Posted by & filed under Imperfections, Vulnerability.

I always thought I don’t really judge people or at least not a lot. And then I read an article (that I can’t find now☹) on a woman’s experience trying not to judge for a whole month and it really got me thinking about my behavior. I’d like to think I have an inclusive heart and, in many ways, I am fairly accepting of how different people live their lives and the choices they make especially when it doesn’t impact mine but as I sat with that emotion, I realized I judge and I judge more than I’d ideally like to.

And over the days, as I started paying attention, I noticed a lot of voices that sounded like this –

  • Why was he walking around in those clothes?
  • But seriously, why doesn’t she take a break and leave the kids with dad for just one night?
  • I really can’t image he said that, I would never do that

Yikes

No matter, what my intention, it’s not my place to judge. I never know what’s happening in someone’s life and what their situation is. I realized I judged for a myriad of reasons. Often, it is simply a habit solidified over time. Sometimes, other people’s choices trigger my insecurities and fears. Sometimes, it makes my ego happy and she likes to believe there is some moral superiority going on. Sometimes it is exhaustion and fatigue that causes my mind to resort to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors

But clearly, I wanted to change —

So, I too committed to not judge for a month and if I am honest, it is really hard, and I sure have broken this commitment many a times…

The most effective practice is to develop awareness in noticing my thoughts and choosing compassion for myself when I do go astray and start again the next moment. It is believing that I have the power to choose my words but even more importantly to slowly and patiently even choose my thoughts. It is also an exercise in noticing my strong judgment toward myself at moments and choosing to love even for the imperfect and icky parts of myself and let me be real here because there are many parts that are broken and difficult but learning to love myself through them is an incredible exercise in choosing love for the world. I can give what I have and to choose love for the outside I must start on the inside.

After my sister’s wedding last month, my mom, sister and I stayed up one night, and I was so tempted at many times to share an opinion on someone and I realized, nope that’s a judgment and it’s not productive. Over the last few weeks, there are numerous times when I do notice my thoughts, ask myself if I really need to say something and stop myself. But again, there are numerous times when I have failed and said words that didn’t add any value in any way and if anything reinforced my habit I am trying to break. Such situations are often hard when people discussions happen, it can be an addictive cycle and I am trying to really be more aware and choose wisely.

And sometimes, it is hard to not get upset, not have an opinion when I am triggered as I see things going against my moral compass and my values and I am learning to remind myself that again it is not my place to judge. It is one thing if I am standing up for something and advocating for a change on social media. I don’t need to conflate that behavior with judgment.  But often, I am not an activist or intending to make a change but simply giving in to the habits of my mind.

Sometimes, I would justify my behavior in the name of “venting.” Lately, I am “trying” that every time I get emotional or upset and feel like venting, I pause and ask if venting will truly help my wounds heal or I should first calm myself down and then decide if I need to vent or there is another healthy alternative. I am a big advocate of speaking through my hurt with intention and purpose to heal but it’s the casual commenting that is often not productive. And even when I am hurt by someone’s behavior, can I still try to choose compassion and kindness and trust that the intentions were productive.

Simply setting an intention, noticing, reflecting and starting again is helping. I am not perfect nor am I trying but slowly, surely change is happening, and I am grateful for that😊

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Happiness, Mindfulness.

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I met my mom after almost a year during my sister’s wedding last month. If you read my blog regularly, you know I am very grateful to share a beautiful relationship with my mom so no surprise I was very, very excited. Yet, the first day she arrived we had an argument, a misunderstanding, hurt feelings and if I am truly brave – there were lots of tears, both in my eyes and my mom’s eyes. We separated for a few hours, she took a “long” nap (I wasn’t sure if it was because of me or the jetlag, I think it was both). All this happened in the first 24 hours of our meeting. I felt incredibly guilty and upset with myself, but I was hurt, and my emotional needs were not being fully met even though I knew how dearly loved I am by my mom. It’s funny as I type this blog I don’t even fully remember all the details of our argument, but it was something around our different points of views on grocery, shopping, and food for our family arriving for my sister’s wedding. Yet, even as I recollect this incident my heart warms up with love and I am reminded of how incredibly loved, heard and seen I am…

Here’s what happened once she woke up. We still didn’t talk much. I was sad – both upset at her but also guilty, but I had softened a bit by then. By the end of the day, my love and perhaps more so “her” love took over, forgiveness and compassion entered the scene and we sat at the dinner table and talked. We spoke our hearts on how we both felt, where we were coming from and what we needed from each other at that vulnerable moment. We tried to choose love, listening, and empathy over our own strong points of view. It wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful.

