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

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Most of my posts are about myself, my life and its nuances with a sneak peak into my family and friends but it’s really a beautiful army of people that help keep my ship running – people who have inspired me to keep working, writing and staying true to my values. It’s really a long list of people that are my allies, confidantes, my real village that add meaning & joy to my life…

This post is really about deep heartfelt gratitude about all the people in my life that truly make it possible for me to live a life that matters to me.

  1. My husband – For being a true partner in this journey called life. I absolutely couldn’t be the mom, employee, blogger, community member and homemaker that I am without you. I know I can be mean, I can be impatient and sometimes take you for granted but I am trying my best to be nice every single moment:-)
  2. My parents – They are my true rocks. My mom & dad are my most accepting ally. My mom is my best friend & therapist and the person who loves me most unconditionally. Thank you again!! There are times when I feel I lean on them for support way more than I am their rock, I am aware and trying to truly be there when they are struggling in their own ways.
  3. My siblings – For coming and visiting me so, so often, for being an integral part of Vivaan’s life and for listening to all my crazy ideas, fears and always being there to give a big bear hug:_) I don’t think I appreciated the joy of 3 siblings as a child but as an adult I am very grateful to have two sisters and one brother who light up my world.
  4. Friends – I am blessed to have some incredibly thoughtful friends – friends who truly, deeply love and accept me for who I am. Friends I can call in the middle of the work day when I am struggling, friends to bring me food when first trimester nausea kept me away from my kitchen and friends who will graciously watch Vivaan so I can spend some time with Sumit. There are friends I won’t get to talk to or meet for months but at this point in my life the joy of knowing they are there and I am loved is the best gift.
  5. My extended family – I am again very blessed to have a huge family with lots of people who truly love me. People who showed up at my wedding and at the hospital. People whom I can send hand written notes to an bake birthday cakes for. #Gratitude
  6. Teachers at Day Care – Every single day, I remember to tell them thank you because they really are a HUGE part in allowing me to focus at work and not worry about Vivaan. I miss him while at work but I know he is in good hands and I couldn’t be more fortunate to have such a lovely place that is truly his second home.
  7. Mitchelle – We had the privilege of sharing our home for 2 years with Mitchelle and she is a lovely gift in all of our lives. A lovely addition to Vivaan’s life – he could totally spend hours with her without even asking where are mumma and papa. I cherished our walks, hikes, trips to the farmers market and much more – what’s better than having a girlfriend stay right with you in your own house:-)
  8. Ishita – My cousin who has played such an integral role in Vivaan’s life. When she is home, I can breathe and cook in silence while Vivaan gets on the slide or cooks cupcakes with her. It’s a gift to have another adult have a positive influence in your child’s life and be reminded that he is loved and accepted for who he is. I feel happy knowing I get to share a part of my life, my dreams and fears with a sweet, little sister.
  9. My manager – She truly understands what it means to be a working parent who also has pregnancy appointments and daycare shutdowns. She knows where I need to be pushed at work and where I need to be reminded to slow down. She gets a huge thank you for enabling me to integrate my work & life so effectively.
  10. Bon Appetite Team – This is the food team at LinkedIn that provides excellent, healthy, sustainable food choices to all employees. I still recollect how concerned my doctor would worry about my pregnancy weight with Vivaan until I joined Linkedin and started munching down all the delicious food. I couldn’t have breastfed peacefully for as long as I did without this gift and I am incredibly grateful to not have to worry about eating healthy for most of my day.
  11. Yoga Teachers, Massage Therapists, Fitness Instructors – Taking care of my mind and body is a huge part of my life and I am so so grateful to have amazing yoga teachers, barre instructors and massage therapists who can support me when I need them. Deep gratitude.
  12. Bloggers & Authors – I cannot thank this group enough and it’d hard to list all of them. Books & words are indeed my best friends. I typically don’t leave home without a book and there are so many wonderful writers who have supported me in my life and inspired me to write. I truly bow down to this lovely force of nature.
  13. My house-helper – Everytime she is home, I tell her “I don’t know what I’d do without you” and this is absolutely true. She is truly the woman who gives me time to exercise, write, cook for my friends & family, play in the sandbox & make art projects at 7:30 pm and can get a good night’s sleep. She makes sure my laundry is folded, my dishes cleaned and my fruits and vegetables cut down so I can focus on cooking and eating healthy foodJ. She is moving to Sacramento and I am really going to miss her…

Thank you again to this amazing army of wonderful human beings in my life…

 

Posted by & filed under Imperfections, Relationships, Vulnerability.

