Posted by & filed under Callings, Creativity, Everyday Lessons, Parenting, Writing.

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The last few months have been intense – incredibly beautiful, rewarding and meaningful yet exhausting. In many ways, life has been overly generous and kind to us yet the daily commitment of work, family and everything else has left me feeling a little depleted. Perhaps, in some ways this is expected with a 9 month baby at home who still wakes up multiple times at night and the accumulated sleep deprivation that comes with it has stirred up my world a bit.

In some ways, it’s interesting that I feel great in my body and have the energy I need but it’s my soul that wants some nurturing. I have been really missing time alone, time where I can take care of myself and no one needs me or I don’t have to get anywhere at a certain time. I truly feel like slowing down and my introverted self doesn’t feel like socializing or talking too much. I often want to stay in bed with a cup of tea and read or write in my journal. I am really longing to go on a retreat for a few days but given that I am nursing the baby, this will be somewhat harder. I haven’t written much this year and my heart is really yearning to reflect more, type up my thoughts and share.

I remember, when my first child was around the same age, I had this strong desire to be in the woods for a month with a book and my journal and I often get that same longing again except that this time as much as I want the family to be there with my in the woods, I am also longing for a “little more” solo time. I am typically pretty good about taking care of myself but this time I feel I need a little more care and love from my own self…

For the last few days, I have been reflecting on what I need but also what is realistically feasible given the current structure and season of our life. As I sit down and listen to my inner child, she tells me she wants to create, she wants love, she wants nurturing, she wants play, she wants unstructured time.

So here I am, honoring that voice and committing to 30 days of creativity for the month of July. I know I am being ambitious because not every day will I be able to create something but I am giving myself permission to not follow through as well. Some days I’ll have more energy, head space and of course time and other days will be harder and that’s okay. There will be days when all I can do is 10 minutes of writing in my journal and there will be others where I will be able to paint for 2 hours.  I am giving myself flexibility and committing to 30 hours of working on my blog and perhaps some artwork for the house.

This means creating space in my calendar, in my head and my heart to create. I have left our July calendar pretty open intentionally to have a lot of white space. I am not proactively reaching out to friends and family to make plans. I prioritized renting out a room in our house to have some additional income that I can use to outsource certain household tasks to free up time and space for myself. I also secured 30 mins of extra childcare hours at the kids daycare for days when I may need more space. I struggled really hard with this one and there was some unexpected guilt and sadness here but I realized I needed to nourish myself and trust that I am a good enough mother even if I spent a few less hours with them in a month. I am still struggling even as I have completed typing this sentence, sigh!

I have never committed to anything that I’ll do everyday so I am not sure what to expect. Perhaps, this will become a part of my life or maybe it will be too overwhelming and I’ll give up mid way (hopefully not!). I want to try and show up, every day and practice self-compassion on days when I can’t. It’s a practice to learn to love all parts of me. I want to show up for myself but also as a way to model self-care to my husband and my kids who are still little but hopefully some day when they read this they too recognize that their needs, their desires and their souls matter.

How are each of you doing? Not at the surface but deep inside? What in your heart needs more care, love and nurture? What calling of yours wants to see the light of day? Where are your fears being bottled up?

I found these beautiful lines on Elle Luna’s website. I had the honor of hearing her talk live and highly recommend Elle’s book – The crossroads of should and must. I give her tremendous credit of inspiring me on my journey to create.

 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Imperfections, Parenting, Work.

 

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I completed my MBA a few weeks back. I am incredibly excited, grateful, somewhat relieved that I have a new life with some “extra??” time in it. Sometimes, it feels surreal to not plan my weekends around homework after having done that for almost 5 years excluding a few breaks when I had my kids. Sometimes, I truly wonder how exactly did I fit it all in my life while still feeling fairly good in most ways that matter, meaning I wasn’t chronically stressed or overwhelmed every minute of my day. After having kids, I often questioned if I should continue or give up as my career aspirations changed significantly as what got me to go to school in the first place had shifted in my life. Yet, every few months, my husband and I would evaluate if I should complete my degree or quit and we hesitantly landed that this would be the right choice for us and that he’d support me to get to the end.

