Posted by & filed under Mindfulness.

Green Gulch Farm

A few weeks back I had the wonderful privilege to spend a day at a retreat at the Green Gulch Farm in Marin. This retreat was called Company Time – A Buddhist retreat for people in the business world. The retreat comprised of gentle yoga, meditation, lecture and discussion.

 

Going on a retreat is one of the most nourishing ways to spend my Saturday and this one was no different yet unique and beautiful in its own ways. It was a simple way to pause, practice being aware, be with the discomfort that showed up in many ways and most importantly, tap into my own inner wisdom that always knows what’s best for me.

 

Tending to myself on a retreat always reminds me of that beautiful necklace sitting in my jewelry box gathering dust. Yet, when I simply pay attention, give it some time and rub it with a piece of cloth, the shine comes back – no special sprays or anything, just pure love and presence!

 

There were people from various backgrounds, workplaces and at different stages in their career yet deep inside we were all the same. We were struggling with very similar issues in our workplaces and our working lives and at the core seeking very similar things from our workplaces. The ability to express ourselves authentically, feel recognized and appreciated for our contributions, to be kind to others and be treated with kindness. It is so humbling that when we pause, reflect and share how much we contribute to our own growth and learning AND also give others permission to connect with their true emotions and remind them that they are not alone in their struggles.

 

I learnt once again the power of the small things – quiet time, gentle movement, simple food cooked with fresh ingredients and love, honest soulful conversations embracing life with its joys and imperfections. I realized how abundant I am and how complete my life is despite all the many things that can often feel broken, incomplete and imperfect. Despite all the challenging emotions that I experienced around my career, my sensitivity, my lack of patience, etc., I also experienced deep calm and joy by simply witnessing and accepting myself for whatever showed up and not resisting my emotions.

 

I also terribly missed my baby. I missed nursing him, feeding him yoghurt with red chili powder and chia seeds (that is his favorite meal these days!!), changing his diapers and tickling his belly. I missed how innocently he wipes his messy face on my yoga pants and the long hugs and the dozens of kisses I give him. But this too was part of my practice – paying attention to my emotions, trying not to push or judge them but holding a space to receive whatever was emerging!

Cannot recommend the green gulch retreats enough. Highly recommend this one as well as another retreat for women that is pretty magical!

 

Green Gulch Yurt

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness, Vulnerability.

The media is full of articles of finding your passion, your dream and pursuing it. This advice absolutely has its merits but we don’t hear much about finding meaning in another person’s dream. A pursuit may not be yours but you may be a part of it and watch it grow, struggle & blossom. Something can be close to a loved one’s heart and that transitivity may bring it close to your heart and bring up very similar emotions as if it were yours …

Almost a year ago, my husband and a friend conceived of an idea that just recently launched a few months back. Over this period, I saw him put in many, many hours of work, make sacrifices, experience joy, thrill, excitement, confusion, uncertainty and the whole gamut of emotions of creating something from scratch. I admire him for how beautifully he made it all work along with a full time job while still being an incredibly hands on dad.

Just recently, I was having a moment of reflecting on my purpose in life and was feeling somewhat disconnected from some of my dreams in the short term. And somewhere deep inside a voice spoke up – “Sumit is able to pursue his interests and he is able to put in the effort he needs to. And in that process, I am able to do my part to be with him and THAT is part of my dream. At first it felt strange – this website isn’t my dream. This doesn’t align deeply with what I’d want to create and yet it felt like this was part of my dream.”

As I dug deeper I realized there is immense joy in watching a loved one pursue their path; there is a profound sense of purpose in watching that smile on his face and finding peace in knowing that I could do my part (however small that may be) in supporting him and that is part of MY purpose.

And then with the joy comes the occasional discomfort. There are moments when my ego and judgment totally takes over and I can get mean and make comments as – “Couldn’t you do something better for the world with your time. Why this? or  This isn’t fair that you can spend all this time on your project and I cant!.”

Even typing these words make me uncomfortable. How and why would I say these things to the person I love so dearly. I may not want to work on this idea but I owe my respect to my husband’s work and that this is more than a website – it’s a labor of love, thousands of lines of code, an idea that is hoping to provide better information to people. Its fascinating how my own views of the world can cloud my appreciation for my husband’s work.

My second discomfort is again my own and enhanced by own ego. If I am unable to do something I want to do, it (almost always) has nothing to do with someone else in my life and yet it’s so much easier to blame someone else!!

As I read this post again, I am myself amazed by the human capacity to experience joy, contentment and judgment at the same time and toward the same situation. Wisdom lies in being aware, noticing and making mindful choices. I don’t always succeed but I am trying to speak and act from a place of kindness. It’s a work in progress:-)

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Kindness.

 

We should all be kind, nice and generous. Not much debate around that.

But how about “sharing” your act of kindness with others? Social media makes it incredibly easy to tell the whole world about how nice you are but does that mean you should do it? Should we go about telling our neighbors how we helped a stranger at the park and how good it felt?

I believe the answers are much more complex than a simple yes or no!

