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.

 

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Mindfulness.

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This is perhaps my first new years eve where I don’t have big lofty goals for the year ahead. No drastic (intentional) changes that I am planning to make, no bold achievements that I want to commit myself to. I sat with this feeling for over a month trying to explore why this was the case and what is my heart truly desiring for in the new year. What do I hope to create for myself and how do I want to show up in the world?

 

What I most truly want for myself is peace and love. I hope to spend most of my days with awareness and not feel like I am running around to get through my day. While I have made significant progress with this over the last few years, I want this to be my intention for the year – to notice the ordinary moments, to refuel and inspire myself through the day and to bring more energy and joy in the ordinary every day moments that make my life so beautiful. Making time for a full time job, school and family doesn’t leave large chunks of downtime yet I know I have minutes throughout my day to pause and pay attention, to notice the sky, the warm sensations of soup on my tongue, the simple “I love you” texts to my husband for no reason, to share a meal with a neighbor and play in the park with my son at 6 pm on a weekday. I won’t be able to exercise for an hour every day but I can find a few minutes a few times a day to connect with and nourish my body. I hope to look more inward, connect better with myself, listen to my own mind and see what she has in store for me.   I have been craving for quiet time with paints and canvas and I know I can take out a few minutes a week with a toddler running around in the background. It’s about the intentions, the small actions, the moments of paying attention, the connection with my own mind and body that translate into peace for me in this new year.

 

The other strong feeling that is showing up in my life is to give and practice kindness in support of the millions of those who don’t have access to life’s basic amenities. I struggle significantly trying to process poverty, rape, hunger, lack of education rights and can often get overwhelmed understanding why I have organic food on my table most nights and the luxury to sleep on a cozy bed with a down comforter and a 5 year old child cannot get a bowl of rice and beans and a simple sweater on a cold winter night. I also feel sad that I am not a part of the solution and that most of my work supports economic opportunity for a different demographic and that I as a privileged human being am doing almost nothing to empower the individuals who need the most. I want to change this for myself as this pain has been getting bigger and bigger as my own bucket seems to be getting more & fuller. I have been dreaming up a fundraiser to support children at an orphanage and will be sharing details with all of you in the coming weeks. Even though this will be an incredibly small drop in the ocean, I want to start somewhere in a way that is more impactful than I have in the past.

 

My life feels abundant and rich in the chaos of an ordinary modern life. I hope I continue to pay attention to these beautiful moments of joy, the unpleasant and difficult sensations of pain and confusion, the days when life feels incredibly overwhelming and I am exhausted and have no answers to the myriad of questions in my head. I hope to practice even more gratitude and find meaning in the ordinary & simple ways of moving through each day.

 

What does your heart truly desire for in the New Year? Where do you most need to nurture and nourish yourself? How do you hope to show up in this new year?

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Everyday Lessons, Vulnerability, Writing.

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This is my first poem on this blog. As a young child I wrote a lot of poetry, a lot! And yes, somewhere along the way I got lost and taught myself to not write poetry until I learnt to listen to my creative voice. I had written this a few years back and this stayed in my folder on a word doc until a few minutes back while I was cleaning my folders.

 

I feel that some of the buds inside me have blossomed and the journey has been beautiful with its joys, tears, struggles and anxieties. Here’s my love for you and hope each of you blossom at the time and place that is right for you. .

 

Desire to Blossom

 

Somewhere deep inside

There is a flower bud, trying hard to blossom

To express itself and share its fragrance,

To inspire and heal

To reach its fullness and vigor

 

Yet there is struggle, anxiety & uncertainty

The bud isn’t sure if the time is right

Whether it should blossom today or wait for the next spring

To keep growing slowly and be full grown by spring

Or simply blossom at its full pace today

Find another garden or make peace with the one it has

 

That’s when the bud needs love, acceptance & trust

And that it can find its own way. Until then…

Feed it, water it, and give it the sunshine it needs

Allow it to explore and reflect until it finds it right home

Nurture it, nourish it and love it for its uncertainty

One day it will blossom, One day it sure will blossom.

 

 

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

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I turned 32 yesterday. I received the wonderful gift to celebrate it in ways that matter with people who matter – I started my day with lots of giggles, cuddles with my little monkey. I realize I can never have enough and that as much parenting a toddler exhausts me it also fills me up like nothing else. There was time for exercise, quiet time with my husband where we made a little progress on our 36 questions project, a wonderful yoga nidra session, a nap and an evening with home cooked food and loved ones. And yes, phone calls, messages, gifts and thoughts from near and dear ones and a few celebrations a few days in advance and a few yet to happen! My heart is full and gratitude is my word of the day.

I love birthdays and I love cutting cakes and blowing candles! It brings out the child in me. I look forward to my own, my son’s and husband’s months in advance and always take the day off from work. I love celebrating loved one’s birthdays and I hope this never changes.

Birthdays are also a time for solitude and silent reflection. As I have this lovely canvas to paint on, here’s what’s showing up for me at this time in my life.