 

I feel blessed to have had lots of love and support both through this journey and at the finish line. Graduation notes often said very thoughtful things and some called me a superwoman or asked how I did it all. I felt honored and grateful to hear this, to be loved and care for so deeply.  Yet in many ways, this didn’t feel right. I felt as if I had created this perfect picture of my life, in some ways that were too focused on the bright side and that wasn’t really true.

 

One – I truly don’t think it’s about me. Yes, I did a lot of the work but truly, truly couldn’t have done this without the support of many, many people whom I have written about here but most importantly my husband who literally had to take primary responsibility for the kids when I was away for classes or doing homework.

 

Second – I truly am no superwoman or did it all. Yes, I feel very grateful for what I have accomplished but there were lots and lots of things I didn’t do. There were significant trade-offs that I had to make every quarter, every month and then more literally every single day. For example, my house is almost ALWAYS in a chronic mess. There are toys all over the house, a huge pile of unfolded laundry that magically appears at all times and the kitchen always has food and dirty dishes lying around. Most days, the kids don’t see me in the morning and I very rarely get to sit on the couch and watch Netflix with my husband once the kids are in bed because I sleep when the kids sleep. Weeknight dinners are often interrupted many times and some days all I can eat is a glass of smoothie for dinner once the kids are fed. There are times when my marriage has felt tough and I always recollect the words of a friend with young children who once commiserated – “I feel like we are roommates raising a child.”  I too have had a fair share of those emotions. I put a lot of my many dreams on hold as I knew I couldn’t do justice to them. I also often especially toward the tail end of the program did the bare minimum to get through the class. I don’t remember much about stock options trading, price elasticity or supply & demand frameworks. I didn’t have enough headspace to process all the information coming my way. My biggest trade off was giving up many, many weekends where I too wanted to be at the park, at the zoo and the museum with Sumit and the kids or just cuddle with them on a Saturday morning in bed where I was instead in class or at a coffee shop finishing up homework.

 

Through these last few years, fitting in school into an already full schedule especially after the kids was perhaps the best hands on education on the real meaning of values and priorities. I said yes to some things and no to others and both came with consequences, the good and the not so good. I had to constantly think about how much was good enough? What else did I need besides the essentials to thrive and how could I prioritize joy in my everyday life. What was important all throughout was being intentional about what was truly important to me as a human, as a mother and then for us as a family and what were we willing to give up in our lives.  And then even more important was compassion for myself when I couldn’t act in alignment with my values, the struggles and confusion of what should I say yes to vs not. Some were easy choices but some were much, much harder.

 

As I sit on my couch on an early Sunday morning while the rest of the boys lay asleep, I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and sound of the birds chirping fill up my heart. As I get to the end of this post, I tell myself, I have just enough time. Actually no, I’ll gladly take a few more hours in a day that I don’t have to share with anyone but just me, my journal and my computer to type but since that’s not happening, I will repeat and tell myself – “I have just enough time in my life and what matters is how I fill it up and how I choose to spend it.”

 

P.S. – I am incredibly grateful to Laura Vanderkam for helping me rethink my relationship with time. Her Ted Talk, book and a few articles here and here are my favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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My oldest son, Vivaan turns 3 tomorrow. In some ways, it feels like it was just yesterday that I was in labor unsure of what motherhood would mean to me. Yet, in other ways the last 3 years feel incredibly rich, meaningful and abundant with so many memories. It’s yet another example of how I can experience opposites together.

 

I just called my husband and told him that I was feeling a little weird that I had not purchased a traditional gift for him and that we weren’t planning to do so either but I wanted to pause, reflect and write him a birthday post that he could read later and understand a little more about what he was like at 3 and what our family looked like.

 

I often joke with people that Vivaan keeps our marriage in check and in many ways, its partly true. Over a year back, Sumit and I were arguing about something trivial, I suspect schedules and getting the kiddo in bed soon and my voice went up and the little toddler said – “Mummy, papa stop. I not like it.” Now that he is a little older, it seems that he understands or perhaps accepts that mom and dad will have arguments though I am trying my best to practice even more patience and kindness. However, when our voices go up (and it’s typically me as I am the more impulsive between the two of us) he checks in – “Mummy, papa is everything okay? What are you talking about?” And that’s a reminder for us to calm down even more.

