Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Kindness.

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July 4th is a good friend’s wedding anniversary and this past year she had a 6-month-old little cutie! As most new parents can perhaps relate to, she had no plans of doing anything special, as her babysitter was busy. I instantly offered to watch her baby and was incredibly touched by her trust and more importantly overjoyed myself to see the joy in her text messages that she is likely going to take me up on my offer. As I reached her house at 8:30 pm, I was excited to see her all dressed up, the nice silk shirt, the simple and graceful make up and that red lipstick!

 

Luckily she lives a block away, but unfortunately, my little one didn’t want to sleep early so I took him with me as we both weren’t ready to sleep without each other:-)  Vivaan was incredibly excited to explore and check out a new bathroom, a new fridge, new books that were significantly more interesting and almonds that tasted different that what he eats at home!! Ah toddlers and their unpredictable brains:-)

 

The little baby didn’t wake up but kept turning and tossing every few minutes but my little one refused to sleep until dad came to pick him up. He thought he was going on a field trip and happily said bye and gave me a flying kiss! My friend came back and once again a part of my heart felt full and content to see both of them happy. She thanked me whole-heartedly; I left with a big smile.

 

I came home and a part of me felt incredibly nourished and soft. I sat with my thoughts and eventually had to pen them down. Giving, connecting, receiving, sharing and above all loving wholeheartedly feels good. It’s a gift to have people in my life whose kids I can watch, for their trust in me. It’s a blessing to have a husband who values and encourages kindness even if it means our own schedules may be slightly rearranged. It’s a treat to live in a community where I know my neighbors and I can share my real, raw and vulnerable self. I am grateful to have the luxury of time to build meaningful relationships and receive love.

 

As I aspire to build my career, acquire new skills and think about my 401k accounts, I hope I continue to remember what truly matters and make time for love. I hope our world transforms that we celebrate love and community more than the sizes of our houses and the titles on our resume. I hope I continue to have friends whose kids I can watch, whose cribs I can rock and whose diapers I can change. I hope to be able to have the capacity and courage to love, give and share!

 

This coming Friday, a dear cousin has offered to watch Vivaan and her girls are overjoyed to have a “baby” to play with. My heart swells with gratitude, love, abundance and the power of kindness is right here.

 

Take a moment and pause and reflect on when someone did something meaningful for you. Then also think about the last time you did something thoughtful for someone. What emotions does this bring up for you? If this desires and emotions are meaningful to you, how can you create more of these in your life?

Posted by & filed under Callings, Parenting, Writing.

I had always wanted to write. I had started writing my first book at 13. It was a memoir of a teenage girl (aka me) about my adventures at boarding school. It was raw, vulnerable, honest and funny until it was not. I somehow convinced myself that I shouldn’t pursue this love of mine. After all, I was good at math and science and that is what I “should” do and writing will somehow happen in my free time. I wrote journals, edited my college magazine and dreamt of having my own blog but then again my inner critic took over and I reminded myself that my grammar wasn’t perfect, that I didn’t have enough time or my ideas weren’t original enough and the blog wasn’t born…… Until my baby was born and I was up through the night nursing and trying to make sense of my world and my love of writing, service, community, yoga, mindfulness, coaching would totally keep knocking at my door. Even in this incredibly sleep deprived state, in the middle of the night, I’d scribble in my journal or type down a few words on my phone. I didn’t have a perfect vision or a roadmap or a checklist but I knew I had to listen to this voice of mine that would just not stop. I had to give birth to something that would let me express myself and build a platform that would connect people and build community and my blog was born.

As any new mom will attest, the first year is intense and I work full time and am also going to grad school so I never thought I’d actually be able to feed this love of mine but after 21 posts on my blog and 4 more as a guest blogger, I couldn’t be more grateful to have started my writing practice. While time is a scarce resource, taking out a few hours a month for my writing has given me a soulful container to share my experiences, more importantly an ability to share what I have learnt from those around me and pay it forward. I have learnt that when we take baby steps in the manifestation of our purpose, when we spend time in practicing kindness, our own heart finds more love, more joy and more contentment and this process fuels giving.

