It IS a long read!
Dealing with exhaustion is not easy, be it emotional or physical. It is overpowering and intense and can wreak havoc if not attended to with the love and care that it deserves. We all have had moments, days, months where we have felt like ‘there is no more energy left’! Triggers are different for different people and the way they deal with that, also varies. But, we have all been there. While my household is blessed with the giggles and mischief of two tiny humans, it also entails round-the-clock work that seriously never seems to end! ‘Maybe I am lousy than many; maybe I am a bunch of other things that super moms are not; maybe I am not doing things right’-are just some of the thoughts that crossed my mind during those times and definitely did not alleviate the intense exhaustion. It brought me down with a crippling fear of being ineffectual.
I stopped and took a step back. Step back from over thinking, something that I am hugely prone to; step back from holding myself to sometimes impossible standards; step back from not appreciating me; step back from not nurturing me.
I was recently re-reading a book that talks about, amidst many other wonderful things, the importance of spending time thinking about things that mattered to us, nurturing those and in the process taking care of one’s own self. It made me think about meaningful things that I considered of absolute importance in life, not merely for my own self but also for those with whom I share my ups and downs, who hold a special place in my heart, who matter to me and with who I associate. And I came up with the following:
They are not in any particular order and this is not an exhaustive list by any means but there are the things that have the highest significance in my life. I am not implying that I abide by all of these to the letter, but I do make a sincere effort. I must mention that I owe all of these to my Ma and Baba as I grew up in a household where money was always tight but these values were in abundance and held on to, strong. I owe them everything and I am especially grateful to them for teaching my brother and me, through their smiles and struggles, what really matters.
I am a kind person…so I have been told, and I am mindful of the words that come out of my mouth and cross my mind. Words hurt. And they can break you. I learnt from my mother, very early in life, how to be inclusive of people and their thoughts, how to not hurt anyone with my words and actions and for this, I can never thank her enough (I wonder if parents can ever be thanked enough…for their relentless and selfless love). I have always appreciated the tiniest bit of effort, thought, act that has come my way or goes towards someone else and my heart is grateful for all that I have , all that I am and all that I am not. I am obviously not perfect and I slip more than I would like, but I strive to make an effort to learn from my mistakes and hopefully one day I will be better than what I am today!
In our everyday lives, we often underestimate the importance or power of appreciation and I personally know people who are never appreciative of anyone. I wonder if they think that showing appreciation would somehow undermine their ‘importance’ (yes…don’t roll your eyes, people are strange!). But appreciation can work wonders. It bridges gaps, mends hurt hearts and makes one feel good. And that can have a lot of positive impact going forward…be it in a professional setting or be it within the four walls of our homes. But it has to be genuine…from the heart. A charade of thankfulness seldom works in the long run…just like any other form of pretense!
From a very young age, my father instilled the importance of gratitude. We saw how thankful he was for his job, for his family, for the roof on our head and for the food on our table. We learned early enough to not take things for granted and to always honor whatever came our way. Gratitude is powerful and sublime- it keeps one grounded.
Honesty encompasses every other emotion in our lives and so to say that you can be kind or empathetic or courageous or grateful without being honest, is pointless.
My reason behind saying all of this is, in this cacophonous life, we, or least I sometimes miss the bigger picture. I get lost in the struggles and joys of everyday life and let small things get to the heart. I stop being mindful and let negative emotions creep their way in. It makes me not like myself! I then realize that while I cannot control the false or hurtful narrative that some might create of me or forget to utter a kind word, I know the truth and I know me and that is all that matters. I pause to appreciate myself for not letting bitterness get the better of me, I pause to tell myself it’s okay if one day I slipped a little in my duties as a mother, I pause a little to read a book or watch something on Netflix for the hundredth time! I always go to bed with one thought- I will be better tomorrow and though I am far from being where I want to be, I am taking tiny steps towards that. I am flawed and I recognize that. And I am learning from people who are around me now, people I read about, people I have seen growing up and I am grateful for all they teach me, which includes my four year old…who continues to teach me every day with his acts of kindness.
Life is incomplete without books, music, travel and while I am yet to travel far and wide and I hope one day I can, I have enjoyed every little vacation or get away I have gone on, starting from traveling with my parents and younger brother when we were little, to traveling with our little ones now! My father loved to travel (he no longer can because age has caught up with him, but still jumps at any chance that presents itself) and when we were growing up, he made sure we went somewhere, whenever we could.
Baba is known for his very straight forward talks and his laughter. He has a big soulful laugh that you can feel comes from deep within, something you cannot fake and I love this about him. I have seen and felt the power of laughter growing up and I see it in the infectious smiles and laughs of my four year old and my four month old. It brightens up any damp day and makes me appreciate life a bit more.
And what can I say about family, friendship and love? I don’t think I can ever put into words what these terms encompass and how they hold us, mold us and inspire us to be the best that we can. These are the Pillars of life that give meaning to every emotion; the Elixir for all that is hurtful and toxic.
[ My son brought this ‘lunch’ for me as he noticed the other day that I had not had my lunch and was busy finishing up a few things. So he came up and said- I saw you have been working hard and you are busy and so I made you this…you can have some pretend lunch to keep your tummy full 🙂 ]
What guides you? What inspires you?