This is what I most love about my relationship with my mom. It’s not that there is no conflict, no disagreement, no misunderstanding. I personally haven’t found a rich relationship devoid of difficult experiences and emotions and this one is no different. Yet, it’s her ability to hold space and skillfully navigate the terrain of emotions, to be vulnerable about her mistakes as a parent, to accept me for my mistakes, to never expect me to be a miniature version of her and to still call me out for my blind spots with kindness. As the years have gone by, I respect her even more for having the courage and curiosity to invest in herself, to continually seek to understand and meet her children where they are and not where she wants them to be and recognizing that parenting doesn’t stop when children leave home. I am 34 and I still need my mom in so, so many ways and I only appreciate that she is always there.

I miss her on a Sunday afternoon, so she could ask me to sit on the couch with a cup of green tea after I am exhausted taking care of the kids. I miss her when I go to my Friday morning yoga class and secretly hope I can do that together soon. I miss her as I am reading Kelly Corrigan’s Glitter and Glue (highly her book’s) where she shares beautiful details about her relationship with her mom and I wish she lived next door and we could listen to the book together. I miss her when I go eat Burmese food and I miss her every time I try to make alu tikki and can never make it as well as she does. I miss her when I am rude to Sumit because she always reminds me to speak my heart and my needs but with kindness and every time I don’t, I secretly hear her voice in my head. Every time Vivaan tells me – Mumma I need your arm, I miss my days when I’d fall asleep rubbing her soft yet strong arms. And as I sit, and type and tears trickle down my cheeks, I miss her being next to me, rubbing my head and my back.

I cry every time I sit down to write a Mother’s Day post. I have tears of joy and gratitude but also tears of the fears that always live with me when I think of the big loves in my life. And sometimes, its fear of losing my mom and sometimes the fear of losing her huge, abundant love. It’s tears of guilt for all the times when I am impulsive and inconsiderate with my words and her huge hear that forgives me.

 

And yet again, I remind myself, it is beautiful to cry in love. It is a sign of beauty, richness, and abundance. Thank you, mamma, for being my rock and truly being my world.

Happy Mother’s day.

PS – I too am looking forward to a mommy-daughter vacation while papa and Sumit watch the kids, hopefully, next year as we celebrate your 60th!!!

And here are two beautiful Mother’s Day posts that I found online:

Do I deserve to be celebrated this mother’s day

This mother’s day, something else to celebrate (loved the video too!)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

I read a lot of books this past quarter (completed 7, 4 in progress, discarded a few after 50-100 pages) so close to less than 1 a week. This is the most I have ever read in my life and it absolutely felt great. I picked up on my love for reading much later in life though books have always been a big influence and source of joy in my life. Over the years as I have much less unstructured downtime, I find myself reading even more. Perhaps, there is something about being more intentional about the limited work and child-free time I have in my life that forces me to truly prioritize my real sources of joy over folding laundry (though sometimes reading and laundry can happen simultaneously!!).

I am often asked – “How do you get time to read?” so here is the inside scoop. As you will discover, it isn’t perfect, and I don’t think I read for more than 30 mins at a stretch. Often it is short spurts of a few minutes before I switch gears into my other roles. But still, it has been amazing to read or rather listen to books. Audiobooks have been a life changer when it comes to reading at this stage in my life.

  • Driving – No surprise, I did a lot of my reading on audible or audio books on a CD. Fortunately, my commute is short but 10 sessions of 10 mins each add up to 100 minutes a week that can sometimes mean 20% of a book done in a week. I also drive to exercise classes and some errands, though I often have my kids with me on the latter so its often listening to Daniel Tiger or Old Macdonald at those times😊
  • Cooking – I love to cook and when the kids are not around me in the kitchen, audible is running in the background. On most weekdays, I wake up before the kids and spend about 30 minutes packing their lunches and snacks and that’s a bonus reading time. It’s a time I greatly cherish where I get to make something with love and care for my kids and nourish my own soul in the background. Again, I can often get ~ 2 hours of reading time a week this way.
  • times at work – I have a fairly intense tech job but sometimes I can strategically batch up some administrative tasks – scheduling meetings, expense reports, formatting slides, etc. and get a bonus 15-30 mins of reading time every couple of weeks.
  • Random errands at home – I typically don’t do a lot of housekeeping without the kids but if there are random serendipitous quiet moments when the kids are with dad and I am folding laundry, audible is invited to the party again😊
  • Car rides – I am blessed to not have motion sickness and unfortunately, I can’t drive on the freeway (that story will be in another blog post) but we do go on a lot of road trips with my husband on the drivers seat and the kids buckled up in their car seats at the back. Lately, Sumit and I call that our connection time where we often listen and discuss to a podcast or plan our weeks or resolve the usual marital conflicts as the kids can often engage themselves with books, colors or just each other. However, I sometimes do try and take 10-15 mins on my own to hold a paper book or read on the kindle.
  • A few minutes before bed – This is honestly my favorite way of reading but given that Vivaan stays up till almost 10 most days and I try to sleep early to exercise before work a few times a week, this didn’t happen as much but there were a few minutes a few nights this past quarter.