Much gratitude to all the wonderful moms in the world who model that we can pursue meaningful paths as a parent even with all the drool on our shirts, the unfolded laundry, the bedtime struggles and the round belly. My writing is a peek into my mind for my growing son. This work is even more important to me as a parent as I am trying to live what I hope to teach him – to take risks, to learn new skills, to give in the world and build meaningful connections. It is a legacy I hope to leave behind for him – my words, the reason behind my words and the impact I hope to create to serve others.

What is that childhood dream of yours that wants to manifest in the world but your inner critic is suppressing it? How can you spend 30 minutes next week to create something that matters to you?

 

Posted by & filed under Interviews, Kindness, Mindfulness, Vulnerability.

Kaveri - The Voice

 

Kaveri sits at the crossroads of contemplation, creativity, and compassion.  She tries to parent, write, and facilitate healing for others and herself from this place.  Her poetry books include An Invitation (2011), Under the Waves (2012), and The Voice (2014).  Her meditation cd The Feminine Faces of Compassion was released in 2013 and her journal Be the Space: Reflections on the Journey was released earlier this year.  She resides in northern California where she practices Family Medicine and teaches a meditation and writing class.   She can be contacted at www.wisdominwaves.com

 

I discovered Dr. Kaveri at the Mindfulness4Mothers blog when my little one was a few months old and I was struck by a difficult phase of postpartum anxiety. Her words were incredibly comforting and I was inspired by her courage in being vulnerable and also how gracefully she is embodying a portfolio career.  I have enjoyed reading her words around the web and am so glad kind people like her abound in our medical community. Here’s more of Dr. Kaveri for you:-) The poem at the end is an absolute heart warming, thought provoking gift!

  • How does living mindfully manifest in your life?

Buddhist teacher, author, and director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center, Diana Winston has a definition of mindfulness I resonate with.  According to her, mindfulness is paying attention to your present moment experience with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is.”

 

For me, living mindfully means that I need to be present, open, and care about what is actually happening in any given moment.  The joyful moments are much easier to be with, to open my heart and feel connected to everyone and everything around me.  The difficult moments aren’t so easy I’m not willing to be with what is if I’m not aware of my thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.  This can be tricky when I’m surrounded by others, which is why I need periods of silent space throughout my day to connect with my mind body and heart in ways that are deeply truthful and healing.  Only then can I open again and actually sense what is needed by others.

 

The neutral moments are interesting to watch.  Sometimes I zone out and get busy cleaning, organizing, or checking email to fill the space with something to do.  The beauty of mindfulness is that I can always return to the present moment without judging where I’ve been.  If I am self-critical, the practices of self-compassion and forgiveness are like soothing balms to any wound.

 

Living mindfully is perhaps most challenging in the context of relationships.  Wise speech, paying attention to word choice, tone of voice, and my intentions behind the words, is often helpful in order to facilitate harmonious relationships.  It is also a useful reminder when words have already been used as weapons and I’m trying to minimize further damage caused by them.  Asking myself the question, who am I or what am I believing in a challenging interaction with someone is also quite informative.  I can see all the ways I defend myself as a ‘good’ person and all the ways I blame myself as a ‘bad’ person.  Neither version of me is accurate.  The same question can be asked of others. Who are they?  What am I believing about them?

 

  • What comes in the way of your making intentional, conscious choices and what brings you back on track?

Fear and guilt get in the way.  I was raised in a culture that values the well being of the larger family unit over the yearnings of an individual.  I also live in an area that values productivity over vulnerability.  When I contemplate a career move, the creation of a new project, or crave alone time, fear and guilt arise.  I fear separation from my family/colleagues and the loss of love, respect, and understanding that might follow.  I also fear that there is only a finite amount of time to do all that I want to do.  I feel guilty in prioritizing my callings over the needs of others.

 

Meditation, yoga, writing, spending time in nature and with souls who value authenticity and vulnerability, all help bring me back on track.  Through these practices, I experience unconditional, compassionate presence.  Her presence is gentle and reassuring.  Her voice is kind and clear.  She senses the bowling ball in my stomach and palpitations of fear in my chest.  She knows the tension of guilt in my jaws and forearms.  She understands, and is willing to stay with me till I can feel her love from the inside out, till I am confident that my mind, body, and spirit are strong enough to hold whatever is moving through me with tenderness and trust.