 

Another vivid memory is that of all of us trying to share a piece of Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Both the boys were trying to eat one round solid with pieces melting on each of their faces… For some reason, sharing with mommy wasn’t part of the deal so I jokingly asked Sumit – “ Where’s my share?” and before my husband could respond, the little toddler took a piece out of his mouth and put it in mine. I experienced the power of love, the abundance of motherhood and the wonder and miracle of a child’s innocence and compassion in that very moment. One of my most powerful memories of the little bambino…

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I am always humbled by his love for the little monkey. There can be unlimited hugs and kisses especially during bed time. If Vivaan is awake first, its almost given he is going to wake up Saveer. He will keep asking – “Is Saveer awake? Can I woke him up?” (yes, the grammar is broken). And sometimes he gets so excited that he can even hurt him and then there are some rare moments when jealousy kicks in and its hard to share mom and dad and there can be some hitting and tears for the baby too. I have been trying to teach him that we can have difficult feelings but we can’t engage in bad behavior. The other day, Saveer was crying and Vivaan goes up to him and said – “Brother, why are you crying? What do you need? Tell me brother, tell me.” He keeps saying – “Saveer is my best buddy” and I can often smile and tear up at the same time.

 

He loves to hike, spend time outdoors and cook, play in muddy puddles and make “stuff” with dad and even told him he wanted to be an engineer when dad told him engineers make things. I hope we are not pigeonholing him.  He is big into spending time with his close friends and people in the family that he is close to but isn’t a big fan of large birthday parties or crowds and prefers to be in smaller circles. He struggled a lot with separation anxiety during school drop offs and is just beginning to enjoy those moments of daddy saying good bye. Just as any other toddler, he loves to ask me lots of questions and totally wants to be a part of every conversation between mom and dad.

 

We have a lot in common and sometimes I fear I hope I am not raising a mini – me as that is not how I want to parent. I hope he continues to question the status quo and disagree with me (without a tantrum would be nice!!) and find his own answers to life’s questions. As he grows up, I hope he finds pleasures in the little things as he does right now. I hope he remembers that its okay to fall and make mistakes and saying sorry is an act of strength, not weakness. I hope he continues to ask – “Is this healthy mama?” to develop a psotive relationship with food. I hope he remembers that nothing is more important than love, kindness and compassion and that no matter what, his family is a place where he will always be loved & accepted for who he is.

 

Happy Birthday Vivaan. It’s my honor and blessing to be your mom.

 

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Posted by & filed under Callings, Parenting, Work.

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This post was originally published at Motherly.

What if we “leaned in” to something other than just our careers?

I greatly admire Sheryl Sandberg’s vision with her “Lean In” movement and personally found great value in her book; I love how she helped us look beyond traditional linear careers and inspired us to be our personal best version as we navigate the complex world of work and family.

More importantly, I admired that she has been asking us to lean in to our careers so that we have more women at the top not to have power for the sake of power but because when women run the world, the world benefits.

It is a bold, audacious and an incredibly noble vision to aspire for a world with more women in influential positions.

However, this vision can also imply a very limiting definition of success, meaning and purpose that is very generic and doesn’t take into account that not every woman aspires the same for her life. This movement has unintentionally also sent a message that if you are not aspiring to be in the C suite of your organization, you are not “leaning in,” perhaps implying that you are not good enough.

What if we expand the definition of leaning in to not just your career but also your personal life? What if it was okay for women (and men!) to decide, without pressure or obligation, how much “work” and how much “life” is right for them?

What if climbing up to the top of your organization was one of the many ways to lean in—and not the only way? What if we were to optimize for personal fulfillment and social impact? We may have just as many or maybe slightly fewer women at the top than what Sheryl envisions but we’d have a world with more joy, meaning, peace, empowerment and the permission for each woman to authentically define what lean in means to her.

What if leaning in also meant:

  • Saying no to that promotion as a Director of Brand Management so you have the time to build a non-profit that provides sanitary napkins to women in developing countries.
  • Taking a sabbatical to write the Brunch & Breakfast Cookbook that you have always wanted to write.
  • Moving from a manager role to an individual contributor as a creative designer to pursue your love for design work.
  • Moving your growing family to a different country and embracing a different culture and pace of life.
  • Quitting your well-paying consulting job to spend time with your children, visit museums and parks and work towards your dream of working at an art gallery.