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I have had a very difficult relationship over the last few years. On the surface, things look great. We are incredibly cordial, warm and we meet and greet with hugs. While I cannot speak for how my friend experiences our relationship, it has been incredibly challenging for my husband and me, but a lot, lot more for me given the sensitive person who I am. My biggest pain is that I don’t feel accepted & respected for who I am and always feel judged, evaluated and somewhere implicitly told that I am less worthy than them due to my choices on every dimension – parenting, work, family, self, world.

I had in many ways tried many ways to take care of myself and yet while I have gotten more skilled over time, the pain, the struggle, my inability to navigate this relationship in a healthy, sustainable way still exists. A few weeks back, I had the luxury of spending many, many hours with my journal and Brene Brown’s latest book Rising Strong which in my opinion is her best book till date and I learnt a few interesting things about myself, this relationship and how I can best navigate this journey forward.

Here is a beautiful framework that Brene suggested to navigate a situation like this –

  • Trust that people do the best they can

Yes, even though I am hurt with my friend’s words, I truly believe that she is doing the best she can and has no intentions of hurting me. I may never fully understand what is driving her behavior but given what she knows about herself, me and life overall, she is truly doing her best. This is the only way I can keep judgment out of my mind, judgment on what she should do, how she should behave and relate to me. This is incredibly hard for me and I haven’t mastered it but I have been getting small glimpses of peace when I start with the positive.

  • Fully process all my emotions

Brene suggests that in order to fully move on with such struggles we need to be brutally honest with what we are experiencing and that often underlying such feelings are our own struggles and our own emotions that need to be processed and dealt with so here’s what I learnt about myself & our relationship through the process of genuine and honest self-exploration.

There was a strong component of people pleasing & trying to prove to my friend that other ways of living life were just as worthy in addition to her choices. Not necessarily that my way is better than hers but there are many other ways of parenting, working, relating to money, etc. When I would share my point of view, there was somewhere some aggression and the desire to prove my point. I had too many moments of my ego & inner critic reminding me that “I am not good enough” and my heart would gently come in and say “ I am enough & worthy of love and belonging.” This conflicting pattern was always there… Brene believes that we don’t compare when we feel good about ourselves; we then look for what’s good in others. When we practice self-compassion, we are compassionate toward others. I need to pay more attention to the feeling of “I’m not good enough” and choose love for myself.

I was too focused on being nice & kind but had gone too far. So many times I said yes because saying no felt scary and that I would be judged for not investing in the friendship and not because her presence filled up my heart. My ego is much more alive in this relationship than I would have liked it to be.

Our conversations have been most peaceful when I haven’t opened up my heart, when I haven’t spoken my truth fully, when I don’t go deep with what’s showing up in my life or my views on the world.  If conversations were kept to the surface, there was less conflict, less hurt feelings for me…

I feel peaceful & content in knowing that I utilized all the tools that I am aware of in keeping this friendship alive and nourishing but I am not getting too far and this is OKAY. I truly wish this friendship could be rich and nourishing as I believe that she isn’t aware how hurt I have been yet I don’t feel safe bringing this up. Somewhere I secretly desire that the air clears up and we have a beautiful relationship. Conflicts make me very sad.

  • Establish boundaries with Integrity & Generosity

Even though I had boundaries, they weren’t enough and I was still getting hurt.  I had read a lot about boundaries and had applied many of them, but again they didn’t work the way I would have liked them to. Brene explicitly mentions that the trick to staying out of resentment is establishing better boundaries and instead of blaming others we need to take more responsibility of our own needs.

Here’s what Brene has to say on this –

“ What boundaries do I need to put in place so I can work from a place of integrity and extend the most generous interpretations , words, and actions of others?”

Living with integrity is saying –  “Yes, I’m going to be generous in my assumptions & intentions while standing solidly in my integrity and being very clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

In this relationship, I learnt that boundaries didn’t just mean staying away or not meeting often, it truly meant that I need to be very, very careful about how much of myself do I let seen. If I am struggling with post partum anxiety and I am asked –  Hey, how are you doing? I will be emotionally healthier not being fully authentic with what’s showing up in my life if I don’t feel psychologically safe. This one is very difficult for me as I then struggle with the real point of a friendship if I can’t speak my heart but Brene is right in that we should only reach out to people we trust – a person who has earned the right to hear our story and who has the capacity to respond with empathy.