 

  • What got you inspired to deepen your work in teaching mindfulness and leading retreats in addition to your work as a family physician?

 

Nine years ago when I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, I knew I needed something beyond traditional therapies to heal a deep hurt.  As I began the practices of mindfulness and compassion, attending retreats and working with skillful teachers, I touched something larger than my small, painful self.  She is the unconditional, compassionate presence I mentioned above.

 

When I see others struggling in a similar way, carrying the heavy burden of a painful, unworthy self on their shoulders on an endless journey of self-judgements, I want them to know there is another version of their story.  I enjoy the marriage of mindfulness to compassion, with meditation and writing as witnesses to express a new story, a celebration of our divine and wondrous light.  It isn’t an ego based celebration, but awareness of a universal Spirit moving through us all.  When I see that spark of recognition in a patient or participant’s eyes, I feel deeply fulfilled.

  • How do you integrate your mindfulness practice and creative pursuits in your traditional medical practice?

 

With short office visits, it can sometimes be challenging.  I try to be present to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are arising within me in any given patient encounter.  This helps to facilitate a non-judgmental awareness of the patient and whatever they are experiencing.  If the patient is open, I might suggest a mindful breathing practice, yoga poses, and/or guided meditations rooted in kindness and self-compassion.  Sometimes we practice a guided meditation together.  I also facilitate a 6 week meditation and writing class to help patients meet personal challenges with loving presence.

 

  • What advice would you have for someone who is skeptical about meditation and mindfulness?

That’s an interesting question.  For years, I felt like a Buddhist Evangelist praising mindfulness meditation as the greatest thing in the world.  I’d convince anyone who had even the slightest interest to give it a try.  I’d even argue vehemently with those who were skeptical that my way was the right and only way.  It wasn’t till a loved one pointed this out to me that I realized what I was doing.  Mindfulness teachers often caution participants at the end of a retreat not to go home and be a ‘buddhist’ but practice being a ‘buddha’.  If we are to share the benefits of these practices with others, we must first embody them in a non-violent manner, and then decide how we want to manifest them in the world with kindness and gentleness.

 

  • If you had 30 days that you could spend in any way you’d like, what would you do with them?

 

Wow.  That seems like a generous amount of time!  If you mean consecutively, I might consider a silent meditation retreat or a trip to Europe/Asia on a Sacred Feminine pilgrimage, and vacation time with my family.  If it’s not consecutive, then I’d try and do the above in shorter time slots.  Still need to journey on a Sacred Feminine pilgrimage.

 

  • Do you have any final thoughts for those who are beginning or currently on a path of mindfulness?

The journey of mindfulness will be different for everyone.  Some will sit many meditation retreats while others might read or take classes in mindfulness.  Some will create a quilt with mindfulness as one square since other practices have already been stitched in, occupying the other squares in the quilt.  Some will want a blanket in only one color of mindfulness to keep them warm against life’s bitter truths.  Some will dive into mindfulness, impatient and frustrated that they cannot swim with ease in the deep end, while others will wade into the teachings step by step, learning to swim at a slow and steady pace.

 

Whatever your particular flavor of mindfulness practice might be, listen to your heart.  Let it inform you of how much or how little you might want to engage in any mindfulness practice.  Mindfulness is not a self-improvement project.  It is a kind, clear way of relating to yourself and others to help alleviate your suffering, not to perpetuate it.

 

Perfect Questions

 

What if I never wrote another poem,
never saw another patient,
or meditated ever again?
Would I still be respected?

Why is the President more valuable
then a prisoner on death row?
Why is your child’s heart more precious
than a homeless person’s heart?
Isn’t a homeless person also
someone else’s child?

I don’t want to live this life
always grooming myself for
the next moment, pretending
there is a better version of us
all just around the bend,

when all the perfect questions
never asked for perfect answers.
-from The Voice

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings.

 

 

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A few months back, I had written a couple of posts on callings here & here. This post is a continuation of my thoughts in them. If you haven’t read those, I’d invite you to start there before reading further.

 

  • Your calling has to be your vocation

For some individuals, their job title matches exactly with their heart’s desires and the job pays the bills too. This is incredibly inspiring yet your story doesn’t have to be the same way. Your calling may be very different from your day job and that is perfectly fine. They may be somewhat interconnected and complement one another and that too is perfectly fine. There doesn’t have to be one linear way of sharing your gifts in the world.