The point isn’t to not aspire to be at the top but to remind yourself that there are many ways of leaning in.

Make decisions around work and life that put you at peace, not ones that only please others.

Think about how you want to spend the waking hours of your life, and ponder what you want to best model for your children. Work backwards from vision of the person you want to be. Design that around that vision. Lean in to your life.

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

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This post was originally published at Motherly.

I still vividly remember a moment when I was contemplating having kids, and a well-meaning male friend said to me: “When you are a mom, you are always guilty.” He went on, “If you work outside the house, you feel guilty about leaving your kids with someone else, and if you stay at home, you feel guilty about not leveraging your education and experience and thus not contributing to the household income.”

I didn’t agree and found this theory disempowering. However, I didn’t have kids then so couldn’t speak from experience.

Today, I do have a 17-month-old son and I think a lot about guilt and motherhood.

Now, I believe it is deeply problematic for our ourselves, our families, our professions and society at large, if we as mothers live in chronic guilt.

Yes, the choices we have to make, and the tradeoffs we balance, are incredibly hard. I haven’t figured it all out yet and often wish parts of my life were different or that I had made a few different choices around work earlier in my career. But for the most part I am content. The truth is that the word guilt doesn’t exist in my vocabulary.

I don’t chronically worry that my working outside the home will harm my child. I don’t fret that he is harmed by having parents with professional lives outside the home. Nor do I experience deep anguish that I’m doing something wrong by working. I’m largely content.

And yet, I still cry.

I cry because when I am at work, I miss being with my son Vivaan. Every time, I see a baby or a toddler in my office café, I secretly wish that I was having lunch with my little munchkin, holding him one more time, giving him another hug. I miss spending more time with him at the sandbox. My heart yearns for more time at the playground and tears trickle down my cheeks. As much as I appreciate the peace and quiet after bedtime on a Sunday evening, I also fondly cherish the wonderful time on the weekend and know that Monday will not be like Sunday.

I am blessed to be working for an incredibly supportive manager at an organization that understands the needs of families. My husband is an amazing father doing his share to raise our son. We both chose our jobs consciously in order to integrate our professional lives with our lives at home. When I look at our family life in chunks of weeks, I feel content.

But, I still cry.

I make peace by reminding myself how blessed I am to have someone in my life I can love so dearly that even when I am three miles away from him and see him everyday, sleep next to this little being, I miss him so dearly. No matter how many hours I have, my heart wants more. It is a struggle between being content with what I have and constantly feeling like I wish I had a few more minutes with him.

I also make peace by reminding myself that I choose to work and refrain from using language that says but “I have to work.” Sure, I am a significant contributor to the income in our home but again, I am choosing financial security, intellectual stimulation and a career I care about. All of these are choices that come with consequences. There are millions of Americans, raising very happy, successful and resilient kids on one income or two part-time incomes. There are also millions of women, many with better educations and more career options than I, choosing to spend their time raising their families full-time. I have nothing but respect and admiration for them. But I know that we have found the right balance for our family.

I don’t know if the tears will ever stop. Part of me wishes that they do and I could spend every minute that I am not with Vivaan being fully present at the task in hand but part of me hopes that I always love my child and enjoy his presence enough that I miss him every time I am not with him.

My tears are not full of guilt, remorse or regret but with love—pure love, big love, mommy love.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

 

Last month, my husband and I completed 7 years of being married. My greatest emotion is that of immense gratitude for all that this relationship has brought in my life – both the joys and the struggles. The beautiful hikes and the not so pleasant arguments. The lovely experience of being a parent and the not so lovely experience of cleaning up our kitchen together in exhaustion on a Wednesday night. The peaceful weekend mornings before we had our two munchkins and the energy filled mornings with the kids where it can feel like forever to get out the house to drive to the beach! The joys of seeing our creative pursuits (my blog, Sumit’s Sahi Nahi) come to life and the support, sacrifice and planning it takes to fit it all together. While there are parts that of my marriage that I wish were different, I know there is deep meaning and purpose behind all the things that don’t always go the way I want them. As my dad reminds me, it’s a package deal, you can’t really pick and choose the parts that you like and those that you don’t. And honestly, when I am with my wise and peaceful self, I don’t know if I’d really want to choose either…

So, what I have learnt and what does this relationship mean to me today? I thought I’d make this an annual ritual like I have been doing on my birthday to pause and reflect on my truth today.

