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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Posted by & filed under Kindness.

Giving

 

This past birthday I had written a post reflecting on what was showing up in my life at the time. It was hard, vulnerable, joyful and gratifying all at the same time to be that honest with myself, find the right words and then put it out for the world to read, react and respond. What stuck most with me since that post is the condition of human suffering – there have been current events that hit the media and got the whole world to unite and there are countless others that never make the headlines and yet are worthy of our time, attention & dollars. After being a parent one of my most painful experiences is watching other children suffer and not be able to do much about it. Tears trickle down, sometimes I write a check but the problems are enormous, complex and challenging for any one of us to solve on our own. I also cry because I feel selfish in that I am spending much of my day focusing on myself and my family, my child, my meals, etc. – its primarily about me and that makes me incredibly sad. It’s not the first time I have felt this way and I have experimented in many ways to give back more in the world but I have failed at doing anything at scale yet I continue to try and do my best to start from a place of self – compassion.

This year I am experimenting with something different. My husband and I are committing to raising 10K for the Miracle Foundation in Austin that manage orphanages in India. We will be donating 3.3K, our employers will be matching that amount bringing up the total to 6.6K and we will be running various campaigns and inviting our friends, family, coworkers and this wonderful blog community to join us in making a small contribution.

Why Miracle Foundation?

I have had the privilege of being involved with this organization for almost the last decade. A few years back I had spent a week at their orphanages in India and what inspired me most was the potential in these children and their desire to dream. Some of these kids were born out of rape, some were found on the banks of a river, some were sent to this home by their parents as they didn’t have enough money to feed their children but one thing was for sure – these children were well cared for at this home, there was a strong sense of community and their past didn’t deter them from dreaming up a promising future. I still vividly remember an 8 year old boy named Sumit came up to me when I was there and said in Hindi – Didi, dekhna, ek din main bhi engineer banoonga aur plane mein baith ke America aaongo which meant – Elder sister, there will be a day when I too will be an engineer, get on a plane and come to the US!

Our contributions can help these children achieve their dreams. Your dollars will go into providing the basic amenities for these children in ensuring a solid foundation that will open up more doors for them.

Here is an incredible Ted Talk by the founder of the Miracle Foundation and I invite you all to watch this!

How can you give?

My sincere gratitude for your participation in this project and this will truly make a difference in the lives of these children. You can make a contribution here and all of your donations will be tax deductible. I will be frequently providing updates on my blog as well as the fundraising page. If you’d like to give your time and help volunteer for some of the fundraising events I’ll be putting together, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d be honored to have your help!

“Any amount will help! For example, $25 will feed a child for a whole month. That’s 3 meals and 2 snacks per day of healthy, delicious and desperately needed food for a whole month. This is life-changing. Thank you for being generous towards these children as you consider what you can give. Together we can make a BIG difference”

 

I am also hosting a huge brunch fundraiser on March 26th at a beautiful park in San Mateo. I’ll be cooking and bringing home made food and would love to  have you join us. Bay area peeps, shoot me a note if you are interested and I’d be happy to add you to the invite.

 

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

 

 

Creative Living Quote

 

I have seen three types of creative work in my life –

  • Creation for joy – This creator creates her work for herself. It doesn’t matter how many people read her book, buy her art, listen to her music or download her app. She creates solely for the joy, curiosity and love of creation. She does it because it matters to her. She creates because she can’t not create. She may have a full time job and her art maybe her weekend project or her source of income. It doesn’t matter when she creates or how much time she gives to her art but what matters is that she spends time on her calling for at least a few hours every month. She does it with consistency, without judgment, with love for herself and her work.
  • Creation for impact – This creator creates for the joy of creating but also hopes to be of service to others. She wants to make a difference in the world with her art. It doesn’t matter what exactly the impact is but she wants her art to be of value beyond her own self. For this artist, the art could be a source of income or not. This artist strikes the balance between what her heart wants to create and what can make a difference in the lives of her audience.
  • Creation for a career – This creator creates for the joy but also hopes to make a career out of her creations. She works very hard to make her calling a career a calling and has finally found fruition in this aspiration. Success to her means being able to earn a full time living wage creating the work she was meant to do.