Looking for more inspiration on portfolio careers and slash careers? Click here and here for more reading…

Lesson #5: It’s okay for your day job and your calling to be poles apart or somewhat aligned. Start anyway!

  • But I should have only one calling

Who said so???

Yes, we all get inspired by the story of the musician who spends 10 hours a day, every day creating music with a uni-directional focus. We absolutely need individuals with that laser sharp focus doing just one thing. Thank God we have those brain surgeons and oncologists in the world taking care of us.

But that doesn’t have to be your story. It is absolutely okay if you like to paint and also crunch numbers. You think I am kidding, read more about my colleague Mariah Walton here and see her art here.

You may spend more time on one at one time in your life and then switch gears at another. Multi-passionate individuals shouldn’t feel that something is wrong with them. Being strategic, creative and thoughtful with your different interests can actually empower you to live more fully.

Lesson #6: It is okay to care deeply about more than one thing at the same time. You don’t have to but its absolutely okay if you do!

 

  • Pursuing your callings should be easy

The media keeps sending us messages that when we pursue our callings, life will suddenly become easy. This is often not the case. Yes, there will be increased meaning, purpose and fulfillment in life but that doesn’t mean every minute of spending more time doing what you love will make life increasingly simple. Quite likely, it will mean learning new skills, stepping into unchartered territories, embracing fear, and facing some failures.

Continue anyway…

Lesson #7: Pursuing our callings add complexity and challenge to our life but also bring meaning, purpose and contentment making the extra effort worth it!

 

The world needs more of us to express ourselves and share our unique gifts with others. Yet, its absolutely fine if you don’t have a calling that you are pursuing at this point. If you’ve reached to the end of this post, chances are you have the curiosity to explore more about what makes you come alive and that’s the most important first step. While you are on this path, also remind yourself that trying to be a good human being, intentionally fulfilling your responsibilities as an adult, practicing kindness to yourself and others and doing your part for our planet and society is a worthwhile pursuit in itself.

 

Deep bow to each of your callings!

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness.

 

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Last month I had taken on a project to practice kindness for 30 days and had invited all of you to join me as well.

So, how did it go?

 

In short, it was a beautiful journey to make kindness an explicit priority in my day. It was even more rewarding to listen to some of your stories on your kindness projects. One of you did a run to raise money, one wrote a yelp review for a friend starting a new business and another one of you brought lunch for your co-worker. Kindness is contagious! I used the word more often in business meetings when tough decisions were to be made. I paused more often to buy extra salsa at the farmers market to share with my neighbors. I exchanged more “kindness ideas” messages with friends and family but…

 

… despite this open & public declaration on my blog and a deep desire to practice kindness, there were enough days when I didn’t do anything extra special and my day just went by. Some days I even forgot that I had made this commitment to practice extra kindness. Sigh. My to do list took priority and unexpected life events came in the way such that I didn’t even spend a few minutes to make a loan at Kiva, give Vivaan’s teacher at day care an extra hug or send a handwritten note to a friend.

 

However, I learnt that on days when I was most exhausted, depleted and tired to chop a few extra carrots and add to my vegetable so I could share with my neighbor, that if I did spend five minutes practicing kindness and chopping those carrots, I felt more content, more full and more purposeful in my day. Kindness energized and refueled me. Kindness added purpose and meaning. Kindness added joy and peace. Kindness brought a smile to my face and made my overwhelming day a tiny bit easier…

 

Last month in our mindfulness circles, one of my friends mentioned that kindness was so empowering & yet so simple unlike many other aspects of our life. For example, if you may want to accomplish x at work, there are some many factors that need to come into play and your success doesn’t just hinge on how well you perform. However, kindness is so much simpler and doesn’t require power, political influence or luck for you to succeed in your actions. It simply requires a desire to brighten someone’s day and the willingness to take action.

 

I learnt practicing kindness requires building & strengthening my “kindness muscle.” It requires repetition for the brain to do it subconsciously to choose love over selfishness, to choose giving over anything else. It requires not making my day soooo busy that I forget what it means to take care of someone else. It also means that creating a world with more kindness starts with kindness to my own self, kindness and compassion for my own challenges and sufferings to have more love to give in the world.