My first truth is that it takes effort, a lot of effort, every single day to make a marriage thrive and not just get by. There can be lots of reasons to not be empathetic or kind, to not speak in a language important to my spouse, to not forgive, to nag, etc, etc. And it all comes down to being truly invested and to make time not just in the sense of “go on a date night” frequently (though that has its own benefits!!) but to pause, reflect and see what the relationship needs at any given point in time and to make space, make room for that change to happen. And it’s effort that on some days comes with great ease and on other days not so much yet it’s always (okay almost) fulfilling and joyful.

My other big truth is the incredible power of “kind communication” and patience. I say this because I see it first hand as these qualities are very innate to my husband yet I struggle with them. I can be a lot more impulsive, quicker to give him unsolicited advice (when there are healthier alternatives) and lose my calm. I have learnt that it’s absolutely important to speak my needs and share what isn’t working but with immense kindness, every time, no matter what. It’s easy to blame him for the parts in me that aren’t feeling fulfilled but when I start with kindness and compassion, the hard times becomes so, so much easier…

I have also learnt the importance of respecting and accepting our differences. This one is again hard for me. My ego and fear can often show up in unhealthy ways. It means accepting that my husband is a person different than me, with his own do(s) and don’t(s), his own moral standards and own ways of resolving his conflicts and managing relationships. When these differences arise (which they always will), I need to focus on speaking with full honesty and kindness in a way that helps our relationship flourish and not just focus on my own needs in the moment. Sigh, a work in progress and mindfulness practices help!!!

I have also learnt that as much as my husband is an absolutely incredible partner, he can’t and shouldn’t fulfil every need in my life. I am going to set my marriage up for failure by having such expectations.

And yes, I have learnt that you can continue to love someone even more over the years, though the manifestation and the expression of that love changes. I don’t think about him ALL the time as I probably did at one point in my life but my respect, appreciation, gratitude and admiration has for sure grown over time. Yes, some days are dark and sometimes there are even weeks and months where marriage feels difficult yet in the end it’s all worth it.

Looking forward to more diaper changes (oh yes!!), camping trips, disagreements (with kindness), the scarce child free conversations, cleaning our ever messy house (that will someday be cleaner!!) and the abundant hugs.

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Parenting.

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Oh, I wish I had more time.

But, I don’t have enough time.

“I would have done this if there were 28 hours in my day.”

I have both said and heard these words (or a version of them) many times in my life. Most of us would gladly receive more hours in our days. Yet, the reality is that no matter who you are, no matter where you live or what you do, this number is a constant. We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week and 8,760 hours in a year.

Given this constraint, the real question is what can we do in these limited number of hours to make the most of our life.

Before I had kids, my life felt pretty full with everything that filled up my day. I often wondered, how will I fit kids in my life without really giving up my life—my time for myself and for others?

Then, when I was pregnant with my second one, I wondered again how will I fit another child into an already full life?

And yet as I look back at the last three years, I feel incredibly grateful to say that yes being a parent and having a rich, soulful life has been absolutely possible for me.

As a mother, I exercise more, eat more home-cooked meals and feel more fulfilled professionally than I have in the past. Yes, this also means I have attended fewer events and yoga classes. I have gotten better at saying no to or leaving early from social engagements. I know a little less about what’s happening in the world and my house is messier than ever.

You get the point. It’s about making intentional choices based on what’s important to me at any given stage of my life.

I think about these issues a lot, as a mom of two young children who works full time and has a multitude of other interests.

Here are some of my guiding principles to make the most of my time in my day—

I clarify my values

This is my core foundation of being very clear on what is important to me. Over time I have learnt that some of my values will always remain the same but there are many that change and that is okay.

I manage my energy

When I think of tasks to be done, I like to think of what truly fuels me, what’s energy neutral and what’s depleting. Then I like to think of the right balance between the three at any given point. Are there activities that really don’t need to happen or perhaps not as frequently? For example, I love to cook but I don’t like doing the dishes so I choose to do more of the former and less of the latter to ensure I am spending my time to optimize my energy.

