )  - I just don't feel like myself.I am feeling out of sorts and blue. She gently reminded me of an overdue blood draw -- so I bit the bullet and got my blood tests done...guess what -- the verdict was severely vitamin D deficient ( D Deficiency causes depression, fatigue, joint and bone pain amongst a slew of other ailments... something we Indians are very famous for). Now I am on high dosage prescription "D" and I feel on top of the world again.

So if you are feeling down and out - remember you are not alone. There are mechanisms to cope...and sometimes like in my case it might be the case of a supplement/chemical (or lack of) - playing havoc in your body.When the going gets hard and you feel really alone...reach out for support (something I didn't do). I talked about feeling different after I found the root cause and fixed the issue (hindsight 20/20).

So this week I made myself a Chia Chocolate Pudding  (vaguely inspired by the Chia Pod - Dark Cacao Noir) just because I wanted to do something nice for "me".

Serves: 2
ACTIVE TIME: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes


  • 1 table spoon  Organic Cacao  Powder( I used the Navitas Brand)
  • 1 table spoon  Organic Cacao Nibs ( For texture and crunch, you can skip - I used the Navitas Brand)
  • 2 Oz Chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of Almond/coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey ( I added some stevia to make it a little more sweet)
  • Pinch of sea salt (add a pinch of cinnamon if you like cinnamon, I didn't)
Add to a mason jar (or whatever bowl you are planning to make the pudding in. Whisk all ingredients together. Taste for sweetness. If you want it more sweet add more sweetener of choice. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning (it's great on it's own) or you can top it with some berries
Nutritional Insights : Calories per Serving - 300, Carbs - 30 g, Fat - 10 g, Protein - 8 g, Fiber - 11 g 
Chocolate is a huge mood elevator , Chia Seeds give you good fats especially an extra boost of Omega 3, the almond milk was fortified with Vitamin D and the honey helps build immunity - Definitely an easy recipe - that was great to taste and definitely good for you.