Here’s another peek behind the scenes…

First and foremost, it’s the intention and desire. I was greatly inspired by Laura Vanderkam and Leanne Sowul who made me realize that I do have more time to read than I think. I had a list on Wunderlist on “Books to read” that I’d keep populating every time I came across something interesting, whether it was the Bill Gates list, Modern Mrs. Darcy, random bookstore recommendations, etc. This meant I never had an excuse that “I don’t know what to read.” I also always had a book with me – a paper book, my kindle, audible and the car CD player always had a book.  I was also tracking the list of books I was reading in an Excel doc and seeing little progress was motivating. Also, on days and moments when the crazy voice in my head would say I am too overwhelmed or my life is too busy, looking at that list made me say – “Hey, I am not that busy to make time for the things that matter. Look at how much I have been reading lately.” I also have no trouble putting down a book if it’s not interesting. Sara of the SHUBOX.com uses a 50-page rule and I kind of follow that as well and will give a book an hour or so of my time before I decide its not for me.

 

And then, of course, there are tradeoffs, reading (rather listening) so much meant I didn’t spend time on podcasts, news, KQED forum (one of my favorite radio shows) as much as I typically did in the past. It also meant I had less time to wander and dream especially in the car though I have been trying to sometimes not turn on my book and “do nothing.” It also meant fewer phone calls but that was a choice that still felt fine as I was sufficiently connected with most of the important people in my life or calling someone in a different part of the world at 5 pm wasn’t going to be logistically convenient either. Listening to books while also packing kids’ lunches didn’t allow me to focus as much as holding a book in my hand in my bed but again 90% quality reading is better than no reading.

 

For those of you who like to read, do you have more tips on making time, finding books and keeping this love of reading going especially in a phase of life with a lot going on? And yes, I’d love book recommendations. I typically read non – fiction and memoirs but I am trying to read more fiction too😊

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

— at least for now

 

For a long, long time, I believed that if I wasn’t making a career of teaching yoga, leading workshops & writing that I was somehow not doing justice to my art & my callings. I used to believe that I wasn’t being true to my heart’s deepest desires, that I was too scared to quit my job or had some weird insecurity about money… I tried and tried to talk myself out of those thoughts. I read, I researched. I reflected and went down some rabbit holes too. There were tears and hours of despair, lots of them to be honest.

And yes, even though in the moment it was hard, I am glad I am not a full-time writer or yoga teacher or coach. At least for now though I do hope that at some point I am. I am also confident that I am not a fraud or disloyal to my dreams because I don’t do that work full time. Yes, I have my fair share of fears and insecurities that I am exploring and processing but that means little about my relationship with my callings.

Here’s why I don’t want to monetize my art at this point in my life.

  • Creative freedom – I can write what I want. I show up with more courage and more authenticity as I am not constantly thinking about writing “what people will pay for”. I write what I care about and how can I create value for others and I feel pretty good about this balance.
  • Honing my craft – It takes practice, a lot of it to get good at what you do. There are no shortcuts to this whether it was teaching yoga, workshops or now my writing. As I wasn’t charging much for my yoga workshops, I could experiment and try out different styles, discover my own voice and figure out how to best create value for my clients while still speaking from my heart and not worry about pricing and all that my marketing textbook had to teach. With my writing and blog, I have invested very little time and energy into marketing and that is intentional. I know if I would have moved my hours, my work could have reached a wider audience, but I want to invest on honing my craft, on developing my voice and I appreciate that I don’t have to constantly be thinking of growing my subscriber list.
  • Flexibility at this stage – As a mom with two little kids, my life is fairly chaotic and unpredictable and I want some sense of stability and some sense of creativity. For me, my callings help me manifest my sense of creativity and my day job keeps my life somewhat predictable. I appreciate this balance to not have to expect my writing to provide for this feeling of stability at this point in my life.
  • Focus on the people – When I taught yoga a few years back, I earned very little sometimes even $5 for a 90-minute class, add some buffer and the commute time and the money was almost insignificant. However, it also came with a lot of joy of truly focusing on the people I was serving. If I would have looked at each person who entered my class and hoped for more to show up, so I could contribute to my mortgage, I know I wouldn’t have done justice to the people who were trusting me with their practice.

 

 

My calling truly has the power to nourish and nurture my soul and hopefully contribute positively to other people’s lives even if I don’t invest 50 hours a week to it. I don’t want this young inexperienced part of my life to bear the burden of paying my cell phone bills. Not to say I’d never want to monetize, I DO want to monetize and create a small business but at this stage in my life, this model works best. I want to amplify my message, reach a wider audience and find a way to partner with a non-profit to divert the funds for use in a developing country in education or domestic abuse. I hope at some point in my life I can find a way to divert some of the hours as a tech marketer into my work as a creative but so far this somewhat crazy but wholesome balance of my myriad identities is nourishing all parts of me.