I prioritize compassion

Once I can do the above two effectively, it’s time for saying yes and saying no with awareness. It means saying yes to reading a book or a writing in a thank you card at the end of the day but saying no to cleaning the counter top or watching TV. It means leaving early (with kindness & gratitude) from a social engagement so I can take an afternoon nap.

I assess in big chunks of time

I also like to look at my life in chunks of weeks or more. The way I spend every hour of my time on a Sunday or Monday may not align fully with my values but when I look at it in large chunks, things seem much, much better.

I find small nuggets of time

And despite the above, the magic often happens in small chunks – 10 mins of exercise or meditation, 5 extra minutes of cuddles before bedtime, blog ideation in the car and writing in three sessions over a week. If I expect to have hours and hours to do what is energizing, I am in bad luck.

I buy time

Yes, there is the obvious one of outsourcing what I don’t like and can afford to pay someone but there are also more creative ways of buying time. Recently, we started a swap with a dear friend where we watch the kids one Sunday morning and they watch the kids another Sunday. It’s a lovely adventure for the kids and we adults get a break to spend time doing non kiddo things.

I avoid overwhelm

There are times when I feel like I am chronically time-starved. To me, that’s a reminder that I either need to lower the quality or the quantity of the tasks that I have signed up for. Maybe we can do a simple meal one night or not make plans for a Sunday afternoon hike. Perhaps I need to take a day off from work. (Yes, please!)

I watch my words

Finally, it’s about how I talk to myself and to others about my life.

If I keep saying oh no, I am so busy, I have no time, this will be my reality of exhaustion and overwhelm. If I tell myself, I am spending my time in ways that matter and my life is full and abundant with beautiful and challenging experiences, I feel better!

I’d love to have an extra hour in my day but until then I am grateful for these rich, luxurious, sometimes crazy, chaotic yet incredibly meaningful 24 hours in my day.

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

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This is a picture of the four of us on our flight back home from Seattle

 

A friend and I were exchanging texts the other day figuring out the logistics to meet up and at the end of our conversation she asked me – So, how is motherhood. I paused and thought hard on what to say over a text. As I have written earlier, to me it’s a beautiful collage of a million different emotions & experiences. However as I pause today, almost 34 months after I became a mom the first time and 2 months after I became a mom the second time, my one word on how is motherhood is that it’s beautiful, period. If I had to write a line, I’d say it’s beautiful, meaningful, rewarding, exhausting and above all a great spiritual journey that has helped me understand life grow and find joys in a myriad number of ways…

As a response to her question, I thought I’d pen down what motherhood feels right now. I feel the fog is lifting slightly as I am able to sleep a few more hours and enjoy motherhood even more than I did the first few weeks.

The hardest part initially was sharing my mommy time with 2 children and often the little munchkin got his needs met way ahead of the older one. If they both started crying at the same time and it was just me around, then the younger one got milk first. This is getting easier as I am learning how to navigate and perhaps even minimize both howling for mom at the same time. Despite the exhaustion and the frustration in those moments, I also recognize what a privilege and honor it is to be loved and needed so deeply by your young children. I know there will be a day when they’d want to spend the whole day(s) without me and all I’d want is a simple hug and will miss these beautiful moments.

Unlike what I would have expected, I don’t mind spending the whole day with a little baby and not have any adult conversations until I go to day care to pick up the older one. I greatly enjoy our quiet time together. I appreciate having so much white space in my life right now.  I have gotten time to think, reflect and spend a lot of time alone. Some days are easier and I get a lot more time to myself and can go for a walk, exercise or write this blog and there are others where lunch doesn’t happen until 2:00 pm!! I also really enjoy not being on the “clock”, having very few deadlines in my life and not thinking much about what I have accomplished in a given day. Some days, I can’t wait for my husband to come home so I can go and shower peacefully or get some fresh air outside or take a 10 minute nap. Then there are other nights when I can and have dinner with a friend. Overall, I have an increased sense of respect for mothers (and fathers) who stay home all day and take care of their kids. I am enjoying doing this for a few months while I am on maternity leave but couldn’t spend 7 days a week being a full-time mom to two little kids…

During these few months off from work, there have been lots of beautiful memories that we have made together as a family. My favorite time is when all four of us are in our bed either at night before the baby goes into his bassinet or in the morning when we are all cuddled up together. We have taken several walks in the double stroller, gone on a plane ride to Seattle, made trips to farms, parks, and museums. Has everything been perfect, no far from it – When we got into the plane, both the kids started crying at the top of their voice and everyone started looking at us. Sumit and I looked at each other took a deep breath and smiled at each other. This is what often helps us get through those tough moments.