 

So, now I am inviting you to another kindness project. Design your own project and include what you want to give and create in the world. Make it as specific as you can without making it a chore. Infuse love – for yourself and those who come in touch with you!

Here’s my commitment for the next 60 days!

  1. Write 15 handwritten notes of appreciation/gratitude. I love writing notes and always keep a stack of empty cards with me in my car, my laptop bag, my desk and bedside table so not having a card is never an excuse to practice kindness. And yes, I keep stamps too for those lovely people I cant drive to often.
  2. Share fruit, food or smoothies with my cleaners. I love my cleaners and can’t imagine my home, rather my life without them. I am not good at keeping my house super clean and they truly empower me to create time to write and express my self by freeing up some time in my weekJ. They love it when I make a fresh fruit smoothie for them and I want to continue doing it even more.
  3. Call up 4 distant family members who I haven’t kept in touch with. This is something I really want to do more often. I want to express my gratitude to my family members I haven’t kept in touch with and let them know that I love and appreciate them for all that they do for me.
  4. Share a home cooked meal with a friend once a week. I love cooking and sharing food. There is something incredibly rewarding about cooking from scratch, adding some love and giving it away. I hope to do it more…
  5. Complete my volunteering form for the Community Service Agency in Mountain View. I have been procrastinating filling up my form and starting my volunteering shifts with this organization for several months. I have even received an email reminder from the volunteering lead following up on my application. It’s about time I turn this intention into action!
  6. Fundraiser for Nepal. I recently found out about this inspiring story about an orphanage in Nepal run by a wonderful family in Sunnyvale.

Bishow Bhatta, is one of the people behind NECO who currently resides in Sunnyvale, California with his wife and four children. He drives a taxicab to earn a living and support his family, but donates up to half his income to help support NECO.

Soon after the earthquake, he flew back to Nepal to help the children and unfortunately he broke his leg during the second earthquake. Sumit and I wanted to help them beyond writing the check we did and are hosting a fundraiser at home and I’ll be cooking a multi course local, Indian meal.

 

I’ll end with another humble request. Practice kindness and share with the world, not to feed the ego but to inspire and spread kindness, spread love and generosity in the world. Here’s the Random Acts of Kindness website for more ideas and inspiration.

 

Let’s bring more kindness in the world.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Callings.

 

I was recently having a conversation with a friend who sadly shared that her life was just a to do list devoid of any form of self-expression or meaning. She said – “I don’t have a calling” and more importantly how do I find something that fuels my self? I am already overwhelmed getting through my day.

 

She isn’t alone. I have myself said this at many times in my life and have heard so many people around me repeat this. One of the key reasons we don’t find and pursue our callings is because of some limiting beliefs that we hold about them that come in our way. Here are a few reasons that hold us back:

 

I must always know my calling

Big lie! Yes, some people know when they were five that they were meant to paint, write or work with animals but for most of us it is a twisted, winding and rocky journey. Real world responsibilities come in the way, we have bills to pay, soul crushing jobs that take up energy and we may lose track. But all these experiences can give us information and we learn a little more about what matters to us and who we are meant to be…

 

Lesson 1: It’s okay if you don’t know what your heart’s deepest desire or form of self-expression is. You are not alone. Keep taking steps and you will get closer to what matters most to you.

My calling must stay consistent

Another story I don’t agree with. Again, for some there is something magical about cooking 5 hours a day for 25 years. That’s amazing & inspiring but that doesn’t have to be your version of a calling. Your calling may morph and take a different form as your life evolves and changes but you will notice that the core essence – the underlying value, the feelings it generates, the joy it brings will likely stay consistent even though its external form may change.

For example, I loved, loved teaching yoga at a studio for several years but I stopped in my last trimester of my pregnancy, as I didn’t have much energy to give to my students on top of a full time job. Once Vivaan arrived, I deeply missed teaching but leaving him for 3 hours on a weeknight wasn’t aligning well with my other values. I made some changes on how to manifest my love for teaching, self-expression and community by hosting meditation groups at home and giving birth to this blog that allows me to have the same joy and impact but in a different medium.