I deeply admire all three types of creators. I am humbled by their love for their callings and curiosities and their efforts in making time for their work whether or not it their vocation. However, in our culture, we revere and greatly celebrate creator # 3. We are somehow believe that if our creation isn’t paying the bills it is less worthy and what makes me most sad about this is that we stop trying, we stop feeding our curiosities and we kill our callings by getting more busy. It may be true that your hobby or project may never earn a dollar and that you have to keep a day job and I’d love to remind you (and myself too!!) that it is not only okay, it is incredibly beautiful. Also, for so many creators who are currently able to pay their bills with their art, you have to remember they started with a scrappy, imperfect version of their work. They started with joy, did more of the work, improved on their art, found people who’d pay for their work before it became a vocation.

 

Here’s what I have learnt along the way

  • Don’t compare your first page of a book to someone else’s finished book. (Thanks Jeena Cho for that reminder!!). You haven’t seen their first page and all the pages that were killed to create the book you are holding. Start somewhere!
  • It doesn’t matter what the creation is. If you are creating something for one person, its worthy of love. If it can help someone else, it is worthy of love. If it is created with love but no one else benefits from it, it is worthy of love.
  • Notice your relationship with sharing your work. I am not referring to social media blasts but how the ego interferes with your sharing your joy with a close friend. How your inner critic may tell you that no one will appreciate your pictures so you deprive so many others of that beautiful sunset on the beach. Also, notice how you believe that you are suddenly more important when 100 or 1000 people like that picture.
  • Stay consistent with showing up. It is not whether your colors are perfect. What matters is you show up with paint on your canvas and create. The cadence doesn’t matter. It maybe once a day, it maybe once a week or once every 2 weeks but show up.
  • Love yourself when you don’t feel called to create. We are all born to create something – whether it’s a loaf of bread or an origami paper boat. There will be days when the transactions of life take over. There will be moments when your hands will feel stiff and words will not flow. That is okay and part of the creative journey. Some days your art will not look good, remember to show up again

 

Journaling Questions

  • Is there something that you want to make? What is coming in the way? What are the stories that you are telling yourself?
  • What can you do to create time in your life? Does it mean waking up early one morning a week? Does it mean cooking extra and freezing? Does it mean saying no to that 5th birthday party this coming weekend? Does it mean working a fewer hours for a few months and taking a small pay cut?
  • What can you do to create support in your life? Do you need to love yourself and remind that you are worthy of this creation? Does it mean joining a group so you find like minded people?

With love and in support of your creations!

Share what you want to create and what comes in the way… You will be surprised that you are not alone!!

Posted by & filed under Writing.

writing

 

I have been blogging somewhat regularly for a year. I always wanted to write ever since I was a teenager. I had big dreams of writing a book at 13 that I mercilessly killed but thankfully those dreams are back on the horizon greatly due to the joy, connection and purpose that I get from my digital home, this blog. When I started writing, I didn’t know what it would mean for me. I had this deep voice in me that wanted to write and I knew I couldn’t say no to it even though it was likely one of the busiest times in my life with a full time job in tech, an infant who co-slept with us and didn’t have regular sleep schedules and I didn’t get a full night’s sleep on most nights and grad school. And yet, writing is what got me home and helped me connect to myself. Seeing the world and experiencing it through my words helped me grow in ways I didn’t quite imagine when I took this leap to share my stories with the world.