I’ll share a story – When I was in grad school in Texas almost 8 years ago, I was doing an informational interview with another student (whom I’ll call Jane as I unfortunately don’t remember her name). Toward the end of our lunch meeting, she told me about her involvement with the Miracle Foundation, a non-profit organization in Austin helping orphans in India. Her journey and experience inspired me to get involved too and since then I have had the privilege to meet the wonderful people running this non- profit, contribute money, volunteer at their orphanages, organize fundraisers, and in that journey empower a few others to join me as well. My involvement with this organization is one of the MOST fulfilling experiences of my life.

Who knows if I would have had this wonderful privilege had I not had that lunch conversation and had Jane not shared about the inspiring work done by the Miracle Foundation and how much she was moved by their work.

Stories are powerful. Stories stick. Stories inspire us to act. The simple act of Jane sharing her story empowered and inspired me to make a difference…

And yet, there are times we share because our ego needs that boost, we want the likes on our FB page or we are seeking approval and need some brownie points for being nice. Unfortunately, I too have fallen into this trap.

I don’t believe there is a straightforward answer to whether we should share or not… and the wisdom lies not just in the what but also in the why, in our intentions and our desire behind sharing and most importantly, the awareness we bring to that action. A few journaling questions to think about –

  • Why are you sharing? What are we hoping to create for yourself?
  • Are you seeking approval, trying to SHOW that you are a kind person?
  • Is there something you are trying to fix about yourself with this story?
  • Do we want to inspire others on a new journey?

While it may seem that there is one right answer, I believe there isn’t one and it all comes back to acting with awareness and in integrity with our values. We all do lots of things to feel better and on some occasions getting a small ego boost by sharing how “nice” we are can have its pros if in that process it can also bring food on the table for someone. We each need to decide for ourselves what is driving us to act.

I also find it tremendously helpful to think about how I feel after sharing. When I act with awareness and say things that align with my values, I feel relaxed in my body and content in my heart. And then there are times when my ego gets in the way and if I pay attention, my body gives me instant feedback and I can notice some tension and stress in me. The answers are clear at that point:-)

However, this is what is most important –

We should give and be nice because that’s the right thing to do and not because it gives us some content to share on our twitter feed!

The sharing can be the icing on the cake but we can all try to find the real joy in the act of giving and being kind and not the other way around.

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons, Vulnerability.

My first ultrasound: there was a heartbeat, a little seed of life growing in me, I was in joy and in disbelief; experienced a little anxiety and a lot of gratitude.

My second ultrasound, a week later – intuitively it felt different, the doctor’s expressions didn’t signal a positive sign and yes the heartbeat was goneL. The doctor brought me a few wipes but the tears didn’t fall my eyes. It hadn’t sunk in.

I finally felt the pain when I got home. The baby was as big as a blueberry that week and that’s what I called him (I had an intuition that it was a boy!) and I hugged my husband and cried in pain – “I miss our blueberry.” That night the tears didn’t stop.

I had to allow myself to be mindful and create a space to experience my emotions without any judgment. I realized that by allowing myself to experience my true emotions and NOT suppress them, the next day, I felt much better. Day by day, week by week, my wounds were slowly healing.

Despite the pain, the loss, the numerous doctor’s visits, knowing that I won’t have a 9-month baby in my belly this birthday, today, I feel calm and peaceful and most importantly a little wiser than I was before this experience.

Here’s what I learnt –

Clarity and Purpose

 My tears taught me how much I wanted to be a mother. I had been in a dilemma for many years unsure if giving birth was my path and I learnt how much this felt like my own authentic calling. Yet, I also learnt that I was a complete human being and on my true path even if nature has a different plan for me and I cannot give birth.

 Surrender

I learnt to accept that there are certain events in life over which I have no control and no matter how hard I try, I have to bow done, with grace and humility.

 Ability to Love

 I now love every child, every pregnant woman and every mother even more. I have deep respect and appreciation for what it means to be a parent even as I took one tiny step on that journey.

 Vulnerability

 I learnt the power of speaking and sharing your truth and that it takes courage and strength and not weakness to be vulnerable. By sharing my story, I strengthened my relationship with so many people in my life and reminded myself that I wasn’t alone.

Gratitude

 I learnt to pause and take a moment to feel grateful for all the things that did go right – amazing family, friends, co-workers and professors who loved and supported me in their own unique ways; access to doctors and nurses who did everything they could to take care of me.

 Self Awareness

 I developed an increased awareness of my own emotions and also improved my ability to empathize for all the other women in the world who may have been on this journey, many of whom may not have access to the resources I had in this difficult period.

Finally this experience brought my husband and me even closer. We bond not just in times of joy and happiness but also through our struggles and adversities.

I had written this post a couple of months after I lost our first baby. I am an incredibly blessed mama to our baby boy, Vivaan!

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What have you learnt from your tears and pain? Please join this conversation by sharing your story in the comments below.

 

 

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

As a working mom, things don’t always go as planned. Some days are indeed harder than other. One of the ways I TRY to stay sane and happy is by embracing imperfection.

When my son would cry a lot in the first few weeks, my sister once told him – “It’s not that bad.” That phrase stuck with me. I constantly remind myself that it’s okay when things don’t always fall in place and that its often not as bad as I may think it is.