 

Lesson 2: The core of your calling stays the same but its expression and form can change & evolve

I don’t have time or energy for my callings

This one is so common. I was really nervous when I launched my blog when I have a pretty full life and thought I was setting myself up for failure. 6 months later with only 17 blog posts and my first guest blog, I can happily say, I am glad I followed my heart and didn’t listen to my inner critic.

Here’s what I believe – Pursuing our callings have a uniquely remarkable way of recharging & refueling us and giving us the energy we need to get through our day. I am not saying that on days I write or connect with you, my laundry suddenly gets done (Ah, I wish that were the case) but rather I feel more content and purposeful in my day and that’s what brings me back to my journal and my word document. There is a time constraint for sure and I don’t write for 2 hours a day, every day but 2 hours a week is possible on most weeks.

If you feel that you don’t have 60 minutes a week or a few hours a month to do something that matters deeply to you (say in the next six months), it is time to take an honest look at how you are spending your time and what needs to change to create that time and space in your life.

 

Lesson #3: Our callings add meaning and purpose to our lives that gives more energy to everything else we have to do on our to do list.

My callings have to be GRAND

Your calling may be to open a food truck that serves your entire town or your calling may be to cook a simple meal every week for your family or even just yourself and they are both equally beautiful. We often trick ourselves to believing that if our dreams are not big and larger than life that they are trivial and not worth pursuing. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Every individual is different with unique dreams, desires and life circumstances. The world we live in makes us believe that everything that bigger is better (houses, cars, paychecks, etc) but that isn’t true. What matters is that your callings are yours and are coming from a place of self expression, meaning and authenticity and not the ego, habit or lack of awareness.

 

Lesson # 4: Callings come in all shapes and sizes and each one is unique and worthy of your love, care and nurture

 

I’ll continue this post next week as I have a few more things I don’t believe about your callings.

 

How about you? Which one of these most resonated with you and what are some of the ways you hold yourselves back?

 

Posted by & filed under Callings, Everyday Lessons.

 

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For a long time, I believed that my “work” had to be an almost perfect manifestation of my callings and fully align with my life’s purpose and values. I went to a progressive and mission driven business school and had been trying really hard to have my professional work – my title, my day to day work, my employer and its mission statement align with my purpose. I even started believing that if this weren’t the case in its ENTIRETY then I was being “true to my fears” or I wasn’t trying hard enough or I had to keep seeking or that my path wasn’t correct.

 

Wrong, wrong, wrong…

 

Over the last one year, my thinking has expanded and I have come to believe that there is more than one way to live our calling and be true to our purpose. While there is something absolutely magical when your job, career and callings align perfectly, there is nothing inferior when they don’t. For so many of us this perfect alignment doesn’t happen overnight or in fact may that perfect alignment may not be the path we are meant to pursue. I have seen waaaaay too many people waiting to take that first step in the direction of their callings until the conditions are perfect. They wait until they can give their 100% to their vision only to live year after year devoid of the purpose, joy and light they are meant to share in the world.

 

For some a calling may ALWAYS complement a job or a career. Did you know that T.S. Eliot, the famous writer, poet & dramatist and Nobel Prize Laureate had a day job as a banker for many years to fund his dreams ??? For others, experiences at their job or a career may open their worlds to their calling and that path is beautiful too. Susan Cain, who has a TED talk with over 11M views on introversion worked for many years as a lawyer and his written extensively on how her previous journey helped her discover and live her purpose.

 

We often trick ourselves into thinking that the amount of time spent on our callings, their exclusivity & uniqueness and more importantly their replacement of our day jobs is what makes our callings credible and this is absolutely not true. The most important truth about our callings is to find them, nurture them and and start embodying them in our lives even if it starts with only 5 minutes a day…

 

If your heart’s deepest desire is to paint, it doesn’t matter if you do it for a living or a weeknight project. It doesn’t matter if you get paid or not, recognized or not. It doesn’t matter if you have consultant, teacher, driver, or hairdresser on your resume. What matters is you take out the time even if it is a few minutes to nourish your soul, express yourself and let your work be seen, even it is just by yourself.

 

And the most beautiful thing about taking that first step, creating space, time and resources for our callings is that these small steps will give us the information of whether we do want to make our callings our career or not. By starting with something we learn whether we want to charge for our art or not. We learn if we want to share our work with 10, 100, 1,000 or a million people some day. You will not know this until you start.