What are your thoughts on Brene Brown’s framework? What are some of your other tools on navigating difficult relationships?

P.S. – The link to Brene’s book is an affiliate link meaning I will be getting paid a commission if you purchase via this link and I will be donating that to the Miracle Foundation via the 10K project. This is my first time experimenting with the affiliate link so please send me a note if you purchase so I can make sure it all goes through.

Posted by & filed under Creativity, Everyday Lessons.

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Over the last few months, I have been experiencing a strange curiosity for discomfort…

My life feels more abundant than it ever has in the past. I have more peace even amidst the chaos of working parenthood with a toddler and a pregnancy in the third trimester. I don’t feel burnout and my life feels pretty meaningful in many, many ways. I have never enjoyed my work as much as I do now and the balance of writing and product marketing feels really nourishing…

I recognize that this is a rare and incredible gift and well aware that things change and this will not last forever the way it is right now and yes, that is scary at many levels…

While, in some ways, I absolutely don’t want this comfort to change, I am curious about a different way of life. I don’t feel like running away from anything but somewhere I am drawn to something else and I don’t know what that is.

At so many levels, my life feels incredibly structured and full of homogeneity which has its joys and challenges. Yes, there absolutely are many, many moments of serendipity and creativity but somewhere I feel innately curious to explore more about a different way of life, to meet people who are drastically different than me and have a soulful conversation over the nuts and bolts of their life. I am feeling deeply drawn to traveling to a new place not to spend a week at a resort and click pretty pictures (which absolutely has its own charm) but I am feeling drawn to really immerse myself in a new country where the norms, beliefs and world-views are completely different from mine. Perhaps, spend 3 months in Iceland where parents let their kids go out and play on the streets and not worry about where their children are which is absolutely uncommon in the US and hence in my world.

In some ways, I am seeking discomfort that’s different from not getting a good night’s sleep or navigating a difficult relationship. Discomfort that comes from being more self-aware and more in touch with myself. Discomfort with feeling, seeing and experiencing a world that’s absolutely different from mine and understanding what that means to my long held views. Discomfort that comes from doing something that I haven’t done before, perhaps it means living in a RV or sleeping in a tent for weeks. It means discomfort of not having as much material comfort that I now always have access to. Discomfort of being away from my friends I love so dearly and get to spend time with often.

I am not sure where this curiosity will take me or what doors it will open or close but I feel deeply called to nurture these questions for now…

Today, it means going to a 4 hour meditation workshop and then next month for a day long meditation retreat. I am also dabbling with the idea of going on a group camping trip with my little monkey 6 weeks before my due date (I am not crazy, hospital is 15 mins away!!) And yes, I have a few months of maternity leave to look forward to that I am eagerly awaiting as I have a strong intuition it will be unexpected in ways I don’t know yet…

I’ll definitely need to thank Karan Bajaj and Brandon Pearce for helping inspire me to think this way and connect with this curiosity of mine. Highly recommend both their blogs & podcasts!! I am definitely addicted:-)

 

Posted by & filed under Creativity, Everyday Lessons, Imperfections, Writing.

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A few weeks back, when my blog “I want to ask my child a different question”  reached my husband’s inbox, he really liked it and shared it on Facebook. I am not on Facebook and as far as I know this was perhaps my first post shared on their platform. While the post didn’t go viral by any means, it clearly had more visibility than me sharing my posts to my blog subscribers and sometimes on twitter. That’s the extent of sharing my work that I typically do.

It was humbling to see all the “likes”, “shares”, “comments” and the conversations that followed the post. I also received a few positive messages from people on my phone. There were also some messages of explicit and implicit disagreement or disapproval on the content of what I had written which in many ways was expected as I was questioning the status quo and I should have expected it yet there was some discomfort. The likes pumped up my ego and the criticism instantly took me to a place of self –doubt. Thank fully those emotions didn’t last forever… However,I wish I could say I am completely detached from praise and criticism and I can confidently say that I am still many steps away from that level of enlightenment and it’s a work in progress.