After all its okay that…

  • My bathroom has a few strands of hair on the floor and some times much more than a few strands J
  • I still haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up
  • I don’t exercise or meditate as much as I’d like to
  • I like to eat French fries and anything with potatoes in it
  • I can’t always remember birthdays but I try and do my best
  • I am not with my baby 24/7 as I work full time
  • I sometimes take longer to finish things that I originally planned for
  • I can get over emotional and sensitive over small things
  • I haven’t responded to all the emails in my inbox (but I will at some point)
  • I sometimes get angry, irritable and impatient

What is important is for me to be aware and connected with my thoughts, feelings and values and make choices from that place of knowing, embracing where I fall short and not kill myself over wanting to be perfect.

Thank you my lovely sister for this wonderful reminder:-)

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Posted by & filed under Parenting.

We can all be leaders by a virtue of how we show up in the world. Our choice of words, the energy we exude, the values and thoughts we bring to conversations, our overall presence and thus the collective impact we have on those around us determine our effectiveness as a leader. Leaders aren’t people in certain roles or with titles. In fact, I don’t believe that by simply having certain society attributed titles, we can be truly effective leaders.

 

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a beautiful line by Gonan Premfors on a parenting workshop that she is co-leading that said – This workshop will help you learn to lead (yes, you are a leader as a parent) from a place of authenticity and partnership!

 

That struck a deep chord with me – Parenting & Leadership. Whether I agree or not, I have a deep influence as well as a huge responsibility in how I show up and what that means for my baby in the way he shows up in the world. The first thing that means is being AWARE and AUTHENTIC in how I show up. It means that I need to bring my full range of emotions, my imperfections and my doubts to the table so he has permission to access his own. It means acknowledging that his mama still doesn’t have answers to many of life’s questions so he can continue asking his own questions.

 

Influence doesn’t mean that he should be like me but rather emphasizes my role in helping him see his own brilliance and the brilliance in the world around us. It means true acceptance of who he is as a person and being mindful when I may be clouding his own vision with my own agenda. It means not defining success for him but letting him fall and yet stand by him so that he can learn to get up and see what success may mean for him.

 

Do you believe you are a leader as a mom or dad? How does this leadership manifest in your life? What do you struggle with?

 

Please join the conversation!

Posted by & filed under Everyday Lessons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I failed at my first half marathon, I failed at staying pregnant the first time, I failed at getting promoted along with my peers in my first job, I continue to fail at staying patient with my husband at every disagreement. Last night, I failed at putting my son to bed at his usual bed time and the list of my failures goes on.

It wasn’t until a few months back that I actually realized how quick we are to use the word “failure” in our every day conversations. There are numerous quotes and articles on why failure is good and what failure teaches us (which absolutely have their merits) but I have been reflecting on whether we even should call all the above events and many others “failure” in the first place and the impact this labeling has on the way we live our days and measure our lives.

The word failure sounds harsh, negative, incredibly self critical (at least when used in the way in the example above). It feels like a huge blow on our character. Sometimes, we are very quick to call small mistakes as failures.

Does it have to be that way? Do we need to label “failures” as “failures”? Can’t we take a more compassionate approach when things don’t happen the way we want them to? Can we take the time to pause and reflect and savor the journey instead of quickly applying binary labels of failure and success? Do we really have complete control over every outcome to use the word “I” at each of these so called failures?

Take for example my experience with my son last night. Since getting back to work after my maternity leave, I have been trying to put my son to bed at 8 pm so that I can go to bed around 9 pm and get 6-8 hours of sleep while still trying to nurse my baby every few hours, but yesterday night was different. Despite my trying patiently, he didn’t want to sleep until about 10:30 pm or so which meant I didn’t sleep until 11 pm and he woke up more frequently than normal and I was groggy and sleep deprived at work. My impulse would have been to call myself a failure for not putting him down in time but this time I tried a slightly different approach.

Mindfulness – I tried to stay with my emotions and feel the discomfort of things not happening my way. I felt negative and uncomfortable but I tried to simply witness what I was going through instead of jumping at conclusions and judging my own self.

Rethink my words – I made a conscious effort about my choice of words and stayed away from failure. Things didn’t go as per plan but I chose different words, baby didn’t sleep on time, I didn’t get enough sleep, my work day was a little difficult but again, I wasn’t a failure.

Savor the journey – Yes, both baby and I didn’t get enough sleep but we spent some time bonding with each other nursing and cuddling together. I got a chance to practice mindfulness and stay patient even though I was tired and wanted to sleep. I learnt a little more about my baby and his needs and hopefully that can help me next time!

Surrender – I reminded myself that I only have some control over when my baby sleeps and eventually over many other choices my baby makes. I can do my part, take conscious action but despite my efforts, things will pan out the way they are meant to be and I cannot control everything. Knowing this, it makes absolutely no sense to call myself a failure.

What do you label as failures? Are you quick to label every mistake or less than a perfect outcome as a failure? What tools and techniques work in managing your relationship with “failures”? Come, add your voice and join the conversation!