Thank you for riding along with me on this journey!

 

P.S. – So much of this thinking is influenced by the wonderful work of Liz Gilbert and her book Big Magic, a book I’d highly recommend!

 

Posted by & filed under Parenting, Relationships.

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Vivaan turned 4 last month. I have experienced the deluge of all emotions I could ever imagine over these last 4 years. The all-consuming nature of parenthood combined with the absolute power of loving and being loved by another human. These beautiful paradoxes juxtaposed right next to one another still fascinate me and make me smile (and cry!), though my pendulum often swings to joy way more than I would have ever imagined. Yet, things haven’t gotten old or boring after 4 years though I will not lie, the sheer volume of thoughts in my head and the tasks on my list can overwhelm at times.  But, for the most part, I also feel good about this so-called elusive thing called work-life balance, but oh I digress.

Back to Vivaan…

Here is a letter that Lindsey Mead has inspired me to write. She is an incredible writer and pens down these beautiful letters to her kids on their birthdays and it is my (belated) turn now. You are a gift in my life in so many ways, thank you, Lindsey

Dear Vivaan,

Thank you for yet another incredible year to be your mom. A year that was challenging with 2 of you, a million moments where you both needed me at the same time. It was a year that reminded me I could wholeheartedly love you both at the same time even though yes, taking you to the bathroom and nursing Saveer at the same time was a fun project! I am grateful you can now go to the bathroom on your own.

You have struggled with school – a lot to be honest. You have told us it is boring, and you often cry on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings. It is one of the hardest parts of watching you grow is seeing you in pain and I must remind myself that this is a part of your life at this point. We spent many months finding another school and we have finally found one and hopefully you’ll enjoy this one. You have wanted a forest school and even convinced me – “Mama, can you find a school where I can do my art projects and tracing outside and not in a loud class. My ears hurt in so much noise.” You like quiet spaces over noisy ones and you even asked grandma – “All of you are staying over in our house (for my sister’s wedding)? That’s too many people and it will get noisy!”

On that same note, you didn’t want a big birthday party and asked for a camping trip instead. I tried to convince you to get your friends in the park and we could do outdoor activities, but you insisted to have it your way. I learnt to accept you and your choices and remember that it’s “your birthday” and it should be celebrated the way you want it. We booked a campsite, months in advance only to have to welcome rain that day and chose to go to the museum instead. You were happy.

You have been asking for a big sister. I haven’t cracked the mystery on why, but it melts my heart. You have said – “No way” to a baby sister, only big sister is what you want. I don’t know how to do this.

You love to hike and joined me on most of my 52 hikes this past year. My favorite was a 3-mile hike in Marin and I hope to do it again with you this year. We love reading the Athleta & REI brochure that arrives in the mail and we talk about eating broccoli and protein so we both can hike big hills together when you are big, “hmmm maybe when I am 10 years old, mama” is what you say.

 

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Your relationship with Saveer both inspires and frustrates me at the same time. I am learning to remind myself this is how siblings are. You both fight like you are enemies. Though if I am honest, I have to say he clearly knows how to instigate you and push down the tall tower that you spent 10 minutes building and it takes you 2 seconds to punch him in his tummy, ouch. And yet, the way you both hug, kiss and look out for each other is one of the most joyful moments of my day. You even told Santa that “I don’t need anything, but Saveer doesn’t have a train conductor costume so can you please bring one for him?”

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I typically don’t go grocery shopping with the two of you after school/work but one day I braved this adventure. I was a little irritable and unknowingly repeated some version of “Get out soon, we are getting late” and you very assertively spoke up – “Mama, don’t say the same thing more than once. It only makes it worse.” I just looked at you in awe, smiled and said, “I am sorry Vivaan, you are right.”

I have also been told – “If you will not be nice to me, I won’t either. This is how it is mommy.”

One day Sumit and I were arguing for long in the morning and at bedtime, you told me – “Mama you were not kind to papa.” Thank you, Vivaan for calling me out because I truly wasn’t kind. I was hurt but harsh words are never the right answer in a marriage.

You love the arts; all kinds of pretend & imaginative play and I hope we can keep this love of yours alive. You love to ask questions and get your hands dirty, literally. We cook and bake a lot. You love being in the kitchen. Lately, you have been enjoying doing dishes. The other night you washed the Vitamix on your own.