 

I had a friend who had a day job as an engineer and loved photography and had his work at various art galleries. I once asked him if he ever wanted to make photography his vocation and his response was a clear NO. He said that he didn’t want to monetize his work and learn about the business of photography. His hearts deepest desire was to focus solely on the art and this portfolio career of photography and engineering was an ideal manifestation of himself at this point in his life. How beautiful! His story always inspires me. Again, he wouldn’t have known this until he had tried creating & sharing his work with the world. If at any point he decides to change his mind and make photography his vocation he has a lot of data points to know what would work for him or not.

 

Things to remember!!

  • Your calling doesn’t have to be your job or career and it is OKAY
  • You DO have 10 minutes a day or a week to nurture your calling
  • Small steps in the direction of your dreams lead to their full manifestation

For your journal –

  • Is there something you have always wanted to do but were waiting when you had more time, money, or something else?
  • Can you take out 5,10, 15 minutes a day, everyday to work in the direction of that desire?
  • What do you need from your partner, friends, bank account, web designer, teacher, etc, etc to make this happen?
  • What do you need from yourself to let your dreams see a little more light?

 

I will be writing a lot more about callings, purpose and dreams in the coming weeks? Let me know if there are questions or things that you struggle with on this topic!

 

For the next post, I’ll be writing about how to find that calling of yours or discover your life’s purpose…

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness.

 

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As much as I like traveling, I also like coming back homeJ. There is something magical about the comfort of my room (even though its generally messy), the warm, cozy bed and my kitchen with all its gadgets. A few months back, we were on our way back from Hawaii. Our flight landed around 8 pm and it was almost 10 by the time we reached Mountain View. We were tired, hungry and debating if we should go home and cook a simple meal or just pick up something on the way back. We agreed on the latter and as I placed the order for food, a dear friend texted and said – “Neha, you guys must be on your way back and tired. I have some home cooked food for all of you. Why don’t you stop by on your way home.” I was touched and incredibly grateful to have such a caring, loving and kind friend with a big heart. She truly made our day.

 

Stories like these remind us of the power of kindness, generosity and care. It is moments like these that truly fill up our hearts and stories like these make life meaningful. Our ability to be present, notice, love, give, share, connect, empathize is a key part of being human and unfortunately in the “business” of modern day living and in attending to our to do lists, we forget that being kind is such an important part of our to be list.

 

I am inviting you all to join me in a small project where we do at least one #kind thing for someone else everyday for 30 days. No act is small and everything counts – bringing lunch for a coworker, helping an old person cross the road, a generous tip, helping a sick neighbor, whole heartedly thanking the janitor who cleans your office restroom…

 

Pause, see where you can contribute and you’ll find someone who can receive your love and warmth.

 

“I am on board. What do I do next?”

 

  • Great, we’re excited you are joining us. We’ll be starting the project this coming Monday 04/06. Add your name in the comments section below to be a part of the gang!
  • Pick one act of kindness and inspire others to do the same by sharing your story, pictures & thoughts on social media. Use the hash tag #30daysofkindness
  • Save the date – May 17th For all my bay area crew members, I have a surprise where we practice kindness for ourselvesJ
  • Invite friends & family. More kindness can’t hurt, isn’t it?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey! I am looking forward to listening to your stories:-)

 

Posted by & filed under Happiness.

Last week, I received Lindsey Mead’s post on “things that make me happy” in my inbox. I love her writing, her honesty, her vulnerability and am so grateful for everything that I have learnt from her. I sometimes nod my head in agreement and feel like I am listening to a dear friend talk when I read her posts and on other days her writing make me feel that I am less alone in my struggles and dilemmas. Sometimes, I wish I lived next door and could have a real conversation with her. Most importantly, I am grateful she inspired me to start writing!

