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…

 

 

 

 

 

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

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I had the luxury & comfort of going on several different camping trips this past summer. I use those two words because I was fortunate to be able to be so close to safe, accessible and beautiful campgrounds, to be able to take time off, to have a husband and toddler who love camping just as much as I do (the toddler perhaps loves it a little more as he has decided that’s what he wants to do for his next birthday). There was so much joy in having full, long days with both my boys, simple food cooked on the fire under the stars. Time seemed to go by slower or perhaps I got to pay attention better which made my days richer and glorious. Being away from my phone and computer for long chunks of time forced me to dream, observe and simply pay attention. I got to read, journal and take pictures. And, a very high financial, emotional and spiritual ROI for the minimal costs of a local camping trip…

And yet, there was the discomfort too – the dirty toilets, the cold water, the ton of planning and packing that goes into a rustic camping trip with a toddler. The sleeping arrangements weren’t very comfortable and I was very sleep deprived as Vivaan woke up every hour during our first night and kept insisting he wanted to go home. Plus, being pregnant means I typically can’t sleep uninterrupted for more than a few hours with the much needed bathroom breaks. And then there is safety – during our trip to Yosemite, the second morning the ranger told us that our site was the bear’s favorite and just a few nights before a bear tore down a tent following the fragrance of a citronella candle. Right then Sumit told me, how he brought in crackers the night before to feed Vivaan and forgot to put them back in the bear box, sigh. We were safe…

And I still will go back to the woods in fact I am gearing up for a camping trip in a few hours even though I am 6 weeks away from my due date….

Why?

I have people tell me why would I put myself through this discomfort when I could afford a luxury vacation. I also have people tell me how awesome it is that we prioritize camping as a family more so when I am pregnant. Perhaps, both perspectives are valid…

Here’s my simple answer – It is this beautiful acceptance of opposites, this juxtaposition of the comfort & its discomfort, the joys and the struggles that make life meaningful – not easier, simple or happier but more meaningful for sure. When I reflect on most aspects of my life – my marriage, parenting, work, community, creative pursuits, relationships and my relationship with myself I always find these seemingly conflicting emotions and experiences. For example, I deeply, deeply value my marriage and my relationship with my husband and fondly wait to hug and kiss him when we meet in the evening and share our days with each other yet there absolutely are moments when I question everything, when the discomfort feels very heavy and painful. Yet, on a moment like today when I create space to hold both these experiences together, my heart feels full and abundant because of the meaning it brings to my life…

Acknowledging that these messy parts exist in my life, accepting them for what they are before I go full steam into changing the dark pieces into bright ones have added a little more ease into my life. It’s really about leaning into the discomfort as much as the leaning into the comfort that makes my life full, rich and deep. I have realized that it’s much easier to talk about the comforting aspects of my life, not just to others but more importantly to myself – to think of the beauty in my life but there really is a much bigger and complete picture that I can often choose to even hide from myself. Yet its these seemingly uncomfortable, difficult and challenging parts is what makes the bright ones come alive to create a joyful mosaic…

I have learnt that my camping trips are my metaphor for my life – my quest for meaning in this magical journey called life along with my fears, confusion, joys that come from fully leaning into life.

 

 

 

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!