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We try and meditate before bed. Okay, I try and meditate, and you enjoy your opportunity to turn on headspace on my phone. I trust that you are vicariously getting some of the benefits though I have been told – “meditation is boring, mama.” But then the other day when I was having big tears, you came up to me and said – “Mama, take a few deep breaths, you will calm down and feel better.”

We have been working on helping you stay focused and complete a task at hand. You can sometimes get frustrated and want to give up. I have also noticed that you have a strong desire to please and not disappoint us. I hope you know that you are always loved no matter what even though there are moments you may not feel that way. I am learning to practice unconditional love while still holding high standards for you. I hope you develop a strong moral compass of doing the right thing for your own conscience and not to make us proud.

Your friendships are powerful, and I love how much you care for your friends. Yet, I have also noticed that things can be binary. X can either be good or bad, but we are trying to teach you that sometimes, good people make bad choices and X can hit you if you are upset and you can speak up for yourself and tell him not to hit you. Your teacher told us that you can get possessive of your best friend playing with others.

Finally, I have experienced the vulnerability of loving your child so closely and the fear that comes up with such love. There absolutely are moments when I wish time would stand still and I’d just spend hours playing with you, talking to you and listening to your stories. I recognize this is a very short window where I have such a close view of your world and what a blessing it is to be trusted and loved so much. Yes, there absolutely are moments when I hope you fall asleep, so I can have 5 minutes of quiet before I sleep myself. However, there are very few things as joyful as our bedtime giggles giving way to cozy snuggles, you tightly holding my arms and your deep breaths putting me to sleep.

I am blessed and honored to be your mom. Happy birthday, Vivaan!

Posted by & filed under Creativity, Imperfections.

P.S. – I wrote this post in March 2017 when Vivaan was 3 and Saveer was 6 months old and published it about a year later. 

Life feels pretty full right now with a preschooler and an infant, a full-time tech job and my last class in grad school. In many ways, it is very easy to let my own health become a low priority. However, I have realized that it’s not really that simple about saying no to myself because every time I do that, it’s much harder to say yes to everything else. Over the years, I have learned (the hard way) that my own health – physical & emotional are deserving of my own love and care in a very special way just as much as breastfeeding my baby is.

I do well when I exercise and yet the million dollar question pops up – “ How do you get time to exercise?” I don’t really “get” time but I have to “find” time to exercise. It often means letting the laundry stay unfolded but getting in a 15-minute walk after dinner. Lately, it’s in bits and chunks,  5 minutes here and 15 minutes there. There are very few intense cardio bursts or an hour-long uninterrupted class but it sure is better than me not doing anything. Best thing of all, these little chunks add up over the week and it’s a gift to myself and everyone else I am trying to care for.

Here is how exercise gets some love on my schedule

  • Use a tracker – I am absolutely addicted to my Fitbit. I am typically not very competitive but when it comes to my steps I sure am. This ensures I take the stairs instead of the elevators at work. This means I will no longer complain to make multiple trips from the car when bringing back grocery. When I need to take a break at work, I (try) to walk instead of simply surfing the net.
  • Outdoor kids activities – I recognize I am very fortunate to live in a part of the world with excellent weather which means I am typically outside with the kids as much as I can. We spend hours at the park, zoos & outdoor museums which means the steps add up more easily and getting a few push-ups while the toddler is making pizza in the sand is not that impossible.
  • Barre3 Online – I am a huge fan of the Barre3 workout but getting to a studio is a luxury both in terms of time and money but their online app is fantastic. They have workouts of different lengths targeting different parts of the body which means I don’t really have an excuse. Yes, there absolutely are days when giving myself even 10 minutes is hard and I am by no means perfect. Can I humble brag about a 30-minute solo barre3 workout at the airport when both kids (strangely) napped at the same time? Last night, I got 10 minutes of barre3 in the bathroom while the infant slept and dad read books for the older one.
  • Dance – This one is a lot of fun. Often time, I’ll turn on some music and we will all dance (for 5 mins!) or sometimes the rest of the crew has some fun at my expense. Regardless, I feel good, my tracker gets some more love and the kiddo enjoys a dance party on a weeknight.
  • Family hikes – This one if perhaps my favorite because its more than just exercise but also a way to connect with nature, myself and people who matter. I am fortunate that both the kiddos and the husband like this too. This year, I committed to 52 hikes and 10 weeks into the year I am at 10 hikes. Investing in a good hiking stroller was one of the best purchases we made after the kids.
  • Walking meetings – I try to do a few walking meetings at work each week when I don’t need to be in front of my computer. Having a park next to the office surely helps!
  • Races – I signed up for a 10K and a half marathon this year. Running isn’t quite my thing but I do like long walks. Both of these don’t allow strollers but there are others that do allow for strollers too.

In the end, I need to embrace imperfection. Some days the steps don’t add up or my body doesn’t like the idea of another push-up. It means I try again the next morning and make as much progress as I can without judgment but more love and more compassion for myself.