I learnt that I am a lot more comfortable writing very personal stories and putting them on my blog but letting my work be seen is deeply uncomfortable. I struggle with being visible or the center of attention. Promoting and sharing my work is incredibly unnatural for me and something I invest very little time in. As I have had a few weeks to process on the WHY behind this, a few themes have emerged –

There is a lot of fear beneath the surface. Fear of the consequences of breaking norms, questioning the status quo and speaking what’s important to me. I fear being judged, analyzed & misunderstood and not being loved as much. It is much easier to share my work with people who will agree and appreciate than with people who won’t. Somewhere, my ego want my words to be validated and keeps telling me that my self-worth and the worth of my ideas hinges on what other people think about my writing. Yet, my wise self doesn’t like that inner critic who gets so deeply insecure and is kind to remind me that no matter what people think about my work, I need to continue writing, create my art and share it.

Ironically, one of the core guiding principles of my writing is to speak my truth, my heart’s deepest beliefs in the quest that it gives people the permission and space to find their own truth and that means many, many people will and rather SHOULD disagree with what I have to say, question my words and beliefs so they find what’s important to them.  I really believe in what I have to say not in a way to prove that my views are better than others but to add my voice to the conversations in the world and the only way I can do that is to let my work be seen, to be okay with the consequences and to contribute to the world of writing. Yet, it is deeply uncomfortable…

This is perhaps what’s needed for me to grow as a human, as a blogger – put my work out there and let the world see so I can practice being comfortable with my fears, so I can continue to write even when no one is listening or no one cares or everyone likes or everyone disagrees to remind myself that I write because it is important to me. I need to learn to love myself despite my fears and practice not being attached to the outcomes of my work but let my words see the light of day and trust that they will reach and flow where they need to go. Yet, I need to do the work of giving them some direction so they can reach new audiences.

I am not ready to activate my Facebook account yet but feel a lot more comfortable creating an account for this blog. Perhaps, I start there? Perhaps, I add ways (with integrity) for my subscribers to share the blog with their friends and other people who may find the content useful? Perhaps, its creating an account on Medium or adding this part of my identity to my LinkedIn profile. Then, there is also the struggle with time, I dedicate a limited # of hours to this work every week and I enjoy writing much more than sharing and promoting my work yet I know that is part of my work… My struggle continues …

Perhaps, I need to be more open to ways to add my voice in the world…

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness, Parenting.

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That’s papa and me as a new born!!                     This one is papa playing with Vivaan on his 60th birthday last year!

 

 

When I started writing, I didn’t anticipate this will be a place for me to capture life’s special and simple, ordinary moments and all the people that make life meaningful but yet over the last few months, I find myself writing more and more of the events in my life and the impact they have on the person that I am…

This one is for papa, my dad in celebration of Father’s day and for reflecting back on one of the most beautiful life lessons that I learnt from him.

Papa always (almost always) chooses kindness & giving over success, achievement, money & fame. I still remember that birthdays meant indulgence for us and some space for giving whether that meant donating in India or him sharing some food with his staff in the office or we taking out our nanny for some special shopping. For papa, giving has been incredibly important in his family and I have nothing but appreciation and admiration for how his definition of providing for the family went beyond just his wife and 4 kids but to his siblings and their families too. I wish I had that generous a heart as well …

What I have been most inspired by is how important giving and kindness is in his formal work for the last 30+ years. As a doctor, you are taught to be compassionate, kind and put the needs of your patients first but papa has modeled taking that to the next level. For as long as I can remember, most of papa’s patients have primarily been immigrant, often uneducated, underpaid, overworked with brutal living conditions. Ignorance and innocence may be the two best words to describe their relationship with their health. Papa chooses to treat their illness, be their therapist and empower them to invest in preventive care which is much harder than my words here can do justice. He has treated thousands of them for a fraction of what his regular fees may be in service of his own values. Yes, this meant a much smaller paycheck every month that what his education, skills and experience could get him but his satisfaction, meaning and sense of purpose is primarily what drives him to work every morning and has been a key contributor in the peace, joy and meaning we have had in our family.

As his young child and now his adult daughter I feel incredibly blessed to have seen this generosity in my own home. Honestly, when I think of it, I don’t think I ever felt more money in my dad’s bank account could have replaced the richness of my childhood and its lessons that were so abundant in service and generosity. Helping someone with our time, money and words was always more important and valued than a new pair of Nike shoes and I am so incredibly grateful for that… And if you ask my dad, he still says that he has more money that he needs and I am always humbled by his words and try to remind myself of the same. It is true that the ego always wants more of everything but truly, deeply, we all need much less money and stuff to find meaning in our lives.