  • 32 is recognizing that my time with my son and husband is my most precious gift and that I enjoy it and find peace in ways I could have never imagined before I was a mom. Clichéd but I had to say it.
  • It is loving my husband way more than I did when I first fell in love. I hope I say this every year on my birthday
  • It is gratitude for healthy, accepting and incredibly loving parents and the rich relationship I share with them
  • It is love for my siblings, more love than when I was 15, 20 or 25
  • It is love for my cousins, my extended family and my in laws. More love than I thought I had in me.
  • It is recognizing that yes, I love my French fries and I can indulge every once in a while but my green smoothies are a much more loyal friend
  • It is feeling really content and secure in my friendships and knowing that I don’t have one “best friend” that I always dreamt of since I was a young girl but that I have several really close friends with whom I can truly be myself. Friends I can be vulnerable with and know that I am loved for being human – with my flaws, fears and imperfections
  • It is acknowledging that my strong sense of curiosity for living in the bay area got me here but noticing this beautiful voice that is inviting me to explore some place else and call it home – Maybe Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Seattle, Portland. I hope I listen more closely to that voice and what it has to say
  • It is recognizing that an 8 hour uninterrupted night of sleep is a luxury and one that will be scarce for the years to come but despite this I can find peace and contentment and more practically function in ways I didn’t know I could
  • My fear of cancer still continues to be there in the background and I have learnt to not resist and push it but remind myself that if its meant to happen, I’ll sail through. This fear has been there through my teens…
  • With this fear comes the deep pain for those I see suffer and die through cancer. It leaves questions I don’t have answers for and I still haven’t figured out why a 2 year old child loses his mother to cancer
  • Add to this my anger and pain for rape. Words can’t do justice to this so I am not even going to try. I cry, my cheeks are wet and my helplessness makes me cry even more
  • I recognize it took me 8 years to find a little more clarity on what I’ll do when I grow up. Its also recognizing that this will morph, change and that I may get lost again and it is okay
  • It is trying to truly accept and love myself for being the extremely sensitive person that I am. It’s a work in progress but I no longer beat myself up when my tears trickle down so easily
  • It is finding tremendous satisfaction, joy and peace in writing, in expressing myself, my ideas and what I have learnt through my words. When it makes a difference in someone else’s life, even better but I hope I write even when no one is reading
  • It is knowing (for now) that I will have a portfolio career and that it is okay, rather it is beautiful
  • It is experiencing the joy of reading, of books at my bedside, in my car, on my couch and in my backpack. I rarely leave home without a book. I am still amazed that somehow time comes into my life with everything else in my life
  • It is learning a little more about my own ego, my fears and how I can come in my own way to lead a life that matters
  • It is recognizing that doing work that is meaningful is incredibly important to me and when its not, I struggle tremendously. Yet work is not everything in my life and it takes a lot of effort to find ways for all the pieces to fit in together.
  • It is noticing that my love for travel is not at the forefront as it did a few years back. I am realizing that there are a lot of other experiences that give me just as much joy at least at this stage in my life. Perhaps, once I am done with plane rides with a stroller, I may change my mind…
  • My biggest struggle right now is knowing that I am not contributing as much as I’d like to in solving the myriad problems in the world and my life is a little too focused on me

Deep gratitude to Lindsey Mead for her post This is 38 and Dina Relles for her post This is 35 for inspiring me to write this.

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

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We live in a world where tears are often synonymous with weakness. It is often called out as a feminine trait often in a derogatory way. When men shed tears, they have it even worse. Tears in the workplace are called unprofessional and can be labeled emotional and unproductive. Sure, there are times when tears and crying in certain settings can cause more harm them good but …

 

… let’s pause for a moment… What if this wasn’t true all the time? What if our tears existed to tell us something even deeper?

 

I’d like to offer a different perspective that our tears aren’t a sign of weakness but rather a means to express our capacity to empathize with our own or some one else’s suffering. They can be a channel to express what it means to be a human. They can point us to what it is that we truly care about, our deep truths, fears and dreams. Take that in one more time – Our tears can direct us to what truly matters …

 

And crying in public can also be a sign of courage, rather deep courage that comes with being vulnerable and authentic and giving our inner truths to manifest fully. It can also bring people together and inspire others to connect with their truth.

 

My personal most powerful encounter with tears was in my business school Effective Management, Communication & Action classroom. We always start this class with each student engaging in an intentional check in. Our class in Dec’12 was a little different; it was soon after the tragic incident in Newtown, CT. My male professor stepped into the circle and said that he needed to grieve, he was in pain for all the children who were dead and that he really wanted to hug his children since he hadn’t seen them since the accident. He then broke into tears, lots of them – powerful, kind, intense and raw.

 

There was silence in the room and soon after there were more tears in the room, we all joined one another in mourning for this loss and praying for the families who were gone. Yes, we were all adults in business school and we were crying, tears falling down our cheeks…

 

And then the professor shared his voice after holding a space for us to feel our pain for a few minutes – “ We have grieved and shed our tears. Now let’s wipe them and do our part to try and make a positive difference in the world. We have to move on…“

 

My heart was heavy but I was inspired by the power of the tears in the room and what our professor had just modeled for us. He gave us permission to be human in a business school setting and to bring a systemic view of looking at the world. We had a productive class albeit with some sadness but we reached our goals for the day.He showed us that being human and being productive were not mutually exclusive, rather ways in which we can truly embody and expand our own capacity to be our whole selves.

 

What’s your point of view? Have your tears been a source of strength, connection, impact or community?  Come join the conversation…