Looking back

As I look back on this past year of writing, here is what I have learnt about myself, writing and the world…

  • Writing is healing, joyful, scary, fulfilling, vulnerable all at the same time. On same days, it feels easy and words and ideas come so easily and I loose a sense of time and on other days my writing feels dry, lifeless and cold. What’s important is that I write – even when its not perfect and not my best work that I keep showing up. Often times my writing isn’t great when I am overly tired, exhausted or depleted or I am focusing too much on how something is going to land with my audience.
  • It’s much harder to write about the things I struggle with and yet I am also not comfortable sharing about the things that I can do well. I hope to write more about the former in the future (see below). As for the latter, I am not sure if that’s because I don’t want to brag and seek attention or something else.
  • The best and the worst thing about a blog that isn’t famous or read by several thousand people is that you don’t know what people think about it. I wish I did so I could write more about what people like and also get better at writing. The best thing is that I can often write about what I want and the way I want and not have to worry about what people like.
  • I have strengthened my relationships with so many people in ways I didn’t imagine. I have received “me too” emails and people sharing how they understand or know me better because of my words. I have met some incredibly beautiful people and the kind words always make me feel incredibly grateful. I often wish I could meet face to face with all my blog subscribers.
  • Writing has given me a container, a safe space when my mind can go crazy. With everything I see and experience, I often have a layer of words in my heart and that makes me feel cozy, kind of like having a glass of hot chocolate and a warm blanket on a cold rainy night (like today!)
  • My first drafts are messy, lack structure and are a data dump of my thoughts and that’s okay. I can be an editor later and I am glad Microsoft word has a backspace button!
  • I never realized this when I started, but this blog has been an incredible online journal for myself. Reading back my own posts has given me a way to live back on the simple, ordinary moments of my own life in ways I have not known in the past and that’s been a powerful motivator to write more.
  • My hour of writing is often times the most sacred, quiet and focused time in my day. The introvert in me loves this time alone and yes, I wish I could give myself this gift more often.
  • I read more as a result of writing, carry my journal everywhere and sticky notes are my new best friend. Sometimes, I will write in parking lots, red lights (yup I do that with my pen and paper), on the train, at lunch on Friday with food beside me…
  • I have learnt to look at the word marketing with a new lens. For me marketing my blog means finding avenues to introduce the world to my home and inviting them to a conversation that could be of value. Ensuring they are never felt forced to stay yet reassured that they are loved & appreciated for being a part of this community. Finally, writing in a way that feeds my soul yet serves my readers in the form of content that can support and inspire them in living more mindfully in ways that are different, unique and different to each of us.
  • Saying yes to writing means saying no to a lot of things. Today it means saying no to doing dishes or folding laundry or organizing my house or more importantly reading and signing to my son (which is something I struggle more with than a clean house)…
  • This blog has reaffirmed by calling to create work that feeds my desire to teach, inspire and allow others to live more fulfilling, authentic and creative lives and eventually create a social enterprise that seems to be knocking at my door for the last many years. I promise, it will come…

Looking ahead

As I look ahead in this year, here’s what I hope to do

  • I like writing more memoir style articles vs. “how tos” and I hope to share more of my life’s journey and what I experience, learn and struggle with this year. I also want to capture more of life’s ordinary moments that make it so extraordinary and this blog will be one place for more of that. I hope to be more courageous by being more vulnerable and writing from my heart. I hope to write about stories that move me and my own struggles, my own ego and the places that scare me. Those posts and stories are always the hardest to write and more importantly hardest to share but I hope to do more of that in service of my core values of being authentic and hopefully giving you all permission to be more authentic.
  • I hope to continue to bring to you more interviews and stories of people who inspire me on my journey. These take more effort, coordination, and I want to ensure I bring people who are willing to be raw, real and honest with their paths in life.
  • I also hope to continue writing outside of my blog in service of how I defined marketing above. It’s scary, rewarding and a very enriching experience to send your writing to editors, hear a yes, hear a no and come back to the writing board and start afresh and not let the ego interfere with the sheer joy of reaching a wider audience and the sadness of not being the one selected. It’s a valuable life lesson in itself.

 

Much gratitude to each of you for being a part of my life, this blog and my writing journey. Knowing that I have someone on the other side, reading my words makes my journey less lonely.

 

Please let me know if there are things that you want me to write more of in the year to come!

Also, if you are curious about developing a writing practice, here is a lovely post by Brynn Harrington and another one from Jeena Cho

Much love!

Neha

 

Posted by & filed under Imperfections, Vulnerability, Work.