I am grateful to call you my dad, happy father’s day papa. Again, tears trickling down my cheeks as I write this and re-read this as I am editing it this moirning. I wish I could come and read these words to you in person with a big, bear hug:-)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Parenting, Relationships.

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I have been a mom for over 2 years and there are many beautiful gifts in my life that have made this journey a teeny bit easier but more importantly a lot more joyful, meaningful and fun:-) I am blessed to say that my husband is on top of that list and on this special day, this post is about him, and my gratitude to him. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, it is much harder for me to write about the people closest in my life than it is to write about my own life and its challenges. However, to honor my commitment to my writing,  my relationship with my husband and in service to everyone reading this blog, I am going to muster up the courage to open up my heart a little bit deeper. Here are a few words in genuine appreciation of one of the many dads in the world, who is breaking the stereotype of parenting and empowering one woman in his life to be the best version of herself. It is also a way to remind myself of how blessed I am to have this in my life…

  • A True Partner – I feel incredibly blessed to have a husband who is truly a partner when it comes to parenting. He is not just an order taker waiting for me to take charge and give him instructions but someone who truly believes it is just as much his responsibility to raise our son. He gets the toddler ready every morning, makes a delicious breakfast and cooks lunch every morning and I never have to worry as I leave home at 7 am to get to work while they are both in bed. He can soothe (insert whatever else a child may need) Vivaan just as well as I can.
  • Meaning & Play in Parenting – This one inspires me too. I have rarely seen him do things only because “it is my responsibility” or “good parents do this.” Yes, I am sure these cultural messages and biological instincts have some role to play but what I found to be more dominant is how much he enjoys the little things with my son and how much meaning and joy that bring into his life and how beautifully that permeates into the whole fabric of our family. I will often get a text message in the morning telling me that they spent a few extra minutes before school completing an art project. Or I am cleaning up after dinner assuming the boys are changing into their pajamas only to find out they are in bed tickling, giggling and just breaking the bedtime rules a tiny bit to bring more play into their lives.

 

| As much as my ego and our social conditioning may want to tell me that I do things better, till date I haven’t seen evidence on why I as a mother am in any way superior to my husband in raising Vivaan. |

 

  • Respect for my Needs – Our hobbies, interests, careers, callings and aspirations can often be different but when I look back there is one word that comes to summarize it all – respect for who I am and what I need as a human being and a parent. Whether that means, happily watching Vivaan one evening so I can go take a yoga class or see a friend for dinner or step out for some exercise. It means being my biggest support when I frequently debate if I should complete grad school or not and then making sure Vivaan is completely his responsibility on days when I am at school.
  • Genuine Acceptance – Yes, we argue. Yes, we disagree. Sometimes, I cry and feel hurt, unloved and uncared for but those moments are rare and our conflicts can often be resolved with generous conversations and a desire to strengthen our relationship. But the beauty above all of this is I am loved for who I am and genuinely accepted with my flaws, imperfections and fears. Perhaps, I could say that I am loved because of them… And honestly, this is the best gift I get from my husband and are way more precious than what my ego can sometimes deem as more important (e.g. – special date night celebration). As I look back at some of my difficult moments, my postpartum anxiety, my multi-year dilemma over having kids, my struggle with not knowing what I’ll be when I grow up or how I can live with better alignment with my values, my husband has been my rock allowing me to be vulnerable and model for my child what it means to live a full, rich and abundant life…

As the saying goes, it truly takes a village to raise a child and I am going to add it takes a very  caring, supportive and respectful village to ensure that both parents get the time, space and nourishment to nurture themselves, their mind, body & souls so they can continue to thrive and find deep joy and meaning in one of the most challenging and rewarding work of our lives – parenting. I am grateful that I have my husband as part of that village…

 

A very happy father’s day to all the wonderful fathers who are playing their own unique, and authentic role in bringing up the next generation of contributing members in our society.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Relationships.

emotional safety

What makes a relationship great?  A relationship with a manager, a mentor, spouse, sibling, friend or a parent? I tried digging into my own database of relationships to identify what characteristics about some relationships have brought a smile to my face, made me thrive, reach my personal best and inspired me to go deeper in that relationship and one them emerged consistently –

Emotional safety

 

I define an emotionally safe place as one where you know you are accepted for who you are and can express yourself without fear of judgment despite the differences that may exist. A relationship in which you can be vulnerable and go beneath the surface and know that you aren’t alone in your fears and pain. A relationship where you don’t always have to look perfect or prove that everything is always okay.