One big difference with two kids (over one) is that given their needs are fairly different; an automatic break from parenting is hard. I have to prioritize it and often schedule or plan for it. Yes, there are Sunday afternoons when all four of us have napped together but that doesn’t happen often:-) This means that self-care is an even bigger priority for me. I am willing to let the toys be all over the floor but exercise is more important!!

Most importantly, I have gratitude for all the little and not so little things in my life. And this joy of gratitude also has brought sadness around the injustice in the world in so many ways. I have been asking a lot of “why do some people go through suffering x or y” lately. I still don’t have answers. With this abundance also comes fear of losing what I have and that not every time in my life will be so rich and joyful. I guess I will come back to my breath, to this canvas, to process when life does throw more curveballs…

For now, I am off to calming down a baby who wants to nap.

PS – I wrote this post a few weeks back, but couldn’t get to editing and publishing until today, the little one will be 3 months tomorrow!!!

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Parenting.

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The last few weeks have been everything that makes up life, literally. I have experienced the full gamut of human emotions and experiences…. I was having a fully healthy pregnancy until I was diagnosed with a liver condition that could put the baby’s life at risk requiring an urgent induction and leading to my little pumpkin arriving 3 weeks early.  Both of us are healthy, happy, back home and adjusting to our new worlds.

My first week back home was the most exhausting week I have ever experienced with sleep deprivation at levels I had never experienced in the past, not even with my first born. Even though my labor and delivery was relatively easy, my body was still healing and aches and pains existed in all parts of my body. The next few weeks have been progressively better but I am still exhausted and sleep deprived.  Breastfeeding has been physically painful for me with both my kids. With my first one, I’d often say that breastfeeding is physically harder than labor (who knew!!!) Yes, sometimes tears flow out for no real reason and for a planner like me, having such little control on my schedule (again!!) can definitely be exhausting. I can snap at Sumit and say mean things that truly make me sad, how could I say that (Ughhh again). Perhaps, the hardest part for me is letting baby’s needs always (almost) trump big brother’s needs. It’s not guilt or remorse but sadness that stems out of a mother’s heart, what I call love.

And yet..

With all of these challenges and struggles that are real and all consuming, there have been a million and more joyous moments for which I am so incredibly grateful. Having my mom and Sumit by my side literally attending to every possible need to the best of their ability is one of best gifts I can ask for. An incredibly understanding toddler who has big fat hugs and kisses for his baby brother truly make my heart full. A healthy baby who loves to eat and is growing well is perhaps the best gift of all.  True friends and family members who are there to support me in ways that matter most  whether it’s a phone call, a home cooked meal. My recovery has been smooth and we have been out and about with many adventures to parks, farms, and everything that makes our family smile. I have been able to prioritize self care with lots of simple and indulgent treats that are nurturing both my body and mind – massages, mom’s wellness groups, books, soulful conversations – Am I really a new mom, #supergrateful?

For me, parts of new motherhood is incredibly hard, exhausting, all-consuming, physically painful and emotionally draining. And there are so, so many parts that fill up my heart and soul in no other ways. I am really enjoying my maternity leave and feel incredibly grateful to enjoy my baby, my family and also nurture my own soul, sit at Starbucks and write this  post even though I woke up 4 times last night and don’t think I got more than a few hours of sleep (I have stopped keeping track at this point). Thank God for word and its spell check features else reading this post would have been a fun challenge:-)

And I believe such is my life – this beautiful juxtaposition of opposites. There is almost nothing that I love and enjoy that also tires, exhausts and brings aches and pains, literally or metaphorically. And, the meaning of life is to continue to cherish those joyful moments while still holding space for the dark pieces without losing perspective and empathy for all of those who may not have the luxury and comforts that I do – Mothers for whom motherhood can be exponentially more challenging in a myriad of ways. A part of me wishes that I could sleep through the night soon, maybe tonight and then I have to remind myself what a privilege and honor it is to be able to make food for another human, hold him close to my heart with so much love, and watch his contentment as he feels secure and nourished. This will only last for so long, these unparalleled intimate moments and yes, the sleep deprivation, both.