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Vulnerability.

I have a lot of lists lately – both in my head and typed up on my computer. Lists of things I want to accomplish and the habits I want to develop and change. I am refining, prioritizing and checking in with myself (and my husband as appropriate) on what’s important, why it’s important and how could I create space in my life to make things happen.

Yes, I am being very intentional about my lists…

In many ways, it feels brave to dream big,  dream about what matters most to me and I feel grateful to have the privilege of being able to do so. Yet, in some ways, I am scared to even say these out loud and finalize on my piece of paper (or word doc!), let alone share them with all of you. I thought it would be interesting to see what’s under the hood of these fears.

First, there is a fear of failure. Writing down a big goal doesn’t mean its accomplished😊 There is a strong chance it doesn’t get done due to a myriad of reasons and there are moments when that evokes fear. Then, there is a fear of judgment. I wish I could say I didn’t care what people think about me, but I am not there yet. The judgment of my priorities, my values and the way I am living my life. And then there is the attachment. Would I be less worthy of my own love if I didn’t get much done on my list? Will I label myself in unhealthy ways of not being good enough, not trying enough and all that good stuff? And finally, am I selfish? Am I not a good parent because a lot of things on my lists don’t involve my children. Carving out time and energy for my own needs can sometimes (not always) come at the expense of not giving to my children and sometimes that feels a little uneasy.

Yes, as you can see, the inner critic doesn’t go away and has no qualms about showing up uninvited to the party. Over the years, I have learned, she shows up and will continue to do so.

Thankfully, I recognize her when she arrives. I have learned to see if she has anything useful to teach me and very rarely she does and at those times, I thank her graciously.

On other occasions, I tell her – “I know you are here uninvited and feel free to entertain yourself. I am not interested in listening to what you have to offer.” I then invite my wise self into my circle and hold her even tighter as I feel scared, unsure, uncomfortable and unclear. She always has the right answers. And here’s what she had to tell me about my lists.

Dear friend –

Please make your lists, dream big, work hard with intention and awareness but know that you are enough and beautiful even if you don’t accomplish half of what you have on your list. Know that there will be failures – projects won’t have outcomes you have desired and habits may not develop as quickly as you’d like. You learn from them and start again with what’s needed in your life at that point. You can change what’s on your list mid-cycle. That doesn’t mean you are not committed or unfaithful to your dreams. Trust that you have the skills and wisdom that if your children (or husband, parents or close friends and loved one) need you more than usual at a given point, you will drop that event you were trying to host and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it means you are aware of the fluidity of your life and can prioritize appropriately. To the world, it may seem you are doing too much – exercising too much, reading too much or writing too much but you will know what’s enough for you. Make sure you ask yourself why you are doing something and focus on that brings you joy and not that which feeds the ego.

I love you!

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Happiness.

I have never been big into new years resolutions. I had someone once tell me that if something is important to do, why to wait until the new year to make it happen and I naturally fell into that camp. Yet, I love new beginnings especially when it comes to new habits, goals, and intentions. Monday mornings are special to kick things off and the first day of the month always makes me happy! I am still finalizing my 2018 plan (yes, I am creating one and still figuring out what that means in this season of my life) so I’ll be sharing that soon but in the meantime, here is another practice that I am starting this year.

It’s the word of the year and mine is – ACCEPTANCE

I can’t point my fingers as to why this word came to me. Lately, I have been doing a lot of “acceptance” meditations on Headspace. (An app I highly recommend to anyone wanting to develop a meditation practice or deepen their practice). Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness also had an influence on forcing me to observe how I’d sometimes hold on to old patterns about people negatively and where I was falling short of accepting realities about the difficult parts of my relationships.

Acceptance to me most importantly means accepting all parts of myself. Acceptance doesn’t mean lack of accountability or permissiveness of bad behavior, but it means love and kindness and starting over again. It means accepting all my professional choices and decisions that I can really beat myself over. It means accepting myself when I can be impulsive with my husband. It means accepting that I made a mistake BUT working hard on preventing impatience in myself.

It means accepting my husband with an even bigger heart. It means truly understanding where he is unable to meet my needs because changing his habits is hard. It means accepting him for truly trying to be a better partner. It means accepting our differences with more gratitude and love.

It means accepting some difficult relationships for the parts I can’t change. It means more freedom and headspace for me.

It means accepting the hard and sometimes mundane and exhausting parts of parenting. Accepting that there will be evenings where I will not have the energy to feed them and their accompanying tantrums, but I do it with an awareness that it’s a difficult evening. It means accepting that it can be frustrating to take the little one to the bathroom right when I have started eating, smile, take a deep breath and do it.