As I think of what I want to give the people who matter, providing an emotionally safe space is really important (even though I don’t always succeed). Creating a circle of people where I can experience this emotional safety is even more important. As Brene Brown has taught me – “You can only give what you have.”

Here are a few conversations and relationships that come to mind where I have felt very emotionally safe.

  • My dad and I were having an intense and personal conversation around the decision of having children (Why to have them, when to have and the myriad ways in which people can grow a family) and we had very strong differing opinions on this topic. After sharing our varying points of view, we decided to stop and my dad something beautiful – “I’ll respect your opinion and you do the same with mine. Let’s agree to disagree.” Powerful, deep and profound.
  • A former manager and I were talking about my professional aspirations in life and I shared some of my goals that were fairly different from what I was doing then and yet I felt incredibly secure that he wouldn’t be questioning my commitment to my current job. He knew my passion for yoga, meditation and mindfulness and always shares a personal story or experience as relevant and reminds me how I can bring my varying passions to work everyday.
  • Giving birth in a hospital with several people around whom I had seen for the first time was in many ways one of the most vulnerable experiences of my life. I experienced first hand how much of a difference a compassionate medical staff can make in holding the space to allow a first time mom to thrive while giving birth.
  • A year back I was talking to a good friend and sharing how I felt confused and undecided about my next career move. She beautifully held the space and reminded me that its okay to not know what I’ll be when I grow up. She is five years older and reminded me that she is still figuring it out:-)

What does emotional safety mean to you? What relationships make you feel emotionally secure & safe? How can you create a place of safety for others?

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Happiness, Work.

 

I am a big believer that work can be a source of meaning, inspiration and purpose. It can be more than a paycheck and something that fulfills our soul…

 

…yet, I have also come to realize that it can also be more complex and nuanced than just following your passion, your callings or doing what you love. The internet is abound with blogs & articles that keep giving us these messages and for many of us who may have not fully realized that dream, we can feel as if we are failing and that so many others have figured it out (which may not always be true).

 

This is what I have learnt in the last few years…

 

  • The relationship between the journey & destination – What we see on someone’s LI profile, magazine cover, etc. is often the final product but what can sometimes be missing is what went into it – the sacrifice, tears, fears, doubts, inner critic. This all part of the deal and there are no short cuts. Experimentation & tinkering is fun & scary and the pattern may emerge when you look back not when you are looking forward. There is much more inner growth if we can embrace this journey, the chaos and learn to sail with it instead of fast tracking to the end.

 

  • What if there is no destination? – My friend, Ayaka and I were recently having this conversation and she said something that struck a deep chord – “What if I may never have all the answers, what if I get somewhere and realize that’s not what I want? What if I get the dream job only to realize that my boss left the company and the new one isn’t letting me bring my new ideas to fruition?” There is no escape from this reality…
  • Work cannot solve everything – This one is big. What are we trying to optimize for? For me, it’s about a meaningful life with work being a part of it (not the other way around). Now if this is true, I could have different “things” I do in a given week that feed different parts of my life and that work doesn’t need to satisfy all parts of me at the SAME time. In fact, many a times having more than one career is the optimal solution for some of us. (Highly recommend, One person/many careers if you’d like to learn more). While I can aspire for work to be fuel all or more parts of me, setting realistic expectations can be a huge reliefJ This brings me to # 4
  • Job/Career vs. work – We often used these terms interchangeably but they are NOT always the same. For the purpose of this conversation, I’d say a job/career is an activity that you engage in as a form of vocation & often times get paid for it. But we can do many different kinds of work in our lives – at a job, at home, in our communities, etc. I have to greatly thank Pamela Slim for introducing me to the concept of “body of work.”
  • Work/life integration – This one is the hardest. Finding work that can fulfill oneself yet also integrate with other core values is very hard yet incredibly important for sustained satisfaction and joy. A rewarding job that includes a 3 hour commute with 2 young kids may be less appealing (for some) than a less fulfilling job that is 5 minutes away from home that allows more time for the kids and a home cooked dinner every night. When we look at work/jobs in isolation, we don’t see the whole picture.
  • The dream changes – We as individuals evolve, our priorities and values change, our inner circle changes and then of course the world around us changes which makes it nearly impossible that our callings, passions and purpose in life will stay the same. This constant evolution is OK. While we need focus and a few core tenets to focus on, their manifestation may not always be linear.
  • Social circle matters – We often ignore this one but is hugely important. When trying to answer these big questions (that don’t always have one straightforward answer), a support system is key. Also important to know is that there will always be a few around us who will think we are crazy, undecided, unfocused, unhappy, dissatisfied and will keep reminding us about it. We can learn to smile, receive the feedback, do an intentional check in and stay true to what’s important.
  • Excessive planning isn’t always the answer – This one is hardest for me. Spreadsheets, journals, therapists, coaches can be part of the solution but sometimes we have to surrender and trust that that universe has a plan. As my coach had once reminded me – “We are cooking a delicious stew in a crockpot, adding the ingredients we think will add flavor but we aren’t sure what the dish is going to look and taste like!”
  • It’s a privilege – This one is the most important. It is an incredibly privilege to have the time to reflect, write and make choices that can make my work & life more meaningful. There are billions of people on the planet who struggle to bring food on the table and I cannot lose sight of the amazing gifts I have in my life!

