Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stuck in Habits...

There were a couple years of my life when I tried to live my life sans my cuppa chai and all I remember is a foggy mind and an intense need to make my morning cuppa....feeling virtuous every time I didn't make myself a cup but intensely missing it all the same. I reveled in my trips to India - the full fat milk, the tea laden with sugar and cardamom and made the old fashioned way on the stove-top -- slowly, with love, no short-cuts there. Conversations with Bapa, Ma forcing me to have a Marie biscuit to avoid getting acidity and the smell of newspaper Bapa read his news and me holding my head at a weird angle so that I could  read the comic strip at the back of the was the companionship, the love and warmth in the morning just before we went on with our day...that I am still stuck on...
Our mornings now are a mad rush to - get snack bags and lunch boxes packed, 6 AM conference calls (for him), hurried emails (for me), instant coffee (for him), hot chocolate (for kiddo) and instant tea (for me), the constant drill of finishing on time and get out of the house...not a minute to stretch, smile and welcome the day graciously and with open arms.

So today, when "P" sent me this Dilbert clip that made me chuckle in the morning  (some friends just know when I need a pick me up) ---

I decided  to wake up with a stretch and a smile and welcome the day sans shortcuts

Tomorrow - I will go back to short-cuts but for today I choose to be "Stuck in Habits"...drink my cuppa chai made my special way and remember the newspaper, the marie biscuit and Bapa...

As Stephen King aptly put it -

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Anatomy of a TV Show

My trip to India was eye-opening. I got to spend 10 days with my grandma . She is about 78...sweet, a worrier,  an awesome cook with the craziest quirks. Her one constant in  life is her TV serials on Apka Colors every night 6-9 PM (if you get between her and her TV time heaven save you!)

It took me some years to warm up to shows here in the US what with my initially crazy work hours and travel schedule I didn't watch much other than re-runs of Law and Order and The Food Network. In the past few years with On-Demand and DVRs...a few TV shows have become constants in my life - The Good Wife, Grimm, Castle, The Mentalist, Rizzoli & Isles and most recently Scandal.

Scandal turned out to be a major let-down -- started off as a story about a fixer in Washington DC  and quickly devolved into a lurid sordid story of affairs galore. I am still in a state of shock after watching the sudden death of Will Gardner last night in the DVRed version of  The Good Wife --- game changers, sordid hook-ups, petty fights, office politics....all culminated in this...

Maybe my cue to abstain from TV has this week treated you?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tentative Parenting : Calm the F*** Down!

Email from K2's teacherI just want to let you know of an incident...
Working Mom : Lost it and took all electronics away for a weekend. I had a talk with him on actions and consequences but I didn't behave like one of those calm moms who have an adult conversation with their kid, I became THIS screaming banshee...and think I scared myself as much as I scared K2 (and probably his dad)

Last month I read about this technique called the CTFD  (calm the F*** down) technique - and it applies for the PARENT not the KID!  I wasn't a picture perfect kid - I broke things, I fibbed, I beat up all the boys in my big brother's class and I was probably below average on my grades and my parents dealt with it. And I turned out alright! So I need to CTFD and take a deep breath and determine my course of action. The reality I have realized in my meager years parenting is :
#1 Childhood shouldn't be a race.
"Every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and ... it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra...or even how successful he or she is in life
#2 Sometimes, you just have to slow down.
“I will not say, 'We don't have time for this.' Because that is basically saying, 'We don't have time to live.'
#3 Pay attention.
“If you pay attention, kids will teach you how to laugh loudly, how to love deeply and how to live fully. They will also ruin all your stuff and drive you crazy...but then didn't you sign up for this parenting thing?"
#4 Get comfortable with dissonance.
"Our families are where we first learn how to say 'No' in a safe, supportive environment. If we don't learn to do so there, we won't learn to do so anywhere. If our children can't say 'No' to us, they won't say it to anyone -- AND I am not signing up to raise a doormat/pushover" 
#5 Stop solving everything.
“This one took me years to figure out. It's one that is really hard to get good at because I love fixing and solving things for K2...but I have learnt he would rather solve his own problems"
#6 Beware  of distracted living.
“We live in an age where we are constantly fed messages that we should try to do as much as we can as fast as we can- multi-tasking to live at maximum efficiency. How many homework assignments and grocery store runs, appointments and meetings, Zumba classes and posts to social media sites and DVRd shows and any number of things with varying degrees of importance do we try to cram into any one day?”...Let's just stop and enjoy the "Cherry Blossoms"

The honest truth is - I don't know how I do this parenting thing. But I don't think it is hard because I am a working mom trying to do a balancing act on a tight rope...nor do I think it will be any easier if I was a stay-at-home mom... I don't know how any of us do it. It's glorious and rewarding and full of love and it is at times probably the shittiest roles I ever signed myself up for. Yet what I do know for a fact is - I will take every day as it comes with an open heart and mind and take it for what it is vs. judging, evaluating and wanting to change it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bhagvad Gita and the Work Place