And finally, it means acceptance of the harsh realities of life – death and disease. And then, when I push further, the crime, suffering and economic equality in the world can really affect me. It means accepting how I feel about these challenges and channeling that pain into action where I can and accepting the things that I can’t change.

Do you have a word of the year? Is there something in your life that is inviting you right now?

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And just like that, another beautiful year comes to an end. In some ways, time flew by. In other ways, it didn’t just fly by. I felt it in big waves, small joys and things in between. I have hundreds of memories, some in my head that I fear I will lose and others documented on the blog, on my iPhone and other places in the cloud! I am still undecided whether it’s a good thing when time just flies by or if it feels like it moved slowly. I have been spending a lot of time over these past few months reflecting on the year and thinking about this new year. It is an activity that gives me tremendous meaning and joy and reminds me of being more intentional with how I spend my time and energy.

Here’s what this past year felt like:

• Parenting – It was an absolute full year; full of lots of joy and lots of struggles. I feel nostalgic about how much both the kids have grown and that I no longer get to hold an infant in my hands, yet I am also grateful that my most sleep-deprived nights are hopefully behind me. Overall, I felt good about most of the parenting choices I made and my identity as a mother.

• Family – Continuing bullet # 1 above, I felt good about our family of four. We had lots of simple joyful moments with snuggles and cuddles and big events such as camping trips, road trips and plane rides! There were trips to the museums and zoo and many hours on trails collecting sticks and playing in muddy puddles. I had a lot of FUN with the kids and my husband. Not being in school in the second half of the year meant that I had a lot more headspace to make every weekend a mini vacation and that was awesome. Where I fell a little short was in my relationship with my parents and siblings. I would have liked to spend more time and energy with them. On the brighter side, the quality of my relationships felt good. At points of contention, I could sit down (or walk the stroller with the phone in my hand) and talk through what needed to be changed (and often it was my own mind!) and make repairs. I miss my parents, miss them a lot and I often wished, we didn’t live so many thousands of miles away. In the meantime, thank you WhatsApp for allowing papa to let us know what he ate for dinner last night. #simplejoys.

• Health – This was a year where I exercised the most, ever (even before I had kids). No big marathons or boot camps but simple consistent movement that really was a big source of joy and energy with everything on my plate. I had a good relationship with food though I know I can do better here. There were moments when my plate had more white rice than needed in response to stress or simple indulgence that often resulted in me feeling guilty later. I need to work on both – mindful eating + less guilt after a high carb diet. I’d like to meditate more and hopefully this will be on my 2018 list. Overall, mind and body felt nourished and I hope to continue the streak here.

• Service – This is one place where I feel really empty. I didn’t give much. My life was a little too focused on myself. I am a big believer that I can only give what I have so in some ways, it made sense to fill up my own bucket first but still, I am way too fortunate to have not given enough, not even a big meaningful check this year… I did fine on everyday kindness but hope to make this more of a priority for the new year. Again, it sometimes takes 5 minutes to bring a smile to someone.

• Work – It was a good, solid year. There were some tough moments: we had a lot of organizational changes, disappointment for not getting promoted when I was expecting it and some difficult relationships, but I experienced joy almost every Monday morning and that’s a good sign. I learnt, grew, contributed and enjoyed my day to day and the comfort of knowing how work supports many of my other goals and values.
• Marriage – There were lots and lots of bumpy moments on this journey. I had tears, a lot of them and a lot of joyful moments too. There were some beautiful kid-free hikes, dinners and evenings at the concert. We have grown and understood each other better and the dust seems to have settled and I feel a lot more hopeful and excited going into the new year.
• Relationships – I feel truly blessed to have incredibly rich friends with whom I got to spend some good quality time celebrating milestones and supporting each other through tough times.

• Personal Projects – Even though life was so full, I was able to carve out some time to create a few paintings for the house, take an art class with friends, complete my 52 hikes project and read several books (or listen to them on audible that I highly recommend). I didn’t write as much as I’d like to but was able to write a little more outside my own blog and even get paid for it. As a relatively novice writer, its always an encouragement to know that professional editors with a huge audience appreciate your work. And even though I want to write when no is reading, this sure helps.

This was my year. I wanted to be real and honest but as I am reading this post again, things sound overly positive. Not sure, if this is a function of the increased wisdom that grey hair brings (I have visibly more grey hair now) or the fact that I wrote this on vacation, sitting in a hotel room by the beach while the kids were sleeping, and the husband was packing the suitcases. In any case, I’ll take it as a sign that it was a good year with lots to be grateful for. However, as it’s been a few weeks since I wrote this, I also have a profound realization that not every year will be this calm, peaceful and uneventful. There will be deaths, disasters, and more losses because such is life. But for now, I am soaking in the goodness, praying for more resilience and joy in the world and ready to take on 2018.
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I turned 34 last month and for the last couple of years, I have written an annual post reflecting on my life at that point. This year I was torn between writing and not writing my birthday post. I didn’t think much had changed and didn’t think this post would be different than previous years. And of course, I had the good old excuse of not having time to write. I am glad I left the kids with dad this morning to spend some time at a coffee shop with my hot chocolate in hand to write. As I thought about what I wanted to write on my walk here, it was this post that wanted to be written. I had a kind voice in my head that reminded me that even if the post sounded similar, it was beautiful to pause and capture what this year meant to me.  Thank you, kind and wise inner voice! Here I am with what this moment in life looks like.