 

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

Choosing Joy

 

 

You must be so overwhelmed; you have so much on your plate. How do you get time to do anything besides work, house and kids? I bet you have no leisure time. How do you get time to read or exercise? Wait, you even get a massage?

I get asked this all the time. I bet I am not alone and most working mothers are asked this, right?

For a long time before I had my own child, I thought my life would be like this – chronically overwhelmed, sleep deprived and exhausted with no time to call my own or do anything outside of work and family.

Yes, there are days when I can barely get through work and we eat out or order food that is unhealthy and I can only get a few thousand steps on my tracker with a few minutes (maybe grumpy) with my husband and a few exhausted minutes with my child but fortunately those days are rare. Lately, most days are rich, bright and joyful. Most days are also often exhausting (after 8 pm as I am an early sleeper) and require a lot of planning to make sure my needs are met.

I have realized work, son, sleep and the basics (food, shower, etc.) somehow fit in but if I don’t schedule the other joyful moments, they can slip by and I can fall into the trap of the common narrative – “My life is boring, overwhelming or exhausting.” I have now learnt to proactively schedule & prioritize joy to keep my soul nourished::-)

Here’s what keeps me happy and how I do it (not in the order of priority)

Exercise –  I know I can’t exercise for an hour a day but I can make it to a 1hr class once or twice a  week often at 6 am or I try to get 10 min Barre3 work outs using my iphone (I LOVE this) or get a few push ups at the park while my son plays in the sand (though lately he exclaims loudly mama “no exers”), a family hike, walking for 20 mins to pick up my son from school or a 10 min walk in the stroller after school. I try to take the stairs at work, walk between meetings and when I have a few spare mins between meetings or while I am waiting for my hot chocolate, I WALK. Having a fitbit with awesome friends to hold me accountable has been working wonder.

Favorite people – I am incredibly blessed to have amazing, amazing friends and family with whom I share a rich relationship. Often times simple text messages will make my day and I also ensure to schedule time on my calendar with them – it may be a 6 am Sunday hike, a spa date 2 months out, a weeknight dinner, lunch at work, a quick phone call on my commute or having my favorite friends and their families home for a Friday night dinner. I also love scheduling time in the park or the zoo with my friends who have kids and while this doesn’t happen every day, I get to see and connect with my favorite people every week if I plan well in advance.

Writing – I rarely dedicate long chunks of time to writing and my blogs are often written in chunks of 15-20 mins sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. I recollect once writing waiting for my husband to finish his bike race before stepping out to cheer for him while my son napped in the car. Sticky notes help and I often carry my journal in my bag. Sometimes, it means waking up at 6 am on a Saturday morning to write and saying no to a social commitment on a Friday nights so I can sleep in time.

Quiet time – I am an introvert at heart and need a lot of quiet time to be in my element. Quiet time helps me reflect and connect to what I truly need. Sometimes it’s a meditation, other times it is a 10 min quiet walk between meetings at work or in the evening while my husband gets my son ready for bed. A relaxing yoga class helps too and I am also intentional about blocking my calendar at work for quiet chunks of time when I can be in silence.