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Imperfections, Mindfulness, Parenting, Relationships, Writing.

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I turned 33 this past weekend and was blessed to celebrate my day with near and dear ones. I started this birthday blog last year by journaling my life at the moment to pause, reflect & share what is showing up for me. In some ways, this post is easy to write because I find life to be rich & abundant with its highs and lows. Yet, in other ways, its difficult to write about myself, be vulnerable and show up. Yet, that is one of the key reasons why I write and share my work publicly – to be raw, real and authentic and do my part to create a space for others to do the same.

Here’s what my 33 is looking like right now…

I am a mom to two boys – two “souls” as my mom reminds me, two human beings who truly bring me joy, purpose and meaning. They exhaust me, test my patience and my ability to function with minimal sleep. I have nothing but gratitude for this journey and feel incredibly blessed to call myself a mom. Yet, I realize that as much as this is my most meaningful identity, this isn’t enough for me and I need a solid relationship with myself, my spouse, family, work, family, friends & community to feel like my life is whole and complete. I am not guilty of saying so…

I have learnt that rich relationships take effort, sacrifice, patience, communication & surrender. This applies first and foremost to my husband, parents & siblings. Some days are easier and brighter and some are hard and such is life… The relationships that are worth taking to the end will have bumps and hiccups and in hindsight those moments are a true test of the strength in those relationships. I also find strength in accepting that some relationships are hard and take much more work to sustain. Wisdom is in knowing which ones need how much care. This is still a work in progress…

There are so many questions to which I have no answers – how I want to talk about religion to my children, why some people suffer more than others – poverty, rape, cancer bring up big feelings for me. Why does a preschooler see her mom die?  Yet, I want to continue to ask these questions, to sit with the uncertainty, the not knowing…

I am much more aware and accepting of my own introversion, my need for silence, quiet time & self-care. This means being more & more comfortable saying no to social commitments beyond a certain threshold. It means prioritizing time away from the kids to seek the replenishment I need to thrive and be the human being I want to be. I appreciate nature even more and need my spiritual work even more than before whether its meditation, yoga, a retreat, reading, hiking, an hour at a café writing a new blog,  a soulful conversation or some form of service. I feel pretty good about prioritizing these needs of mine…

There is no destination for my purpose on this planet. My path is my purpose. My journey to be more in touch with myself, to grow in a myriad of ways, to connect authentically, to love wholeheartedly, to experience life in its fullness and to give is my purpose. Nothing grandiose, nothing fancy here and this is what purpose means to me.  I am a work in progress and I am moving forward. This is my purpose.

I am learning to be much more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, with making plans and being okay that they will not all work out and trusting that I will draw upon my own resilience and the love and support of others to navigate life. I am learning to dream big and dream small yet also recognize that I do best what I am realistic with my expectations from myself, others and perhaps life in general….

In order to stay true to my values, one of my tools is structure and consistency while still leaving room for spontaneity. One place I struggle on this is my relationships and the people I interact with regularly. I have some incredibly rich friendships but I am noticing a lot of homogeneity in my friends and a lack of diversity in any way I’d define it. Most of my friends are like me and this makes me sad at times. I hope to bring more new perspectives with new people in my life though not at the cost of my existing friendships. Perhaps, I need to connect more with strangers at the park or the train but I find myself wanting quiet time after spending most of my day at work and with my kids. I am still figuring this out.

I also question my knowledge on areas outside my core personal and professional interests. My so called “free time” is so scarce and I often spend it on ways in either nourishing myself or others in my life that it often means I have little knowledge on areas I can’t fully change or influence around current events, politics, technology, etc, etc. I am still processing what this means and what needs to change…

In the last one year, I have definitely grown much more compassionate and forgiving of myself and a lot more accepting of all the parts of me that are not the most beautiful. I have to thank my postpartum anxiety after my first born for really drilling this into my bones, literally.

I honestly, have almost no big goals or aspirations for this coming year. Perhaps being sleep deprived with a 3 week old has something to do with it. Perhaps, I am becoming more content with life. Perhaps I am beginning to see that showing up with integrity every day, living in alignment with my values and choosing love and kindness is what really matters to me and that is a goal worthy in itself…