Here are a few things that made me happy this past month –

  • Walking to Vivaan’s daycare after work and noticing the fresh, crisp air touching my face.
  • Watching his big bright smile when I see him and yell out – “Vivaan – Mama is here.”
  • French fries
  • Deep & vulnerable conversations with close friends knowing that I am cared and loved for despite my imperfections.
  • Hot tub with vivaan, several times this past month!
  • Telling Sumit – “ You look handsome” after he came back from his haircut
  • Watsapp messages with hearts, smileys and lots of pictures from my family
  • 8, 9 and 10 hours of sleep at night in a warm, cozy bed and feeling rested the next morning even though my sleep was interrupted
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Being able to fit into one of my favorite dresses and the ability to smile at my new mommy belly:-)
  • Watching the sunset on a lake
  • Home cooked food
  • Texts, emails and messages from blog readers
  • Writing hand written notes to people who matter
  • Watching Elle Luna talk about her book  – The crossroads of should and must
  • Having the time, support and desire to write this blog and share my voice

What’s made you happy lately?

Posted by & filed under Mindfulness.

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I live a very privileged life. Despite the numerous times when my fears, insecurities and doubts over consume me, deep in my heart I have nothing but gratitude for the different gifts that life has given me. At a more practical level, I am blessed to have a beautiful combination of work, family, community, service and self – care that define how I spend my time. It takes a lot of planning, juggling, surrendering and accepting setbacks. One of the biggest challenges of living a big, full rich life is truly being present and witnessing each moment as is before I add my own layers of judgments on top of it  (which I am working on adding less of!) and is really hard. It is a practice and like anything else requires repetition for the brain to get it:-)

 

On most days, I try to go to our office café that serves freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s a luxury to nourish my body and mind with fresh food on demand as many times a day as I’d like to. When you have access to these absolutely amazing Silicon Valley tech benefits every day, it can be so easy to take it all for granted. At first, I’d come, drink, look around, think of all the things that I needed to get done, feel a little blessed and get back to my desk on auto pilot. One day something shifted…

 

I intentionally slowed down and closed my eyes while I was waiting to receive my glass. I didn’t look up at the two large screens flooded with all kind of interesting updates on what’s happening in the world. I didn’t think of my to do list. I didn’t check my phone (though I was really tempted to). I was in no special meditation position but simply paid attention to my breath & body for a minute. I noticed the tension in my shoulders and neck and reminded myself to relax, smile and then gently opened my eyes.

 

Instead of rushing to finish my juice, I paid attention to each sip that I was taking. My mind was tempted to check my phone, of course! I tried to bring it back to simply drinking each sip and paying attention. It sure was hard. My mind wandered again and reminded me of how I was not being “efficient” and spending TOO much time on a glass of orange juice when there are so many things TO DO. I tried to stay calm and breathe and drink my last few more sips. I now try to do this every time I have the privilege and luxury to step away for my glass of orange juice and the reality is that paying attention hasn’t taken away from my productivity or output at work. If I am going to take a break, why not do it with intention & awareness!

 

This simple exercise has been magical in many ways. It’s made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have access to healthy, local food in my office for free when there nearly half the planet lives on $2.5 a day. It’s taught me to relax and not take myself too seriously and that by refueling myself, I have more to offer to my team. It’s a beautiful reminder that my breath, my friend is holding me all the time. I don’t need to be in a yoga studio, at a retreat or on the beach to connect with my breath but just pay attention to my breath and body.

 

It’s taught me to find other orange juice moments in my days and that there are 1,440 minutes in a day where I can practice being present. There is more time than I realize when I can simply be and not do, practice presence and not plan, not multi task and not analyze too much. And interestingly, this simplicity, this presence has opened up my heart to more kindness, more compassion and more gratitude. It opened up my heart to spend a few seconds saying thank you to the janitor who really makes my work life easy by ensuring I have access to clean bathrooms and clean mugs for my hot chocolate. It reminded me to send a thank you note to a friend who supported me through a tough phase by holding space for my feelings. It reminded me to make another loan on Kiva.

 

Most importantly, my orange juice moments make me appreciate my life a little more, its imperfections and generosities a little more. It makes me realize I am not as busy as I may think I am or that our culture may make me believe. It makes me realize that every moment indeed is precious and that how we spend each moment is what makes up our life.

 

What are your orange juice moments? Moments where you pay attention to the sounds and smells in the air. Moments where you notice the tiny white flowers that are beginning to blossom as we enter into spring. Moments where you notice the orange and yellow in the sky as the sun sets every evening….