I have had a crazy work schedule the past 4 weeks - barely getting the time to make ends meet in matter of time...yet every Sunday for a couple hours I pull up my Bhagvad Gita Online Course and get immersed in it. I do this for 2 main reasons :
  • I feel closer to my Bapa. He spent his last year  doing the same Online Course through his chemotherapy rounds and his stays in the ICU and I  believe it made him a more strong and positive person
  • I feel like I am making some progress along the spiritual knowledge path. Yes, I am one of those weird ones who believes in God.
As time passed me by, it's been almost 10 months and 14 Lessons (out of 30 Lessons) completed. Some weeks I have been a better student than others...Yesterday, I had an AHA! moment in the shower (one of the few quiet places in my life where I am not inundated with fires at work, sms pings, pressure cooker whistles or a clingy snotty nosed 7 year old these days) - my mind is the battleground and there are constant battles being fought internally between the ignorant and the wise, the positive and the negative and the right and the wrong...ultimately the good in me needs to win over the bad...
This is probably one of the key verses that has worked for me in the past couple months, coming into a society that believes action should have results, in instant gratification -- I have struggled with this concept for many months (unsure I have internalized it yet...) yet it is an important learning for me
  1. For action alone have you the right
  2. None concerning its fruits
  3. Let not the desire for the fruits of action be your motivation
  4. Nor should you desire to abstain from action
  5. Act with equanimity of mind and intellect sans attachment to success or failure 
The Bhagvad Gita speaks of two kinds of (work) culture that can be broadly defined as the following -
(a) Daivi Sampat which involves fearlessness,  self-control, straightforwardness, calmness, absence of fault-finding, envy, pride and greed and a gentleness towards dealing with people and (b)  Asuri Sampat which involves egoism, delusion, instant gratification, self-promoting work, constant fear etc. Mindfully practicing the former is a goal I have set for myself.
I have been so preoccupied with life and such other things that  a wonderful thing as the Cherry Blossoms had escaped my notice till my son pointed them out to me yesterday. He made me literally "stop the car and take in the sights" is a  picture from my trusty Nokia.

How has life been treating you?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In Loving Memory : Happy Birthday Bapa!

Last year at this time (319 days back) I was with you and I held you tight...because I knew you were scared...and you knew I would be lost without you...I wasn't ready to let you go then and I am not quite ready to let you go yet...I love you Bapa and I miss you!

Here  is what I want to tell you today -

Thanks for all you've done
I've missed you for so long
I can't believe you're gone and
You still live in me
I feel you in the wind
You guide me constantly 
I carry the things that remind me of you
In loving memory of the one that was so true
You were as kind as you could be
And even though you're gone
You still mean the world to me
I never knew what it was to be alone, no
'Cause you were always there for me
 ---Alter Bridge "In Loving Memory"

Happy Birthday Bapa...I will save a piece of cake for you !

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Eat.Move.Sleep : The 30 Day Challenge

Small Choices. Big Changes
In your lifetime some books come which shift your thought process and make you act vs. just passively read the book and enjoy it.

For me there are a few books which have given me AHA! moments and  have been a lifeline to living not just existing ( eg.Bhagvad Gita) and strangely enough this rather inconspicuous book "Eat.Move.Sleep"...mostly picked up because I loved Tom Rath's first book "Strength Finder 2.0" which I had read way back in 2010.

This is more than just a book, it is a new way to live. I have had friends look at me weird when I talk about Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, flinch when I talk about the 30 grams fiber that a woman needs, eyes glaze over when I mention Chia Seeds, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts,  Kale, Quinoa, Amaranth, Maca Powder...I am not a person who goes with Fads...however I am mindfully making the choice to live a healthy life. 

Eat.Move. Sleep  is motivating to me because (A) the changes being proposed are not radical (B) there is a 30 Day game plan that I can come up with based on a comprehensive questionnaire I take on the site (C) The onus to be accountable is on me 

Day 1:

1. Identify the three healthiest elements of diets you have tried in the past. Integrate these elements into your lifestyle for good. 
  • Removed "Whites" from my diet - moved to Brown Rice, Quinoa and Barley as my main carbohydrate source
  • Added a Kale Smoothie (with Chia Seeds and alternative milk) to my diet
  • Start my morning with hot water, ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) and Honey

2. Starting today, with every bite you take, consider how it can benefit your body. Use what you have learned in the book to make better choices in the moment. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I am my mother's daughter...

I was bone weary when I reached home at 7.15 PM from work (it was a hard day) and I needed to find my comfort in food - my Ma's food. So I lifted up my pressure cooker, my rice cooker and a degchi (a wok of sorts)...and of course my handy helper K1. We had dinner on the table in about an hour and it looked like this

From upper right : Aloo Phulo Kobi (Cauliflower with red baby potatoes, Saago Bhoja (Kale cooked with garlic), Lau Muga Dali (Moong Dal cooked with Opo Squash) and Quinoa

I have been reading for the past day a book by Iris Krasnow :  I Am My Mother's Daughter: Making Peace with Mom--Before It's Too Late... .My mother and I have a very stormy oil and water. Bapa used to be the translator, the mediator, the communicator in between and with him gone it almost feels like we talk past each other. The only topic where we can have a discussion without dissension is Food. This book is helping me understand/appreciate our relationship and emphasizes the necessity to mend any broken mother/daughter relationship. 

"Let go of the anger. Embrace her imperfections. Forgive her, even for unforgiveable acts. Move on, into a mature relationship between equals, with a lowering of expectations and a surrendering of the heart."

In our case it is a moving past our egos and an inability to look at any point of view other than the end of the day Motherhood I have found out is :