  • Gratitude – This is my first & biggest emotion. I feel so much joy, love, and gratitude for everything I have in my life. Every time I pause and think about the millions of people who don’t have food on the table, women who work as sex workers, children without parents and the dozens of other situations that makes life so much harder I feel nothing but gratitude for how abundant, beautiful and purposeful my life is. This has been the most valuable life lesson I have learned from my dad, thank you, papa!
  • Blur & Magic – And yet, this year is what I call a time of blur and magic, of fog and fun, of chaos and beauty, you get the picture. Life with two little kids is so all-consuming and I can be so exhausted that I can fall asleep anywhere, yesterday I fell asleep on a beach!!! And yet, I so enjoy the simplicity of children, the challenges of parenting, the fulfillment of experiencing a family of four, way more than I could have ever imagined. It truly is magical.
  • Alignment – For the most part, my life feels in alignment with my values and that feels good. Yes, there are parts I want to change and cards that I wish were dealt differently but for the most part, things feel in balance. It has meant constantly questioning how much is enough and being okay with the fluidity of priorities.
  • More than mom – Now, especially that I have two kids, I feel an even greater need to nurture other parts of myself. There often are times on a Sunday afternoon, where I secretly hope my mom would appear and take my kids for an hour, so I could do something to nourish myself. I also find myself missing a lot of things about my pre-kiddo life. Perhaps it’s a function of the enormity of the work with two kids or it’s that I have been a parent for almost 4 years and the accumulated exhaustion wears in. I think it’s a little bit of both😊
  • Parents & siblings – I didn’t get to spend as much time or invest in my relationship with my own family as much as I’d like to, given how much I love and get along with them. I can attribute it to the fullness of my own life, but I want to change that.
  • Cancer – One of my close friends was diagnosed with cancer and it was very hard in so many ways to watch her fight cancer (which she did incredibly well). I feared for her life, for my own and my loved ones but then would struggle even more as I questioned why such diseases and suffering exists in the world and the millions of lives that are disrupted with this disease (and others). Still, no answers and my quest continues. I also often felt guilty of not being there enough for her, for not spending as much time as I’d like to.
  • Podcasts – I recently discovered the joy of subscribing to podcasts and it’s been a beautiful addition to my life. I have learned so much from them and realized the power of a few minutes here and a few minutes there to nourish myself. And yes, same goes for audio books!
  • Grad School – I completed grad school this year! So happy and excited to be done.
  • Marriage – This was the hardest year of my marriage in many ways. The details deserve a separate post. It was the small stuff, but I saw first-hand how the small stuff can become the big stuff and how and why people can fall out of love or get divorced after decades of being married. I also feel incredibly beautiful that we caught some of our red flags and are tenderly attending to the broken parts and working on ourselves and in our marriage. Grateful again.
  • 52 Hikes – I committed to 52 hikes this year and completed my 50th hike yesterday and it feels wonderful. This experience deserves its own detailed post too but overall it was great to hike with the family and friends, expose the kids to the outdoors and experience the joy of completing a project. I exercised the most I ever have, even before I had my kids and that feels like a big accomplishment.
  • Mortality – I have also been thinking a little more about my own mortality and accept that as much as I may want to I will not be living forever and my time on this planet is finite. Sometimes it makes me sad, both as I think of my children but also as I think of what I can do in this world and how self-centered my life is. I am trying to channelize this more constructively and it’s a work in progress.
  • Injustice – This year was so difficult with so much injustice and pain in the world – natural disasters, crime, violence and more. Every time, I am exposed to this I shut down in some ways. I feel incredibly guilty for not doing enough. This is one place where guilt is very prominent, and my way of coping is acting to help. I am working on a campaign for next year to do more. Hopefully, the fog with little ones will settle and I will see more clear skies and have more headspace for this or as I often say, I will make more headspace for this.
  • Blog Love – And finally, I have learned that this blog, my writing and my community of readers is a very integral part of my life. I haven’t written as much this year, but I hope I change that in the months to come and write more, create more and give more through this medium.


Deep gratitude to Lindsey Mead for her post This is 38 and Dina Relles for her post This is 35 for inspiring me to write this. You can read my posts, this is 32 here and this is 33 here.