Vulnerability-Quote-2-Brene-Brown

I have always had an interesting relationship with vulnerability. Starting out my career in a very type A, ambitious culture I had taught myself that the only way to show up at work was without emotion. I needed to have all the answers all the time, there was no place for imperfection and that my only purpose in life needed to be my clients. I struggled with this world view as my heart truly believed that another way of living, even thriving and having a career was possible. I wanted to show up with my own beliefs and be surrounded by real people with authentic lives. My heart yearned for relationships and friendships where we could be honest about our struggles and what’s not working and for many years in my 20s I struggled hard to find it.

Fast forward to my life today and I feel my world is completely different. My teams at work value me as a human being and I have friendships where I can speak from my heart. More importantly, I have come to believe that vulnerability is one of the core fabrics that make up my life. The more I can open my heart, share my triumphs and my struggles, the more genuine my relationships are with myself and with the people around me. And yes, I have also learnt to have better boundaries on how vulnerable I can and should be in different situations. I have learnt that more often than not the risks are worth it when it comes to living a rich, full life though sometimes sharing my story has brought more pain than calm.

Here is how vulnerability has shown up in my life –

  • Getting screened for breast cancer thrice, once during my pregnancy and finding the courage to listen to the test results (Thankfully the results were always negative)
  • Hiking solo in areas without a cell phone coverage
  • Giving birth, with several incredible people I was meeting for the first time in my life. Letting them see parts of myself literally I never thought I’d do – physically, emotionally, spiritually. I had several times told my husband I wanted a C section because I was struggling with having the hospital staff help get this baby out of my body
  • Telling one of my closest friends that I was missing her support in the early days of my blog writing. Not knowing how she’d take my feedback even after years of a rich friendship felt emotionally risky. I am glad I asked for what I needed! Thanks dear friend for always being there.
  • Owning up several times to myself and to others that I struggled hard, very hard to find what I wanted to be when I grow up and not giving up to find the answer…
  • Telling my husband that it’s my ego that is creating trouble at various times of conflict
  • Letting my son play with all kinds of real food and making our kitchen REALLY messy and wondering if I am doing the right thing when I don’t know any other parent giving their toddler that kind of freedom
  • Trying to get pregnant after a miscarriage
  • Getting my yoga certification
  • Working with a therapist when I was struggling. Saying no to her when I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me
  • Calling up my mom in the midst of my pregnancy with big tears, lots of them feeling incredibly scarred of the change in my life. Being okay with still crying when I feel overwhelmed and calling my mom, calling a dear friend and telling her that I am not okay and I need a hug.
  • Telling the whole world I had a miscarriage. Telling the whole world I struggled with postpartum anxiety.
  • Starting this blog, not knowing if I’d have anything meaningful to say, not knowing if anyone would care to read it, not knowing what people would think about me when they would read my blog

These experiences took courage. Even as I type them back some after many months and years, I feel a knot in my stomach, I can see my breath going faster as fear shows up. It isn’t easy to live my truth and then share my truth. When I look back at this transition, one of the key people who has played a role in this shift in my thinking is Brene Brown. Her TED talks here (over 23M views) and here have been truly life-changing if I can give myself permission to say so. Listening to her talk and learning more about her work gave me the freedom to access my own vulnerability and more importantly to find the courage to speak my truth when fear takes over (which it always does!!). Her books have truly inspired me on my path and I am eagerly looking forward to reading her latest book, Rising Strong.

Thank you Brene for being such a beautiful gift in my life. I am a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and employee because of the work you do!

I am writing this post primarily to share Brene Brown’s new online course Living Brave Semester  that starts on 1/11 where she will be providing an opportunity to explore what it means to fully show up in our lives – to be brave, lean into vulnerability, and to rumble with the challenges that come with living a daring life. I just signed up for this class and thought of sharing with all of you as well. You can use the code “COURAGE” to get a 20% discount in the class. This isn’t an affiliate link which means I DON’T get compensated in any way if you sign up. This is truly a gift of love that I hope to share with you.