Reading – I love to read, absolutely love to spend time with printed sheets of paper and am so grateful to have access to the public library. I make time to read during car rides and on most nights for a few mins before bed. Vivaan doesn’t like me reading around him as he wants me to read his books to him at that time:-) so bed time reading together can be challenging lately!! I also love audio books and a few minutes every day do add upJ

Nature – There is something about tall mountains, fresh air and the smell of redwood trees that really grounds me. Perhaps, it’s a reminder of how vast and majestic nature is and puts my presence and my life in perspective. We try and go camping a few times a year and hike a few times a month but I have realized that sometimes it means walking in the park for 5 minutes after waking up to hear the lovely chirping of birds and pause for a minute and watch the sunset on my way back from work to remind myself I am not that busy…

Giving – This one has a huge impact on my own well-being and yet can often be something that I can procrastinate… Sometimes it’s the small things – the thank you notes, the baked cookies with loved ones or a box of food for a neighbor that can fill my heart. And right now, I am also feeling incredibly passionate about the 10K project and a fundraiser that I am organizing.

Family – I am incredibly blessed to have a very rich relationship with my parents and siblings. We talk on the phone very often and meet a few times a year. Again, it’s not perfect and I often want to spend more time with them but making sure I squeeze in time with them sometimes a few minutes and on some rare days an hour or so can truly be a treatJ

Husband – And finally, I can’t end this post without a mention to my husband who truly fills my bucket. We eat dinner together most nights and then there are special treats that may include lunches, hikes, journaling, deep & fulfilling conversations, and simply being together and experiencing the big and small parts of life.

How do you prioritize joy in your life?

 

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

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PS – A big thank you to my dear friend Pooja who introduced me to this beautiful poem by Khalil Gibran and I am grateful to have a mom who truly emodies what this poem means

 

 

I have always struggled to write about my relationship with the people closest to me – my parents, husband, son and my closest friends. Not sure if it’s that deep vulnerability that is often needed to write about people I love the most, fear of something or trying to respect other people’s privacy but it always takes a lot more courage to write about my relationships with others than my relationship with myself…

However, for the last few days, I have been mustering the courage to write about what I am most grateful for in my relationship with my mother and it’s this – space & acceptance for who I am.

I clearly recollect when she came to stay with me after my son was born and she truly, gracefully and beautifully held space for my love, anger, fears, joy, insecurity, hunger (a breastfeeding baby!) without her judgment, opinion or the plethora of advice (that a new mom often receives sometimes even when you don’t need it). She could feel my pain and my needs even before I’d say it and ask me how she could best support me if she wasn’t sure what I needed. One day I was genuinely curious why I wasn’t getting a barrage of advice and I actually asked her what was going on and she said – I don’t need to keep telling you what to do all the time. When you need my opinion, you can ask and I’ll give you mine but as a mother you have most of the information you need and you often will know what you and your child need and I want you to listen to that voice instead of mine. You will make mistakes and will be imperfect in your parenting and that’s what will make you a good parent. And it is precisely because of this space and acceptance why she is always the first person (or maybe the second after my husband, sorry mom!) to hear about all the big and small details in my life and is the person whose advice and opinion I often most value over everything else because I know I am loved even when I disagree. I am loved even when our views are different and we can respectfully call each other out when either of us notices judgment or the unconscious attempt to change who we are in a way that’s not supporting either of our growth as human beings.

She has also been my biggest strength as I have navigated with a tough inner critic, my restlessness and confusion with my inner world, my career and my desire to make a positive contribution in the world over the last few years. She has always taught me that I’ll find my voice, I’ll find my path and I need to embrace the journey I am on. She’d spend hours and hours listening to my confusions, dilemmas and my pain of not knowing, my aggression of wanting to have an answer right now and my lack of patience when I couldn’t be kind to myself at many, many tough moments the most recent being postpartum anxiety…

Our lives are very different today and we live thousands of miles apart yet what makes my relationship sacred is knowing that I can make a mistake, I can cry over the simplest struggle, I may not have the answers and I may not be following her plan that she may have had for her adult daughter at every moment yet I can pick up the phone, giver her a call, speak my heart and know that there will always be a place for me, a very special place for me & my imperfections.

Thank you mom for always being my rock. I miss you and I wish I could hold you tight right at this very moment and you could wipe the tears that are trickling down my cheeks as I write this post. My world is truly richer because I am your daughter…

Happy Mother’s Day!

Also, wishing all the lovely mothers, grandmothers and caregivers reading this blog.

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